Monday, May 26, 2014

Helping, Helping Hands!

A little bit more of my area.  Haha It's awesome
       So this week was actually pretty freeking awesome. Sooo hopefully i can fit in all the details without getting terribly bored of writing all of it out haha ill do my best to sum up.

       Firstttt off, this week was especially interesting because i got email questions from BOTH my father and my mother!!! But, my Mom only really had one question, with many sub-questions. So ill just start with that one haha My mom asked about my responsibilities as a district leader. First off, let me say that they are not terribly difficult haha but here they are - Basically, once a week i have to give a "District Meeting" to my district. We talk about challenges we are having in the district, what we are putting as goals, and then we have a specific topic that I give a little lesson on, and then we practice teaching about that principle! I DO have to call all the people in my district, but only because they are all sisters pretty much haha here in Atlixco there have been a few sketchy things going down so they asked me to call them every night to check that they made it safely to their houses. I council the ELDERS of my distirct if they are having problems, but im NOT allowed to council the sister missionaries. They are supposed to go to the sister leaders for that. However, they ask for blessings every once in a while. I also have to help if they have issues like getting lost and transportation and stuff like that, but its usually pretty easy. Worse comes to worse, i just tell them to take a taxi, tell the driver where to take them and then reemburse the taxi ride. Thats what President has advised us to do if theres no other solution. NOW as for my Dads questions - 1) There is only ONE rule about setting off fireworks in Mexico....and that is that there are NO RULES. You dont need any type of event or occasion to be able to set off fireworks here haha its just a thing they do no matter what the day is. 2) They DO eat potatoes here haha 3) They make Jello here too, actually a lot. And they sell it and people buy it. Its super popular. 4) NOOOO. Its superrr sad, but no, they dont have kool aid. If an elder has a few packs of kool aid singles, you can bet he got them from his girlfriend back home haha and 5) They mostly follow soccer, world and in Mexico, but if you look a little bit harder you can find people who like the NFL, and if you look REALLY HARD you can find people who like the NBA (shoutout to my boy Kevin Durant), and almost NEVER do you find people who like the NCAA which is sad, cause we all know thats my favorite haha

And these adorable little brothers of a sister
 missionary who had her farewell this week! 
They sang "I Hope They Call Me On a Mission"!
       Sooo like i said, this week was pretty exciting. I only have times for the highlights so here we go. We had a GREAT district meeting. I really prayed that the sisters and elders would get something out of it and i for sure felt the spirit and it was awesome! Then we had 2 days this week of helping "Helping Hands" that program from the church (ironic i know). They were offering free dental work on thursday and friday this week and we went and helped patients get to their offices and take down their names and what their problems were. It was awesome! All the dentists were from the US and in their last year of studying to be practicians, so we also got to help with some translating. That was my favorite part haha they were all soo cool and it was awesome to see how greatful the people were for such a simple thing like a teeth cleaning. They were able to help the people sooo much with problems that are much too expensive for them to fix themselves. So it was a really enriching experience. Pictures to that will come later cause the director still hasnt sent them to me haha And finally on Sunday we were able to have a BAPTISM!! YAYY! I also got to play a few songs there too and it went really well. So it was good.

Picture of our Baptism!  This guy is awesome!
       Im pretty much out of time for this week, so Im gonna have to give just a really shortttt spiritual thought. I just want you guys to be on the lookout this week for someone who could really use this gospel. We are the chosen children of God. We were chosen before this life, to be the blessed saints who have the message of the restored gospel, and Im sure that when we were called, and accepted that calling, we agreed to share it. There is no greater joy you can have than to know that someone was brought to a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation through your invitation. Your friends and neighbors are anxiously waiting this message, and you are the light that is set on a hill, ready to bring it to them.

Elder Josh Hamm

Monday, May 19, 2014

Do You Love Me?

Me up on that big hill in our area. And POPO!! Its been a while right? 
 Soooo as you all know, we had changes this week and I know you are dying to hear all about them so here you go. I am now in the Zone Atlixco which is about 1 hour from Puebla on a bus. My comps name is Elder A and he is from Sonora. Our area is called Independencia and it is pretty great. Its a beautiful city and Im right in the middle of it so we have a lot of perks. (definitely nicer than my other area). We also have a lot of work in the area which is nice, although there is giant hill we have to climb pretty much daily which is helping me get my excersize and then some. 

I am District Leader here and I have 12 people in my district....its the biggest in the mission. I have 4 companionships of Sister missionaries, 2 of which are training, and one of which is training AND opening a new area. So needless to say I have my hands full. The other 2 Elders in my district are also none other than......*drum roll*......Elder A and Elder D. Yes, as fate and irony would have it, I am now Elder A's district leader haha so Im superrrr stoked about having them so close. And we are gonna be seeing a lot more of each other too so that's awesome. There are mosquitos here....not too many, but I could'nt sleep last night because I would wake up hearing a mosquito rightt by my head and then i finally put the covers over my head and found a bite on my foot in the morning -__- first question when i get to heaven. WHY. And, well I think thats about it! So there are the changes. President told me he was going to put me in a....challenging situation and so I can already tell its gonna be a little bit hectic, but im super excited to be in a new area. 

Oh, and to answer my Dad's question, no, people dont mow their lawns with gas mowers....they dont really have lawns...and if they do, they are so small that they just pay someone to cut it with a machette....true story. I did it once as a service project....just about as fun as it sounds....not at all.

       So this week was good. Not too much to report since Ive only been getting to know my area so far, and i didnt get here till Wednesday night, butttt I'll fill you in on what I can. Atlixco is known as the "City of Flowers" and its known for the best climate in Puebla. Its amazing weather here, not gonna lie. We have some good investigators, one with a baptismal date for this Sunday and the other with a date for the 7th of June. Our ward mission leader got back from his mission literally 3 weeks ago so he is a hard worker and helping us a lot haha the bishop and the rest of the ward are awesome and they are also gonna be helping a lot. Anddddd it looks pretty great.

Shout out to Elder B sleeping on the bus.  Im gonna miss that kid.

        So the spiritual thought for this week is from something President Reeves was telling me in a interview we had after changes quick meeting. I was telling him about some struggles ive been having and he was talking about sacrifices and giving up on the things that are bringing me down. He shared the story of Jesus and Peter when Jesus asks him 3x if he loves him more than THESE. He explained that we can really put in anything we want in that blank, and ask ourselves the same question. Do we love Christ our savior more than a bad movie, an off colored comment, momentary pleasure? There are endless things we can put in there with all of the vices we have in this world. But then, we have to also fill in the answer. He said, "Then feed my sheep" Go ahead and replace that with Then....dont watch it, leave the room, say a prayer, talk to your bishop. Whatever we need to do to show Christ that we love him more than we do these things of the world. So ask yourself that same question, and then take action trusting in his atoning power to help you.

Elder Josh Hamm

Monday, May 12, 2014


     Well my friends, it has happened. I Have Changes. And to be completely honest, Im pretty happy about it. I mean, I love the area and the people here but #1 - A TON of the chill Elders in the zone are leaving too, so I dont wanna feel left behind, and #2 - I have now been here 6 months, and I feel that a change of scenary is in order. So who knows where Im gonna be going (PRAY FOR ATLIXCO), but hopefully all will be well at the end of the day tomorrow.
       In other news I was able to skype my family yesterday for Mother's Day which was absolutely awesome. Hopefully we can all wait another 7 months before we can do it again! So now for my fathers questions for this week. #1) The mornings here are one morning I wake up and the sun is out and its already getting a little uncomfotably hott....but then there are other mornings when it is sooo cold and I get to take a nice cold shower -__- It really depends, but its hardly ever foggy here. #2 + #3) I have now had 7 companions (if we are counting Elder V AND Elder A even though I was only with them for a week) and 3 have been Americans, 1 has been Mexican, 1 has been Dominican, 1 has been Honduran, and 1 has been Peruvian. Soooo I have only had ONE native companion, but Ive had pretty much native speaking companions. #4) And the different jobs that people have here really depend on where you are. There are farmers, combi drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, people who own stores, people who sell things door to door, people who have odd jobs, but all of them have very hard hours which makes the work seem hard to me.
The ants ALLLL over my freeking pillow and bed!!
       So this week as always has been pretty boring, but the highlights were interesting! On Friday night i came home and sat down on my bed to take off my shoes. I felt a sharp sting on my back so i was like um, ow....but then there were lots of sharp stingings....and all over my body. So then Im like UMMMM, OOOOWWWWW!!!! And I stand up freeking out, smaking my body, and find that while we had been out working, my bed had become home to a colony of red ants. ants. The big kinda that like to eat you. So I have lots of special marks all over my body that they left, and lemme tell you, they are not pleasant. I think one can compare their bites to the sting of a bee. Soooo theres that. Also, I got to go to this little tiny pueblo with Elder B called Tlacoyalco where he did some baptisms. It was pretty crazy, but I got to eat red tortillas for the first time which was cool, however they were to be used in place of silverware since thats apparently the custom there. So it was pretty fun! haha but anyways, it was a pretty good week.
       Well, the spiritual thought this week is short and sweet. I was reading the weekly email that Elder N (my companion from the MTC) sends out and he has come up with a really cool stanza about courage. It goes like this: 

Is courage a thing that can be taught?
I think not, but it can be learned.
Is courage a thing that can be given?
No, but with help from Heaven it can be earned.

So I thought that was really cool and worth mentioning here. I think that we can apply this especially when it comes to sharing the gospel. The missionaries here say that the best way to overcome your fear of approaching a random stranger in the street and sharing the to do it. And I couldnt agree more. Courage can't be taught, but you can learn to be courageous by trusting in the Lord, or "earning it with help from heaven." So get out there and share the gospel. Study up, prepare your heart and mind, and then dive right in with trust in God that he will help you!

Lots of Love!!
Elder Josh Hamm

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Bitter Cup

I dont' know if Mexico has a "Hug a Cactus Day"....but 
it's a pretty terrible idea. 

        So this week Im gonna switch things up and start with my Dads questions! (that was sarcasm if you couldnt tell) 1) When I tell people Im from the US they always ask me which part. Then I tell them Virginia or DC and they say "ahhhh Virginia" as their face changes indicating that they really have absolutely NO idea where the devil Virginia is, but they have been to Arizona one time for a few years and so they want to seem like they do haha 2) Most people DO have microwaves....well most people. There are a few who dont but i would say that the majority of people do. 3) No, people DO NOT eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches here. At all. Its literally hericy. Im serious, its like being in another worldddd. I would say that the equivilent would be tortillas and something like eggs or cheese in the middle. But not like a quesadilla. ITs hard to explain haha but i think thats the closest thing. 4) And no....i dont use sunscreen. Apart from if its pday and i know im gonna be out playing in very strong sunnn for about 4 hours. Its usually not bad though. 

       Really quickly I would like to give a shoutout to a few Elders who have gone home lately. They are doing great....just great....and i know this cause they find it necessary to send me each and every picture of how great their lives are at home!! haha so heres a big shout out to Elder P, Elder M and Elder G. Keep being ridiculous haha

Yahhh this week was awesome though! Its hard to always tell you about my week without feeling like im boring all of you cause i hear about vacations, sports games, and stuff like that but hopefully i dont bore you too much. For Pday we went to this huge indoor basketball court that we NEVER knew was there until now -__- And it was awesome. Its like a legitimate basketball court! It was super fun. Then Tuesday we had interviews with our President. My interview with him was first and it was sooo good. He is seriously sooo in tune with the spirit. He told me after it was one of the most spiritual interviews he has given. It was great. Then Wednesday we had District Meeting and it went really well, and I felt like the missionaries got something out of it. Then we went on interchanges with Elder I the Assistant to the President. For those of you playing along at home, that would make it the 2nd time on my mission that I have been on interchanges with the assistants and Im not even a ZL....soooo clearly I need to repent of something. Thursday I went to Puebla for the leadership training meeting that I always look forward to cause I get to see everyone from the mission. I got to see Elder D, A, M, K, B, and a ton of other guys. It was awesome. Then little ceasars pizza, got to the CAPU, bought a slushy, and then spent 2 hours on an air conditioned bus. Sooo needless to say, it was awesome, although I was definitly missing P. 

And this is my whole zoneee!! Well....for like one more week
 before I almost for sureee have changes -__-

Friday we got to go with the ward mission leader and help his parents out with some service. It was awesome. They have a house up on this hugeee hill and it overlooks the city. Its pretty great. Then we played Basketball that night with some investigators and less actives. Saturday I did a few baptismal interviews and they went well. For one of the investigators, this was the second time I was doing his interview because he hadnt passed the first time becuase he was drinking coffee. Last week when I did the interview he was reaaaalllllyyyyyy bummed out when I told him that he had to wait a week (although not as bummed as I was). It was soo hard for me to tell him that when he was soo ready in all his other categories. I felt super bad, but i knew I had to do it. Then this week I got to interview him again and he was beaming. He told me he had recieved so much strength and blessings from giving up coffee that week and he was grateful that he could now be baptized with nothing holding him back. It was a great moment for us both. He was baptized on Sunday at a lovely service, and then we went to the ward mission leaders house and made brownies while we helped the ZL's prepare for a zone capacitation. So overall it was a great week!

OOOOHHHH! And I got to baptize!! They were my old
investigators and I got to baptize the dad.

Making brownies with the Ward Mission Leader!!

         The spiritual thought for this week comes from something I realized this week during studies. Its quick, but take it for what you will. I was thinking about how hard it is to obey certain things sometimes and how hard it is to stop doing bad things. And I realized that I have always thought that it should be hard...but I should feel good when I decide to obey when its hard, or quit doing something that is wrong.....but thats really not always the case. Its called a "bitter cup" for a reason. It really is bitter. When we are trying to change something in our life, we are going to feel the spirit telling us that what we are doing is right....but Satan is also trying to make us feel bad about what we are doing. So dont quit becuase it doesnt make you feel really good inside.  Its not supposed to be delicious...its our own little suffering. So if you are making hard changes in your life to bring yourself closer to Christ, and you dont feel great like you hoped, just know that its gonna get better, and soon that bitterness will be replaced with lasting sweetness that is desireable above all.

Elder Josh Hamm

Monday, May 5, 2014

Doubt Your Doubts Before You Doubt Your Faith.

Josh's mom apologizes to Parrish and others - somehow I didn't get the blog posted last week. ;)

April 28, 2014
Sunrise in Chilac
      HEY GUYS! So this week was alright. But first, to my dads questions! 1) The thing that made me laugh this week? hmmmm...When i was on interchanges in Chilac, we visited the house of some members i met while i was there last change. The 4 year old daughter and her 5 year old brother were showing me the house that is being built for their family behind the grandparents house. They showed me where their bedroom would be, the bedroom of the parents, and at one point the little boy said "And this part here is where there is gonna be our bathroom!" And the little girl beamed and said "Yah! This is where I'm gonna go poopoo!" hahaha gestures were included and it was very funny haha i laughed 2) I have never blessed the sacrament on the mission but its not too unheard of, especially in the smaller branches or even smaller family groups. They just usually have an adult do it if there are no young men. 3) Testimony meetings are pretty much the same here as in the US. People get up and talk, some are good, some are....less good haha its the same. 4) and the most annoying bug ive had to deal with?....hmmm, well mosquitos were awful in loma bella, but in tehuacan there really arent any mosquitos. Chinches are absolutely annoying and their bites itch like crazy and stay for weeks, but one spray of the matress and you kill them. Idk, I might have to say all the cockroaches. Just cause they are everywhere in like packs of 3 and they fly and get on your face at night and in your suitcases. Just dumb stuff like that. Its annoying haha OH, and extra note. Elder P was a little bit upset by my last blog post because i said that in Mexico they dont do barbeques. Apparently that is a Southern thing, but in the North where he is from, they do indeed barbeque haha who knew?!

       Soo like i said, this week was alright. What happened is that it was the second week of the time when all the people here are celebrating semana santa. Sooo pretty much nobody is home and the people that are make it very clear that they dont want to hear us. But it happens. We went on interchanges with the elders in chilac which was nice. I got to help the Elder in my district that is training his first missionary and it went really well. Ive got some excellent missionaries in my district. Then we were able to go to stake conference where a 70 member came and talked to us along with President Reeves which was very good. We have our LAST interviews with President Reeves this week, its gonna be a bitter/sweet. Oh, and I was talking one day with a combi driver and we got to be pretty good friends, now he gives us rides places for free and this week he invited us to the quinceƱera (a big party for when girls turn 15) of his niece. So we stopped by and it was awesome. He has a really great family. Then last night our neighbors brought us a pack of assorted cookies and introduced themselves. They said they have a car and if we get sick and need a ride to the hospital or if we are ever going to centro and they are going there too, theyll give us a ride, and overall they just said they knew how hard it was to start living on your own and start somewhere new. It almost brought me to tears just how kind they were. People like that really help me see the good of the people here. It was really great.

A true Mexican microwave.  haha this made me laugh

        Well, the spiritual thought for this week comes from an old comparison that Elder G made for me when I was talking to him about people who have doubts in the church. I shared the thought with Elder W on interchanges and we came up with a few new ways to look at it. So there are many people in the church or those who have fallen away from the church because of doubts which they have about chruch doctrine, and beliefs. G originally shared with me the scripture in 3 Nephi chapter 26 which reads - 

"6 And now there cannot be written in this book even a ahundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people; 

7 But behold the aplates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. 

8 And these things have I written, which are a alesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, bfrom the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken. 

9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the agreater things be made manifest unto them. 

10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the agreater things be bwithheld from them, unto their condemnation.

11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord aforbade it, saying: I will btry the faith of my people."

So we dont even have a hundreth part of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. So G told me that it would be like taking a handful of puzzle pieces from a 1000 piece puzzle and then getting frustrated when we cant see the full picture yet, or are having a hard time completing the puzzle on my own. I thought that was really cool. And then the other night I was expanding on that a little bit. Jesus also said that if we learn and belive in these few things, then will more things be given unto us. So obviously Thomas S. Monson has a few more puzzle pieces than we do and thats why he can give us direction and guidance - he can see more of the picture than we can. And then there are also members of the church who arent taking advantage of the puzzle pieces that they have. They instead ask God why they dont understand the doctrine. They ask for more pieces of the puzzle when they havent even turned over the ones that they have. Just a cool thought we came across while talking about doubts. If you are doubting something, try taking a look at the puzzle pices we have (the book of mormon, bible, talks given by apostles and prophets, etc.) and then if you believe in and learn of, those things, then God will give you a few more, even until your understanding is great and your doubts few. So if you are having a hard time, remember what Elder Ucthdorf kindly advised us: Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.

Elder Josh Hamm
A strange fruit here they call "zapote" it tasted kinda
 like brown sugar and mangos....
im not a huge fan of mangos hah