Sunday, August 31, 2014

He made it!

We got an update from the mission home on Friday letting us know that after 50+ hours of travel, Elder Hruby and the missionaries he traveled with arrived in Mozambique safely! Here are a few pictures from the week before he left, his travels, and his arrival. They look surprisingly fresh after traveling for two whole days! We can't wait to get Elder Hruby's first email from Mozambique!!!
Napping in Nature at the MTC
Last days in the MTC
Airplane shenanigans...what else do you do for 12 hours?d
Finally in AFRICA!
Lookin' pretty fresh after 50+ hours of travel! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Excellent News!!!

After getting Elder Hruby's regular weekly email today, we were surprised to get another one this evening saying that the visas did come through and he will be leaving for Mozambique TOMORROW! He is soooo stoked to be leaving and moving on to the next phase of his mission!

I got my visa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are leaving tomorrow at 230 from salt lake to Dallas, from Dallas to London, London to Jo-Berg, then we will drive from Jo-Berg to Maputo!!!!! I was sleeping away my sickness and sorrows after emailing this morning and another Elder had gotten our mail and we had a notice to go pick up our travel plans from the travel office! I am so pumped! I know you guys are busy, but I have two chances to talk to you all. First will be in SLC from like 11-230. Or in Dallas from like 530-830 (I don't know if that's Dallas time or our time). Send me an email with the best time to call everyone and I will check it in the morning! Can't wait to talk to you!!!!

Much Love,
Elder Hruby

Week 7: MTC

Hello Everyone,

I have to admit this week was pretty long, and I am a little bummed I am writing you from the MTC still. None the less, I am still learning a lot and have been able to keep a decent attitude most of the week. I am super sorry for no mid-week pictures. I honestly thought I sent some. It's hard to keep track of what I have done this week or if I did that the week before since it's like Groundhog Day here haha. I will be sure to send some soon. I kind of got everything thrown at me this week which made it seem longer I think. Friday they told us we hadn't received any visa news so I knew I would be here at least another P-Day. My knee and back have been giving me fits this week so that stunk. And then to top it off I am sick. I think its just a cold but I am super achy and congested :( With all of that said, this week was still pretty decent haha!

We had a really good devo Tuesday about the difficulties and trials of a mission (very applicable to me right now I thought) but how a mission is so full of joy and it always ends up worth the work. I enjoyed that and needed it. Two things he said that I really like were that we first, have to expect miracles on our mission. If we are faithful, obedient, and do our part we need to expect miracles. Second, we have to let God love us. Found that one a little different. Normally we always ask for help and the things we need from God, but when we get down its really easy to tune Him out and get angry. If we let God love us it is impossible to feel alone.

The 4 of us who are waiting on our visas have been put with a class that has been here for 2 weeks less than us. We teach lessons to role-playing missionaries, but no investigators. Instead, the 4 of us teach the other missionaries language lessons. So we go through a concept a day and teach in Portuguese. It probably helps me learn the language more than them but I am ok with that. The language has really been coming along lately. We taught a skype lesson with a married couple who are members from Brazil. They served their mission together in Moz and got home last year. I got paired with an Elder who isn't very good at the language so I had to talk A LOT during the skype lesson. It was so fun though! When they get excited or are telling a story and start talking fast I don't understand a lot, maybe 30% but from context I can usually put it together enough to reply. When they go slow its about 70% so thats fun. It is really gratifying when you end the lesson and hang up and realize you have been talking to them in Portuguese for 30+ minutes.

For scripture study I have just been reading random chapters or other topics from Preach My Gospel. I think my two favorite from this week we Alma 32 and 42. 32 talks all about faith and the 5 steps to getting it/keeping it. 1.Have a hope for something better  2.Experiment on that hope, using the words and guidance God has provided  3. Plant the seed  4. Nurture and nourish the seed  5. Endure and receive the blessing of faith. Ch 42 talks all about Jesus Christ's Atonement. Maybe my favorite chapter in the whole Book of Mormon. It explains why we need the Atonement and how it satisfies the demands of Justice with Mercy. Really sick!

Fun stuff from the week: Elder Woolley and I took my hammock up to the sand volleyball courts one day during gym time and hung it up in a tree. It was about 10ft off the ground, so we only sat in it one at a time, but it twas osum!!! During the temple walk on Sunday we went under the shady trees behind the temple and took naps for like 45 minutes. That was also very lovely. Weighed myself after bball yesterday and I was down to 195.5 haha. Still too big for my body but not in the 200's anymore so that's good. 

Mom I did get g-lou's bday card with the money. Thanks Ga-ma!!!! Bjack hope your busy schedule is treating you right! Keep killing it! Court, its so cool that you are starting teaching. I so wish I had you as a teacher. Your students are beyond lucky! You'll get in a groove so the schedule won't be so overwhelming I'm sure! And Dad, I say you just deal with the cars you have and save all the money for my Raptor when I get home! Yup, that sounds like a solid plan.Meg and Ken, I love you and am super jelly of the Maui pics! Well I love you all and feel your love, support, and prayers! Hopefully the next time you here from me is over the phone. The travel office said they have 3/4 visas and are just waiting for the last one. They think we should be out of here this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Much love,
Elder Hruby

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 6: MTC (unexpectedly)

On Friday we found out that Elder Hruby had a change in plans. He was scheduled to leave for Mozambique on Sunday with the other Elders in his group, but unexpectedly his visa was delayed. He was a bit bummed but has a great attitude! He his hoping to get everything worked out soon and has a feeling it will because they are keeping him in the MTC rather than sending him stateside for awhile. 

Well I had expected to be writing this email from some humid, hot, sweaty, musty, no-AC cafe somewhere in lovely Mozambique, but the only consistent thing in life is change right? No worries though, I am just as happy to be writing you from here as I would be to write you from anywhere! It has been kind of weird and sad to watch all the rest of the Elders and Sisters leave this week. I said good-bye to the 4 Elders going to Mozambique on Sunday morning. That kind of sucked since I was supposed to be going with them, but I will be seeing them in zone conferences in Moz. Also, this Sunday was the best one I have had here. So relaxing and peaceful. It almost felt like a Sunday back home. Got to love the tender mercies from the Lord. Then this morning I woke up at 230 to say good-bye to all the Cabo Verde missionaries. That one was pretty sucky since I won't see any of them for at least 2 years. Just in the 5 days since I found out I wasn't getting my visa and wouldn't be leaving the MTC for a bit, I have learned two really valuable lessons. First, it is so much easier to talk about putting your trust in God than actually doing it and believing He has a plan for everything. Second, you really never can realize your impact on others.

Optimism is not really my strongest attribute so hearing that I didn't get my visa was rough. I was so pumped to go. Looking back through my journal the last week literally every day said something about how excited I was to get to Moz. Luckily Heavenly Father knows my struggle and has been helping me out. He has made me laugh and I have been just in a good mood the past couple of days. Then, yesterday Irmao Nielson had us teach him a lesson about how to deal with change. How we can feel comforted with it and how to adapt. It was perfect. As we were teaching/discussing I realized I was basically teaching myself. It was all things that I needed to hear. Heavenly Father was just setting it up so I didn't notice right away. The main thing we talked about was trusting in God. There are a lot of solid scrips about it, but I found a few that just made everything clear. I think they mean the most if you read them in this order. John 14:18  Mosiah 24:14  Alma 36:3  2 Nephi 32:9.

I never like saying goodbye so I usually either just don't or I make it really short. I think its because I am such a baby and know I will get emotional way too easily haha. So I didn't really say much to the Elders as they have left this week, just a hug for some and saying bye. I found note Elder Couch hid in my drawer before I left, and Elder Mortensen gave me one too this morning. In 6 weeks I have not felt like I have done much for them or been that much of an influence. We all do the same things together everyday so to me we all are kind of the same. Apparently they thought differently. It really is so crazy to see other people's perspectives. As cliche as it is you honestly don't know your own impact. It makes even more sense to me as I think about my three teachers I have had here. They will never know to the extent in which they have affected me, taught me, and helped me. 

Other random notes for the week: Finished the Book of Mormon on Sunday, which means I read from cover to cover in 3 days under my 6 week goal. Taught a member from Brasil over Skype on Friday. It was osum! I was able to really converse with him and understand a majority of what he said!  We gave Belchoir a Mozambique shirt that we all signed and got him to cry! It was lovely haha. I have moved into the room next door with Elder Woolley and Elder Ball. We are good, just all anxiously waiting for more news on the visas because we have been told nothing. Better news, I got my hair fixed today hahaha! It is just dandy:) Well I love you all! Have bomb weeks.

Much Love,
Elder Hruby

The Mozambique Elders with Irmao Belchoir (their awesome Portuguese teacher from Mozambique)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 5: MTC (last WEEK!)

We got Elder Hruby's final letter from the MTC! He leaves this Sunday to travel to Mozambique. It will take over two days for him to get there...I guess that's what traveling the cheap way does to you haha. We get to talk to Elder Hruby on the phone while he is in the airport and are very excited to do this! Mom heard through the "Missionary Mom Network" that since payphones are limited in airports these days and all of the missionaries are trying to use them, it is best to send a prepaid "disposable" phone for him to use.  We can't wait to hear his voice! It was also his birthday this last Sunday and it was really fun to send him some goodies. 

Dear Everyone, 
So stoked that I am on my last week here at the MTC! It has been great, though. Long, and short at the same time. Frustrating but completely un-explainable as well. This past week was another good one. I decided I don't like going through each individual day, so I am just going to write about the main parts of the week! So here is how last week went:

Got to go to another temple session this week, and it was the most peaceful one I have had yet. I don't think my mind and body have been that calm ever in my life. Fittingly, the devotional that night was about the Temple and the osum and myriad of blessings we are promised from the ordinances we do there (D&C 109). It is funny to me when things seem ironic or coincidental. I just laugh and thank Heavenly Father for putting things together for me, because I know He is the one making the coincidences happen. Elder Ence and I taught our last lesson with Paulo this week. At the end of the lesson we were discussing baptism and invited Paulo to attend a baptismal service to see how it works. Elder Ence bore his testimony at the end.... background real quick, Elder Ence struggles with Portuguese. He always defers to me and asks me questions in English to ask to the investigator in Portuguese... but anyways he bore his testimony at the end of the lesson and it was perfect. I understood none of it! Not because he wasn't speaking Portuguese well, but because he was saying things neither of us knew how to say. He was just opening his mouth and the Spirit was speaking through him... needless to say that was pretty osum! This week I went into my personal study with more of a purpose than I have before. I had specific things I wanted answers to or help with, and I noticed that because of this I was finding notable scriptures and answers all over the place. I realized we have to have a purpose or a plan in mind so that we can give Heavenly Father something to work with some way to prompt us and guide us. Irmao Belchoir told us more of his life story as well. In short, his mom and dad died before he was 13 and his brother had to put them in an orphanage because he wanted to serve a mission. His brother got sick on his mission and was sent home so Belchoir got to go live with him again, but then his brother died before he was 15. He and his little brother and sister went back to the orphanage before being adopted and moving to Arizona at 17! What a sad/inspiring story. I love that man. He makes me so excited to teach people like him in his home country. That got me thinking about my life and the challenges I have faced that I have thought were the most difficult things in the world. I started realizing last year at the Academy how blessed my life has been. I attributed that to being a member of the church. My thoughts have changed since being here. My life has just been blessed! I know missionaries who are being disowned by their parents for serving, or missionaries whose moms have passed away, or both parents and an older brother, or whatever they are struggling with/have struggled with. All of my obstacles in my life has essentially been self-induced. I don't know exactly my thought process or how I arrived to this conclusion, but Heavenly Father has loved me from the start and has put up with me and given me 198343294823 chances, even though I have not earned them nor do I deserve, but I am not complaining! "Ironically" the devotional Sunday was basically about how much God loves us and how a simple faith in Him can bring so much joy, peace, and happiness. There was a Mormon Message shared called "Hope of God's Light" 

It is the most inspirational video I have ever watched. I related to it so well. For me I feel like I have a similar story. Not that I was going to kill myself or anything, and I have know God my whole life. But as I was watching I couldn't help but think about how much I really feel like I have my own conversion to this Gospel. And for me, like Todd Sylvester in the video, it took me hitting the bottom, my lowest of lows to be compelled to be humble and to realize I need God in my life. That just progressed and turned into how I need His Gospel, His Church, and His Plan of Happiness to ever have the hope of being truly happy in this life, or the life to come for that matter (Moroni 7:42-43)`. Like I said the devotional and video really struck a chord with me! I got to participate in giving a blessing this week. This is the second time I have done that here, but I don't think I ever told you all about the first one. This one was a comfort blessing for Elder Mortensen. He is probably my favorite Elder here. We get along great and I love being around him, but he was really struggling this week so Elder Couch and I gave him a blessing. Elder Couch gave the actual blessing and I laid my hands on his head with him. I don't remember a single word Elder Couch said because I was just praying in my head the whole time. Just asking that it would be the right blessing, that Elder Couch would be guided in what to say, that Elder Mortensen would be touched, that he would feel comforted. It worked. The instant it was over you could see the relief of Elder Mortensen's soldiers. He was teary eyed and just so happy. He has been like a new man ever since. Amazing what faith can do through actions! 

Well on a lighter note there were some funny things that happened this week as well. First, THANK YOU all for all the birthday wishes and goodies. I have never appreciated them so much. The lax sticks have been a hit in the dorms. We broke and exit sign (not me) but luckily we put it back together. No other incidents to report of as of now, though. You all will love this next one. This morning I went to get my hair cut so I would look fresh for the trip on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (since I am traveling for 51 hours!). But the lady did not do a good job, you know how picky I am with my haircuts! So I was mad and went back to the dorms and was fixing it up, and I fixed it up just fine. BUT then another Elder let me borrow his trimmer and I was gonna get it a little bit better and it was going just dandy until the trimmer slipped settings from a 4 on the sides to a ZERO! I now have a lovely bald stripe on the side of my head. I will grudgingly send a photo later :( I am pumped to see what my branch presidency says about it haha.... NOT! Well that was my week I love you all so very much! So cool, next time I email you I will be IN AFRICA hanging out with my main people AKA Black people ;)

With Love,

Elder Hruby 

The whole zone at the temple (can you spy Elder Hruby cheesin' with his eyes closed?)

When you play lacrosse in the hallway, things break
Don't worry, they fixed it

Elder Hruby's awesome haircut...haha

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Week 4: MTC

Essentially an entire month of my mission is over! That is a crazy thought. This week went by so fast. It honestly feels like I was typing my last email to you all two days ago! I guess it is better than time dragging by. Twas another good week, though.

Last Tuesday night we had a devotional. The speaker was John Groberg. AKA the Elder who the movie "The Other Side of Heaven" is about! It was pretty dope to say the least. He is a great speaker. The main emphasis was that we are called to bear our testimonies. Because of the truths we know and the Gospel we have been blessed with we have an innate responsibility to share that through our testimonies. 

Wednesday we had a little bit of a talking to from our teachers. They had noticed that over the past week our district was just kinda not there. We were not fully engaged and didn't have the greatest attitudes. They were nice of course, but it was kind of needed. We got to refocus and the rest of the week went great because of that. It's funny, I haven't been at all homesick this entire time, except Wednesday night. It was such a nice night and we did our last hour of personal study outside from 830-930 so I was able to see how nice it was and the mountains and all that. Nice nights are my weakness I guess. But then it rained a couple times this week (as you can see from the pictures) so it's all good.

Thursday was a pretty routine day but good. Irmao Belchoir told us story about Mozambique for like an hour. He had us dying!!! The best two were when he was telling us how the bathrooms are. He explained how its just a small hole in the ground you pop a squat over, and that if its windy the hut you're in may fall over and you may just have to waive at people as they see you doing your business hahaha! The second one was when he was like 10 years old he was told by his parents to never swim at a certain spot in the river. Of course one day all his buddies wanted to go there so he did. He decided not to swim and just watch so he obeyed his parents. One of his friends jump of a small cliff into the river and landed right on a crocodile. He was eaten. Sad story but the way he told it was hilarious. He said everyone ran away but then he asked "You know what I did?" From the back of the class I said "Saved him of course" He looked at me, laughed, and said, "Are you crazy!? I was the first one that made it back home!" 

Friday I weighed myself and I almost felt some shame haha. I have gained a little over 8lbs. I weigh 201 and some change! The fattest I've ever been!!! There are three reasons I don't quite feel guilty yet. First, my companion has gained over 20 lbs and three other Elders I hang with have gained 15+lbs. Second, during basketball I can hang on the rim again, which I haven't done since like my junior year. And third, I'm going to Africa! I may never eat this good again for the next 2 years!

Saturday was routine but the lesson was good. We learned to answer questions using the scriptures and to just take our time and let the Spirit prompt us to the right scriptures. So we practiced and one of the Elders asked me a question and I immediately started thinking about turning to a specific scripture. As I was turning two completely different scriptures popped into my head that I didn't really know, but I decided to turn there. They were so much better at answering the question than what I had planned it was osum!

Sunday was Fast Sunday. We fasted until 530 which is a long time for me when I wake up at 615 to got to Zone Leader meetings! But it wasn't too bad. Honestly I was never that hungry. Probably because I got enough fat on me that my body could run on that for a while. Got to wear our matching ties Dad! We went to the Joseph Smith film in the evening, but we went to the Portuguese version. It was so fun, but I only understood about 25% of it. Got some work to do haha.

Monday we got to host the Senior Missionary couples all morning. It was a nice break from the routine and fun to talk to all of them. I saw the Roses and talked to them for a minute or two. That was neat. The rest of the day was pretty standard. Oh except it poured last night and we all went outside to just get out of the classroom. We ended up getting soaked, but it was a nice little tender mercy. We all needed a little fun.

Well that was my week. I love hearing about all of yours so thanks for the emails. Court, Cabo sounded like a blast and a half! The pics were osum. Can't believe next Sunday I'll be 19! Also I'm not for sure but I think we are leaving August 17, nextnext Sunday. They gave us a card that says 17 not 19 on our mailing address so IDK, but that would be SICK!!!!!!! Anyways, I love you all and miss you! Have a great week and I will talk to you next Tuesday!

With Love,
Elder Hruby

Playing in the rain...even missionaries have fun sometimes

The aftermath of the rain

Saluting Elder Hruby because he is kind of a big deal and was a Cadet

Week 3: MTC

Dear Everyone,

Crazy that another week has already come and gone. The weeks have definitely started to resemble how weeks at the Academy went. Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. That is a good thing, though. Means I'm busy. Brought my journal again so here was my past week:

Tuesday (last P-Day): After eating, napping, and e-mailing, we went to the temple. Only my second time and it was of course great. Very peaceful, and the exact thing us missionaries need after a busy week. We spent a good amount of time in the Celestial room which was osum. Just a great feeling in there and I think so clearly sitting in that room. Had a devotional that night from an entire family. They have 9 children and all have served missions (the 9th is currently serving in Soul) and they are spoke for 5 minutes each then the dad finished off for about 15 minutes. Lots of notes and tips on how to take advantage of our time as missionaries and serving the best we can.

Wednesday: Wednesdays are the worst day of the week. Day after P-Day, and we have to wake up early for a 615 service assignment AKA cleaning toilets. But other than that this past Wednesday was sick! Our District was selected to meet/interview with the radio hosts from the largest radio station in South Africa! They are not members but broadcast MoTab and other church affiliated stuff so they wanted to learn more about the church. They have 7million+ listeners! They were fun to talk to (they speak English) and were so happy to be here. They didn't interview us like we expected but they did ask me why I was serving a mission, especially in Africa? I probably gave some cheesy politically correct response, but hey they loved it. As a District we sang "Called to Serve" to them in Portuguese. You should have seen their smiles. Bball gym opened today and it was a blast to play a real sport and sweat.

Thursday: Got a new investigator named Isa. He is 19 years old and his family is very religiously diverse but he is Christian. Elder Ence and I taught him about the Plan of Salvation and committed him to baptism the first lesson. That was a neat experience, and I am excited to teach him 4 more lessons. Irmao Belchoir taught a powerful lesson on the importance of prayer from 3 Nephi 16-20. It is one amazing gift we have that we can, at any momemnt, in any situation, ask our loving Father in Heaven for help or tell him how grateful we are and He will answer us. That night Elder Ence, Elder Couch, Elder Christiansen, and myself took the two bags of Glo-stars Meg and Kimbo sent me and put them up in our dorm room. We make them spell MOZ (for Mozambique of course) and then took the extra stars and underlined it. I will have to send a pic later.

Friday: Irmao Belchoir picked up right were left off with our lesson Thursday. This time he taught a crazy good lesson on the Plan of Salvation. It is the Perfect Plan of Happiness. The cool thing that happened Friday was this thing called the TRC. We meet with real members of the church who don't play any role, they just act as themselves and we go in and meet with them for 20-30 minutes and share a message like missionaries would do to members. Only we do it in Portuguese. It was really fun. The first guy we met was an RM who served in Portugal. He had a thick (kinda ugly) accent and spoke very fast. He was difficult to understand. The second elder gentleman was from Brasil. He was so funny and just a pleasure to talk with. I understood about 70% of what he said and was able to say back to him about 50% of what I wanted to haha. 

Saturday: We taught 2 investigators, Isa and Paulo. Isa had work so we only had 5 minutes to talk so not much happened. Paulo is kind of indifferent to the Gospel so we were not particularly influential on him this lesson. Saturday was great, though. We had about 14 Elders and Sisters in our room when we were supposed to be studying, but we started going around and each person talked about why they decided to serve a mission. It got super deep and was one of the top 3 most spiritual experiences of my life so far. There are a lot of great missionaries in my zone.

Sunday: We have 3 hours of church; Sacrament, Priesthood, then a District meeting. The zone leaders, which includes myself, taught Priesthood on the topic of Repentance. It was in English. Sacrament is the only thing on Sunday in Portuguese. The devotional Sunday was good but I didn't write much down about it. We got to watch a film after, though. It was of Elder Bednar when he came to the MTC for Christmas a couple of years ago. He spoke on the Character of Christ. It was again one of the top 3 talks I have ever heard. It is hard to think that I represent Christ as a missionary, or any missionary for that matter. How can we, as people with so many inadequacies and faults, represent the one Perfect person to  ever walk the Earth?

Monday: Not too much happened. We did get to teach Isa, though, and it was the best lesson we have taught for a while. The Spirit was just right there guiding us and touching Isa.

So life is not too bad here at the MTC. Although I don't really think it could be for me. This place is a breeze compared to last year. I am constantly having my patience tested by other missionaries, though. I cannot begin to number how many WIERD like WWWEEEIIIIRRRRDDD missionaries there are here, but I realized something this week. There are a lot of WEIRD people in the world, and need someone to connect to... who better than some of the missionaries I have met here?! I started to Book of Mormon over when I got here and as of today I am in Alma 17. Just about right at halfway. Got to keep going if I am going to finish before I get to Mozambique. I am not too out of shape, at least I do not look that out of shape. I haven't weighed myself lately so I can't say exactly how much I have gained, but after 50 minutes of basketball my knees are done and my back is tired and I already feel shin splints coming on. Sweet athleticism right? Well I appreciate all the love and support. And the help with visas, credit cards, and inserts. You all are the best. Eu amo voces muito!

With Love,
Elder Hruby

That looks like some good, hard studying ;)