Monday, February 25, 2013

Word of Wisdom


Well if I didn't have a testimony about the Word of Wisdom before, I certainly do now, after being on a mission here. It's kind of funny though, because they just don't seem to get it here. More than once, this conversation has taken place:

Me: "You shouldn't smoke, it's bad for your health"
Guy: "No it's not, there's nothing wrong about it"
Me: "What does that say on the box?"
Guy: "Smoking is bad for your health"
Me "..."
Guy: "Well they just put that on there because the law says they have to"
Me: "You don't see the law saying anything about stuff like Kit-kats do you?"

It's just sad, because it's just not socially frowned upon here. In fact, it's almost encouraged. You can't step onto a marshutni without getting hit with a puff of smoke coming from the driver. It doesn't help that the government doesn't have the strength yet to enforce those kind of health laws.

One of our members just passed the 10 year mark of his wife's death. The night before he asked if we could come with him to her grave. So we got a "family friend" taxi that the missionaries always use and headed up to the graveyard. When we got up there (it was hidden in the ridges of the mountains) we saw these huge elaborate grave sites with huge grave stones. The further we went on, the smaller and smaller the grave sites got until finally we got to his wife's, which was no more than a patch of dirt with weeds and a singe rock on it. He had no money for anything else. It was probably the saddest thing I've ever seen.

We had brought some flowers with us, so we left that which we could, and then we moved on. We went over to his parents site as well as his wife's parent's site, and he wrote down the dates of birth and death. He's preparing to go to the temple soon and he's going to get his families work done for him :) After we finished, he turned to us and said, smiling, "This is a great church we've got here, huh Elders?"

It just kind of made me realize, that this gospel isn't a dead gospel. It's got living principles and living applications to people.

Well, we left that peaceful hill and went back down into the city, back into the real world, sighhh...

When we got back, there was a demonstration happening right in front of our church and right by our apartment because the president that got put into office is thought by some here to have not been the person the people elected. So that's always fun to deal with. We had to steer clear of the church that day.
Well, that's my week. :) Love you all!

Elder Hammer

Part of Jared's letter to me:

It's kind of weird because Elder Hall has less than a month left and he's the group right in front of me. I feel like there's so much to do, and just not enough time to do it all. I'm going to miss these people so much. 
Vardan (member) with his guinea pigs :p
Vardan with his turtles :)

The graveyard

View from the graveyard onto the city

Us along the train tracks. To get from one part of our area to the next (unless we take a 2-3 mile detour), we have to follow a path that takes us across them. Don't worry, we're super safe :) I'll point out details to these pictures when I get home :p

Us with the senior couples, at Lena's family's house. They're all members. All 9 of them :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Drundez!

Me, Elder Harrington, Serge, and Shushan, a member

I'm always the last to know about things around here. Because the zone leaders are split, and Elder Hall is the senior zone leader, often times the assistants will call him without telling him to let me know, so I usually don't know about things until they happen. :p

And as a missionary, world news doesn't get to me very often at all. And if it does, it may not be the most reliable... I think I heard something about the pope stepping down because of health issues. That may be true, but there are a ton of rumors that go along with that that I doubt.

Anyways, today is elections day here. So we'll see how things turn out. People don't really seemed interested about it this year around. I don't really think there are too many competitors for the guy already in office.

So the new Senior couples came this week. That was pretty cool. They're the Haglunds. They seem to be really cool. Elder Haglund was in the Air Force ( :D ) which I found to be pretty cool. And he actually lived in LA for a little bit so he knew a little about Santa Monica and even knew my High School :)

On the 13th of February, Armenia had a little holiday called Drundez. It's kind of like Valentines day, except more....paganistic. :p So during the holiday, at night they light a fire at the church and let it go down to coals, and then couples jump over the fire. When you jump over the fire it's supposed to help both of you have....fertility that year :p So that's the tradition. And then after there's a big party and you invite all your family over.
On valentines day, I made a bunch of hearts and handed it out to a whole bunch of people :) That was fun.

Anyways, that was my week. I filled my one journal and now I'm on my next one :)

Well, I love you all!

Elder Hammer 
Our way to the baptism in Gyumri. Sister Nelson and Elder Wood
She lives out in this little village called Jrashen

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gonna Miss the Bread ALMOST as Much as the People

Me, stopped on the way back.

Highlight of this week: We went up to Alaverdi this week to give the sacrament to the members up there. It was the first Sacrament meeting I've conducted, so that was kind of nerve wracking. It was fun though. I love the members up there. It's amazing that the few members up there stay so strong, so far detached from the rest of Armenia.

Well, we went there with Serge, the 1st counselor in the presidency, and Vardan, one of our good members. On our way back, we stopped by a river and had a little lunch of Yershik (sausage thing?) and cheese sandwiches. It was amazing. I'm going to miss this bread, almost as much as I'll miss these people :p Okay, maybe not that much. I love these people too much.

It was kind of interesting though because I was calling all the members up there to let them know, and I called one member and she said "I wasn't feeling too good and I was praying real hard that the Elders would come up tomorrow and do sacrament. After I prayed, the phone rang, and I knew who it was going to be." So that was pretty neat :)

We had a pretty successful Elders Quorum activity this week. We had a lot of members and investigators show up. Even ours! Unfortunately, his phone has been turned off since and we haven't been able to get a hold of him.

Everyone here seems to be getting a bug that's going around. It's a bad upset stomach and then a terrible headache afterwards. Thankfully I've been spared so far.

On Monday, we celebrated Elder Woods birthday which was last Sunday. We went over to the church and played ping pong and had a little bit of food delivered to us :) It was pretty fun. We have a really cool district.

Anyways, love you all!

Elder Hammer
Vardan, Me, Sago, and Mishik
Our branch prez
The Elders quorum
Elder Hall and Wood at the Elders quorum activity
The nicest supermarket here, where we go most of the time.
Ofelia :)
The Alaverdi group
Public buses in Vanadzor
This was walking the streets of Alaverdi.... It's a little rural.
Me and Serge
Our socket burned out this week, so we replaced it :) I feel like a man!

The Gyumri district
I'm still a kid!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Last Winter

Me and Elder Harrington
Parts of Jared's letter to Dad:

...But yeah, my Thyroid is doing great now. The tests they've been doing are all normal. The area doctor is suggesting I get retested in about 6 months. So we'll see how all that goes. I'm doing great though.
Toothpaste here is pretty good :p We get Aquafresh and Colgate that exports to Armenia, so it's pretty trustworthy. Thank goodness. The Russian toothpaste tastes like doo.

In terms of laundry, we always have to do our own because laundromats don't exist here. So we get these cruddy little Soviet washers where you have to take a hose (usually your shower head) and pour water into it, then you pour the soap in, and it just kind of spins it in a circle for 15 minutes. That's all :p Some of the nicer apartments are starting to get washing machines in them.

Anyways, We had a Zone conference this week and President Laurence came and spoke to us. It was nice :) Learned a lot. It seems like Zone Conferences are always a call to repentance. :p

Besides that, this week was kinda rough. A lot of walking around again and not a lot of people outside. So, the good thing is that I'm walking off all the winter weight :p I'll be nice in shape by the time you see me again.

It's just kind of hard to keep thinking that you actually are helping people, when hundreds of people every day just yell at you telling you that you're destroying their country and their people and that you're from the devil himself. But, I guess that's what prayer is for at the end of the night.

Well, our good friends the Griffeths left this Saturday for Georgia. They were transferred up there from Vanadzor. Oh well :(

Well, I love you all :) Have a wonderful week

Elder Hammer

Parts of Jared's letter to Mom:

Well the weather has mood swings, but for the most part it's getting a lot warmer. It snowed yesterday pretty hard but right now all the snow's just about melted :) So that's kind of creepy seeing the weather getting warmer. That means my last winter in Armenia is almost over. :(

Well, Sako kind of fell through and disappeared off the face of the earth. :( You know it makes it really hard to continue missionary work when something like that happens. It seems like other missionaries take it better than I do. But for me, I really give my investigators a piece of my heart, and when they disappear, it feels like I've lost that piece. It's really a crushing feeling.

But, move on to next week. Should be better :)

Anyways, I love you mom! :)


We visited the church up here
Our new missionaries :)
The church
Our Apartment

This month is Elder Harrington, Elder Wood, Sister Broadbent, and Sister Griffeths birthday. Those were for them.
The Griffeths, they just left for Georgia, the country.