Elder Huffaker

Elder Huffaker

Friday, May 29, 2009


Brandon's first emails from Jamaica came, and Sister G. sent one more photo, with Brandon and Elder Tracy pointing out their first areas on a map of Jamaica. I asked him a ton of questions in my email, and he tried to answer quickly in a response. He writes:

Hello, hello, hello

Alrighty, so this is the first email i get to send off. normally yesterday would have been p-day but it was labour day here as well. It's either hot or humid down here. So you sweat for the simplest of tasks. The showers are pretty much cold water only, although it does feel good, but as soon as you step out, you're sweating again.

My trainer is Elder Harris from Willard Missouri. He's been out here since February 2008. I'm sure he could pass for a younger dad though, he's a curly red-head.

So far so good here, the first day that i got to Old Hrbour, it poured. It will soak you in 10 minutes flat. We do a lot of proselyting, and the people will pretty much talk to you the first time, it's the return visits that are the hardest. We do have to progressing investigators and have set a baptism date with them. :)

Leaving the MTC was a little hard, especially saying goodbye to my district. We were very close. The flights were interesting though. Flying out of SLC at 1:00 a.m. then atlanta and miami. We actually had a delay in miami because our plane had not yet arrived from its previous destination.

Other than that, the AP's picked us because the mission president (Pres. Gingery) was on a video conference with Elder Bednar and a few other mission presidents. Going through customs was really weird. Thankfully we made it ok. Then the humidity just hits ya.

The AP's drove us to a fast food restaurant and ate there, then went to the mission office, met the Pres. Gingery and his wife and then went to their house. We stayed there for two nights and then I came to Old Harbour and Elder Tracy went to Spanish Town.

Hope everything is goin alright with you guys!

Elder Huffaker

Slow down on the questions mom, flights went fine, we made it through customs fine. The country is really different. people drive on the left and steering wheel on the right and when they're behind the wheel, they are really aggressive. Every morning we get to wake up and smell the ganja. j/k but it really is a third world out here.

Old Harbour is pretty much urban, its a small urban but yeah. We get a lot of street contacts. We got to progressing investigators. Kino, who's about a 25 yrs old male and Charm, 34 yr old female.

Our apartment is decent size, it's like living in the laundry room to the mudroom (square feet wise) There's four of us altogether, Elder Darling and Elder Jones are the other two. They just split Old Harbour into two areas. Elder Jones is a native, but i forget where he's from. I'm not sure of the size of the district, but I'll find out tomorrow at district meeting.

It's not so much hot and humid as hot or humid. either way though, you sweat. I'll keep you posted.

Arriving in Jamaica

Brandon is there! We very much enjoyed getting to talk to him on the phone during his layovers. Generally, missionaries get to call home on Christmas and Mother's Day. However, if a missionary is in the MTC during Mother's Day, they don't actually call home on that day (consider the hundreds of missionaries there that would need a phone line!), and instead, they call from the airport when they are departing for their mission.

Sister Gingery, the mission president's wife, is an angel, and she was so kind as to send an email to let us know when Brandon & his MTC companion, Elder Tracy, arrived there. On Wednesday, the 20th, she sent a picture and told us of his first activities:

"Today they go to immigration and a District Meeting as well as do some street contacting with the Assistants. Tonight they will get their trainers assigned to them, we'll have a nice dinner and then a testimony meeting and tomorrow they'll be out in the field. We'll be sending you our 'official' welcome to the mission letter by regular mail, but I thought you'd like to see a picture of them now and know that they are fine and happy."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

End of the MTC Days

Brandon sent one final snail mail letter before he left the MTC. The phone calls he mentions are regarding the traditional call home the missionaries make on Mother's Day (Brandon's call came when he was leaving the states). A "trainwreck" is one of our family breakfasts that Brandon enjoys. He writes:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

To Huffaker Haven,

So, I think UPS is faster than the USPS, but we can't conduct a true study unless you send 'em in the same day. I actually got the first package (being as your next comes tomorrow) before the big letter you wrote trying to compare them. Have you checked the missionary mall online yet, for those pins? The MTC bookstore is about as big as Families Forever in Lewiston. They have a lot of language stuff, food, commodity stuff and some misc. I picked up a german hymnbook for myself as well. I'm in the middle of "translating" for hymns I know. The German BoM's are hardbound & more expensive than the ones at the Distribution Center. Granted we do get a discount on 90% of the stuff they sell. It's like 20% on missionary stuff & 40% on general. However there are a few things they don't discount.We're required to get haircuts on the p-day before we depart. I told them to cut it as short as possible, I still think it's too long (just got it cut). Yes, haircuts here are free & yes I'm sure I'll be paying for them there.

As far as mail goes, yeah the DL picks it up, but because Elder Tracy is the DL & I'm his comp, I'm with him to get mail 95% of the time the other 5% is when we're on exchanges. Yeah we check mail twice a day. The Dear Elders usually come after lunch & before dinner.

As far as what I need, I can get everything before Monday. However I might send a few things back. I'd send my robe if I can find anything else to send with it, otherwise it's pointless. I did get Josh & Ryans emails, just didn't know if it was .com or .net. Thanks for the confirmation.

As far as email goes, it's for immediate family, but I added a few extra. And I'm sure they don't care too much. They just prefer immediate family. As far as I know, I can use my debit card at the bookstore, but haven't had to yet, plus they got an ATM machine nearby.

Time really does fly here. I got here yesterday & I'm leaving tomorrow. The first three days are the worst, but then it goes by like nothing. They don't really train us for culture or anything except a few health things. There is a teacher who did serve in Jamaica, so Elder Tracy & I ask him some questions.

Yeah, can't really call from the MTC. Just imagine 1600 missionaries tryin' to call home. But yeah Elder Tracy & I are planning on calling home at the airport terminal in Florida. We have a layover from about 9:30 to 12:30 so 5:30 - 8:30. You better be awake on Tuesday morning. (That is, if this letter reaches you by then) I already emailed you my itinerary, but I have yet to receive my passport with visas.

Wish I could've been there for the trainwreck. They don't really serve trainwrecks here at the MTC. The MTC is really enjoyable & you better take as much in. Tell that to the departing missionaries. Really, I've snail-mailed you guys only. But I'm gonna try & get a few others out today.

Glad Cameron had a good b-day. Yeach, I've got a German hymnbook & I'm in the middle of finding the hymns I know. I refrence them to find the ones I know. Sounds like Boogs is doing good. Yeah, Alyssa told me she's running, best of luck to her.

If you're thinking about re-titling "my" blog that's fine. I don't care what you do, but here's a few suggestions: Elder Huffaker's Bogus Mission, Elder Huffaker's Excellent Mission. Or Jamaica Impossible. HaHa. Like I said, it's up to you. Don't worry about duplicating questions, I'm sure I've duplicated answers.

Alrighty, now I've answered your questions. Time for my news.

So, they're remodeling the gym, so we only get to use the field across the street. They also use the gym for firesides & devotionals, but now they're using the chapel strings (some chapels are connected, so they turn chairs for larger audiences. When you dropped me off, we sat in one of the two chapel strings.) & the cafeteria. Elder Russell M. Nelson & his wife spoke last Tuesday. I stayed awake for all of that one! As well as a few other things.

On Sunday, the missionaries can walk over to the temple grounds, so I got some photos of that. Elder Tracy & I also ordered mission shirts from the MTC bookstore & got pics of us wearin' them.

The RC was crazy (referral center) in that some lady called in & immediately wanted to talk to the supervisor. Well she called in on my phone so I got to pass it off & listen in. She was not a happy camper at all. Apparently the missionaries in her area left a pass-along card in her door & she didn't want ANY contact & so she was pressing legal issues for harassment. She had her membership infor removed & is dissatisfied. Kinda crazy yet saddening. So yeah, such is the days.

So other than that, that's what's been goin' on. Two districts gone. Two have arrived. My district is next. Elder Tracy & I leave Monday night, Elder Lusk leaves for Toronto at like 4:00 a.m. Tuesday & the others leave for Sacramento later on Tuesday.

But yeah, writing letters usually happens in the laundry room while waiting for laundry. Thanks for the photos. I'll send my memory card or find some way to upload them within my half hour time limit. We'll see what happens. Like I said, I'll send some stuff home if I can find some other things to send with my robe.

Awaiting a reply in Jamaica

Elder Huffaker

P.S. I'll send the ward and branch letter once it's P-day and I'm in Jamaica!

Quick Emails from the MTC

Brandon shot off a couple of fast emails from the MTC on his last P-day (Preparation Day) there:

I got the box just fine, it actually arrived before the big letter you sent. your other box (second one) should be arrving tomorrow according to the dear elder. for gym, we go to the field across the road because the gym is closed for remodeling. i dont have to pack scrips and pmg everywhere, just to about half of everywhere. we teach eachother and former missionaries here at the mtc. i actually got a new set of sheets a few days after the inital date. plus we do sheet exchanges every tuesday. the jk at the end is for jamaica kingston. and dear elder works just fine for getting it to me. we memorize pretty much what we want to, but eventually, you use some scriptures so much you have it memorized, like the joseph smiths first vision. but i like snail mail too, i prefer returning snail mail because i have more time to write than i do to type. i also think the ups might be faster than the postal system, but what do i know.

elder huffaker

Hello everyone, this being my last week at the mtc. it goes by really fast, two districts gone and two new ones in. mine's the next to leave. alrighty, so i report to the travel office monday at 8:30 p.m. and my flight leaves SLC at 1:00 a.m. to atlanta, get in atlanta at about 6:15 a.m. and have a one hour layover, then fly to florida for a 3 hour layover and then on to jamaica. everything is goin great, lots of photos and stuff right now. keep writing me!

MTC Days & Getting Sick

Brandon has much more time for handwritten letters, and can tell us more details. He writes often and tells more of his experiences:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

To the Huffaker Haven,

Alrighty, so it's been just over a week here at the MTC & it's awesome. So let me bring you up to date from Saturday.

So Sunday, I woke up & my throat hurt, thinking it was just mucous down my throat in the night I thought nothing of it. Then it got to the point where my saliva was really thick & I had a difficult time swallowing. Well the health clinic is closed on Sunday so I had to go to the front desk, from which they drove me over to the hospital. That's probably the only time, while you're residing at the MTC, that you're allowed to leave. Anyways, so I found out I had a sinus infection. So I'm on Amoxicillin until Wednesday. I take 4 500mg pills a day, 2 at breakfast & 2 at dinner.

So Everyone in my room has gotten sick, except for Elder Patten. And 5 out of 8 in our district. For being the celestial branch, we sure have our hardships. Oh, by the way, the branch is the same as the zone & the zone includes 3 districts.

Otherwise Sunday went well, and we had a fireside at 7:00. We're so busy, we are constantly tired. It's very difficult to stay awake. The first few nights here, I could not fall asleep. Now, sleep comes so easy that I can't get enough. I'm up at 6:00 & in bed at 10:30. It's long days here, but it's very good.

Tuesday night, though, was probably the best. Elder M. Russell Ballard came and spoke. Sad thing is, is I studied Lehi's dream for a while (our term for sleeping) But what I did get from him, was AMAZING! I do need to compare notes with my comp. though.

We had to say goodbye to a district on Monday & welcome in a new district on Wednesday. So it's been up & down the past few days.

Right now I'm doin laundry, & it is packed in here! I did my email before coming down, but like I said, it's all happening on p-days.

As far as the warning thing, they warned us about the OJ. No problems, just a MTC myth. But the showers, those were a different case. As I said in the email, hot to cold, ugh!

As far as your questions go... Elder Lusk & Andrus are the ZL's and Elder Lusk cut Elder Andrus' hair the other day. (FYI missionaries don't cut others' or their own hair) It was pretty funny, but he fixed it today. Elder Thurman & Takacs are a very interesting team. Elder Thurman & I have our own unique connection. I ain't saying what. Elder Patten & Anderson are the other guys & then Elder Tracy & I.

Elder Tracy said he would check with his side about the relation thingy. Elder Patten says it might have been his uncle that trained dad & so he's gonna try to check that one. What is dad's mission Columbus or Cleveland?

As far as the sheets go, the MTC sheets sometimes get mixed with the BYU sheets. The BYU sheets are 72" & the MTC is at 80". We got it fixed, plus we did a sheets exchange on Tuesday in which Elder Anderson only received a Top Sheet. So I swapped him a full set & slept on a top sheet that night. It's not that cold, so I slept just fine. But I did get a new set the next day.

Oh, real quick before I forget, Brother Stoddard, who is a counselor in our branch presidency, gave an amazing lesson. He should be a G.A.!

So back to your questions... Overall, the food is good, it's like the High School where there's three options. Theres been like one or two meals where there was nothing good. But otherwise, it's all good. Classes include personal study, comp study, RC (referral center, where you take calls), TE (teaching evaluation) TA (teaching assessment), zone activities, & field.

We don't go to BYU for devotionals, we use one of the buildings here at the MTC. Like I said before, Elder Ballard was here last tuesday. As far as speaking on Sundays, random missionaries are called on to give talks and all the missionaries prepare talks in case they're called upon.

We take the dork dot off on day one here, so you pretty much blend in on day 2. As far as photos, I'll send you my card after the next district leaves probably, or attach the photos to emails if I can. We'll see what happens.

There's so much to explain & do. It's amazing anyone can make it through a day.

Sounds like Darcie's doin good, but you didn't include Alyssa. And Cameron's gonna hafta get used to it. I'm not there to hold his hand anymore. Otherwise it sounds like everything is goin well. Thanks for writing my thank yous and I think I'm set for now. Miss ya & Love Ya Lots!

2nd Nephi 29:7

Elder Huffaker

Friday, May 8, 2009

At last, an E-mail!

Alrighty, here's my email account that i'm allowed to use. I'll keep in contact this way, but i would still prefer some hard addresses.

So it's been just over a week here at the MTC and things are great. I hate to say it, but i don't really miss home or anything. Life moves pretty fast here and it's awesome just to walk around.

Everyone in our zone leaves in three weeks from when they arrive at the MTC. We have only one international in our zone and that is Elder Woodland. He's from Wales, accent and all.

We are constantly learning something, but once 9:30 hits and we're back in our residence halls. It's like a party starts. Everyone is just soo ecstatic. We've only finished the first lesson and are due to start the second like tomorrow. The funny thing is everyone tells you of the stuff to watch out for, but its usually fake, its the stuff they dont tell you, like how the showers will rapidly turn hot and then freezing cold when someone flushes a toilet. IT SUCKS!

Anyways, lemme know what all you want to hear and i'll tell you as much as I can. But as for now, i only have a half hour on email but as much time as i want with hardcopy letters, so i'll send you a letter as soon as I get your address.


Elder Huffaker

(p.s. i already have your address mom, i dont need it :)

Busy Days at the MTC

Saturday May 2, 2009

Huffaker Haven --

So, everything is going fine so far, sadly no more fire alarms have gone off. I hope my last letter reached home safely. I haven't received any reply from that one as of yet, but I thought I'd write a letter now to let you know how everything is going.

It's really great here and I hardly have any time to just sit around. I stay pretty busy here. I did recieve a package with some ties & a "suit bag". Was that from you? There was no return address so I'm guessing it was.

The food here is pretty good as well. I dunno, I kinda expected it to be worse. Someone was telling me that the food here isn't good. That's bologna! Everyone warns you about the OJ here. Needless to say, Elder Thurman, Elder Lusk, and I all tried it. So far no effects :-) !

The next best thing is the MTC Bookstore. They have a lot of great items that can help you out. And I pick up a German Hymn Book! It doesn't have all the hymns though. To find songs, I generally use the scripture references to help me find "the good ones". Let me know if you want me to find anything in particular.

Still waiting for addresses. In the meantime, have them use dearelder.com and leave their return addresses in the letter. (They don't include it) Hope everything is going well.

Elder Huffaker

P.S. Please have aunt Kerry pick up a paperback BoM (blue cover) from the distribution center. German! It's like $2.00. Thanx! :-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First News from the MTC

Brandon's first letter from the MTC to home arrived via snail mail on May 2. His abbreviations are: MTC=Missionary Training Center. Comp=Companion. DL= District Leader. ZL=Zone Leader.

Wednesday April 29th [2009]

Dear Mom (and dad),

To start off I went through plenty of lines here at the MTC before I found out where I'm staying. Needless to say, it's the cornerstone of the campus. Everything else I need to do or places I need to go are on the opposite side. So funny thing, I get to my room and my companion missed the reporting time & went to the one an hour later. So I was without a comp for about an hour. Oh! and my comp is Elder Tracy, he was the one I was emailing briefly.

So I'm rooming with Elder Tracy, who of course is goin' to Jamaica also. But the other 2 elders, Elder Anderson and Elder Patten, are going to the Sacramento Calif. mission.

Question: How many Elders does it take to make a bed?

Answer: 3. I couldn't get my fitted sheet on my bed, so I enlisted Elder Tracy and Elder Patten's help. The fitted sheet was too small. So we really stretched it out.

I also met my branch President today. President Madsen & his counselors are President Christensen & President Stoddard. They made me senior comp & Elder Tracy DL. So I get to be senior comp the whole time I'm here.

Apparently my branch has a rep. We're called the Celestial branch. So everyone parts their hair, say hi to everyone (especially the sisters) & some respect for sisters as well.

The other guys in my district are Elder Andrus, Elder Lusk, Elder Thurman, & Elder Takacs (Tack-us). Elders Andrus and Lusk are the ZL's in training.

Other than that, it has been a busy day. Oh! and it's no longer the white bible, it's the blessing book. And I need you to send me a few things.

1. Labels, from the p-touch
2. gum
3. water bottle

Thursday is my p-day by the way & I have yet to set up an email account. So don't expect emails anytime soon. Send me mailing addresses please!

Elder Huffaker