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!

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.