Monday, July 28, 2014

Peace Be Unto Thy Soul

 HEY GUYS!!! This week was great! I feel like i dont really know why...but thats how the mission works haha all the terrible parts of the week just get swallowed up in the joy of serving sometimes! Sooo we'll start off with my dads questions!

       Alright soo my Dads questions for this week were pretty good in my opinion, so get excited!! 1) I have NOT found another shave ice dude in my new area. I have looked and they seriously just dont sell it here very often, however i have seen a few slush puppy stands every once in a while. The problem is its usually on Sundays when i cant buy it -__- 2) If i could choose between watermellon or cantaloupe flavored shave ice, i would go watermellon hands down. The cantalope water here is great.....but the watermellon water is unrealll man. Its sooo good! haha 3) Most people drink soda with all meals. Its usually coke too haha however, there are a few who drink like juices that come in the packets. They NEVER drink plain water with a meal. Seriously NEVER. 4) Yes, they have churros and they are more delicious than you can imagine haha fresh out of the oil with hersheys chocolate syrup on them. They are amazingggg haha and they sell them for cheap and you can find them anywhere. 5) And last of all....are the people religious?....they all claim to have religion. Like they dont attend meetings and things very often. But they all belive in God and Christ which actually isnt a terrible place to start haha
Two words....Krispy Kreme

       Welllll this week like i said was great. On Tuesday I went to Puebla for a leadership capacitation and it went......welll....lets just say its a rebuilding year for the Puebla Sur mission haha we have a lot of young, still unlearned leaders right now. But thats okay, they are gonna be the great future leaders of the mission. Then afterwards Me and Elder N had to go and pick up some medical stuff....and we may or may not have stopped off at Krispy Kreme..........Yah....we did. It was great. Then District meeting went well on Wednesday. This week J and T (our investigators) were finallyyyy able to get the wedding plans set and the paper was approved by the governor so they are going to be getting married this week! IM SOOOO STOKEEEDDDD!!!! Andd the rest of the week was just alrighttt. Soo on to the spiritual thought!!

       Sooo just something i was thinking about this week - A lot of times on the mission there are ups and downs. And sometimes when there is a very, VERY hard day I realize that its not just by chance that everything decided to go wrong in one terrible day, but that its really the Lord testing me. Every few days or weeks or months, he throws in one of those awful, long, hard, hot, unsuccessful days and says "Well Elder Hamm, I've blessed you with soo much over these past few days or weeks. Now its time to show me your faith and perseverance when times get tough." And even in realizing that....its still super difficult sometimes!! And when the moment comes when i start so feel myself slipping and dont know how im going to keep my spirits up, he reminds me that it wont last forever and by the next day things are looking up again. Its funny how the Lord works like that sometimes. He lets us struggle and lets us have those tough times so that we can understand that even in the hard times, he is there with us, and in the grand scheme of things, it will seem soooo small! It cant last forever, but the happiness we recieve from accepting the Fathers will and all the things that he sees fit to deal us, can and will last forever. Remember the comforting encouragment given by the Lord to Jospeh Smith in Cathridge Jail - "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high..." Endure your trials well, and let your past worries become enveloped in the greatness of the final reward.

Elder Josh Hamm

Monday, July 21, 2014

Adios Jake!!!

This is a picture of my district right now! 
      Sooo the big news this week is that my brother is entering the MTC on Saturday!! WAAAAHHHHH!!!! Hes gonna be a dope missionary! But its tough saying goodbye for 2 more years. Oh Well, thats life haha But anyway, big shout-out to him. LOVE YOU BRO!

       Well, these are my dads questions this week: 1) The first thing i hear when i get up in the my alarm clock....ha...ha...ha....okay, but for real, the first thing i usually hear is the that the neighbors boiler is turned on. It makes this loud fiery sound and im like well, time to turn on ours. 2) People here normaly eat like a torta (a sandwhich type thing) and atole (kinda like muddy hot chocolate) for breakfast. I dont think almost anyone eats cold cereal haha but maybe a few people. and 3) Yes, people drink milk.....but its normally out of a box. Like they sell the milk in boxes on a shelf....yes....not refrigerated. And then these people expect me to like it! haha its not bad, but i definitely prefer real milk.

...more of the Festivities!  haha
       Soo this week was pretty good! We didnt get that family with the panadaria to come to church, but 2 other families came and brought people who have never come! Then we also were able to get the details worked out for a less active and her investigator husband to get married!!! Ive been working sooo hard with them the whole time ive been here in Atlixco to try and get them married! They didnt have money and then we found a way to get them married free, and then we were working on all the rest and finally they are more than ready to take this step in thier life! They are so happy to be finally living the law of chastity after their marriage and then have their baby in October be born into a marriage in the church! IM SOOO HAPPY!!! So hopefully this week they will get married and this Saturday or the next, the husband will be baptized! Then we also got to celebrate my comp hitting 6 months on the mission and the comp of Elder N hitting a year on the mission! So we had some...festivities haha youll see the pictures. Anndddd the rest of the week was pretty boring, but we were able to get a few new investigators who i will talk more about next week! Sooo onto the spiritual thought!

       The spiritual thought this week comes with an experience I had last night. Its pretty personal, but i felt like I should share it with you all. So as many of you know, my younger brother Jake will be entering the MTC this week and then will be headed out to the Juiz De Fora, Brazil mission. So that means that today, Monday, will be the last time i write him before he goes into the MTC and starts his mission. As i was lying awake trying to think of how i was going to give him all of information i thought he should have before he starts the mission, and i was a little overwhelmed. But in the midst of the turmoil, I had the distinct impression to kneel down and say a prayer. I knelt down and poured my heart out to God telling him about all the things i was worried about, and He just listened. Then when i laid down again, a distinct feeling of calm came over me and I began to think of all the blessings that i have received from serving a mission. I realized that I was being greedy by worrying about what it might be like for my brother cause how could i be worried when God has given me such great experiences to build my testimony and strengthen my relationship with Him! Then I had a clear realization that God has a plan for me, for my brother, and for everyone in this life. And i wanted to share that with everyone because I can testify to you that I KNOW that God has a plan for everyone in this life. He has seen all the things that are going to happen, He knows what we need and He wants to help us every step of the way. So put your trust in God. He knows you, He loves you, and more importantly He knows whats best for you.

Elder Josh Hamm
This is a wierd fruit here that they eat.  Its called Jinicuil.  You eat the cotton like fluffy outside and then the pits you throw away. Its pretty delicious!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sin is Weakness

Me and my comp!
Alright, well another week on the mission down haha Its been a pretty good one actually. We were able to get some good lessons in and help some people feel the spirit. More on that in a second but first we are gonna answer my Dad's questions!! 1) Yes, people go on vacations, but its usually one or 2 of the members of the family at a time. Family vacations are pretty expensive. Maybe to visit someone close but thats about it. 2) Popo has been pretty quiet, but it stands in silent awe haha its so cool to see it everyday, sometimes topped with snow but still with steam blowing out the top. Ill send another picture i took today. 3) One of the nicest things somebody has done for me as a missionary (apart from all the things people have done for me while i was sick) would probably be when a very poor man who is a recent convert told us that if we ever needed to use the bathroom or if we didnt have food or water, or if we were just tired and needed a rest that his home was our home. It was something simple, but that really shows a lot of love for us. 4) Anddd as for highshool spanish. They definitely TRY to teach you. Honestly, i can see now how incredibly hard it is to try and teach someone another language. BUT i feel like its funny cause now being on the mission, i can see how many things i did wrong haha like we NEVER talked with our teacher in Usted form....but thats like a complete lack of respect haha its funny. So yah.

Called to Serve....its only like 18 months late haha
       Alright well this week has been pretty good. Right now we are working with a family who has everything - meaning they have active members, less actives, and investigators. Their problem is that they have a panaderia and so they have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to make the bread. They usually finish around 9 oclock, which is right when church starts, so they are having a hard time making it to church. We have been working with them sooo hard trying to build their faith so that they can finally come to church and recieve the blessings of the Lord, but they have been struggling a lot. We finally got them to committ to waking up at 5 oclock so that they can finish a half hour early and then come to church with us! We will see how they do. Then we also got some new investigators. Its a girl and her Mom and they are awesome man! They have already gone to church a few times because they like how they feel there, and we are stoked to get to teach them some more! We also were able to climb the hill in our area and take some awesome pictures! So its been a pretty good week.

       Soo for the spiritual thought this week, I pulled something from Jesus The Christ. In the part i was reading, it was talking about the event when Jesus cleared the Temple grounds of the barganers and the animals and they took an interesting view on it that I had not before taken into account. They were speculating why during this almost angry demonstration by Jesus, who at that time was not yet recognized as a superior authority, no one protested, or raised a finger to stop it until it was complete. In the book James E. Talmage quotes Farrar from "Life of Christ" and says: "...Why did not this multitude of ignorant pilgrims resist?...Because sin is weakness; because there is in the world nothing so abject as a guilty concience, nothing so invincible as the sweeping tide of a Godlike indignation against all that is base and wrong...and because Vice cannot stand for one moment before Virtue's uplifted arm." That struck me so powerfully, because it is so true. Sin is weakness. When someone sins, they instantly are at a disadvantage to the world, becasue God made us in his image and part of him dwells in us. We are his spirit children and because of that we have a concious that knows good from evil and cannot deny that fact. Everyone who has lived, is living, or will still live in this world feels remourse when they commit sin no matter how deep they try to burry that guilt. We cannot hope to stand for anything in this world when we are heavy-laden under the burden of a splotted concience. So take courage in the atonement; we can be made strong again! We can be washed clean and once more regain our confidence. Sin is real, but so is repentance. Use this great gift everyday of your life and you will be able to stand with conviction in the face of a fallen world. I know that Jesus Christ suffered so that we can have this assurance, and I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  
Elder Josh Hamm
Heres that Picture of Popo i promised. Ive sent alot of other pictures too....but its just soo cool!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pleasure Vs. Happiness

These were some cool statues we found at a train station in our area! haha they had a bunch of them!
   Okkaayyy. So this week was pretty good. We had a few good times, a few sad times, got to meet the new president, and more! Sooo we'll get to all of that right after my Dad's questions. 1) Mexican people would say that mexican food is tacos....and enchiladas, and tostadas, and chilacuiles, and more. Pretty much all the things you would think of as Mexican food. 2) Their national Hamburgers on the 4th?....well on the 16th of September which is their day of independence, we had elotes, tacos, gringas, mamelas, and more. They are typical mexican foods. 3) And yes. Suprisingly almost everyone has TVs....i might even say everyone. Which is wierd cause there are people who dont have almost anything in their houses, and many of the essentials....but they have a tv. 

Anddd one of the days we were coming home and it started
pourrringgg rain. Me and my comp were seriously
soaked to the bone.
       Alright, well this week was great. My companion and i were able to meet with a lot of the members and encourage them to get more involved in the missionary work and they were all very receptive! We have some appointments this week to go on visits with a lot of them. We were able to have Zone Conferences with President Stellmon and he and his wife are great. They are funny, but also very spiritual. It was great getting to know them. And then we had a tonn of the people we have been inviting to come to church FINALLY come! Even a few sacrificed to be there. HOWEVER, the downer of the week would be the 4th of i dont want to come at any of the other American Elders in this zone....but im gonna do it anyway. These dudes are NOT patriotic. Last year we all went and got hamburgers and took pictures with the American flag, but thissss year....nothing. They were all like oh, idk, like we have this and that and blahhhh. So i spent it doing pretty much nothing. We worked and nobody was really home cause we were looking for references, but at one point the young men's presdient (A returned missionary) came and sang me the national anthem....or a rendition with a much fewer words haha and then they bought me a snickers and said happy 4th of July hahaha out of control. But it was a pretty good week! Sooo on to the spiritual thought!

       Well, the spiritual thought this week comes from Jesus the Christ which i have been reading a lot lately. It is such a great book filled with so many insights into the life of Christ and those around him. I would HIGHLY reccommend it. But in one perticular part of the book it was talking about the famous "Sermon on the Mount" given by Jesus to his apostles. Elder James E. Talmage goes through examining each part of the sermon and at one point, turns to examining the difference between pleasure and happiness. I read it and was in grand awe at the wisdom which he imparted through the explanation. He talks about how in these latter days the Devil is harder at work than ever in manufacturing pleasures that do but excite and disappoint.   And in this soul destroying craft, he is without a peer. It then explains the great difference between pleasure and true happiness, likening happiness to genuine gold, while pleasure is but guilded brass which corrodes in the hand. Now while i was reading this, I felt like I KNEW there was a difference between the two, but that sometimes, the line is blurred and it becomes hard to determine what is pleasure and what is happiness. But then Elder Talmage adds this helpful way to differentiate between the pleasure and happiness saying: "True happiness is lived over and over again in memory, always with a renewal of the original good; a moment of unholy pleasure may leave a barbed sting, which, like a thorn in the flesh, is an ever-present source of anguish." If this is true, how easy is it for us to distinguish pleasure and happiness. How many times have we reflected fondly on Christmas mornings spent with family, or well-earned graduations due to a truely honorable effort. When we contrast these recountances with the memories of momentary pleasure from a rich slice of cake, an achievement in a video game, or other things, we can see that there is no comparison. Pleasure is one of the greatest tools Satan can use to fool us into thinking that what we are doing will make us feel good. Pleasure is fleeting but true happiness lasts in this life, and on into the eternities. So set your heart not on Pleasures but on finding true happiness by making and keeping sacred coventants (shout out to Brother Bruton!). As you do, you will find that true happiness the likes of which we were created to enjoy, and which you have been seeking in this life.

Anddd a guy in our ward has one of kinda scared

Elder Josh Hamm

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

He Who Can Do All Things

Me and My New Companion, Elder P!
     Well, as you all know this week was changes week! So more on that in a moment. First my Dads questions! 1) Mexicans make their own piƱatas....AND they buy them. Like people make them and then sell them in front of their houses. So people here buy them from those people and 2) PUT in them lots of mexican candy. Its usually a fruity candy with chilie powder on it and usually lime haha and 3) Most of the people get around by combi. They use a lot of bikes too, but only to go short distances. The public transportation here is pretty great.

Me and Presidente De La Rosa
       Soooo we have officially had changes my friends. I am staying here in Independencia 2 in Atlixco and my new comp is a greatt guy. His name is Elder Parraga and he is from Colombia. We are getting along great, and will be getting along even better when the world cup is over and he stops telling me that Colombia is better than the United States and might win the whole thing. pshhhhhhh. haha But seriously we are doing awesome in the area right now and things are great! At the changes meeting some crazy things happened. Elder Allred, Dougherty, Kitchen, and Buendia all got moved down to Junior Companions on a special assignment so that they can help train future leaders before they leave....which is all great and what-not, except for the fact that now I will not be seeing them AT ALL until changes....and if i dont have changes....well, lets not think about that. Buttt the point is we took pictures just in case so ill post those here too, along with the pictures i took with the mission secretary Presidente De La Rosa. He is sooo awesome. Im gonna miss him and his wife a lot. Also, on Thursday this week President Stellmon arrived and President Reeves is officially gone. We havent heard anything from him or met him yet, buttt we are gonna have Zone Conferences this week and will get to see him. 

The remaining Bros in the mission!   A lady in our ward made me the tie I'm wearing.  
It's crocheted by hand!
       As for the rest of the week, well me and my companion have been working very hard. We were able to go out and teach a lot of new investigators and we brought members along too which was great!! We caught a few minutes of a VERY sad US game and that was a heartbreaker. I got a ton of new people in my district so we are working on getting to know eachother, but so far everything is working out great. ANDD I experienced a miracle yesterday which I am going to incorporate as my spiritual thought.

       Sooo its the end of the month and on Saturday me and my companion spent the last of our money on some bread for a dinner. So come Sunday me and my companion had literally NO money and NO food in the house whatsoever. But we went to church and then the food appointment was at 1 oclock leaving us 7 hours without food before we could sleep. So we go out and worked and there was literally NOBODY home man. Seirously we must have had 10 appointments fall through in a row. So we are super hungry and we have no work and this is turning into one of those TERRIBLE days that you have on the mission. So finally the time comes to go home. Now Im thinking at this moment how awful the situation is and how its unfair cause i DO have a debit card where i could go buy some dominos pizza right next to the house....but I know that it is the Sabbath and that I have to keep it holy. So as we are walking home Im thinking that maybe we should pray cause we are both really hungry and it reminded me of the story in 17 Miracles where the woman puts 2 biscuits and water in a pot and it makes a huge cake to feed her family...but Im like no, i really dont have the faith necessary for that kind of a miracle (sad but true). Arriving home we plan and are getting ready for numbers when out of habit I walk into the kitchen. When I entered the kitchen, the first thing I saw was a blue bag sitting in a bowl on the table. I asked my comp if it was his and he told me no....but I had definitely NEVER seen it before and had put that bowl there like 2 days ago. So I open the bag and inside is instant pancake mix. The ONLY thing we have in the house is water which is exactly what it needs. So we made pancakes and ate them plain, and were filled. I seriously cant express the overwhelming gratitude that filled my heart when i opened that bag. To think that God, an omnipotent being, was SO mindful of me as to help me in the weakness of my faith, and provide food for me and my hungry companion, was something I will never forget. I KNOW that God is mindful of us and that he wants to help us. He is our literal Father in Heaven and we are his children and because of that it hurts him to see us suffer; But it hurts him more to see us refrain from calling on him in our suffering. He is waiting for each and every one of us to fall into his arms and accept his help in our lives. I encourage all of you reading this to trust in him. Trust that his love is endless and unfathomable. Trust that he knows you personally and wants the best for you. And Trust that he can aliviate your suffering, if you only call on the one who can do all things. Of these things I do not doubt. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Josh Hamm