We had a wonderful two hour FaceTime with Elder Hull on Mother's Day. It was SO good to see him and get a ton of questions answered. We get to email him each week, but sometimes it takes a few weeks to get questions answered. Or when a question is answered, often new questions then arise. It was great to be able to get immediate answers. He seemed very happy and determined to work hard for the remainder of his mission. We needed to make a few plans for when he will return home in December. (Like which college he plans to attend and what needs to be done to make sure he is ready to start school in January.) We made some progress with some of those decisions. He is enjoying springtime in New York and expressed gratitude for some of his recent companions. They have taught him things that have helped him immensely.
The Hull family received the best ever gift on Christmas. A phone call from Elder Hull! It was the highlight of our day and season. The best part of our conversation was how upbeat and fun it was. We laughed, shared stories and asked tons of questions. The only time we cried was when we talked about the blessing of the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation. Our family is so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that we can find lasting peace, even when we have trials in our lives.
Elder Hull wishes to thank everyone who sent him cards, emails, letters and packages for Christmas. He definitely feels love and support from home! He mentioned two more packages he received specifically. One from the Penrods with goodies, a tie, some slime to play with and an awesome tie tac that he showed off to us. He also received a package from a good friend with a new scarf which he proudly wore during our Christmas FaceTime/phone call.
When we dropped Elder Hull off at the MTC, we were under the impression that we would not receive a phone call from him on Christmas. As parents we were okay with that because we wondered how all of those phone calls would be facilitated anyway. There are a lot of missionaries at the Provo MTC. We were elated to find out from Brandt’s emails last Tuesday that he would be given the opportunity to call home for a half hour. That phone call was the BEST!
Brandt told us that Elder Russell M. and Sister Nelson were at the MTC in the morning for a Christmas devotional. Brandt then was able to sing in the MTC choir and then the missionaries were served a Christmas dinner. He told us that he was looking forward to attending an evening Christmas program. We asked him if he liked his Christmas gift and he was kind of quiet. When we asked him specifics about his package, he didn’t know what we were talking about. We finally asked him if he unwrapped the package that we left in his large suitcase. He said that he did and wondered why we sent him with a pan. What?!!! We then explained that the box with the pan on the front was holding his stocking and that he should really OPEN the box and check out what was inside. So …. now we need to wait until next P-day to see if he liked his Christmas package. LOL! We had a good laugh about why he thought we would send him to the MTC with a frying pan. In his defense though, we did send him to college with a pan or two.
Brandt mentioned that the Motyers sent him a tie that he really likes and was wearing it while talking to us. A big thank you to the Motyers and everyone else who sent him something this first week. He also enjoyed some treats from Nana and Grandpa Hull. More than anything, he said he loves to get letters and plans to save all of them. After discussing a few housekeeping items, Elder Hull was off to hopefully open his Christmas gift, and the call was over. The phone call was the best part of our Christmas.
Also …. the following is a excerpt from Brandt’s email to his dad:
Spanish is hard, but I'm learning fast, and the food is great. The temple is closed for cleaning the next two weeks and I get to clean it. They do rent clothes for missionaries (Apparently most temples do this- including the Manhattan one. Also, my mission apparently includes half of Manhattan). Also tell Mom I love her. The hardest challenge here has been learning Spanish. It feels a little forced sometimes, and the Maestra teaches for three hours solely in Spanish, so my attention starts to drift towards the end. Now I can at least understand most of what she says, though :) The coolest thing here is to see and feel the hand of the Lord in all that we do. My schedule is BUSY! By 10:30 you really want to just collapse and fall asleep. A couple nights it's been so busy I wasn't able to write in my journal. We have an hour of personal study twice a day sometimes, and companion study and language study (on our own) for an hour each, as well. We have also taught four lessons to investigators- three to Ricardo (He's prayed, gone to church, and started reading the Book of Mormon. He was our first, and is pretty funny), and one to Victor, or Vic (He's been somewhat stubborn about reading scripture literally and praying with sincerity. The Holy Ghost will get through to him sometime, though. I know it.).
Please look up Elder Bednar's talk entitled 'The Character of Christ.' I know that all of you will get so much from it! It's made a huge difference in the way that I see the Gospel, and the way that I approach our religion. It is truly enriching. Tell mom that it's better than Education Week ;) Make sure to tell my friends at Rexburg that I miss them a ton, and that they helped prepare me so much for my mission!
Mission Start: 12/17/14