Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Dear Humbert Famliy,
I hope that you are enjoying the blessing of our heavenly father. We too are enjoying the same enthusiasm here, as we are in the service of the lord.
Monday January 17th we had the great pleasure to receive your son Elder Humbert, who will serve in this mission. We are very grateful to have your son in our mission. He has been assigned to work in the area Satelite, in the city Hermosillo, with his Companion Elder Cancino. We ask for all your support to encourage your son in his work, giving him ideas of how to find people to baptize every week. This is the goal of our mission, to baptize every week. We ask that in your letters and emails to him that you express great enthusiasm and great news from the family. Confide in the promises of the lord and your family shall receive the blessings that you need. In 1st Timothy 4:16 it says that those that serve save themselves, save those that listen, and we can also add, ‘’those that sent their sons to serve’’, this includes the family. Your family shall receive many blessings for the work of your missionary.
President and Sister Velez
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I’ll start from the beginning of the week, since beginnings are normally a good place to start.
Every three days or so, I get kind of annoyed and slightly depressed. It’s nothing big, but it’s like a cycle, and every time it ends in the same way: we actually teach a lesson. Then I get completely psyched and anxious to get into the field. I know I’m just teaching fake investigators, but it’s amazing. Even though my every day conversational-type Spanish isn’t very good, as soon as I start teaching, everything works better. My mind clears, my tongue loosens, ideas and phrases start popping into my head, and I feel like I’m a missionary. I love it.
A couple teachers here have also helped in getting me excited. About 6 days ago, we had a substitute (since Hma. De Leon is in Guatemala) named Hno. Koller. He served in Mexico as well, but further south. I forget the name of the emission, but Acapulco is in it. He spent a good amount of time telling us about it, after going over some grammar principles. He went over the culture, the people, the food, the incredibly hot weather, common religious conceptions, and pretty much anything about Mexico. It was great. I was so excited, along with the rest of the district.
A few days later, another teacher (Hno. Sparks) who actually served in Hermosillo talked to us. He seemed like he had a ton of things to say, but he didn’t know how to – he was too excited for us to think, it seemed like. But what he did say was that the people are incredible, the mission president (Presidente Velez) is great, there was nothing he ate that tasted bad, and it is the hottest place ever. Apparently it gets up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit or so. He was sunburnt for 2 years, apparently, and all his white clothing slowly became more and more yellow as the time went on. Gah! I want to go! But I guess I have to wait a bit longer.
Yesterday, we also said goodbye to Hno. Anderson as a teacher. We’ll see him in our class building every once in a while, and talk to him, but he’s no longer our official teacher. I’ll miss being taught by him – and not just because he’s a very good teacher. He’s just a cool guy, and was easy to look up to, even if he is about 4 inches shorter than me.
The last day, though, he brought his laptop and showed us some mission pics, and some stories. Oh, and by the way, he went to Guatemala.
But personally, I think his best story wasn’t even about him teaching or anything that was exclusively his experience. No offense to him. But the best story he told was that of his mission president, named President Coleman, and his first gringo companion, Elder Pixtin. Apparently Pres. Coleman was a convert to the Church, and loved telling his story. He was a 9-year-old living in Montana when he was taught and baptized by two Elders, Elders Green & Tree. At his baptism, there were only 4 people there: the Elders, him, and the member that drove them to the Stake Center. He still had his original Book of Mormon, with the testimonies of the Elders written on the inside cover.
At this time, Elder Pixtin spoke up. He told Pres. Coleman that he knew the story – he had heard it from his grandpa, who was in fact the Elder Green that had baptized Pres. Coleman so many years ago. Elder Green had apparently only baptized 2 people on his entire mission: 9-year-old Pres. Coleman and another man. He had considered his mission a failure, Elder Pixtin said, since he had only baptized 2 people, one of which he thought would never stay active, since 9-year-olds don’t normally have the will power to stay in the Church. Elder Green had rarely talked about his mission, and was disappointed, and dwelt on it for his entire life.
President Coleman got the former Elder Green’s – now an old man – phone number from his grandson, Elder Pixtin, and them promptly called him. Among other things, President Coleman told of the effects that had been wrought by Elder Green’s baptism so long ago. Pres. Coleman had stayed active, gone on a mission, and married in the temple. He had 7 children, 6 of which served missions of their own (the 7th being a daughter). He was now serving as a mission president, helping better the missions of every Elder that was serving there. Elder Green hadn’t failed; he was more successful than he had ever imagined.
Isn’t that awesome? Changing one person’s life had a massive ripple effect, possibly changing thousands.
Hey! David S. Baxter is speaking tonight! Awesome!
. . . So that was great. Remember in Stake Conference when he talked about temple work and everything for . . . what was it? An hour or so? And the entire thing was completely full of knowledge that just came word after word, paragraph after paragraph? Yeah, it was about the same. From the second he stood up to the second he sat down he was saying gospel knowledge at a depth I don’t think I’ll ever attain. It was incredible.
As for his content, he mostly addressed the widely held and falsely assumed belief that Mormons are not Christian. He cited three major reasons: our belief in the Godhead, and not the Trinity; the addition of scripture (Book of Mormon); and how we do not use the cross.
I unfortunately don’t have enough time to go over them all, but I’ll say one major thing that he reminded me of.
He said in certain words (I can’t remember the exact quote) that if we as a people don’t believe in the Gospel, it is not the Gospel’s fault. It is true no matter how many people do or don’t believe in it. For example, Brok Humbert never could have believed in Christ and gone on a mission, but that wouldn’t have changed the validity of it. It would have been a problem with me, not the Church. God’s kingdom will succeed no matter who does or doesn’t believe.
Of course, I do believe, which is good, and fortunately, there are many who do believe.
But, I’m out of time – Adios.
Elder Brok Humbert
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Not much has happened since Christmas, so I’ll only put a few things down here.
I’m a little sick. . . hopefully, it’ll pass soon, but wow is it annoying to study with a headache. I’m sure it won’t take too long for me to get better. But. . . hmm. What else can I say that isn’t in my e-mail or the rest of the letter? I’ll just wait until after the devotional tonight to finish.
Tonight was Lowell Snow, of the 2nd Quorum of the 70. As usual, it was a great devotional, and as usual, what he talked about reminded me of other things I have heard and thought.
In a nutshell, he talked about the gospel/doctrine of Christ: faith in Him & His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It was very good how he explained it all, but my mind kind of fixed upon the first principle: faith. I turned to Alma 32, and read verse 27, where Alma says to “exercise a particle of faith.” He then continues to say that this “exercising” can be great of small -- or at least what I got from it -- so small, in fact, that in the beginning all we really need to do is desire to believe. Desire is a facet of agency, and that immediately brings up a whole other tenet in the gospel, but the simple thing is that faith is something that is associated with action, no matter how small. Faith isn’t dormant. It needs works (James 7:17-18). Without outward action (or inward, I guess), faith isn’t faith.
That may be a basic fact of the gospel that I’ve been taught many times before, but that’s what stuck out to me the most tonight. But anyway, I hope this letter gets to its destination quickly, unlike last time. Adios!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Hey, so it turns out we can write letters on Christmas. That’s pretty cool. Maybe it’ll make up for the non-phone call. Probably not, but whatever. A phone call would probably just make me homesick.
But right now, I’m not really that homesick. Sure, I miss home and everything, but I’d rather be out here. Actually, I’d rather be in Mexico, but I get to hear a general authority (hopefully an apostle or member of the First Presidency) in the afternoon. So it all works out. Ah! I want to be in the field right now.
No offense, though. About the homesickeness thing: I’m agreeing with Elder (Gary) Thomson. Sure, I miss home, but I try not to think about home too much. It just make things seem bad when they’re really not. Geez, I can’t believe he’s already been out for over a year. Crazy. I still remember standing in the Thomson’s kitchen, hearing his voice coming out of the phone while he was talking to Raquel or was it Kaisa? I dunno. I guess my memory isn’t perfect.
I should probably describe my past few days though, eh? Well, Christmas Eve (or “La Noche Bunea”) was great. We had class with Hno. Anderson in the morning, as usual, but that’s great. Hno. Anderson is such a good teacher. Plus, he let us relax by watching the First Presidency Christmas devotional in Spanish. Good stuff. That was followed by a class with a substitute, since Hma. De Leon is in Guatemala right now, but that was fun too. We sang carols in Spanish, every single one in the hymn book.
Afterwards, Elders Roberts, MacDonald, and I went to stand in line for the Christmas Eve devotional. An hour in advance. That was kind of boring, but the devotional was good – the MTC presidency spoke, and we watched Mr. Kreuger’s Christmas while eating kettle corn. Good kettle corn.
That was followed up by a song back to the residence hall and hearing a choir entirely made up of Polynesian Elders singing in Samoan. There were touring the residences, and it was so cool. One of the elders in the choir was just going around saying “Merry Christmas” and hugging everyone. Wow, I love Polynesians. They’re always happy. Also, they’re the reason BYU’s line is what it is.
And Christmas morning! Awesome! I’ll thank everyone for their gifts individually, but it was pretty great. I even ate a couple of the cookies Grandma sent me. . . right now, I’m sitting in the best seats ever for the MTC Talent Show. I’m literally 10 ft. from the state. The MTC presidency is in front of me.
We sat directly behind the Presidency. Not joking or exaggerating at all.
[MTC Talent Show details]
The Talent Show was 2.5 hours long. Ah! Mis piernas! Me duelen mucho! (Ah! My legs! They hurt so much!) But yeah, that talent show was very good.
And guess what else? Because we sat directly behind the MTC Presidcency, Elder MacDonald was able to see his program that he was looking at (Pres. Smith). Guess who we have speaking this afternoon? Russell M. Nelson! Awesome! But, I’ll write more about him later. . . .
HAAAAAAAAAAAAA! FRONT ROW CENTER! ONCE AGAIN! I am 15 ft. away from the pulpit. And Russell M. Nelson, an Apostle of God & Jesus Christ is speaking tonight. Freaking awesome. I’ll write more about what he talks about later.
Well, that was great. I need to find some words that are different than “awesome” though. It seems like I use that one too much.
Anyway, the devotional. There were a lot of things he spoke about, of them good. But I’ll be brief with a few, and longer with others.
He started out by talking about all of the countries have recently been opened to the missionaries; I think 9 were mentioned, and it seemed as though nearly all of them were in the Balkans and/or former Soviet Union. It’s so cool to hear news like that – about how prophecy is being fulfilled, just a little bit at a time. Ah, fulfilled scripture: incredible.
His talk eventually steered towards when his son, the youngest of 10 children (the oldest are all sisters) served in Russia. He spoke of how the family back home loved to read his sons’ letters; it was apparently like a family reunion each week. He mentioned all the nephews that were there to listen, and have since gone on missions of their own.
It’s going to be really weird when Luke and Asher are older. That was kind of obvious statement, but geez is it strange. Hopefully my letters will help have the same effect – but if all they have to go off of are my letters, they’ll probably just get the good interpretations of everything since that’s all I ever write about. But, that’s a good thing, eh? Even if it is cliché at times.
The talk eventually came to the subject of Christmas, which isn’t that surprising. That was when Elder Nelson pulled out his scriptures and began reading from the New Testament; an Apostle was reading us the Christmas story from Mathew & Luke! An Apostle.
He explained the symbolism behind all of the traditions behind Christ’s birth; he even began defining the original Greek manuscripts that the New Testament came from. That gives me more incentive to learn Greek eventually, by the way. But as he went on, it’s just mind-boggling to think of all the intricate meanings and symbolism behind God’s actions. An example: Christ was baptized by John in the River Jordan, the lowest elevated body of running water in the world. He descended below all things. (D&C 122:8).
And yet, the most powerful part of the entire devotional was much simpler. Elder Nelson brought out a copy of “The Living Christ,” the written testimony of the 12 & First Presidency which was sent out in the year 2000. He explained the motives the Quorum had when making it, and the process of doing so. He read passages from it, and in the end, spoke from his own experience, not just the testimony sent out 10 year ago. Bringing into action his office and responsibility of an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, he simply said that he knows these things are true. He knows Christ died and now lives. His gospel is now on the Earth, and we have it, and are trying to share it with the whole world. He used simple words, but it was powerful. It was incredible.
But he eventually had to end; he had been speaking for nearly an hour, which was strange, because I didn’t feel like it. Well, my legs and butt felt like it, but I didn’t.
And now I’m sitting in my residence hall writing this letter. The day has felt super long and short at the same time, and it’s great. I am loving this. And guess what? It’ll be even better in the field.
We had another fireside at night, which consisted of George Taylor (an MTC employee/official) and others performing a short performance/play of “A Christmas Carol.” It was really, really well done. It reminds me of freshman year at BV when I read “A Christmas Carol” for Mrs. McCabe’s English class. Ah, good times. Wow, that was 5 years ago.
After the performance (Elder Nelson was presiding at it again), President Smith stood up and told us to go back to our residence halls and read these scriptures:
1. Isaiah 9:6, 53
2. 3 Nephi 1:1-23
3. Luke 2:1-20
4. 2 Nephi 9:21-24
5. John 3:16-17
We were then supposed to record what we thought in our journals. I have done so. Wow, I feel grateful right now, even though this letter won’t be received until later, whoever reads this, please read those scriptures. They are powerful.
I loved this Christmas. I hope you’ve all done the same. Feliz Navidad! Paz y bena voluntad!
Elder (Brok) Humbert
Another devotional (albeit recorded and played off of a tape) from Elder Holland will have to suffice. He is one funny man when he isn’t scary from calling people to repentance or seeming like his heart is going to burst out of his chest from all the emotion he puts into his talks. Elder Roberts, MacDonald, and I went to a recording playing in the administration building. His talk was titled “The Gift of Teaching,” and he was talking about the power and authority given to missionaries. He opened up his scriptures to Helaman 5:18, and called up the elder who had given the opening prayer to read it. He did, and halfway through reading the verse, when the phrase “power and authority” is repeated, Elder Holland stopped him and asked, “Did you just stutter? Read it again.”
The Elder looked up at him, seemed like he expected to be yelled at or something because he didn’t read it like it apparently should have, and read it again. This happened 3 more times, and the elder seemed like he would melt on the spot out of fear. The last time Elder Holland asked him if he stuttered, he opened his mouth and the words, “Uh, um, uh, maybe,” came out in a croaking kind of way. Elder Holland turned to the audience and started laughing, “He would agree to anything a member of the 12 would say.” He thanked the Elder, asked him to sit back down, and then proceeded to call himself and the MTC presidency a bunch of “crotchety old men” who drink pickle juice in the morning before coming up with new rules to put in the missionary handbook.
Ok, maybe that wasn’t incredibly funny, but it’s so weird to see a member of the 12 make fun of people. My sense of humor is already getting stranger. Oh well.
Also, the snow has come! We got a foot of it last night. It’s awesome, especially since I don’t have to worry about driving in it now. Or walk in it to get to class. In fact, I don’t have to really deal with it all, except for looking at it. Good stuff.
Tonight, we had Elder Shayne M. Bowen, of the 70, and it was great. But you know, I don’t really remember too much about what he talked about. Instead, I only remember what kind of thoughts were brought to my mind while listening. Here are a few of them. . . .
There have been a couple devotionals given by Elders Bednar and Holland about the effects of a mission, and how long they should last. I remember them saying something to the effect of if missionaries come back and become “normal” again within a few months, they didn’t get it. If they don’t have a lasting change, what was the point of going on a mission? And it’s okay if we’re seen as “weird” when we get back. It’s especially okay since I was weird to begin with.
That provoked another thought: it’s okay if I forget everything about what I was like at home. I obviously won’t forget about important things, like family and friendships, but all the other fun but unnecessary things are okay to forget. So, like videogames, books, sports (but that’s okay to remember a little), and other things are okay to forget. Because guess what? I’ll just be able to come back and rediscover everything again. It’ll be awesome. It’ll be like reading Lord of the Rings and watching Inception for the first time. It will just mean that much more. Awesome!
‘til later, oh, and Merry Christmas!
Elder Brok Humbert
P.S. Haven’t gotten my visa yet.