I am LOVING Brenham TX. Let me tell you why!
The people here are industrious and kind, creative and principled. Most of them are converts to the gospel, so while they may have some small misconceptions, they have a zeal for missionary work and a love for the gospel. I love the people in this little branch.
Brenham is truly different than anywhere else I have served. Houston is really on a giant swamp, and at most any natural feature is 15 feet higher than the lowest point in town. There are no hills; the land is as flat as a mosquito infested pancake. That's a big part of why the flooding during Harvey was so bad.
To contrast, Brenham is in what is called “the Texas hill country”. It's really not much more “hilly” than anywhere else in the country, but it's a sight bumpier than Houston!
While many of the buildings in town are pushing 100 years old, the city recently commissioned artists to come paint murals on the big, ugly, empty exterior walls and facades of the businesses in downtown. Some of the murals are REALLY cool - see the attached pictures - and it really brightens the otherwise dreary appearance of the shopping district.
Because of the industry here - oil, farming, manufacturing - trains run through town constantly. (I stinkin’ love trains, and our apartment is literally next to the tracks)
Much of our area is rolling hills - pasture for cattle or fields of hay. There are some wooded areas in-between, but not much. And what the members do with their property out here is just the COOLEST. They just have a different attitude about living and land.
A lot of the members build their own houses, and almost all maintain their own properties. They often live in a palacious farm house on 40 or 50 acres, on gravel or dirt roads 20 mins or so from town. Many of the members have animals ranging from the exotic like guinea fowl and ostriches to the more common cows and pigs. There apparently aren't any watershed laws here either, because half of the owners of these country properties dig a big pit to make a bass pond about 50 feet square - complete with tiny dock, of course. The cherry on top is that if you have something like 100 yards of consecutive property, you can legally fire a gun on it.
I would NEVER move to Houston, but Brenham is making me think hard about Texas!
And I admire the men here tremendously. They're all so talented and multifaceted! In our ward we have a rodeo roping star (our just released branch president), a gold prospector who was on that TV show a few years ago, a sculptor, and an equestrian specialist running a ranch with boarding for 50+ horses, whose wife is a renowned expert is some rare veterinary procedure involving horse fertilization - I think it's some kind of in-vitro breeding technique?
The members here are the coolest!
But let me tell you about Blinn College - the only part of Brenham that I don't like. Texas A&M is an hour away from here. It's a good school, and somewhat difficult to get accepted into. Students there are called “Aggies”.
Blinn is easy to be accepted into. It doesn't have great academic accreditation. Students at Blinn are called “homies”.
Get the picture?
There are parts of this town that are more 'hood than I was expecting - owing to Blinn college being here. A lot of our time is spent visiting people who have requested a free Bible online from Mormon.org and consequently, we spend a lot of time with people in sad situations who really don't understand (and sometimes don't care) how to change their circumstances. It's different than the urban poor I've seen so much of, but really the really the root problems are generally the same - alcohol, marijuana, lack of role models, and a twisted sense of sexuality.
And then, every so often, we get to go and visit a family out in the country, and the sounds and problems of the city are gone. The fog of car exhaust, weed, and cigarette smoke are replaced by the smells of hay and fresh air. What a blessing!
One night we made it out far enough that I thought I could faintly see the milky way for the first time on my mission. That same night we got to see an Armadillo! Apparently they're little menaces. I don't know about that, but they sure can run faster than I expected! That little bugger went into a loping gallop before I could get a picture of him.
Have a great week y’all!
Elder Derek Troy
P.S. Allan got baptized! I found him and taught him most of his lessons, but got transferred and couldn't be there for his baptism. I heard it went awesome! No pics so far though, sadly.
|Elder Troy happened upon a family member of a friend of our family. Small world!|
Houston Texas Temple after the snow storm of last week.
|Elder Troy and his district made Christmas cookies for their neighbors.|