Monday, January 30, 2012


Hi everyone!

We received an email from Jared this morning that said this week he is switching his P-Day to Tuesday.  So if he hasn't written to you, wait a day.

Take care!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away


So this week was definitely one to write home to speak :)

If I were to title this, I would call it, The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away

Now to explain:

Elder Peterson and I were pretty down after not having any investigators for a really long time. Our one that we had, Violet, promptly dropped us once Elder Peterson got here because, 'she had no time'.

After struggling for a while, we resigned ourselves to walking on the streets until we got investigators, either from walking, or from the members we were meeting with. One night, we were walking along and I decided to take the attitude of not worrying about the numbers. I changed my mindset and honestly just wanted to bring these people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The results were pretty amazing. We left all our pamphlets with people (6) and gave both of our Book of Mormons away. It was getting late and I was anxious to get inside after a long day's hard work, when one kid, Vahe, about 19, stopped us on the street. He started asking the typical questions, and then went on to ask us if we had girls over at our place (he asked more than that but we'll keep this PG). Eventually we wiggled our way out of that one and left the last piece of church material we had with us with him, one Articles of Faith card with our names and number on it.

That night we got a call about 10:45. We let it go because it was late. The next morning, though, we called back and it was a man named Gor. He said he got our number from the streets, but neither of us remembered a Gor. But he said he wanted to meet, so we got his address and set up an appointment. When we went over to his house, both he and his wife listened intently. Then, Gor suddenly got up and said he wanted his relatives to hear what we had to say. So he left and brought back two men. One was his wife's sister's husband, and the other was Vahe! Apparently Vahe had given the card to his sister (Gor's wife) and she had given it to him. We extended baptismal invitations to all of them and they were way excited and said they'd be ready by the date we set. They even said next meeting they would bring over 3 or 4 other members of their family who wanted to listen. That night, Gor's brother called us and said he wanted to meet with us (separate from the 3 or 4 others who were going to come)

So we set appointments for all of them on one day, in the evening and morning. We called the day of to confirm the appointments and Gor said he had been wanting to call us. He then said he was moving to Russia for work...that day.

So we lost all of them. We tried calling back later to see if we could meet one more time, but he busied us every time. We then called his brother to see if he could meet. The conversation goes as such:

us: Hello
him: Hey
Us: This is the Elders, we wanted to know if you could still meet
Him: Who is this?
us: The Elders
Him: You dialed the wrong number
us: Oh, we called this number yesterday and it was Artur (his name)
Him: Ummm, wrong number
us: You aren't Artur?
Him: No
us: Who is this?
Him: (silence).....uhh.......Aiden.....

So that was not quite fun. Something must have scared them all away. But we can't do much about it now.  We then also found out that day that someone we were hoping to meet with ended up going Apostolic church and didn't want to speak to us again.

Oh well :)

On Sunday, though, Violet called us back after her having come to church. She said she wanted to meet with us again. She believed everything we said, and she wanted to do whatever she needed to do to be baptized. :) So maybe we just needed a test first. :)

Anyways, the rest of this week was neat. I found out during personal study that our ancestors are written about in Our Heritage :) I was just reading and I saw a story I thought was familiar about the John Hammer family. I matched it with the one in the family history written by great grandpa about the one blind horse, and it matched up! :) Fun fact.

There's a portion of the metro which goes outside. So I was sitting back watching the snow fall outside when I realized, the snow was falling inside the Metro as well. I looked up and there was snow flying in from little cracks all over :p These metros need to be replaced.

Our working with less-actives seems to be paying off. We got quite a few to come to church, including one, we figured out, who was having Word of Wisdom issues. :) So I don't feel too useless anymore.
I think the results though are all coming from a desire to just help, instead of a desire to please the mission president with numbers. I guess it shows where the blessings come from :)

Anyways, I love you all!!!

Elder Hammer 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Numbers Aren't Everything


I remember playing Chinese checkers with you back at Aunt Ruth's house :) I lost every time, even though I'm pretty sure you let me cheat a couple times. I think once or twice I may have won actual checkers though :)

 I really am trying to do heartfelt work though. Lately, we've been doing more re-activation than anything else. It doesn't show anything for our numbers really, but it helps the branch out a lot. Plus, we're hoping that some of our re-activated members start helping us find new investigators and coming with us to member present meetings. It's also a companionship goal of ours to meet everyone in the branch and try to form friendships with them.

The reason we have so many less-actives though, is because there was a period of time (known as the candy-giving time) where missionaries would promise financial aid if they joined the church. Some missionaries would baptize over 50 members, and then only one would continue to be active. So we're here trying to clean up that mess. We would meet with some and realize some didn't even own a copy of the Book of Mormon. One of them didn't even know what it was.

I guess it's just hard in a culture where everyone shuns us because we're not from the Apostolic church. They cling to it way too much, understandably. It's been the only thing keeping this country and race together over the years, but it really is a stumbling block for everyone. No one wants to look at us, let alone listen to us :/

But anyways, this week was alright. In terms of numbers it was our worst week yet, but hopefully that will change with the season.

This week I got a package from Grandma and Grandpa Merrick :D I finished it off by the next day :p That made my Tuesday :)

One of our members in Arabkir just got his mission Armenia :p So we'll be having a native Armenian speaker within our circle of missionaries. We're all excited, yet a little apprehensive to have someone who will know Armenian better than English serving with us.

So we were getting on the subway this week when I heard the doors close and a little squeak come from Elder Peterson. I didn't realize what it was at first so I just kind of looked forward. Then Elder Peterson tapped me and said, "my bag is stuck." I looked, and sure enough, part of his bag was sticking out the doors of the Metro. So he had to patiently wait until the next stop (which happened to be the longest stretch of track on the whole system) to let himself loose. :p

Something I've realized out here is that sometimes, you just have to be a nice person. We got in a taxi and I made several comments asking what his name was, how was his work going, how was his family. When we arrived, I made a motion for my wallet and he just said "it's not necessary" and smiled. I asked if he was sure and he said he was. I could tell I had made the end of his night for him. A lot of people here don't really make casual talk and sometimes it's just nice to see how people are doing :)

Anyways, love you all :)

Elder Hammer

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Am Like A Star!


...Speaking of Senior Missionaries, we just got a new couple this week. I'll tell more about them later. But I do agree, Senior missionaries are very helpful and provide a different atmosphere, but with a mission this new, none of them know the language at all :p
All 4 of us at our Iranian members' house :) Possibly their last time with us in Armenia.
So the temperature here is actually going to be going up from what I've heard. I guess it doesn't get too cold here, but who knows, maybe we'll get a cold streak soon. There hasn't been snow on the ground for about a week now though.

So this week:

The Taj Majal!

We officially moved into Little America :D It took the whole day to do it though, because we were closing down the old apartment. We had to clean everything, then clean everything out, then bring a ton of stuff to the main office, then we had to move all of our stuff over plus the area materials, then unpack everything. And then we had to plan for the week. But we're in and it is amazing!! We learned that it was a sisters house before us, then a seniors house before them, so naturally it smells amazing and is cleaner than a hospital. Pictures are included. It may not seem like much for any normal American looking at it, but to us, it was like moving into the Taj Mahal.

Interesting: So we were walking along looking for people to talk to when this one guy stopped us and politely asked us (in English) where we were from. We told him we were from America and he said he had learned English on the East Coast or something. We moved into Armenian then because it was easier for him. He went on to ask us why we had come to Armenia etc. He seemed really nice and very polite. He was about to leave when we told him that the Book of Mormon was another testament of Jesus like the Bible (assuming he was a Christian like everyone else here). He then stopped us and said "Oh, I'm actually a Satanist". We didn't know how to respond to that, so we just stood there open mouthed as he turned and walked away. :p I had always read about Satanists on the propaganda posters they put up here against Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses but I didn't think they were an actual group. Guess we found out :p

I guess we tend to attract weird people, because also this week, we (with the other elders) ran into one guy who came up to us, said, "Do you speak Armenian" we said yes, and then he went off for about 20 minutes how everyone has life energy inside of them and as you live, the energy goes to your own personal star. Once you have no energy left, that's when you die. Then he just turned around and walked away. Afterwards Elder Seegmiller looked up and said, "Hey guys, look! (pointing to the moon). That's my star!" :p
The baptism :)
We went to a baptism this week for an old investigator of Elder Peterson's. It was really cool because it was all in English. The person being baptized was from Northern India, so he didn't really know Armenian.

So the new senior missionaries, Elder and Sister Readings are now in our branch, so we got to go to their apartment (ours is better :p ) and help them get situated a bit with the area and the language.

But anyways, on Sunday, we were planning on having a nice dinner at our place with the other Elders. As we were walking towards the Metro though, I realized that my keys were missing from my jacket, along with about 900 dram in coins. Apparently while we were at church, someone went through peoples jackets and took a whole bunch of stuff. So we had to wait and call a whole bunch of people while the locks were changed on the church and at our house. Thankfully the Readings had just called and invited us over for dinner, even though they had no idea about our situation. :p So that was quite a bit of stress that ended up costing us 9,000 dram. :/  Guess I know not to leave my jacket on the rack anymore. Dinner was great though :) Sister Readings made chicken soup and banana bread for all of us.

So that's all :) Love you all!!!

Elder Hammer

A few notes from the letter Jared sent me:

...So yeah, the Sisters ended up moving out early so that we could move in, so we did :) We didn't get to stay in the mission home, but we did get to stay in little America, which I think is better anyways. :p  Honestly I think that our apartment here is bigger than the one we have in Santa Monica, almost. If it weren't for the fact that we have two full size bedrooms in the US, then the one here would be bigger :p I love it.

But yeah, New Years is over here officially now. :) It's kind of a bummer because now we don't have a topic of conversation to bring up as a starter, but now people have time to meet with us, so that will be really cool :)

We get the church magazines out here, but they come a little late because they have to go through the mail and everything. :/ but they do come :) I'll have to read this upcoming edition.

...But I love you!!! And I miss you :)

Elder Hammer

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's a New Year!

Happy New Year!  This is a day late but this time it's not my fault!  :)  Jared will explain.   He didn't add captions to his pictures so I added a few.  Have a wonderful New Year!  Here's our missionary.


So sorry I couldn't get to email yesterday. There were two reasons for that. The first is that we decided to switch our Pday so that we could make gingerbread houses as a district and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" with Elder Peterson (my new companion. I'll explain more later), because he hadn't had the chance to see it before the transfer (again.). The second reason is that this ENTIRE country shuts down for a week for New Years. Every restaurant, government buildings, internet places, transportation, etc. It was a miracle that we found this one place that decided to open for January 3rd.

Elder Hammer and Elder Peterson
Anyways, transfers happened on Thursday and I am now with Elder Jeff Peterson, the small (there are two Elder Petersons in this mission. One is about 6'6'' and the other, my companion, is about 5'7'' :p ) So anyways, I am now working Center with him and everything is going great :) Elder Peterson is a great guy, full of life and enthusiasm. He's from Utah, and lives next to Hill Air Force Base. He's been here for a little over a year now, so that's pretty exciting.

Elder Peterson and his 12 Layer Jello.....for 2012?

The apartment that got hit by fireworks!

All the missionaries were told to spend January 1st together as a district and watch the Christmas devotional, which was amazing. The new senior missionaries who just arrived invited us all over to their place and they made us chicken with potatoes and carrots. But in preparation, Elder Peterson wanted to make a 12 layer jello for the party of sorts. So, that evening on the 31st (we had to be in by 7) he decided to make that jello while I made dinner. The jello, ended up taking quite a while. He started in 2011 and ended in 2012 (we made it an excuse to stay up to the New Year :p) Let me tell you, it was quite an amazing experience, beyond any other I've ever had for the new year. 5 minutes until midnight we go out on the porch and wait for the fireworks to start. We had a pretty good view of Republic Square from our apartment. We were expecting a few good fireworks to come from there and for it to be over in about 5-10 minutes or so. Well, a couple minutes until the New Year, a few people got a little too excited and a couple fireworks went off, but then there was a gradual rumbling sound in the background and a gradual glow. Then all of a sudden, when the New Year hit, everything lit on fire in the entire city. There was not a part of the sky that was not filled with fireworks. Hundreds came from Republic Square and then everyone in the city, it seemed, started firing fireworks out their window. Not the little fizzle sticks that people light, but actual 4th of July style fireworks. Elder Peterson and I trying talking to each other but the explosions were so loud we couldn't hear each other. The apartment above us was firing off quite a few and someone to our left accidentally fired a green firework into the building right across from us, which exploded into a cloud of green sparks. Thankfully the buildings are all made of concrete :p It left a mark, though. The heavy amount of fireworks went off for about 15-20 minutes, but fireworks were shot off in the distance  long past the time I went to bed. They take new years seriously here :)
The Troops

Anyways, the next day we went to the Loveridge's place for New Years. Church was only an hour, so we spent the rest of the day over there. We made cookies and had dinner and watched the Devotional. It was kind of neat because their apartment overlooks a military base. It looked like the troops didn't get New Years Day off.

This week on Thursday, we went and delivered bags of provisions to the poorer members of our branch which we had bought earlier on that week. It was fun going to different houses and knocking on the doors and running away :) One of our members had such an amazing look of shock on his face when he saw three bags full of food on his doorstep. I'd say it was probably one of the coolest things I've ever done for the Christmas season. I want to do it when I return to the US.

 So, we don't really trust the doctors around here, for several reasons. But in any case, we try to practice preventative medicine rather than having to send anyone to the hospitals.  This week though, my distrust for the hospitals here went up quite a bit. Our golden investigator has to go to the hospital for a few weeks. When he came back, he said he couldn't listen to us anymore because his doctor said 'don't join the Mormons. The Mormons are bad for your health. Don't even be around them'. So apparently, one of the most highly qualified doctors in Armenia is telling people Mormons are bad for your health. Regardless of the fact that we teach about the word of wisdom etc. :p  One of our members even said that his doctor told him to smoke for his health. Sighhh. I cannot get sick here or else I'm in trouble.

Anyways, that was my week. The work here is pretty hard because no one wants to meet during the week of New Years and anyone outside is either drunk or going to a party. :/ We did meet one guy outside though who came up to us completely drunk, practically in tears. He said he wanted to learn about our church because he can't stop getting drunk. So we gave him some pamphlets and took his number :) Potential investigator.

So I love you all, I tried sending lots of pictures this week :)

Happy New Year!
Love always,
Elder Hammer

And here are some parts from the letter he sent me:

Elder Hammer and Elder Peterson
So to start off, yes we did have transfers, but I'm staying here in Center. Armenian timing is about three times of whatever they say, so their original two weeks that they told is actually going to turn into about 6 weeks. We will be moving in to the new apartment on the 10th, most likely for sure this time. Unfortunately we told our landlord we would be out in 30 days, about 28 days ago :p So we will be moving into the mission home on the 5th for about 5 days. It is both a curse and a blessing. We will have a nice kitchen, a nice home, a nice bed, a nice everything, but it also means we have quite a bit of commute time. We are excited though to be around the Carters for a little while at least :) But I'm companions with Elder Peterson now. I am still the Junior companion, but that's okay. It doesn't really matter out here for the most part. We really work together pretty well and we share the work load pretty evenly. But hopefully we'll be moving into little America on time :p This apartment we're in right now is not quite up to standards :p
Making Gingerbread houses
This must be a serious thing!
The Winner?

...But yeah, nothing can really beat making sugar treats with my family around Christmas, but our Gingerbread houses will have to do for this year :) Personally, I thought Elder Peterson's and my gingerbread house was the best :p but I'll let you be the judge. We joked between the Elders that whomever made the best house would get the design contract for the Armenia temple. I think it would look like a pretty cool temple ;p

So this Christmas was anything but ordinary. I really liked it though. It is definitely a season to remember. I think service will really stick with me, more than anything else I could have every done. I really think more people should do this around the season.

So as for New Years Eve and whatnot. Don't worry about us staying up past 10:30 :p All the missionaries in the mission stayed up until the new year, because it sort of became an unspoken exception for the one night. We were expected to be inside by 7 though. That was something the President did not budge on. Things got quite crazy outside after that time.

Anyways, I LOVE YOU! And I'll see ya next week :))))

Elder Bear