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 SiĆ³n (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