Monday, April 22, 2013

Breaking and Entering


So speaking of the weather, it was terrible this week. Right when we thought spring was rolling around and everyone was putting away their winter coats, a freak snow storm blew through the north and froze everything. It was really terrible. And now, all the fruit bearing trees, including the apricots, all lost their yield this year, so prices are going to be really expensive for fruit. Plus it didn't make us very happy, because our heater doesn't work. So we went to bed usual. Our dumb little apartment :p

Well this week the big news is that I baptized a lady named Luiza. She's an investigator of the sisters and she asked me to baptize her. It was really a great baptism, but one that required a lot of faith and miracles. So the night before, we were called to go help the sisters because they were stuck in the church. It was locked and their key wouldn't work. So we came down with our coats over our PJs (it was already well past 9:00) and freed them. As they were locking the door though, their key got stuck. As sister Nelson was trying to pull the key out, the entire lock came out of the door, sending the little pegs flying everywhere. So we somewhat jerry-rigged it to stay shut until we could do something about it the next morning. When we got there the next morning, it wouldn't open for us at all. Thankfully locks aren't very secure here (...) so it just so happened that the sister's house key opened the side door to the church. When we got in though, the water was shut off because the day before a pipe broke in the city of Vanadzor, so we couldn't fill up the font. After a few hours of stressing, we figured out the water actually had been turned back on and that there was a smaller control valve in the bathroom that opened up the water to the font. We turned on the water, but to our horror it was freezing cold. All of the gas in Vanadzor was shut off that morning at 3, so our water heater wouldn't work. After periodically checking every half hour or so, the gas came back on at about 12. The only problem was that the baptism was going to be at 3 in the afternoon and the font always  takes at least five hours to fill. So we left it and just decided to rely on faith. Would you believe it? The font filled up in 2 and 1/2 hours. :) So the baptism went on as scheduled, with the font ready and filled a half hour before, just like it's supposed to be.

Well, our investigator Karo just quit smoking last Monday, so he's getting ready :) And he said he could never quit :)

Hey, I love you all and I think you're great!
Love always,
Elder Hammer

Old train photos we took during a lunch hour. :)

Me, the sister missionaries and Luiza :)
A family of investigators we have in Alaverdi
Alaverdi is getting greener!! :))
We had to break into the church....I can explain.
Chopping wood for service

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's okay...I'm fine here

Me next to the "huh" for 'H'ammer

This week was very very busy. Monday was translating, Tuesday was Preparation day, Thursday we had a baptism in Gyumri we went to, Friday we had Zone conference, and then Saturday and Sunday was general conference. Besides that, on Wednesday we went and did service for one of our members. We shoveled poop. We finished up their garden and now they need to fertilize it :p Funnnn....

Well, I always love General Conference out here. Sure I had my traditional nap somewhere between two 70s talks, but I stayed awake for most of it. General Conference means something more to me now, now that I've been out here in Armenia. I wasn't very good about studying the gospel before my mission, to say the least, but now, general conference is just one of the greatest testimony builders besides the scriptures I have.

 It was kind of funny though, all the Armenians kept on wandering into our room and sitting with us. We let them know that conference was going in Armenian in the main room, but they were always like "It's okay. I'm fine here." :p We were like "No really, it's totally fine if you go into the other room." (They would always bring their kids in and they would just go nuts making noise everywhere) but they were always just like "Oh no, thanks. I'm good here." At first I was kind of annoyed, but then I realized, they just liked being around us, and then I felt kind of touched. :)

Well, funny little nothings that happened this week:
Got to see hail in Gyumri this week. First time in like 10 yearsWe went to the store real quick on preparation day right before we headed in for the night and Elder Wood just goes "Aghhh!!!" and he looks over and we both see that he had no tie on :p So we walked around for 30 minutes without him having a tie.

Well, I love you all!!!
Stay well and healthy!

Elder Hammer

The Armenian letters monument
Me doing service, scooping pig poop from fertilizer...
Bareback horse-riding shepherd. :)
Sister "Siranush" Muradyan, Sister Nelson's temporary companion.
Me and Lena, our 15 year old member who's super stoked about missionary work. Cannot wait the four years until she can go. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

From 60 to 1

Super rainy :)
Sorry for the late posting of the letter.  We didn't get it until Tuesday.  Plus it was a busy week here.  Only 7 more weeks to go until he arrives at LAX!  Here's Jared!!!


Well, right now we have two main people we're working with. One is named Tigran, and the other is Karo. I think I've talked about Tigran a little bit, but he's a young man about 21 years old and we're getting him ready to serve a mission. He's been struggling with inactivity for a while, but now he's doing really great. We kind of dragged him out of exile and he pushed himself to be active again. He's way awesome. He'll be serving a mini-mission in a week, but after that, he's going to start working with the branch president and he'll get ready to serve a real mission. If he serves a mission, I will never again wonder why I'm in Armenia. I'm just so excited for him and we both love him so much.

Karo I think I've spoke about a bit as well. He's the man who started off smoking 60 cigarettes a day, and now he's done to just one :) He's almost done. His testimony is super strong and he's got a great family support system, so I think he's going to be baptized before I go home, which would be really great to see. :)

 Besides that though, it's been a pretty normal week. Not a whole lot more to report. A couple funny stories and a couple scary stories, but for the most part it's just been a good weekYesterday I was translating for President Carter the whole day which is why I wasn't able to write. Sorry :)
Well, I love you all so very much. :)

Elder Hammer

Us, inspecting the new church building in Vanadzor :)  

One of the boys in our branch.

Monday, April 1, 2013

American-Loving Armenian Cows

They had a cow :p I liked it.

That's so weird that so few people showed up at the Young Women thing. There was an activity just this Saturday for the Young Women here at our branch and I'm pretty sure there were at least five of them there.

Wow, it's weird we're already talking about school and this summer. Bleagh. But yeah, I was planning on getting a job this summer before I go back at least. I was thinking about being a waiter or something. I would have rejected it before my mission, but I've grown in people skills since then. I have no idea though. What kind of pre-graduate jobs are out there right now?

In terms of housing, I would say just do it now. Housing gets really nasty, really quickly, so the sooner the better :p I'll just learn to live with new people. I've been doing it for two years now. :)

Okay, gross, done with that now. So this week was really crazy, there was a ton of stuff we did, but I probably won't be able to get into a detail of it all. It was a really good week though. We started off with service at our member's house. She lives way up in the mountains and has a decent size farm. So we came up and helped her till her ground so she can get it ready to grow garlic. Over there she has cows and chickens and pigs, and they wander wherever they want. So it was a little frustrating when the cow walked all over the work we had just done. But I liked the cow, I thought it was funny. :) It hates Armenians and bites them, but whenever Americans are over, it lets them hug it and pet it and get close :p

We had a meeting with one of our investigators Karo, and he's been having a smoking problem. So during one of our meetings, we just stopped and said "Do you believe in miracles?" He said, "Yes." We said, "Do you believe God can help you stop smoking?" He said "Yes." We said, "Do you believe God can help you stop smoking, right now?" He hesitated and said, "Yes." Then we said, "Then, take out your cigarettes. Put them on the table. We're going to say a prayer and then we're going to leave and the cigarettes will stay. When you get home, read you scriptures and pray for strength." And that's exactly what happened :) He hasn't stopped completely yet, but he's gone down from 60 a day to about 10 a day. :) Power of fasting. And he said he couldn't do it :)

On Saturday we went up to Alaverdi again. It was a great trip. Right now it's just starting to get pretty. All the wild apricot trees are starting to flower and it was like singing that one primary song about popcorn. The trees peppered the grey forests in the mountain cliffs and made it quite a scenic drive. Besides that though it was just a normal Alaverdi trip. It was Elder Wood's first time, so his mind was blown :) I don't think there's ever been a missionary who's gone there and hasn't loved it. 

Sunday was a mess. We had 115 people at sacrament meeting, because we tried inviting all the less actives and the Alaverdi group came down. It was pretty irreverent, but the worst part was joint Priesthood and Relief Society. They showed a video of Christ's death and resurrection and it was definitely not produced by the church. We enjoyed great scenes such as Judas hanging himself...Yeah...we talked to the branch president. 

Well after we got home on Saturday, we busted out the egg dyeing kit that you gave me last year, which was great. I'll send some pictures. 

Anyways, I have to write President Carter (the mission president) now, so I'll talk to you later. :))) 

Elder Hammer
Our member's son
We did service for a member in our branch
Me and Serge
Me and Elder Wood (and Serge popping in again)
The end of our work
Anush making lavash traditional style :)
Us at Karo's house, eating Matzun (it's the same as that umer thing dad talks about) homemade, straight from their cow's udder...
Us and Karo and his mom (and their cow)
Me and Serge on the way to Alaverdi
Apricot Flower
All the white dots you see are all apricot trees.
Elder Wood mistook butter for cheese, so he had a niceeee big slice of butter on his bread
Us and eggs
Elder Wood's eggs :P I thought it looked like a dinosaur egg

Mine are the ones on the left of the carton