Hoo Rah!

Hey-o. Welcome to m' mission blog. If you're interested in keeping in touch with me via mail, check out my address(es) on the right side of the page. If you're too lazy to do that, go ahead and read the posts below. Hoo-rah!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

12.14.10 MTC

Well, 6 weeks. 3 more to go. Wow, I’m getting antsy. But that’s expected, so it’s okay.

This past week has been solid. Elder Roberts and I feel like we taught our best lesson yet last week, and our study time is productive. It’s true. Even though I’d rather be in Mexico.

. . . Speaking of companions though, I’ve got a new one. Elders North, Gatiza (?), and Craig got their visas, so they left for the Peru MTC today. The district now only consists of Elders Guymon, Jensen, Roberts, MacDonald, and I. the last three are the new tri-fecta, and we’re all going to Mexico. All but Elder MacDonald are headed to Hermosillo as well, and he’s going to Chihuahua, which is just east of Sonora.

Class is probably going to be a lot more boring now. But, that’s good. I don’t mind boredom when it results in reverence. Plus, with less people, we’ll all learn the gospel and Spanish quicker. It’ll be nice.

Ah, and I went to the Provo temple for possibly the last time in 2 years. The temple closes down the next two weeks for Christmas and there’s a chance I’m leaving before then. Hopefully. Although I’m willing to wait a few days to go again, not more than a week though.

Ah, and for the devotional tonight, we had Elder Paul D. Pieper of the 70. It was good, if lacking the emotion of Elder Holland or the logical and methodical awesomeness of Elder Bednar. He spoke on agency, and how to use it effectively on a mission. He went on for quite a bit, but one thing in particular stood out: having righteous desires, which were exemplified by the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. Their desire was to simply “save a few souls.” They knew the fear of having a soul harrowed up by sin, as spoken of in Mosiah 28:3. They knew what awaited the sinful Lamanites if they wouldn’t repent.

And there’s the thing: sin creates fear. Misunderstanding does as well, and I can’t think of something more misunderstood than death. People are freaked out by it, and for a good reason, right? They have no idea what’s going on after death. It’s like they think death is just as menacing and freaky as the cliché image of the Grim Reaper himself. But, C’MON! People, you don’t have to be afraid! Geez! I’m freaked out of my mind by the pain associated with death, but at least I know it’s a necessary end. Besides, who wants to live on Earth forever? Send me somewhere else to dwell for eternity. Being with God in heaven would be much better than anything offered down here.

But anyway, I just hope I can help people see that clearly: you don’t have to be afraid anymore. Sure, still be afraid of spiders, snakes, or other phobia-inducing things: but, death shouldn’t be one of them. For some more “food for thought,” check out Moroni 8:16, but mostly just the last half of the scripture.

Man, I love this gospel? Why can’t others see it? Eh, I guess I’ll just have to help ‘em to do it. That’s why I’m on a mission anyway, right?

And, another thing I was thinking of: if I didn’t get my visa in time and got reassigned to somewhere stateside before the visa comes, how cool would it be if I went to the Denver or Chicago missions? Probably not, since my wardrobe is all set for extreme heat, but who knows.

Elder Humbert

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12.7.10 MTC

12/7/10

. . . I’m in such a good mood right now! Ah! This is what it’s like to have the Spirit! Awesome!

There’s a few reasons I’m so happy right now. This week, Elder Roberts & I have done really well. For example, a few days ago, we taught the plan of salvation entirely in Spanish to an Elder that was role-playing his former non-member self. That’s right, an Elder we were teaching was a very recent convert. One year, in fact. He reminded me of Dad & Bro. Aten, going on a mission almost right after getting baptized. That takes some guts. I admire him, oh, and Dad, and all the other convert missionaries. THANK YOU CONVERTS!

Anyway, we taught him really well. Spanish came easier, we taught in unity, and we applied it to his life. Because that’s what we’ve been told to do the most: apply the gospel, don’t just teach it. That way, the gospel will be more personal, more meaningful. Great lesson.

Another thing we did was have an appointment with a tutor, with just our companionship and the tutor. The tutor was Elder Roberts’ old roommate from BYU, Bro. Auna, a Hawaiian man who served in Rome, Italy. And guess what? This man is amazing. Probably one of the most loving people I’ve ever met, and I had only met him for 45 minutes. We talked about making the message personal, like we did in the lesson with the role-playing convert Elder. He bore his testimony, and it was probably the most powerful testimony I’ve ever heard. Amazing. Unfortunately, I can’t remember then entire 45-minute lesson since it seemed as though it went by in about 5 min. Amazing. I would also go into more detail if it weren’t for the fact that I’m writing this quiet late in the day, since I studied all morning.

Elder W. Craig Zwick, of the Quorum of the 70! Awesome talk, as usual! Man, I love Tuesdays, no matter how tired I am.

His wife spoke first, and set the tone for the rest of the night: using our personal testimony of Christ to withstand the trials of our missions. She spoke of two instances of incredible faith in the midst of horrible circumstance. The first was a story of when she and her husband were in Santiago, Chile, serving as mission president & wife. The first week, they got a phone call from a very freaked out missionary. He was standing in a phone booth, wearing nothing but his overcoat, since when he was teaching a lesson at the Church, his companion and him were ambushed. 7 men with machine guns came in, made them take off their clothes, and burned their clothes and the chapel to the ground. After telling his story, the missionary said, “Mission president, what should we do?”

The second is even . . . sadder. A sister missionary was telling her story to Sister Zwick, and what circumstances she had come from. When she was 16, a fire started at her home. She was able to escape, but her parents and 4 siblings died in the fire. She had absolutely nothing left in her life. Except for one thing.

In both instances, the people involved had a choice: stop and despair, or ask, “What should I do?” and then made the right decision. And in both cases, they chose right. The missionaries picked up where they left off and kept working with brand new suits, pants, and shoes. The sister didn’t choose to despair. She chose faith, and knowing that he family was safe in heaven, did all she could to insure that she would live with them again. She stayed active, and was currently serving a mission. She would see them again. AH! I LOVE THE PLAN OF SALVATION!

Elder Zwick then spoke. He talked of how he served in Bolivia 40 years ago, and the trials he faced as he helped create/build/design the first chapel in all of Bolivia. He talked of the miles the crossed on horseback, the mountain trails he trod, the storms he walked through, the materials he carried on burros (donkeys.) The entire time, he wasn’t talking about his own strength. He talked of the time he was on a mountain switchback while in a storm. The trail he was on had turned to mud, and the river beneath them was overflowing. Suddenly, one of the burros carrying building materials strayed too close to the edge. The path gave way, and the donkey fell, taking its materials, itself, and part of the pathway into the water below. When they peered over the edge, only raging mud was visible. It was gone.

Elder Zwick then spoke of how he had a choice then, wallow in despair on the switchback, scared to walk further, or keep on going. He thought of the village he was headed to, and the people there, and how much they needed the gospel in their lives to help them feel happy in one of the poorest places in South America. He kept on going.

He talked of how he thought of Christ’s example, and how He kept on going. Even when He could have stopped, He kept go; He had many worse things to work through, and never stopped. He knew the Atonement He would bring would make people happy no matter what their circumstances were. AH! GREAT TALK!

Sorry if all these letters end on the same slightly corny note. But, you know, even if they’re corny, they’re all true.

Adios. . .

Elder Humbert

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elder Humbert Enters the MTC

Photos from the day that Brok entered the MTC. . .

For his missionary plaque.
The handsome Elder in front of Mt. Timpanogas.
Elder Humbert and Mom & Dad

Grabbing his bags at the MTC.
And, off he goes. Not a look back.

Monday, December 6, 2010

11.30.10 MTC

Well, one more day and I’ll have been at the MTC for 4 weeks. Only 5 more to go, eh? It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it also feels as though I’ve been here forever. I know I’ve said that before, multiple times, but you know what, it’s also been completely true each time as well!

This week has been great. At least, the days since my last letter have been great. I especially liked yesterday since it was probably one of my happiest since arriving.

I woke up feeling a bit more energetic than usual. I don’t know why, but I just felt like it was going to be an incredible day. And I was right. I wasn’t that tired during classes, I understood more Spanish than usual, and I was able to actually feel sore from my chest & shoulders workout. I love push-ups. Awesome exercise.

But anyway, it wasn’t until after lunch, that I felt really good. I had been speaking nothing but Spanish for the previous 2.5 hours or so, and I felt a little more confident than usual, which is why I didn’t freak out when I found out that Elder Roberts and I were just about to teach the entire second lesson (or at least, most of it. Oh, and it was the Plan of Salvation) to our teacher, Hma. De Leon, entirely in Spanish. It was the third time we had taught a lesson entirely in Spanish, but the times before that were pretty dang bad. But, I felt different this time. A little more hopeful. I guess.

We began teaching, and the first time in Spanish, I took the lead in the lesson. Elder Roberts and I still taught in unity, of course, but I felt much better about what I offered to the lesson. I focused on our “investigator” the whole time (Hma. De Lon was role playing as one of the investigators she taught on her mission) instead of wonering, “What the heck can I say in Spanish that won’t sound like gibberish?” When that happened, I didn’t even need to think about what to say. The Spirit was there with us, even though it wasn’t an entirely real lesson. I knew what to say, when to say it, what questions to ask, what scriptures to look up (in my entirely un-marked Spanish set), and how to transition more smoothly between speakers. I twas nothing short of incredible.

But, of course, I know it won’t be that easy in the field. Hma. De Leon played her part very well, but she was till taking it easy on us. But she does speak Spanish as fast as a native (probably because she’s from Guatemala), and I understood nearly all of what she said. It was great.

On the flip-side, though, I found out probably the only food that I’m dreading to eat in Mexico: menudo, or in other word, cow stomach. Apparently it’s really popular, and as described by Hmo. Anderson, it’s both “fuzzy and chewy.” But then again, I also spoke with Elder North (Mexican Elder from Orange County who’s going to Cochabamba, Bolivia) and he said that we are going to love every single thing we eat there. Which makes sense, because Mexican food is awesome. But, hit story abou the time he got some freshly-made churros one time when he was visiting his Grandma in Mexico was so good, it boosted my hopes even more. Speaking of dessert, I wonder how good home-made flan is. Eh, I guess I’ll find out since it turns out eating whatever is set before us isn’t just a a mission rule, it was what Christ said to the Seventy before they were sent out on their missions (see Luke 10:8 if you don’t believe me. And, I’m sure the food back then was even freakier than it is now.) Oh, and another food-related scripture that’s kind of interesting is Romans 14:2. Ah, the strange verses missionaries find when bored. Good stuff.

Oh, and another thing: I finished the Book of Mormon again 3 days ago. It tok me a little less than 4 weeks, as opposed to the last time when it took me 3 months. And, guess what? It’s still completely true. Crazy, eh? THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, PEOPLE. JUST READ AND FIND OUT. Anyway, time to start reading the New Testament again. I’m on John 2 right now. Once again, good stuff.

And I’ll wait ‘til tonight to finish this letter. I want to tell everyone who spoke at the devotional, and what they said. Hopefully, another apostle. That’d be awesome. Ah, and we’re singing, “Oh Love that Glorifies the Son” tonight. They could have just called it “Charity” to simplify it, but hey, it works.

I was on camera for a huge part of the hymn, apparently. Doesn’t really mater, but we performed it well.

The speaker was Julie Beck, the General President of the Relief Society. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of women speakers, since they always seem to sugar coat whatever they’re talking about. Fortunately, she didn’t. She talked about how her father was the only who originally created the Brazil MTC, and many other stories. It was an entertaining talk, but I’ll be honest again: I didn’t get much out of it.

I guess I’m the kind of Elder that likes the powerfully emotional talks, not the light-hearted ones. But she still had some great points, or at least, what she talked about brought some good thoughts forward. This is just one of them:

Charity is not reasonable. It’s not logical. Its motives are not of the world, but the heart. It doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t need to. God loves all men, women, and children, no matter who they are. And even though I may not be a loving, charitable person, I know I can be eventually. Although it might take some time. I am weird, after all.

Elder Humbert

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving from the MTC

11.23.10

Things are going well for me. I’ve been getting a lot of prayers answered lately, and Spanish is coming much quicker. Learning how to pray in Spanish has probably been the reason. Also, the whole Spirit helping out the Lord’s servants + diligence + lots of study time + teachers. That might have had something to do with it, but I still have 6 weeks to go, so I should be learning even more soon.

And, it seems like this place is becoming less and less oppressive as the time goes on. Don’t get me wrong, when I arrived, I was psyched to be on a mission, but I at least felt a little confined. Now that I’m getting used to it, it’s much better.

Hmm. . . I seem to be running out of writing material. . .

This last night I was able to go to a devotional with Per G. Malm, of the 20. He’s from Sweden, and had a super thick accent. I would go into detail about what he said, but I’m running out of time of what to say tonight. . .

11.25.10

Happy late Thanksgiving, seeing as how you all will be getting this letter in a few days, instead of the day of.

Elder Dilello and Stanfill (my workout and running buddies) left for the Peru MTC a couple days ago. It was kind of sad, since district “comrades” get close to one another pretty quickly here, abut I don’t feel incredibly bad. You don’t really think about saying goodbye forever when you’re learning and teaching about how no one has to say farewell permanently when parting ways, whether in this life or the next. But they’ll still be missed. They’ll do great in Peru.

Oh, and for Per G. Malm’s devotional, it was great. His accent was funky, especially when he talked about Swedish food in the beginning. (Ve love ze raw herring.), but he had a few great stories. The best part was when he invited the missionary that converted his father up to the stand to tell the story of their family’s conversion. The former missionary is an old man now, and talked about how he started his mission immediately after serving 4 years in the Second World War. He also mentioned how his wife was unhappy about waiting 6 ½ years to marry him. But he went on, and told of how in his day, missionaries were essentially given a plan ticket and told where to go, or at least, the general area they were supposed to be. This man had 4 days of training, and none in Swedish. He got dropped off and knew nothing besides his companion’s name and the mission’s home address. And yet, 10 days after his arrival, Per G. Malm’s father walked up to them and told them about his search for truth. 60 days later, he was baptized. He was an exception to the norm of teaching after looking for people, as opposed to having them come to you, but it’s still great to think about how there are people out there who earnestly and honestly want to believe. Of course, there are still hard areas to find people to teach, and no missionary should expect people to flock to them, like ducks at a park, but it’s still cool to think about.

And, currently, I’m standing in line for another devotional, the morning one for Thanksgiving. I have no idea who is speaking and everyone is crammed into the main building to wait in line, since it’s around 10 degrees outside, but it should be worth it. Every week we have a chance to hear an Apostle, like a couple weeks ago, so standing around with hundreds of other Elders in suits should be worth it. In fact, before Elder Bednar came, Elders Robert D. Hales, Russel M. Nelson, and M. Russel Ballard came for Tuesday devotionals, one after another. Unfortunately, I only got to see Elder Bedarn, but you know, I don’t mind. I’ll be here for another 6 weeks – and guess what? I just found out that we’re about to hear from Jeffrey R. Holland! HAAAAAAA YEESSSSS

He just walked in. We all stood up, and the spirit in the room is incredible. This is the man whose words are some of the most powerful ever given in General Conference! YES

I’m pretty sure I just experienced one of the best talks/devotional I ever have and ever will be able to be a part of. At fist, the procedure was a little unorthodox, but it was amazing. I’ll honestly say I had tears come to my eyes multiple times.

He began by talking about how this was all about families on Thanksgiving Day. His entire family was there, with his sons, daughters, and grandchildren. He thanked the Lord for them, and thanked God for his wife, and I’m pretty sure Dad would gladly say the same things about Mom. He then had all of his grandchildren come up to the stand, and while his oldest granddaughter played the piano, the rest sang “I Know My Heavenly Father Loves Me.” They didn’t do it very loudly, but the little kids in front definitely tried. The youngest girl reminded me of Zoe. She was quiet, so she didn’t remind of Taylor also. When they were done, Elder Holland’s wife, Patricia, got up and bore her testimony and thankfulness for her family and husband. I’m pretty sure Mom could have said the same.

Elder Holland got back up and began to speak. He talked about his grandchildren, and how they, and children like them, are watching us. He went on to say how in the Church, we don’t have many symbols, statues, or icons, and besides the Christus statue (like the one in the Oakland Temple Visitors’ Center), there aren’t many Church commissioned sculptures or projects. But, if we had one symbol that would set up apart from any other, it would be the sight of two missionaries, walking down a road or an abandoned path or street, knocking on doors and adjusting their name tags.

He then looked at all of us and said, “Any time you are tempted to be less than you are and can be, remember me. And my grandchildren. You are a symbol of them. You have no right to lessen that symbol in their eyes.”

After that, he gave thanks for three things: the first being our individual relationship with God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They know each of us by name. First name. “. . . Mine eyes are upon you, I am in your midst . . . “ (D&C 38:7)

The second was how we should give thanks for being able to feast on this day, and to care for the needy when we can, for by it we are able to retain the remission of our sins (Mosiah 4:26). He admonished us to, when we are in the areas of our mission, to be as the people whom we serve. Sleep where they sleep. Eat what they eat, do what they do, and to be what they are. Experience what the people you serve experience, and begin to love them. We have a lot to be thankful for here in America, since we have more now than anyone else in the world has ever had in the entire history of the world.

The third and final thing he expressed thanks for was the incredible love and strength exhibited by the Savior. In effect, he recounted his Conference talk of “None Were With Him,” and talked of how we have no right to feel homesick or neglected, if we do, we always have Christ there to help us, because of his completely solitary and infinitely painful Atonement. He did what He had to do completely alone, even after His Father withdrew His Spirit from Him. (Mark 15:34) And when we knowingly sin, “we crucify him afresh.” None were with Him, yet He carried us all. And when we serve Him humbly and obediently, we help His burden become lighter, albeit by an infinitesimal amount. We help shoulder the burden, and in so doing, lighten his load and allow us to grow stronger because of it.

At this point, Elder Holland was in tears, and so was I, along with most of the congregation and especially the 4 sister missionaries behind me who were bawling their eyes out. Elder Holland then proceeded to say, “This is a scripture none of you will remember, but I will read.” He read out D&C 133:44-50 and put more power into it than I have ever heard.

He turned to all of us after reading and said, “You had better not wish you were anywhere else,” (meaning the MTC). I completely agreed. After he bore his testimony, which was more spiritually powerful than any other testimony I have heard, he said, “We serve so that Christ may not keep going on alone.” He sat down, and Elder said a prayer, and he left the room with every single other person on their feet. After the door closed, we continued to stand for another 30-45 seconds or so. Elder Roberts and I then left the auditorium, and then, waiting on the curb outside of the building, waved goodbye to Elder Holland as he drove by.

By the way, I sat about 15 yards from him. Awesome. . . .

Well, I was going to write about the additional devotionals, but yup, they were kind of standard, until the end, that is. At the close of the devotional, Pres. Smith (of the MTC) invited some elders to tell about what they’re thankful for. And that made me think again about what I’m thankful for, after the first devotional when I was already in the spirit of gratitude. Wow, that last line sounded corny.

I’m thankful for role models, whether they’re people from the scriptures, friends, or family. I’m glad that I have a working body. I’m glad I have a good family. I’m happy I live in America. I’m thankful for my membership in the Church, for the fact that I have answers to questions that people have wondered about for centuries, like “where am I from, why am I here, where am I going.” I’m thankful for this chance to serve. I’m glad because of many things. Gracias.

Elder Humbert

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11.16.10 MTC

The MTC is going on as usual. The days are weeks, and the weeks are days, as I’ve heard. But then again, I’ve only been here two weeks. Which is kind of weird in and of itself. I don’t have 2 years to serve now; I only have 102 weeks. Not that I’m counting down, or anything, it’s just strange how half a month has passed by so quickly.

And, I don’t know what I mentioned before, so I’ll just repeat a few things. Elder Porter, the Utah elder that used to be in our threesome, is now in the advanced class, so now it’s just Elder Roberts and I. But, we did have a couple Elders move into our district, and two of them are my new roommates. There’s Elder North and Elder MacDonald, from Orange County and New Hampshire, who are the new roomies, and Elder Dilello, a Los Angeles native who was in the Marines for two years before serving a mission. Elders North and MacDonald are together and Elder Pilello is in a trio with Elder Guyman and Jensen. They’re good elders, and wow, working out with a Marine is definitely a good way to get in shape. I still can’t lift my arms over my head without being sore. And that’s a few days after we did our chest workout. The guy is a beast.

Back to other things though. About 3-6 Elders are leaving in a week to go to the Peru MTC, depending on when visas arrive. If they don’t get their visas, we’re all leaving January 3rd, which seems really far and really close. These 2 years are going to fly by so fast, I can tell. Although I’m hoping the MTC experience will go a bit quicker.

I sort of wish I was going to the Mexico City MTC too, except, for some reason, even though Mexico is completely with their people going to the U.S. with not trouble or permission, they’re huge sticklers when it comes to legal immigration. And besides, if I was going there, I’d pick up Spanish much quicker, since right now I feel like learning Spanish is like trying to break through a brick wall with a toy hammer. But then I thought about it and remembered that if I can get through my entire life and come out pure after enduring all the way to the end, learning a language shouldn’t be too hard. Well, it shouldn’t be impossible, anyway.

I think I have a slight advantage over some Elders in our districts, though, since Hermana (Sister) De Leon is a native Guatemalan native and speaks like it. Maybe I’ll be more used to actual Spanish in Mexico since I will have already sort of gotten used to native speaking. Hopefully.

And another thing about the MTC ; it’s almost annoyingly close to BYU. I was studying outside one day, when I suddenly heard the bell tower playing “Come, Come Ye Saints” like it usually does. I hadn’t heard that in six months. It was nice.

It’s also strange to be able to see LaVell Edwards Stadium from the temple grounds, along with the Y, SWKT, FSB, Wilk, and Marriott Center.

Ah, and tonight, we went to a fireside with Kevin W. Pehrson of the Seventy. It was amazing. I love Tuesdays, and not just because it’s P-Day. Every time we have a devotional, every single person is uplifted and happy. He spoke with God’s power and it was incredible. Here are a few of his thoughts:

* It doesn’t matter if we’re a 1, a 10, or a 100. 1 (our power) and infinity (God’s power) = infinity. 1 plus infinity is still infinity.

* There is no try. Trying is stupid. It is either do or do not.

* I am not me. I am no longer Brok Humbert. I am Elder Humbert, God’s son and Christ’s brother. 3 Nephi 5:13

* Average does not equal excellent. There are no average people in heaven.

* Capacity is not relevant, only desire.

* Faith isn’t a ??. It is a gift. And so is charity, hope, love, diligence, patience. . .

Anyway, awesome devotional. One of the best yet. And another thing! I sang in the choir. Crazy, huh? We sang “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” and next week, we sing “Come Thou Fount.” I may not be a singer, but that’s okay, since any of my mediocrity is disguised by the chorus of other voices. But, I’m running out of time.

Adios,

Elder Humbert

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letter from 11.9.10 MTC

Ah, the first P-day. It feels good to relax again after a week of Gospel and Spanish bombardment/inundation/head-bashing-against-the-wall learning experience. So, in other words, I’m struggling a bit, but it’s fulfilling nonetheless. These last 6 days have been both longer than any others, and at the same time, shorter than anything else I’ve been through. So without further ado, or any other pompous and hackneyed weird English phrases, I’ll describe my past few days.

I have a lot of class, and it’s mostly focused on the Gospel, and it’s been in Spanish. So, I don’t really understand much that our teachers, Hermano Anderson (BYU student, served in Guatemala) and Hermana De Leon (Guatemalan BYU student, served in Long Beach), say, especially Hermana De Leon, who probably only says 10 words in English each 3-hour teaching period. But, I’ll get it eventually. In fact, I was reminded of my ability to “shoulder burdens,” such as learning, tonight. But, I’ll get to that later. On with my day/week.

All the days have blended together, but today was different, and for an obvious reason. As I already mentioned, I had P-Day today, my only day off of the week. So, instead of waking up at 6:14, showering, and going to class at 7:00, I got to wake up and jump rope with Elder Stanfill for half an hour, followed by chest and shoulders workout with Elder Roberts. Good exercise. Great way to clear my head.

Some time later, our district walked up to the Provo Temple for an endowment session. Unfortunately, Elder Roberts realized halfway up the sidewalk to the temple grounds that he had forgotten his recommend. And you know, Elder Roberts is in ridiculously good shape. He’s 6’3”, 185 lbs., and 4% body fat, which is why I was surprised when as we sprinted back to the residence hall, in full church dress and shoes, I was passing him up completely. It’s nice to know my cardio has been good for something. And it helped even more when we sprinted all the way back up the hill to the temple. Oh, and another thing, it is actually kind of fun to run wearing a suit in the wind. Yeah, it’s a weird though, but think about it. I felt like Clark Kent, running with my tie flying in the wind, looking for a phone booth to change into the whatever-it’s-called costume. Sorry if that sounded weird. The idea just popped into my head.

The day went on, until we had a 7:00 fireside in the main building. Imitating every other missionary we had talked to about it, Elder Roberts and I started lining up at the front door an hour beforehand. It wasn’t until everyone sat down in the main room that we found out who was speaking: Elder David A. Bednar of the 12 Apostles. It was incredible. As soon as we entered the room, something felt. . . . different. A chill went down my back, and you could feel that this man KNOWS. He KNOWS. The man had seen Christ, spiritually if not literally.

His message was about one thing: the answer is always found in the doctrine. What this means is, all people should learn is the doctrine, or the answer to the question of “why?” before answering the questions of “what?” or “how?” In other words, the reasons behind rules should be understood before they are actually obeyed. Otherwise, we have blind obedience, merely doing something because we are supposed to, and not because we actually understand the reasons behind it.

“Why?” à “How?” à “What?”

Sorry if that explanation is kind of vague. I don’t have much time to write, and I’m just trying to explain the general ideas behind his talk.

But, there’s one thing that I definitely wan to say before bed, Elder Bednar said something before closing which struck me. This is it: “I don’t have what it takes to be an apostle. I’m not smart enough . . . but with God, I can, for in his strength, I can do all things.” (Alma 26:12)

I thought about that. And, you know what? I don’t have what it takes to be a missionary. But, in God’s strength I can do all things.

Sorry if this is quick and vague – I don’t have much time. . . .

Elder Humbert

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letter from 11/3 and 11/4/2010, MTC

Here is Brok's first letter from the Missionary Training Center (MTC). We dropped him off last Wednesday, 11/3, around 1 PM. He starts his narrative from the point that we dropped him off. Pictures are forthcoming.

Typing up his handwritten letter is a labor of love. :)

11/3/10

So, I arrived safely. I didn’t lose my luggage, and I’m not suffering from anxiety attacks or homesickness, yet. But, I am already tired. After dropping me off, I went through a bunch of checkpoints, getting my ???, other general missionary supplies, and getting to my room. I dropped my luggage off in my room and headed to my classroom, where I sat and kind of talked with the teacher. I say “kind of” because she spoke nothing but Spanish to me at first, and it’s safe to say I don’t remember anything. But, I did meet my companions. I’m in a trio, or tri-fecta, as we call it. There’s Elder Porter, from Utah, and Elder Roberts from San Diego. Porter is going to Chihuahua and Roberts is going to Hermosillo, along with 2 other elders in my district. They seem pretty cool, although seems a little un-excited. But, that’s fine, he’ll get over it eventually, I’m sure.

But, wow, things are hectic here. Everything is scheduled down to the shower time in-between gym and class. It is awesome. I’ve missed having a schedule and this time I just have to worry about my honest effort instead of my writing ability or my memorization of phylams (?) or Gaelz (?) cities. It’s great, although I’m already tired. Probably because of the amount of “teaching” we did. What I mean by that is, after dinner, we all went to an activity with the other missionary newbies in a room set up like a living room in someone’s house. Then, we all watched an acting investigator talk to a couple acting missionaries and then opened the conversation to everyone. It was cool. The “investigators” were like real people, and acted out their role perfectly. I spoke with them a couple times, and I’d like to think I did well. Afterward, we went to meet our zone leaders, Elders Smith & Petersen. They went over our general schedule and other info. Wow, the days are packed. But that’s fine. Everyone else has managed to do it, so I can too.

But anyway, I should probably write in my journal now. Don’t worry, more info is forth coming.

11/4/10

This is just a continuation of yesterday. I was pretty tired then, and I have a little more energy right now so I’ll try to be more organized right now. Our schedule is very, very organized. I woke up at 6:15, shower, and go to class from around 7:00-7:45. Oh, and I forgot to mention something: I live in a 4-person room, but only with 2 other elders who are my companions. They’re Elder Roberts, from San Diego (if I didn’t mention earlier, but I think I already did), and Elder Porter, from Centerville, Utah. The room is like a dorm; there are bunkbeds, a couple shared desks, 4 closets, with a shower and bathroom down the hall. The classrooms are kind of small, with 4 elders in each room, which make up a district. Wow, for the rest of my schedule, I have breakfasts, go to some more class, have 50 minutes of gym time (I ran with my district leader, Elder Stanfill; he’s a good person), followed by lunch, a lot more class, followed by dinner, more class, and an hour of free time at the end of the day, until bedtime at 10:30.

Crazy, huh? Yeah, but it’s fine. Time is kind of funky here, so the days seem really long, since you’re always doing something, but also very short, because work is so distracting. It’s kind of hard to think about the time. But, it’s all good either way.

I’ve seen a couple elders from my time at BYU, and they all seem as though they’re doing well. One elder, who’s from Granite Bay and going to Budapest, responded to me in Hungarian after I recognized him. Wow, Spanish seems easy compared to that. Another elder, who’s going to Paris, saw me all the way across the cafeteria, and came and talked with me for a little while. Another good man.

And, you know what? I’m already loving this. I have something to do now. Not that work at home wasn’t “doing” anything, but this is one thing after another, just bam-bam-bam. No time to think about how tired or lost you are. It’s a great feeling. In other words, you’re content. And in other words, I have the Spirit. Great feeling.

Adios, para ahora, y . . . wow, I’ve forgotten a lot of Spanish. But, anyway, I’m done for now. I’ll write another letter next week, don’t worry. But, as a word of warning, there’s a good chance that it will be even messier and more unorganized.

Elder Humbert

P.S. The food is good. There’s more variety and more healthy food than the Cannon, actually.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My farewell talk

If any of you are interested, here it is:

A Perfect Hope in Christ
I have been thinking about the topic of this talk for awhile. I have reviewed many of the subjects that I have read and written about, whether it was for church or for a school assignment. I listened to the General Conference addresses given at the beginning of last month. I thought about my experiences in life, even though I have not been on the Earth for very long. Most importantly, I have prayed, and studied the scriptures. And each time, my mind has come back to the same subject. I was a bit confused as to why, since it is not a virtue that I feel especially strong in. But as I studied, I once again came across a certain verse, which is found in the twenty-seventh verse of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Ether, and reads, “. . . I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” I do not know why God does many of the things that He does, whether it is a spiritual prompting to talk about a certain subject, or the different flaws that each person has. Really, all I can do is to simply follow His commandments and exhortations, and to have the faith that doing so will result in good. And I have chosen to do so. Today, I will speak about hope.
Like many other words, especially when used in different contexts, hope has many definitions. The worldly outlook on the word hope is a bit warped compared to how people of the Church see it. Regular hope is admirable in today's society, but it is not considered perfect. It can pertain to small and trivial matters, or something much more important. I may hope for a sunny day, or a rainy day, depending on my mood. Some people may hope for a good score on a test, or for a certain movie to be entertaining. I may hope for the world to be a better place. I may hope for the crime rate to drop. I may hope that this life here on Earth will be enjoyable. Unfortunately, however, this kind of regular optimism, which is a manifestation of hope, is sometimes regarded as naive, since there is usually a chance of that hope failing. Of course, this does not mean that always looking on the bright side is a bad thing, and in fact, it helps us develop godly hope even more quickly. However, godly hope is different. Where there was a small expectation of failure before in the everyday sense of the word, hope in God and Jesus Christ are unfailing.
The difference between these two types is slight, but important. For example, when I said I may hope for a sunny day, I am putting my trust in something that is very unreliable, which is the weather. But when I put my hope in the Father and His Son, I am putting my hope in two living beings that are unchanging. In fact, God is sometimes referred to as the Eternal Father, such as in the sacramental prayers. Christ is also called the Rock of our salvation, and whose doctrine is the foundation of our most basic beliefs. Also, because of this permanence, and the Father and Son's omniscience, hope in them is not restricted to short term events, even though it is still applicable. What this means is that although all we may see is the now, God and Christ are able to see the end result, which, if we do well while here on Earth, is salvation. This hope for the end result of salvation, which is referred to in Hebrews 6:19 as an “anchor of the soul,” can be a refuge for us, a feeling to retreat to even when the world seems at its darkest. What we do in those times of tribulation is not forgotten, and as it states in verses 10-11 of the same chapter in Hebrews, “. . .God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name . . . And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.”
However, it's kind of hard to only think of hope in Christ all of the time, since He is not physically here with us. That is why it is a good idea to find hope in ourselves and those around us, especially those who embody the different attributes of Christ. A certain Christ-like attribute that I can easily think of is that of diligence, and I'm pretty sure that my father knows the meaning of it pretty well. He has had a hard working life for the past few decades, and sometimes has had to perform his physically demanding job for days at a time, often with no sleep whatsoever. Because of his diligence, I was able to be raised in a good home, and even though my family may have started out a bit short on physical necessities, we are now reasonably well off. Because I had this environment to grow up in, my mother was able to raise me very well, seeing as how she, like my father, knows the meaning of diligence as much as any hard working parent. My parents exemplify the hope that through diligence, we can make our homes a better place for our children. Both of my parents were sure to teach this to their children, to make sure that we would work hard when tasks were set before us.
One of these tasks was that of paying for college. As many of you may know, I attended BYU last year. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship, because of the time and diligence that I put into my schoolwork. This is because, true to their self-sufficient nature, my parents decided early on that if any of their children would attend college, they would pay for it themselves, and that help would be given only when it was both necessary and deserved. Of course, my parents were still kind, and sent me packages every once in awhile, but they were adamant about their children giving as much effort as possible to make their own way in life. That is why, once I had worked long enough to save up for college, I had it in my mind that I was on my own. However, when I started to go to my new classes, I felt overwhelmed. I knew that I had to keep my GPA as high as possible in order to maintain my scholarship, but it was harder than any other mental exertion that I had ever had to deal with. I did not think that I could do it. My confidence in my abilities began to drop, and my hope for a successful college career plummeted. Like we sometimes do in relation to our lives, I believed that my happiness was hinged upon earthly success. I focused on the now, instead of keeping in mind the rewards that await us if we focus on eternal matters, instead of just the temporal.
This all culminated on one early morning in September of last year. I had gotten out of bed a few hours before anyone else in my dorm, and like I usually did, I was preparing for the day after exercising. But that day, I was not doing very well. I was thinking of three exams that were coming up, one after the other. The fact that they were the first tests of my college experience made the situation even worse. I started to focus on them, and started getting a little worried. Eventually, that worry grew. It was all I could think about. I started to despair a little. My hope was dwindling. I am not exaggerating when I say that I thought that if I did not do well on those tests, I would be a failure. And, like we sometimes do, I equated my failure or success in this temporary life to the failure or success in infinite spiritual life. I forgot how that even if I was not a successful student, I could be successful in my duty to God. The result of all of this was extreme anxiety. However, I was sure to make one choice, which changed the outcome of that day. I knelt down, and I prayed. On my knees, I addressed my Father in Heaven, and, for the lack of a better word, complained about my inadequacies. I started to get emotional. Tears began to form, and a few started to run down my face. I began to be very disappointed in myself, since I was at BYU, a place where only a small number of people are fortunate enough to attend. “My situation is nothing compared to what other people have to deal with. Why can't I do this?” I wondered. That was when a thought came into my mind. I didn't feel as though I was the one who came up with it, and instead, I felt like it had been placed there. But even though my own thought processes were not the source of this idea, it didn't seem entirely foreign. In fact, it seemed like I was just being gently reminded of something that might have been there all along. That something was the example of my parents, and the Christ-like diligence that they have displayed in their lives. I thought about my father, who at one point worked for nearly an entire week without sleep. I thought about my mother, who raised five children while my father was away. I thought, “I must be kidding myself. They have done so much. And all that I am asked to do is learn. All I have to do is maintain a scholarship. What do I have to complain about?”
It was at this point that my hope started to return, and in a few ways. I thought about how if other people can accomplish so much, and overcome huge difficulties, why I would be any different. Why shouldn't I be able to do it? I put hope in the diligence that I had been taught, and I acted upon it. What's more, I thought about the kindness of my parents, and how I had doubted their wish to see me succeed. I realized that even if I failed, and lost my scholarship, and was unable to pay the price for college, they would help. If I had given all of my effort, they would see that, and fill in the rest. I put hope in their kindness and their love. I put hope in my own and in my parents' Christ-like attributes. Indirectly, I put my hope in Christ.
And that hope did not fail. I was able to be successful that first year, and the exams that I was worried about were overcome. I diligently studied, and I received my reward. More importantly, I did not forget the hope that God reminded me of that morning, and I thanked Him for it. In fact, I got into the habit of thanking Him before every test and exam, and during any hardship that I was currently experiencing. I learned that when I put my hope in God, His Son, and the help that they give to men through their attributes, it cannot fail.
However, as I began to realize near the end of this situation, and as many of you are probably thinking, the trial that I endured while at BYU was nowhere near some of the afflictions that others endure. I was blessed to even be in those circumstances, and to be where I am today. God has given me so much that it doesn't seem fair sometimes. I live in America, which may have problems, but as far as I am concerned, is the best nation on Earth. I live in California, which might have a wet fall season, but is amazing. I was born into the Church. I have a loving family. I'm allegedly intelligent. I have had good friends, whether here or while I was at BYU. I have a chance to repay God in some small way while I serve my mission. In fact, even when I am serving Him, He gives back more to me than I could ever imagine.
All these blessings seem even greater when compared to the trials that Christ himself endured. And even though my own experiences may not be much of an example to draw hope from, seeing as how blessed I was even in the midst of my “hardship,” we can always find hope in the example of the Son of God. He experienced greater pain and anguish than any of us can ever imagine. When He took upon himself the sins and the afflictions of the world, His pain was so great that He bled from every pore. Our ordeals pale in comparison to His. He was surrounded by the publicans and sinners of the Earth during His earthly ministry, and the people that He was sent to preach to even crucified Him when He had done nothing but live up to His divine heritage. And even while He was in the midst of all these tribulations, He still had hope. He was able to put trust in His Father's Plan, and that, when given the choice, there would be men and women that would utilize His Atonement in order to make their way back to God. He, even when suffering absolute pain in the Garden of Gethsemane and the torture of the crucifixion, did not give up hope in His brothers and sisters.
And neither should we. We must never give up hope in ourselves, our fellow man, and the promise of God that whether it will be in this life or the next, we will be happy not according to our earthly success, but by our honest effort in keeping the Lord's commandments. We will all be delivered one day. We can put our trust in the assurances of God, that we will be saved from our pains here on Earth. In fact, God reminds us multiple times in the scriptures that the difficulties experienced here are not for our discomfort, but for our education and growth. Even when the worst of trials come upon us, we should remember that it is for our good. Now, there are many scriptures that contain this promise, but I have a particular favorite, and is found in the D&C. It is found in the seventh and eighth verses in section 122, and reads, “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”
I know that we can find hope in Christ's example, no matter how serious our current circumstances are. He made an infinite sacrifice, and received an infinite reward: eternal life, the chance to live again with His family for eternity. I may not have the most experience in the world, and I may not have the most wisdom. I may not have been through the greatest trials that can come upon us, and have in fact been blessed more than I deserve. But even if I don't know anything else, I know one thing, and it is this: no matter where we are, Christ has known what it is like to be there. He knows how to endure it, and how to help us do the same. And He will help us. All we have to do is ask, and to never to give up the hope that when the time comes, He will answer us. And we will receive a greater reward than we can ever imagine.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The first of (hopefully) many posts

If you're reading this, either you know me, and am wondering how I'm doing, or maybe you're just some random person looking up random stuff on the internet. Hopefully you aren't the latter, because that would be creepy. But either way, here's some info: this blog will be a tool for keeping others updated on my mission, and my address if anyone wants to keep in touch via mail.

Also, because I will have much less time while in the mission field than I would otherwise have, my replies to letters will most likely consist of a shorter personal section at the beginning, for each person, and a larger general section at the end that anyone will be able to read and understand. It is this large general section that will be posted on the blog by my sister after each letter reaches home (if she is diligent in updating this, anyway. Which I hope she will be. But then again, she has a 3.5 year old, so she's understandably short on time as well).

And one more thing: no matter who it is that writes to me, if I get a letter from them, I will reply. What this means is that the only thing stopping a letter back from me is a mix up in the mail or another problem in actually receiving the letter. Whether it takes me a day, a week, or a month to write back, it will come. The personal section may be a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, or multiple pages, but I will reply no matter what. And, please, instead of commenting on posts, just send me a letter.

So, if you're still interested, read on, and check back each week or so. I thank you all.