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

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