Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Really? They Called First?

Really cool statue that shows what every man over the age of 55 does here :p

Okay, that was cruel. Those are five of my most favorite meals. (Carl asked Jared's opinion on the meal we should make for our family reunion.  Not really nice, huh?) But now that I have to choose and think about them for the rest of the week, while you get to eat them, here's my answer from #1 to last:
Taco Salad
Enchiladas, chicken

:( I miss Mexican food. 
But that's okay, Armenian food is still realllly good. 

So I'm allowed to print emails from family, but I'm not even allowed to receive emails from anyone else. As for your emails, I just read them here and keep them in my box. I'm planning on organizing them and saving them for when I get back.

Well, my Armenian is coming along fine. I can understand anything people say now. I had to translate last Sunday and I was doing a lot better than I thought I was in understanding. I was able to catch every sentence, so that was good :) Speaking is a little bit more difficult, but I'm doing alright :)

So I did a bit of service this week. Nothing planned, just little acts every now and then. I always try to see how I can help someone. It usually involves helping older gentlemen carry their bags, because they always carry way too much. They usually ask us not to talk about religion at the end, but that's okay.

The people our age are willing to talk to us, but they talk about stuff that we really don't want to talk about. Like going to prostitutes and smoking and drinking. So it's kind of hard to connect. 

In general, I think the Sisters in the mission find more success than the Elders, mainly because we have to pass off our Female investigators to the Sisters, and normally there's a 2:1 companionship ratio between Elders and Sisters. So they get a large flood of investigators that they don't usually have to find. But that's okay. I guess. :p

So anyways, big story for this week:
On Tuesday night I get a call, while Elder Bott is in the bathroom, from the other Elders in our district. It starts off, "Okay, Elder Hammer, we're staying calm because we don't really know what to do," which caused some alarm in me before they even told me what happened.
"But, the apartment above us is on fire. There's ash falling and pillars of smoke coming from above and it's really hot!"
So I told them to get out and use the stairs and that I'd get a hold of President Carter. So President comes over and picks them up and they ended up staying at our apartment for the night :) Which was pretty fun. Staying over isn't allowed in the mission except for extreme circumstances, so it was a nice change :p
Well, since everything is made out of concrete in this country, the fire stayed in the apartment above them and didn't touch theirs, so everything turned out alright. :)

In other news though, Elder Bott had a baptism on Saturday for some people he found in Ajapnyak. It was pretty cool :) It was a baptism for 5 people at the same time, and one of them wanted Elder Bott to baptize her. 

Quote of the week:

Random Guy on Street: "Hey, what is your thing again? Buddhists?"
Us: "No, we're Christian"
Guy: "Yeah, but that's what all the cults say"
Us: "Not the Buddhists..." 

That's an interesting thing about the people. If it's not Armenian Apostolic, then it's a cult. Doesn't matter if it's Catholic, Islam, etc. It's all the same to them. They don't understand that there are more Christians in the world than them. When we tell them we're Christian, they're like "Wait, so which monastery do you go to?" And then we explain how we go to our own church, not the Armenian ones.

So yeah, that's it for me :) I love you all! Have a nice time at the family reunion :)

Elder Bott had a baptism on Saturday for someone he found in Ajapnyak :)
This is what the washing machine looks like. It's poop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rocks or Free Stuff

Me, Elder Bott, Elder Peterson, and our new Elder Van Blankenstein, as well as Abraham. He's a way cool kid that the Erebuni elders baptized while I was in Shengavit.

So the way my laundry works is I put it in a giant bucket with water and soap, which spins it around for me for 15 minutes. Then I take the water out and it spins again to whip the water out :) But yeah, laundry mats don't exist here. Most people just wash them in a tub or something. This week I saw someone washing their clothes at a water fountain :p

So my clothes should be fine. I'm pretty well stocked on suits, and my shirts are holding out. My sewing should last me until the end of my mission. :)

Anyways, I got the letter from the High Priest's quorum yesterday :) Thank you so much for that. It really meant a lot.

So lots of walking again this week. But it resulted in investigators for a change. We have a couple people we're teaching now :) I like that.

Also, I'm going to be teaching Violet's family. There's a lot of drama behind that but in the end, I'll be teaching her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. So I'll let you know how that goes :)

Got rocks throw at us this week. We're all fine, but Elder Bott got hit in the legs :p He's fine, and has another cool story to bring home now :)

It seems like we either get yelled at and rocks thrown at us, or people just give us free stuff. Example, this week, we got in a situation where some women got 10 other people to start yelling at us. We were cornered and couldn't go anywhere. Thankfully one guy, who was actually in the army, backed us up, even though he didn't want our message. He took most of the flack for us while we made our escape after 20 minutes.

The very same day, one guy, who didn't want our message, gave us a melon for free. :)

So, I have to go now. Sorry! I took a while writing president and we have to go down to Center today, but I love you all!

Elder Hammer

P.S.  Remind me to tell you about my branch district and the locals next week :)))
A cute bird that had no fear and came right up to us while we were sitting
Me and Abraham

Monday, July 16, 2012

God Enjoys Water Day

Hello :)

So what do Armenians need? Well, it's hard to say because the only ones that complain about needing stuff are the ones that have enough already :p Funny how that works. Really, though, I honestly don't know. There are specific people I know, but they need bigger things like jobs and education. More intangible things. Bread is really cheep and so are clothes. They get most of them from China or from donations from DI (Deseret Industries.  It's like the Salvation Army). I wish I could be more help :/

Anyways, my week was pretty dry...until yesterday. And then it got very, very wet. Literally :p Yesterday was a national holiday called Water Day. Essentially water day is a day where anyone can get you wet and it doesn't matter. You can't get offended. The tradition is that the Armenian priests would bless water and then you would go throw it on someone else and they would become 'blessed'. But now everyone just takes water and douses each other.

So we were pretty much safe on the way to church and on the way back. It began to rain and Elder Bott (my new companion) said, "Oh look! God decided to join in on the fun too!" I thought that was funny.

Later on we were trying to find a less-active in this one building. When we came out, there was a group of about 10 teenage kids all holding buckets full of water. We tried walking casually, pretending like we didn't care, when they started following us. Elder Bott and I pulled out water balloons to get ready (which we had filled during lunch) and then booked it. The chased us for a while, but most of them dropped out, except for one. Elder Bott and I were running as fast as we could; we both threw our water balloons, and both missed :p. Then we reached a building and Elder Bott ran forward, but I took a sharp turn and kept on running, thinking he would just go straight. But as I stopped and turned around, he was standing right there smiling with the bucket in hand. He then says to me "Tsio?" meaning "Finished?" in Russian. I pull out my water bottle and give a feeble little squirt at him, and then he drenches me from head to toe.  I walk down some steps to find Elder Bott standing in the street looking very confused, and looking for me. He then sees me and just starts laughing. :p  So I guess it had to be one of us.

The rest of the day we had to avoid the most common technique, dumping water from your apartment window, as well as people hanging out of cars with squirt guns :p  So that was a nice end to a very...dry...week. :p

I have a new companion now :) His name is Elder Bott. He's from Arizona but has been all over the place from Utah to Iowa. He hasn't gone to college yet, but plans on starting out at BYU Idaho. He has a mom and a dad and one younger brother who's planning on going on a mission soon. Elder Bott has about 3 months left so I'll probably be the one to kill him :) (Carl informs me that "killing him" is a common way to say that Jared will be the last companion he has before he leaves his mission. Thought that's what he meant.  Kind of a weird way to put it!)

I saw my first Armenian funeral today. I think my first funeral ever (thank my lucky stars for that). A member in our branch had a mother that just died, so we went to go support him. They do something interesting after the viewing at their apartment; They take the casket and spin it three times in a circle so that the deceased persons spirit can say goodbye to all of his or her neighbors. So that's a fun-fact on Armenian culture. I had never really seen a dead body before so that was a little strange.

I'm getting pretty pro at sewing now. A lot of my clothes are falling apart, so I've been getting a lot of experience :p

So that was my week :) I love you all!

Elder Hammer

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Me and an elephant made out of bottles
My brothers (We always called Jared 'Jare Bear')

Crazy monkey
Two lions taking care of each other
Me and a camel
4th of July dinner
4th of July cake and ice cream :)
Found a friend. :)
He just wandered up and sat down next to me :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Nicest People on the Planet

Jared's letter to Dad and everyone! (We'll post his pictures tomorrow!)


So you said a little about Schwarmas, here they're called Sharmas. They're actually really good, depending on the place you go. My favorite guy was someone down in Shengavit. It's always a nice quick meal if you're headed somewhere in a hurry :)
All sorts of really good fruit pops up over here during the summer. The apricots are amazing. No wonder they symbolize them on their flag. We have an apricot tree in our backyard (we have a backyard :) ) and just this week we picked some from it and ate them. :) It made everything we went through this week all worth it :) We also got to pick some cherries from our backyard as well. Elder Smith likes to freeze them.
So Georgia and Armenia are pretty separated from each other. If you're in the north zone, zone conference switches off between Vanadzor and Tblisi, but besides that, I haven't seen any of the Georgians since the MTC.
As far as visa missionaries go, they always stay at the mission home, so we never get to see any of them. We saw a few at our most recent zone conference, but that was about it.
New missionaries come in every three months or so here. We come in and leave by MTC groups. So at any time in the mission, there will be 8 groups who are all the same age in the mission. Once one leaves, another replaces it right away. The new group gets here on Wednesday, and Elder Lush's group ( D': ) leaves at 2 in the morning on Friday.
So my district is pretty new in this area. Elder Wahl (ap) and I are the oldest in the district, Elder Cook is the other AP, and the sisters are Sister Beal and Bobzien. Sister Bobzien is from Napa California and she's about to get out of her training. Sister Beal was in the group right before her and also happens to be the sister that will be going home with my group. 
We have three genealogy centers here. One in each of the big cities I think, but it's not really interesting to our members too much. We're still trying to get them interested in Sacrament meeting, let alone family history or the temple :p. But we do have one investigator that wants to know about his ancestors. :) So that's pretty cool.
...You know, I used to be pretty apprehensive about talking to the police officers, because of the laws, but they're actually some of the most interested people. Them as well as the soldiers. We made friends yesterday with four of the cadets at the military academy in our area. That was pretty neat :) They graduate in 9 days. For the most part they're all really cool people, but none of them can join our church because when they sign the contract, they swear allegiance to the Armenian Apastolic Church, and if they convert, they forfeit their job.
We were looking for a less active but he wasn't home so we knocked on the neighbor's door to see if they still lived there and they wouldn't even let us speak. They ushered us in and brought us into the main room and gave us a whole bunch of cake, fruit, and all sorts of juice. They were having a party because some child in the family had been baptized. We explained a little about the gospel and one seemed pretty interested, but for the most part, they just asked questions about us as people (where we're from, etc.) This is something I really like about Armenians. They do this. To a degree, I wasn't even surprized, because that's just how these people are. It just amazes me how close they are to each other and how hospitible they are. The only reason I get hard times here is because I'm wearing the badge, but really, I'm convinced these are the nicest people on the planet.
I got your package!!!!!! Thank you sooooo much :)))))))))))))))) It's almost done :p Yummmmm :) Thank you thank you :) You don't know how much it made my day.
On our way to the zoo on Monday, we were riding a fairily new bus donated from China. The seats still had some bubble wrap on them. So naturally Elder Smith and I annoyed the whole bus for the whole ride :p We couldn't help it.
This is how most of our planned up meetings went this week:
"Hey, are we still good to meet at 6:00?"
"Oh, Elders...uhhhh, I uh,...someone close to our family died. So we need to prepare for the funural tomorrow."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. When are you leaving?"
"uhhh, 6:00"
"Ah, okay"
"Hi, we're in your area and we wanted to know if you're available to meet. Everything fell through today so our schedule is open right now."
"Oh, Elders...uhhhh, I uh, ....we're not home"
"How? This is your home phone number"
"OH. uhhh...What I meant is...uh...We're not going to be home. We're leaving, to go to a village"
"Right now?"
"It's 8 at night"
"okay, have a nice trip"
True stories. Both members. Many more stories like that. Including finding them on the street the next day after they said they were in Russia, etc. :) Not even our members want us :p
Anyways, that was my week :) Love you all!

Elder Hammer
Parts of Jared's letter to Mom:
..This week, was again, rough, but I'm still doing okay. A lot of yelling and a lot of threats, but that's what it's like right? :)
...Transfers might happen this week, I don't know. The new kids come in on Wednesday (I'm jumping the hand! Group number 5 now :0 )
Jared described to us in his last Skype call that there are always 8 groups of missionaries in Armenia.  Each group starts together at the MTC, missionary training center. He has been in the youngest four groups (which he shows us with one hand) and now he is switching to the older groups (which he shows with his other hands...hence, Jumping the hand!)   Must be nice knowing you're finally on the side that's closest to going home!  He mentions in his letter that his very first companion in Armenia is going home this week.  We're sure glad Jared had Elder Lush as a companion and started him off so well there in Armenia.
We belong to a Facebook group for the Armenia Yerevan Mission.  This week I commented on someone's post and another former missionary posted back that he knew Jared.  Here's what he said about him: "Elder Hammer is a stud by the way and was doing great when I was there about 6 and a half months ago."  I love hearing great things about my boy!!! :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Squazniak and Hjurasirel


So you asked about the weather; it's already pretty hot. This week was blazing, except for yesterday. It rained, so it wasn't as bad. We still open the windows at night though, usually two, to get something called a squazniak. That's the Russian word for wind, but they use it here to mean that breeze that blows through when you open two windows as well. 

The school schedule here is like the ones outside of SMMUSD :p They got out about a month ago and they enter back in somewhere in August. When schools out though, that just gives the kids more free time, which is never a good thing :p When there's not too much to do in a country and no work, you do the only things that are left, like cigarettes, alcohol, and porn. So that's an issue for us that we have to deal with.

No one really travels from here. If they do, it's to Russia to look for work or be with family, but besides that, no one has money to even go to the other side of the city. We have investigators that don't come to church because they don't have the money to get from Nork to Arabkir (look on a map).
As far as tourists coming to here, we mostly get Iranians coming up from the south, but every now and then you see some from Europe.

The way women dress here in the summer is like walking into a real life porn site. Elder Smith and I always make fun of them. "What should I wear today? Hmmm, maybe my underwear and Saran Wrap."

People usually don't like to talk to us, or even look at us, so the way we usually stop people is by asking them for an address (we usually have a few in mind to try and find less-actives). Usually they'll be curious enough to keep on talking. But for the most part, people don't like casual talk. They'll mostly just complain about the economical situation. :/

You asked about movies and stuff. There's only one movie theater in the entire country and it's in Center. I don't really go by there too often so I'm not sure what movies come out. It's not really a big past time here.  They do like soccer and boxing here. They boast about their boxers a lot.

As far as concerts go, we're not allowed to go to them anymore because once, a companionship went to the opera house to see an opera and a topless scene came out of nowhere :p So that was quickly banned.

Well I have to go because we're going to the zoo today, but I want to share one thing I really like about the Armenian people. They are some of the nicest people (if you're not a missionary :p ), but even then. We were just walking by when we started talking to this one guy on the street. Another guy came out of his shoe shack and started listening in. After we were done talking, he called us in and polished our shoes for us, free of charge. The Armenians are very hospitable people. Even if they don't like you, they'll still ask how they can hjurasirel you, which literally translated means 'to guest-love'.

I just have to remember that when people yell at me, threaten me, or tell me that on the news they say Mormons have a special day where they sacrifice themselves by slitting their throat.....sighhhhh. That's a true story from this week. We dispelled that rumor.

Anyways, that's my week. I love you all! :)

Elder Hammer