Chris' Special Tie Knot

Chris' Special Tie Knot

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Best Week Yet!

Elder Brousseau and his companion
Nazdar všetci,

Tak hej so first off, my new companion is someone close to home. Actually, he went to Hillcrest High School. Anyway, so this has been the best week of my mission so far, let's dive right in, I'm excited to talk.

Sword in the Stone-Chris could be King!
So first off, I'm loving Nitra, the city where everything is possible. To illustrate this, like 2 hours before my companion showed up, a guy, to whose brother we had given a contact card called US and asked to meet. We got to teach almost immediately after he showed up, and I noticed we were on almost exactly the same page when we taught, it was really cool. The only problem with this was something that has been happening more often than I care for: He went home and his girlfriend/mom/some woman on the street/girl that he knows flipped out at him and [said] he "can't" meet with us anymore. This guy who was so absolutely awesome and cool got restricted from the gospel by "the woman thou gavest me." Frustrating, but really kind of funny to deal with, we have heard some really just Great blasphemy in the last week from these women, napríklad, "How many times has Pana Maria showed herself to people? And Jesus doesn't show himself to ANYONE! Who's greater then?" No joke though, I really love talking to these ladies, teaching women with attitude has become a wonderful experience because when they find out the truth, they will fight tooth and nail to convince everyone of it. A fine example of this is our investigator, she started out all "O no yoo di'nt!" and now she's just awesome.

Chris and his friend

Another investigator is really on the path to baptism. His new date is the 6th of September, and boy is he excited. This man is just priceless, he was really sad when he found out that his date was changing, and when we talked about what was going to happen with him there, he asked, "How long do I have to stay under the water? Because if it's more than a minute, I'm not sure I can, but I'll try." He's just so Great. We actually got to go with him to Velky Cetin, where we found a river and a lake where he would be excited to be baptized, and had a wonderful experience while we were there searching everything out and picking plums and making fun of cults and all sorts of tomfoolery. He came to church this week, because he's understanding the importance of commitments, he also texted us this week telling us about this awesome spiritual confirmation he got that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. I wish I had recorded him sharing these spiritual experiences, they're just awesome.

We're off to a really good start this transfer as far as organization, my companion is a lot like me, and really likes a good organized area book, so I'm happy to announce that for the first time since the area's opening, our records and apartment are completely organized and up to date. That's really big for me, there are so many people that I feel would be ready and willing to accept the gospel if missionaries updated regularly and wrote legibly.

Levice, Slovakia
We had kind of a sad experience of some Romas who came to our building and listened to our message and everything and became new investigators, but they just for some reason could NOT handle us praying and just busted up laughing every time. It was really sad, but we dropped them and we're making sure we just hug it and love the experience, you know? I now have owning a professional pianist at the piano on my challenge completed list, haha. Our first singing display this transfer went pretty well too, my poor companion isn't much of a singer, so I'm going to be teaching him, so that will be wonderful, he's got a Great attitude, about which I am very glad.

So my Bible has turned into a weapon frankly, and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it. We don't really Bible-Bash, mostly because I have a terrible hatred for using the scriptures to drive away the spirit, that just feels morally wrong, but when it does happen, the bible has itself categorized according to religion, and actually, brings really good experiences when not used in anger or retaliation. 

Elder Brousseau selfie
Priklad: Teaching this hot-shot who answers the phone with, "hello, this is So-and-so, the 7th day adventist." Our lesson started out BAD. He almost immediately started attacking our church, doctrine, and our Book, and pulled out his Bible to try and start proving it. We listened and didn't disagree with him, even though he was saying some really really not agreeable things. Then, when he had finished with his speech, which ended with, "And so, if it's not in the Old AND the New Testament, it can't be true," was when inspiration struck. I told him, "You realize we didn't come here to try and convince you, right?" We talked about how we have all sorts of evidence, like carvings in stone, and the stuff underneath the Aztec pyramids, but that evidence doesn't really matter to us. Evidence and miracles and signs are absolutely useless if you don't have the basis of faith. We then invited him to pray about it, and he agreed when inspiration struck again. Knowing that Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor, I listened to the spirit and started to show him the references that I've found in both the Old and New Testaments supporting the Book of Mormon, and he was really curious to see Revelations 14:6. We went and read it, and this lesson that had started out so incredibly zlé ended up with him teaching us for about 15 minutes why that had to be absolutely true. It was amazing to see the change. The difference between Bible-Bashing and opening someone's eyes to the truth is very simple. It's the attitude with which you complete the action. If you do it with love and trust in God that they can feel, it will work out, but if you're out to prove something or act in anger, the Lord won't support your testimony, even when backed up by facts.

My companion
We haven't had much time for lunch or dinner in the past week, so it was really wonderful to go visit a wonderful sister in the area and just get stuffed. She reminds me so much of my grandma, she's so sweet, she ended up giving us like several pounds of food to bring to a less-well-off investigator of ours, and she showed us around her little city, it was spectacular. Something cool about Slovak real quick, we have these crazy city names like Levice (where she lives) that are actually plural, so when you talk about them it's like, "Wow, these cities are beautiful," even though it's only 1...It was a little weird to get used to, and I still make some mistakes sometimes, but I'll keep pushing on. People here every day still think that I'm native, so I must be doing something right.

Anyway, that's all for this week, Love you all. I hope all is going well for you!

Lots of love,

Starší Chris Brúso

P.S. My companion has a big crush on my sister, just BTW. =)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears


Hey all, I had actually forgotten and was completely surprised to remember this Wednesday that this last week was the big transfer week! My companion went back to his first area, Košice, a place, I would really enjoy ending my mission. Goodness, I think I may have just jinxed myself. Anyway, So we had a really great week, I don't know if I want to keep doing that whole day by day analysis, that feels kind of boring, so Im just going to point out some awesome miracles from this week.

So first off, our man who's on date for baptism is unfortunately not going to make his date because he didn't come to church, but I just want to share about how he became an investigator because he's a miracle man with lots of faith and interest in us. So he had decided to leave the Lutheran church, and went out on a walk to be alone in Bratislava. He just happened to decide to say a silent prayer and as he looked up toward heaven to ask where on Earth truth could be found, he saw our building sign. The Elders from Dlhe Diely were taking a bathroom break there when randomly this person came up and asked them to please teach him everything. They found out he actually lives in Nitra, and this amazing South American genetic scientist is now our most promising investigator.

Also, this week someone else became officially a new investigator. We have high hopes for her because in the past, she has been less than happy to discuss gospel topics with us, but it seems like she's genuinely interested, and we have had some seriously great lessons with her because she really wonders about these things. KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS, THERE ARE ANSWERS!

Our concert on Tuesday was an amazing success! We had 35 people come for it, and only 1 of them was a member, they just ADORED it. Our performance was spectacular, despite us not practicing very much for it, the Lord really helped us, but the best part was the spirit that was felt. To introduce every song, we didn't even do anything special, we just read straight out of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson as written in Preach my Gospel, just in Slovak. I was floating on cloud nine afterwards, it felt so amazing to see the spirit touch that many people through the musical talent of our district. My favorite songs that we performed were: "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," "O Divine Redeemer," and "Pane Chcem T'a Nasledovat'" ("Lord, I would follow Thee").

Later, my favorite miracle happened, I was having a pretty bad day, I'll fully admit, I was questioning my ability to be a missionary. I had been told by someone to, "Go home and change your terrorist country, Yankee," but that had just been one of many contacts and other things that had gone wrong that day. Then the Lord decided to lift some burden from my shoulders and to give me a wonderful feeling that I couldn't explain of just utter gratitude to be in Slovakia, and gratitude to be a missionary. At that point, people started to see that, and we were able to teach 2 crazy-good double-lessons, one in a hotel with 2 bartenders there, both of which now testify that they know that Joseph Smith was called of God, and 1 committed himself to read the Book of Mormon through and through in a week. The other one was a part of that war that I mentioned a while ago, where we by chance met the man who owns the biggest auto quality control firm in all of Europe. He and his friend decided that they were terribly curious about why they've been hearing about the Mormoni, and what our fuss was all about. They both as well committed THEMSELVES to reading the Book of Mormon, and as if the day couldn't get any better, another person we've been trying to work with texted us out of the blue, and decided they wanted to talk with us about God's plan for us. Just too good to be true.

Last of all, I just wanted to talk about something that last transfer taught me. I have noticed a huge difference between the people who are just Catholic on paper, and the people who are actually Catholic. I think that that came in part to the wonderful family that I have in Vermont. The people who actually act according to their faith, and aren't just a part of it because of tradition are people that I am proud to know, regardless of which faith that is. As the Article of Faith says, "...Let them worship, how, what, or where they may." That leads me to an important question? Why do we expend so much time and energy into missionary work when we claim to let everyone worship in their own fashion? In answer to this question I would first encourage anyone curious to read Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard. But second, we love other religions, we recognize that our religion actually wouldn't be possible without other religions and their ways of worship. Can you imagine what it would have been like if Joseph Smith had been born during the Spanish Inquisition and claimed to have that vision? I figure it like this: someone who lived as best they could in this life is someone that Christ knows and loves, regardless of faith.

Love you all,
Elder Brousseau

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Right Words at the Right Time

Elder Brousseau at home in Nitra, Slovakia

I don't have much time, so I apologize in advance for the shortness of this letter. We've been having crazy and unnatural storms here, where we see HUGE clouds, which aren't supposed to be here this time of year, and we can see circulation going on in them as well, like a tornado is about to start, and they've been flooding our streets, but it hasn't been stopping the work thankfully.

Pondelok: Went to an antique shop and realized that I actually LOVE antique shops. They had army packs from Vietnam there, I wanted to buy one, but I thought, "where would I put it..." so I didn't. Afterwards, we met again with someone. Unfortunately, we're not going to meet with him anymore, he's not interested in the church at all, and we're a little bit fuzzy about what his actual occupation is. We know he's a singer, but he might also be some kind of...recruiter for something illicit...anyway, yeah, not meeting him any more.

Utorok: ZAZRAK, we got a referral from another elder, who is in Dlhe Diely Bratislava right now, a man from Venezuela who lives in Nitra and really wants to meet with us. We set up a meeting for the next day. Later, my companion and I had another miracle, where we went to the Metsky Urad to check up on our concert, and the people there got SUPER angry at us. I don't have time to explain the whole situation, but President wasn't able to answer his phone to tell me what to do, so I said a quick prayer and had the words of an article of Faith come to my mind. When I told them about how, "we believe in being subject to obeying, honoring and sustaining the law," which means that we want to co-operate and we're willing to do whatever they asked, the whole situation diffused. The anger immediately left, and the main angry lady actually sat down with me and helped me fill out a legal form step by step very patiently and happily. Articles of Faith are worth it to memorize.

Streda: Set up our meeting with someone, but he came 2 hours late, when we were actually starting to teach English. Before English, by the way, we had the very unique experience of walking into the building a half an hour early to begin to set up, and seeing the other Elders standing in the hall looking awkward. Upon asking, what's up, they were just like, "we're not sure what to do," and when we went into our place, there was a lady we had contacted, just whaling away on our little keyboard on the organ setting, and singing some random Slovak song. It was unforgettable. But then we taught English, and I got a super duper triple lesson afterward, where we were starting an Exchange, but everyone was interested in our church, so my companion and another missionary taught one man, another elder taught someone else, and I taught two other people. They were all solid lessons, and now we have a lot of New investigators who have good expectations and real interest.

Štvrtok: Had the Exchange in Chrenova with another elder, we ended up not being able to do a whole lot, but we DID get some really good exercise running from the building to the city park for sports night, which is like 4 kilometers. We did it in pretty ok time too, if I do say so myself.

Piatok: I had left my planner in the building yesterday because we had to just drop our stuff, get changed, and run to sports night, so there's nothing written there. All I really remember is getting this AWESOME potential. So first off, there are not many black people here. In fact, there are so few that tons of people stare at the ones who are here, and I honestly feel kind of embarrassed for them, because that's just dumb, they're still normal, wonderful people. Anyway, so the few who are here, are either African and Muslim, or American/English/French and have heard of Mormons before, so I make an effort to speak to ALL of them. It's one of the ways I've been improving my French here. Anyway, I contacted 2 men on the way to the Námestie, who were both Muslim, one from Sudan, and another from Ethiopia. We had an AMAZING conversation with these men, and got a lot of publicity from it because people were staring at them, and then at us, and wondering, "wait, I thought Mormons were racist," but the most important thing was, one of the men is now an interested potential who is extremely smart and actually lives in the rich sector of town.

Sobota: Today was kind of one of those "Meh...days" where nothing really happens because you have weekly planning, AND Ladovy Medved, AND it's your turn to clean the building, AND you go tracting but everyone thinks you're Jehovah's Witnesses. That has started to get on my nerves. But nothing really to report that day. except for the end, where, when we thought the day was over, the Lord sends a guy our way with his son on our walk home who contacted us, and upon finding that we teach people about Christ, asked to be taught the next day.

Neďuľa: Church was cool today, we only had the missionaries and a sister there because everyone is out of town for the end of the summer, so testimony meeting was where everyone there bore their testimony. But during Sunday School, one of the other Elders' investigators showed up, he's really cool. Later, that lesson with another man was awesome, we've set up again for Wednesday and it was cool, we went in expecting to get uber-haggled about everything because everyone in the building came to the lesson wanting to hear what we were saying, but we just testified and everyone loved it and will probably come back next time as well.

Anyway, loving it here, I hope you all have an amazing week. It's amazing to see really how much we are blessed just for putting forth a little effort in the face of opposition and pushing just a tiny bit further ahead, people come out of the wood-works to find out why you did that, because it isn't normal.

Love you all,

Elder Bruso

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Myškých a Vójn (War of Words)

Elder Brousseau

Ok, today I'm going to explain the title because otherwise it will be wasted. It reads itself: Of Mice and Wars, but it's funny because the Word for mouse in Slovak is the same as the Word nun, so really it's of nuns and wars, which is what I wanted to talk about this week, haha. So basically we, in the last couple of weeks, have started a "war" in Nitra. It kind of reminds me a bit of what the war in heaven would have been like before we came to Earth, where, as far as I know, know one is actually hurting each other, it's completely by way of words. In case you were wondering, we are not actually participating in this war, which makes it just a little bit awkward to watch, because we're pretty much just on the sidelines going, "Yeah! Fight! Get it! WHAT!" and everyone just stops fighting and stares at us and we must hang our heads and complete the walk of shame, of which every one who embarks on the path to cheer for things of which they're not a part (except for Sports events) must walk. But we shall walk in that shame as many times as it takes, because it's awesome. Almost as awesome as having a Jacuzzi in my bed (my family gets this). Anyway, on to the week.

Elder Brousseau and his companion
Monday: Stressful, stressful day. We got up and everything was normal until I wanted to get a haircut. I've dropped many Euros this transfer of which I hadn't at this time been reimbursed, and so I had no Money, which wouldn't normally be a problem, except my companion forgot his PIN on his card and got locked we had a total of 2 Euros in change, and we needed to get to Bratislava and back AND email AND get me a haircut. Thank heavens we had already done weekly shopping. Anyway, we did not get me a haircut, because our normal emailing place was closed. Our normal emailing place is a fake library. I'm pretty sure it's owned by the mafia, because as far as I can tell, there are no books...but it says library and all the people say it's a library...There are just no books, and it was closed. Soooo we went to Nysis, the information center in Nitra and found that there is only one place in the whole city offering internet and use of computers: The same nasty coffee shop/bar that we went last week, and the other elders were there. So we got to just go and sit and take an hour to just de-stress, it was nice. Especially because President wasn't answering his phone, and my companion and I were both waiting to get our new personal credit cards at the training, so we were just utterly trapped and really needed to just sit and calm down. Anyway, got through it.

Tuesday: Went to training. I was a little disappointed in this training, I'm a little used to them being better, especially when our zone has really picked up in the amount of work we're doing, the Lord really is hastening the work. But we were able to get back from Bratislava just in time to be able to have an awesome Game Night and contact about afterwards. Bad news though, one lady on her way home from Game Night got her first taste of the war, a guy on his bike yelled at her and asked if the Mormons were bothering her. She said no, and he started railing on her about needing to respect her religion. Basically, this war that I've mentioned has 2 sides: the cool, open-minded, usually rich people, and the people who either don't care, or feel like our presence is an attack on their culture and livelihood (paid clergy). And I am so proud to be on the sidelines of it.

Wednesday: Had service, goodness, I really just need to video the lady at service, she is just the funniest person. She's not trying to be funny, which makes it better, she has really weird, village-speak slovak, and she leaves out a lot of important words and tries to communicate through gestures and words. It's a riot. Anyway, I got my first taste of the river path here in Nitra. I was sort of disappointed because normally I find lots of success on the river paths, but not really here because there really is no one on it. Unfortunate, but alright.

Thursday: Had an awesome day where we taught a sister about service, which went well, her husband who isn't a member always sits in on our meetings, but we have yet to count one as a member lesson, just because he hardly participates and his interest is questionable. Anyway, Sports Night was amazing, I can now say that I pwned Europeans at soccer. I was kind of scared because all of the missionaries have been telling me that soccer is in the Slovak's blood, and they looked really good, but I just went and did my thing, and really just wrecked, and it felt amazing. What made it better was afterwards teaching an investigator, she is really scared to be an investigator because her parents don't support it, and she already has to deal with flack from people before she's even joined, so we told her we wouldn't count her as one until she felt comfortable with it. Great, great day, she agreed to read the Book of Mormon and talk to us about it and pray to find out the truth.

Friday: Really weird experience where someone texted us, and set up a meeting with us, and then later didn't show up. Normally you can count on Slovaks, when they set up the meetings to come to them, but this one didn't, and it was even weirder that they were the one who texted us about it. I was sitting out in front of a billa where we had arranged to meet wondering if they were inside one of the panelaks in front of me just sitting there with some binoculars timing me to see how long I would wait. Maybe it was one of those serial meeting creators I've heard about... But the rest of Friday was relatively un-eventful, we just contacted and got lots of potentials.

Slovak singer
Saturday: Weekly Planning was a blast on Saturday, I'm so grateful to be serving with my companion, he really is a great guy. So we finally got to go see the Nitra castle today, we went with one investigator. She's such a prepared girl, I can't wait to see where things go, she's also started teaching me more Hungarian, and I've actually been able to have short conversations with people in Hungarian, SO cool, I want to get fluent so people can't pull the, "I don't understand your language," deal anymore. Here's an update for my sister: So far, In Nitra, I've successfully contacted, had a conversation with, and obtained numbers in Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, English, French, and Spanish (believe it or not!), and I'm trying to get a man in the area to teach me some Italian because there are a LOT of Italians here and not all of them have good enough English or Slovak to understand us, maybe my aunt could help me out. But later that day we got to see the other side of the war again, where a famous singer here ( came up and contacted us and sat down and bought us some kofola and just started asking us about our church. The big powers here are really really interested in us because we're not afraid of [defending our beliefs], so they keep coming up to us and we've gotten to teach some great lessons from it and I predict it will only continue to get better. This singer liked what we were telling him so much he spent 45 minutes trying to convince us to go out and party with him that night, it was awesome. (No, we didn't go party, but I know who I'm calling when I want to after the mission.;))

Beautiful Nitra, Slovakia
Sunday: Amazing church service, a return missionary came and visited with his wife, and at the same time, we had a Nitra-style missionary farewell for a future missionary. He's going to be awesome, I hope that his parents come to our concert so that we can help them understand why he wants to go on a mission so badly. Later we had a lesson with some JW's. It's my first lesson I've had with them in Nitra and I wasn't sure what to expect, but the meeting actually went great, we just made sure we kept testifying and inviting because we decided before-hand that there would be no touching of the Bible during our meeting. I think it made them a little bit upset, but, it's impossible to disprove a testimony, that's why they're accepted in court. Also, afterwards, a Catholic guy came up to us and decided he wanted to have a go as well, but he forgot that we actually know the scriptures that back us up. We refused to bash with him, we just backed up everything we said and added lots of testimony, and "killed him with kindness," and you know, that rejection almost felt good. I mean, it felt bad that he didn't want to come closer to Christ like were inviting him to do, but good in that we know we are giving him every chance he could ask for.

Anyway, Love you all lots, we're gonna go get some food.

S ucťou, (Yours sincerely,)

Starší Brúso

P.S. Ako si zlomila Blondínka nohu pri hrabaní listov? (How did the blond break her leg raking leaves?)

P.P.S. Spadla zo stromu. (She fell from the tree.)

Nitra, Slovakia sunset

Owns Town Square

Elder Brousseau & his companion own the town square

So cutting to the chase, I really don't have a kopec of time at the moment. Just a quick flash-back, I remember how hard it was to go without English in the MTC and how people said I sounded like I was already in the mission, and I felt like I was forgetting English then...I didn't know what I was talking about. I can't wait to see how bad it is when I come home, haha, it's your job to help me get back to normal, deal? My sister's going to help me with the whole normal person thing.

So Monday: Had an awesome contest to see who could take the most awkward picture of everyone else, specifically, our group leader. I won by a long shot, haha. But besides that, we got a new investigator, but he's going out of town for a while, so I don't really know how much is going to come from that. Maybe he'll find more missionaries on his trip and talk to them.
Elder Brousseau
I'm really relating with another missionary at the moment, keep pushing through buddy, just because an investigator isn't progressing at the moment, and you have to drop them doesn't mean you're doing badly or that you need to give up hope. I just got some news that a cute little family that I found in Trencin is about to be on baptismal date, even after they had to be dropped because of lack of effort on their part as far as keeping commitments. It showed them that we were serious about the blessings that came from them. Also I might be able to go there for that and take some pictures, maybe, I really really hope so.

Tuesday: Weird and slightly disappointing day if you look at it in a bad light. Basically all we did was have lots of stuff fall through (including District Finding), and then my companion taught a lesson for the other area...But I got to see more from my influence in Trencin when another missionary and I (who I was taking care of because he was sick) got contacted by 2 people who recognized me. They had been in Trencin for not even a whole day, but they saw me and how happy I was, and heard from someone that I taught English, so they came up and asked us about it. Then they came on Wednesday and loved it. Hoping that they start to ask us questions like, "What does it mean to be a missionary, like, what do you do?" Because people here really don't understand what missionaries are. Also, I finished writing an AWESOME version of Amazing Grace for the concert. I'm accompanying another missionary on the guitar, so it's written for a bass, and it's in Drop-D tuning and just wonderful I can't wait to perform it.

Unpredictable Slovak weather
Wednesday: Honestly, my memory is just failing me so hard right now, all I remember was a 6 hour contacting block, because we're literally making a war on all other missionaries right now. We decided that we want to contact so many people that all of the other faith missionaries, and even the companies will recognize that main street is our turf and just back off. So far it's working well, I can proudly state that there are no more JW's on our street, haha.

Thursday: Another lady attacked us, but we're getting better at the positivity thing at the moment. we're making sure to stay positive and loving, even in the face of people who really hate us.

Friday: This is another day I honestly don't remember, I really should bring my journal when I email, the days are all just a blur of contacting and bench lessons.

Saturday: A man didn't come to another Ladovy medved unfortunately, because we really need the help, but the good thing is, we were able to do a group practice, which is amazing, and definitely needed, we need more of those.

Sunday: Another 6 hour contacting block, but considerably more successful, I've been focusing my study on 5 minute lessons from Preach My Gospel, which are a LIFESAVER, people need to hear the restored truth, and it gives you a bunch of little phrases that really pack a punch.

Anyway, my companion is rushing me away, so Love you all lots, and I hope your week is wonderful!

Starsi Bruso
Beautiful Slovak sunset
Nitra, Slovakia washed clean