Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Tiny Rock

You know, there are Boy Scouts here, sorta....but they're kind of the left over of Stalin's students or whatever they called it in Soviet times and it doesn't really exist too much anymore.
In terms of youth in the branch I'm in right now, there are no young men and I think one young women, so not really too many activities. They hold a seminary class up in Charentsavan, but that only happens once a week I think and it's just for that city. There are a couple college age students, but they're scattered over Yerevan and they don't really put together too many activities, ever. I think they had one for Valentines day (nudge, nudge), but that was for the whole country. There is an institute class down at the Center branch every Thursday but I think attendance is minimal. But yeah, we're working on getting more youth.
So this is the second time I've actually heard this in Armenia, so I'm wondering where it came from, but we were walking on the street and we met a 1 in a million guy that didn't really believe in Christ. He said that Christ never died and actually immigrated to Japan, where he died after having two sons. I have no idea where this theory came from, but apparently it's common. :p
Found out yesterday the middle finger IS in fact an international insult. :p
We went to a baptism on Friday which was really amazing. It was a son baptizing his mother. He had been set apart for his mission two hours before the baptism, so technically his mother was his first baptism as a missionary :) It was kind of funny though because he actually had to do it three times because she didn't go completely under the first or second time :p But she was a good sport and took it with laughter :)
Also, they changed the rules AGAIN concerning email, so now I can't even open emails from other people (what I used to do is print them out and answer by hand) so if anyone else emails me besides immediate family, I'm not allowed to open their emails, starting from today :/
One day this week I had a rock stuck in my shoe and it bugged me the whole day. At the end of the day I took the pebble out and it was realllllly tiny, but my feet were all red and scratched up. It kind of reminded me of that comparison with little sin. It's better just to get it out right away than let it bug you forever :p
So just a little about Elder Smith: He's from Utah (South Jordan?) and plans on attending the Air Force Academy or some other college in Utah. He played football and lacrosse in High School and did a semester at a community college before leaving on his mission. He connects well with people on the street, especially the younger generation.
Anyways, that was pretty much my week. I love you all!! :)
Elder Hammer

Little part from his letter to me:

...Still, it's nice here, it's just hard to feel like I'm doing any good. I'm pretty sure missionaries from other missions wouldn't be able to handle Armenia. I think us 40 were specifically called to this country because we can handle all the crud that goes down here and the lack of constant work. I'm doing fine, it's definitely a challenge though...

Monday, May 21, 2012



It's funny you should mention that one piece 'breath on me' because the word for 'inspire' in Armenian literally means 'soul breathe' so I thought that was kind of interesting.  (Here's what Carl had written to Jared:   I drafted Madeleine to play a violin piece - which she played nicely. I found it a few weeks ago while browsing music online - it's called Breathe on Me. Which is a poetic way of praying for inspiration - or "inspire me.")

 But anyways, about the whole Middle - of - nowhere period for me, it's kinda weird, but I haven't really hit that because I haven't let myself. (In Carl's letter he talks about the'middle of nowhere" time, a time in a musician's life when they are past the "oooohh cool new instrument!" phase and before the "I'm really enjoying music now that I can finally play something other than etudes all day!"  phase where many musicians feel like dropping out.  It can happen to missionaries, church members, etc.)Sometimes I just like to slow down, and realize where I am. I'll be walking around during a finding hour and just pause and look at the towering Soviet buildings around me, or the towering Mt. Ararat in the background, or all the people on the street and I just fall in love with this country all over again. Or I'll be in language study, pause for a second, look at how the individual characters curve and come together to make sounds and words, and then realize I can read it. It's really just amazing for me. I just love this language so much and this people, this country. I know some other missionaries that kind of get used to being able to read Armenian and it's kind of lost the charm for them, but I continue to be amazed and the uniqueness of everything here :)

Anyways, this week was slow again. We lost a few more investigators. Our really good investigator family told us they couldn't meet with us until the end of June, so that was really depressing. But hopefully one of our old investigators should be coming back to Nork real soon :) 

So I have a new companion now, his name is Elder Smith. We just transferred this  morning, so I won't be able to tell you much about him until next week :)

On one day, we knew the transfer call was coming, so I decided to mess with Elder Hatch :P While he was in the bathroom, I clicked on President Carter's ring tone on the phone and pretended to pick up and start talking. I heard this huge scramble in the bathroom as I continued to fake a transfer call. As soon as I said "okay, thank you President, I'll let him know" and hung up, Elder Hatch bursts out of the bathroom with his pants still undone and looks at me all expectantly. Then I couldn't hold it in any longer and spilled the truth :p

Yesterday Violet came to church :) and she told me they're actually moving to the United States for good in just a little while. So I gave her my home email address and told her to tell me where she's going. :))) I really hope everything works out for her :)

We had a pretty neat experience this week. As we were walking home, we here this voice from the dark side of the alley where all the garages are, calling us over. So we went over this guy asked a little about us (still couldn't see his face) and we told him who we were. He then asked "I've had a revenge in my heart for 20 years. How do I get rid of it?" It's funny because I had just looked up the word for revenge a few weeks ago and hadn't learned it, but the word came straight to my memory. I then told him anything is possible through Jesus Christ and that we had a message that could bring him closer to Him. He then asked for our number and stuff and I gave him a pamphlet with our names and numbers. I never really got to see his face clearly, but it was a really neat experience just to bear pure testimony about the atoning sacrifice of Christ. 

Anyways, that was my week. I hope you like the pictures. I'm not sure how often I can send then because of viruses, but these are all the ones I have so far :) 

Love you all!!

Elder Hammer

Stix, Elder Hatch, and Elder Hammer
Large Armenian church in the middle of Center

Armenian Sheep near a member's home

Elder Hatch with a member's glasses
Statue of Hyke. The tradition is that Hayk (sounds like Hike) shot an arrow across the Hrazdan river and killed the Turkish king on the other side. :) The name Hyke is aparently why the people are called the Hay (sounds like Hi)  people. And the language is called Hayeren and the country Hayastan.

Me and Rubo (Sambareko!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Skype with Jared-Mother's Day 2012

Jared’s Skype Call—Mother’s Day 2012   May 13, 2012

We had the computer on and Skype was up and waiting for about 1 ½ hours before Jared called.  When Jared Skpyed at Christmas, he actually called 30 minutes later than we had expected.  This year he called about 10 minutes early, which threw us off a little!  I ran into the room when I noticed he was calling.  I rounded up the troops after that and began a very nice chat with Jared.  Jared mentioned that he had to get up at 5:00 in the morning Monday so he could chat with us.  What a good boy!

We noticed that the video of Jared was a little bit blurry but the sound was better than at Christmas.  We actually were very lucky to hear from Jared at all because the internet cut out for the whole country when lightening hit some of the wires.  So glad we still got our call!

We made a list of questions and Jared answered most of them for us.

Carl’s mom was visiting so she joined in on the chat as well.  She asked him what he was up to and he said, “Preachin, teachin, workin.”   She asked if he was avoiding the rock throwers and he said, “Usually.”  :S  She wondered if he had given away any of the ties that she had sent him (She sent him 15 or more to give away to people over there so if anyone came and threatened him for his tie again, he would have one to give away!).  He mentioned that he had begun to give them away.

*Side note:  The little parakeet we have in the other room is constantly chatting during the video we took. It’s like she wanted to get in on all the “happy” going on in the other room!

He mentioned that he will have transfers coming up on the 18th of May.  He’s still the junior companion most likely.  He mentioned that there are about 8 MTC groups in the country at one time.  He is in the 5th oldest group, 3 other groups have come after him.  So he may still end up being the young one in the group for awhile.

Jared tells us he has no plans to burn anything for his one year anniversary.  (???)

Maddie showed off her 7th Grade Who Am I project and her art on the front. 

Jared’s Uncle Ben, Carl’s brother, popped in and started staring at Jared in the camera about this point. It was good for a good laugh!

He says he is not getting a lot of snail mail and would love to get some. He says his mailbox is lonely. 

Maddie wanted to ask Jared some of the questions from her Who Am I project.  One of the questions was what his most memorable memory of her.  He said he remembers playing “Christmas Morning” with her for about the 2 weeks before every Christmas when they were younger.  They would wrap up things from around the house and put them under our little one foot tree.  They would then pretend to fall asleep and wake up a minute later and it would be Christmas morning.  They would then open all the presents.  What a fun memory!

Maddie asked him what animal she imagined him being and he said a mouse, because they’re quiet and she looks like a mouse.  He thinks she is very hardworking and that she got much better grades then him in 7th grade. 

He talks about how every week he has to do some evaluation every week with his companion and they have to always start out with one strength of the companion and then things that could be improved.

 We asked him how to speak some things in Armenian for us. Carl joked around and asked him to say, “Where is the bathroom?”  and he said, “Donde es el baƱo?”  That made everyone laugh. He did a great job of answering all our crazy questions on language.  Uncle Ben asked him how to say, “Luke, I am you father.”  Later on Ben also  said, “They didn’t teach you how to say, “Come to the dark side” did they?”  Between Ben and Carl, they kept us all laughing during the conversation.   

Jared says he feels like he is now able to understand people now.  He said that not being able to understand people at our last Skype session really caused him problems.  It’s much better now.  He said there’s room for improvement.  Jared quote, “…there are times when I’m like, ‘Wait, what??”  He kept us laughing too!  We told him that his friend, Arman/Sticks from Armenia, said that he spoke Armenian really well to which Jared replied, “Yeah, well he’s a really nice kid!”

They usually go out into the public about 11:00 a.m.  He said, “Sometimes we throw a Josh ..a meal…..lunch”  He was struggling to come up with the word for lunch.  He said they don’t have words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Armenian.  It just is Josh.  We noticed a few times during the conversation with Jared that he was struggling to come up with English words to explain things.  He said that there are a few words that just don’t translate over from Armenian. 

He said there are about 9 blocks in Nork where they have been wandering around talking to people.  He mentioned a “Power Hour” where they talk to anyone who looks at them at all.  They also talk to people they meet on the Marshutinees and taxis.

He says he’s visited most of the places he’s wanted to visit already. 

Jared’s Aunt Tomoko, Ben’s wife, came in at this point and talked to him about how things were going. 

We wondered why he kept being sent out for a week or two to new areas and then being sent back to Yerevan.  He doesn’t know why.  He likes being in Yerevan though.  Much better amenities, like running water, warm showers, etc.  While he was talking, he mentioned something about one of his companions, Poker Peterson.  Poker?  He said that meant small.  There is also an Elder Peterson they call Boyo Peterson.  He’s tall. He said the typical time with companions is 3 months, not Jared’s situation of only 2 weeks with some companions. 

Jared told us that he has many stories that he will share once he gets back. 

He thinks that most likely he will leave Friday, June 14, 2013 and will get home Saturday, June 15. 

Jared mentioned that Cinnabon showed up in Armenia.   He was very happy!  Georgia, near Armenia, has a McDonalds that the Armenian missionaries are jealous of. 

He said his back is okay.  Nights and mornings aren’t always good but he says he just takes Advil.  He got sick recently and lost his voice.  But he’s better now.  He was on another round of antibiotics. 

He said they don’t have Cheetos over there.  They have Lays potato chips but they’re labeled in Arabic.  They have to guess at the flavors.  “The ones with the shishkabobs on them we assume are barbecue.”  He was happy because they are getting chips over there that are labeled in Russian and apparently he can now read Russian.  He learned it while he was in Malatsia.  He said that it’s helpful to know Russian because Russian words sound like Armerican words half the time.  “So we were wondering if this stuff was body wash or shampoo and we read the Russian label and it said, ‘champoo’, so we found out it was probably shampoo!”  The word for pineapple in French is Annanas, and in Russian this flavored item said the same thing so Jared knew it was pineapple.   Jared says the Armenian cheese is just awful, way too salty.  They get cheese shipped from other places, like a cheese called Ferndindale (sp) that tastes like cheddar. 

He says he lost 15 pounds at first when he was in Armenia.  Then he gained some back. He’s now weighing less than he did before college.  They’re walking a lot and there are a lot of hills in Nork.  He’s now lost 5 more pounds.   He’s doing his push-ups and planks.

He told us one mild story that he planned on waiting to tell us.  He said that he and his companion were being aimed at by a car that was driving in a parking lot.  Jared got out of the way but his companion didn’t.  His companion was fine.  The guy claimed there was ice but Jared did not agree.  He was pretty ticked.  Jared said he has not been hit by any cars or buses in the country.

He said you have to be careful about what you say because if you don’t pronounce some words right, you’ll change the meaning completely.  He gave the example of James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” If you mispronounce the ….’and it will be given him’  you end up saying  “…and he will be castrated.” When Jared spoke that phrase we could barely hear a difference.  Eek!

He gets a good 15 minute, $6 (6000 dram) haircut from a guy who is in the area. 

He said the whole mission has learned to do the Rubik’s cube.  Jared hates them and doesn’t want anything to do with them. 

He said the last group of pictures, which looked amazing, said a member, who is his landlord as well, took the pictures.

Lots of  "We Love You!" and things like that and then that was it!  Until this December!!!

The Armenian Pentagon

Mother's Day we got to talk to Jared by Skype.  Great call!  We will post those notes soon.  Enjoy his short letter this week!


So It was way fun talking today :) Glad you finally got to hear my Armenian :p Because we talked, I'll just write about a bit of the stuff we did this week :)

Also, Mom, a Mother's Day letter is in the mail. Don't think I forgot you. Hopefully it gets there somewhat soon. It seems like stuff from here reaches there, but the opposite takes a little bit more time. 

Anyways, fun fact about the area I'm in right now, Nork. The Armenian equivalent of the Pentagon is in my area. We pass it often whenever we're on a marshutine and it's really cool watching the soldiers come in and out of it and all the high-ups with all their badges. The Armenian military academy is also in my area a little farther down from my house. There's a tank parked out front of it so I always enjoy when our path takes us by there. :)

So Tsoghik, I don't know if you read anything about her from my past emails, but she's the one that has the dreams about what we teach and everything. Her husband allowed her to get baptized after we fasted one day, but just recently it looks like he's changed his mind and doesn't want her to. And it was just a week until her date too :/

Well, there's not really a whole lot more from this week :p It was kinda dry. There were a lot of ups and downs; more downs than ups :p but it seems to work that way right?

Anyways, I love you all, sorry the letter is so short :)

Elder Hammer

Part of Jared's note to me:

So this week I realized I'm going to be alone on my flight from Chicago to LA when I come back. I thought how weird it would be. Saying bye to the other three missionaries as they head for Salt Lake and then it's just me on my way back home. That'll be such a fun day. :) Sharing stories and whatnot. Picking up all my crud from the airport :p  (Jared still has another year to go!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lying left handers!


So this week is a bit stressful because the area presidency changed the rules so we only have 30-60 minutes on email, so if anyone else wants to write me by email, just let them be aware I might not answer that P-day. What I do now is I print out everything besides the main emails and write out responses so I can type more quickly. :) But please don't hesitate to send emails. 

So that's a pretty crazy story about the balloons exploding. I think someone on the street told me about that but I think  I was a little confused at first though because I was like "What's the big deal about a balloon popping?" but pop and explode are the same word in Armenian. That's probably why. :p Carl read an article in the LA Times this week about 140 being injured when methane gas-filled balloons were set on fire by someone smoking at a political rally.  Here's a video from the event.  Armenia Balloon Explosion Video-YouTube.

 But regardless, we're not allowed around rallies. President Carter also lets us know when there's a planned demonstration or riot that's going to happen. He finds out from the embassy. Sometimes though, they happen spontaneously and we just have to avoid them as soon as we can.  We'll be careful especially now that elections were yesterday.

Well, lots of lightning this week. One day this week we were finding outside and I saw some orange clouds approaching, and I thought "Oh no...." then it began to sprinkle and then I saw the wall of rain approaching quickly, so we ran to a building and made it in the doorway just as the clouds exploded. We waited there for a few minutes as the lightning came right over us and made instant thunder-lightning strikes. Then, 20 minutes later it was all gone and the sky was blue....
The weather is temperamental here.

The people here sometimes are just so funny. For example, we were walking outside and we see this one oldddd grandpa sitting down. He had a jacket on with tons of ribbons and medals, so we thought it would be cool talking to him. We greeted him and he said "It's a pleasure to meet you! Back in the war...." and then he went off for 15-20 minutes just talking about him fighting in the Soviet army during World War II. :p We were able to worm out of there eventually though :p We left him with our number in case he wants to listen from us sometime though. :p

Another time we came up to this one guy and after our conversation we asked him if we could drop by sometime to talk to him and he said we could leave him our number. As Elder Hatch was writing, the old guy was like "Wait, you write left handed?" (he does) Elder Hatch said "Yes, why?" And he said "It's all a lie!" and walked away without saying anything else :P  Fun fact: The students here are forced to write right handed from the beginning of school. :)

Anyways, I have to go now. Sorry it's so short, but I love you all :))))

Elder Hammer 

Mom's Note:  If there is anything you'd like us to pass along to Jared, we get to talk to him on Sunday and would love to share what is going on in your lives.  Let us know here, on Facebook, or email.