Chris' Special Tie Knot

Chris' Special Tie Knot

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nitra, Slovakia: City of Miracles

Chris teaching Sunday School

Well, hey, everyone, Here's a quick run-through of everything going on here, also, happy Father's day!

Monday got our situation figured out, where I had been asked to play at a conference in Bratislava, which was great. A wonderful Hungarian student helped us to find and obtain a keyboard as a loan so that I could practice, so that's what we had on plan, but then we ended up teaching a man we found on the street in front of the building named instead. He's awesome, I hope to teach him again.

Tuesday: really did practice, but more importantly, we got our 2nd progressing investigator here for the transfer, I think 1 more a week is a pattern I can live with, haha. We got to talking with a sort of awkward man and he ended up taking us to a Piano Cafe, where he and I gave like an hour long concert to the people there, he is very good, and he's self taught, it was really cool. I have a special feeling about him as well, I think he will be baptized.

Wednesday: Got the Metsky Urad all figured out so that we can do singing displays here. We got a good couple of spots, and it doesn't cost us anything, so that's good. Also, I met someone today. He is a young son of one of our members, who I'm not sure if he's mentally handicapped or not, because he seems smart, but he's ridiculously rude to everyone, especially his mom. It's really quite sad, and we'll be working on helping him be more calm and happy around us this transfer.

Chris loves the Slovakian clouds
Thursday: Went to Bratislava for the training, where I played beautifully as well. I loved the training, the authority's wife trained us on the importance of morning exercise daily, and the authority trained us on breaking mental and traditional barriers. He talked about how they train Elephants in India, where when they're young, they chain them with big chains to a strong pole until they decide that it's in their best interests not to try and run away, so that when they're huge and older, the trainer can simply put a small stick in the ground, and tie a string around his leg, and as long as the elephant feels something on his leg, he won't move. We can't be that way as missionaries. We are big and strong and we were made to break the traditions in Slovakia. Afterwards, had a once in a lifetime experience of teaching 3 teenage boys the Restoration during a singing display and having them beatbox to how firm a foundation while we sang it.

Friday: Friday was full of finding, which was very fun but tiring. So many people say that they feel that they should meet with us, but they won't because they're scared of breaking the status quo.

Saturday: Went on a 2 hour bus ride to Zeliezovce to teach our other progressing investigator with one of our members. Crazy stuff, great lesson, I can't wait till our investigator is baptized.

The church building in Nitra
Sunday: This is where I get the title. Our members are the members that you hear about in General Conference talks. One member: Hopped across a mine-field in the dark with nothing but a flashlight and a compass to escape communism, fled to Germany where he learned about the church and was baptized. Came back to his home town where he stayed for like 15 years and was re-found and re-activated by missionaries. SO energetic and ready to share the gospel. Another member: This man is a rock. Lives on 60 Euros a month, and somehow found and got ahold of the Book of Mormon, Preach my Gospel, and all of the Other Standard Works and referred himself. Was baptized and comes 3 hours to church. Before the church was aware of his finances, he was selling his clothes and possessions in order to get money for the bus fare, just so that he could come take the sacrament. He doesn't even speak Slovak, he's a little Hungarian man, but you should hear his testimony. The church is working on giving him permission to baptize the people he has been working with in his hometown and starting a group out there. I would go into the details of our other members, like the longest living member in Slovakia, she was baptized when she was 8 and now she's in her 80's, but I'm out of time. Love it, this
place is where miracles are taking place.

I'm so happy to be here, I wish I had more time, but I'll tell you more next week, Nitra is the place in Slovakia where the Catholic MTC is and it is so cool to see how the Lord and Satan are contending every day on the streets here, and how futile every effort of Satan is and will be. I am so ready to help the Lord change this city in a very big way. Get ready for some General Conference talks being written about this area very soon.

Lots of love,

Starší Brúso

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Move to Nitra, Slovakia!

Chris and his companion
Nazdar všetci!

Cool building in Nitra, Slovakia
Haha, wow, I'm not sure why, I've had a really spectacular week, but I'm feeling a little bit down just right at this very moment. Well whatever, the cure for grief (or pretty much any bad feeling) is gratitude. I am so grateful for my friends and family, and for my companion. Since day one, we've hit it off. He is a very smart young man, he's 2 years older than me, and he did debate in high school and was on the swim team, and if I do say so myself, we are by far the most intimidating companionship in the whole mission. He's less than an inch shorter than me, and he's from Omaha Nebraska, so first companion not from Utah. He's also the first Mormon I've met in my whole life not from Utah who doesn't rip on Utah, nor on Utah mormons, so way good for him. At the moment, we're tearing it up here, I don't know how much I have time to explain right now, but we've been assigned here to change the public image of the church here, because this area has been open for exactly 1 year and 1 week, and we're still at that point where pretty much whatever I do here is the first time that a missionary has ever done that here, it's a little bit scary and daunting, but I'm sure the Lord will help us. I can give more details later, we're needing to go shopping right now. Oh yeah, guess what? This apartment doesn't even HAVE an oven. Oh joy...Anyway, I'm going to continue working my tail off and hope that next transfer I become one of those legendary missionaries who is training and District Leader at the same time, or Zone Leader before he hits his halfway point, but we'll see how that all plays out.

S Laskou,

Starší Brúso

(Editor's note: If you want to see a map with Nitra, Slovakia on it, please see the previous blog post.)
New missionary apartment for Chris

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Out Of The Frying Pan...


Wow. This week has truly been one of a kind. I literally don't know the right words I could say to describe everything that's been happening. I'll just go from the beginning and see where it all ends up. First off, HAPPY TWENTY-SECOND ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!!! Can you believe it, that means I'm 19! Haha, but seriously, I adored reading the stories that my mom sent this week, and all I have to say about them is, Gosh, I think I'm going to go to my dad more often for advice with girls. I love you both so much, and wish you everything the best.

Monday: We went up to the castle as a district finally, and had an investigator show us everything, and he just had the biggest blast doing it all, it was so cool, I'll try to get the pictures to you at some point.

Tuesday: So today we had a huge miracle for me. For every  person who came, they had no idea Why the missionaries were so darn happy at English. When I came to Trencin in February, English was a joke. We had one person show up every week, IF we were lucky. I hated that, and so my companion and I began to go to work, because Trencin was basically a dead zone, and we figured that first we needed people to trust the missionaries and distinguish between us and the J-dubs, before we could get them to actually want to meet with us. We began to do things that had never been done in this mission before, like tabling, and advertising for music lessons and the like. We worked our tails off, and started to get 1 person consistently, and finally, we had 3 people twice. A new companion then came at transfers, and nobody showed up again. So we went to work harder. We several times for tabling, instead of having 1 person sit at the table, and 3 people contact around it with clipboards, we just had everybody sit at the table with a couple of signs that say free english, and just speak english really loudly, and me play my guitar, just so that we could get our name out. Then we had the concert where more non and less active members came than ever before because we worked so hard for it, and now, on Tuesday, we have officially three functional, thriving, and GROWING English classes. We had 17 people at English, coming straight out of nothing. It was amazing for me to be able to see that I HAVE made a difference here, and it WILL continue to be a tool for the Lord.

Wednesday: I don't really remember because the days around it were so huge.

Thursday: Went to Bratislava for a conference. The rule for missionaries was: you are not allowed to come unless you bring a Slovak, so our District just brought our whole branch, haha. We all went to Bratislava so we could hear THREE General authorities speak to us: Sister Wixom, I think general Primary President, Sister Reeves I think she's in the General Relief Society Presidency, and Elder Kearon, who is the coolest General Authority I've ever met. Remember that General Conference talk about the scorpion, and wearing your shoes? That was him. The spirit there was absolutely amazing, especially being surrounded by members from Slovakia, and oh my goodness, there were several amazing things that happened there. First, during Sister Reeves' talk, she asked everyone to listen to several of our primary children hum a primary song, and to stand up when they recognized it. There wasn't a member in the room besides those children who had grown up in the church, and none of them had the opportunity of going to Primary, but when we recognized "I am a Child of God," there wasn't a SINGLE person sitting down. I almost started crying, it was so amazing. Elder Kearon's talk was about crabs, and how when they're caught, they all go into a big bucket, and pay absolutely no attention to each other until the time that one of them wants to get out. Then multiple crabs pull the one trying to leave down back into the bucket. He said that we all have to deal with crabs in our lives, and that we can't let them spiritually pull us down, even if they do physically. After that, I had the wonderful opportunity of introducing Sister Wixom to 3 YSA members in Bratislava, and then to an amazing sister from Banska Bystrica, I can't explain the spirit I felt translating between these two rocks in the gospel, it was amazing. Then I got sidetracked on my way to Elder Kearon with one of the General Authority's husbands. I'm not sure which one (Br. Wixom), but he said that he knows Grandma and Grandpa and I was able to just have a wonderful talk with him where he gave me some amazing advice, and had me write a quick note to my grandparents, I was just amazed with how small the world is. (The Wixoms work with Chris' grandparents in the SLC Temple and delivered his note to them last week.) Then the most meaningful thing for me happened, I was approached by several members from Bratislava, most of which I'm unfamiliar with, who told me that I need to tell President that Bratislava needs me. Apparently the member there, even though I don't know them, know me, and they want to have my influence there. I was so touched that they want me there, and that they're so excited for the sharing of the gospel. I really really really want to serve in Bratislava now.
Friday: Again, can't remember because it's surrounded by miracles.

Saturday: Wow. wowowowow. Saturday, my companion and I went out to contact, both so nervous about transfers and what's going to happen. We went out and actually got to teach a bench lesson and get a potential who is really very cool. Afterwards, while we were weekly planning, we got the call like 6 hours earlier than we thought that we would. When I found out what was happening, I flipped out and just started calling people. I needed lessons to take my mind off of my complete fear. We ended up because of that, doing something I've never done before, and having 4 solid solid amazing lessons within a 3 hour period, and most surprising of which, we ended up cooking halusky for an investigator in his house, where he told me I was his favorite missionary. All of this happened on a day where, had we been outside, we would have had to deal with lots and lots of harrassment from drunks because it was a national drinking holiday, but when we were walking home after the lessons, we ended up getting a really solid potential as well, who was curious as to why everyone was yelling at us, and decided to investigate to see whether we know anything about God. I was so happy.

Nitra is right under the word "Slovak"
Sunday: Best day I ever could have asked for, I desperately need to write about it in my journal.

I love you all, and here's the big announcement>>>.......I'm writing all of this in my new area: NITRA! I'm in the Klokocina part of Nitra, and I'm really excited to be serving this transfer with my new companion. I'm gonna give it my absolute all and see if I can't walk away with at least a new friend.

Hope this is your best week ever!

Elder Chris Brousseau

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Concerts for Slovakians


Hey all, so to start off, this week has been just a rollercoaster. On Monday if you look at my pictures, there was this HUGE rainstorm that came out of nowhere that just tore through Trencin and blew out the power, so that was kind of crazy. We survived, but it helped remind us that we need to get on our flipping landlord a little bit more heavily. Our Italian landlord has trouble with both Slovak, and English, so I'm not completely sure he realizes how serious of a situation he's in. Our oven hasn't worked all transfer, which has made me very sad. I can't make pizza, or banana bread, or cake, or cookies, or pizza, or lasagna. Or pretty much anything that uses flour in it, so no German Pancakes either. But on Tuesday before our concert we had apartment inspections, and the the couple missionaries put on their report that our oven hasn't worked for the whole transfer, and then a missionary from the office called us, and now the church's lawyer calling our landlord finding out if there's going to be a legal issue over this because he knew when he sold the apartment to the church that he was responsible for all of the appliances except for the washing machine, which the church owns, but anyway, that's just craziness that added into the week, that's like the only semi-bad thing that happened, thank goodness.

Our concerts were fantastic. The one here in Trencin was a straight-up miracle, where we had more investigators and non-members there than members INCLUDING missionaries, and we had all the missionaries from Zilina there as well! Our Branch President, said to me afterwards that he was very impressed with our concert and that that was the most non-members he had ever seen at a church activity the whole time he's lived here, so woot-woot, representing a hard-working example, haha! The music was wonderful, and this is honestly almost the best group of singers and musicians possible in our mission, it was really cool. I arranged versions of the songs Nearer my God to Thee, There is a Green Hill Far Away, Somewhere over the Rainbow, What a Wonderful World, and For the Beauty of the Earth for the concert, and I am REALLY proud of how everything went. We even got the Kebab guy and the haircut girl to come, it was awesome! Another really cool thing was something that the Sisters in Zilina came up with, which was to record a CD of missionaries playing and singing hymns in Slovak before-hand, and then have a sign-up list for the CD there at the concert, it has been a very successful tool here to get more lessons. I have a very strong testimony of using music to spread the gospel, nothing can touch and soften people's hearts to the spirit quicker. The concert in Zilina was spectacular as well, they had a lot people that they didn't expect come to it, for example, a 19-year-old student who they just handed a flier to on the street, who was way cool. I really really love doing these, and I hope that I continue to have the opportunity at least once a transfer.

Snap, thinking about the concerts and stuff, I'm having trouble remembering exactly what happened on Wednesday and Friday, and I don't have my journal with me so that makes it harder...Oh yeah, on Friday that idea finally had it's first fruits! We had the idea here to make a letter explaining who we are, and why we're here, and basically telling people to not get us mixed up with Jehovah's witnesses (who have a really bad name here), and drop them off in places we want to tract and then go back a week later and tract them. We actually out of 10 houses we did this to, 2 of them had read our letter and were really interested in learning more, which is a higher percentage than just going door to door, I was really happy. We have a new investigator from that, which brings our teaching pool up to 17 different people with whom we're working with at the moment. I really need all the work to pay off though, and hopefully in a time-frame in which I can see it.

On Saturday, we went and got to go with a sister from the area to a Kastiel in Dubnica nad Vahom, a smaller town on the outskirts of Trencin (Trencin is both a state in the nation, and the capitol city of that state). It was really really pretty, but I don't know what I would do with all of my time if I ever owned a house that big, I would waste the whole day just walking between all of the rooms. Afterwards, we got to go to see a Catholic chapel, and I got my first real taste here of the Slovak cult of Pana Maria. I'm not entirely sure how connected they actually are with the Catholic church, but they seem pretty connected, especially because all of the cult members I've talked to here say that they're Catholic, so I don't know. That's a question we have to be really careful with here is when people ask whether or not we worship panu mariu, we usually try to avoid the question by saying something like: "we worship God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and we do NOT worship Joseph Smith," because people are liable to get really angry with us on the street when they find out we don't worship her. It's really quite weird to me, because it doesn't really make any sense to worship her, but apparently it's a really important thing to them. Anyway, after that, we went through this crazy cool park and I got to take some great photos, which was sweet, and we all went for pizza and Hot Chocolate afterwards. I love vylets, they're the best non-threatening tool for teaching less-actives and investigators because it's a place where they feel comfortable telling you what they actually think, and they actually listen to you, I think it's because they feel more on their own terms.

Anyway, that's all for now, I love you lots,

Elder Chris Brousseau

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Seeing Miracles in Every Day Events

Chris' new, stylish pants
Nazdar vsetci!

Hey so first off, Dad, could you please email me a list of just everyone who wants emails from me (not including missionaries, I've got that one)? I think that I email a different group of people every week... Anyway, so I hope this email finds you happy and healthy.=) I'm just gonna jump right in if you don't mind.

Monday: Got a great awesome pair of pants from H&M on sale, haha. Also found out that I hate being trendy. I always see people walking around with my pants/jacket/younameit on, and I'm always like, "hey! That's mine! Go home and change!" But I'm excited for them because finally I have a pair of pants that's not super warm in the summer! I won't have to worry about sweating my eyes off anymore. Thanks mom!:*

Tuesday: MIRACLE #1! So big story time, we were supposed to meet with that Artist less-active today, but he sounded less than happy about it on the phone, and he was late, so we were going around contacting while we waited for him. I felt super awkward because I'm used to contacting with some sort of prop so people can see it and ask questions about it like a brochure or the Book of Mormon, or something like that, and all I was carrying around was my little drawing book, so I was trying to think of a way I could use it in a contact, but when I tried to use it, it didn't make sense, and so I bailed and just asked a lady if she knew somewhere I could learn how to draw better. She directed me towards a little art shop on the Namestie, and I just sort of feel awkward asking for advice and then not even looking like I'm going to follow it, because then the people are like, "Well looky here, here is a slusny pan (polite/well mannered gentleman), He just asked me where the best ice cream in the world is, and I told him, and now he's going the opposite direction." But we go in there, and there's just the sweetest lady in the world working there, and when she asked why we came in, I didn't know what to say, so I told the truth: "A lady said you could help me learn to draw." That started a nice meaningful conversation, and at the end, she told me I could go to the Synagogue in town, and they might have somebody there (because they use it as an art gallery now because the Jews are either gone or don't want to worship anymore). As we were walking towards the synagogue (because I was having fun just being directed by people), we ran into a former investigator whom I think I've told you about before. He came up and talked to us, and said, he had some time right then so he came to the synagogue with us. When we got there, I started talking to the guide lady and my companion was talking to the investigator and we got *this* close to teaching 2 lessons at the same time, except my companion didn't get into something he could testify about so darn it. Anyway, the museum guide lady is coming to our concert on Tuesday, and might come to church sometime. Then this man and his wife came in, and he heard the amazing acoustics in there and just started singing, it was way cool and he and his wife should be coming to the concert as well! But the great part is: after all this had happened, we were looking through the paintings finally (we had just been talking to everyone and didn't have time), and a lady who came in, heard me say something in English, and started asking if I was a guide or something. I said no, but if she needed help with something, I might be able to help. She said, she was here in Slovakia with her family from Israel from a town right outside of Tel-Aviv, and she was here doing Family History. She came to Trencin to see the memorial to all the people killed in concentration camps here inside the prayer room, but didn't know where it was. I luckily knew exactly where the prayer room was, but unluckily, it was closed for renovations. That didn't stop us, I haven't had a ton of success with Family History here and I wanted some really badly. I asked the guide lady if we could go in for just a second and we wouldn't touch anything, and she said that she would let me, but she didn't have a key, so she called the big head honcho lady who DID have a key. We were able to go with the head honcho, not to the prayer room, but to a really nice office where they were storing the tablets while the room was remodeled. SO COOL! The spirit that came while I was translating for the Israeli family about her family's story was palpable, and best of all, our investigator was there for the whole thing, and is interested in learning more again! best of days...

Wednesday: Went to Zilina to practice for the concert and had Miracle #2! While we were waiting in the train station for our train (the people here say it's tradition for the trains to run late), we met a super cool Romanian student here. Talked with him for a while and then when we got on the train, he sat with us and kept talking, and got the other people in our car speaking with us as well, it was amazing! But from that, we were able to help some of the missionaries in Romania, and I had better get at least a personalized thank you letter from them or something.

Thursday: Ahhh! Less than 500 days left! I know that's more than a year, but considering I started with more than 700, it feels like it's going by way fast. Anyway, I'm really excited, because I'm starting to finally be a pretty good English teacher! Or at least I think so... We have several people who are actually coming to English consistently, and actually wanting to come as well, and we've been consistently having 6 people there, which is AMAZING, especially considering when I first came, the English class had no one ever. I've actually left a positive mark on Trencin, challenge completed.

Friday & Saturday: Ok, here we get into some craziness that I'm not very happy about...So quick bit of advice for anyone who is on a mission. Or wants to go on a mission. Or really just everyone. ANSWER YOUR FREAKING PHONES WHEN SOMEBODY CALLS YOU! We had training on Saturday morning, so we were trying to go to Brno on Friday so we didn't have to get up super early, and we were planning on taking the same train as the Zilina Elders. There was a train that came to our station at about the same time as when theirs was supposed to come, and we called them to see if it was theirs, and they didn't answer, so we got on, and called again and started to search the cars for them because they were saving us a place, and they didn't answer, so we finished searching and found out it was the wrong train and kept calling them and we got off, and they still weren't answering, so there we were stuck in Trencianska Tepla. We went and found out when we could get on a train back to Trencin but the first one back was an hour away, and so we decided to call the Brno Zone Leaders to tell them what was happening, and the Bratislava elders just in case we had to stay with them tonight, and of course neither answered their phones. When we finally got on the train back, we were able to figure everything out with everyone, but we still had a huge train ride to Bratislava ahead of us because our train was delayed by 50 minutes when it arrived, and arrived in Bratislava even later. When we got there, the buses weren't running anymore, so I had to find out the address of the nearest missionary apartment, and rig our phone as a GPS and walk 6.5 kilometers there. We ended up getting to the apartment at 12:15 am, and when I walked into the bedroom, it looked like all the beds were full, so I thought I could sleep in the chair that I like there, but I just couldn't get comfortable, so finally, I just went to sleep lying down on the kitchen floor. I kind of like sleeping on the floor, you never overheat and it's kinda comfy. Anyway, during the night, one of the elders got up for a drink of water. My current companion was his companion before, and he says he drinks kinda loud, which would explain what woke me up. I was awake, but not entirely conscious, so I wasn't really sure what was going on, but I got up, and walked around and noticed there was a bed without a person in it and just totally stole his bed in the middle of the night. Aren't I the best? Haha, but I think for real it's official, I do weird stuff in my sleep... Anyway, Saturday, Zone Conference was great, and we had a fun train ride home.

I think I'm about out of time for this email, but it's ok because Sunday was uneventful, I hope this has given a good impression of a regular week for a missionary. I am so glad I'm here, I'm loving every second of it.

Love you all, hope you're having the time of your lives.

Elder Brousseau