Monday, September 26, 2011

The Little Tatik--Pictures


I would say "It was a crazy week this week!" But it seems that's how it is every week :p

So in response, General Conference happens here a week later. It has to go through translation and copying so that they can send English and Armenian recordings to us. But it does happen, we have to go down to the church building to watch it though.

We do get the church magazines, every week, in both languages. It's actually quite interesting. But it's hard to find time to read them though. So half the time I just look at the pictures :p

We're actually going to do service this week. A less-active and his non member mom want us to come over and paint their walls. They haven't had the time because the less-active is a security guard and works all the time. 

Spiritual moment(s)

So we had just finished up a really good tracting hour when Elder Lush got the impression we should visit this one less active with the non member mom. We rushed up to their house so we could be back home on time and we got there fairly quickly. It was dark and they don't really have too many street lights so it was a miracle I noticed the right number of the building written on it. We went up one floor and I thought the number of the apartment was too high to be on this floor so I almost went up further, but I thought we should stay. The hallway was pitch black, so we wouldn't be able to read the numbers of the apartments written on the wall in pen (if they were there at all) We got to this one door and Elder Lush just said, "I'm going to try feeling the door" (You have to realize, hardly anyone here has numbers on their door, let alone the metal ones that stick out) By chance, the number was there and it was the right apartment. We tried knocking on the door but no one answered. We were about to leave when the mother came up the stairs and saw us. She was really happy to see us, and later told us that she had been thinking of us that day and was hoping we would come over. 

Later as we were walking back home (actually running, we were almost late) this little Tatik (grandma) said hi to us as she was crossing the street. We were about to go on, but we decided to stop and talk to her. We saw she was carrying so much stuff on her back that it looked like she was carrying a small teenager on her back. So we offered to carry her stuff back to her home for her. We did, and she told us along the way that she went to the "Mormons" quite a bit a while ago and she was baptized into the church. She used to go to the branch in Center, but it was too far away to go all the time. She lives in our area so we told her that there was branch in Malatsia now. By some clerical mix-up, she was not on our roster listed at all. It was a miracle we found her. She led us back to her house, where two other friends of hers (non-members)  also lived. She and her friends wanted us to come back later. :)

(This doesn't have to go on the blog unless you want. I don't care. Mom can look if she wants :P ) 
So a little bit on the different side. This one guy called us over and asked about us. We started talking to him about our religion and he asked a few good questions. Then suddenly he said "If I ever see you on the streets doing anything, I will pull a knife on you and stab you myself" So being startled and somewhat amused, we asked "Well would you like to learn more about our message?" And then he just said "Get out of my face" So that was fun. We still don't know where that all came from. 

There was lightning storm this week. It hit Malatsia really hard. I was sitting at my desk when I saw a strike and heard the bolt at the same time hit the building about a football field away. Then a few seconds later the entire window went white and everything in the apartment shuddered and an ear-splitting crack filled the room. Our apartment had been hit by a strike :) Pretty fun. Then about 20 seconds later the same exact thing happened again except to the building about 5 feet from ours. Elder Lush missed the whole thing [restroom] :p He was quite disappointed. 

Anyways, those are my stories for this week. I love you all and I'll see you next week! :)
Elder Hammer
Hey Mom!

So things are going good here. Little tough, but we'll get over that. 
I love the titles you put on the blog :p It's so good. I can't wait to see it finished when I get home. I wish I could look at it here to see what it looks like.
About your foot. Be careful with it. I've learned it's better just to rest with it until it's better rather than just push it. You put yourself longer out of commission later on if you push things now.

So my stomach is fine but my back has been giving me a bit of trouble. Things have been getting worse here so we'll see how it goes. Sister Carter knows and has been giving me advice, but it doesn't seem like it's working, so we'll see how it goes. 

Anyways, I hope you're doing great back in Santa Monica. How I miss that weather there :p Things can get pretty hot here. 

I love you! And I'll see you next week.

Love you!


Elder Lush caught off guard but pulled it off well
One of our members stole Elder Lush's backpack and refused to give it back until we gave him a Bible :p He's been pushing us for one for a while. It was funny seeing this old man just put on the backpack and start hobbling around. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bunny Ears are Universal--Pictures

Short but sweet this week.  Hopefully this means he's plenty busy!
So our branch has finally taken a turn for the better. We had 26 people come this Sunday and we're looking at possibly 37 people for next week. If that happens, we'll have the highest activation rate of any branch in Armenia, nearing about 50% activity. So we're way excited. 

We have both great experiences here and not so great experiences. Some of my favorite things people said to us this week:

Us: "Hello" (to a random man)
Random Man "You should not say anything"

Elder Lush: "Excuse me, I have a question"
Man: "If it's a question about religion, I don't want to hear it,"
Elder Lush: "I just wanted to know if this trail leads through to the street"

Boy on the street: "Are you the Mormons"
Us: "That's our nickname"
Boy starts throwing grapes at us.

Good experiences too though. This one man walked into our church on Sunday during the 3rd hour. He left about 20 minutes later before we could even talk to him. He looked like he could have been way interested though. The very next day, we were walking in a random neighborhood and we paused at this one intersection of alleyways. We both looked down this one alleyway, and felt we should go down it. After we walked a few minutes, we were stopped by a few old men. They didn't have much to say, so we were about to keep on going, but we ran into that one same guy who walked into our church. He was walking back from the store at this time (normally he was never out at this time, but it happened to be an Armenian holiday) and we had stopped right in front of his home. He was way interested and we picked him up as an investigator.

But anyways, On Tuesday, I saw the president of Armenia. Elder Lush was doing a medical check with his group to renew his visa and I was out on the streets with another missionary. As we were coming back by Marshutine, two cops stopped traffic in all directions (our marshutine was in the front of traffic). I realized we had stopped right in front of the presidential palace. Then four cop cars came out, along with about 10 black vans, followed by four more police cars. It was way interesting.

So that's my week :) I love you all. Stay healthy and happy!

Elder Hammer
A good sunset in Armavir (hoktemberian)
The Branch President's Family
 It's funny to see that Bunny Ears are the same all over the world!

So, yes I did get my stuff back from the kids :p It was just kinda funny. They're great kids. We wanted to teach their family, and they want to be taught, they just live too far away. They live over by the lake on the Azerbajan boarder. We're not allowed to go there :p

So Maddie likes my iPod eh? Does she delete apps too? :p I figure I'm just going to have to start new when I get back anyways :) 

Anyways, good luck with your devils. :) Trust me, they could be worse. One little kid asked us this week "Hey, you Mormons?" We said yes, and then he started throwing grapes at us.... 
So it looks like kids are the same all over the world :p

It looks like Alah's new baptism date is October 1st so hopefully that will work out :) We're working hard to get her to church and stuff, but she lives way far away. 

Anyways, I love you lots mom. Elder Lush has the MoTab singing I Often Go Walking on his ipod, and I always think of you whenever it comes on :)

Elder Bear
(pico pico)  (Inside joke with me, Jared, and the Leishman's!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors...Armenian Style--Pictures

 Letter to Dad,


So in response,
They don't have Internet cafes here, but they do have these computer houses where people have bought quite a few computers and they let people use them for a small charge per minute. That's how I communicate every week. I'm luck because we have one right next to our closest grocery store. 

Everyone here has cell phones, so they give some to the missionaries to make things more efficient. We don't pay for cell phone bills, the church does. But it's kind of funny, one thing that these people do is call you, and then once you pick up, they hang up. Then you have to call them back. What this does is make the charge for the phone call go from their bill to yours. We don't mind because we figure the people don't really have money and the church will pay for it anyways (phone charges are usually dirt cheep here). It just kinda funny when the phone rings and Elder Lush will pick it up and be like "allooohhhhhkay you're so Armenian"

So no service projects yet. We have a really small branch (16 people came yesterday. That includes us) so we've been working hard recently to just build that up first. 

As far as snail mail, the only one I've received is from Monica. It took almost 4 weeks to get here. But yeah, we have to pick all our mail up the next time we're at the mission office. It's fine for us because the office is so close and it's where we have our District meetings every week.

We just had a Zone Conference, I think those happen every 3 months. All I know is the next one is before my birthday. But we haven't had any splits yet. Things have been kinda crazy because the AP's got switched around with our Zone Leaders and the Zone Leaders of another zone. But hopefully soon. 

 So as far as this weeks goes, it was way crazy. 
There was a riot in Yerevan, down in Center on Friday and they shut down all public transportation coming into the city as well as all the major gas stations. We didn't realize this until we were already on the way out (we had to share a taxi with someone else) going to Susanna's house. On our way out we saw two buses and four transport trucks full of troops (about 200) as well as armed vehicles and a pressure hose truck owned by the police. We were stuck in Hocktemberian for a bit because of the lock down in Yerevan. We eventually got back by taxi. It was interesting trying to get one though. 

While we were at Susanna and Alah's house, Alah's sister and nephews were over and one of the nephews (about 8 or 9 years old) took an interest in me. He came over and wanted to play rock paper scissors with me while the others filled out the forms for baptism. So he gave me 20 pencils and he had 20 pencils of his own. Every time I won a round he gave me a pencil, and vice verse. So near the end, I ran out of pencils but he was still going on. (I am awful at Rock Paper Scissors apparently) So when I lost again, he gestured to my chest and gave a "give it up sign". I was like "what? my tag?" and he nodded. So I gave up my tag, and as the game went on I lost my watch, planner, nice pen, my ordinance cards dad gave me, and my articles of faith card. It's a good thing we left soon after or else I would have lost my wallet as well. :p

About Susanna and Alah, Susanna got baptized, but Alah freaked out at the last minute when we were picking out their baptism clothes. She started crying and said she didn't want to. So we're going to have to work with her a little bit more. But Susanna is now confirmed a member of the church :) Elder Lush said that was the first time he didn't meet his weekly goal for baptisms and confirmations :p

Funny story: This one dog yesterday followed us all the way from our home to the church. He just seemed to like us. He was real friendly and just always kept a few steps behind us. Now if we could only get people to do that too....

Also funny, but only if you choose it to be: We were at the store and this one lady asked if "we were fanatics". We were confused at first so we said "in other words?" and she said "what cult are you from" And we said "Our faith is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" and she spat at us before we even finished. So we said "we teach about Jesus Christ" Then she started yelling (in line at the grocery store) "You do not teach about Jesus! You should let us Armenians teach YOU about Jesus!" She then turned to everyone staring and said "Am I not right?!" Then she took her wine and other groceries and left. :p We thought it was hilarious. 

So we were just walking around trying to get people to ask us who we were when Elder Lush said "I think we should stop for a second." So we waited while he got a drink of water from his water bottle, and a few seconds later this guy came up to us and said "Hi Elders!" We were surprised someone know who we were so we turned around. This one guy apparently knew Brother White who was my teacher in the MTC and we ended up planning to meet with him to teach him. He had already read most of the Book of Mormon and wanted to follow us to church sometime. It was quite a neat experience. 
That day was awesome because the Armenian Air Force was doing exercises over Malatsia, low and fast, which was way awesome. 

Anyways, that was my week. I love you all and I'll see you next week!

Elder Jared Hammer


A cool flower I found while Elder Lush was making a call
Elder Lush asleep
Elder Lush and I took a wrong turn and ended up having to slide down into a garbage dump to get back on the road. It was actually way fun, but also way gross.
Susanna is the short elderly lady in the center. The rest of her family is around her. The branch president is the one my arm is on.
 Eeeeeevaaaaaaaa. Apparently they like this movie here. (Wall-E)
P.S. Dad, do you think you could scan me that one piece I know by Chopin. I think it's on page 21 or something like that. Sometimes while we're waiting for people to show up for meetings at the church, we have a little time on the piano. 

Letter to Mom


The baptism was interesting. I'll tell about it in the blog, but Sussana got baptized. Alah got scared at the very last minute, started crying and said she didn't want to. So we're going to work on that. :/ It was kind of weird actually. I haven't heard of too many people walking away at the waters of baptism. 

The weather :p it's still hot, but that's okay. I have faith it will get better. 

It's funny thought how attached I've become to this country from being here just a month. It's wayyyy run down, but the people are amazing. We went to the home of this one family called the Buds. The father is a member who works in the embassy here and he brought his wife and 4 kids with him. They invited us over for dinner last night and their house is pretty nuts. It was in a private community of very nice houses (probably would be considered middle class in America but their mansions here). It was fun and all, but it just didn't seem like Armenia. It was like little America. I was shocked to find myself wanting to return and go teach people again. I even felt quite at home walking back up the concrete steps (which are crumbling and usually have holes in them which allows you to see 9 floors down) and walking past the holes in the wall with wires coming out. It seems like a mess, but that is half the adventure. I felt out of place in that nice community. I'm glad that the church has us live among the people instead of in nice homes. 

But yeah, that's my story here. 
I actually had a dream about you. I had a dream that I got to come home for Christmas and you came to hug me but I was like "whoahhhhh. I haven't been released yet" :p It was kinda funny. (Love that boy!  Wish I could hug him, too!  I'd rather have him in Armenia right now, though! :)

Anyways, have fun teaching, and remember when things get hard, it's still a job. It's weird here if someone says they have a job. Most people we meet don't. The others drive a taxi or clean up garbage. But hey, that's why we're here :) The church can really help people find jobs and stuff and make right decisions in life so that the Lord will bless you.

Anyways, I love you lots!!!!
See you next week :)

Elder Jared 

Monday, September 5, 2011

It Can't be True if There's No Microphone!

 I love waking up to mail in the inbox on Mondays!  He writes Mondays around 1:30 P.M. Armenian time.  So by the time we wake up over here on Mondays (12 hours behind), we already have a letter from our boy!  Here are his latest letters home.

Letter to Dad and the family/friends:


I remembered my journal today so I should have some pretty good stories, and sometimes photos to go along with the movies.

So first off, Alah and Sussana passed their interviews! So they will be baptized this Saturday. We're all so excited. 

But anyways, something for dad. I showed someone my pictures of my family and they asked if dad was Chinese. :p I thought that was funny because everyone always says that, even all the way across the world.(Carl has been asked on many occasions if he is Asian, so it's funny that even in Armenia they are asking the same questions! Actually he has Swiss/English/Scottish/Irish/French/Italian/Jersey Isles ancestry. Carl likes to say he's a mutt! Carl's words, not mine!)
Scary story: We were walking by this one man when he called us over. He looked like he had a smug grin on. So we came over and saw he was talking to a policeman. Soooo we tread very lightly seeing as proselyting is illegal here. So the guy thought he was getting us in trouble by calling us over. The policeman asked us what we were doing here, and we were like "we're just on our way to an appointment". At this point another policeman came over too. But then the original policeman said "No, not right now but in general" Then we told him a bit about what we do and teach. They just seemed like nice curious policemen. Needless to say, though, we didn't invite an invitation for us to come over. When we left, the original guy who called us over looked a little disappointed. :p

Our one old friend with the daughter who had us carry the crib is taking a little turn for the south. We thought he was so excited for everything, but now he's [upset] because our church doesn't have a microphone. We came over one day and he just told us that everyone is just praying and talking to themselves and that the Book of Mormon was a lie. We said "Have you read it?" and he said "No" So we said "How do you know it's a lie?" and he said "Oh. I guess I'll read it" Problem solved. Hopefully he gets over the microphone shenanigans.

So when we were driving back from Sussana and Alah's house, there was a massive thunder and lightning storm, which is still going on kinda. The taxi driver had his window down which wasn't too bad because we were going so fast it didn't make a difference with the rain....don't ask how fast. But at one point we passed by a lake in the road and another car came by and splashed everything inside our taxi. Everyone was soaked, and I got a face full of water. Fun...It was a hot day anyways I guess.

School started here in Armenia too. The Elementary/Middle school thing is right across from our apartment. They had some huge production and show in front of the school before everyone came in. It was kind of interesting seeing everything they did. Though after about 2 hours of it, we just wanted them to get inside and start learmin'. We were trying to plan for our week while they were making all that noise.

Something that I really like is that the Russian Air Force does training over Yerevan every morning. There are typically four MiGs in the air and one time they flew right over our apartment building. So awesome :) (Can't tell he was accepted to the Air Force Academy once upon a time, can you???)

Funny story:
So one morning I went to grab a bowl in the cupboard and the door to it just came right off. I swear I didn't do anything. It's just the cheap Russian wood glue they used to put it on. I showed Elder Lush and he was a little shocked, and said we'd fix it sometime with some sort of glue. So while he was in the shower, I was going to play a joke on him and say "Hey, the landlord called and said he's coming over in 5 minutes." But then the phone rang. It WAS the landlord saying he was coming over in 5 minutes. So we kind of rushed to force the door in place and kind of used some crazy setup inside of the cupboard to keep it up. The landlord came over to do a maintenance inspection and checked every one of the cupboard doors...except the one we broke. We were so thankful that he passed right over it. He just fixed a couple of drawers and the window that was already broken and left. 

Anyways, I love you all and I'll see you next week!

*cough* well...that was my bad. (See picture of Jared and the cupboard)

They have these huge ducks here that just roam the street

Elder Hammer

Letter to Mom (He's answering a bunch of questions I asked him earlier.)

Hey there!

Great pictures :) Except it looks like I died with Maddie holding up my picture :p
[Editor's Note: We sent Jared a couple of pictures this week.  Here was one of them.  We have a tradition of first day of school pictures with the two of them.  So since Jared wasn't here, we used his picture instead.  It's  kind of what we used to do at Christmas time when we would take our traditional "Kids lined up on the stairs" picture. When my brothers were on their missions and they couldn't be there, we would just take their picture from the wall and set it by us. I guess this picture does look a little morose!]

I hope school is going well. School started here in Armenia too. I thought of you when I saw it.

My building has about ten floors, but I'm on the third, thank goodness. That would be a lot of stairs, and I have bad experiences with elevators here.

The ice cream here may be good, but nothing beats good old custom made homemade ice cream. :)

It's not the same Susanna, that Susanna was a youth baptism, but Susanna and Alah are getting baptized on Saturday! :D

But yeah, I hope things are going well back home. I'm safe and healthy here, so don't worry about me :) We always talk about family with our investigators and it's nice knowing I have a family that I can be with forever that supports me in my life. I'm especially thankful that I have a Mom as cool as you. Elder Lush and I talked about my family, and I talked about how we should have been brother-sister instead of Mom and son. But I think everything ended up working out ;)

Well, I miss you a ton Mom and stay safe back home. :D I love you!

Elder Bear
(Have I mentioned lately what a lucky mama I am? Love my bear!)