Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FIRST DAY OF SPRING. . . not so much!!

Hello Family!!

On Wednesday the 20th, we woke up to about 2 feet of fresh snow!  So Elder Clark and I spent a good chunk of our day clearing out snow from our apartment complex.  The entire complex is all senior citizens, and then us young men.  So we cleared off every car in the parking lot, and then shovelled walkways.  To gain a sense of how much snow there was, at one point, when I was standing in it, the snow went all the way up to my belly button.  My slacks were beyond soaked by the time we got finished.  It was ironic though, because it was supposed to be the first day of spring.  I guess things are different in the Maritimes!



(Elder Hunt was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting last Sunday, and he sent his talk.  I really like it!!  So here it is! ) 

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was growing up in the town of St. George, Utah. One particular winter had packed the mountains with an unusual amount of snow. Normally, St. George is known for its' dry deserts and hot temperatures. This year was no different following the snow, and as the hot temperatures rapidly increased, so did the amount of water in our rivers due to runoff. This amount of water was combined with the following days of pouring rain, and continued to increase the size of the river. 
Now, when I say river, I actually mean a very small, 3 ft. wide creek. However, this once contained creek quickly transformed into a raging 100 ft. wide mass, which could not be contained by its small banks. It tore at the banks, eroding them away, drawing closer and closer to the homes of family friends. In fact, it was getting too close that my family began to help them evacuate all of their belongings, in anticipation that the house would be swept away by the river.
As we helped move things out of the house, I noticed the big glass window, much like that of a storefront, that faced the river. It was dark, and hard to see the river, so I went to the window, pressing my hand and face firmly to the glass. Just when I had thought I was in a perfect position to see, there was a blast.
The window I had been up against shattered, and I was thrown backwards. In that moment, I didn't know what had happened, or even why...All I knew was I was scared and confused.
In our lives, we're often caught off-guard, just as I was, by a blast. These blasts, as we know them, come in the form of trials and adversity. They like to sneak up on us and hit us when we least expect it. Today I want to talk about how these trials are not only necessary, but beneficial.
After the initial blast in my friend's home, I later came to find out that the blast, which had so forcefully disturbed me, came from the powerful explosive of dynamite. Many years before the incident, there had been a partial dam built along the river, and officials had now discovered the only way to help contain the river would be to blast the dam out. Although it was unexpected to many others, including myself, the blast was absolutely necessary in order to save the home.
We each are personally blasted in our lives. Maybe it's a sickness, a broken down car, or even a death in the family. Our trials come in all shapes and sizes, but none of us are immune to them. So when these things happen, we can't necessarily change the situation. BUT, we can change the impact it has on us, and how we deal with that specific situation.
When I had finally recovered from the initial shock of the dynamite blast, we observed the damage that was done to the window, and began to deal with the situation. Instead of wallowing in sorrow over the effects that had been caused by someone or something, we began to cleanup and move on. 
Within three days, the river was contained, and the house was saved...only at the cost of a broken window.
These trials that we face often feel like a big blast, or a giant shattered window, when they hit us. But in the eternal scheme of things, they save us from a far more destructive flood.
Our Heavenly Father knows each of us. He loves us. He gives us trials and adversity in life because HE knows how it will benefit us. He knows these smaller "broken windows" save us from being swept away by a raging flood. He gives us these moments to be torn down, so that He can lift us higher. But as he allows these things to happen, he cannot and will not choose for us, how we deal with them.
Bro. Steve Dunn Hanson relates a story in a talk he gave in the February 1981 Ensign, entitled: What To Do With Adversity :       When my great-great grandparents joined the church in Sweden, they were faced with a long ocean voyage to America, a train trip from New York to Omaha, and then a trek by wagon to Salt Lake City. But when they boarded the train in New York, they discovered that they were to ride in stock cars that had been used to haul hogs to market -- and the cars were filthy and filled with hog lice. Grandmother accepted the inconvenience, but the humiliation was almost more than grandfather could bear. "To think, we are no better than hogs" he grumbled. Reluctantly he made the trip anyway. 
Grandmother was expecting another child...
Somewhere on the plains of Nebraska, a healthy baby was born. But, a few days later, the three year old son contracted cholera and died that night.
The next morning the wagon master said they would hold a short funeral service and bury the boy in a shallow grave, apologetically explaining that they were in Indian country and didn't have time to do anything more. But grandfather couldn't accept this, and insisted on staying behind and digging a grave deep enough so the animals wouldn't get the body.
Throughout the day and into the night he worked, building a strong wooden coffin and digging a grave five feet deep in the hard soil. Finally, exhausted and sobbing, he buried his son and then walked all night to catch up with the wagon train. He was heartbroken and mad -- mad at the wagon master for not waiting to give his son a proper burial, and mad at God for allowing his son to die...
This wasn't the end of their difficulties. They continued to suffer serious hardships and adversities throughout their lives. But although they both went through identical experiences, each was affected differently by them Grandfather became withdrawn, and bitter. He stopped going to church and found fault with church leaders. He became caught up in his own miseries, and the light of Christ grew dimmer and dimmer in his life. 
On the other hand, grandmother's faith increased. Each new problem seemed to make her stronger. She became an angel of mercy -- filled with empathy, compassion, and charity. She was a light to those around her. Her family gravitated toward her and looked to her as their leader.
When these trials come into our lives, we should take them, and use them as steps toward Heaven, rather than a reason to justify our acts and feelings. When they come, we can choose to be as the father in the story, becoming bitting and pulling ourselves away from God. Or we can follow the example of the mother, and trust in Heavenly father, knowing that good will come from whatever happens.
What can and sometimes does happen when we go through something that blasts us, is we can become afraid. That same night after the dynamite had gone off, I was back at hom with my family when my mom asked me to take out the garbage. It was a simple request that normally I wouldn't have a problem with...but that night, I couldn't do it. I was too afraid that taking one step outside of the house might just cause another blast to go off. Looking back now, I can tell you that many other blasts did go off, but my mom taught me a valuable lesson. She taught me that whether I was inside or outside of the house, the blasts would still go off, So I needed to learn how to deal with them. 
As we each learn to deal with our very personal and different challenges, there are a few things that can help all of us, regardless of specific circumstance.
First, we should pray for understanding and comfort. When we turn to the Lord in these tough times, we show him that things are out of our control and that we need his help to see why this specific trial is necessary. As we do this we will gain a sense of understanding which brings us comfort to help us make it through.
Second, we must be patient in enduring. I was always taught that "patience is a virtue." Well, I've never agreed with that statement. I've always changed it to "patience is a skill to be learned...then it becomes a virtue." We are also always told to "endure to the end," but there is a major difference between simply enduring, and then enduring well. Having this patience may be something we need to work at, but it is key in helping us to endure well.
Third, we must trust in God. When we have complete trust in God, fellings of fear, doubt, anxiety, and many others, have no place in our hearts. They are instead replaced with faith, which in turn leads us to do everything we can on our part, to help God help us.
In Doctrine and covenants, section 58, it states: " Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings.
As we learn how to deal with the adversity in our lives, we strengthen our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and His son, Jesus Christ. As we turn to them, and trust in them, they will always provide a way for our eventual happiness. 
I know that God loves us. I know that he blesses us with tough times, so we can recognize the good ones in our lives. I know He will be with us through these trials, IF we let him.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Strange Stuff in the Mission Field. . .

Hi Family!!

Last Monday's prep day had an interesting twist.  When we got back to our apartment, I changed my shirt to a normal t-shirt.  Right after doing that there was a knock at our apt. door.  When I answered it, lo-and-behold it was the Jehovah's Witnesses.  They gave me their message and a copy of the Watchtower.  I was tempted to question them, but then it came into my mind that I know exactly how they feel, going door-to-door.  So I wasn't going to be rude to them.  Of course, it would've been fun to tell them I'm actually a missionary too, but then if I did that, it might have stirred up some controversy and I didn't want that.  They're trying to do good, which is also good in the eyes of God.

Tuesday was the 12th and we went up to Presque isle and Caribou (both in Maine) for a district meeting.  Just as the meeting started we got a phone call from Flo, who still hasn't been confirmed.  Lots to still work out there.

Later in the day we were contacting a referal.  The snow was built up all around her house so we had to trudge through it just to knock on the door.  It was up to my thighs when I knocked.  The lady had heard us knock, but her neighbor saw us around her house and called her to "warn" her.  So she came to the door to spy on us, and "Bam!" -- there we were!  She let us in and we had a great lesson with her.  She's starting to read the Book of Mormon and we'll be meeting with her again.  However, when we left, the neighbor let her dogs out to come after us.  They were pretty ferocious buggers and were nippin' at our heels!!  Exciting times!

Wednesday, March 13th was very interesting.  We met with an investigator but things were pretty hectic with her kids and all so we didn't get to teach much.  After that we went to a member's house to collect some eggs.  They have a lot of ducks and chickens, so they give us free eggs.  Late we went on splits with President Carter and Bro. Sides to visit a few families in the branch.  We had some interesting meetings!

After that we all had dinner back at the Carters' home.  The little girl, Sydney, and I get along great and have an ongoing joke of "I've got my eyes on you!"

Thursday the 14th we had some good teaching visits.  But we also had some no-shows.  That's never very fun.  We went to Woodstock, Canada for dinner with the Streets, then we went on splits with Aaron and theo.  Aaron and I tried to contact a few people out in the Boondocks, but had no luck.  We had a good talk about his conversion and how he's preparing to serve a mission.  He is such a strong new convert in spit of being the only member in his family, and they don't want much to do with the church.  I'm realizing more out here then I ever would have back home, how big of a blessing it is for me to have been born into this Gospel.

On Friday we drove out to a "far away" part of our area called Danforth.  As we were driving, we saw a tree on the side of the road with a big coyote hanging from one of the branches.  It was hung by it's hind legs.  I felt badly for it but, naturally, I got out and took a picture with it.  We made it down to the Tarbell's home and taught them.  It was fun to hear how her daughter (Celeste Nelson back in Cole Harbour) is doing.  We taught another lesson to a couple who are very hard of hearing.  The in the evening we had dinner at Sister Boutlier's home with Phil and Flo.  Delicious beef stew with dumplings, and then we had a good discussion about temples.

Saturday we stopped in at Sadie's Bakery again.  It's THE best place in town, with really delicious donuts, pastries and other baked goods.  I had my first "whoopie-pie" there this morning and it was so good!  We're getting to know the couple that works there and becoming better friends.  Later in the day we were contacting and came across a giant tree that had hundreds of shoes all over it!  STRANGE!  It was pretty cool, but I didn't throw my shoes up there!
It was also my mom's birthday.  I love her so much, and she has done everything to help get me where I am today.  She has made all the difference in my life, and continues to do so as she loves and supports me through my mission.  I love all of the great memories we have shared, and especially that she took the time to spend time with me.  One of my favorite aspects of this is the time and talent we have shared through music, all of the places we have performed, and the relationship we have through that.  My mom will always be my hero, because she always thinks of others before herself, and will do anything she can to make sure others feel comfortable.  I'm trying to follow her example as best I can, but I'll never be able to reach everything she is.  Good thing she's still around to keep teaching me!  (Sure love this sweet boy!!!  I missed having him there for our celebrations, but I wouldn't want him anywhere else than where he is...serving the Lord!!)

Sunday was a bit disappointing when Flo didn't show up again.  Other than that it was a great day at church because we had four non-members there, and the talks were perfect.  After our meetings, we had a "linger longer" which is a big potluck dinner for everyone.  We were stuffed out of our minds with how much food we ate...especially the brownies.  This area really isn't good for my body!!  After we recovered from our food coma, we worked for the next seven hours in our apartment, organizing our workbooks, teaching records, etc, into a system that will make our area more functional.  It was funny, as I took part of my dinner time to wash dishes, I realized that I inherited one of my mother's traits -- I clean when I'm stressed or need to occupy myself.  I guess that's a good thing.  At least it's good that I know how to wash dishes and I like to have everything neat/tidy!  (Wow!!  I guess things really DO come together and these kids "get it!"  HOORAY!!)
Well, that's all for this week.  I hope you had a great birthday, Mom, and that you liked the card I sent.  Tell everyone that I love them and miss them!!  I'm excited for Tannya and Brandon to have another baby girl.  And I'm glad you guys all get to go to Conference!  That's cool that Erika is going with you guys!

Take care!


Elder Hunt
There are some interesting people around here...yes, some are quite taken with aliens and UFO's!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life Lessons Continue. . .

Hi Family,

So here are the details from this week:

March 4th was Elder Clark’s birthday.  I made his pancakes and eggs and sausage for breakfast.  I also made him a treasure hunt!!  I had to make it the night before, and I was pretty sneaky about it, so he had no idea, and wondered when I did it all.  His end-result “present” was a birthday sign, with different pictures and things written on it, like is our tradition back home.  He thought it was pretty cool, and it made him have a good laugh, so I was glad I could do at least something small for him.

I also found out that my best friend, Harrison Schram, received his mission call to the Stockholm, Sweden mission.  He leaves July 10th!!  I am SOOOOO excited for him.  But the bad side is that it will be nearly three years before I see him again!!

We bought a nice new futon for our apartment and it’s kind of like Elder Clark’s birthday gift.  We also went to an Amish store.  There are LOTS of Amish people around here…enough so that there are road signs that have a picture with a horse-drawn buggy and say “Share the road.”  It’s very interesting to see them and learn more of their way of life.

Tuesday was a rough day.  Enough said…

Wednesday was MUCH better.  We had our apartment inspection then went out to lunch with the Edward’s couple, who were down visiting from Cole Harbour.  It was great to see their familiar faces and talk with them.  Then we had a lesson with a recent convert that lives on the Canada side of our area.  We cross the border so frequently that the border police know us now, and we have friendly chats whenever we come through. 

We had dinner with the Hann’s and I really like their family!   We also had another lesson with Flo, and she’s still sick.  So, we gave her a priesthood blessing and taught a bit. 

Thursday was a good day, too!  We contacted people in Canada and got a lot of lessons set up for Saturday.  We contacted one house/trailer that was so filthy and putrid I almost got sick right there.  It was awful!

In the evening President Leavitt came down to our apartment.  He’s been visiting every single missionary and tonight was our turn.  We had a great visit, and I had a good interview with him.  Things are looking up, and our area is moving forward.  We’re gonna have to work hard to bring it further, but that’s why we’re out here.  Elder Sloan was traveling with President on this trip, so he was here as well.  It was great to see him again, and be able to talk for a little while!

On Friday we hit the pavement and contacted a lot of people.  One door we knocked on was opened by an old man who said, “Keep on going down the road!”  So I asked if he was interested in hearing our message anyway…  He said no, so I naturally asked him “why not?”  After he heard that he looked me square in the face and yelled:  “BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE YOU!!!” and then he slammed the door in my face.  

However, after him, we met a young mother of 4 kids, whom she raises by herself.  We talked and have an appointment for next week since she was just leaving.  She reminds me of the “girl-form” of Denzel…a great person with a bit of “history.”  I really hope we can help her.

Later in the day we walked down a long, eerie, driveway to get to a house that looked like it belonged in a horror movie, and we were about to be the main characters getting murdered.  There are definitely some “strange” places in this town.

On Saturday we met a great lady who’s son-in-law had recently ended his life.  We talked for a while, and hope to be teaching them in the near future. 

Later, we went up to the Hann’s where there was a Branch sledding party going on.  They have a big hill right in their backyard, and it was a fun time as people were sledding, snowboarding, and sliding down. 


Elder Clark and I even got in on the fun, with a few safe runs down the hill!  There was lots of good chili, hot chocolate, and Bro Sides even made home-made donuts with his deep-fryer there. 

We threw plenty of snowballs as well, and had fun playing ping-pong in the basement.  Bro. Hann reminds me so much of the actor, Russel Crow, so I always give him a hard time about that. 

The rest of Saturday didn’t go as we had planned.  We had four different lessons set up with potential investigators, and all of them fell through.  Some of the places we end up teaching in are. . . not good.  It makes me appreciate the cleanliness we DO run into, and makes me always want to live a clean life.  I guess there’s a life lesson in this…sin builds up in our lives like trash and filth in a home, if we aren’t always careful about what we let in.  If too much builds up, then it may seem impossible to “clean house” and have repentance take place in our lives.  I would much rather clean up a “little mess” than have to do “DEEP CLEANING” after letting a lot of filth into my life!  Seeing some of the things I’ve seen has really made this a visual image for me.

I continue to be concerned about Flo.  We haven’t been able to contact her for awhile . . . she has been sick and I’m concerned about her confirmation.  She didn’t show up at church on Sunday, so we didn’t do her confirmation yet.    And the rest of Sunday wasn’t that great either.  It can be VERY difficult to work so hard and not see much for our efforts at times.  

Although I love doing missionary work, it can  very hard emotionally, too.  I’m working on staying positive and doing what the Lord wants me to do.  I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing right now and the Lord will bless Elder Clark and me as we continue in the work we’ve been called to do.  I'm just very grateful that the "good" days are a lot more plentiful than the "bad" days!!

Remember to pray for us and SEND mail!! 


Elder Hunt

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chili Cook-off and Baptism!!

Dear Family,
Last Monday’s P-day was very different in Houlton.  It’s so much more laid back!  We got to do our emailing at the super “old-school” library, then got groceries.  I’m loving the price of groceries here!  We made some homemade crispy chicken sandwiches since we don’t have a Wendy’s anywhere near here.  I bought some hair cutters and gave myself a haircut.  And we played “mini-golf” in the hallway at the church.  Fun times. 
In the evening we had dinner with the Robertson’s and afterwards we stopped by Sister Beasley’s place to visit her.  She has a VERY old violin, and the minute I picked it up I could tell!  As I played the violin, it had AMAZING tone and I could tell it was high quality.  We looked at the tag inside the violin:  Nikolaus Amatus Fecit – Cremona – 1645.  I was playing on a 368 year old violin!  And when we looked it up online, the violin turned out to be very rare, and is worth a lot of money!  Sister Beasley’s going to take it to a specialist and get it verified.  AND she is also letting me use it while I’m in the area!  How cool is that?!?!

On Tuesday we went to Caribou (Maine) for a district training meeting.  We picked up Elders McIntyre and Tusa in Presque Isle on the way.  Elder Tusa is a big Samoan, and I love him to death.  It’s great to be in a district with E. West.  He’s from Morgan, Utah and he came out the same time I did. I’ve always wanted to serve with him, so it’ great to be around him, and we get along really well.  After the district meeting, which was really good, we went out for pizza.  After that we split up for exchanges, so for the rest of the day I was with Elder Tusa in Presque Isle.  We were knocking, and this guy opened the door and said he wasn’t interested. 
  So we kept going down the street, knocking.  As we got rejected again a few house down, we walked back onto the street, and there was that guy, just staring at us.  I walked back to him and began to talk.  He eyes swelled up with tears, and they began to run down his face.  He said that he was going through a rough time, and then walked back into his house.  I thought about him all night.  I went back and gave him our card and number, and he really appreciated it.  I hope he realizes that we (the gospel) can help him through this tough time.  Even though I don’t know him, I feel so much love for him, and I feel his hurt and sorrow upon myself and want the best for him.

After exchanging back with Elders Clark and McIntyre, it felt  so good to be “back at home” with my regular companion.  We’re just instantly loving each other, so we have a great time.  Still can’t believe how fast mail is here!!
On Thursday the 28th, Elder Clark and I had a dinner appointment in Canada with the Street’s, who are very funny and very English.  So naturally it was a great time!  It began to snow where we were driving there and eating dinner.  When we got done and went to leave, there was about 5” of new snow.  So we drove carefully and came to a hill, where we saw someone that was stuck.  We got out and went to help.  We met a young lade and her boyfriend.  We helped them figure out the whole situation with their car, getting it unstuck and up the hill, and of course we talked about the gospel, too.  Hopefully they will be willing to listen to use later on.  It’s always so cool how we are placed in people’s paths, and even though we were rushing to another appointment, it all worked out, and we made it to our lesson with Flo, who is getting baptized on Saturday.
At that appointment Flo asked Elder Clark to baptize her and me to confirm her.  When she said the prayer after our lesson, she asked for blessings to be upon us Elders to help us resist temptation and keep the commandments.  Most people forget that missionaries are still normal people, and face temptation every day, like everyone else.  So I was grateful for her prayer and understanding.
On Friday we went outside to drive to an appointment, but the car battery was dead…so we decided to walk instead.  We had to walk down to the church through all the snow, and we saw some great scenery and I had fun walking across a big, deep frozen river, which was pretty sketchy because I didn’t know where it was actually frozen since there was snow on top.  (Too much information for THIS mom!)  But we made it to the church where the branch had a “chili cook-off”  And Elder Clark and I were the judges!!  It was a lot of fun eating and socializing.  I felt badly when we found out that Flo had come to the church, but didn’t realize where the cook-off was being held, didn’t see anyone, so went back home.  It would have been so good for her to have the association with the branch members, but things have worked out.
On Saturday Flo was baptized after some long hours of concern, worry, and talking.  Elder Clark and I had to go over to the other chapel (Houlton’s chapel doesn’t have a font in it), and it hadn’t been used for quite awhile…there had been a fly infestation and we had to vacuum up over 500 flies throughout.  AND we were very concerned about the font being filled in time.  But it all worked out.  The font was full by the time the program started.  I spoke on Baptism and Elder Clark performed the ordinance.  All of the previous feelings throughout the day of fear, nerves, stress, etc., were all taken away and replaced with the comforting spirit, which brought peace and love.  Flo expressed her joy, good feelings, and happiness as well, which really helped me to feel better, and know that she was ready for baptism. 
I am learning SO much from all of my experiences.  I’m learning to trust the Lord, and my faith is growing as I have these amazing things to go through.  I’m learning how hard I need to work, harder than I thought possible, and then the Lord comes through and makes up the difference.  I’m reading a TON of scriptures and other church books.  Every chance I get I read.  Some of what I’m reading or have finished is:  “Our Search For Happiness,”  Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Book of Mormon (again), up to 2nd Kings in the Old Testament, and The Miracle of Forgiveness, which is definitely my favorite!  I love reading these words of God and His leaders.  AND getting to attend the CES Devotional Sunday evening was great, too!  Elder Bednar gave a remarkable talk that contained many things I needed to hear.  I love the way my life is being blessed with new insights/understanding of the Gospel and how it can bless/benefit my life now and in the future.  Serving a mission is an incredible blessing.  A lot of work, but a great blessing!!
Love you all!
Elder Hunt