Thursday, April 24, 2014

His Grace Is Sufficient

    So this was another pretty great week. We were able to have some great lessons, set a few baptismal dates, and help out a few of the families in our ward with a few different things! So I count it as a win! Now for my fathers questions. 1) Is it spring here? Idk. Its still hot....not really raining yet, but thats coming up really quick....not really flowers everywhere blooming....yah idk haha 2) People here normally get called to Mexico yah. There are a few exceptions...but not many. 3) No. People here are pretty soccer crazy, but they dont shut down almost anything. EVERYWHERE you go the game is on and when Mexico scores a goal you know haha cause wherever you are people are screaming. But not too crazy. 4) No, people dont barbeque and yes, it is depressing. 5) Actually, there are a lot of people that we meet here who arent literate and thus cant read the book of mormon. But the bigger challenge are the people who have severe learning disabilities (also common) and really dont understand anything we are teaching them even if we review it time and time again. Thats the hardest part. Its sad too. 6) And last, they celebrate different ways. They do lots of processions and walks with crosses and singing and they chant stuff, and they throw festivals and more. They have the entire week off from everything. On Thursday and Friday there are very few stores and things open like that and then they finish by actally crucifying someone on a cross. Its pretty intense.
       Okay, so now for the week summary. Well the highlights of the week would include a very spiritual lesson with a recent convert, having our investigator FINALLY reading and praying and having her say that she really feels the spirit more often, falling next to a irrigation trench and getting scraped up and wet, playing basketball in an indoor court with nets and breakaway rims! (thats unheard of here), and 
       So the spiritual thought for this week comes from something I was thinking about the other day during my personal study. I was reading Ether 12:27 about how Christ can take our weaknesses and make them strengths. I have read this scripture a hundred times, but this time I was really focusing on the HOW. Well, it says that "His grace is sufficient" that if we have faith in him then our weaknesses will grow to be our strengths. And as I read this....I came to a somewhat startling realization.....I dont really know what Grace is! How many times have i heard the song "Amazing Grace" or sung in church the words "...though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day..." from the hymn "Come, Come ye Saints" and yet I have really NO idea what grace is! So I went to the Guide to the Scriptures and under Grace it reads - " The enabling power from God that allows men and women to obtain blessings in this life and to gain eternal life and exaltation after they have exercised faith, repented, and given their best effort to keep the commandments. Such divine help or strength is given through the mercy and love of God. Every mortal person needs divine grace because of Adam’s fall and also because of man’s weaknesses." So Grace is a divine help or strength that we get because of the Mercy and Love of God. In learning this, I realized that means that if someone hopes to turn their weaknesses into strengths, they have to ASK God for that enabling power. Without Grace we cannot overcome our weaknesses or withstand temptations. But what do we learn about Grace from 2 Nephi 25:23? That we are only saved by Grace, after all we can do. There was a talk given at BYU by Brad Wilcox called "His Grace is Sufficient" which I not only highly reccomend, but is probably in the top 3 talks I have ever read. In this talk Brother Wilcox explains that while that scripture is true in the sense that Grace requires the effort of our whole souls, he added a comforting insight as well. He said - "The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts...Grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch." Brothers and Sisters, what a gift we have from through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his blessed atonement. We will not ever be perfect in this life, but through Grace, we may learn to rely on our redeemer and thus inherit that glorious promise made by the Lord in Ether. May we continually pray for Grace, and thank our Father in Heaven for sending his son to suffer and die for us, so that we may have that influence in our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Josh Hamm

Monday, April 14, 2014


Us eating pizza at the ward mission leaders house!

 Hey guys! So this week was actually excellent. I dont think it was incredibly exciting, but I felt good the whole week which was a change of tempo! haha but anyways, no questions from Dad this week, so on to the summary and highlights! 

Grandma Hamm's letter arrived in flawless condition!
       So this week on Tuesday we had a Zone Capacitation and our zone leaders really did a good job. Elder W asked us each what our favorite candy was before and then bought it and did a cool activity with it. It was super cool. Then that night we went and helped the sister missionaries move into the ward mission leaders house and he bought us pizza. It was fun. Then Wednesday we had a Zone Conference which is pretty much like a Zone Capacitation, except that its 6 hours long instead of 3 and the assistants and President Reeves and his wife come. It was veryyy spiritual and verryy awesome. Sadly, it will be the LAST Zone Conference I will have with President Reeves becuase he and his wife will finish their service in June. I dont know if I'm allowed to tell you who the new president i wont haha but President really impressed me with the way he talked about him. He said he wants us to pray for the new president and his wife that they will be strengthened and be able to feel our love for them. Its obviously hard to have a change of mission presidents, but he told us that the mantle will be passed and we will get the great experience of seeing that change in authority. Then we ate tacos arrabe which were delicious and I got a letter from Grandma Hamm and it came in hilarious fasion haha Ill put a picture in here so you know what i mean, but needless to say, its going in my journal and i could still read the letter fine, so everyone won haha Then after the conference we went out and worked a successful day with my companion and put 2 baptismal dates! Thursday was normal, Friday we did interchanges with the zone leaders and I went with Elder B and we had a pretty good time. Saturday we didnt really have much happen. Sunday, our hopes were dashed as only one of 8 investigators showed up to church. And then we had to go walk around in the hottest dustiest pueblo we have. Butttt its over now soo thats a plus haha and yah, thats about it! 

My comp and I, lost AGAIN. haha
     Spiritual Thought for this week comes from my studying that I did with the Zone Leaders...well mostly just Elder B. Basically him and I decided that Im kinda a hater...i mean, i love people....but i hate more than i love haha so Im working on developing Charity like it talks about in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel. You should go read it, but a few of my favorite parts are "[As you serve]...You will come to feel a sincere concern for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. You will see them as children of God with the potential of becoming like our Heavenly Father..." and also "...You will try to understand them and their points of view. You will be patient with them and try to help them when they are struggling or discouraged." Charity is really something we can all work on, and to help you, I have copied the little "check your progress" activity from PMG -- 

Charity and Love

1 = Never       2 = Sometimes       3 = Often       4 = Almost Always       5 = Always

____14. I feel a sincere desire for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. (Mosiah 28:3)
____15. When I pray, I ask for charity—the pure love of Christ. (Moroni 7:47–48)
____16. I try to understand others’ feelings and see their point of view. (Jude 1:22)
____17. I forgive others who have offended or wronged me. (Ephesians 4:32)
____18. I try to help others when they are struggling or discouraged. (Mosiah 18:9)
____19. When appropriate, I tell others that I love them and care about them. (Luke 7:12–15)
____20. I look for opportunities to serve other people. (Mosiah 2:17)
____21. I say positive things about others. (D&C 42:27)
____22. I am kind and patient with others, even when they are hard to get along with. (Moroni 7:45)
____23. I find joy in others’ achievements. (Alma 17:2–4)}

       When I was studying, I realized that most people I was "hating" didnt deserve to be loved, and that was the reason I didnt have charity for them. But as i reflected on the way Christ loves all of us, I realized that we dont deserve that love either, and yet, he freely gives it. As he was being crucified, he even prayed for his captors exclaiming, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." As we strive to increase our charity for others, i know we will feel happier, we will help others feel happier, and in doing so, we will come closer to our savior Jesus Christ.

Elder P wore my tie to his homecoming!
Elder Josh Hamm

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Priesthood Power

The new Bros pics

Okay, so we ALWAYS start out with my Dads lets not break tradition. 1) Conference was SICK. I will elaborate a little more on that in my spiritual thought but just so you know, yes we watched it in English, all 5 sessions. 2) Yes, they have ward activities but not many people usually show up. They arent super excited to go to the chruch any day but Sunday. Kinda sad, but its the truth. When they do BIG parties, yes. Like a Christmas party or Mexican independence day, or stuff like that. 3) Yes, they have piñatas at birthday parties, but even more they have them at whatever party. Doesnt matter the occasion. And they have a song they sing while the people take turns hitting it. When the song ends, your turn is up. Its pretty fun. 4) Yes, they have candy in the piñatas...5) thats an oppinion...but i dont really like a lot of the mexican candy cause its pretty much any normal candy covered in chile. But there are some good things so it kinda evens out....kinda.

       So the news this week is that I DIDNT have changes. But it was Elder P's lastttt changes meeting and the last time I would be able to see him and he had something he wanted to give me and i was gonna give him something so....I called President, and asked what I thought to be a hopeless question...I asked if i could go to Changes meeting, and he said OF COURSE. So #1 President is awesome and I love that man and #2 I got to go to changes and say bye to P! We also took bro pictures cause you know, its the last time and everything. They will be included later. Not gonna lie, it was tough saying goodbye. Probably sounds dumb, but youre pretty much quarentined on the mission from people outside, and so when someone leaves, its like now you are super seperated from them too. But we didnt cry, sooooo i count that as a win. As for the rest of the week. We worked hard, got some new investigators, met some people and had some pretty sweet experiences. Its a TON easier only working in one ward, even if you still cover 8 pueblos. Thats all im sayin. Then of course, General Conference. It was awesome as usual. All the Americans were together in one room watching on a tv and we had a great time. And thats pretty much it. Wierd how a super successful week on the mission can also be super boring to tell about. 

       Spiritual thought this week comes from my favorite talk from conference (that was a real tough decision by the way) by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom during the priesthood session. First off, you have to know that after the saturday afternoon session of conference a sister missionary from my district asked me for a blessing because she was having a hard time adjusting to a new companion and a new area after a GREAT first area and companion. This is not to make her feel bad, but the opposite. She asked me if i could give her a blessing and I told her of course, and asked what type of blessing she would like. I was touched as she broke down crying and explained her worries and struggles. This faithful sister missionary trusted so much in the holy priesthood of God. She knew that if she recieved a blessing she would be able to feel comfort and peace. The blessing was incredible. I could feel the love of God for her so strongly and we both left spiritually enriched from the experience. Elder Donald L. Hallstrom told us that he couldnt hope to get in our faces and speak as powerfully as Jeffrey R. Holland, but he came close. He said "...dear brethren, we need to wake up to how commonly accepted practices in the world, choke our power in the priesthood. If we think we can even flirt with pornography, or violations of chastity or dishonesty in any form and not have it negatively affect us and our families, we are decieved." That really hit me. In the world today there are so many people who are good people, role models, or "esteemed of the world" that would try and tell us that the things they practice are "okay", and to the world they are. Sin is commonly accepted in many forms in todays world. But we know better. These comon practices of the world CHOKE our priesthood power and limit our ability to be worthy of the great blessing we have. So dont be fooled by the practices of the world. Thomas S. Monson said "It is impossible to stay upright when roots are planted in the shifting sands of popular opinion." Listen to the prophets, follow what they say, and always live worthy to exercise your priesthood.

Elder Josh Hamm