Monday, January 28, 2013

Teaching Mr. Sako

Scenery from Gyumri to Vanadzor
Hello :)

I think everyone back home is getting a kick out of telling me how much time I have left :p It's kind of scary. I went from 6 months to 4 months in no time flat. The hospital trip didn't help at all either.

Well, yes, I'm back in Vanadzor now. We got back Saturday evening, so I haven't really had any time to do too much missionary work yet, excluding yesterday, which was amazing. Elder Hall ended up having some lung complications, so that's what kept us from Monday to Saturday. But everything's good now and he's healing pretty well. The wound is (pretty awesome looking) just about all healed up, so that's good.

Well I don't have to many stories because most of last week was spent at the hospital or at the office helping out the Eyres. But there is the story of Sako :) So we were just sitting in church when a random guy walked in and sat down. I decided to sit next to him so he could share my scriptures and afterwards I asked if he wanted to meet again sometime. He said he wanted to meet after church in the evening, so we met with him and he turned out to be a really amazing man that has a huge desire to be baptized and to learn about the church. So we invited him to be baptized and he accepted :) It was really kind of a miracle.

Well, NEXT week I promise my letter will be longer :p I'm so sorry. I love you all a ton though :)

Elder Hammer

Parts of Jared's letter to Me:


You know, I actually had a ton of pictures I wanted to send off to you, and then I thought twice, and thought that it might be better to wait until I get back to show you the pictures of the Armenian hospital :p. So I have a ton of pictures, but I'll only send you the few nice ones :p.....

  So the Eyres (office senior couple) are going to be leaving in May, around the time I do, more in the beginning of the month, and I was talking to the Griffeths (senior couple up here) about some of their plans, and it looks like the Eyres are thinking about going down to Israel before they come back to the States. It turns out that there's a flight from here to Israel for about 200-300 dollars or so (with a connection out of Kiev) and the flight price from Israel to America is close enough to the flight from Armenia to America that church travel services would adjust the flight plans to go out of there with no additional cost. I have to admit I'm super jealous :p After being immersed in Armenian culture for a year and a half, I'm just so curious about the rest of the Middle East. It seems really similar to my people's culture from what it sounded like talking to the Griffeths and my Iranian family.
Anyways, it's something to put on my bucket list if I ever get the chance to head back this way.

Elder Hall :p
Erebuni Hospital

Hospital Visit

Hi mom! So we got discharged from the hospital this morning :D So I guess Elder Hall is doing well enough. It was definitely an experience to put in the journal. I'm sure there was a reason we were there. I hope we touched someone's life.

It was....boring though as well :p Spending 11-12 days in the hospital isn't exactly the most fun experience (though spiced up a little by the fact that it was no ordinary hospital. It was the Erebuni hospital, not the Nairi hospital that we all usually go to).

Well, we're out now though, and Elder Hall has a neat scar (or four) to carry away. I'll have to make this email short as well because we're at the mission home right now, and we have to give the laptops back soon. The Carters are so good to us :) They take care of us like we were their own children (Sister Carter feeds us really well, too :p )

I'll have to tell you the details of the story when I get back home :p For Brother and Sister Hall's sake. But anyways, I love you a lot and hopefully everything will get back to normal next week.
I love you a ton!!! :))))) Don't stress too much!

<3 Elder Hammer

Friday, January 18, 2013

Night of Miracles

We did not receive a letter from Jared on Monday.  But we did receive a nice note late Monday from Jared's Mission President's wife:

Dear Hammers,

Elder Hammer was not able to make it to internet today because he is being the companion to an Elder that is in the hospital after having his appendix removed.

Elder Hammer is a great missionary and we are so thankful to have him in our mission.

Our best to your family,

Sister Carter

The next day we received this letter from Jared:

Hello everyone! 

So sorry that this is going to be a short email, but I'm sitting in a hospital room using sister Carter's iPhone to write this :p . 

So it's been pretty crazy this week. We had to rush Elder Hall down to Yerevan from Vanadzor because he was having symptoms of appendicitis. Turns out it was a pretty serious case of it and they had to have an extensive surgery and keep him here for a week. Hopefully we will be out by this Thursday or Friday.

It really was a night of miracles when we rushed Elder Hall down to Yerevan. There's too many to say, using just an iPhone to describe it all, but it was like watching an unseen hand sweep the path in front of us, clearing the way to Yerevan. Other things happened to fall in to place, where the right people were notified at the right time. People who needed to know what was going on, but had no idea anything was wrong, just decided to 'randomly' call just to see if things were okay. Pathways which were supposed to be closed were literally plowed right in front of us.  Elder Hall is healing at a miraculous rate and getting better each day.

It was a situation which yes, was stressful, but ended up being one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. It was scary at points, but I knew the Lord was behind us, or rather by our side 100% the whole time. Talk about Zone leader bonding :p There's not a whole lot more that does that than hanging out 24/7 in a hospital with not much to do.

Well, I love you lots, and I'll talk to you again on Monday! :)

Love, Elder Hammer 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's a New Year!


That dessert looks....tempting. I'm super sad that I'm all the way over here :P It's okay though. New Years brings out the cook in everyone here. It was a week full of desserts and very good meals. We tried as hard as we could not to get fed and instead leaving our own food (I made cookies). It didn't really work out that well though.

It's kind of interesting though, because random people will just invite you off the street into their houses. We got invited into this one house. They were nice, but it was weird because they were all Atheist.

On New Years Day I gave my first Zone meeting, which is kind of like a 2 &1/2 hour long district meeting. It was stressful, but way fun.

As far as medical goes, the hospital is still closed, so we'll have to figure something out. Merrrr......

I'm super sorry that I'm not writing much this week, but we have to go because weird circumstances brought us to Yerevan and we have to get back before the roads freeze :)

Well, I love you all so much and I promise to write more next week! :)

Elder Hammer

Excerpts from Jared's letter to me:

Well, I didn't make it to New Years :p We bought way too much junk food and watched movies and stuff (because it was P-day) and I didn't really make it past 10:40. We set the alarm for 11:50, but I didn't even hear it :p Elder Harrington did though.

The rest of the week was good too. We got fed way too much food despite our desperate pleas on the contrary, but it was fun meeting with our members in a different setting.
Gohar, one of our members :)
This is what Nor Tari tables look like (New years). Yes, that is a thigh of a pig with a knife sticking out of it.
A fish....
Our Christmas party for the branch.

We had a snowball fight with the children, using tissues :p
Santa came!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Release Date!

 MAY 31, 2013!!!
We received a letter this week telling us Jared's release date.  It looks like Jared will be released from his mission on May 31, 2013.  He'll most likely be home around June 1.  We look forward to seeing him!  The best part of this is that he will not miss his Madeleine's 8th grade graduation.  She's a happy girl!



This week was pretty stressful. :p We had lots of places to go. I wasn't hardly in my area at all. We had the Christmas party in Yerevan on the 24th, then on Christmas we went over to Gyumri to train the new District leader over there. On Friday we had lots of training down in Yerevan (and my birthday :) ) and then on Saturday we went up to Alaverdi to visit the members up there. It was way fun. 
Alaverdi is a small factory city from the Soviet era. There's still one copper mine factory working but besides that the whole city is full of factory skeletons. It's a way nice city though that's apparently supposed to be really green during the spring. 
The missionaries pulled out of there when I was in the MTC and the branch closed right after I got to country, so right now it's just a group, mainly because there's no priesthood. But once every month we make sure all the members get the sacrament, and one other time during the month we go up and visit them and meet with them and any other investigators. So yeah, that's Alaverdi. :)

We had a pretty cool experience this week. We were just walking along when this one guy just stopped us and said "Hey, I'm interested in learning about that book you're holding. How can I get a hold of one?" and of course we responded by saying he was talking to the right people :) So hopefully he'll be willing to meet either today or tomorrow. :) It came after a really hard week, so it was a nice breath of fresh air. 

The week before, we were having a pretty rough day, so I stopped Elder Harrington and said, "Hey let's say a prayer." By this point it was already 8:00 at night. Before we even let our arms fold, a guy from across the street called out to us to come over. He then invited us into his house where his wife, kid, sister, niece, and mother were. At first they were hesitant, but they warmed up super quickly. I'm not sure if they were interested in the gospel, but if nothing else, they're our friends now :) God answers prayers.

Well, that's my week. Happy New Year! I love you all!

Elder Hammer
Parts of Jared's letter to me:
 On my birthday, we had to go down to Yerevan for training meetings and conferences the whole day, so I had to wake up at 5:00. So while I was waiting for the taxi to show up, I opened my box while everyone else was asleep (Elder Harrington stayed in Vanadzor with the Gyumri District leader because he had work). Thank you so much for everything :) It was kind of neat because my district remembered me when they came to pick me up. So it was a fun (long though) day.
Me, Branch Prez. Elder Hall, Elder Griffeths, and Arturik one of our young members
We went to Alaverdi this last Saturday. We found these. You are what you eat. And you are what what you eat eats...

I don't know if you can see, but that was the thermometer on the way down to Yerevan. Right after I took the picture, it went down to -27 C.
This is one of our member families in Alaverdi

Pictures after Christmas

We did not receive a letter the week of Christmas.  But we did get to talk to Jared on Christmas Day.  He seems to be doing well for the most part!  We did receive some pictures the day after Christmas.  Here they are!

Our stocking/tree set up :) Tell thanks to Grandpa and Chloe. I got their package :)))
Me in front of the square in Vanadzor
One of our priesthood member's sons. He's a very curious kid.
Our white Christmas
View from our window
Elder Wood :) He's the new kid. His glasses fogged up from the cold
Elder Harrington and I
The feast :)
Me and the cake :) (Jared's Birthday is December 28th)
The cake
Gyumri Branch building