Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lack of Music and a Donkey in the Well

Hi everyone!  One letter left before we here about Armenia!!!  Jared leaves August 8th.  So we would recommend that instead of sending Jared "snail mail", you can start using the email address that we've been using (He could send email's to family while he was in the MTC. He will be able to email you back as soon as he is in Armenia.)  His email address is  Jared wrote us a couple of letters.  Here they are!

Hi Mom and Dad,

    You can go ahead and put my email address on my blog if you haven't already.  It'd be nice, though, if people didn't email me until I'm out there, though.  

     I love you both.  Tell Maddie hi for me when she gets back.  (Maddie was in Montana and she's back! )

     Things here are going really well. I'm just waiting to be shipped out.  My Armenian won't get much better in three (less than 3) weeks.  I just want to get out there and start.

     I pray for you all. Stay safe and know I love you guys!

Yeretz Hammer

Jared then shares his testimony in Armenian and English.  I'm just including the English.  I still can't make out which characters Jared is using in Armenian!  Here's his testimony:

I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it is God's word.  I believe in Jesus Christ and I love him.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

(Jared included a picture of him with what looks like a light saber, with lights and all!  He writes on the back:  "And you thought they were training us to be missionaries!" I guess the world can always use some more Jedi's....or is that Jared-i's?)

Jared's letter to Me (Mom)

HI therrrrr!!!

I have a few more minutes, so I want to say I love you very much and that I hope you're enjoying work. I wish I could be there. I love laughing with you and messing around. You issss my favorite mommmmmmmm everrrr. Anyways. I'm almost done here at the MTC. Only one more short email with MTC restrictions after this one. I can't wait to get out there.

So, hugs and kisses and I'll be sending pictures home soon. LOVE YOU!!!!!
Yeretz Hammer

Letter to the family:
Hey Mom & Dad,

Sorry, this letter might be a bit short, the computer wouldn't let me sign in for a bit so my time got drained a tad.

So, I don't know about the visas, but I don't think they give them to us until our last day. My injury is fine I guess. They just give me pain meds. It's all they can do.

I got the book yesterday!!!! Thanks so much!!! I loved it so much.(We sent Jared a photo book that included pictures of family and friends.  I'm so glad that came in time!)

So a couple cool stories: 

Some Elders are going crazy in here without music. It's funny to see the ways they cling to the small bits of music we hear. For example: There's this one program we use called "TALL" Technology Assisted Language Learning. I hate it. But when you sign out, a choir sings "Talllllllll" for about 3-5 seconds. Some of the Elders here sign in and back out just to hear it over and over.

We also inherited this one tie from the Greek elders which, when you press a button, plays Christmas songs and flashes a red light over a over a design of Rudolph. I'm so sick of "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and "Jingle bells" now.

The zone leadership changed. It went to a companionship in the Greek District. It seems like the leadership in our branch changes from Greeks to Armenians to Greeks etc. because we're here for so darn long.

I taught Sunday School this week. I taught the Atonement which went actually pretty well.

The temple opened up again this week. That was pretty neat. We only get one more time to go before we're gone for two years.

In our branch, we are all told to prepare a 5 minute talk on an assigned subject every week, and on Sunday they pick 2 or 3 names to go up and speak. So this week, we saw one Elder go up very slowly and pause at the pulpit for a few minutes. Then he said "I'm going to be honest with you all, I didn't prepare a talk." Then he went on to say " The assigned topic was the Gift of the Holy Ghost. But today I think I'm going to bear my testimony on Obedience and Procrastination" It was actually quite funny.

I want to share one story I heard this week that I really liked. I think it was told in a conference talk a few years ago.
A farmer once owned a donkey. The donkey one day fell into an old dry well. The farmer heard the donkey and went and saw how he was stuck. The donkey was old and the farmer thought the effort to get him up would be more than it was worth, and the well needed to be filled in anyways. So the farmer decided just to bury the donkey. However, whenever the farmer threw a shovel-full of dirt in the hole, the donkey shook the dirt off and stepped up. Eventually, the hole was filled and the donkey just stepped out.

This is how I feel sometimes. I feel like several shovel-fulls of dirt are thrown on me: like learning the language. Learning the gospel. Getting up on time. Getting my hair cut....But this story was nice to hear. Just throw that shovelful of dirt off and stand up. Turn your trials into something that lifts you up.

On Thursday, Brother Carlson said something pretty cool. He said that we were a "really good group". He also said that he loved the Armenian race very dearly and that he's happy he can trust us with the Armenians.

So not much else is happening here. Just getting ready. We get our travel plans tomorrow, so that should be exciting. I love you all and I'll talk to you more next week!

-Yeretz Hammer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One English District Left!

Sounds like our Elder is starting to realize he's leaving in 2 1/2 weeks! Can't believe how fast his time has flown at the MTC.  Can't wait to talk to him in 2 1/2 weeks!  :)  Here's Jared!

Barev Dzez MTCetz!

The days are really starting to count down. It's crazy to think about. We are some of the "oldest" here at the MTC. Everything has become routine :p. If we were Spanish Elders, then we would be leaving Monday. But alas, our language is nuts.

Funny story: There is a control for the air conditioning in our classroom, but it does absolutely nothing. The air conditioning is always on full blast, for whatever reason. So the way we control it is by putting books on top of the vents where the air comes out. If we feel a little warm we say "hey, can we turn the AC down to about two books?" and if we're cold, then we say "hey, turn the AC up to about six books". Kinda funny. And kinda sketchy. 

The sisters in our district really take care of us. Sister Tolman's grandma always sends baked goods, and always shares. Sister Boyle's dad always sends a candy bar for everyone in the district every Friday. One day, we decided to make flags to put on our name tags to remind us to speak our language. Sister Kholer made those flags for us and had copies made and laminated. Elders would be so lost without sisters. 

For us district who are in here for 12 weeks, we have no sense of normal time. We measure time in terms of "English districts". So for us, as of this week, we have only "one English District" left. 

This week I was dropped by my "investigator" for the first time. It was really hard for me. Apparently, he took something the wrong way and said he didn't feel good and refused to set a time for us to come back. It was really quite discouraging.

Today our district was assigned to clean the temple (it's been closed for about 3 weeks now). They assigned the Sisters in our district to the more delicate task of cleaning the chandalire (spelling...), while the Elders were assigned the glorious task of cleaning the lockers...with Q-tips. That and bear it). Elder Dicus and Maughan were taken away at the beginning to do some special task. When they came back, they told us that they picked up a few scraps of carpet for a few minutes, took a tour of the whole temple, where they say some people in the Celestial room placing some gold sheets on the walls, they toured the security room with all the camera displays, then made cookies for the rest of the time. Sighhh..... I hate Q-tips now.

It was fun though, they gave us these cool white scrubs to wear and we just cleaned for 3 & 1/2 hours. It was kind of weird to see the temple in construction though. The floors were all plastic wrapped as well as all the pictures. Scraps of carpet were everywhere, cleaning materials and hoses were scattered everywhere and lights were turned off in some places. It was definitely strange to see this side of the temple. 

Also at the temple, we worked along side some Russian elders, one of whom was KYLE COLLINSWORTH!!!(Mom's Note: For those of you who don't know Elder Collinsworth (like me!), he played BYU basketball as a guard this year.)   It was so cool seeing him. I was able to talk to him about last season and all that went down in Colorado and New Orleans. It's cool to see that SOME people from the BYU team still go on missions (*cough* Jimmer *cough*).

These new Elders from Greece are really cool. I think there is a permanent bond between the Greek District and the Armenian District. It's so cool to see how close we are. This week we are getting 24 new English elders to replace all those that are leaving. That will be crazy. That's six room of English Elders.

Anyways, just getting ready for leaving in a couple weeks. I sent my suit in for dry cleaning and I'm getting all my stuff ready for packing. I don't know the language, but that's alright. I don't expect to speak decent Armenian until the last few weeks of my mission. I'm doing alright here, just getting by. Taking things one week at a time. I love you all, tell Maddie hi for me. Stay safe! 

Yeretz Hammer

2 Little Letters

Here are two little letters Jared sent to us. The first one was sent to Carl this week in the mail. The other one was sent to me by email.

Hey Dad,

I just wanted to send a quick note to you. We have a new Greek Elder who just came this Tuesday. He's from a teown in Denmark called Odense. His name is Elder Jensen (Jenson?). Anyways, I thought that it would be cool to let you know. I think his name is Elder Niklas Jensen. Anyways, love yah lots!
(Jared writes his name in Armenian and it may as well be in Greek! Can't read it!) :)

Here's my note:

I only have one minute left but HI MOMMMMMM!!!! I LOVEEEEEEEEE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. Thanks for everything this week! I love you and I'll talk to you again next week. Stay safe and have fun!!! :D :D :D

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Last Post Today

I was negligent in getting the other 2 posts up.  So today you get 3 posts.  This last post is the letter he emailed us today.  Enjoy!


     Just so everyone (mom)  knows, I'm going to be fine. I just had a few x-rays done on my back to make sure everything was alright. During volleyball I may have re-injured it a bit, but the doctor said everything for the most part looks alright. He sent the x-rays into the radiologist to make sure, but he says that it only looks like a few of the vertebrae wedged a little. It was a re-injury from this winter break. Mom already knows about it. My assignment will still be the same. 

Anyways, life here as usual is going the same. We got new Greek elders on Tuesday. They're all foreign because Greece is very unfriendly towards the US right now. They all looked a little jet-lagged and shell shocked but I think they're going to be really cool.

    This week I saw Jimmy Grossman. He is a teacher here now helping out the Senior Missionaries learn Spanish I think. It was cool to see him. He's grown up quite a bit after his mission.

     So, I blame the amount of time I've been in the MTC for this next story... So this week I ran out of shampoo which left me with an empty bottle. I thought to myself, it would be quite a waste if I threw this away. So naturally I washed it out and filled it with water. I hid behind my door and waited for Elder Maughan to come out of the shower. When he finally came out, I jumped out and squirted him for a solid 5 seconds as he just stood there, shocked.

Shampoo bottles make great squirt guns. Just make sure whomever you are squirting, doesn't like taking revenge. A few minutes later, Elder Maughan busts out a Dasani water bottle and pours it all over me. I was already dressed at that time...

     The room we use for our Priesthood meetings this Sunday was filled with computers for some reason. So all of the Elders sat in seats with wheels on them (bad idea) and rolled around the room the entire meeting.

     One cool thing that happened: We were preparing to go in and teach our investigator Harach (Brother Stutz), and before hand we said a prayer to have our tounges loosed and that we would be able to comprehend well. Brother Stutz is notorious for fast he speaks Armenian, however when we went in to teach him, I was able to understand almost everything he said and was able to respond in an intelligible manner. It was truly quite amazing. As soon as I got out of the meeting though, my comprehension went down drastically. So I'm confident that even if I don't know the language well, the spirit will help me out when I need it. It was shocking, really, to see the difference.

     Sigh, just over 3 weeks left and I still feel like I'm struggling with the language. I just take confidence in the fact that our teachers are fluent, and they were in the same situation that I'm in right now. So hopefully someday I'll be alright at Armenian.

     Anyways, I love you all. Stay safe and stay happy. Only a little bit longer and I'll be heading out to Armenia. It's such a crazy thought. I got a few letters from my friend at BYU who is currently serving in Ghana. He's already baptized a whole bunch of people and he left two or three weeks after me. Those English speakers..... We have our jokes about them at the MTC. :p

     One Elder came up to me and started speaking Spanish (he couldn't see my tag), then I said, "I don't understand," and he said "Oh you must be an English speaking elder then..."

     Most of the people here are learning Spanish, then the next highest population in English, then a ton of Russians. No one has even heard of Armenian. It's kind of cool to be speaking a language that only a small portion of the world speaks.

Alright, well I'll talk to you next week. Love you!
Yeretz Hammer

Pictures: Jared eats the Provo Temple

Jared must not be getting enough to eat.  He's resorted to trying to eat the Provo Temple.  At least that's what the picture looked like!  Jared sent us a few more pictures on Saturday.  Here they are!
And...I got bored.  Now I'm eating the temple. (Just call him Elder Chuckles!)
Provo Temple from the back. (Jared is not looking so hungry in this picture.  Actually he is looking quite nice with his missionary haircut!)
Left to Right: Eyring's car, Monson's car, Uchdorff's car. This was the only picture I could sneak.  Taken from my window in the stairway in 7m, right next to the main building (1m) and the main entrance. (My sneaky little boy knows he shouldn't be taking pictures when they asked him not to!)
They finally flew the Armenian flag! (Jared has ALWAYS loved flags.  This must have been a happy day for him!)
There it is!  On the left.

Too Darn Hot!

Here's the latest letter that accompanied Jared's pictures on 7/9/11.  Sounds like summer has hit Provo!

Mom, Dad, and Maddie,

     Hi!  :)  How are you?  I hope you're enjoying your summer back there because it's darn hot down here!  I'm always sweating here, especially on Tuesdays and Sundays when I have to wear my suit coat.  It's not as bad as I thought it would be though.

    I didn't get to mention in my email that at that one fireside, I said I gave up personal time and money, doing service and stuff before my mission.  

     Anyways, there have been lots of thunder and lightning storms here. We had a pretty intense one last night.  the strikes were just up the mountain.

     Things have gotten kind of tiring here, but I think I can last a few more weeks. :)  Going on week 7 tomorrow.  Only 4 1/2 weeks left.

     Also, next Wednesday our district gets to clean the Provo temple, so that should be pretty fun.  People who have already been inside say it's weird seeing stuff lying around everywhere with lights turned off in some places.

     Anyways, have a good week!

Մինչեւ հաջորդ անգամ
Until next time,
Elder Hammer
(Editor's [Mom's] note:  I can't read his Armenian, so I just Google translate the message he writes underneath his Armenian.  The Armenian words from Google do not look the same as his Armenian words.  Oh well!  Just know that he is trying to write in Armenian and let him translate when he gets back!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Love Pictures!!!

Jared surprised us on Tuesday by sending us some MORE pictures!  Here's a look at what boy sent and his comments:
Why am I sad?
I have no hair!  (I think he looks adorable!)
Maybe we get a little distracted, in an educational way...Tornado
Notice the dog saying "Wp wp" Arf arf!  (That's what the text looked like in Armenian!)

This is the TRC, where rooms of investigators are simulated.  Nice, huh?
Too bad they put the Armenians in here...
Where we quickly found out...

...they do immunizations.(No cute little smiley faces on THIS picture!)
Good thing it was only for one day.  The TRC was packed. (The look of a very wary boy! We used to have to give him an ice cream cone and a Matchbox car every time he got a shot!)
Who ya gonna to call?  [on our "service" day] ( I didn't even recognize Jared at first!)
Ghost Busters!
I fell asleep.  Hence, the red patch on my forehead!  (Learning Armenian by osmosis, I see.)
This took a while to plan :)  I'm the one in the very back of the group.  [Elders Hall, Seegmiller, Dicus, Nichols, Davidson, Skidmore, Maughan, Majia, Hammer] (If there's a way to goof off/have fun, and not get into too much trouble, this boy will find it!)
There was a tag mix-up after gym :)

Maughan-Key :) (Jared then writes this in Armenian)
Courtesy of Sister Kohler

Again Sister Kohler
If it's in the Bible, it must be true!

Nice picture of a flower at the temple. Tell Grandma & Grandpa Merrick the roses bloomed.  This is for them.  (Love this picture! What a photographer!  What a boy!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fun on the Fourth

 It sounds like Jared is having another great week at the MTC.  4th of July ended up being a lot of fun for him.  He also ended up at the doctor this week, being able to watch the TV for the first time in 6 weeks.  I just hope he ends up being able to go to Armenia on schedule!  Here's Bear!

Hi there!
:p Trust me, I write as long letters as I can over here. It is crazy stressful though. Even though I don't prewrite my letters, I am constantly typing the entire 30 minutes. It's nice to hear you guys are having fun. I wish I could have gone to DCI. I really miss music, especially marching band music, but alas, it's just another sacrifice I'm willing to make.
   Anyways, this week was quite fun. We had a July 4th celebration on July 2nd. There was an amazing fireside put on where we sang a whole bunch of patriotic songs. Then we had a speaker talk to us, who was the President's assistant, and went with him wherever he went. He talked to us about loyalty to our cause, just like our soldiers who fight for freedom. 

    He told one story of a soldier who was involved in a terrorist attack. He was heavily bandaged all over, his entire head was covered except for a hole for the mouth and a hole for the nose. He broke all four of his limbs. The Commandant (sp?), or the 4-star for the Marines came in to visit him and said "Soldier, this is the commandant." The wounded marine reached up, because he couldn't see, and felt the lapel of the 4-star to check for all four stars. Then he pulled the General's ears down to his mouth, and with all his strength, whispered "Semper Fi". He told us we should have this same attitude towards our missionary work. 

    After the speaker, a Scottish Bagpipe corps came out in step playing "Praise to the Man" while someone was at the microphone saying, "Now we will see how the freedom of this country has allowed the church to bless all nations". Then, all in step, there came a slow procession from the back of every flag representing the countries of foreign missionaries here at the MTC. There were about 30 or 40 different flags all carried by a representative from that country. It was really an amazing sight. 

     After this, they allowed us to go outside where we could grab an ice cream bar. Mine was handed to me by President Brown, quite an amazing man [President of the MTC]. I got to shake his hand. After that we were allowed to watch the fireworks which would start at about 10:30. Our district broke off from the rest of the crowd and found a nice place in the back of the MTC (probably the best place) to watch the fireworks from stadium of fire. :) They ordered us not to go to bed until the fireworks were done, which was 11:00 so :D Great day.

     I relapsed this week and got another cold again, but it's starting to clear up again. Everyone else though in my dorm is relapsing as well. 

     On Friday we chose how our names would be spelled in Armenian on our tags. That was cool :)

     One thing I've begun to notice is that Armenian grammar is almost identical to French grammar, but not similar to Spanish grammar or that of any other language. For some reason, the Armenians really like France. Maybe this really was where I was meant to go :) 

    Well, anyways, this week was crazy. I hurt my self during Volleyball a little, but I should be okay. I got to go off campus a little which was really fun! They sent me to the BYU Health clinic, and it was weird because Elder Maughan and I saw this box looking this that had lights and sounds coming out of it. It was telling us the news of the week. I think I've seen it before, sometime in my distant past. [Mom's Note:  I thought Jared wasn't going to tell us when he got hurt!  Hmmmmm.....I wonder how badly he got hurt?  He's at the doctor's office...Okay, so this is why the missionaries shouldn't tell the mamas when they're hurt.  I'm just going to worry notw and there's nothing I can do to help!]

     One thing I've learned this week: Don't give missionaries a whole bunch of peanut M&Ms. We spent all of our free time trying to show people how to make M&Ms hover by using your mouth. We wasted an entire bag of M&Ms, and ate some. :)

      You should have seen everyone's faces when they saw me receive 13 Dear Elders on Thursday (thanks to mom :P ) I was kinda hoping for some new messages though :)

    The language is coming along fine, but I am definitely not ready to leave in 4 weeks and 5 days.

One testimony was given by one of the Greek elders that was very powerful though. He said "I was definitely not ready to go to America and learn Greek, I don't even know English very well (he's Dutch). I'm definitely not ready to bear my testimony in Greek and to serve in Greece, let alone to get up here and testify in English. But look at me, here I am. Not because I'm ready, because I'm not, but because the Lord makes up the rest."

That's how I feel. I'm not ready, but I can be made ready :)

Love you all,
Stay safe,
See you next week,
Write lots!

Quit Hogging the Shelf!

Jared's latest letter included pictures!  That's always a treat.  I will scan and post those pictures soon!  Here's the letter.

Hi Family!

I have NO TIME on that stupid computer.  I'm enclosing pictures in order.

Few more funny stories:
     The first day we got to the MTC, Elder Seegmiller lost his scriptures.  For the past month, he thought his host had taken them.  WE checked lost and found and everything.  For the past month, I noticed that on our toiletries shelf (Maughan's and mine) we didn't have much room.  He took up most of the space because he put his scriptures up there, too.  So finally one day, I was slightly peeved and I said, "I just want to know, Yeretz Maughan, why do you keep your scriptures with your toiletries?"  Then he said, "those aren't mine."  We both looked at Seegmiller, then we realized what happened.  For a month, Seegmiller had been looking at those scriptures while he tied his tie in the mirror and it never registered that they were his!  :)

    We (by the means of us, the Holy Ghost) also got our next investigator to be baptized, actually, both of the ones I'm teaching right now (all in Armenian).  anyways, I love you lots!  That's all! :) 

Ես սիրում եմ քեզ շատ
I love you lots!
մնալ ապահով
Stay safe!
 սեր ավագ կրել
Love, Elder Bear