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