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!!! :)

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