Sunday, February 15, 2015
Hele, I'm sure you're all surprised that I didn't email you on Monday, but it's because of this: We are literally teaching too much to have the full hour and a half of email time, and usually the first hour is spent emailing Prezident, and replying to other emails, and we only had about 45 minutes, so here we are now on...I don't remember, but I think Wednesday, and here's my email.
Well. Last week was crazy, just like it seems every week is now. I've noticed that the more time you spend diligently finding, the less time you actually end up spending. I'll explain myself real quick. At training we discussed a principle that I was really quite impressed with. The principle discussed was that we don't set apart hours of our day for "finding," we should be finding 100% of the time, we set apart specific hours for "contacting," or "tracting," not finding. I had noticed before then that around 40-60%, I'm not willing to commit to an exact estimate, of our new investigators are found either through teaching someone else, or through us talking to people about the gospel while we're doing something that isn't contacting or tracting. Contacting and tracting are not super effective missionary activities in actuality, however, they become more effective in proportion to how much you do them. It clicked in my head when I heard that, that if we diligently find, even when we're not "finding," that then we will have more people to teach, and we'll have to "find" a whole ton less. This is extremely true, and the best part is seeing it work.
So, we totally went bowling on Monday. It's super inexpensive here, because they found that if they put the same prices on bowling here as they did in America, no one goes bowling, so it's actually around the exact price of what it's worth. I was reminded yet again of how absolutely terrible I am at bowling, I had the lowest score both games. Later we taught Z., who is awesome, and she's totally going to get baptized, she's just scared of what her Catholic friends would do if that happened. We talked about Adam and Eve, which is always a really fun discussion, especially when she doesn't actually agree with the Catholic belief, and thinks ours is way better.
Another highlight of every week is P.M., this now completely active member here. This guy is seriously Branch President status now, he's preparing to go to the temple, and he has started to have enough confidence in his knowledge of the gospel to actually put forth his own ideas and comparisons during priesthood in church, which, I must say, are spot on. I am so happy to have him to work with, we're working on teaching him about every apostasy the world has gone through in as much detail as we can find in the scriptures, from the apostasy between the dispensation of Elijah, in which the Pharisees and the Sadducees as well as Buddhism and Taoism were all founded, to the apostasy right after Adam, in which (according to the Liahona magazine, I'm not actually sure where they got this info), Hinduism was started with the followers of Cain and Satan "plotted with his followers from that time hereafter."-not an exact quote from Helaman 6:26-27. Love him to death, we're going into the Great Apostasy tomorrow.
M. is doing awesome, she's still completely on track to her baptism on the 14th, and she really is prepared. We were going through the baptismal questions with her, and we started and it went sort of like this:
Elder S: Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost?
M: and I say, "Yes."
Elder B: Gooood....do you ACTUALLY believe that?
M: Starsi Brousseau, why in the world would I be trying to get baptized if I didn't?
It was so spiritual.
J.P. is normal, still obsessed with ghosts, and doesn't really feel a need to pray or really do anything religious. He has some really cool ghost stories though, it's fun. We're planning on giving him the best ghost story ever next time: The one where a guy was brutally and illegally murdered, but came back from the dead.
L. survived a crazy car accident last week, and this week is still doing really well. He's in sort of the same situation as Z., where he's TOTALLY going to get baptized, and he has nothing holding him back except for a crazy complicated situation with Sister S. being best friends with his ex-girlfriend all the while still being sort of in love with his ex-wife, with which he has 2 kids. We're praying pretty hard that something in that situation will change quickly so that he no longer has a problem with Sister S., and it's going to take a miracle, but at the moment he's progressing quite well.
Pan K. is totally on track! We had the lesson last time that like, "You realize we're not Catholics and we want to baptize you right?" and he was all like, "Yeah, I knew that from the start, I kind of want to know why." So cool! He's this sort of old guy, like early 50's, and he tries so very hard to do what he knows is right, it's great.
M. is doing pretty well too, last time we taught him with Sister S., and it went pretty well, we showed him the "Your potential, your privileges," video from President Uchtdorf, and talked to him about trying to find out exactly what his privileges are BEFORE he no longer has them. He still doesn't have a huge desire, but he's totally getting baptized as soon as he realizes what the church organization specifically can offer him, which is friends who care about you and would like help you in quite literally every country on the planet. Teaching M. has really improved my English again as well, because, while he doesn't really speak English, he always has super great questions about the differences between words, and which word is best to say in certain contexts, I really like him.
I got to teach the W. family!!! This is a way-cool young family the other Elders are teaching, and our district is doing well enough in both companionships, that we've started having to go on splits so that we can all teach all of our lessons that our scheduled, so great. Elder F. has been very inspired with how he has gone about teaching them, people (Zone Leaders) keep trying to push him into trying to speed things up, but having gone there and having taught them myself, I am convinced that he has been taking the spiritually correct path with them. They are so amazing.
R., ok, well, we found out this guy is apparently a "real JW"...I asked him during our 2nd lesson if I could see his new world translation because he was using a rohacek translation, and that has tons of stuff missing, but doesn't have the little asterisks telling you that they're missing, and he was all like, "Pozor pan Bruso, real Jehovah's Witnesses don't even let that thing come into our hands!" and proceeded to rant about all this corruption with the bigger JW church in Brooklyn and denouncing all they're "abominable creeds" and stuff, I was torn between confusion and a strange desire to record everything he was saying. Turns out, there are 2 JW churches, and the mission of one of them is to entirely discredit the other, but they call themselves the exact same thing, so there's no way to distinguish between them. Kind of crazy, but he's a joy to teach, he knows the Bible pretty darn well, so when we use the Bible to reference things and explain our point of view, instead of not understanding and getting caught up in random little reference battles, he understands the bigger picture and it makes sense to him. I really love this guy.
Lubo has gotten so hard-core into Anti material, which he doesn't completely understand. He is not in an amazing position to join either, because he's a minister for another church, but he is interested as to why he doesn't have the sorts of feelings about our church when he's meeting with us, as he does when he's reading bad things about us. Interesting.
R. is great, he's this awesome 21 year old kid who does MMA, and he's had some really cool experiences with God. He says he already has a Book of Mormon, but we're going to give him a new one, just in case. I'm really excited to see where he goes, we've only had a couple of lessons so far, but he has in every single case showed that he has a very open heart, and a sincere desire to do right with God. He knows L., which is a little iffy, but as far as I can tell, he doesn't really listen to anything he says, so we'll hope and pray he doesn't get into the same kind of stuff.
Sunday we gave our demonstration on Music History, Music Theory, and Conducting, and it was a success. We were in the building that day from 9 in the morning until past 7 in the evening just because of Church and then the activity, and then we were teaching the rest of the time, which illustrates my point at the beginning, we didn't have time to go out and tract like we normally do. Such a great week, and such a great feeling.
Lots of love,
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Hey everyone, I'm really excited to email you this week, I've got a little bit more time, and I'm going to try and make the best of it. First off, has anyone here heard this name before: Saint Irenaeus? If not, that's ok, but you should really read his stuff. If you have, good on you, you're a little bit ahead of me. Saint Irenaeus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenaeus) is the first disciple of the original disciple of John the Revelator, and the Catholic church claims him as a Saint because of the miracles he performed, despite the fact that almost everything of what he teaches goes against their doctrine, especially concerning Adam and Eve, and Human Deification (Theosis Greek). We discovered him last week, and his words have made our lesson plans a lot more interesting. I have said this quite a bit last week, but throughout my mission, I have gained this THIRST for every bit of information I can find about the gospel. I've found here, that to every bit of anti-Mormon material (at least that to which I've been exposed) has answers, and more importantly, every bit of pro-Mormon material is backed throughout history, including the early Saints like this man Irenaeus. I love the words of President Uchtdorf, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." Well with that sort of boring pre-face, I'd like to get into the best week yet (besides Christmas and New Years).
So highlights: We started out the week with a bang by visiting Oravsky Hrad (http://www.oravskemuzeum.sk/), the castle in which the very first Black-and-White Silent Dracula was filmed!! It was SO cool. I now understand why I wanted to live in a castle when I was little. I understood a whole lot more then about living in style. Now all I need is to find a place to put my Jacuzzi when I get that castle. Favorite part of the castle? A wax figurine of the original actor: apparently this German guy was SO ugly that they hardly needed to put any make-up on him, and the nails? Totally his, he never cut them anyway. "I'm so nefarious, that means I'm evil!"-That guy.
Further than that, we went clipboarding for our Family History course, and boy, you wouldn't believe what happened. I had absolutely no success, and I was getting kind of bored of clipboarding and wanted to contact instead about something people actually want to hear about, like the gospel, so I went to find my companion and I find him helping Elder B. to talk to a man. I walk up, and within 60 seconds, this man has me talking to his friend on the phone in French, and we've gone into this man's work for a meeting, we ended that hour with a solid new investigator, and two referrals with meetings set up (which they later showed up to, the man with French, is the leader of a Christian Community in Martin, a city a little south-east of Zilina). So cool.
M. is doing awesome, she is STOKED for her baptism on February 14, which is right at the end of the transfer. What a good way to end a transfer, right? She has completely stopped smoking (going from 10-15 cigarettes daily), and is loving the blessings of living all of the higher laws. I really wish that we would be able to be there, or at least see it, but we've been told by our 70 that we aren't allowed to Skype into a baptism, even though we're the ones who taught her. We'll figure something out though, Probably the Sisters in Germany (Frankfurt mission) will just email us some good photos.
We had the best day ever on Friday... So we went to Martin (for that one meeting with the minister), and our meeting went extremely well, he had read the beginning of the Book of Mormon, and had some self-made anti-Mormon material, which we cleared up, and he decided to interview us to find out what we really believe. Really cool. He accepted a Book and committed himself to finding out if it was true. But then our second meeting cancelled. And we were stuck. In Martin. For more that an hour. What to do? Then Elder Brousseau had a plan:
Elder B: We should totally call D.
Elder S: What? No!
Elder B: What? Are you scared of being Kidnapped?
Elder S: Well, yeah, but more like being murdered.
Elder B: BUT WEEEE NEEEEED CLOOOOOSUUUUURE!
Elder S: Fine, but we don't know where he lives.
Explanation: D. is this dude who showed up here last transfer. I have never previously met him. He's from Nigeria, but lived in England for quite a while. He claimed he was a member, and the church was helping him a little bit, until some verification was done, and he's definitely not a member. After being told that we knew he wasn't a member, and offering to help him become one, he got ticked and stormed off. [The legend is that he has a very "checkered" past.]
We then called the other Elders to find where he lived and went and visited him. Turns out he was totally home, and really happy to meet with us. I don't personally think he was actually involved at all [in the legendary illegal activities], but he's definitely not a member.
Later, our train back was delayed half an hour because it DUMPED like 8 inches of snow in like three hours, which was really bad for the shoes I had picked to wear because when we left the apartment it was totally dry. I really wish we would get the technology we've been approved for already so that we can check the weather. But we eventually got back and guess what?!? We got to go to a professional orchestral concert playing music from Čajkavský (Tchaikovsky or however they spell it the wrong way in English). SOOO sick. I was very very impressed, especially with this violin soloist. If Lizabeth is half as good as he was, she's in for quite a career in music.
Our last couple of days were pretty good, but I'd rather end with this. Here's an excerpt from our weekly mission [president's] email this week:
I spent the weekend in Nitra with our wonderful members and missionaries there. Following the pattern set in Doctrine and Covenants 109, we dedicated a new space for the Nitra group. It is right on the main square and the space for sacrament meeting has two large windows that look down on the square and the people of the city.
Snow is everywhere and it is cold, but there was a sense of excitement and opportunity amongst the members and the missionaries. We expect great things from them. Good things are happening in Nitra and elsewhere in Slovakia and our mission.
Nitra is an area that has been open to missionary work for approximately two years. In that time, the missionary force there has grown from two to four, a local member has been installed as group leader, a brother baptized in Germany but lost in Slovakia is now active and was recently endowed, three individuals have been baptized and are active, two of those new converts have been to the temple for baptisms or their endowment, there is a strong priesthood base in the group, the group has a strong matriarch who has been a member for more than seventy years, and the group has moved from weekend space in a library to permanent space on the main square well suited to missionary work and sacrament services or other public gatherings. In all this we see God laying the foundation for a thriving branch. The first missionaries to work in Nitra likely never imagined a group this structurally sound and strong would be established this fast.
Sometimes the perspective that comes when we take a step back to see the bigger picture is important. We get caught up in the day to day of our work and fail to see the great blessings of our overall missions and lives. Lack of perspective can diminish our sense of gratitude and, as president Hinckley explained in Forget Yourself, "[t]here is nothing that dulls a personality so much as a negative outlook." Take the time today to consider ALL your blessings and those of the branches and groups in which you work.
We build branches. We do it with gratitude, perspective and faith. We do it with the kind of hard work and faith that makes of us collectively "an intelligent force . . . [that] is superior to and overrules all other forces of which we know." Elder Cook,Agency, Opposition and Faith, p. 6."
I love this mission. O. (one of the new members referenced in the email) was able to go to the temple, and sent me pictures. That building that I found and helped secure that was perfect for our vision, is now in place, Nitra has come so far, and in part the Lord was able to use me and give me an attitude of perseverance to create a place where missionary work can thrive. I love that area, and I love this mission.
Have a wonderful week,
Monday, February 2, 2015
Haha, gosh, I've been sitting here for like 13 minutes (actually exactly that long) just wondering how to start this. I've been looking for something clever or funny, but I've kind of failed on that one, so we'll see, maybe something clever will come out later. This week has been amazing, I feel like I've learned some really valuable lessons, and some other ones I've been reminded of. The biggest of all of these is that fact that when you put your time in and actually try to work hard (for example finding, finding, finding with no visible success, or trying your very best to teach lessons to people on the busses or trains to and from trainings), the Lord doesn't make you wait long to feel blessed. Here's a quick run-through of our week.
Monday: P~Days are honestly such a blur to me, I really need to take more pictures, we just did fun stuff all day and then emailed.
Tuesday: We had training, where I had the misfortune of getting a really really bad migraine and having to step out and throw up during President Hinkley's talk "Forget Yourself." Embarrassing, but more than that, my parents might be getting a call from my mission President about it, but no worries. Sister McConkie and Sister Cottle came to my rescue with a wet cloth and some Ibuprofen (I have no idea how that writes itself). Afterwards I had a crazy awesome interview, probably the best one I've had on my mission, after my headache had gone down of course. We then were able to teach 2 people on the way home, I really hope something comes of it.
Wednesday: Today was great, we got out early to contact like normal, and literally the first lady we stopped was interested enough to talk with us for like half an hour and let us pray with her, she's going to be a very cool investigator in a little bit. Later, we taught P., who is seriously just the cutest guy! I wish I could be here to see where life takes him, he's the greatest of members. The crowning point of the day though was going to Rosina just like we planned, and going and sitting for like 15 minutes in Omsa and then talking to Pan F. when it was done. Catholic priests are seriously prepared. He told us that he had urged his...ward? Flock? What do you call a group of Catholics (editor's note: congregation)? Not important. He told them that if they wanted peace in their lives to shut their doors to the Moonies, and when these people had heard we were from America, they just jumped to conclusions. As soon as he found out we WEREN'T Moonies, he immediately said that if we were here to strengthen faith that he wanted every member of his to speak with us. He also invited us to come speak with him whenever, but I don't know if we're going to take that one up after the success we have started to have there. We have found several people there.
Thursday: Well, we started our exchange at the end of the day, after we had had the best Plan Spasy lesson ever with P.! This kid is seriously the coolest, he had defied all the norms with us. He wasn't baptized as a baby, but like 4-5 years ago because he felt it was good. He was a super awkward contact back in December, who, after one meeting, left for the holidays. But not only did he want to meet with us again after he came back, but he has read through 1st Nephi 13, and says he really likes it! I am so excited for him to get baptized, it will just be the best experience of his life, he's a really spiritual kid.
Friday: Exchange with Elder B.: the poor kid. He has a District filled with the best speakers in the mission, and he feels so very left out that he has kind of lost his interest in learning Slovak. I tried very hard to "beat that out of him," and it went very well. One particular instance of this was while we were waiting for a meeting, I taught him all the directions and had him lead me through a panelak (panels) jungle, and I wouldn't go anywhere until he told me where to go in Slovak. He wasn't having a great time with it at the beginning, but as soon as he got the hang of it, he had a blast leading me across benches and over railings, and down stairs and back up the stairs backwards, and I continued to do my best to help him love this language as much as I do during the exchange. He is a very special missionary, I hope he gets that. People stop and talk to him, despite them not understanding completely what he's saying, and he not understanding what they're saying hardly at all, so cool.
Saturday: Kind of a normal missionary day, some inactive members ignored us and didn't want us to help them with anything, and some people were mean and rude on the street, and my companion and I loved it. Europe is so very different than America, on nearly every level, including the mindset of people. Admittedly, I have a very limited knowledge of people in America, but these Europeans have a different mindset than everyone I know. We meet SOOOO many people who find out that their church isn't true, be it Catholic, JW, Adventist for 6th or 7th day, Evanjelic, Lutheran, Hussite, everything, and they decide immediately that because their first guess wasn't 100% right, that no church on the whole Earth can be. Something I've learned through some tough experiences is that if we earnestly seek out the Lord, He will find us. The weird thing is that we meet so many people, where, earlier that day, they pray that the Lord will show them their path, and literally we are lead right to them, and then they're like, "No, that can't be it, God doesn't actually answer prayers, I just do that so my Priest will stop bugging me." L O Freaking L! Haha, Prezident said at training that according to the #'s, out of every 100 new investigators in our mission, 2.9 of them get baptized, and I've noticed seemingly the same percentage out of every type of finding. It seems like it's better to just accept a no with a smile and say, there's one more down, 95 nos left before we get another investigator.
Sunday: Ok, seriously so cool. We sat down to plan Saturday night and just said, ok, nothing on plan? Tracting. All day, but the Lord had other plans. His plans were for us to just teach all day from random people calling us and then setting up. We only got to tract one house, and that guy even let us teach him, this was our day where the Lord said, "Ok, you've been working hard, you get to decide how today goes," and we decided to have miracles. The best one came at the end of the day, where we came back into Zilina to teach a guy English after tracting that one house, his English lesson went great, but we didn't really have time for a spiritual thought because our next lesson (it's now 8:30) was there. This guy really really wanted a spiritual thought, so he asked if he could stay in our lesson. Turns out, these two men we're teaching totally know each other, and had both spent the week in Germany together! The English guy then proceeded to teach the other guy about faith and gave him this huge pep-talk about how meeting with the missionaries will change his life for the better and that if he follows what we teach about faith that he will have confidence and everything will go well for him. Way chill, I can't wait for them to be part of the Branch Presidency here.
I am constantly having a blast, and I really hope that you are too, please, I would love to know how each of you is doing, so if you read this far in the email, send me a quick one back just telling me some highlights of your week! I love you all so much!
Elder Chris Brousseau
Here we are, I'm using a Slovak computer again and can't figure out for the life of me how to change the keyboard into English, so please forgive any typos! Another good week in Žilina has come and gone, and I got a haircut!! That's seriously the biggest news of the week, nothing has really changed in the past week except for we are steadily growing how many new investigators and lessons we are getting weekly, which has entirely to do with attitude. We have good attitudes, and it shows in our work!
Monday: P day, Elder S. and I went boot shopping because it has been dumping snow, and my shoes are quite literally falling apart, I need some more super-glue... But, I found a great deal on some nice brown boots that were on super sale, I am now praying that they last so that I can take them home because they are SOOO not American, haha. We also met with Alessandro again, who I am somewhat worried about. He doesn't really seem to understand English all that well, despite being an English teacher here. If one of you needs a job and doesn't mind moving, you would get accepted in 1 second if you applied as an English teacher here.
Tuesday: I don't really remember a whole lot about Tuesday unfortunately, but we went to District lunch and we went to a pizza place, where I saw the first 4-meat pizza Ive seen anywhere in more than a year...I had to get it. I was sitting there, staring into the jealousy on the 3 other elders' faces, anticipating how amazing my pizza full of meat was going to be when it came...and it had 4 types of meat on it...but they were all separate. We had a huge laugh about it because the pizza was divided into fourths with one type of meat on each fourth. Great, right? we had a great time after that district finding, where I simply must describe what happened as we were getting ready to sing the last song in our singing display.
Us: Hey, that's that one guy we've talked to twice already!
Guy: Hello missionaries.
Us: Can we meet and talk about our church? You always have great questions about what we believe!
Guy: Let's leave it up to fate. If I run into you guys again, then we'll meet.
Us: That's what you said last time.
Us: This is the THIRD time you've run into us.
Guy: Oh...huh...ok, well I guess we need to meet then, come on, well go for a beer right now.
Us: Oh boy.
And then we went with him and had a great meeting! It think it's so funny, Slovaks always say that, and then they avoid us when we meet them again so that they don't have to, but it worked and we have a great new investigator! Good thing too, he's actually interested.
Wednesday: I went on an exchange to Žilina North with Elder F.. He's pretty awesome, but just a tad bit trunky. We had a lot of fun talking to people, especially because he's probably the best speaker in the mission, he's 2 transfers ahead of me, and thats my goal of what to hit when I get there. It was amazing how much easier it has seemed this transfer, when Elder B., who is getting trained, is the only person in the District with any trouble speaking the language, we really are getting work done.
Thursday: Again, I don't remember much other than teaching M. (our awesome Baptismal Date in Germany), and English. I wish that the people coming to English would have more interest in the gospel, I'm going to work on being more excited about the gospel this week, I hope people like overly-excited American boys.
Friday: WE WENT TO PUCHOV!! haha, there's nothing really special about it other than I rode a train. Its been a long while because you pretty much just take busses in Nitra, and I like trains more. Also I have a Junior Pass to give me a discount for trains. But it was so great, we taught M. K., who is the only member in her city and gosh is she strong. Its like right between Trenčín and Žilina, so she shows up at church when she can come in both areas. We also had a referral there from Banská Bystrica, so we had a full trip, and it was a blast.
Saturday: Found an amazing store here, it sells American stuff. Its a Korean Store. I had forgotten that Doritoes existed, and now I have a huge temptation to go spend 10 Euros to get a bag...Pray for me.
Sunday: Awesomeest Tracting Session ever. I really just love tracting, you know that? We went out of our city to a little village, and we just went tracting all day after church in the cold dark snow, and just loved literally every second of it. This little village is the same place where last week we accidentally lost somebody's dog because it was retarded and bolted out the gate as soon as we opened it to go knock on their door (I really like talking to people, not little intercom stuff, and Im not all that scared of big dogs). Good news! The dog came back or somebody found him at some point during the week. My poor companion felt so guilty that we couldn't catch the dog after chasing him around for like 30 minutes with no success, but he did poop under some random neighbor's tree. I really would have loved to see that reaction.
Neighbor: Walks out of house to observe the land beyond his 9-foot tall gate
Neighbor: CURSES!!! I'M A FOOL! WHY DID I EVER LEAVE MY OVERSIZED AND UNDERPOWERED GATE OPEN ON SUNDAY NIGHT?!?
On second thought I think my imagination is better. Our concluding thought for the day has to do again with this little village. We found during tracting that the local Catholic priest gave his Sunday morning sermon all about how if someone had recieved one of the tracting letters that we put out, that it was a betrayal to their faith for them to talk to us. We are now searching and have very strong feelings that the first person who says: I want to know why he said that, is going to be baptized. Can't wait to find them.
Lots of love, I hope you're doing amazing!