Monday, November 28, 2011

Elder Hammer & Elder Seegmiller

Hey everybody, this is Monica Painter!
I think its neat to hear what Elders say about each other (because then its probably the truth!) and last night Elder Seegmiller sent me a message about Jared, and Jared sent me a message about Seegmiller! Apparently Jared is a role model and is a lot more humble than we thought! Enjoy!
(And also, Jared sent a photo of him in front of
Khor Virap, as he says. It's attached below!)
Take care Hammers & Friends!

People in the mission tend to know each other's first names, but it's really weird. Sometimes we do have to tell investigators our first names though because our last names are just way too hard for them. :p
Elder Seegmiller and I are pretty close. We've always stuck real near each other in the field and he's just such a great guy (speaking of which, he just walked into our internet place). He's a really cool person too and knows how to mess around.
Elder Hammer

I just got done with a split with Elder Hammer, he is such a stud (as you already know)! It was so good we tore it up! We talked to 57 people in the 3 days we had together which is insane! The standard of excellence for an entire week of talking to people is 60! He is so good at the language and I learned a lot from him on that split! We talked to a lot of good people and hopefully got some good contacts he and Elder Strader can call later. Anyways I gotta bounce, Elder Hammer and I are hopefully going to be playing to basketball today!
Take care,
Elder Seegmiller

A familiar photo of Jared & Ben Seegmiller from last week

OH yeah. Me in front of khor virap :) You can see Turkey from this picture :)

The Potato Cook-Off

Hello again!  I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with friends and family.  Jared will tell you all about his day which, I'm thankful to say, turned out better than his Halloween celebration!  


Fight on USC! I wish I could have seen that game :) Oh, and tell Mr. Sakow hi for me :)

So the language is coming along alright. After Elder Seegmiller and I went on splits, it kind of forced me to speak the language a little more because we were both from the same mtc group. I'm still lost when the fast talkers in church get up to speak, but bit by bit ("kamats-kamats" as they say) I'll get better.

It's funny you mention the trinity, because out of all clashes in doctrine these people have with us, the idea of the trinity is actually one of the least. These people tend to accept for the most part that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost could be three beings. One thing they do have trouble with is the name of God and Jesus. We try to tell them in doesn't really matter, but they continue to insist (because of the references in the Old Testament) that God's name is Jehovah.

So a little about the people I work with. The branch president is a nice guy. He's from a town south of Yerevan called Kharbert. He actually served his mission in California, and now has a wife and a little daughter about 5 years old.

Some people from the office: Sister and Elder Jones are the mission office coordinators and they're way neat people. They're actually scheduled to leave soon, but they really know how to connect with the youth missionaries. They have a few grandchildren at home that were born while they were away and they're excited to go see them soon.

Anyways, this week was pretty interesting with Thanksgiving and everything.

On Monday, we actually went bowling with some other Elders and one of our members. It kinda fun and interesting that we found this place. There's only one in the whole country I'm pretty sure. You find a lot of interesting things in Yerevan though.  We had to wait a little before our reserved time, so we went and checked out the Mosque right next to it. It was way cool to find this mosque in the middle of a thriving Christian country. When we entered the courtyard, the noises and distractions from the outside world just kind of faded away and we were left in this peaceful atmosphere.
Thanksgiving was way awesome. We spent the first part of the day cooking everything and getting ready. After everything was finished, one of the senior missionaries said the prayer and we ate. There was turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (the sisters got some packets of spices imported from the U.S.), gravy (also from the U.S.), rolls (absolutely amazing, made by Sister Watkins, another senior missionary), and then more potatoes, because we had a cook-off. Naturally everyone brought way too many, so now we have enough potatoes to last us until the 2nd coming.

So, in front of the opera house, there's a wide open area. When it snowed the other day, the snow kind of melted and then froze again into ice as the night got colder. Elder Strader and I were walking through there when we realized it was all ice for about a football field size of open space....Naturally, we accidentally spent a few minutes distracting ourselves from the Lord's work. :p It probably wasn't a good idea, but it was kind of fun sliding along for 50 feet at a time

Anyways, despite all the distractions, we were able to get missionary work in :) Right now we're working on this one man who is seriously like the Lamanite king who Ammon taught. If we say something, he accepts it just because we said it. He's such a good man too. He has a bit of a word of wisdom issue, but he's already dropped from 2 packs to half a pack of cigarettes. He will probably be baptized on December 25th :) It's not Christmas day here. Christmas here is on January 6th, and it's actually called Three Kings Day.

Anyways, I love you all! See you next week!

Elder Hammer
Took a picture of me at bowling. One of the other Elders snuck in
Apparently there is a tradition to burn a tie at the one year mark.  Elder Strader just finished his first year.  Jared?  He just finished his first six months!

Any pictures from Thanksgiving?  No.  But we do have 5 pictures of a burning tie.  Hmmm.......

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tie Trouble

Happy Thanksgiving week, everybody!  I'm thankful our favorite missionary is getting the opportunity of a lifetime to serve in this country on the other side of the world. I'm thankful we have friends and family who love him and love us. Jared will tell you about the Thanksgiving he'll have this week! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones this week.


This week, the two Americans we met at church last week (I think I told you about them--I don't think he mentioned them actually) took us out to dinner, or rather we took them and they paid. We were able to show them the traditional foods of the area, and I was actually quite excited to share how much the culture and food here is different. In some ways, the food is similar, but in others the food is completely different. One food that a lot of missionaries like here is called Tolma (people poke fun at Sister Tolman pretty often). It's a kind of spicy meatloaf with veggies and a special sauce all wrapped up in grape or cabbage leaves. It's not my favorite, but others seem to like it a lot. One food that I like here is called Sharma. It's grilled meet cut up into chunks with raw onions (actually kinda good) with cilantro, tomatoes, fried potatoes, cucumbers, ketchup and mayo, all wrapped up in lavash which is a tortilla kind of thing.
Other things though, are not so good. Like Khash, which is made by letting a cow bone stew for three days until all the bone marrow soaks out and you're left with a mush soup kind of thing. It's pretty bad.
 They also enjoy a drink called tahn, which is made from putting mayo, plain yogurt, and milk all together, then putting a ton of salt and pepper into it and letting it cook until it reaches just below boiling temperature. I nearly 'gave back' (that's how it's phrased here) when I first tried it. 

For our zone conference, Elder Schweitzer of the 2nd quorum of the 70s spoke. He's the area president for Europe East. So that was way neat. I was chosen, with three other people from my zone to be personally interviewed by him. It was a pretty neat experience. 

So, yesterday, we walked to church and got inside when I realized, after looking at my shoes, that I had forgotten my tie. I tried zipping up my jacket all the way to cover it up, but not before two of our branch members noticed. Thankfully Elder Seegmiller had an extra tie in his backpack from going on splits with me. It was so close to being pretty embarrassing. One of the other Elders started making fun of me real hard, and then someone pointed out that he didn't have a belt. He looked down and then turned really red. :) He had to borrow a belt from someone else :D

Thursday we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, so I just want to let you all know that I'm thankful for each and every one of you that supports me on my mission :) I'm especially thankful for my family who made me the person I am today :)

Well that's my week! I love you all :)

Elder Hammer
And some parts from my letter:
Hi mom! :)

So a little about the church here. We have about 60-70 members showing up every Sunday which is really good. The branch presidency is awesome and really helps out the missionaries when he can. The members at this branch come from Shengavit and Erebuni because they don't have branches of their own anymore. It's really easy for us in Center because the branch building is actually here.
Investigators are a little keech (short) right now. The work has been kind of hard. But Elder Seegmiller and I were on splits for the last few days and we pounded Center. We got about 60 OYMs (Open your mouths) and a page full (about 20) of potential investigators. It looks like we might be picking up about 5 or 6 of them for real. We have a lot of work to do this week.
Also this week, we are celebrating Thanksgiving as a zone. I'll copy the email our leaders gave to us about it:

Thanksgiving is soon here. We want it to be a wonderful day, a happy day with fellow missionaries, a feast day and most of all a day when you feel the spirit of Thanksgiving. We’d like the Zone Leaders to use this schedule so we are all having the same wonderful Thanksgiving experience together. Plan up with your zone and include senior couples (but don’t dump it all on the Senior Sister, OK?). Each companionship should help with food but get the good stuff and make it a feast. The mission will send an extra 10,000 AMD to the senior Zone Leader to buy a big, juicy Thanksgiving Turkey.

Until 11:00   Normal morning schedule
11-1:00       Meal prep and travel to Zone dinner location
1:00            Thanksgiving Dinner. Gather by Zone
3-5:00         Watch “17 Miracles” DVD provided by mission.
                   This will be the only movie that
                   day.  Please make this the last activity before 
                   you go back to your areas.  It will fill you with a
                   wonderful spirit of Thanksgiving
5:00            Travel home
6:00            Back in area working, full of gratitude and 
                   Thanksgiving and counting your many

So that's what we're doing. It's going to be at the Center branch building, and the Carters (Mission President and his wife) will be attending as well. Sister Carter offered to help us with the chicken (Chicken?  Turkey??) if we provide it. :)

Anyways, Madeleine is such a boss! How is she so amazing? She can really go far with music if she ever decides that path. But yeah, I'm proud of my favorite sis. (Madeleine made a musical group this week and her big brother is proud of her!)

So yeah, I hope you're doing well back home. I pray for you all everyday. I love you lots mom!

Elder Bear

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Khor Virab

Here are some pictures Jared sent on Tuesday.  Sorry it took so long!!! We'll hopefully have another letter in less a couple of hours!

So, today I went to a place called Khor Virab (we switched our pday, that's why I wasn't able to write to many people yesterday). Khor Virab is a sacred cultural site which our mission president allowed us to go to (we usually aren't allowed to go there). Khor Virab (literally translated as "Deep Pit") is where the founder of the Armenian church was kept to die for his beliefs. An old lady kept him alive by sending down food to him every day. Eventually, the King of Armenia at the time had a change of heart (the actual story is longer and weirder) and let him out. The king asked him to convert him and they made the national religion Christian. They have a church there now right next to the hole where he was kept. I included a ton of pictures. It was really neat. We got to go down into the pit which was really quite deep and kinda dangerous to get down :p We had to go down by ladder. Anyways, that was my week :)

Me and Elder Seegmiller in front of the church. It was snowwwing so hard.
Me going down the stairs into the Khor Virab.
See the road behind me? That's the border of Turkey :)
That's Armenia's guard tower.
Our district :) It's the biggest in the mission.
This is the alter where they sacrifice animals.
The church
Me in the pit
The stairs into the hole.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Meek and Lowly in Heart

So this week:

First off, happy birthday, Dad! Whenever I heard people refer to their dad as their "old man",  I never really got that. I always thought my dad was pretty young still and barely even had grey hair. I think it's safe to say now though that dad, you are my old man :p

So a little bit about center. Center is a way busy place filled with tons of people all the time, late in the evening and early in the morning. There's always something cool to do on p-day. There are a lot of monuments here in center, which is way neat. Though we serve in center, sometimes we have to help out the other elders in Erebuni (we go down there every Sunday as well for a combined meal time) and the sisters in Shengavit. To get down there, we ride the subway, which travels from Arabkir all the way down to Shengavit.

One cool monument is the golden wheat statue which is up on the north side of center. There is a cascade of stairs and a fountain down the mountain, and at the top is a tower with a golden leaf on top. Inside the stairs is an elevator that goes all the way up, as well as several art exhibits and concert halls.

Center is also the home of Mair Hayastan (Mother Armenia), which is a giant statue of a woman caring a sword and shield, the protecting mother of Armenia. It used to be a statue of Stalin, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia replaced it with this statue. Around the base are several Soviet era weapons such as tanks and missiles.

From my apartment, you can see the Radio Tower which is always lit up at night and changes colors every few seconds. I think there's some kind of restaurant somewhere inside that tower as well.

At the very middle of Center is Hanrabetakan Hrabarak (Republic Square) which is a giant roundabout. They always deck this out with a giant Christmas tree in the center and the buildings all around with Christmas lights. They make this look the best because the Marriott Hotel, where all the dignitaries stay, is in this square.

Our apartment is way small, I was able to take a picture of the whole apartment from one corner it, but it does have a piano inside it, which is way fun to use during free time.

It also snowed for the first time in center this week. It followed me down from Charentsavan. Thankfully, the apartments above and below us both have water heaters, so they insulate our apartment really well.

I was out mahn gall-ing (wandering around for investigators) this week when we walked past these two people that looked like homeless guys. I was about to just keep on going thinking "They're probably drunk, they'd be hard to meet with too because they probably don't have a home or a family and won't even be here tomorrow" but then a thought came into my mind. I remembered how Jesus walked among the meek and lowly in heart. So I gestured to my companion and we walked over. He was equally as apprehensive. After talking for a few minutes, they both invited us over (we didn't even have to ask them, which is really strange in this country) to their homes and to come teach their families. I was way surprised and humbled by these two people who honestly just wanted to listen. It was scary to think that I almost just passed these two people by, just because of my own personal interests.

Anyways, that was my week. I love you all :D

Elder Hammer

P.S. Sorry the pictures are dark, it was getting late :)  Also, tell everyone my Pday has been moved to tomorrow, that's why I'm not writing anyone else.

This is me and the view from the Golden Wheat Statue.

This is my apartment...all of it. kitchen/bedroom on the left, living room on the right. The bathroom is right next to my arm.

The next few pictures are a sequence that I caught. A cat that lives in a little village outside of Center decided Elder Strader was really warm. So he sought refuge from the cold by climbing all the way up his pants and then his jacket and then sat next to his head :p

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Need of an Attitude Change


It's an interesting thing that there's such a debate about whether or not we're Christian. The argument that we add scripture is completely ridiculous because if that were the case, Catholics would have to say Protestants aren't Christian and Vice-Verse because either the Catholics added the 14 books of the Apocrypha or the Protestants took away 14 books (I think that number is right). The Armenian church has added several books to their Bible as well including some from the Apocrypha and the 3rd epistle to the Corinthians. So that argument is invalid. The truth is though, there doesn't have to be this argument. It all comes down to asking God. Nothing else matters if you receive that answer from God himself through the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true and that Christ's church has once again been restored on earth. It's interesting because we keep telling people, we're not here to convince you. You don't have to take our word for it. We simply are offering you the opportunity to find out for yourself.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on the matter.

As for what Armenians need here. It's true the situation is bad here. There aren't many jobs and money is low. These people need most of the necessities of life, but what they need most is the right attitude. It's something the Soviets took away when they ruled this land and it's something very hard to get back. The Soviets always gave food to the people and always gave work. The people never had to work for food by their own hands. This attitude, more than anything else would help these people. People tell us there's no work, but then we bring in an offer to church for work given to us from someone. Once we brought in a search for two people who were needed to wash cars, but people said it was too cold and not their kind of work. There are plenty of jobs, but people think it's either below them or too difficult. It's sad, because we're starting to see this attitude creeping into America. America is founded on the idea that if you want to make something of yourself, go out and do it. But people see some jobs as below themselves or too much work. Work is work and it was meant to be work.

Anyways, I guess that was a pretty random paragraph. I'll just move on to my week:

We were able to do some service for our branch president this week. He needed a trench dug for a water line he's putting in and wood chopped up. His house isn't finished yet and we're trying to help him our before winter sets in.

A city got opened up for the sisters this transfer. The city of Artashat. It used to be open for Elders but they closed it a little before I got there. It's being reopened now which is way exciting. We had to go down there a couple times so that we could help the sisters get situated.

I'm in Center now and I'm way happy to be here. I love this city and I'm excited to serve all the people here. There are some major renovations going on in
Yerevan which is really great to see this city changing. There are plenty of people here to teach, so I'm excited to get started!

So my week was pretty short, and I have to go soon, but I'll tell more next week about my area.

Love you all!

Elder Hammer

Hi mom!

So about the transfer, it was just a really big transfer that required a whole bunch of changes. Our entire zone plus half the other zone got switched up which was pretty weird. But yeah, I'm in Center now. I'm pretty excited because there's so much in Center. There are so many people which makes me really excited to get out and teach.

There are three new missionaries. Two elders and a sister. The sister is an Armenian from America, which is really cool. They're all up north though so I haven't been able to meet them or see them.
Well, our Halloween get together kinda failed. The zone leaders ended up being busy the whole day, so we were stuck eating this cake we bought with our extra money by ourselves. We didn't have much food, so we ended up just eating hot dogs with ketchup (no buns. They don't exist here) But yeah, that was that day.

Anyways, I'm doing alright here. But, I love you! And I'll talk to you next week :)

Elder Hammer