Sunday, August 24, 2014

Aug. 21, 2014 South Africa!

On my way!

Trip actually wasn't too bad! I traveled with Elder Swindleherst (he was also from Orange County) to Dallas where we found two more elders along with tons of elders that were headed home back to Utah.  The two we met up with in Dallas were the only ones until Johannesburg where 2 more sisters and an elder joined up.  

The layover in London wasn't as bad as I expected.  We found some couches and I took a nice 2-3 hour nap.  It's also easy to pass the time by talking with the other elders. Oh and I didn't spend $21 on a burger (Rushton had warned him not to eat at the Giraffe cafe at Heathrow as he got a burger there and it cost him $21.)  I got a cafe panini for 5.50 pounds.. not sure how much that is but I'm pretty sure its still kinda expensive!
I tried to email pics but the airport wifi wouldn't work and I don't really have any pictures so far anyways.  Except for a picture of the plane to Joburg which was double decker. I've always wanted to fly in one of those planes!  Oh and I finally figured out what's "up" with airplane food! 

And yes I got my immunization thing and got another 4 shots just now.  Oh on my first flight to Dallas the overhead carry on storage filled up and they forced me to check my carry on, so I grabbed my jacket out of it but forgot to grab other stuff since I was I still haven't brushed my teeth since the morning I left..that's the only negative thing I have to report though haha.

I'm so excited to be here and the MTC staff seem awesome.  The Mission President's wife already loves me because I brought her those clothes from her granddaughter! And she knew about Chadley haha... (The MTC President has a daughter here in Orange County and they sent her a birthday package with Grant.)

So my MTC companion is Elder Mabe (Maw-bay) and he is from Botswana. He had a backpack on and a suitcase hardly larger than my carry on suitcase. It makes me feel a bit weird when I have SO much more.  He seems extremely humble and just a really great guy. Oh and he's 24.  There are only 8 missionaries at the MTC right now haha.  3 sisters and 5 elders including me.  (The MTC has a capacity of 38.  The last group 2 weeks ago was a large group of 33.)

My MTC group.

Oh and we got our nametags right when we got off the plane! That was something I was extremely excited for!  I'm officially a missionary now!

I am eating everything and anything that comes my way because I want to experience everything.  I had passion fruit juice with my lunch which was great.  I like the stuff here so far because it isn't processed and such, you can see little bits and seeds in the juices so you know it's the real deal!

Oh yeah there's talk about Ebola and one MTC worker even said Kenya is at risk - there is none there yet but just the way they allow travelers there and their medical technology apparently isn't great.  He said Zambia has good medical care though.  At the Joburg Airport they had these scanner things you look at and it can detect Ebola and other diseases and then if you are detected you are taken to some facility in the airport to be treated or something (if you are a local) if you aren't they ship you back from where you came.

The shoes are still needing worn in, I tried strecthing them on the airplane rides and such because they were kinda tight, but I'm sure I'll love them after wearing them in.  It just hurts after a while if my sock gets bunched up under the tongue because they quite tight right now and my socks need washed to get tighter I suppose.

My emails will be more orderly and organized in the future I'm sure, but for this one I don't have a ton of time and there was so many little things to talk about.
Well I'm super excited to begin my mission and I know this is where I am supposed to be!
Love you guys
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Monday, August 18, 2014

Farewell Talk

Keeping Our Sights On The Savior
(Matthew 14:22-33)

My family and I all really enjoy the sport of wakeboarding.  Years ago when I was learning to jump on a wakeboard, though, I would always seem to find myself faceplanting in to the water.  After many falls, my dad finally figured out what I was doing wrong.  I was looking in the wrong direction when I jumped.  I would look at the water where I was going to land, which would cause my board to angle downwards, ending in a faceplant.  To fix this problem I needed to look forward, and my dad specifically instructed me to look at the boat.   By keeping my eyes forward and looking at the boat, I was able to keep my board on the right path in the air, reach higher heights, and have smoother landings.
I would like to compare my experience to that of one the apostle Peter had in the New Testament.
Christ’s disciples had set out on a journey across the Sea of Galilee.  It was dark and a storm was coming on.  As the storm got worse, the disciples fear grew and they felt like some of us do at times – the ocean so large and our boats so small.  But amidst the raging storm, the disciples looked and they saw Jesus Christ walking towards them on the water.
At this sight Peter asked, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”
And Christ answered him, like he does to us all, “Come.”
Peter entered the stormy waters with his sights on the Savior.  While he kept his sights on the Savior, the wind might blow him and the waves might splash him, but he would still be safe.  But when he took his sights off the Savior and worried about the “boisterous winds” and the rolling waves, he began to sink.  All of us will, at times, experience storms in our lives, and so, if we keep our sights on the Savior during these storms they will be calmed and made lighter.
Just like when I was wakeboarding and would take my sights off the boat and look at the water, I would fall; Peter, when he took his sights off the Savior, would begin to sink.  So keep your sights on the Savior and don’t sink.
When we follow Christ and the amazing example He has set for us, we can become more like Him.  This will not only bless your own life, but it will also bless the lives of those around you.  You will be filled with Christ-like love and have a desire to serve those around you.  You will feel the joy that Ammon did in the Book of Mormon when you become “an instrument in the hands of God” to help bless others and “bring about His great work”.
When this happens, His will becomes your will – and that is something we should all strive for.
Following Christ begins with faith.

I read an article recently that really touched me.  An excerpt from it reads: "Life was meant to be challenging. It was meant to create a desire in us to seek something better. For there is something better. And, despite all the loud noise of the world and all of it's solutions to our ills, there is a better way of life, even while we are here...but it is not from the world, it is from God."
Our heavenly father has given us challenges and trials in this life for our learning and growth and that we may gain and exercise faith in Him.
In Mark chapter 5, it tells of a woman who has suffered an issue of blood for 12 years.  When Jesus walks by her in the streets she touches his garment in hopes of being healed.  And when Jesus feels this he turns and asks “who touched my clothes…and he looked round about to see her that had done this thing… and he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.”
We too can be made whole through faith in the Savior and His infinite atonement. 

Paul said that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” He also counseled “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye; being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend…and to know the love of Christ.” And that is why I am serving a mission! To help others know the love Christ has for them.
EVERYONE will feel of this love when they come unto Christ and follow Him in faith.
This love will give us comfort and guide us in this life.

Another part of keeping our sights on the Savior is something we just heard in the sacrament prayers, which is that we will always remember Him.  Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the latter-day quorum of the 12 apostles illustrates how and why we should remember the Savior in his 1988 General Conference talk “Always Remember Him”.
In his address, Elder Oaks explains that we have our Earthly parents, who gave us life, and we remember them often and we also have all had teachers who have taught us everything we know and we remember them when we think back to our educations, and finally he explains that we have doctors that save us from illness, injury, and sometimes death.  If somebody saved your life, such as a doctor, I’m sure you would remember them and keep their name in high esteem for the rest of your life!
That is the point that Elder Oaks is making.  Jesus Christ did all of these things and more!  Elder Oaks states,
(And I quote) “He gave us life in the beginning of this world, and through the power of His resurrection he will give each of us life again after we have died in mortality.  Jesus Christ is the life of the world.
He is our Redeemer.  According to the Father’s plan, he provided the atoning sacrifice…and came to earth and shed his blood for the remission of our sins.
Our Creator and our Redeemer is also our teacher.  He taught us how to live.  He gave us commandments, and if we follow them, we will receive blessings and happiness.
 And so we see that He whom we should always remember is He who gave us mortal life, He who showed us the way to a happy life, and He who redeems us so we can live again.” (End quote)
As we can see from Elder Oaks message, Jesus Christ has done so much for us and He, above anything, or anyone, else is where we should look for peace and guidance.
Jesus Christ wants us to follow Him.  He is perfect and came here to set an example for us.

President Howard W. Hunter, one of the Lord’s modern-day prophets stated, “It is my firm belief that if as individual people, as families, communities, and nations, we could, like Peter, fix our eyes on Jesus, we too might walk triumphantly over “the swelling waves of disbelief” and remain “unterrified amid the rising winds of doubt.”  But if we turn away our eyes from Him in whom we must believe, as it is easy to do and the world is so much tempted to do, if we look to the power and fury of those terrible and destructive elements around us rather than to Him who can help and save us, then we shall inevitably sink in a sea of conflict and sorrow and despair.
At such times when we feel the floods are threatening to drown us and the deep is going to swallow up the tossed vessel of our faith, I pray we may always hear amid the storm and the darkness that sweet utterance of the Savior of the world:        “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.”
Good cheer is exactly what we will have when we come unto Christ.  When we focus on our Savior and no the “boisterous winds” around us, we will, in a way, walk on water.

Now I said I would come back to my mission reassignment.  I was originally called to serve in the Botswana/Namibia Mission, but after 3 months, and with only a month until my departure date, I got a call that told me I could not get a visa and that I was no longer going to Botswana and that I would get a new mission call – again, to anywhere in the world.  This news really rocked my world.  I had to go through all the anxiousness again and it was hard for me to understand.  But by trusting in the Lord and praying to Him, I gained a peace about the matter and the Lord blessed me with a reassignment to the Zambia Lusaka Mission – the mission right next door to Botswana.  Through this experience I felt God’s love and I know that He is mindful of me, as He is of all of you as well.

I know God loves me and you, brothers and sisters! He sent His Son to die for us so that we may live again! What great news that is.  I can’t wait to help change lives with this great news!