Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I'm in Armenia

Giant statue of a duduk (I looked up and found out that a duduk is a double reed woodwind instrument.  Apparently a duduk was used in the movie The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe when Mr. Tumnus plays a lullaby. Things you learn!)

That's so weird that the ward building is all remodeled. It'll be crazy to come back and see it.

Well, the last transfer happened this week. Right now, I'm companions with Elder Wood. He's fresh out of his training in Vanadzor, and we were pretty good friends before the transfer, so we're both pretty excited. My companion Elder Harrington got transferred to Gyumri and he's a senior companion now. My Zone Leader companion (the zone leaders were all split last transfer) went back home to Kansas.

So yeah, right now, they decided to just keep me a normal Elder without leadership, which makes Monday mornings a whole lot less stressful. I think that'll be nice. Though I will miss the opportunity to work with a larger field of missionaries. I really enjoyed being a Zone Leader. I really loved my zone a whole lot. I am still the group leader for Alaverdi, so I'll continue doing the sacrament and stuff up there.

The new group is pretty big. Five elders and four sister, with only two elders leaving and one sister. So they had to open up a few more areas, including Nork!!! My old and longest area! :))) It made me super happy. But yeah, the Elders were all at least 19, but we had one 19 year old sister. It was really weird to see her picture, because she looks like she's just out of high school, if that. I hope she does fine. I'm sure she will. We have tough sisters in this mission.

Right now we're working with this one young man in our area named Tigran. He's a less-active guy about 21 years old. He'd always had a dream of going on a mission since he was baptized, but a lot of stuff happened that took him off track and got him distracted with other things. We met with him last night and it was incredible to see the change in him from beginning to the end of our meeting. He started off kind of wishy-washy saying he didn't know if he still wanted to go on a mission (even though we could still tell there was an inner desire). He said that he was one year away from finishing up theater school and if he left, he wasn't sure if he'd get his spot back. Then we shared the story of Lehi and Nephi and how the left a lot of things behind, and made a lot of sacrifices, but they trusted the Lord and were led to an even greater land. We said that's sometimes how it is in life. The Lord commands us to do things sometimes, and it might require a sacrifice, but in the end, it will always turn out better than what you had in mind for yourself. We then asked him "what can we do to help you to go on a mission?" That's when his eyes lit up. He asked us to call him several times a night and remind him to read his scriptures, and he also asked us to come over sometimes and practice the missionary lessons with him from Preach My Gospel. He then mentioned that he would give up his theater school and say goodbye to them all if he needed. It was amazing. He is one of our biggest focuses right now, and we're both super excited to help him prepare.This Sunday was the first time he came to church in about 6 months or so. He said he's going to make it weekly now.  This week I found out why I'm in Armenia.

Well, that was the majority of my week. :) I love you all. Stay healthy!

Elder Hammer

My new companion :p
Sister Nelson took an old cigarette box and rolled up pieces of paper with scriptures on them to help her investigator stop smoking :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


 In Alaverdi

So transfers will be coming up soon this week, so keep a heads up for next week. :)

This week was interesting. I left my journal at home, so I'll have to do my best by memory.

 Well, yesterday we took a visit up to Alaverdi again and brought the sacrament to them. It was really quite fun. I always love going up there, especially when we get to give the sacrament to those humble members up there.

 We did a lot of planning this week, Elder Hall and I because we had to change the boarders for the areas in Vanadzor. That took a while because we had to make a map and then place markers where all the active and near-active and less-active potential active members live, and then break up the areas evenly. I think it all worked out in the end though.

This week the Haglunds were putting on a training meeting for all the branch missionaries. They took it seriously and set everything up beforehand, including writing the schedule up on the board and providing the refreshments. We told them it might be easier if we told everyone to show up a half hour earlier than it started so they actually showed up on time, but we decided it would be better to teach people to show up on time. Well, 4:00 came around and no one out of the seven people supposed to show up were there. Sister Haglund kept on changing the start time on the board from 4:00 to 4:01, to 4:05, etc :p I think we got started somewhere around 4:15.

The sisters in our district had a baptism this week. It was a sweet lady named Mariam. She's super nice and way humble. So that was fun getting to see that.

 Well, besides that, not much else happened. We had a little going away lunch as a district today for Elder Hall, who will be heading back this Thursday (technically Friday at dark:00 a.m.)
Love you all!

Elder Hammer

More Alaverdi pictures (I think this is Elder Harrington with Jared)

Vardan(member), Lyova (nonmember), and me (member)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Women's Day

Me and a couple kids in our branch (Don't you just love their eyes? Especially the kid on the right! Okay, the "kid" on the left as well!)


This week, we had a zone meeting over in Gyumri. I think it went pretty well. Everyone thought it was great. I just wish that people would put into action what we actually tell them to do. Some missionaries complain about the same results, without having made any changes in that week. Something tells me this story won't really change, even after my mission.

 Well, we had a Family Home Evening last Monday and for the game at the end we played Pictionary. I don't know it means I'm really good or really bad, but it seems like I couldn't really draw anything before they guessed what it was. For example, I was only able to draw a circle and someone guessed "Car!"

 It seems like investigators are few and far between right now. But I absolutely love the one's we get. Like just yesterday we picked up a man who was a friend of an investigator of ours. We met him as he was playing chess with him. His name is Lyova and he was such a funny old man. He was making a whole bunch of jokes the whole time and kept on trying to cheat by pretending the king was a queen. As we were talking, he would always keep on slipping into Russian, despite our member continually yelling "Armenian!!" So after our member made several jokes about him not knowing Armenian, Lyova picked up our Book of Mormon and started reading the title page like a baptist preacher. Then afterwards he was like "hey, that's a neat book you have. Could I get a copy of it?" :P Our response was enthusiastic.

 Lots of good stories this week. They'll all have to wait until I get back though :p Remind me.

This March 8th was an Armenian holiday called Women's day. It's essentially just a day to celebrate women. So we had Elder Haglund go and get three flowers for us and give them to the sisters (including Sister Haglund), on behalf of the district (because we can't know....straight up give flowers to sisters as Elders...)

So that's my week :) Love you all! Sorry this is short, but we have to bounce down to Yerevan for Elder Harrington to get his mouth fixed.

 Love you all!

 Elder Hammer

The kids again
In Gyumri :p No it's not real.
Relief Society activity on March 8th. Women's day
Relief Society
Teaching Sister Haglund how to dance Armenian style
Me and Elder Wood :)
Our Zone

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Armenian Soccer....and Sunday School

Our member's dog :p

It's kind of funny how you said honking was never really a good sign on your mission. Over here, horns are usually pretty nice. It's either a taxi driver who's seen us before or random people just wanting to give us a wave.

It's the people on the street you have to be careful about :p Especially if they're ages 15-23. They usually don't have anything appropriate to talk about, and they usually don't like us. :p

Well, my food skills are a lot better, it's just I don't really have any time to make elaborate meals. We usually get along fine. But I'll be happy to have more than 60 minutes to make food and swallow it whole, get dressed and get out the door. 

You know you're in Armenia when someone gets called out for adultery in the middle of Sunday school...

This week, we had to go down to Yerevan 1) for Zone Leader counsel and 2) because Elder Harrington chipped his tooth (actually, he kind of broke it off). So after the meeting, we went in for him and we have to come back in next Monday to get it capped. I'm getting a little tired of medical issues. There must be something about me that just radiates injury. 
While we were waiting for one appointment to go to the next, we went out street contacting and we met a Pentecostal who was determined to prove to us that we were from the devil. Yay. :p

This week we also went to Alaverdi. It was good as usual :) I'll send some pictures

Tuesday was Elder Harrington's birthday. So at 5:45 in the morning, I got up and made some German Pancakes for us :) I think he liked it. 

Last Monday, we decided to go play soccer as a district. As we were playing, an Armenian kid showed up, so we invited him to come play with us. One by one, more kids started showing up, so eventually they suggested we do America vs. Armenia. Yeahhh, we got kicked pretty hard. :p

Well, I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Hammer

Us that went to Alaverdi

Narine and Milena :)) Our member's granddaughter and grandniece
This is how they sand the roads here
This is how traditional bread is made. They just smack it against the stone oven

Turkish toilet :p They have these here too. You just....squat.
No, they don't have stuffed animals in these here. Yes those are cigarettes. Yes, these things are common.
Big dog at the gas station on the way to Yerevan
All of us at Seran's baptism (the other Elder's baptism)