Chris' Special Tie Knot

Chris' Special Tie Knot

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Slovakia!


I am SO excited to email today I can hardly SEE STRAIGHT, haha. I will be emailing all about the last 2 weeks, and I apologize right now to my fam that Skyped with me, they might already know a few of these stories. So...first off, what the heck, why does my sister get a car?!? Ok, got that out of my system, I don't actually want an answer, I'm sure that will be taken care of when I get home...*wink*

Alright, so last week before Christmas was just wonderful, I couldn't believe all the success we've been having, we got 16 new investigators that week, and we are struggling now trying to schedule when we can meet with all of them because we're the only 2 missionaries here so it would be impossible for us to do splits. I'm praying that with the Lord, we're going to be able to make all of that work, because it feels like this city is ready to light up in missionary work.

Now, to my sister: Well everything, where can I start? This is the warmest winter they've had in like 35 years or so, there's no snow anywhere. Everything except Europa (the mall) is something really old that has been refurbished and is being used as something else now. It is SUPER foggy here, especially on the border with the Czech Republic, btw Banska is in the middle of Slovakia so thank heavens I don't have to associate with that border very much, it's just straight up unhealthy, but so foggy that you can't even see your hand in front of your face with a car that has its brights on behind you (I tested that, it's true!) but most of the time it's pretty ok. It is really quite a nice atmosphere most of the time, and the people are generally very helpful. When we contact in English for our English class, most people stop because they think we need help finding something, and actually, when we DO need help finding something, people will stop whatever we're doing and just lead us there no charge or anything, it's amazing. My really motivated, and he's really calm and composed. 

The food here is all SUPER heavy, like they put on their menus exactly how much mass is in every meal, and it averages about 300 grams, but goes up to about 1500 grams on some meals. Everything is really tasty though, you can tell that they really pride themselves on their traditional cooking, for example, one Christmas tradition is called Kapusnica which translates to saurkraut soup. I know, I know, it sounds nasty, but gosh, it is some heavenly stuff, it makes me wish that Christmas is year round. It's like this spicy sour cabbage soup with sausage and ham and it's just SO good. Or like Svickova, what I had my first day here. it's this tenderloin steak in the middle of this plate just FULL of sauce, like seriously, you saw the picture, there is more sauce than anything else. The goal is to use the knedlicky (pieces of bread) to soak up the sauce and finish the bread, the sauce, and the meat all at the same time. It's actually really rude to finish one thing before anything else in a meal,  because the meals are all geared towards the last bite, in which you are supposed to have a tiny bit of everything still on the plate so you can finish it all at the same time in the last bite. I'm working on making a missionary recipe book for myself, and I'm regretting extremely forgetting my recipe box at home because I'm just stuck with the recipes that are in my head, but I'll be sure to copy everything down and make some for you when I get home, haha. 

As far as the music goes, we hear American music nearly all the time, because the Slovak bands aren't very good, and the people like American stuff more anyway, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to be up to date or anything, you should make a Spotify playlist of every song that you think that I would like that I'm missing that I'll listen to when I get home or something, that would just be wonderful. Little kids are entirely too cute here, haha! They are just so sassy but they're just little and they do all the things American kids do like run around and scream for no reason, or cry when their mom dresses them up in some cute little bear suit that they don't want to wear, even though it will keep them warm, and laugh at the funny American missionary (my companion), which leads me to my news!!! On the 26th of December, make note of this, I got asked by a lady on the street if I was native!!! I was so surprised, especially because I didn't even really say anything, we were contacting about family history, and I just used the word for geneology instead and basically I just said, exactly that, we teach a course every Tuesday for everyone that would be interested in becoming closer to their ancestors and she said, "Ste Slovak?" Then she looked at my nametag and was like, how do you speak so well, french people are not very smart. And I was just stunned, so I just said I'm a quick learner, but she's the only person who's done that, but most of the kids think that I'm native just because they don't really understand the difference in accents yet so they talk super fast to me and it's so cute, they're so matter-of-fact about everything, like I cased something wrong the other day, I think it was just river which is rieka, I said rieku when I should have said Riekym, and this little girl was just like, "I don't know why you said that you silly, nobody wants to walk in a river, that would just not be the smartest thing, especially if you aren't having any purpose, I mean I don't have that gladly at all!" Because the cases change the meaning of the words, that actually makes sense, just btw. I don't really get to play any sports, just because pretty much the places where people play sports in the winter is in Switzerland and I'm not allowed to go there... But in the summer time if I'm still in Banska, there's a sweet outdoor basketball setup right next to the apartment and we have a pretty good ball we could use, so that would be cool. But I hope that answered at least most of your questions, and maybe created a few more.

So last week I had the opportunity to go all throughout my mission with 3 other Elders and do singing displays and concerts because somebody said that I could sing to President and he assigned me. We did concerts in lots of places, and that was a Monumental amount of travelling, but my favorite one and it has the best story too was Uherske hradice in the Czech Republic. We drove there and got to where we were supposed to do our concert like 4 hours early, it was this huge outdoor cafe with a stage and everything like they do concerts there all the time, and so we had the opportunity to practice singing a bit and get our parts for the quartet down, we sang an arrangement of "Beautiful Savior" in Czech, and "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming" in Slovak, and I did a piano solo and also had to accompany another elder when he sang a solo of "Come Lord Jesus to the Manger" from "Savior of the World." I had to learn that whole song in 2 hours because he decided to tell me 3 hours before our first concert that he still needed an accompanist, I did not appreciate that, but I played it pretty well and in this city I had learned and gotten it all down by that point so it wasn't much trouble, I still just felt conflicted about playing for him, but anyway, it astounded me here by how many people showed up, it was completely full with like 250 people sitting and another 50 standing up just watching us and I was even more astonished to learn that there were only like 5 people there who weren't members of the church. I'm used to having maybe like 3 people at church who aren't missionaries and we got to sing with a choir of members that came there too, and it was all just so amazing, I wish I had video-taped something, but I was too focused on being there and meeting people and playing/singing so I forgot and I just got kind of a lame picture of the 4 of us. 

After that, we had to drive to Brno, where we were going to sleep before we went to Praha (Prague) the next day. Our GPS (we named it Tomaško) lead us on this super creepy winding windy road through the dwarf mountains and we passed through like 6 towns where the population was less than 100 people on their little signs that I'm sure no one has read in 30 years because there's a freaking FREE-WAY we should have been on. But our GPS is crazy and doesn't know it exists. It got so soupy foggy that we couldn't see anything. Like all we could see was that our lights were on, we couldn't even see how far they were shining. And I started to get really scared that something bad was going to happen, and we all were for a little while but it only lasted about 10 minutes and then we all just had this peace come over us. It was so cool; we felt like we were literally in the hand of the Lord, and we navigated through by using the GPS just because it knew where the turns were and which direction we were pointed and somehow we stayed on the road, and no axe murderers were hiding in the trees and we saw like 500 Christmas trees that were bigger than our apartment building (seriously, they're huge), and we made it to Brno safely. It was just so cool to actually see the prayers that people offer for missionaries every day truly work in my life and to see that we are protected from ALL harms, in every sense. The point is that when we're here, it doesn't matter what we're doing, the Lord always makes sure that we are protected and that good comes from whatever happens. In my case, about a week before Christmas, we got one of the drunk guys as a new investigator! Anyway, just some amazing experiences that I know can only come in a place like Slovakia right here, right now, just for me.

In conclusion, I just want to thank everyone for their Christmas wishes and for all of the gifts that I received, I was so touched by the presents that I got, like this guitar pick that I'm wearing around my neck, or this amazing scarf that I'm matching my companion with, the wishes really do mean everything to a missionary, and I want to with each of you the same love and success in everything you're working for right now.

Milujem ťa!

Starší Chris Brousseau

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Safe Arrival!

We received this email today:

"Dear Brother and Sister Brousseau,

This morning Elder Brousseau met his new companion. Attached is a picture for you to enjoy.

Today they will travel to their area called Banská Bystrica.  It is a town approximately 9 hours away from Prague by train, in Slovakia. There are just the 2 Elders in that town. However, they aren’t too far away from a town called Zvolen which has another 2 Elders and 1 Senior Couple.

P-Day is next Monday. Elder Brousseau will contact you then to share his adventures."

Chris is growing a little with each passing day. The MTC is sort of a spiritual greenhouse where a missionary has a lot of experience and inspiration crammed into a very short period of time. Those of you who have been following the blog will note the remarkable growth in Chris already. We are looking forward to continuing reports from Chris and we're planning to update the blog weekly, so check back frequently!

Thank you all for your support for Chris and our family! Your love blesses and strengthens our family each day.

Here are the first pictures from Prague:

Chris with President & Sister McConkie from Salt Lake City!

Chris with his first companion

This is a map of the Czech/Slovak Mission. Chris' first area is a city in the center of Slovakia called Banská Bystrica. It required a nine-hour train ride from Prague!

Monday, December 2, 2013

We're On Our Way!


Chris' MTC District
So this is my very last msmku here in the MTC! I can not believe every day how fast it has gone by. The MTC is a wonderful place, it is very hard to get used to all of the rules, like no music at all anywhere, but every one of them is in place for a reason. The hardest part for ME to get used to, was, say you're the best at basketball...No one cares. Or you have the most scripture mastery scriptures memorized...No one cares. You could be growing up to be the next prophet and no one will [care] about you any more than [any other] Elder... The only thing that gives you like ANY status here is where you're from, where you're going, and how well you speak your language, which is exactly what everyone tells you NOT to compare yourself to. I've never felt the spirit so strong anywhere else.

This is the group traveling to Prague today!
So in this last week, let's see...We got our flight plans! We leave at 7:30 am on Monday and fly from Salt Lake to Dallas, Dallas to London, and London to Prague. I'm really nervous about going because I'm finding more and more the differences between Czech and Slovak, and I'm scared I won't be able to understand very well, but I'm praying for comfort and peace and that has been working really well so far. We got challenged at in-field orientation yesterday to give a pass-along card to someone before we meet our mission president, so I wrote pamätajte prósim o Ježišovi Kristovi on the back, and I'm not expecting much from it, but you never know.

So time for a 'tender-mercies-of-the-Lord' story. On Sunday sometime, I left my journal somewhere, I still cannot think of where it was left, but I was so worried because there's a lot of stuff in there, you know? And I wasn't really freaking out about it, but I kept looking all of Sunday night, and all of Monday too, then on Tuesday when I had finally just gotten it through my head that it was gone and I just needed to start over with a new one, I checked the mail after dinner, and someone had found it and MAILED it to me! My goodness I was surprised, but it was so cool to be reminded that the Lord takes care of the little things too, not just the crazy huge life decisions.

Here are the Slovak missionaries!
On Sunday, I got to see the Character of Christ film from David A. Bednar, and for all of you planning on coming into the MTC, don't do what everyone tells you to, they don't understand what they're talking about. Save that film for the week before you leave. It is so worth it to wait because at the end of your stay you're in more of a missionary mindset and are more ready to understand the message that he is trying to convey. His main message is about how every time when we would turn inward in pain or fear or selfishness, Christ turned outwards, like for example, read the JST after Christ had been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and Satan was tempting him. In the Bible, he calls angels who minister unto or help him regain his strength. In the JST, he sends the angels to John the Beloved who is in jail instead of helping himself, he helps others every time. It is absolutely stunning to behold the magnitude of his love for each of us.

So nothing really happened the rest of the week until Thanksgiving, which was awesome! We started out our day with a devotional from Russell M. Nelson who talked about how we can turn gratitude into revelation, both from God and about ourselves. I love apostles, all of them have such an intense love of the gospel and of God. I got to sit on the front row, like close enough to see the shine on his forehead kind of thing, I felt so lucky, he kept looking RIGHT at me. Then later remember how I made it into 3 musical numbers? I thought that was cool, but not very amazing because I saw there were like 45 different groups of people trying out, so I was assuming there would be like 15-20 musical numbers or something like that. Turns out, there were 4, and I was in 3 of them. I was so surprised I was almost too nervous to play, but I went up and played through my fear and did really pretty well. On Harry Potter, I only made 1 mistake, and people have been telling me at least like 15 times a day since then that they loved it and were so impressed, it's been really humbling for me to see how much people appreciate things like that. The duet I did with the fiddler went wonderfully, I didn't have a hard part, and he's like 'my cousin-good' so it was cool. Then on the Joseph, I actually got my confidence up enough to look right into one of the cameras while it was on me and wink. Everyone laughed except the MTC presidency who happened not to be watching at that moment.
Chris playing piano for the Thanksgiving Program

Anyway, it's been a really fun week and just an overall great experience here at the MTC. An update on my investigators, we got a new one on Tuesday, who really isn't interested in the gospel and I can't see it going anywhere. Another man got baptized and confirmed on sunday, which was awesome, and another man was baptized on Saturday last week. I'm ready to go out and declare the gospel in a real setting, we've been practicing street contacting, and gosh it's too awkward, but I think I'll be able to get over that pretty soon. I think it's about high time I gave another testimony in Slovak, so here goes.

Ahojte, mojí kamáratkí. Dufám že viete že žije našých spasiťel. Viem toto a viem tiež že môžeme robiť ničo ako potrebujeme postrednictvom uzmierenia Ježiša Krista. Viem že potrebujeme vidieť že naš ciel predtým ako a pótom ako ideme na misia je posvať ostatných aby prišli ku Kristovi tým, že im budeme pomaháť ziskať znovusriadené evanjelium postrednictvom viery v Ježiša Krista a Jeho uzmierenia, pokania, krstu, a daru Ducha Svätého, a vytrvania až do konca. Môžeme posvať nikto, viem to s mojou celý srdce. Tiež viem že oni budú počuť lebo to nie je nový pre nikto. Už vieme toto evanjelium, musime to najst zasa. Je to môj svedectvo o pracu misionarom a hovorim tieto veci v mene Ježiša Krista amen.

MTC Christmas lights are on!
(Google translation: Hello, my friends. I hope you know that our Savior lives. I know this and I also know that we can do as we need Nico postrednictvom Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know I need to see that our goal before and then as we go on a mission to help others to come unto Christ by helping them we help to acquire znovusriadené gospel postrednictvom faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and perseverance to the end. I know it with my whole heart. I also know that they will be heard because it is not new to anyone. We already know this gospel, we have to look it up again. It is my testimony about the work of missionaries and speak these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.)

Milujem ťa,

Starší Chris Brousseau

(Editor's note: we were able to speak to Chris on the phone this morning during his time at the SLC International Airport. He left this morning for Prague and will likely arrive early Tuesday morning, Mountain Standard Time. He sounded so excited and so nervous to get started! Please keep him in your prayers.)