Derek opens his mission call

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ukraine is experiencing a severe cold snap

hey, everybody! i just realized that i missed groundhogs day! aaaahhh!!! darn.

here are some answers to questions: i am doing well. we have found a few people, mostly more brothers. it is not quite alexeevka, but there are a lot of foreign students here as well. so we got several of their contacts, hopefully they will meet. but we shall see. it is pretty here, though usually it is too cold to take pictures. i will try to take some more this week, and send them next time. we both really want to go see the russian border. i'm not sure where it is, but we will figure it out. and the branch runs...but it struggles.

the mission office just sent us an email regarding the cold. here is the first line:
European news sources are saying Ukraine is hardest hit by this recent arctic weather and has the highest mortality worldwide, of over 122 people to date who have died from the cold.

so our investigator galina, who was on date, unfortunately slipped on the ice and fell, and she got pretty hurt, from what it sounds like. it was pretty terrible. she is getting some sort of surgery today, maybe. either way, it is a long process of healing. so it will be at least 3 weeks before she can meet with us or come to church. it was very bad news. so she could use your prayers.

we had several meetings this week with investigators. it kind of seems that none of them are going anywhere. it is sad, because they are all really cool people with a lot of potential, but for one reason or another, are really slowly progressing. like this girl nina, she knows it is all true, totally believes everything, but her parents are competely against the church. her mom even said that she will kill herself if she gets baptized. and it has been like this for about 2 years. and then there is a new investigator, nicolai, who thinks the book of mormon is true, joseph smith is a prophet, and the church is true. but he thinks all churches are true if they are of god. and no matter how we explain it, he just can't get it. i've had a hundred investigators like him.

our apartment is pretty cold. but it is my best apartment so far. it even has a piano! and a guitar, but i don't play the guitar. but it is still legit. this week the zone leaders came, and showed us around the area a little bit. they both served here earlier. we were walking around, and there was this place that was kind of like a wind tunnel effect, and we had to walk against it for like 10 minutes. it was the coldest my face has ever been. we were all crying. it was so cold. i can't describe how cold it was. it was unhealthy.

things are well, not much new. i'm happy and taking my vitamin d daily. still not seeing much sun. they say it should warm up a little bit in another week or so. i don't know by how much, but any little bit helps. i'm pretty tired.

in other news, i am about 20 pages away from the end of the old testament. so that is really good news.

i love you guys. you are ze best! thanks for all the letters and other things.

love, elder brimley

(Below is a letter from the mission office to the parents of the missionaries)

Dear Parents,
All missionaries here are safe and warm. Their health seems to be good; President has provided nutritional supplements and we are not hearing of respiratory illnesses. It is true Ukraine is experiencing a severe cold snap and there have been many deaths related to the cold weather as you have probably seen in the news. We are very concerned here for the safety of every missionary during this “at risk” time. Besides the typical safety net precautions such as staying in companionships, always having a working cell phone on their person and coming in on time, we have stressed the following to each missionary:
1. NEVER create supplemental heat in your apartment with any gas appliance or open flame.

2. Always plan ahead so you do not miss bus schedules etc.

3. Every time you leave the apartment, even if you think it will be for a moment, dress warmly.

4. You are encouraged to discuss additional heating needs if your apartment is still cold after the supplemental electric oil filled heaters are not adequate.

5. Wear proper thermals, scarves, gloves and hear gear.

6. Gas detectors are in each apartment and should be checked regularly in addition to once a transfer checks by the mission.

This note is meant to communicate our concerns and actions and not meant to alarm you. Most of the deaths are in the missions to the north of us and are homeless persons or those who got too drunk and fell down in the snow late at night.
Thank you for your son or daughter’s service and preparation to serve this mission.
We do love and appreciate them.
Ukraine Donetsk Mission

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lugansk is such a great place. It is a beautiful place.

Hello from my new area (Lugansk)!!!!!

If i'm not mistaken, Brad (Derek's cousin) served here (yes he did). I don't know if he reads this, but maybe he would like to pass a message or something along to somebody here. if they are still around, that could be cool. I literally thought that I had gone to the best area of the mission, Alexeevka, so anything next would be a step down. I was wrong. this is just as good. it is a satellite city about 5 hours north-east of donetsk. right on the border of russia. most people here consider themselves russians. It is one of two cities in our mission with a magical restaurant called 'blinok', a delicious crepe restaurant. man its good! my companion and I are white washing in, which means we both are new here. my companion is one transfer older than me, and going home in two transfers, so I will be his last companion. so out of all possible combinations of areas and companions, I have the very best of the very best. I literally couldn't possibly ask for better. I will probably die here after killing my companion. which sounds wonderful. I can't describe how lucky I am. luckiest person in the world. we are loving life. and eating a lot of blinok.

saying goodbye to the brothers was sad. they are all pretty legit. saying goodbye to Festus and alfred was pretty sad, you never know what is going to happen to investigators, especially those from Africa. but actually, I got a call yesterday from Elder Hales, and they put alfred on date, so they could have 2 baptisms this transfer. in my area right now we have a cool lady on date to be baptized on february 18th, and she was at church yesterday! she is a middle aged woman with friends in the church, so it could definitely happen. and she has a daughter who is an investigator, as well. so good things are happening here. the branch is pretty weak. about 30 people come, there are probably about 3 solid priesthood holders, it is a lot like ol' Mariupol. growing, slowly.

(Warning: Derek describes a crazy dream he had. This didn't really happen to him. And by the way he really does love Elder Mendoza.)
so I had a crazy dream to share with you. I had this dream thursday night. so it was me, and a few other missionaries, the only one I remember being was Elder Mendoza. we were in this crazy place, like an underground sewer place, but it was a sort of filthy sewer kingdom/ castle thing. its weird. there was the whole shebang there- a king, queen, princes, jesters, everything. well, Mendoza decided that we were going to start a revolution, so we started a little battle with them. it went on for a while, we were just killing each other. I was just killing everything in sight. just mercilessly. during the battle I wandered outside of the underground sewer castle and started killing people with another missionary, elder Nielsen. he kicked this little kid in the face, and it died. It was at about that moment when we both realized: this wasn't just an underground sewer kingdom. it was hell. we were in hell. and we realized that Mendoza was the devil. satan. we realized that we had been fighting for satan unbeknownst to us. we ran back to the castle, but it was too late. there was Mendoza, sitting on his throne, fire all around him. everyone was in chains. so i run up to him, to try to kill him, but there was an invisible force field around him, so i got knocked back. the dream ended with Mendoza laughing, and it was a pretty messed up dream.

i dont remember dreams that often, so that was pretty exciting. the next day we met a member of the branch named lance. lance. he is from canada. he is something of a legend in our mission. we heard that he was a dream interpreter, so we asked him about my dream. he interpreted it, and it was madness- he went off for a while about rape in liberia. he's one of those guys in the mission. crazy. but funny.

lugansk is such a great place. it is a beautiful place. i'm in the center of the city and it is just wonderful. it is also really cold. really, really cold. and everyone keeps telling us that it is going to get colder. our apartment is really cold too. but blinok cafe is nice and warm. seriously, our first night here was the coldest i've been on my mission. which probably means its the coldest i've been in my life. but don't worry. i will SURVIVE.

We met the branch on sunday, they are all pretty great people. a lot of old ladies, a handful of men, and several young women. pretty much the same as everywhere. strong-faithed individuals, but just don't quite know how to function as a branch yet. they will learn. it will just take a few more years.

so I'm very happy to be here. I should be finishing my mission here, if I have anything to do with it. I pray I do. great place, great companion, just perfect. couldn't ask for better. oh, by the way, my companion's name is Elder Pulsipher. he is from Colorado, at least that is where is family lives right now. he is Lizzie Fotheringham's cousin, which is funny. he is going to BYU this summer. we are getting along great.

ok, I love you guys. the gospel is true, the church is true, and the book of mormon is true.

love, elder Brimley

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'm going to be leaving xarkov

Hello my dear family and friends and aquaintances!!!!!!!!!! and if any enemies read this, hello to you too!!!!!!!!!

new jersey spanish speaking!!!!!! ive never heard of that town. i barely know anything about the whole state! oh that’s so great. may 16. poo. at least you don't have to wait so long. well that’s legit. just a few more months. for both of us! woo hoo!

so all in all, my week was pretty eventless, except for one huge surprise: i got a transfer call. training is supposed to be for 2, and its only been one. so.... i don't really know what is up. i am pretty sad that i'm leaving alekseevka, but i guess i'll just have faith in the power of revelation, and do what i'm told. but lets pray its good. i'm going to be leaving xarkov on thursday, so before then i'm going to want to get some souvenirs. this is the best, cheapest place in the mission to get them. i think we will be going on either tuesday or wednesday morning. so.... if there were some money on my personal card, i wouldn't be angry. thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so tuesday morning rolls around and lo and behold- my companion is as sick as a dog. he hasn't been sleeping, and he just has felt like garbage, so we figured the best thing to do is not go outside in the freezing cold and make it worse. we still did some work each day, but we were forced to take it easy, for his sake. but don't worry, we worked as much as we could. it was just one of those weeks... don't worry, we bought some sleeping pills, and he is feeling a lot better now.

we had a funny lesson with this crazy less active lady. she just kind of talks. for every second you are there, she is talking. and it is all madness. she spends a lot of time in a hospital, and she was telling us about when she was leaving the hospital, someone asked her how she was going to live. she said "a hospital, it's a hospital. home, it is home. and that's that." she said this crazy 8 minute long prayer, where she blessed us with exactly what God had blessed her with: "one. a good member. two. a love for the people. three. a good voice, just in case they sing. and four. love for the people." and as always, she made sure to warn us before we left, to protect our legs! "for, if we will not protect our legs, then we will not be able to walk". she probably doesn't sound as crazy as she is in person. but she is. i promise.

luckily, on sunday, we had two investigators there! festos came, and alfred, our new investigator came too. they both came 1 1/2 hours late, but oh well. they are both doing good. alfred we had a lesson with after church, and he is doing great. he is a way humble guy. he was really excited to learn about the plan of salvation. he loved the new things he learned, especially about how he chose to come here. he said he never knew that God had given him the choice to come to earth, and he had chosen. he really liked that. and the three kingdoms thing, he liked that as well.

last night contacting, we met an american! he was from new york city. it was crazy to hear his queens accent, and talk to him for a bit. yesterday we got two cool contacts: one from pakistan, the other from jordan, both english speakers. i'm going to miss this area. best area in the mission.

ok. thanks for everything. i love you guys. and i love the church! i know it's all true. i'm getting close to finishing the old testament, and i know that even it is true now. aaahhh i love it all. you guys are the best.

elder brimley

Monday, January 16, 2012

So i kind of called him out for wearing the weapon that killed Christ

hello from ukraine!!!

how are you all? unfortunately not too much to write about, really. we got some snow, finally! it sort of snows every day, and then melts the next day, and then snows, and then melts, and its been that for two or three weeks. which just makes for a big muddy mess. but right now its about -5, and there is snow on the ground. so lets pray it stays this time. i'm tired of having such muddy shoes all the time.

as for Festos, i feel terrible. there is just nothing we can do. the church can't help him, and individuals can't either. our branch president called a bunch of people and said that no one can help him. he himself bought him groceries for a second time, but it doesn't look good for the poor guy. the problem is that he doesn't have any money. and he can't work here, so he can't get any money. and so any money we give him will only last so long, and eventually he will have to leave the country. its sad. i felt terrible telling him yesterday. there just isn't anything we can do. and i have no idea. that is really sad. so i don't really think we can baptize him, unless this is all magically fixed.

my companion was only in donetsk for one day, and he is apparantly going to have to go back every 45 days, because his visa is messed up. that will be really annoying for him if he has to do that his whole mission. once a transfer trip to donetsk and back. but its not too big of a deal, i guess.

We had an interesting week. on tuesday we had two set up meetings with new investigators, neither of them worked out. we even had members who were ready to be on the lessons with us. on wednesday we didn't have any lessons. on thursday we had another new investigator lesson that didn't work out. on friday we had two lessons set up with new investigators, neither of them worked out. again, both of those lessons we had members with us. saturday we had two lessons set up with new investigators, the first one dogged us, and the second one, when we tried to go into his hostel, it was quarantined, and he wouldn't answer his phone. so seven in a row. oh well. sunday was great, we had a new investigator lesson with a brother named alfred. he is great, way humble, nice, easy to understand. from kenya. way sincere. that made it all worth it. and later that night we had a good lesson with our recent convert anya. she is doing great.

so a little owned this week. but usually this area is the bomb. this area is still as good as i thought it would be. we have been contacting a lot recently, and keep filling up papers of contacts received. like this one drunk guy in the morning. when i realized he was drunk, i thought about just ending the conversation, and walking away. but i gave him a bit of a chance. he was complaining to us that we don't wear crosses, and saying we weren't christians. i figured i could, and kind of had to be, bold. so i kind of called him out for wearing the weapon that killed Christ. i tried to explain it nicely. usually a drunk wouldn't really listen, but he was actually surprised, and listened. he said that he had never thought about it, and that we had "touched his heart". he was amazed, gave us his number and address. we called, and it was the wrong number, and we stopped by, and it was the wrong address, but still. it was still fun.

the new schedule is nice. it gets us out, and walking around, which wakes me up better for the rest of the day. it is a bit harder to schedule, especially in advance, but i like the change. it splits things up better.

anyways, i'm doing great. i have been taking my vitamin D, and i think it is working. at least, i don't feel like i did last winter...though that was a lot colder, in very different circumstances. i'm doing my best not to die, in any and all meanings of the word. i love the work, i love my area, i love the mission. and i love you guys!

have a great week.

love, derek

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pray for Festos

zdrastvooytye everyone!!!!!! merry christmas again!!! russian christmas is on the seventh. this country is pretty awesome, because i get to celebrate every holiday twice. the 25th is real christmas, and then there is second christmas. the 1st is new years, but then there is 'old new years' on the 14th. because they changed their calendar, and the old new years used to be the 14th. so they figure they can just celebrate every holiday again 14 days later, and they can be justified in taking more time off work. i plan to apply this in my life.

i'm doing good. we had a fun week. my poor companion just keeps getting owned. he has to get his visa renewed every 45 days, in donetsk. they found this out on monday, and it was pretty urgent, so we shipped him and one other elder on a night train the next day. so he had a three day trip tuesday, wednesday, and thursday. luckily, in our district, we have a three-some, and so i got to serve with haizen for those three days. it was fun. tuesday was haizens birthday, and luckily we had found a restaraunt called "texas". it was a steakhouse. haizen is a texan, so it was just natural. the steak was good, but the ribs were the first ribs i have had in a year and a half. they were incredible. i want to go again. it was so darn tootin good. giddy up, yall!

we also had a fun christmas party on the 4th. the branch put on a little nativity with the primary kids, it was fun to watch. little ukranian kids are really funny. yesterday at church, they asked us to come and give a little spiritual thought to the primary kids, so we went in. they are so funny. we were supposed to talk about agency, so i asked them if they knew what freedom of choice was. no one said anything. i asked, do you know what freedom is? and one kid was like, "yeah! i know! freedom very good!" little kids are so funny sometimes.

thursday was a great day. me and haizen had a lesson with festos, who has been doing really well. well we had a good lesson about the gospel of christ, and at the end of the lesson we put him on date!!! that is number 2 for me and haizen. and we are 100 % for people who we put on date and eventually get baptised. just saying. well he said he needs to know more, before he abandons his catholic faith, but accepted the 4th of february as a goal to be baptised. he is such a legit guy! my one worry, the one complication is that he is having some pretty serious financial issues. the branch can't really help him out, but we are going to try and gather up enough money from individual church members to help him pay his rent this month. i sure hope everything works out. africans who live here seem to get owned a lot. that would be way hard to try to live somewhere that you didn't understand the language. and they don't have a senior companion either.

anyways, just pray for festos, he is a really cool guy. i really hope everything works out for him. i just feel like there isn't much i can do. we had an interesting zone conference on friday. actually i really like what we talked about. the biggest thing is that we got a new schedule for our days. i've been getting kind of bored of our same old schedule every day for my whole mission. it should be a really nice change. so basically, we are supposed to leave our apartment at 7 am and go out contacting for about an hour and a half. and then we come back in, exercise, eat, and do studies. then we go out and work, and then come back in and basically, it just breaks up the day more, so there aren't as many really long times of contacting. it breaks everything up a lot better, and we tried it out on saturday. i liked it. it is something different, at least.

did i mention last week about all the muslims we've been associating with? well it has continued. on saturday night we had another lesson with a muslim named roma. once again, he wasn't as much interested in listening to our message as he was in telling us about his religion. muslims are pretty assertive. after listening to him for about an hour, we tried to teach the book of mormon to him, but he admitted that he doesn't think it is possible to be true. we told him to at least read it, and he said he would, but that no matter what, it can't be true. so, we will see what happens with our good friend roma.

sunday was uneventful, except for during english gospel principles with the brothers, we discussed what color God is. that was an interesting conversation.

another cool thing from zone conference: we can work fund vitamin D! :D so we went and got some, it should help with the whole no sun thing. speaking of the weather, it has been super warm here, around 40. no snow, just lots of mud everywhere, and gray skies all the time. its kind of lame, i want snow this year! it is really, really unusual. hopefully this week...

in other news....i think that is about it. good week. good week. i love you guys! i love the mission, it is such a good time. scott, you are in for the best experience there is.

have the best week!

love, elder brimley

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who else can go up to a random drunk guy and start talking to him about jesus?

yo yo yo!!!

happy new years!!!! i can't believe the year is already over. looking back, this was the fastest year of my life. i spent january first to december 31st in ukraine. my black year is over. five more months?! crazy stuff.

so i left my planner at some other elder's apartment, which i usually use to remember what i did this week. so...i'll do my best. this was a great week. we had a lot of time to contact, which is pretty effective in my area. we have been working a lot with muslims, random i know. we just keep running in to them. we had a lesson in a cafe with a couple of them, even. they have some interesting beliefs. they don't all agree about the whole jesus thing. at least they believe he is a prophet, i guess. they are very firm in their beliefs, though. and to change their religion is really hard, and even dangerous. they are really nice, and like to talk at least. its just random, this week we have talked with probably 50 muslims. sometimes they are a little intense.

mostly no one could meet because... new years. it is their biggest holiday and they party hard. we are not even allowed out of our apartments after four o'clock on new years eve, and then six o'clock on new years.

i'm sorry, the guy in charge of this club is playing music really loud and it is really distracting. i have asked him twice to turn it down, and he said no. its hard to think.

so on new years we did a split, so i went to the other elders (arrington and haizen). it was a fun night, we played a really long game of risk, ate A LOT of junk, and me and haizen talked about what we want to do for the next year. made lots of resolutions. it was a good night. ukranians love fireworks, lets say that.

the next morning was church, which was only an hour long. and it started two hours late, so people would actually come. surprisingly, they did. it was good, we had an investigator there.

new years has forced me to think a lot about going home. i have been doing a lot of that, unfortunately. i'm pretty proud, though, before this month i hadn't really thought about it at all. the mission has just become life. i can't really remember what i used to do, and trying to imagine what i'm going to do is hard. life is a lot more complicated out of the mission. which is awesome, i've had so much time to completely focus on the work, on the gospel, on myself. its been the best thing in the world for me. but thinking about it, it will be nice to get out of that missionary schedule: wake up, study, go contacting, eat dinner, have lessons or contact some more. i just need to take the good, and get rid of the unnecessary. but i'm glad i still have lots of time left. i'm not ready to go home yet. i really like being a missionary. it is a blast. who else can go up to a random drunk guy and start talking to him about jesus? it is a pretty unique experience.

ok i'm out of things to say. sorry this is a really short letter. i love you guys! have a good week.

love, elder brimley



it was WUUUUUUUNDERBAAAAAAAAAAAAR to talk with you all!!!! that was the fastest 30-40 minutes of my life ;) i can't wait till we can talk for realsies, without some ukrainian girl next to me telling me to be quiet the whole time ;) sorry if you couldn't tell i was really excited, i had to keep it down a little bit :( the internet club was surprisingly full :D whatever :b

well we pretty much covered it in our talk yesterday, so i don't know what else to write :l i guess i'll tell you about the week :)

we didn't get owned too bad this week, for the most part:) on wednesday we helped out festos, one of our brother investigators, buy some groceries. he is a really good guy, so sincere :D he was so appreciative, he loves the church. it is just sad, he can't pay for school, and the church cant pay for his schooling. our branch president out of his own pocket paid for the groceries. he'll probably have to go home :( we'll see.

thursday, i told you, we had an interesting meeting. president bennett of the area presidency and presidency of the seventy came and OWNED us. which was bad timing. he replaced three things at once: our annual christmas party, zone conference, and the christmas feast. just bad timing. that night we were contacting for a couple of hours, and for whatever reason, we saw some awesome success. we got three great contacts, contacts that i think we will definitely be able to meet with. especially this one guy seemed super interested, and really knew his beliefs. when we asked him what he believed, he said, in the father, and the son, and the holy ghost. most people here just say, i think that god is one. which is just another way to say, i've never read the bible, and just listen to what other people have told me. but we had a really good conversation, and he is a legit guy. i've got, hieeay hopes, i've got, hieeay hopes.

we met with micheal again, the kind of crazy nigerian brother. he was less crazy this time, and we were a bit more assertive so that we could stay more on topic. it worked, but he really didn't like the idea that there is only one true church. apparently he knows of a lot of african "prophets" that perform miracles and baptise people. he himself has been baptised twice. he said he believes in the book of mormon, the restoration, every single thing we said, except that there is only one true church. we told him to read the book of mormon and pray about it, and he said he would. so, we'll see where this one goes. what we really need is a brother to come to lessons with us, i think he would be able to relate better with him.

on saturday afternoon we had brother's institute, which in the past has been not very successful. but we changed the time to earlier, and lots of people came! members, and investigators! a new guy named kevin came, with a member brother! and he was cool, he was making comments. institute is great, because a senior couple named the bailey's teach it. straight out of the book of mormon, its great. so we had a really good institute, and after that we got dogged by an investigator. but then, we had an awesome lesson with this super legit guy, named anatoli alekseyevich. he is an old guy who admits that he is interested, but seems kind of worried about something. we tracted into him last week, and called him and set up a lesson. we had a first lesson outside at night, it was really cold, but it was one of the best first lessons ever. he was super teachable, asked questions, actually listened, and i could tell it all just clicked with him. he still wants to know more, but he said he would read the book of mormon and pray, so its over for him. he's practically already baptised. well, he was really cool and nice at least. sometimes you have lessons with people that maybe won't go anywhere, but at least raise your spirits.

then there was CHRISTMAS!!!!! it was awesome. we opened presents in the morning (THANK YOU!!!! I love the book and i'm going to learn how to play the card games (Mary sent a Sponge Bob card game). and i'll wear the shirt and eat all the candy :b then we went to an hour of church, and had the first presidency fireside. it was great, a couple of brother investigators came to church.

stupid internet club. power went out, and we had to go to another one. oh well. well christmas morning i also made some bomb diggety cinnamon rolls, with very expensive cream cheese frosting. but it is completely worth every kopeck. delicioso. after church we went to our apartment and made a christmas feast! pork tacos, to be exact. we made some corn bread, mashed potatoes, pico de gayo, the works. it was a good meal. and fun to make. and a big huge mess. we are still suffering the consequenses.

i'll say that this was a much, much, much better christmas than last year's. but i would also say that next years christmas will be even better! and then in three years time, the whole family will be back together! woohoo!!

which reminds me. i think i've made the decision. i'm going to try to come home may 29thish. prepare my ways, make my paths straight. (Derek, and the missionaries that went out with him, have the choice of going home in May, or wait until July because of when transfers are. May would be a couple of weeks early, and July would be a month later than the two year mark for his mission)

i'm going to send some pictures now. i hope you all had merry christmas's! i did. just remember the meaning of the season. i love you all! i love the mission, i love my savior. goodbye!

love, elder brimley