Derek opens his mission call

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't be offended

hey, everybody!

I had a good week, kind of. i guess i would call it average. nothing worked out really, especially with investigators, so it was obviously frustrating. they just couldn't meet all week, or didn't answer their phones. and neither did members, so not a lot of meetings..

and then our faucet broke, started leaking really bad so we couldn't drink water on Tuesday. we called the land lady, who came over to fix it, and she said that it wasn't the faucet, but the filter system, so she couldn't do anything for us. but she said she knew how to fix it, so she put a bunch of tape on it, and said, there you go. after she left, it, of course, broke apart and so we went to the market and got a guy to fix it. he replaced the broken part with a part of a hose, which works, but is pretty ghetto. but it was free, so I'm not complaining. we might just buy a whole new faucet.

Wednesday i went on a split with elder beck, my zone leader in his last transfer. it was good, we had probably the best first lesson with a new investigator I've ever had. we had a member present, who helped a lot, and she wants to be baptized. and it just all flowed really well. i think she will get baptized. then we went out to eat at this legit restaurant, had some delicious Ukrainian food. after that we had another good lesson with a part-member family. afterwards we were contacting and met this guy that was really mean. He said that he was going to "open our eyes", and that we are the workers of Satan, hypnotizing people to follow us and blindly obey. "but don't be offended," he said. he went off for awhile about how we were evil, we are only here to destroy Ukraine, blah blah, but of course, ''don't be offended''.

the next day was good though. we had a good district meeting, we had a short meeting with Igor, still doing good, and then we met with sister klooyeva. she made us this delicious chicken with pasta. man it was great. Friday we had a couple lessons with members, and weekly planning. we tried to make cookies for weekly planning, but our oven is way too hot and burned them bad. Saturday we were supposed to have two investigator lessons, one with a new investigator, but both fell through. so we went contacting. in the morning, we contacted into this dude. he started just asking us a bunch of questions. then he started yelling at the top of his lungs, about how this is an orthodox country, and we shouldn't be here, blah blah blah. i at first tried to calm him down, but just saying the word "we" made him angrier. so we just walked away. but he followed us, yelling and screaming, swearing like a mad man. he was sweating really bad, and smelled way drunk. he was getting into our grillz (faces), and spitting all over the place. pumping his fist in our faces and making lots of crude signs. we keep walking. eventually we stop and ask where he is going. he says, with you guys. so we start walking in the direction of the park, so there will be more people. he is still screaming, keeps following, people are just staring. he said something interesting. s ookraini na khooi! ponial? (I would very much appreciate it if you left Ukraine.) Eventually he stopped, once we got to a busier street. it was a little intense. then we contacted.

is America going to default? someone told me that. what does that mean? any other crazy news?

Sunday was pretty average. Igor is still very attached to me. but he got the Aaronic priesthood, so that was awesome, obviously. after church we took sister alizaveta the sacrament.

i don't know about transfers, i will find out this Friday. i don't mind either way. me and Elder Young are getting along great. and i forgot about pioneer day. darn. i loved everything in the package, the pants fit well. the weather has been nice and warm, quite humid. and it has been raining the past few days. there was this crazy lightning storm Friday night. it kept me up for hours, it was really bright and loud, and it struck like every ten seconds. it was pretty nuts.

well that’s about it for the week, like i said, not amazing. but whatever, if I've learned anything on the mission is that the next week is always better. or at least, you have to act like that.

thanks for everything. love you all.

elder Brimley

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Derek gets a package from home

hello all,

THANK YOU FOR THE AWESOME PACKAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it is great. thank you for all the messages on the rice krispy treats. though i think i like the treats themselves a bit better. the pants fit well. the tape recorder is legit, i enjoyed listening to you guys'...ramblings. no, i wasn't really fooled by the San Fransisco trick, because i knew the timing was off. and Scott, the repetition of 'we are in San Fransisco' hindered your cause. but you almost got me. i enjoyed listening. you guys are ridiculous. you got me way trunky. Is that new Italian restaurant true, or was that a trick as well? man.

today we were playing basketball, and i was going up for a slam dunk and this elder throws another ball at me and it stuffed my pinky pretty bad. so it is a bit painful to type. its all swollen. i don't think it's broken though. well i guess i don't know.

so my week went pretty well. nothing too extremely new to report. there was this epidemic sort of thing, several elders got pretty darn sick for the week, but it is pretty much all over now. or so it seems. i was unaffected, needless to say. Igor is doing well, came to church yesterday and doing fine. we need to work on making him some member friends. we brought him over to the klooyev's (gosh that looks weird in English) on Monday, and that was good. but he still kind of clings to me pretty bad. every day he calls and asks if we can meet. it's sad, but the goal is to transition him to the branch, so we can't meet him that often. he is... quite attached to me. on Sunday he said to me: 'i dreamed you two times'. its just a bit too much. there just aren't that many people for him to befriend his age. the eventual goal is for him to get married, but that doesn't seem to be on his agenda. hopefully as he comes to church more it will become one.

we had a good first lesson with a new investigator, a young kid named Kiril we met contacting last transfer. he is a good kid, really smart, knows English very well, but also quite agnostic. it is hard to convince him of anything, but we had a good discussion about the existence of god, and why religion matters, and the restoration. he is cool, doesn't have much faith, but it seems like he wants to believe, but just can't for whatever reason.

the next eventful thing wasn't until Thursday. in the morning we had a fun meeting with a couple of inactives, a brother and sister, young, fun people. still seems like they believe everything, but life is just in the way. they have just lost desire to go to church, i guess. but we had a good discussion, more just a get to know you discussion than anything else, but it is good to get to know people, i guess. they love to talk, so it was good Russian practice for me as well. after that was a big event: my first interview with the new mission president, president campero. great man. we had a very good interview. he is a good humored, smart, lovely man. his wife is great too, she can speak a little bit of English, and she is just a saint. I'm very excited that he is my mission president.

me and elder young took elder efoshkin, elder Neil's companion, for a couple days, because Neil has been sick, so efoshkin wanted to get out of the house. i don't like threesomes. contacting is awkward, teaching is harder, and everything we do has to be unanimous, which, with efoshkin, is difficult. but it was OK. we had a new investigator lesson in a park, a middle aged woman named galya. she is cool, she is very friendly and wants to meet, and come to church, but says she takes care of some kid on Sundays. but that shouldn't be too hard of a challenge to overcome. I've got high hopes, as usual.

Saturday was a frustrating day, we tried to work both ours and efoshkin's area, and it was just a lot of traveling. plus the lessons we had were just frustrating. one was with this couple, the wife an inactive, the husband a bible-basher. Every time i tried to talk the dude would pat me on the arm like I'm five years old, but he really liked efoshkin because he is Russian. the book of Mormon is for Americans, he says, and the bible is for Russians. he is a frustrating dude.

Sunday was good. at church Igor followed me around the whole time. i am trying to leave him in places with members, in hopes that they become friends, but it just hasn't worked. i was like, 'i gotta go to the bathroom', and he is like, 'oh, that’s a good idea. I'm going too.' man. but that night president had a fireside about less actives, and it was legit. president's Russian is amazing. better than mine already. well maybe. he is very fluent, knows a lot of phrases, and puts it all together beautifully. i guess that’s what studying in Moscow for 5 years does for you. he is going to be amazing by the end of three years.

to answer a question, yes. I'm pretty sure most missionaries have largely the same experience in this mission. lots of frustration, a lot of the same stuff that i have had. its good, so we all know how to comfort each other. kind of like Jesus.

yeah, so that was the week. sounds like you guys are partying it up in San Fran. buy me some chocolate, i guess.

love you guys! the church is true. have a good time for me in the city of "love".

elder Brimley

Monday, July 11, 2011

Igor gets baptized

Dear family and friends,

Lots to talk about so lets get started. how about i start with questions this week? yes. i think this was the best week of my mission. i cant really imagine how it could have been better. who could have guessed that Bulgaria and a baptism would come on the same week? too legit. the new mission president is a great man, i only talked with him for a bit, but he seems awesome, loving, just great. I'm excited for him. yes. elder petterson was in the mtc with me. and my favorite eating place was subway...dunking donuts. i cant decide.

so now from the beginning. Sunday night i get on a train with elder petterson, to Donetsk. we had a fun time, we stayed up talking for a while, then celebrated the 4th of July by singing the national anthem/ saying the pledge of allegiance, and then talking about how amazing America is for a few hours. then we slept for about 2 hours. then we got to Donetsk. the 4th was fun. we went and had a barbeque with the elders in center, some meat, and hamburgers. very American. sang patriotic songs, had a good time. then we went to the office and did some paperwork for Bulgaria. the four of us (me, mendoza, petterson, and neilson) spent the night at the ap's apartment, played a game of risk, and then talked until like 3. we woke up at like 5:30 in order to take some showers and get to the airport on time. we got there, and it was just like i remember. one little concrete building. super sketchy.

but we fly out, first to Kiev, then to Austria, then to Bulgaria. Craziest flight plan ever. but whatever. we get to Kiev and have about a 5 hour layover, so we decided we wanted to see Kiev. turns out, the airport is about an hour away from Kiev. so we walk for about 20 minutes, then take a bus for about 45 minutes, then get onto the metro and go for about 30 minutes, and realize that we have to turn around and go back. but it was a fun adventure, we saw a bit of Kiev, and even went over the dnepr river, which was a cool sight. it was a good time, and we didn't miss our flight. in all the airports we were in, at least one Mormon came up to us and said, hey elders! which was cool, to meet American Mormons again.

eventually we made it to Sofia, Bulgaria. did you know that in Bulgaria they shake their head to say yes, and nod to say no? backwards from everyone else. its confusing. some Bulgarian elders met us there, and drove us to the mission home, which is right in the middle of the city. they showed us our apartment, and were all like 'this is a pretty nice apartment', and we were all shocked. i wanted to say, haha, good one guys, lets go to our real apartment now.' two bathrooms, a kitchen, and three huge other rooms. 10 places to sleep. carpet. a kitchen table! geez louise. it was breathtaking. and then, tradition is that they take us out to a Chinese restaurant, but they were like, 'its too greasy' so they took us to some other weird restaurant, it was ok. we haven't had Chinese in a year, for crying out loud! after that, we ditched them and went exploring Sofia. we walked around center, saw all the sights, got to know the area. the people are amazing there. everyone speaks English, and getting directions was so easy. we asked this one guy where kfc was, and he walked us there! when we got there, though, we looked across the street, and there stood subway. obviously we walked over and helped ourselves. i got a bmt (his favorite Subway sandwich). mmm baby!

then we went home and talked, played cards, and eventually went to sleep. woke up at 8 ish, and the elders tell us that we don't even have to go to the embassy anymore, they can do it all without us, so we are free the entire day. that was good news. so we walk to dunkin donuts to start the day right. man that place is good! i also got some delicious hot chocolate. they know what they are doing over there. then we walked down the street, stopping once for some ice cream. we head to the mall. yeah, there is a mall! in the mall we had first pizza hut, and then kfc. after that we toured the city, saw all the cool sights, took lots of pictures. i got another giant piece of pizza from a street vendor, which was delicioso. that city is so beautiful. it is like real Europe. so many cool sights to see, such beautiful architecture, it was like Kiev all over again.

then we headed over to this junk market, where they sell a bunch of cool stuff, including old Nazi junk, knives, coins, and other stuff. i bought a t shirt, and one of those nesting dolls. also, in Bulgaria, another tradition is to sell ties to the elders there. so i had bought several ties in Ukraine for 15 grivn (less than 2 dollars) and sold them for 7 lev, which is about the same as a dollar. so i made 37 lev off that, and spent it all. they also give us 40 lev for the trip, and i spent all that. and i took off like 20 more lev, and i spent all that. i went a little crazy.

after the market we went to this huge temple, a really famous one, after which we went to that Chinese restaurant. we were so mad that they didn't bring us the night before, because it was AMAZING. the portions were enormous, it wasn't too expensive, it tasted incredible, and half way through, they brought us out a huge bowl of fresh, free watermelon! that was amazing.

the rest of the night we spent walking around, checking out more stuff, shopping a bit, getting subway one last time, and then heading home, where we again played cards, talked, and partied until 3:30. then we got up at 5:30 to shower, (with hot water!) and flew away from that blessed land at 8. it was too short, but we made the most of our trip. my only regret is not getting subway a 3rd time, and dunkin donuts a 2nd. there just wasn’t time. but it was an incredible trip. we flew back to Austria, and then straight back to Donetsk. hung out there for a few hours, and then got in another night train with petterson, and we got a good 7 hours of sleep. which brings my total sleep up to 18 hours for Sunday-Friday. Sunday to Thursday i was at 11. but you gotta. its Bulgaria.

Friday morning i get into xarkov and don't have much time to rest either, we have to prepare for the baptism, make baptismal programs, make sure all the paperwork is in order, meet with Igor and make sure he is totally ready, have him fill out some paperwork. i don't remember that day very well.

Saturday I remember. we spent the morning making sure everything was ready, the font filled, the programs printed. at 3 we met Igor and walked with him to center. we did the baptism at the center branch. i realized then that i don't know what I'm doing, and i wish i had someone there who could tell me what to do. none of our branch presidency came, so we got this kid to conduct, he did a good job. me and Igor went and got changed, and sat down. not too many members came, but plenty of missionaries showed up, which was good. the program was nice, kind of unorganized, because everyone we asked to give talks didn't, so a missionary, and this random member had to pull talks out of nowhere, but they did well. then the actual baptism. the church doesn't have hot water, but it wasn't too bad. we were standing there in the water, and i was just thinking, what am I doing? how do i do this? but I grabbed his wrist and he grabbed mine, I tucked his ponytail into the suit. I asked one of the witnesses, because I wasn’t thinking straight, 'do i need to say my name?' and he said no. so i said the prayer, and dunked him. looked around, the witnesses were shaking their heads, yes, so we start walking out. then i hear them say, wait, come back. i had forgotten to say his name. man. I didn't even know his full name. but i figured it out, and did it over, and it was all good. it wasn't too big of a deal, I don't care. it was great.

after that in the center branch was a xarkov talent show, so we stayed for that, it was fun. Igor had fun, i think. after we went and got some pizza to celebrate, and went home.

Sunday was good, kind of. Igor thought he wasn't going to be able to come, because of work, but eventually got it off. so i was trying to get people to give him the holy ghost, and the branch president said he wasn't going to be there, and the first counselor flat out said no, i don't' know why. and no one else answered their phones. so i thought i was going to do it until we got in a circle around him, and the 2nd counselor stepped in place, thankfully. i was ready to, but gosh. this was a complete missionary baptism, i felt zero support from the ward. except sister Klooyev, who came up to Igor and was like, I'm so sorry i missed the baptism! i was working! you should come over tomorrow night to our house with the missionaries! she is such a great lady.

so then we went home and relaxed. i don't feel too bad for relaxing, i am still really tired from Bulgaria, and mentally tired from the baptism. it was a hectic week, but a great one. i traveled to three different countries in the space of a few hours, ate American food, hung out with friends, and, most importantly, baptized Igor. zhe good week.

I guess it's all downhill from here. start the countdown.

OK, i think that is enough email. thanks everybody! love you all.

love, elder Derek Steven Brimley

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Heading to Bulgaria

Dear family and friends,

firstly, i don't have AIDS. there was this inexplicable anxiety in me that had me convinced that i had it. but it isn't true. I'm clean. and i can prove it. which means, I'm going to Bulgaria! tomorrow morning! its the best day of my life! last night i rode down to Donetsk on a night train with elder petterson, it was a good time. except for the night train part, those are kind of uncomfortable. so i fly to Bulgaria Tuesday, and don't get back to xarkov until Friday morning. then on Saturday is Igor's baptism! so this is, easily, the best week of my mission. who would have thought that i would get my first baptism and Bulgaria on the same week? its all downhill after this one. oh well.

HAPPY FOURTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA, THE GREATEST OF ALL NATIONS, THE LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE, THE PROMISED LAND OF MILK AND HONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! me and petterson on the way down pretty much talked about America the whole time. gosh its a great place. but i still love xarkov.

so on to the week. I've been working on meeting with more less actives, because I've kind of grown tired of contacting all day every day. i found 4 new inactives, who are all perfectly willing to meet weekly. just by calling people on the ward list. so that is pretty cool, somehow missionaries just lost track of them, because they used to meet with missionaries, and for some reason they just stopped. all the people we are now meeting with have potential to return, in my opinion. so we are going to be working hard with them. that is pretty much what we busied ourselves with on Tuesday, less active lessons. one was this mom and her daughter, both older, who were kind of crazy, but fun. they said: we are in active, and we won't tell you why. so... we'll work on that. the other was this lady, an inactive, and her 7th day Adventist husband, who study the bible together. so it was basically a bible bashing lesson, my first on my mission. i held my own, actually. even in Russian. there were a couple of moments when they just had no response. the first, i just bore pure testimony about the book of Mormon, and restoration, and they just had no response. then, they had a problem with us doing the sacrament every Sunday, rather than twice a year. i said, why do you have such a problem with us remembering our savior more often? actually it kind of worked, because they came to church on Sunday. late, but they came. i was surprised. on Wednesday i had a split with a new, Russian elder. he is kind of crazy... super judgmental and questions everything you do. and treats you like a five year old. it was a hard, long day, though it shouldn't have been. we had some time to contact, we had three lessons, we got fed twice! by members, and yet the whole day he was just acting like i was doing it all wrong. oh well. it's over. his poor companion, though.

Thursday was a good district meeting, then we had another new less active lesson with this way cool girl, who has a super strong testimony, but she says she is lazy, so doesn't come to church. but reads and prays everyday, and is worthy in every other way. I'm guessing there is a better reason, but i don't know it yet. we shall see. then the next day...i went and got my aid test results, and planned, and then met with Igor in the park. we went over the details of the baptism, and what was going to happen in the next week, and everything. the baptism is on Saturday at 4:00. he is way excited, and absolutely ready. still going strong, still reading the book of Mormon, he finally finished 2nd nephi. understands everything well, and is all set and ready to go. way legit.

Saturday was...normal. we had a lesson with this emotional member, and she fed us probably the nastiest meal I've had here. it was cold soup, made with mayonnaise, onions, cucumbers, dill, and lemon. i couldn't finish the whole thing, but i went a lot farther than my companion (who has been feeling under the weather). ew that was gross. then we had an interesting lesson with a new investigator, an old babooshka who is a referral from ali, a young black kid in the branch. she is white, and as we found out, pretty brainwashed by j-dubs. so we bible bashed for a while, and set up for next week. she was nice enough, but said straight up, i am not interested in changing religions. but we want to give her a chance, obviously.

Sunday was pretty busy. we went to church early, so that Igor could do his baptismal interview. it was testimony meeting, which is kind of crazy in this branch. everybody just talks about the temple the whole time. then this guy (the guy who won't let his kids get baptized) goes up and testifies about himself, talks about how he is a victim of the hatred of others, and that all he ever does is good. and told everybody that his father in law was evil, and hated him, and that everyone should join together against him so that he can go to the temple. he is an evil man. it was really awkward. after church we taught Igor the restoration again, made sure he understands everything. he does. then we brought the sacrament to alizaveta, and went home and packed. got on the train at about 10, and got to Donetsk about 6:30. its a party.

I'm going to fill out paperwork all day, and then leave tomorrow. we are going to make party so hard. so hard.

that is pretty much it. thanks for everything! have a great 4th! appreciate America! gosh its a great place. i love you all!

love, elderek