Derek opens his mission call

Monday, June 27, 2011

Changing someone's life

khello my amerikan frends!

so, things are legit. yes, i got a new companion. he's the coolest kid ever, everybody loves him. he is way funny, he reminds me of Scott, actually. tall and red-headed. we are having a good time, we are going to work hard. and baptize Igor!

so the week went well, it was hazen's last week in xarkov, so we had to go buy souvenirs and what not. lots of appointments dropped on us, as well, but it was ok. he said goodbye to everybody he wanted to, so its all good. lets see, Tuesday we had a lesson with Igor, taught him the third lesson and reinforced the whole baptism thing. he seemed pretty excited, and willing to do everything necessary. it was a really good lesson, he understood it well, and asks good questions. still doesn't totally understand the 'no tea' thing. and so we just teach about obedience, and that seems to work.

the rest of the week until Friday we just had a few member lessons, saying goodbye to everybody. good stuff. Friday morning early we went into center xarkov where the missionaries going down to Donetsk leave from. said goodbye to everyone, a few of which i won't ever see again, sadly. it was a good day, i just hung out with a few other elders without companions, and waited for our companions and stuff. i kind of knew that i was getting elder young, because the ap's let transfers slip this time. and i was happy. the missionaries that came up got to the center around 7 or so, and we hung out for a bit, and then got a taxi and moved young in. he is in his 6th transfer, and I'm in my 8th.

the next day was fun. there comes a day in every Ukraine missionary's life when he gets his aids test, in order to go to Bulgaria. and Saturday was that day. it was a bit sketchy. we had to walk to this place, close to the heart of the middle of nowhere, in a forest/ ghetto, but the building looked fairly nice. i did some paperwork for a while, paid, and then sat down in a chair. you all know how much i love needles and stuff. so the lady wiped my skin with a bit of alcohol, and then stuck a syringe right in. not too much warning. and then sucked it out. i was expecting to have it naturally pump out, you know, how they do it in the modern world. but why would i expect that? after she pulled it out, she put a little cotton ball on it and had me squeeze my elbow pit closed. after a few minutes she said i could leave. they didn't exactly give me a band aid, but that was OK. i just had a little hole on my vein. everything was OK, i find out if i have aids on Friday. wish me luck.

we then had a lesson and dinner, and planned. good times. Sunday was great. Igor came again, of course. on the way to church, he said "all yesterday, i just wished it was Sunday." i said, well that’s cool. and then he said, "and even more than that, i wished that it was the 9th of July", his baptismal date. that was awesome to hear. i introduced him to the branch president, who, after church, had a quick interview with him. it was good, he explained that baptism is kind of a big deal. i was a little worried that he was going to scare him away, but he handled it well. explained that he was going to receive a calling, and the priesthood, and he has some responsibility. its not just some thing. so after that we had lesson four, which is all the commandments. usually you want to split it up, but he knew most of the commandments, at least in principle, already, so we just did an overview of what they are, and what we are expected to do in order to be worthy members of the church. he said he was willing to do it all. he is ready, i almost wish his date was sooner, but its good to give him a bit more time. we will teach him a bit more about the priesthood, probably, maybe answer some more questions, and probably, for good measure, teach the restoration once more. I'm really excited for him.

so yeah, this is way cool to be seeing a baptism. I've only seen one convert baptism since I've been in country, and that was the other elders in my district. so it is nice to feel that I'm actually adding to the kingdom. especially a priesthood holder! and another cool thing, i don't know if i told you, he has a ponytail. that’s not the cool part. he said the other day, you know what, you guys look good. nice well groomed boys. i think I'm going to cut my hair short, like yours. i said, that’s probably a good idea. what I'm saying is, it actually feels like, for the first time on my mission, i am changing somebody's life. its really cool to see.

president fry is going home this week, and president campero is coming in. should be interesting. we are all waiting anxiously.

i love you guys. its good to hear from you all. I'm having a good time right now. it's a bit rainy, it's lightning stormy every day all day, but the work is good. i love the mish, and i know the church is true.

have a good week!

love, elder brimley

Monday, June 20, 2011

1 year mark

howdy! how y'all doin? well yeehaw!

well thanks for being the best dad ever. i wish i could give you a great big hug. thanks for everything you've taught me and done for me. i really appreciate everything. love you!

sounds like you are partying it up pretty hard over there! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!!!!!! i can't believe i missed your 25th. that’s a big one. and i had no idea it was fathers day! HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!!!! you've been great all these many years. i really appreciate it. i RESPECT you, man!

i had a really fun week. a lot of good stuff happened. here is some things: we haven't had hot water. like, none. which isn't too bad, because we kind of want cold showers. but not really. also i hit my ONE YEAR ON A MISSION MARK!!!!! so hopefully that one is even better. but it is quite a big one. i can finally say that one year ago, i was on my mission. and a year from now, i will still be on my mission. and then another month.

other cool things that happened. probably my favorite, at family night with the rusinovs, after the lesson, they pull out this giant cake, with this delicious, rich cream frosting, and strawberries. it was a struggle to eat two pieces, it was so rich. but i took one for the team. no regrets! the next day we met with dima, and had a first lesson with him. i wasn't too hopeful about the lesson, as he seemed just interested in English, but it turns out he is fairly interested. so we will keep meeting with him. he was a cool guy. that night we finally got the guts to go exploring the basement of our dome. it was pretty sketchy. really creepy. i think a lot of creepy stuff has gone on down there. here is one example. on a wall, in big letters, is written the words "HELP ME" in English. it was pretty legit.

oh man, Wednesday we spent contacting, and i only remember two things. the first is this lady we tried to talk to and she said "no! we don't have that disease!" it probably makes more sense in Russian. "net! mi etim ne baleyem!" the second was this really old couple. we were walking past them in a park, they were sitting on a bench. the dude goes in for a kiss, which is normal, though they are way too old to be doing that in public. we soon realized that it was not just a kiss. their faces were stuck together for the whole time we could see them. they were so old, it was raunchy. just full on making out. ew!

from Thursday on it was just party. we went to barabashova, the giant market, and got some new ties. and a pretty legit old soviet military hat. then had district meeting, i taught the lesson (on the spirit). then we had a fireside with president, which was good. we went home, and, it being my one year on a mission mark, i made some homemade donuts! they turned out tasty enough. the next morning was zone conference, which was legit of course. it was president fry's last time with everyone up here. it was a good meeting- they always give some time for the missionaries going home to bear testimony, and a lot are going home soon. several missionaries that i have spent a lot of time with, so it was a good meeting. said goodbye to quite a few people for the last time, which kind of stinks, but, you know. its time.

we did a split the next day, elder beck, a zone leader who is going home next transfer, came to me. we had a good time, had a couple lessons, contacted, the usual. he is a cool kid. really trunky. made me pretty trunky. talked about movies, music, books, free time, dating girls, hanging out with friends, relaxing... America.... it was fun. he'll be home in 6 weeks, of course he's thinking about home. it is fun being trunky, at least once in a while.

Sunday was a pretty intense day. we headed to church, and walked our investigator Igor there. having investigators at church is awesome, obviously, but also pretty nerve wracking. you gotta keep everybody happy, its like babysitting. and you have to speak in Russian the whole time. we get to church, and this random dude showed up, and he is in our area, so our responsibility. and I'm pretty sure he is mentally retarded. to top it all off, in the middle of sacrament meeting, a guy starts having a seizure. it was so freaky. I've never seen anyone have one before, it freaked me out. he is fine, but it obviously disrupted sacrament meeting bad. the guy just didn't eat, and has diabetes, apparently, so it wasn't completely random. but gosh it was scary.

in second hour, there were four investigators, and all of them were in their own way really unique. Igor is very needy, and a little different. But its OK. after church we had an awesome lesson with Igor, the plan of salvation, with a member present. he admitted that he thinks the book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph smith is a prophet. and so i asked him if he would be baptized. and he said "mozhno", which pretty much means yes. we put him on date! this is the first time on my mission i have someone realistically on date for baptism! I've hit a new high. this has been a very, very successful transfer. praise the lord! the date we decided was the 9th of July, so about three weeks from now. i don't see too many problems, he said he doesn't drink or smoke, and he isn't a...ladies man... and he actually asked about tithing before we talked about baptism, so, i think it could actually happen. pray for him, please.

what else, what else... i finished the book of Mormon in Russian a few days ago, that is pretty cool. its not too hard of a read, quite repetitive. I'm also pretty close to finishing it again in English. it has been cool reading it twice at the same time, I've been really enjoying the book of Mormon. I guess in an answer to your question, yes. my testimony has strengthened. its been tested, oh boy, but its been strengthened. my daily routine is: get up at 6:30, maybe do some sit ups, but usually not. study from 8-11, then go out and work, contact, and do lessons. we are home around 9-9:30. sometimes we take a break for lunch, if we are contacting all day. we have a washing machine. it is small, but works. no dryer, so its all natural. p-days, we hang out, do internet, play sports with the district, sometimes its too hot so we just play risk. Ukrainians... yeah i think they take vacations. if they can afford it, which they usually can't. i don't know my new release date. we will figure that out when it gets a bit closer.

so yeah, its pretty awesome. transfer day is this Friday, did i already mention that? I'm getting a new companion. 8th companion, 8th transfer! i like having lots of different companions. I'm loving the mission, loving the area, and am excited for the next transfer. i love the work, and i know it's God's. i know our church is the right one. i love you all! i hope you have a great week of glorious summer.

love, elder Brimley

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crazy people/ drunk people ratio was a bit higher than average this week

howdy y'all!

have i told you that i've served with three texans so far? i think it's probably rubbed off by now. I have all this texas pride.

so pretty much, i'm hitting my year mark on a mission on thursday. is anybody else wondering where the time went? but at the same time, when i stop and think about it, yeah. its been a year. a really long year. i've even learned a thing or two, plus a bit of russian. we are going to go buy myself some gifts to celebrate, a few ties, of course. i don't know what else. but yeah. half of my mission is done. well technically, not really. they added about 3 weeks to our missions, and i just found out, that for some reason, they are adding on another week. so really my mission is 25 months. don't ask me why. it's a bit... longer than its supposed to be...

this week was really frustrating, but it ended up really well. just about everyone we called couldn't meet, or didn't answer. none of our investigators could, and we barely met with any members even. so plenty of time on the streets again, which is... fun. it seemed like the crazy people/ drunk people ratio was a bit higher than average this week. for example: on tuesday we met a man who spoke very good english. he said he had read the book of mormon. he had short, blond hair, blue eyes, no beard. he told us he was a hessitic jew. he said he didn't accept the book of mormon because in the bible it says that we need to accept jesus to be saved. the only thing that would make him less jewish is if he was wearing a cross and was eating a hot dog. yeah, he was pretty stupid.

but then we had a legit lesson with anatoli, who told us of the visions that he has had. he had a very long conversation with christ, which he doesn't really remember. he also was on the golden planet, which is the city of enoch, and other planets. one planet is inhabited by the jaredites. i don't know if i believe it, but, you know. maybe. have i sent a picture of his 'pop art?' i love this man.

then we contacted, i met this dude who took me aside, and among much other madness, pointed at his right hand, and said 'this hand has shot SO MANY PEOPLE. I HAVE KILLED SO MANY PEOPLE'. I slowly walked away.

wednesday we contacted, and then had a lesson with another of the great men in the world: alexander. this time when he prayed, he thanked god for america, which "though far away geographically, is very close to my heart". he called ronald reagan a 'very holy man', and also said something else funny: 'in china they eat DOGS! that is wrong. here, we don't eat dogs. we are a faithful people.' i didn't mention that he probably actually has eaten dog.

thursday we had a good district meeting at the other elder's apartment, because the church was being cleaned. then a lesson with the klooyev's, who are awesome of course. fed us this delicious breakfast cake. mmmmm hmm.

friday nothing really happened of note. but SATURDAY was one of the best days on my mission. everyone in xarkov went on a five hour bus ride down to donetsk, for an hour long meeting with President Clayton, of the presidency of the seventy. it was a cool question and answer meeting, but really short, obviously. We had ten hours of transport with everybody. it was such a party, awesome to see everybody that we haven't seen in forever. telling mission stories, laughing, talking, it was a great time. and then seeing everyone in donetsk was also legit. too bad it was so short.

sunday was actually a great day. two investigators came to church, which doubles my last high score. we had a lesson after church with one of them, making him a progressing investigator. the other lady is a member referral who came on her own, and we should be able to start teaching. then we met with ali, who gave us a referral, his neighbor, to whom he gave a book of mormon. the kid is 12. he's awesome. so legit. then two other lessons made that day probably the most succesful day of my mission. so that was good.

the bug was this crazy beetle we saw. don't know exactly what it is. and yes, those are my rebyatta shoes. lovely, aren't they? everybody wears them, i've got to fit in.

thanks everyone for the letters. sounds like you had an awesome week. good luck with the flooding, getting over burns, and happy birthday again, mom! i love you guys. have a great week!

love, derek

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Derek Loves Being a Missionary

Ali, with his diagram about free agency he drew for us

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMITCHKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Mary's Birthday was June 6)
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE GROWING UP SO FAST!!!!!! i wish i could be there to tell your birth story. or at least eat stuffed waffles. mmmmmmmmm

and also happy d-day! not quite as fun.

so at my place things are good. a good week, still doing awesome, doing some darn tootin good work. if i do say so. we decided to keep focusing on contacting, and try to turn contacts into investigators. we saw some good success. got a couple new investigators, and a few more that we think we should be able to meet with, so things are moving forward quickly. i guess it has taken three weeks, but that is actually very quickly here.

me and haizen are getting along awesome- we are very similar. same tastes in movies, music, books. we just talk about music the whole day pretty much. its nice to have a companion that is a person i would choose to be around, if i had a choice. I've actually had three of those, counting now. so not too bad.

so as for investigators, if you count the kids we are trying to get baptized, which we don't, we had a good family night with them. brought some brownies, which always helps, and had a good time, taught a quick lesson about gratitude, and we drew pictures about things we are grateful about. it was good, but the father wasn't there, of course. in principle, it should be the easiest baptism imaginable. an active member family with two kids who aren't baptized. ugh its frustrating. but eventually, i guess, it will work out.

we met this cool young girl for the first time in Wednesday, we found her contacting last week, and she actually is interested. we met in a park, unfortunately. those are always bad lessons, but we taught a good first. she said she had read a bit in the book of Mormon, and asked questions. we figured out by the end that she had mistaken us for j-dubs, and that seemed to relieve a lot of stress. she was nice and funny, and seems fairly interested. though she said her family is very against, and she has to read in secret and meet us in secret. so... we'll see. we have another lesson on Tuesday, this time at the church.

also on Wednesday we met with this dude andrei for the second time- he was legit. the first thing he says: last time after i walked out of the church, i had this crazy feeling. i felt peace, and joy, and love, and i don't know why. i have felt it before, but very rarely. man, that was great to hear. we explained to him the holy ghost, and then jumped into the third lesson, the gospel of Christ. he agreed with everything. after we finished, he said, i don't know what more i could possibly say to add. it is perfect. i had to try, so i tried to commit him to baptism, and he rejected it. but he said if he ever feels it is necessary, then of course he would. so as we meet more, hopefully he understands the necessity of it. he was very nice, very smart, and very accepting. great investigator. but of course, there is no such thing as a golden investigator.

our only other investigator lesson came randomly. we were at this primary activity at the church, where they were celebrating some sort of holiday for children. if i remember, it is called 'protection of children day'. we were there to support our 'investigator' kids, and right before it started this dude walks in, and says he wants to be baptized. we were like, lets talk. we talk to him and find out that he knows nothing about the church at all, but wants to start a new life, get forgiven of his old sins, so he wants to be baptized. we explained that to be baptized, he just has to be willing to live according to the standards of the church. he said he was interested, and so we talked a little bit about the restoration, got his number, and then he left. so, we will see if he is still interested after he learns that we don't just baptize people willy nilly. but hopefully, of course.

as for other highlights of the week, at a meeting with anatoli, his friend came over, and he plays the guitar awesome. so he played while anatoli sang old Russian classic songs. don't worry, i recorded it. I'll show you later. hmmm. i got a hair cut, that’s cool, right? yeah, other than that, just a bunch more contacting, which is amazingly effective in this area. and it is extremely hot, i am just constantly sweating. its awesome though, i enjoy the heat. and hopefully i sweat away a few of these extraneous pounds.

things are just wonderful. one request: i am pretty sure the pants i have aren't going to make it another year. so, maybe in the next package, that would be a wonderful gift? probably just two more pairs should be fine. well, hopefully. i think the ones i have should last the summer.

so, I'm out. thanks for everything you all do! shout out to the Pew's, who have been quite diligent in writing letters! love you guys! fight the fight, something something, and keep the faith! that’s our mission motto. have a great week!

love, elder Brimley