Earlier this evening I was at my MCAT prep course, and I got a phonecall. Slightly annoyed that someone was calling me during my class, I pulled my phone out and was startled by the name on the phone: Hurst. My initial impression was to just put my phone back in my pocket and call him back at the end of class, but then I remembered how sporadic and unpredictable Hurst is, and I realized he could be driving through Provo that very minute. Since returning from Ukraine, we had tried to connect a couple times, but we'd never succeeded. With a certain degree of panic I jumped out of seat during class and dashed out the door to take the call.
Turns out my instincts served me well. Hurst was in the area, and he wanted to drop by tonight. I got all giddy on the phone and insisted he come by at 8:30. I gave him the address and went back to my class. Class wasn't supposed to end til 9:00, but I finished my test early and checked my answers with the teacher and I was on my way.
Hurst drove up with his fiancee, Natalie, and I met them outside on the street. I'd forgotten how much taller he was than me, and gave him a big man hug. This was a man who had a profound influence on me in Ukraine. My experience there would've been very different if I hadn't met him, and he became one of my best friends out there.
Hurst came to Ukraine when I was still a youngster in the mission. He was assigned to Mariupol, where I was currently serving. Since he was now officially the newest person in our city, I felt a special responsibility to help him adjust to the new life. On the busride from Donetsk to Mariupol I asked him what his favorite band was. "The Shins," he said. I almost peed my pants. What's your favorite movie? "Rushmore." I knew I was going to love this guy.
Hurst was older than all of us, and had a lot more life experience. At 24 he'd been working on his doctorate, and then one day decided to serve a mission. He was an expert in British history, and would often tell us long, drawn out stories of this battle or that. He rapidly became a beloved addition to the mission.
I had the good fortune of serving with Hurst again in the small city of Sumy. This was a particularly difficult time of my mission because I had issues with my assigned companion, but Hurst saved my life with his good humor and down-to-earth philosophy on life. He is one of those people you just can't make mad, and if he does get a little annoyed, it blows off pretty fast. We had some good times up in that ridiculous city.
Fortune smiled on us again at the end of my mission when I was assigned to the city of Donetsk. First I was Hurst's zone leader in outpost of Obyedinoni when he was in Makeevka, so I received phonecall reports from him every night. After six weeks there I was moved to center Donetsk, and we were able to go on exchanges and hang out often. We'd talk about movies and music and life, and he'd shop second hand stores for me to find Lacoste items. I still have a sweet tie and multiple shirts and sweaters thanks to that man.
I hadn't seen Hurst since July 2007, so it was an amazing delight to get to see him and meet his fiancee tonight. It was a refreshing reminder that people are really the only thing that matter in this life, and Hurst is one person I want to see again. So I guess this was a salute to Hurst.
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