Wednesday, December 24, 2014

God Bless Us, Everyone

Saying Goodbye to Elder Mancillas! It was so sad! He was with me in my first area! The time has FLOWN! 
 Wellll i feel like things are going very quickly these days haha I cant believe its been a week since the last time i have written you and i cant believe that pday is almost over! oops. haha soooo i appologize if you have been waiting for a longggg email and still continue waiting. However, know that the missions is just going tooo fast right now. I cant keep up seriously.

Popo looks pretty sick here in Metepec!
       So my Dads questions. 1) I have an absolutely ILL Christmas tie which features Santa....wait for it.....golfing. BOOM. I'll wear it on Christmas so that you can all see it when we skype...well those of you in my family. (rules are rules). 2) The sacrament meeting before Christmas was a normal one. Here they dont really change anything but luckily the Stake of Atlixco was putting on a concert and so we were able to go to that on Sunday night! (more on that in a moment). 3) We had our "Christmas Conference" on Friday this week and it was really good! (Again, more on that to come haha). And 4) Honestly, last Christmas, i wasnt too happy to be on the mission during Christmas, but this Christmas season has been great. Im just so much more excited to share the gospel with people. Like the "He is the Gift" video is a GREAT way to teach people aboud Christ and I LOVE talking about how true it is that he really was the first gift we ever recieved on Christmas. He is the gift, and if we accept him as such, he will become a part of our lives, and we will feel his infinite love. I just have loved focusing on that and his life during this time of the year. Its seriously been GREAT. A once in a lifetime experience.
       Alrightttt well where do i start. Things are good here in Metepec. Elder K is an excellent missionary and we are working very, very....VERY hard here in this area! haha we have just been absoluetly exhausted at the end of the days we have been having and we are already starting to see the results with less actives, new investigators, and we might even put some baptismal dates this week! So things are awesome. Elder K's just got such a great desire to work! One you can only find in new missionaries, so this last change, i couldnt have asked for better! Soooo with that being said, lets hit the highlights. 
This is Elder Tippetts. He is a great man and will be a great leader in this mission.
       On Friday we had our "Christmas Concert". It was our zone (the zone Atlixco) combined with......none other than the zone of IZUCAR! haha so it was greattttt to see all the guys i left behind when i had emergency changes. There are some GREAT upcoming leaders in these Elders. We will be leaving the mission in good hands. So the conference started off with a presentation by President Stellmon. President shared some scenes from the movie "A Christmas Carol" and was comparing them to our lives here on the mission with our investigators. It was great....but i of course made sure that all the Elders within a 5 seat radius around me knew that the best version of this movie was made by the Muppetts. Ba humbug indeed. But it was good none the less and several other fans of the Muppetts shared in my misery. Then the zone leaders split us into groups and we played some little games they had prepared. They were pretty good, and then we had a white elephant gift exchange! It was a riot haha but the thing over-all was a nice break to remember that we are celebrating the true meaning of Christmas....but theres always some time for fun. So that was fun. I also had to bare my testimony casue im leaving before the next Zone Conference...(Yikes!) so that was kinda nerve racking haha but it went well and i hope i left the Elders and Sisters with something. Then we left Atlixco at like 3 to come back to Metepec....and we went to our ward Christmas activity! haha yahhh not many lessons shared on Friday butt we did have a ton of investigators show up!! And i got to perform 2 different songs. One of them featuring a violinist int he ward also. It was beautiful (if i do say so myself) and it turned out to be a great success!
       Alright, then on Saturday we had a great lesson with a less active in the ward. He has had some strong problems with ward leaders and hasnt been to church in over a year. He told us that he knows the church is perfect but the members arent and that he had heard all the things we were going to tell him. He said that he wasnt going to church no matter what we told him. I was really trying to have the spirit help me know what to say becasue he still has such a strong testimony of all the other aspects of the church. So i was impressed in that moment, to talk about the love of God for him. The trust God has placed in him to have him in such a tough ward situation and that fact that he can, in this unique position that he has, decide whether he would like to be a problem or a solution. There are soo many less actives here and being in the club with them is simply causing another problem. But if he chooses to help us in bringing others back to church, and help build the testimony of those who have lost belief, then he can be a solution and a huge help to us. I told him that God needs him on our side, and we need him on our side. He showed up to church on Sunday and this Thursday we are going to visit less actives with him. God is a God of miracles.
The Christmas Concert at 8 oclock!! PACKED!
       So then on Sunday night we went to Atlixco and set up the lights and scenes for the Christmas Concert they had there called "Cien voces de Navidad" or in English 100 voices of Christmas. So on the bus on the way over, i was thinking about the Christmas spirit, and i felt the prompting to tell all the people on the bus about the concert....obviously not an impression i get everyday haha but i kinda didnt want to. Not really scared, just nervous.............And then i was like....oh wait....i only have 4 more weeks to do this......YOLO!!!!!!!! So i stood up at the front of the bus and introduced myself. I explained about the church and the concert and invited them all to attend. They were all pretty impressed and about 14 people on the bus accepted the invitation to go. So we got to the church and started waiting cause we were 2 hours early to help setup. And i was like....well there are pleanty of missionaries helping set up....but whos contacting people?! Again, FOUR MORE WEEKS PEOPLE!! So me and Elder Kidder got 200 "He is the Gift" cards....and we started contacting. We got to formally explain the message and invite 200 people to the concert that night! It was great! And then we contacted all the stores ont the street and invited them too. Then while the first session of the concert was going on at 6, we started inviting people to the session at 8 and i decided what the heck, lets get back on some buses!! haha So we got on about 20 buses as they passed, asked the driver to let us announce soemthing (it happens alot here, and it means we didnt have to pay the ride) and gave the introduction about the concert and about the message we have and invited all of them too! We seriously must have handed out at LEAST 950 invitations to the concert that night. It felt great to be out there really working as a missionary. The sister missionaries attending the table with pamphlets were writting down the address of the church and the hour of the concert on contacting cards cause we ran out of invitations!! And although there werent a TON of people at the 6 oclock session, the 8 oclock session was packed full. It was great. The program was beautiful and i KNOW that people felt the spirit. Plus i got to see a bunch of people from my old ward in Independencia! Its just such a great time to be a missionary!!! So it was an EXCELENT week.
       Soo for the spiritual thought this week comes from Alma 42. In this chapter Alma is speaking to his son Corianton and the lessons he teaches him are spot on for us in our day. In verses 19-22 it reads: 
"19 Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? 
20 And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin.
21 And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?
22 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth..."
       I love this part! Because it explains that we have to have a law that comes with a punishment so that we are compelled to keep the law by our own free will! And it also talks about how when a punishment is affixed, that then there is granted a repentance! It explains it even better here in verse 30:
"30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.
       I feel like when we think about the justice of God, we are instantly thinking negatively. WE have heard so much about how the justice of God will come down upon us and condemn us...but we dont understand why that is necessary. When we stop excusing ourselves and admit that we have sinned, we allow the justice of God to come upon us. And when we do that, we are automatically entitled to the mercy of God. We are automatically entitled to his long-suffering. And we are automatically entitled to that repentance that with which we can make ourselves clean again!! What a marvilous plan it is! When we let it have full sway in our hearts it will bring us down in humility so that we are made partakers of that great redeeming sacrifice given by our savior. I love my savior. He suffered for me and all the sins i have committed. And even though i am not deserving of such a great and infinite love, He freely gives it to me. I am so grateful for Him, especially at this time of year. So humble yourselves. Be partakers of the gift our Heavenly Father has given us. HE IS THE GIFT. Accept the gift and let it change your life.
       Merry Christmas Everyone. We have hope.

Elder Josh Hamm

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Emergency Changes....ROUND 2....FIGHT!

Oh, and President and I KILLED it with our
Christmas ties haha #SWAG
Saying goodbye to our converts!  It was bitter-sweet....
well, ya know, of course now it just seems bitter. haha
 Whoops. Welllll i know i promised a biggg email this week since i would have sooo much more time, but a short 5 days after i recieved my new companion....i got EMERGENCY CHANGES! It wasnt cause of anything i did, but thats just how the cookie crumbles.....especially when someone else sits on it -____- yuppp but since all that went down...ummm TODAY. It made it just a little hard to get everything packed, say goodbye to those i could, and then take a bus to my new área. So here we are in the new área. Its called Metepec and it happens to be in the zone of.....*drum roll* ATLIXCO!! So its kinda nice being here in the zone again, although at the same time, im in a kind of pueblo outside of the city instead of in the center like last time. Oh well, ill get over it haha but yah, looks like, if there arent any more unseen emergency changes -__- that i will be finishing my misión here. Sooo time to really put my shoulder to the Wheel!

       So for my Dads questions....1) Yes, i have a new comp...actually i got 2 new comps haha ill explain that right now. 2) The first was from Mexicali....or Baja California. The new ones from Chandler, Arizona. 3) Do they have candy canes there? NO....honestly ive looked and no they dont which is sad cause they have decorations of them, but theyve never even tasted the real thing!! Urgh. 4) My morning routine is wake up, stretch, try to look like im doing something similar to excersize, breakfast, shower, and then studies! Pretty exciting life we live here on the misison haha 5) D&C 4: No, we dont recite it every day, but we do recite it at any missionary meeting! ANd i might be doing it every day right now to help my comp learn it.
I got to see a TON of people at changes!  it was great.
But its sad thinking I might not see a lot of them again...
at leasttttt soon. :/
GRANDPA!! I FEE SO PROUD! Even though he didn't
tell me so it could be a surprise haha  i was geeking out
at the changes meeting!

      Alright well the big thing this week was that which i will explain now in more depth. I went to changes and got my companion Elder H.....which will be spoken of very little as our companionship lasted 5 days haha BUT in those 5 days we had the Council of the Leaders of the misión and it went great. We learned a lot, joked around, ate some GREAT American food (Thank you sister Stellmon!) and i got to take a bunchhh of pictures with the guys going home, and other people i probs wont see again anytime soon. So it was good. We also got to help baptize a family we have been teaching with the other Elders and it was great. Then we were also able to talk to our investigator Y. Y has been having a tough time accepting the baptismal date, and its only cause she didnt really feel ready. But as i talked with her on Sunday, she broke down crying telling us about a spiritual experience she had while reading the Liahona that we gave her. She said she knows now that she wants to be baptized on the 20th of December! Its pretty great! Even though im probs not going to be able to be there cause im not allowed to go back to Izucar right now. But its all the same work guys. Doesnt matter who does the ordinance, so long as the covenant is made! :) So that was really great too!

Me, Elder K, and his Father!!
I'm technically the step father. haha happened. haha it doesnt really matter why. Just that it happened haha I happened to have emergency changes. I have already taken a picture with my new companion of 45 minutes Elder K from Arizona, which will be attatched i assure you haha he is in his second week of training so im going to be finishing the 12 week program with him and really working hard in this área so that he can baptize!! We are going to be trusting a lot in the Lord. We'll see what happens. Hes got a lot of potential to be a great leader in this mission.
       Anddd to finish things off with the spiritual thought, i thought id share with you a little insight that seems to always come to mind whenever there is a moment of change or of doubt. Whenever something bad happens to us, we as humans instantly get something not too unlike tunnel visión. All we can see is the problem that we have and that it seems so great that we will never overcome it. But we forget that there is a grand creator with a plan and a purpose, and that is to help us achieve imortality. We ALSO need to always remember that Life Goes On. It truly waits for no one and soon enough, this time in your life will have passed and the question wont be "When will it end?" The question will be "How did you respond to it and how did you act throughout it?" Theres a really cool poem that i memorized when i was in high school that goes like this:

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?
You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there – that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;
It’s how did you fight and why?
And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t that fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

So we arent dead, but the point is you have to listen to the words of Frankl and live worthy of your sufferings! God has a plan. He will see you through whatever awaits you. And all he asks of us is that we trust him during our trials, knowing he gives us all things for our benefit.
Heres' to the next 5 weeks!! :)

Elder Josh Hamm
I got a bunch of pictures with Elders at the Leaders meeting too!
It was great to see all those guys!!  

Saying goodbye to P.  Gonna miss that kid.  But hes
training in Puebla, so I think hes doing fine haha

These are 2 investigators we got to baptize!  I baptized
the Mom on the left and Elder Z baptized the daughter
on the right.  It was great!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shawty ("Shorty" for all of you old folks)

 Hey guys!! So ive written short emails, but seriously, this ones gonna be short. Short like the devil! (spiritually of course). SHORT with a capital sh.....well you can see that they are capitalized actually. But the point is, Elder P has changes and we are running around saying bye to people and packing and cleaning the house. So things are crazy. We are going to have people staying at the house tonight too cause we are going to have 5 new district leaders this coming change......FIVE my friends.....FIIIIIIIIIIVE. Seriously its gonna be out of control. Soo we have to get everything ready in advance for all of that.

       The quick summary of the week was that it was overall good. We had interviews and they were awesome. President Stellmon is a great man. I love him a lot haha just so it be known. Oh, and his wife is also awesome. So theres that. Therell be more details about this next week, buttttt in other not so shocking news, i was sick again. THey gave me the flu vaccine and well...i got the flu. Funny how that works...oh thats right. THATS NOT HOW ITS SUPPOSED TO WORK!! haha but oh well. Im on the tail end of it. Literally, my tail aches from all the tail end of it....ya digg?

       Also I apologize in advance for next weeks email which will be incredibly longggg haha cause changes are always juicy on the misison and on top of that ill have a new companion, new responsibilities andddd you know all that jazz. So it will be great, and terrible! Look forward to it ;)

       Andddd i have to mention here that im going into my LAST change on the misison sooo Im ready to finish out strong. Its not about working hard...its about working effectively. More effectively and more diligently than ever, and thats what im ready for. So heres to the next and LAST six weeks. 

"Annuit Cœptis"... God Favors Our Undertaking 

Elder Josh Hamm

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Brayan!! Back to Atlixco!

And these are ALL the people who got baptized there in Atlixco! It was great to see all the people i taught while i was there finally make that covenant! Grateful to have been a part of it :)
      Whelp another week down and the last one of the change beginning. It was a pretty good one actually! Not crazy filled, but good none the less.
Which brings me to my Dads questions!

       1) I would say that fluent in spanish. However, there are a few words that i still dont know. Like people use a different word to describe the same thing. Buttt that doesnt happen very much. 2) My personal typical contact approach is just talking about whatever haha i dont like to go straight into "hey were missionaries". I prefer to be like "wow, your baby is tinyyy! How many months does he have?" or something like that. And then later touch the gospel. and 3) My socks are like my calling....holy. haha but they havent ripped completely yet! sooo ive got that going for me ;)
Me with little Brayan after the blessing! :)

       Alright, like i said, theres really not much to tell. The only awesome thing was that i got to go back to Atlixco and do a baptism for 2 of the people that i taught while i was there! It went really well. The daughter JUST had a baby and they are falling on hard times since its just the Mom and her daughter, and now the baby, so i bought them a blanket and made my BEST attempt at stitching the baby's name into it haha it was....alright? Its legible hahaha thats what matters! But it was good and then i got to hold the baby (LEGALLY!) cause they asked me to give him a blessing. It was GREATT!! haha seriously. And yah, it was just good to see everyone too! And i did a surprise musical number! It was a surprise to me, cause i didnt know i was gonna do it! haha surprise!! haha alright, but thats literally it. Sooo now for the spiritual thought.

       The spiritual thought this week comes from Alma 5. It says in Helaman 5 verse 4 that Nephi was weary of the sins of his people and so he left the judgement seat and went to preach the gospel the remainder of his days. Wow. I have noticed this type of true love for God and others several times in the scriptures. Someone who gives up all they have, even a kingdom, to go and preach the gospel. Missionary work is great! And clearly soo important! Ive just realized that when it says in D&C that the thing of most benefit for us would be to preach the gospel, they arent kidding! Its really more important than EVERYTHING!! How great is that?! So if you are in the position to serve a mission....serve it. And if not. Make sharing the gospel with your neighbors and friends a priority. Its the most important thing after all!!

Elder Josh Hamm
Blanket I stitched for Brayan

We stayed the night at the Elders house there in Atlixco

Monday, November 24, 2014

If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear

Me and some great war hero of Mexico haha.  The name is not important, its the mustache.

Yooooooo!!! Hamm here! This week was pretty good! We got to have a district conference and see President, and have 12 Elders stay in our house! haha crazyyy, unfortunately no pictures were taken due to the chaos, butttt anyways, more on that in a second!
       My Dads questions: 1) The typical christmas decorations would be the normal i think. Ive only seen lights here and some reindeer and snowmen. Nothing too different from the states 2) Yes, they have Christmas lights on the houses....but very few usually, and not nearly as many. Its like one or two strands of lights usually. AND 3) We meet most of our investigators by trying to get references from the members. Really, we meet a lot of people contacting, but we meet our actual INVESTIGATORS that progress and stuff, through the members. Thats why its so important to give references!!
SPIDER!! That crawled across my hand while i
was hanging up my laundry to dry.  
       Soo like i said, this week was pretty solid. We didnt have anything too crazy or newsworthy, but it was fairly eventful at the same time. We got to do interchanges with the Elders who are in Acatlan and it went really well. They had been having some hard times in their companionship but we were able to help them resolve those challenges and they are continuing to work really hard in their area! Then this weekend we had district conference which meant that ALL the members from the Zone and all the missionaries with them, come to Izucar for Saturday and Sunday! So we had 12 missionaries staying in our house on Saturday night! Needless to say, it was a fiasco haha But the conference went really well. There was suchhh a great turn-out! Almost every companionship in the zone had investigators that drove anywhere from 10 minutes to 5 hours to be there! The messages were good, the spirit was there, and less actives and investigators alike were touched. The only downside would be that the music was terrible........but ill explain that in the spiritual thought this week haha But yah everything went really well and we were able to get a lot of people there and say hi to President Stellmon! Always fun haha i love that man.
Mexico knows whats good.  haha
       Alright, well like i said, the spiritual thought this week comes from the conference and how AWFUL the music was....just let me explain. So we get to the first session of conference on Saturday, and President says hi to us and we all sit down with our investigators and the meeting starts. The man presiding gets up and welcomes us, and tells us that we are going to start the meeting by singing hymn #4 - Bandera De Sión (High on a Mountaintop). All fine, until he says that Elder P is going to help us leading the music and we'd like to ask Elder Hamm to accompany us on the Piano. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I think my heart literally stopped beating for that long. For those of you who DONT know me that well....I CANT play piano. Like, im musically gifted so i can sometimes pick something out from hearing it a few times....but I HAVE NOT EVER been able to read music. So it wasnt exactly the easiest call ive ever had to accept but there was literally nothing i could do. So with Elder P laughing, I took the longg walk to the front and sat down at the Piano. I opened the hymn book to the page....and while trying to crease the pages so the book would stay open, i almost laughed to myself, realizing what an absoluetly POINTLESS gesture that was haha But as i took a deep breath, i said a prayer asking God to help me read the music and be able to play it. I placed my hands on the piano.....and i know what youre thinking....."God did some great miracle and i could read the notes and we all lived happily ever after" right? WRONG. Youve never been sooo wrong haha Now i thank my Heavenly Father for the gift he has given me because i struggled through the first verse quite terribly, but by the second verse i could at least play the bottom hand and by the last verse it sounded passable. BUT it was nooooo miracle haha and then of course they also asked me to play at the end of the meeting only this time, the song was hymn #148 - Si hay Gozo en tu Corazon (There's Sunshine in My Soul Today) which is even harder! Luckily i was able to slip out of the meeting and practice for 10 minutes before i had to play it, but even with that, it was on the shoddy side of the MoTab Choir. 
       People! Pleaseeee dont feel bad for me! My mother is laughing her headddd off right now. hahaha YEARS of lectures, and warnings, even near threats PAID OFF BIG this time! As i sat at that piano, i SWEAR i could hear her voice over my shoulder saying: "Josh, you need to learn piano, because maybe someday you will be called to play the hymns on your mission cause nobody else can play and you will be glad you learned to read music!" Which I would usually follow with a scoff, maybe even a chuckle and then go back to whatever i was doing. OOHHH the irony of it all! haha 
       SOOOO after a great story im sure you all enjoyed, here comes the spiritual application. The doctrine according to Hamm is as such in my own words - "The Lord will RARELY help us remember what we have not learned." The Lord is ready to be our aid, our divine help and strength, but he needs us to arm ourselves! If you want to be able to know what to say to your neighbor about the gospel, STUDY THE GOSPEL! Dont expect that with little effort and a vain prayer you will suddenly recieve a great and comprehensive knowledge of the scriptures and the words of the prophets! There is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that demonstrates this point perfectly. D&C 84:85 reads - 
     "85) Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." 
     It says that we have to treasure up the words of life CONTINUALLY so that in the moment, the Lord can use that database of knoledge we have accumulated to help us know what part of all that chaos, is exactly what that person we are talking with needs to hear. And that goes for ourselves too. Before the mission i hadnt studied my scriptures almost at all and when i asked God for guidance, i found it hard to determine the correct path to take. But after being on the mission and having studied DILIGENTLY the scriptures, i ask for guidance of the spirit, and my mind is filled with scriptures that are applicable to me in that precise moment. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that he wants to help us. But more than that, he wants to help us, help ourselves. 
       "...Wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms....if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30) 
       God doesnt want us to fear, he wants us to trust. But that trust only comes when we do our part and know that we are deserving of the blessings he has for us. Study the sciptures, go to church, learn, and PREPARE so that you will have confidence in ANY situation. I testify of this from my OWN personal experiences. And i share that testimony with you all. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Josh Hamm

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Heavy is heaven, the devil on me two tons too

Pictures from the Baptism! It was awesome! 

HEYYYY guys! Well i dont have much time to write this week....but luckily for you guys, not much really happened!! haha so you dont have to feel like you are missing out on anything! (now theres a positive look at an otherwise dismal situation! haha

       Alright, my dads questions!! (They are pretty good this week too!) 1 - There is not really a specific occasion when they eat a certain meat....although they have festivals of a certain type of meat. AND pork is ALWAYS at the parties. Without fail. 2 - There IS a hymn here thats not in the English hymnbook...its called "Placentero Nos Es Trabajar".....but that one's not so great. HOWEVER!...thers another one called "Oid El Toque Del Clarin"....which isnt terrible haha so yah. 3 - I hear US music playing....kinda rarely...and when i do, its always something OLD. Like seriously we are talking 2010 music. But they listen to a lot of types of music in spanish. They typical genres are Bachata, Salsa, Cumbia, Reggaton, and another one....which is found only here...just from Mexico....that is the WORST music i have ever had the displeasure of having enter my ear holes. It is called Banda, and if you value the life of your children, DONT go look it up! hahaha horrible. And the music videos are always very dirty soooo theres that tooo haha my bad Mexico...#Sorrynotsorry

Here's the welcome cake the members made! 
       Welllll like i said, we dont have much time this week. Things are fine in the area. The people we have right now are progressing. And the biggest news would be that the zone is ON FIRE! We led the mission last month in baptisms even though we have like the least amount of missionaries here, and things are looking great again this month. WE are AWESOME here in Izucar. Truly we are working the way the Lord wants. So yah. We were able to go to Tlapa was alright haha.  There is alot of political disruption right now but the Elders there are doing well and some members made us a cake!!  Then this Sunday (yesterday) we got to baptize the 2 little girls that we have been teaching who are the daughters of our recent converts! It was super awesome and things went really well. So it was a success!! But thats about it, sorry!!

Interchanges with the Elders in Tlapa!
       To finish with the spiritual thought, id just like to share a scripture that really stood out to me this week. Elder P and I started talking about the natual man. Not sure why but we just got on the topic and we were talking about how really, it is the great purpose of our life here on Earth to get rid of the Natural Man. Think about it....would you let someone walk into your house with your worst enemy, knowing that he only wanted to do harm? NO. (Thats the answer in case you didnt quite get there yet). Well according to Mosiah 3:19 "The natural man is an enemy to God"....meaning that God isnt gonna let us back into his presence if we show up with his enemy. And while i was thinking about all of this i realized just how hard it is sometimes to give up the natural man. I mean seriously, its sooo hard, cause in many respects, the natural man gives us pleasure, and pleasure is something hard to deny ourselves. But then i was enlightened by a scripture i found in Alma 41:11. It reads: "And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness." So even though sometimes we might think the natural man is a great really is CONTRARY to the NATURE of HAPPINESS. Not even contrary to happiness, but to the NATURE of happiness!! So we arent even closee to real happiness. So like it says in a GREAT song, I know that heaven can be pretty heavy, and that when the Devil is also trying to drag you down, it can seem nearly impossible. BUT i can promise you that putting off the natural man will help you secure an eternal happiness, such as pleasure could never bring you. 

Elder Josh Hamm

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The World

The massive hamburger that was once upon a time inside of me haha
 Oooohhhhh man. You would NOT believe the flojera (laziness?..i think?) that i get when thinking about writing these emails sometimes haha Butttttt ive come this far haha i cant go back now. Soooo with that being said, im gonna start off this email in what has now become "Classic" dads questions:

       1) We live in an apartment complex and here in Mexico i have realized that its very very rare for someone to know their neighbors. People just dont really talk to each other very much! Buttt we live down the hall from the owner who comes to get the rent haha and his wife who we only say hi to! 2) Something nice that i did for someone this week.....welllll... 3) Something im grateful.....nahhh im just kidding haha something nice i did for someone this week would have to be help the old ladies get their heavy things off of a combi....lame i know but thats all i can think of :/ 3) This week i was really grateful for being worthy of the spirit. Its really not a feeling im used to, and unfortunately not one that i have nearly enough, but this week i felt it when I sincerely prayed for God to help me touch at least someone with the spirit when i was giving the sacrament talk (that they asked to give me 20 minutes into the services haha) I got the distinct impression to share about repentance, and then while looking for a good scripture, i felt even more strongly impressed to talk about trials, So i did and it went really really well. I had several people come up to me and share personal stories about how thats exactly what they needed to hear. It was great, and im grateful. AND 4) YES. There are actually several words that we have in spanish that can describe things better than any word in English. Honestly i cant think of them right now haha but they exist....i guess the only one i can think of would be the word guakala (pronounced Wakala) which is like the word gross but so much better haha

       Welllllllllllllllllll hate to be THAT guy....but this week was pretty unventful haha although, there were a few things. #1 - We have these 2 new investigators (a mom and her daughter) who are literally GOLDEN. Like who KNOWS how long God has been preparing them. So this week we go over to their house to visit them, and they arent there. So we go try to visit 4 other people.....FOUR haha and none of them are there -___- so we decide to go check this other reference, and while we are on the way our ward mission leader says "hey look, the lights are on now in their house!" (meaning the house of the mom and daughter) So we go over and sure enough the Mom is there and long story short she takes us with her sister whos having problems and now we are teaching her sister and her 4 kids too!! Its pretty great haha so that was awesome. They are also really receptive. andddd id say the only other really noteworthy thing this week would be that we had the council for the Zone Leaders and we got to stay with Elder N and the other secretarys. We went to a sickk food place haha and i attempted to finish a massive was less than successfull, but more than 3 quarters sooooo im countin that as a win. haha but it was delicious.

       Alright, well that brings us to the spiritual thought which this week comes from....well me. (and thats why its not that great haha sorry). This week i have been thinking about how tough this life is a lot of the time especially for youth in the church. Like seriously, the World is soooo different from the gospel and what it teaches, and yet the world is pretty much everyone else. And "Everyone else" Is a lotttt of people people. Like for real....were talking billions. And with all of those people at school and work and all over the place telling us that what we are doing as chuch members isnt "cool", it can be a little more than a little hard to stay faithful! Not to mention how attractive it looks to the eyes! But the way i like to think about it....and this is nott doctrine, just life according to that although there are sooo many people here on Earth telling us that this is whats cool....there has to be like even more billions of people who have died and are now in the spirit world looking down like "yo.....i definitely shoulda been more about that LDS life than i was, cause now im here and im super sad casue of what i did to be cool....and that happiness on Earth sure seemed great at the time...but now im kinda regreting that....cause spirit prison aint so cool as that paradise place over there.....dang." Sooooo take my advice, or leave my advice, but as hard as this life may seem being LDS and having different morals, there will be a day when you will rejoice and the world will mourn....and thats when you'll really stick it to 'em ;) haha erghh...i them repent haha cant put it any better than Christ guys - "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Amen to that.

Elder Josh Hamm

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dia de Los Muertos

Anndd this is a big tribute they set up here in the center part of Izucar!
 It was pretty awesomeee!
Alright, well we allll know it cant go on forever with all these crazy event-filled weeks. BUTTT nevertheless, this week was pretty good. Soo we will start off with my Dads questions. (suprise suprise surprise)

       1) We really (sadly) havent done anything fun for Pday lately. Its actually been pretttttyyy depressing haha just cause we have been sooo busy during the week. 2) Usually for dinner i eat ham on tortillas with mayo and mustard haha its pretty good actually. I toast it in a pan. 3) Im not sure i understand the question hahaha which superhero would be the best to send to your misison? Id say Flash.....cause hes an outgoing guy and the problem with the Elders right now is that nobody wants to open their mouth and talk to the people -__- its notttt hard guys haha seroiusly 4) Yes, they have daylight savings time but it was last Saturday AFTER the i ended up loosing more sleep than i gained haha oh well. 
These are the crosses made of flowers that they put in front
 of their doors here to welcome in the dead. the trail leads
to their offering to them

       Well as for the rest of the week, well it was pretty normal. I mean, we got to teach a few people, help a few people, but all in all, nothing really exciting happened ya know? haha but its alright. However there were a few highlights. First off, it was day of the dead here and Halloween. So me and Elder P went to the middle of the town in this park and handed out candy to the little kids. They were adorableeee! haha seriously it was greatttt. And they were soo happy to get candy! We also got to contact some poeple which was nice. And we took pictures in front of the displays that they had set up here too! So it was a good time. Another highlight: We have a investigator who is struggling with an addiction to Marijuana and right now he has like 5 days without smoking....its the most he has had since he was like 13 or something crazy like that. Its going well. 

      Another highlight: We had a lady come up to the other Elders the other day while they were walking and talk to them about the church. She said her daughter had gone to the concert we had and had loved it. She said that her daughter came home sooo excited to learn more about the gospel because she had heard the song I played at the very end about a boy who was confused about which church to join so he prayed...of course the last song I played was Joseph Smiths First Prayer. She said she wants to go to church and the Elders are going to be teaching her AND her mom. So that was awesomee. 

These are the offering type things they build. They usually have the favorite
 food of the dead family member along with anything else they liked
and a picture of them at the top.  Some people really believe the dead
come and enjoy the food...

And the last bit of good news is that we started a new thing my companion and I where we contact only youth in the street. What we have been figuring out here on the mission is that the parents here are usually pretty....close minded since they have gown up in a different church which was also the church of their grandparents and great grandparents. But the kids are open to listen, and we know that with just one lesson, they can feel that spirit and want to join the chruch. On Friday we contacted 5 youth and 4 of them accepted follow up appointments, and were legitimately interested haha those ratios are greattt. So that was good. But yah, it was a pretty good, pretty slow week! So now for the spiritual thought!

       Whelp, the spiritual thought this week comes from our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. Ive just been thinking alot about it since its been on the minds of everyone here as they give respects and offerings to their dead. I really just wanna say that I know that God didnt intend for us to have a short life experience and then not ever live again. I know that Christ died for us, but that he lived again and becuase he was ressurrected, we too will have the chance to see our loved ones that have left this life. I know that families are eternal and that if we live faithfully, we will be able to be with them again. I know it.
Elder Josh Hamm

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Elder Josh Hamm: Live in Concert

The Radio Interview!
Alright guys, well if you thought that last week was jam were right. BUT that doesnt change the fact that this week is equally if not MORE jam packed! So here we go.

Aaand my birthday!
       Well, my Dad's questions. 1) For my birthday....we worked haha cause thats the mission life. Buttt luckily, this time i wasnt on interchanges with the assistants, so i was able to go and get dinner with my ward mission leader at night. We went to this pizza place that is greattt haha its called Emporios and its the best pizza ive had on my mission. And he bought me a surprise birthday cheesecake with blackberries! It was great. So yah that was my birthday! 2) The playlist for my concert was LONG haha it had 18 songs on it and i guess ill list them later in the email haha 3) Yes, they celebrate halloween here even though its known as Day of the dead. 4) They used to celebrate it very differently from the US but over time, they have adapted to some of our traditions, so now its not uncommon to see a lot of kids going around asking for money or candy, about 60% of them in costumes haha

The Live TV interview!
     Okay, *deep breath* Sooo lets start out this week with tuesday....nothing happened haha we went out and worked. Then Wednesday!......same thing haha but just holdddd on before you judge haha Thursday (for all of you who dont know) was my birthday. I woke up and was minding my own business singing LOVE by Frank Sinatra (only a song you sing when youre in a GREAT mood) when we get a call from the ward mission leader who says that we have 15 minutes to get to the center for an interview on live television promoting the concert...woah. So we runnn down there and they are behind and we are behind and so we put it for Friday. Then that night the poster (like the one i sent home) are finally ready so we pick them up and post them EVERYWHERE haha in the center, on announcement boards, we contact students and post them in the schools, the gyms, the hospitals, and the stores. Then we went to a place called Emporios (pizza) and ate pizza and cake and talked out the final plans for the concert. So then Friday morning we went for the interview. They had a TV studio (not huge, but nice) and we did the interview on live TV. Im not gonna say i was nervous....but i definitely didnt know where to put my hands haha but it went really well, we explained the concert, where it was going to be, why we were doing it, who we are....oh and then i played a song on guitar in spanish (Corre by Jesse y Joy) on live TV.....nbd. haha it went really well. So then we went and finished putting up posters, practicing, and contacting people and inviting them to the concert.
Preparing for the Concert!!!  We had so many people
show up to see what was going on! 

       Alright, so the day of the concert comes. Im so nervous i wake up at 6 instead of 6:30....oh wait, thats right, i wasnt nervous at all....i just happened to have diarrhea and was throwing up -__- yes, ladies and gentlemen, i woke up the day of the concert sick as a DOG. And so of course we started worrying. I got a priesthood blessing, i ate nothing but bread and gatorade, I slept a LOT and just took it easy all day. We told NO ONE besides the missionaries cause we knew it would put them in a panic haha but all day i rested and then when the time of the concert arrived....I felt fine! (More details on that to come in the spiritual thought). But upon arriving...i realized that this was more legit than any of us had hoped for haha Im talking a giant stage, multiple microphones, lazers and colored lights, a smoke machine, and more.

And the actual concert!  Seriously, it turned out so sick.
I hope you can capture at least some of it from
these photos! 
       I played 18 songs. and the playlist...i left at home right now. Butttt it included 6 of my songs: Low, Over You, Help, Im in love with a Superstar, I Care About You, Tu Secuestrador, You Deserve Better, Since When, and My Savior. I played some popular spanish songs: Te Fuiste de Aqui - Reik, Fui - Reik, Noviembre sin Ti - Reik, Mientes - Camila, and Corre - Jesse y Joy. Also some popular english songs: As Long as you Love me - Justin Beiber, Story of my Life - One Direction, Just the way you are - Bruno Mars, Demons - Imagine Dragons, She will Be Loved- Maroon 5, Anddd to finish it off I played Jospeh Smith's First Prayer in spanish (La Oracion Del Profeta) and then bore my testimony there on stage. It was legit man. It was so awesome. 

       Buttttt I know you are saying "Ya know, thats great Josh....but you are a missionary! What about ELDER Hamm?" Oh lemme tell you. Through the concert we gave out over 500 pamphlets of the lessons we teach, 400 contact cards, and 100 Book of Mormons. There were a TON of people there, and they ALL were contacted and left with at LEAST a quick talk about our beliefs and a pamphlet or 2. So the point is it literally turned out to be the greatest missionary activity ever created or thought up. We and other missionaries will be reaping the benefits of that concert for a LONG time to come haha

       So for the spiritual thought, i wanted to touch on the sick situation (not the cool kinda sick, but the puking kinda sick). I woke up that morning sooo sick, and all i could think was "Why me?!" This concert is gonna be great, why would God do this to me in thissss moment?! After i got the blessing, i still felt awful, and i asked, why isnt this working? Then we went and cut my hair and i felt worse, and i thought, whyyyy isnt it gone yet? And then after my 3 hour nap i still had no energy and i cried out why hasnt God taken this away yet?! But the entire time after each of my outbursts, I heard in my head, its not the concert yet, WAIT. And after about the fourth time of that, i listened to it. And when i did, a story from the scriptures that i have shared with you all, came to my mind. It was the story in Mosiah 7 when God allows Ammon (a strong and righteous man) and his 15 friends to suffer hunger, fatigue, and thrist, for 40 days before finally delivering them...and I thought to myself, WOW.....YOU, Elder Hamm, need to quit whining haha God has a plan, and right now his part of that plan is to trust that you will be able to perform, and that the suffering right now is necessary. When i got in the taxi (becuase i was too weak to walk) to go to the zocalo, i felt awful, and without strenght. But when we arrived, I instantly gained strength and for the rest of the night i felt nothing. I was able to perform and sing completely fine. It was a real testimony builder to me that God has a plan, and if we could see the end from the beginning, we would understand that plan, but we cant. So all we can do is trust him and walk in faith until he delivers us. I know that is true, and i urge all of us to remember it.

Elder Josh Hamm
Promoting the Concert.  We put up these posters everywhere!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Capacitations, Chichicaxcle, and Tropical Storm Trudy new nemesis
  Alright guys. This week is seriusly JAM PACKED with news. So i really hope that you are ready for a longggg email haha sorry im not sorry. Sooo lets go ahead and start off with the questions from my Dad!

       Okay, 1) There are not really any lakes or rivers in our area, however there is kinda a stream.....its the sewage and its always nasty, but the water flows....soo i feel like that counts as a stream. 2) No. There has not been snow in the area of our mission.....ever as far as i know. HOWEVER, there are rumors that snow fell in Puebla 2 years ago....but you know how rumors go. AND 3) In EVERY area, you really cant find any restaurants of fast food that are from the US. You can find in EVERY area a chinese food place, tacos, usually a few pizza places but none are usually chains. The ones that they have here from the US would be Burger King, McDonalds, Subway. The foods different here though, cause the quality is a little lower.

       WWWHHHEEELLLPPP. Where do i start? Honestly its been crazy. Alright well ill just give you the play by play. So for starters - Tuesday. 

       Tuesday we pretty much just worked normally in our area. We had a brother in our ward who burned his eyes while welding here without a mask. The doctors were worried he wouldnt see again so we gave him a blessing and he has since recovered. So thats good. 

Aaaand that's my hand 5 minutes afterwards.  OUCH
       Wednesday morning....the chaos of the week began. Wednesday in the morning we went to the church and gave a zone capacitation to districts 1 and 2 (8 Elders). It went pretty well. So then we worked the rest of the day, which is normal. Until about 7 oclock at which time the day took a turn for the worst haha Long story short, we were walking along a road in our area and i for some reason got the desire to reach out and grab a plant that was along side us. So i did and while attempting to pull a leaf off, plunged 50 or so tiny thorny needles into my fingers. This very SPECIAL plant called Chichicaxcle, just happens to be one of the most painful stinging plants there are. The needles are coated with a type of poison similar to that found in the sting of a scorpion and you (or in this case I) feel it up to your armpit with a strong, sharp, burning pain. So that was fun haha we were able to get to a members house and get the needles out and calm the pain and now its almost completely healed! But that helped keep things interesting.

       Thursday we woke up, got on a bus, and went to Tehuitzingo which is about 90 minutes away. Gave another (the same) capacitation to those Elders. And then came home and worked in our area....DIDNT touch any plants, and passed a realitively uneventful day, before going to bed at 10:30.

       Friday we had to wake up at 5:30 in order to be able to take the bus out of the state of Puebla, to the area that is the farthest away in the mission, AKA - Tlapa, Guerrero. Its a 4 hour bus ride through windy mountain passes, NOT recommended for the faint of stomach. So we got to Tlapa and gave the capacitation AGAIN haha and then spent the rest of the day on interchanges with the Elders there. So at about 7 oclock that night it started raining. Not an incredibly hard rain, but it was a good constant downpour. So we get back to the house of the Elders of Tlapa, go to sleep  and wake up the next morning to find that it has been raining ALL night and is continuing to rain with no signs of stopping in any direction. So no big deal....until we get a call from President letting us know that he received an email from Church Headquarters saying that we need to take precautions because there is a tropical storm that is going to hit Guerrero hard. So we are like okay, we´ll tell the Elders here. So we get to the bus station to go home and they inform us that the roads are flooded and we wont be able to leave. Not okay....So we ask them to check again, and they tell us that there might be a bus leaving in 20 minutes to go to Izucar and it might be the last chance to leave. So we tell President, and he makes the official call to take the Elders of Tlapa out of their areas until further notice. so we get on the bus, take the even MORE perilous journey home, and the Elders of Tlapa are staying here until we get the Ok for them to go back. Pretty crazy stuff.

       Sooo that was the pretty crazy week. To finish it off there is an activity that the branch here has been planning for some time now. Basically there is an Elder here named Elder M who was with us in Mayorazgo when i was with Elder P. During that time, he found out about my music and now everywhere he goes he tells people about it. So here in Izucar I am legitimately famous haha like people will come up to me and say, excuse me your nametag says Hamm....are you Josh Hamm?! And then they will ask me for an autograph and take pictures hahaha its been unreal man, but thats not the first of it. So the idea of the branch was to put on a "Josh Hamm concert" centered around the fact that im a missionary who left my career pursuits to come on the mission. Long story short, the idea is approved. On the 25th of October, i will be performing a free concert in the Zocalo (the center plaza of the city) and we will be showing Mormon Messages, talking about how im Mormon, and of course singing. BUT thats stilllll not it. This morning there was a TV ad promoting the concert and tomorrow at 7 i have a radio interview to talk about the concert. There are also several hundred flyers (designed by Elder C) being handed out that explain the concert and the fact that im Mormon - It even has the link to my Blogspot on there! haha so its been crazyyyyy!! Ill let you guys know how it all goes down, but we think its gonna bring us a LOT of missionary opportunities. 

       Alright, well to wrap up this incredibly long, yet short week, and this incredibly long, yet....longer email, lets get a spiritual thought in there. Just a quick thought i had while reading in D&C section 132 verse 50. It reads: "50) Behold, i have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as i accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac." That really stood out to me because I feel like we think sometimes that God doesnt understand how much we have to sacrifice in todays world to stay in line with the standards that He has given us. But He does. God says in that scripture that he has seen ALL of our sacrifices made to keep our lives in harmony with the gospel. Thomas S Monson shared a quote form Robert Louis Stevenson that i really liked. "Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name." Others may not know the true sacrifices that you are making to be obedient to God´s commands, but He sees each and every one of the noble acts you perform, and he will bless you and help you as you continue in faith.

Elder Josh Hamm

Leaving Tlapa to escape the tropical storm....pretty crazy!!!