Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Armenian Hospitals, Elevators, and Drivers--Pictures

The letters are a little late in getting posted because we were waiting for Jared to write a second day.  He'll explain.  In one of my letters to Jared, I asked him how to say a few things in Armenian and he tells me how they're said.  He explains in Carl's letters some of the health issues he's going through right now. We pray for Jared daily and know that he's being watched out for. 

Letters to Mom:::

HI! I'll write you a longer letter tomorrow, but today we have to do only the essentials because we're switching P-day from today to tomorrow because we're going to the genocide memorial tomorrow. But I love you!! And I'll talk to you tomorrow :)

Hey!! Day 2.

So Hello in Armenian is "Barev Dzez" How are you is "Vonce Ehk?"
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is "Heesoos Christosee Verchine OrereeSurperee Yekeyetze"

About my health, things should be alright I guess. I just lost my college pounds. I told my Mission President, so he knows. Don't worry :) Things should be fine.

But anyways, I love you MOM!!! And I can't believe you're 40!!!!! So weird. But hey, we have to get older sometime :p. 
I hope you're doing great back in Los Angeles. You have to tell me soon about how your new devils are. (At least you get little devils to work with right?)
(Jared is asking about my new little kids that I teach.  I AM excited to have a job!) 

Anyways, I love you lots and I'll talk more next week!!

Love Elder Bear

Letter to Dad:::


I have to make this quick this week because we're switching P-day from today to tomorrow so we can visit the genocide memorial tomorrow. So today is just the essentials.

Anyways, about my street I don't really know the cross streets because there aren't really. Just a whole bunch of alley ways and paths with concrete buildings smushed together. I'm sending a picture of a map though so you can get the general idea. 

Anyways, this week was quite interesting.  I've been a bit sick lately with a stomach thing. I guess just getting used to the bacteria in this country and whatnot. But it's interesting, since I've been here, I've lost almost 10 pounds. So I'm back to where I was before college :p But everything for the most part is alright. It hasn't been hindering my work. 

I've been making a habit of waking Elder Lush up when he starts drifting asleep. I'll go up to him and just make some kind of loud noise. The first time I did it, I didn't know he was defensive when he got scared, so he nearly took my head off because he swung his arms out and started kicking. Every time after that, I made an effort of keeping back a little bit. 

The ice cream they make here is absolute heaven. There was a bit of vanilla left over from the last companionship staying here and it was so good. Normally I couldn't eat vanilla plain, but this stuff was so good it didn't need anything. 

We went to the hospital on Thursday to get a physical because the law requires it for someone to get a residency card. So, it was kinda weird how they did things there. The hospital was alright, it was at the nicest hospital in Armenia, but all of their technology was about 20 or 30 years behind. They used an ultrasound to check out my organs (no idea why) and their EKG was really weird. They attached metal clamps to my arms and legs and suction cups to my chest, and then they attached these jumper cables to the clamps and ran a low current through it. It was quite strange. 
They also had to take a blood sample, but I made a point of asking "makoor eh, ice meckuh?" which means is this thing clean? It was :)

People at the hospital always mistook my name for "Hummer". For some reason they really like them here. 

We were walking down our alley one day when we heard a honk. A car was pulling out of a garage with a kid guiding it out. Behind the wheel was someone no older than about 9 or 10, waving mischievously and enthusiastically at us. It kinda made my day.

So, I've discovered elevators hate me. We got stuck in another one today and then the lights went out. So Elder Lush and I stood there for a while in the dark until finally we got the buttons to work.

Anyways, we're teaching this one guy named Sooren. He's the one that his daughter brought us to after asking us to carry a crib. He is so excited about the church. We brought him to a baptism and after, he grabbed some Liahonas and said he wanted to show his grand kids. After he went to church this Sunday he said "I have to bring my grandchildren!" He is so amazing. He's like 80 years old and 4 foot 1 and he's hiking up these hills with us, sometimes going faster in front of us, because he's so excited. 

So the pictures: 
(He gives us all the descriptions you see below the pictures)

Anyways, I gotta go now, but I love you all! See you next week! :)

-Elder Hammer

Pictures from  Monday a.m.

This is a picture of Hyke, his dad, and us at his house.
This is my dish of German Pancakes that I made. Darn good.
This is the inside of a Marshutinee.
That is a marshutinee
Jared's District
We had to stamp our number on and air out all of these pamphlets. It took so long. Bleagh!
This is a map of our area (some of it). The orange dot is our home. The red dot is our church building.
Pictures from Tuesday a.m.
The sports arena in front of the memorial
Mt. Ararat from the memorial
The memorial
These crosses lined the walls in the museum for the memorial
Me in front of the memorial
Me and Elder Lush....He's short.
The pillar represents the Armenian people constantly striving to reach to God in the heavens. It's split in two to represent the Armenians in Turkey and those in Armenia, separated by force. Both still reach to heaven though.
There are twelve of these pillars (tribes of Israel) surrounding an eternal flame in the center.
I thought this was a good photo.
They put flowers all around the flame.

Monday, August 22, 2011

You live where? Pictures

So it seems the boy has a little more time to write emails than he did when he was at the MTC.  He starts off with a quick letter to me for my 40th b'day and then continues on with a letter to Carl.  (We told Jared early on just to write one big letter to Carl because we share!)  Apparently he had more time and wrote a couple more quick emails and includes pictures.

Hey mom!

This will be my last email before your birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! You're the best mom a missionary could have.

I don't know the address. They don't really have them here for the most part. It's just a whole bunch of buildings smushed together. But Malatsia-Sebastia is the right area. If you find the big Armenian chapel between two streets and go directly north, that's my area. I'm to the east of a couple of schools. I think the buildings look square like. (Okay, I know he's trying his best to give good directions, and possibly these ARE the best directions.  But telling us that he lives near a chapel in Armenia is like telling someone in this area that they live near the beach, near the life guard tower! Help us out, Jared!)

I'll be in Malatsia for 12 weeks because I'm training, but normally transfers are every 6 weeks. 

Anyways, I'll say more in the letter to dad, but I LOVE YOU!!! And just know things are going well here! :)


Yeretz Hammer

Now his main letter:


Another week :)

So in response:

They've actually discontinued the English classes, but someone on the street stopped us and told us she had gone to those classes and she was sad they stopped doing them. (Missionaries used to help teach English classes to the people in the area.)

As  for talking with people, I'm not really shy. Since they all speak in a different language, If they end up insulting me, I won't know what they're saying! So I don't really care :)

But yeah, an amazing thing happened on Sunday. They took the two Districts in Armenia and combined them into one preparatory district which functions the same way as a stake. They said if they tried hard, they could get a Stake in about a year. This is a huge step forward in getting a temple in Armenia. 

We visited one of our investigators who lives south of us a little. He was way nice and brought out borshe for us which is this soup like thing with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, and a meat like thing. He also brought out bread. When we finished, they brought out cucumbers and tomatoes, then they brought out some apricots, then watermelon, then a sausage like things, then more tomatoes. Finally we just had to say. we're good!! Thank you so much! Way tooooo much food that day (we had already had dinner). It was funny listening to him though, because he said that he was so thankful for all the food he had, and the beautiful family he had that he could spend time with outside on this beautiful day. Here I was complaining that it was way too hot here, the water was dirty, and our apartment looked like it would crumble any day, and this man comes along and thanks God for every blessing he has in his life. It definitely put things in perspective. 

Anyways, also this week, I made some french toast in the morning. We both sat down to eat it and I was enjoying my plate when all of a sudden I hear this scuffle from Elder Lush's side of the table. I look over and he's just sitting there with syrup all the way down his white shirt, tie, and pants, with a little bit of toast on his lap. It took me a while to regain my composure. 

We found quite a few people on the street this week. Our schedule will be loaded up for this next week with potential investigators. That should be quite interesting. We've had to restart this area because the last companionship left the area pretty barren. But that should be quite an experience getting this place going again.

We had a really good feeling about mahn galling (wandering around) this one part of our area. When we got there, we wandered around until we got to this one place in the road. We stood there for a second and looked at each other. We both told each other that we had no idea where to go next. We both weren't getting good feelings about going in any direction. We decided to turn back, but we again got the impression that it was wrong. So we stood there for a few minutes, and then this one old man came up to us and asked us all about who we were. Then he invited us to come over and sit were a whole bunch of his friends were sitting. We got quite a few potential investigators out of that. 

So anyways, have a good week and I'll see you soon. I would have sent pictures but there was an error on my computer and the entire computer is in Russian. I can read it for the most part, but I don't know what I'm saying. So I'll try another computer next week.
Anyways, Love you all!!!! BYE!

Elder Hammer

P.S. Get better, Dad. And remember, concrete doesn't taste as good as it looks... :p (Carl flipped over the handle bars while bike riding this week.  He....ate concrete!  He's much better now.  Jared's comment made me laugh!)

So that was my week.

This message was sent a little while later with his extra computer time.

Also, one more cool thing we saw. As we were walking, we saw a huge gathering with people cheering. An Armenian band with all these cool instruments were playing. In the crowd, there were people waving these gift baskets over their head while dancing. In the center were a man dressed in a tux and a lady dressed in a wedding gown. Apparently it was an Armenian wedding, which is probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Anyways, Love you, bye!

Still had a little more time, and thank goodness because he included pictures!!!  His notes on the pictures follow.

Okay, these are my pictures, figured it out at the last minute.
1. Me :) There was an ironing board there, but it looks cool cause you cant see it (MTC). 2.Our district right before we left. 3. A cool missile at Meire Haiastan. 4. We had a lot of groceries, so we "borrowed" the shopping cart. We asked first don't worry :) (and they said it was okay) 5. These are what the coins look like. 6. We found this in the fields on the way to Hoket emberian. Apparently it's owned by the Chinese and run by the French. 7. Hayk wanted his picture taken with this. They apparently really like their pictures taken(A completely foreign concept for Jared). 8. This is me catching Elder Lush during one of his calls :p Hayk tried to jump in at the last moment. :) Anyways, ta-da :) It may or may not work.

Love, Jared

Thanks for sharing the next couple of pictures, Monica. We love any pictures we can get of the boy!

Jared at home (I think!)
The church across the street from the ward building. They sing and make music all throughout Sundays.
Jared in the cookie-cutter concrete suburbs!

Here is a link to a picture and article about the marshutnis that Jared mentioned in his letter last week. You know, the Armenian taxis that are designed for 10 and shove 20 in? Click HERE!

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Days in Armenia--A Letter and Pictures

Hello from Armenia!

This has to be the craziest place I've been in my life. It is really, an entirely different world. 

Our flight was laid over in Chicago, but we ran (in less that 5 minutes) to our next flight in Germany, and just barely made the flight. They were calling our names over the intercom as we were passing through customs. But everything else was great.

We spent the first few days in the mission presidents house, which was nice, to start to get used to Armenia. But then on Thursday, we met our companions and moved in.

I've learned, work is really a blessing. A lot of people in this country don't have it. Most in fact. 

Anyways, my companion is really cool. Elder Lush is hilarious and he's awesome to have as a mentor. I'm really glad. He's from Texas, but his family moved to Virginia while he was on his mission.  

The first week was nuts. We went out to a small suburb of Yerevan to teach this one lady, Sussana and her daughter Alah. They are both just about ready for baptism. Their interview will be this Saturday. Anyways, the city is the same one in the second picture I sent you. She and her daughter are so ready. Their faith is immovable, even when it comes to tithing. She works 2 jobs,... and she is more than willing, and happy to obey the law of tithing. It is really something else. 

About our area, we both got white washed into a suburb of Armenia called Malatsia (couldn't find that on Google maps but perhaps its Malatis-Sebastia which is on the map). It's very interesting, but quite nice. You can see soviet influence everywhere. Concrete buildings (in a cookie cutter pattern) line most of the streets around where I live. We live only about a half mile from the branch building.

We have a nice branch of about 20 people. They all seem really dedicated and faithful. 

My district is small. It includes the two zone leaders, and two sisters (one of which is Sister Tolman), both companionships work in Ajapniac, a town just north of us.

The language is insane, I catch about 10-20 % most of the time. Which everyone says is good....They say I won't hold a conversation until about 5 months in. sighhhh... oh well.

Our apartment is in a giant concrete living building, pretty run down, but that's cool. It's so exciting living here, where it really is a different world. We had to clean out the fridge from the last Elders living here. NAsty. The pineapple was black. bleaghhh. But besides that, I included a picture.

My favorite food would have to be something called a Sharma, which is meat and veggies wrapped in a tortilla like thing and a sauce poured inside. The food is....different. And very salty. We work with this one member named Hyke. He's so enthusiastic about the church and always goes out to help the missionaries teach (he's 19) He'll be getting the Melchizedek priesthood soon and we'll all happy for him. But one day we went to his house and he served us this thing called Pilaf, and it was packed with salt, but oh well :) We cook most of the time, stuff like pilaf (less saltier), grilled cheese, pancakes, etc. We eat well.

The shopping market is actually not too bad. It was funny, I was looking in it and I was like, ehhh it's alright. And Elder Lush was practically crying. He was like "they have sliced bread!" and then we found the chocolate milk and he was like "this is the best thing since the sliced bread" He also freaked out about the running water in our apartment. Apparently most other places don't have that. They only get it for an hour in the morning. 

We ride marshutinees everywhere, which are like vans with more separate seating. They hold about 10 people but they usually stuff around 20 in there. It is amazing.

The weather is hot. Bleagh, without air conditioning. But It's starting to cool down, so that's good.

I do play piano for my branch. That's pretty nice. They were actually praying for someone who could play the piano, and now Elder Lush and I both play.

Anyways, I gotta run. We have to go shopping and I still need to write the branch president. But I love you all and know I'm doing great! 

Love, Elder Hammer

Our last day as a district
Us at the airport drinking Jamba Juice for the first time in 3 months and the last time for 2 years
This is called Mayer Hayastan (Mother Armenia) Built just after they tore down the statue of Stalin.
Typical view outside of Yerevan
This is our apartment.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pictures I Almost Missed!

If it wasn't for Carl, I would have missed the following 4 pictures. (In my defense, it was 2:10 a.m. when I was checking them, right before heading off to work!)  They were attached to a very nice email from Jared's mission president.

In the email, the mission president mentioned that they had sons who had served missions and  knew how they had liked hearing about their safe arrival in their missions.  Apparently BOTH President and Sister Carter met our missionaries at the airport, not just President Carter.  (Nothing like a momma meeting you at the airport!)  They then detail their first day which included a little sleep, a meal together as a group, and an interview with each of the missionaries by the mission president.  They then were given an orientation to the mission.  After that the new missionaries introduced themselves to the group.  Here I quote: "We tell them about the strengths of their new companion, who then comes up and greets them with a hug and tells them about their first area and branch."  (It's nice to know that they already have a big brother of sorts--or at least an older brother!)  There is a testimony meeting and then they are taken to their new homes!  President Carter mentioned that both he and Sister Carter had been missionaries in Ukraine. They also mentioned how much they love these missionaries.  Another quote: "This will be one of life's grandest experiences and a time of dedicated service that will bring great spiritual growth. Thank you for sending us your missionary. We'll love them, we'll care for them, we'll pray about them and we'll give them hugs every chance we get."No offense to all of the rest of the missions in the world, but it sounds like Jared has been sent to the best mission in the world!

Here are the pictures:

Yerevan Airport-Jared's the second to the left in the back  (Funny billboard in the background!)

Group picture in Yerevan mission home with all of the new and experienced missionaries and the mission president and his wife. (Jared is 6th from the left)

Mealtime at the Mission Home (I didn't even recognize Jared in this picture for awhile--Again 2nd from the left)

I think this is their Holocaust Memorial  (Jared's the one in the back hugging his 4 buddies from the MTC)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elder Lush and the Carters--Pictures

 It's always so fun to get personal emails.  It's even more fun to get emails with photos!  If you're boy is included, it's just icing on the cake!!!  This morning we got a short email from the mission secretary, Sister Jones, that included pictures of our boy with his mission president and his wife, President and Sister Carter.  There's also a picture of Jared's first missionary companion in Armenia, Elder Lush.  I love pictures!!! (Jared's looking kind of tall here, huh?)
Sister Carter, Jared, President Carter
Elder Lush and Elder Hammer

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Batch of Pictures...Again

I deleted Jared's first batch of pictures on accident.  So I'm posting them again. Here they are.
I hate this picture!(I personally think he looks fantastic!)
So I took another
It was sunny!(Hence, the squinty eyes.)
1st day before I got my tag.(He was quite excited about that tag!)

Mom told me to take a picture of this.  (This was the last phone call he made to me right before he entered the MTC.  I was a blubbering mess!)
Me, Maughan, Boyle, Tolman, Kohler, Skidmore (Georgia), dicus, Seegmiller, Mejia (Georgia), Davidson (Latvia-new guy)
Me, Maughan, Skidmore, Mejia, Brandenburg, Dicus, Seegmiller, Boyle Tolman, Kohler
Our extended district
The Armenian Sisters
Apparently its popular to write missionaries messages with chalk.
Notice the trail of missionaries
Me and the original (1st) missionary
Looks normal?....Look up!
My wall :)
Surprised? :)
Elder Seegmiller and Elder Dicus
The Armenian Monkeys...If you rub their tummies, you are granted the gift of tongues in Armenian.
My Classroom
My Classroom
My Language
My Language
Pretty crazy, huh?

Mormoni Geerkuh

Crazy, huh?
Me in the Cafeteria
I do it now.  ---"The Elders"  (Carl's companion used to write thank you notes to people helping in the cafeteria or restaurants)
When Elders get bored at breakfast.....
Elder Maughan
Me & Maughan
Our first day out to the temple.  Freedom!  Sorta...
Me getting frustrated at my language.

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