Monday, February 27, 2012


It looks like it was another challenging week in the mission field.  He mentions that he got sick this week. He could really use our prayers.  But he's still there and doing the work! This week it will be one year since Jared received his mission call and we began to know and love a little country on the other side of the world.  Time flies! Here's the news from Armenia.


Thanks for the advice you send every week. I really appreciate the insight and the creative ways of connecting things to missionary work :)

So this week I got sick. It wasn't fun at all, but I'm getting through it. Yesterday I had to take the evening off to rest, but the good thing is that it looks like it's working. :)

Anyways, lots of crazy stuff happened this week. Some of the stories will just have to wait until I get home :p But know that your prayers are heard and answered out here :) It's really interesting seeing the hand of the Lord when it comes to certain things.

We met one old man this week named Lova Papik, which means Lova gramps. We met with him the day after we found him on the street and he was way nice. He wanted to feed us so we went into his kitchen and tried to help him out. He gave us a can to open and we both tried opening it but couldn't to save our lives (and I've been doing my push ups every day). So Papik gives a little "aghh, give it to me" and he places it on the table, then goes on to smash the lid with his elbow several times (he's 82 by the way). He then picks up the jar and lightly removes the lid :p

 Anyways, he told a story about how in 3rd grade there was a bully who would always take his books at school and told him that if he said anything he would cut him with a knife, that he brandished every time. So eventually he got kicked out of school because he just wasn't learning and couldn't tell anyone why. He still remembers that kid and said that he curses him still.

So sad story, but even more sad, at the end of our meeting we were about to walk out the door when his grandson comes in and asks what we were doing here. We said we were here because of our faith. And then he told us to never come back. We said that we were invited by him and he said that it didn't matter. Papik then asked what he was doing and the grandson said he'd tell him later. Because we didn't really want a conflict, we just left. I couldn't help but compare his Grandson to his bully. Both kept him forcefully from learning things that would change his life.

Well, you win some and you lose some.

We also met an Iraqi-Armenian this week. His accent was crazy and it was almost impossible to understand what he was saying. He wasn't quite interested in the gospel, but he was Christian and said we were doing good stuff here (that's something that doesn't usually happen here).

Fun fact: We live right next to the (one and only) air force base here in Yerevan, so quite often I get distracted by MiGs flying around doing routine practices every day :)

Anyways, that's my week. Sorry it's a bit short :)

Love you all :)

Elder Hammer

A picture of us and Violet and Sister Reading :) (Elder Reading is taking the picture)
We're cleaning out the left over jello from New-years....It's better that I'm not showing the picture of the close up...
Found this in the basement of the Mission Office :p

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stepping in His Footsteps

Parts from Jared's letter to me:

Hello!!! :)

So I think I'm pretty lucky when it comes to crashes and everything here. Two sets of sisters have gotten in marshutine crashes since I've been here. One was a head on and almost resulted in a roll-over but thankfully the spirit of the Lord resides with missionaries and everyone was fine in both situations. :p

...So out here I try to do 15 minutes of Book Mormon as well. I would do more but I only get an hour for personal study. Plus in the evenings I like reading the children's Book of Mormon in Armenian :p It's fun because I understand all the words :p Plus we also read about 15 minutes in the actual one during language study as a companionship. 

...So about Violet, she's kind of dropped us again. Not completely, but she doesn't want people coming to her house because she's ashamed of how small it is and we can't just come by ourselves because she's a woman. Soooo....merrrr....but we're still working with her and hopefully it will work out.

Anyways, don't let the clouds of life get you down :) Always remember to play in the puddles when it rains.

Letter to Dad:


Thanks for the pictures by the way :) (Carl sent pictures of his time as a missionary in Denmark) It's proof that in fact, these stories actually did happen, and that my dad actually was that age once upon a time :p  Before long, you'll be watching Jeopardy at night and be in bed by 8:30 :) Jusssttt kidding :P

So I hope Maddie gets better :)
(Maddie has the cough/cold stuff going on) You know, I actually haven't gotten as sick out here as I thought I would. That being said, I did actually go to the hospital this week because I've been feeling fluid in my ears most mornings and it hasn't been to fun. I went though and they said they couldn't find anything wrong. So 20,000 dram later I add something else to the list of stuff that needs to be checked by American doctors :p

Thanks for your stories from your mission though. It's always a nice reminder to see that the number of baptisms don't mean anything, especially considering how great of a person you turned out to be.
I guess I wasn't frustrated that my potential baptism was taken away from me, I was frustrated that Yeran was taken from us. We really liked that kid and it was exciting to see how he accepted the gospel so well and how he saw the blessings starting to work in his life. It was also quite frustrating because our last few investigators have either moved to Russia, gotten offended by the 'male present' rule, ended up living in another area (about three or four so far. They live on the other half of Center), threaten to get our Visas taken away, etc. It just kind of brightens the week when you have work to do. But anyways, we're doing fine. We find ways to make the day worthwhile and fun. It just takes a little more work.

This week I met another man on the street who happened to be a taxi driver in LA. He knew Santa Monica and all the streets etc. So that was fun. And it always is a way to break the ice on the street. Literally.

Speaking of breaking the ice though. Things are kind of warming up here, and as we were walking to church we heard a loud crack and looked just in time to see about 100 pounds of snow and ice fall from a tall roof straight onto a brand new BMW :p I'm sure that will be a surprise when the owner finds out. I'm just glad we weren't underneath that.

So the church has been around for about 20 years or so here, but we still have to teach some pretty basic doctrines. For instance, in Gospel Principles, our teacher started talking about how Jesus' name isn't Jehovah (a common dispute in this country) and then we had to correct that. Then they said we were wrong and didn't know what we were talking about. Sighhhhhh.....So we had to pull out the scriptures and testify and quote modern day prophets before they stopped calling us liars. :p Fun Sunday.

It turns out that a lot of stuff from America reaches here. For example, someone asked me about Davis from BYU. I decided not to get into that subject. A lot of people on the street though have been saying "Hey isn't Obama that Mormon thing?" and we have to clarify that it's actually the candidate for president.

We actually had a fun experience this week walking along the side of a freeway because there was no other way to get to one of our investigator's houses. Crossing off-ramps and dodging speeding traffic was a great way to get the heart pumping. Along the side though was a massive amount of snow that only had one set of footprints in it, so we quite often got knee deep in snow. I thought to myself though "What kind of spiritual message can I pull from this?" and this is what came to mind. The whole time we were walking, we always tried stepping in the one set of footsteps because it meant we didn't get a ton of snow inside of our socks and it tended to be a lot easier to walk. Some other ways looked easier at times but it always ended up taking more energy and resulted in wet, frozen toes. I guess in comparison, there's one Man who took the pain of walking through all the snow in our lives, and all we have to do is follow in His footsteps. It's the easiest way and the most comfortable way and in the end will save us a lot of energy and grief. :)

Anyways, that was my week :)

Love you!

Elder Hammer

Monday, February 13, 2012

So You Say You're From France?

Satik Tatik, me, our investigator Davit, Elder Peterson

So Valentines Day doesn't really have the same foothold here, though the candy stores are trying hard to change that. The church here however likes to take the American holidays and make activities out of them, such as Halloween and those kind of things. So there is going to be a youth activity for Valentines day. We'll see how that goes though :p

As for tortillas there are none here, but they have something close called lavash. It's like a giant flour tortilla about two feet wide and four feet long and they make all sorts of things out of it. They do have one Mexican restaurant here which is actually not too bad. It is way expensive though, so we only go there for birthdays and stuff. :)

Anyways this week had it's up and downs, but things have seemed to get into a routine, so the work is pressing forward. With this mission though, who knows if things will change in the next week, day, (hour even?)

But one piece of news, we had to give up our one investigator who we taught the first three lessons to, to the Assistants because he was just barely out of our area and we didn't even know because we were meeting him at the church. So we were way sad about that. Violet has her baptismal date though! For the 13th of March. It happens to be her birthday as well :) She said she wanted me to do the ordinance too :) So hopefully I'll be getting my first baptism soon :) assuming I don't get transferred.

We went on exchanges this week and I got to serve with the new missionary Elder Rackham. He's a way good missionary, and really motivated. We had an awesome 2 or 3 days together. It was kind of interesting though being the older companion for the first time, if only for a few days.

While we were on exchanges we were walking around the square by the Opera and all of a sudden the streets went empty which was really weird. Then we heard sirens and then the Presidential Armada came rolling down the street with all sorts of official looking cars, so that was way neat.

I was getting ready to go out the door when all of a sudden a heard Elder Peterson scream pretty much like a little girl. So I run in thinking he got shot or something and I see him run into the bathroom. I asked what was wrong and he said he had put his hand in his backpack and felt something squish and lifeless, like a dead rat. Something that was not supposed to be there. So I put on some gloves while he's boiling his hands and open the backpack a tiny bit. I look inside and see a banana, rotten and brown. After laughing for a bit, I went and told Elder Peterson what his culprit was.

We were visiting this one potential investigator who had come to church and we found this one ollllllddddd lady at his house. We said hello to her and she was probably the liveliest one there. Her hearing was awful though :p We were saying, where we were from and she was like "Whattt? They're from France?" We said, "No, from America." She said, "You live in America, but you're from France??" We said "No, just American." She said, "Well, then where did France come from??" Then we explained none of us had said anything about France :p Then someone asked where we were staying and we said Shengavit. Then she said "Why are you staying in the hospital? What's wrong?" Then we explained again where we were staying :p She was super nice and funny. We asked to take a picture and when we said to stand in front of the camera, she stood with her nose practically on the lens :p It was way too funny. Her name was Satik, so we all called her Satik Tatik, which means Satik grandma. :)

Anyways, that's my week. Not too much going on :)

Love you all! :)

Elder Hammer

2 feet of snow fell this week.
Elder Frosty:p We made this while doing service for a member.

Money here

Monday, February 6, 2012

Slip Sliding Away


So, yes. It is more than cold here. It snowed again which dropped the temperature below comfortable. Since I don't read metric temperature very well, I just figure if a plus is next to the C, it means 'comfortable', if there's a negative, it means 'not comfortable'. Plus it didn't help that our water heater broke this week, so it's just as cold inside as outside. I almost cried last night. It's a good thing I have a giant marshmallow blanket. (It's big and white, and really a point). And so, that also meant no warm showers...merr...

Speaking of the cold and "no broken backs". Funny story, (well it was funny for Elder Peterson). The second day after snow comes is the worse because it kind of melts during the day, but then freezes again at night, creating ice...everywhere, because no ones scrapes snow off of anything here.  So we had to walk up a hill and turns out the whole hill was ice, so we both got about halfway up when I realized that instead of going up I was going the other direction. So I resigned myself and slid all the way back down. Elder Peterson followed and we found a patch on the side of the hill next to a building that had some snow left which provided traction. When we got to the top,we saw an Armenian just take off from the top of the hill and slide all the way down. We were kind of jealous.  

On our way back, we had to go back down the hill, so Elder Peterson took the snowy side while I, being impatient, tried to follow the example of the Armenian. So as you can expect, my pride brought me pretty low. I didn't even make it to the slope before I smacked down and Elder Peterson watched as I slid right by him on my rear, sprawled on the ice. There happened to be a car back up at the top of the hill waiting for someone, and it honked, the driver inside laughing....The best part is that when I got up, I made it about four more steps before I wiped out again.
Later on that day we were walking around Shengavit when I tried stepping up on a curb and wiped out again, making number 3. That time I just kind of laid there for a minute, sprawled out again, not really feeling like facing the two teenage girls who watched the whole thing and were, also, laughing.

Yesterday we were trying to get to Violet's house, and yes, I wiped out again, except this time on stairs. That was a little less fun. So my back hasn't really been too happy with me lately and my entire left side of my body is sore :p

So earlier on this week we had an experience that really showed we must be doing the right thing here. We were together with Elder Hatch and Elder Peterson (the tall) and we were going to our church so they could meet their landlord who lived in Center. As we were walking across the street, this one boy in front of us, about 17 years old, turned around and spat at us. He missed for the most part, but managed to get Elder Peterson (the small) on the jacket a little. We kind of assumed maybe it was just an accident...maybe and kept on walking. As we got closer to our church though, the boy kept on looking back. Finally he just stopped and said "Stand right here! Don't walk this way any more" we explained we had to get to our church, and then he went off saying something about a crazy house and saying he'd do cuss words to our religion. Finally he just kind of stopped and we said, that we could walk in front of him if he'd like. Then he said something about killing and whatnot then right before he left he spat a huge wad of spit in Elder Peterson's (the tall) face at point blank, some of which bounced off into my face. So that was fun :p He's been known for punching Elders though, so we considered ourselves lucky. 

So a cold, less than encouraging week, but the good news is that Violet is our silver lining. She's way excited for baptism and shows up for everything the church has to offer, Sacrament meeting, Institute, all sorts of stuff. And she calls us her grandchildren (and treats us like it too). This Sunday she was in church and signaled for me to come over, so I came and she looked like she was about to say something and then just shoved a whole bag full of candy into my jacket pocket and said "share with your friend" :p She is honestly our favorite person right now. :)

Anyways, that was my week :) I love you! :))

Elder Hammer
Me and Khachik, a new member
Us and Zaven, a really good member
Khachik wearing my backpack :p His idea.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Letter to Santa Monica 2nd Ward

What a pleasant surprise it was when I stumbled on a letter that Jared had written to the entire Santa Monica 2nd Ward, our friends and fellow church members here in Santa Monica.  I was reading the ward newsletter and at the very end of it, there was a letter from Jared!  I thought I would share it with everyone else.   It's neat to see the growth Jared has made while on his mission.  I'm a lucky mom!


Well things are going great out here. We just got a new group out here and it's been really interesting to see these missionaries and it has given me an opportunity to look back and reflect on the progress I've made on my mission.

For the most part it was kind of hard to see that I had been making any progress at all. Armenians are quite blunt about things which is both a blessing and a curse. But they have taken the liberty of telling me (quite frequently) that I don't speak the language well. Understandable seeing as I've been in country about 5 months now, but slightly discouraging none the less. So for the last little while, I've been focusing on where I need to go. I've been looking up the cliff side and realizing there's still a long ways to go. I think there was a conference talk about this but I can't remember. 

The new group coming in kind of gave me an opportunity to stop and reflect, and look down the cliff side and see how far up I've come. I thought about my first few weeks in this country and how I barely even spoke in lessons and didn't understand anything going on in Sacrament meeting. I look at things now and I'm working almost 50/50 with my companion during lessons and I'm even starting to translate in Sacrament meetings. 

Besides the language though, I've made some serious spiritual progress. I think the thing I've gained a testimony about the most is the Book of Mormon. I had a pretty interesting experience at the beginning of my mission. I decided that I wanted to read the Bible during my personal studies because I wanted to say I've read the whole thing if I'm out there saying we believe that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together and are the word of God as one. I neglected my Book of Mormon reading though and I noticed things were just hard. Things weren't working out the way I wanted and I felt like I was working on my own. I took one Sunday though to start the Book of Mormon and my day just brightened up. I felt happy and at ease, as if there was something behind me, supporting me throughout my work the whole day. My companion and I didn't have any contention between each other (not that we had much of that anyways) and everything was better in general. 

Since then I haven't missed a day of reading and things have gotten much better with my work. It's not a big change, maybe just 15-20 minutes a day of serious study, but it makes all the difference. I've been through the Book of Mormon twice now and I'm working on my third, and I can honestly say I find
something new every time. 

Anyways, I can't express enough all the appreciation I have for this ward that has supported me so much. I wish I had thanked each and every one of you before I had left. But I truly am grateful. It's hard to know where I would be without all of you. Thank you, and may the Lord bless your lives.

Elder Hammer

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Clean Your Clothes in Armenia and Other Fun Pictures

Hello all!  So after I posted Jared's letter, my hubby started asking where the pictures were.  What pictures?  I obviously had missed something.  When I checked again, there were 8 pictures that I had not seen.  So here they are along with some comments Jared made.  Enjoy! 

The pictures  are of me and Elder Peterson at the memorial today, one of a screw stuck in Elder Peterson's shoe. We couldn't pull it out, so we screwed it out. And one of a popular laundry detergent brand here....I don't think the makers know English...I might have included one of our planning board, but I can't remember :p

At the Memorial
Elder Peterson and Jared at the Memorial
At the Memorial

Elder Peterson and Jared

Elder Peterson's Shoe

Jared fixing the shoe

Really?  This is supposed to CLEAN the clothes????

The Planning Board

Properly Placed Strokes


This week was more successful I'm happy to say. Elder Peterson set a mission-long record for him self with 8 new investigators this week. I had a good week in Malatia, but if it weren't for that week, I would have set a record with new investigators too. Unfortunately, the trick is keeping the investigators you find. By the end of the week, all of them had dropped out except for our good investigator Violet and a 16 year old we picked up this week. We had actually seen him at church for the last few months, so everyone thought he was a member, but then we said something to the effect of "When were you baptized?" and he was like, "What?" So we picked him up and he agreed to a baptism date at the end of February. So if all works out, we should be having two baptisms at the end of this month :D My first two of my mission.

Anyways, a transfer happened this week but I'm not moving :) for once. Elder Seegmiller moved out of our district to Nork :( but now Elder Fairclough is training the new missionary, Elder Rackham! So that's a really cool experience for him. And it's kind of fun to have a new kid in our group and see how I once was. :p But yeah, that's way cool.

So we found out that the great new investigators that dropped us, that I was talking about last week, the ones who went to Russia, turns out they never went to Russia. We ran into her brother again and he said that they were still here. We called them and found out the truth. Apparently, their landlord says if they talk to us again, he'll kick them out, so that was a bummer to find out about.

So I learned a pretty cool life moral this week by chopping wood for one of our members. He's about 70 years old and has rheumatism and blood problems and all sorts of crazy other problems. I was out there chopping the wood, bringing down the axe way hard and feeling all manly about my self. I would cut through the wood in about two strikes, sometimes even after one it would go right through. Then our member said "Wait, hold on, hold on. Tsavd tanem (not really a direct translation to that, but it kind of meant, "goodness") You're hitting too hard." He then took the axe, and a fresh stump (you have to realize these stumps are huge) then brought the axe down and destroyed this stump straight down the center. Then went on to pulverize the entire thing. His strokes weren't even that powerful. At points he made it look like he was just cutting through butter, sometimes with only one hand. He then looked at us, then looked at the pile, then back at us, and said, "With the properly placed strokes, you use maybe half the energy." So it made me think what kind of stuff I was doing in life that could be considered improperly placed strokes. Stuff that gets the job done, but if done a different way would make things easier and more efficient. It was kind of funny though to see a man, who is a few times my age, show us both up.

This week we were standing on the street, talking to a 60 year old lady who was fond of pushing me in the chest every time she wanted to make a point, when I heard some sirens which sounded kind of weird to me. I looked and there were 2 military police cars escorting about 7 trucks full of troops going into the city. Needless to say I got distracted. I was brought back into reality by a shove from an impatient woman who wasn't happy that I wasn't listening to her... :p

On Sunday, our branch took the third hour talking about sacrament meeting and what they didn't like about what went on (it was kind of irreverent). They then went on to say how the translating by the missionaries was awful (we had to translate for a talk the senior missionaries were giving) and it was putting them to sleep. (Part of the irreverence was caused by an old lady in the front yelling "What are you saying?? I can't understand you!") Then they took the whole time talking about how much we were terrible at the language and should try focusing on the language of the spirit instead. I was translating that 3rd hour for a couple guys who were there from a business based in Utah, so I kind of watered it down for them saying "Well, they're kind of making fun of us right now..." :p Oh well, you do what you can, right?

I met a guy yesterday actually, who used to live in Santa Monica for 6 years! I was really excited. He was impressed because of my language because I had only been learning for a few months. He said he had been in America for 6 years and had only learned two words in English. :p I thought he should meet some of our members. I kind of got distracted talking about Santa Monica for a few minutes. We got his number though :) Hopefully going to pick him up as an investigator.

Fun fact, we may live in little America, but there are a couple things that remind you that Little America is still inside of just as Little Armenia. For example, if I want hot water for my shower, I have to turn on the sink to get the water pressure up high enough. :p But we're lucky though, because not all missionary apartments have hot water, so we're still blessed :)

So that's my week :) Love you!!

Elder Hammer