Monday, November 29, 2010

Last Post from the MTC

Alright, well they decided to let me into COLOMBIA!!!!! I leave next Monday at 5:00 A.M BABY!! Hurrah for Israel! I am so pumped to get out into the mission field! We got our travel plans on Wednesday. Our whole district did! We are all so pumped Elder Fuqua, Elder Smith and I leave at 5 for Colombia and the rest of our district gets to sleep in til regular time and leave at 8. We are all very excited; we have a total of 6 of us going to Colombia on Monday. So this will be your last letter from me in America!! Hurray! Sorry, I got the information mixed up, but I am allowed to call you in the airport. My first flight leaves at 8 from Salt lake and I land in Georgia at 2:45 George time and then leave at 5:45 Georgia time and arrive in Colombia at 10 Colombia time! So I will call you sometime on Monday, family! I am so pumped!

Hopefully everyone had a delightful Thanksgiving! Hope the family enjoyed their turkey and wonderfulness! We had just a splendid Thanksgiving in the MTC, it was very delightful actually! We had Elder Holland talk to us in the morning. That has been my 5th apostle I've seen since I've been here! They are all just marvelous! I love going to firesides here! Elder Holland had all of his grandkids come and sing some thanksgiving songs, haha it was just like a little primary program! HAHA of course there was the older kids that were too cool to sing, the little ones that sing super loud and the middle aged kids that just chill there, haha it was amazing, I loved it! We had a delightful meal for Thanksgiving and for dinner we actually had sack dinners and ate in our dorms. We gathered the whole zone together and went around and had a picnic in the hall of our dorms and went around and said what we are grateful for. I love all of the Elders in my Zone, we all get along excellently! We all have the same vision of things its great!
Last night was a successful napkin poetry night, we had a lot of new comers and they fit in just marvelously! We will be having another one on Wednesday night and tonight is meditation night. Oh ya, on Wednesday our gym time was canceled to so we had free time in our dorms to exercise. Elder Tague and I set up a yoga/pilates class for the Zone haha. We had about 10 takers so we just messed around with those elastic stretchy bands that they gave us here and did just the weirdest exercises we could think of. It was a blast.

This week we have a special ceremony in Napkin Poetry. I have to pass off the Napkin crown to the next Napkin Poetry captain, and it’s going to be Rey Barth. We call him Rey Barth because Elder Barth is the King of Poetry. He is somewhat kind of monotone and when he reads his poetry it is so angelic. We all love Elder Barth. Elder Barth and I play a game every Sunday during temple walk where we try to take stalker pictures of other Elders and then we print off the picture and try to find that Elder that we took the weird pic of and give it to them. Elder Barth is soo good at this! I love Elder Barth!

We started packing and making sure everything is in order to go on Monday Morning. I am going to miss all of my maestros, they are all so nice. I think that the MTC has a rule that you have to be a champion to work here. Honestly everyone that works here is like an angel! I love them all; teachers that aren't even my teacher will come up and just help me with concepts when they pass by. I love them all. We have had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people as being in the pilot program, we get to meet a lot of the big dogs of the MTC and try a lot of new things in the MTC. I loved being in the Pilot program, we get to do a lot of fun things, and learn in new ways.
Thank you everyone that has sent me their love this week. The Huyett family is awesome about sending me wonderful holiday cards, and Grandma Brennan is just a captain baker. I love her food she sends me. Hopefully Grandma Brennan will be able to conduct at the departure fireside next Sunday that would be awesome. Every Sunday I keep my eye out for her, hoping she will direct someday. Family, those were the best chocolate deliciousness ever!! It was the bomb and I ate that bread like a banna, it was awesome! So thank you for everyone’s love this week!

I am feeling very excited for Colombia obviously. I can't wait to meet the people down there! I can tell this is going to be a long week! Dad you still need to hook me up with your homies in Colombia, I really want to meet them. We are supposed to go to the temple our first day in Colombia. President Watkins told us that that is what usually happens so I want to meet your friends! So send me those people’s names and addresses if you could! I feel pretty good actually about my Spanish I can read the scriptures well in Spanish and I can speak it decently. Reading Spanish is my strength, I can write ok. I speak decently but listening to it I struggle a bit with it when people start talking super duper fast. I have been truly blessed by the Lord in learning this new language. I learn a lot more in study time when I start with a prayer and learn gospel principle. I have really been blessed greatly by our Lord here. I have had many wonderful experiences in the MTC. It is kind of sad; right now I am training the new Zone Leaders to be our replacement. I love being Zone Leader and it will be sad to leave my Zone. I love them all a lot! The Lord has blessed me with an awesome Companion. He is amazing. I love Elder Fuqua. I have been blessed with awesome teachers, and leaders and the opportunity to here from 5 apostles of our Lord and the opportunity to serve as zone leader and be in the pilot program. The Lord has really shown his hand in the MTC, it is an amazing place and can't wait to serve his children in Colombia. Love Ya All.

Love, Elder Hammer

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well this week I have been told that I suffer from an addiction! Our teachers told us that we are all addicted to speaking English! We need to break the habit, just like an alcoholic would break the habit of drinking. (Haha!) We have the best teachers ever!!! I love them all so much! They are all my heroes! This week has been a week full of emotions actually. We had a new district come in on Wednesday. They are a good batch of kids! It was a pretty depressing day on Tuesday. Elder Moser had to have heart surgery and was released to go home. It was very sad. It was hard on a lot of us to see him go. He wanted to stay but his body wouldn't let him. He was my zone leader before me. He is a very great missionary. He has been in the MTC for 11 weeks!! That is hard to handle! He was heading to Mexico, Cancun; his district was just waiting for their visas. It was hard to see him leave. The day that he had his surgery his district received their visas. We knew that the Lord had a hand in his district staying and extra 2 weeks here. If he would have had his heart problems in Mexico, that wouldn't have been good. But we had an up this week with the new district coming in. There is an Elder in the new District that came in and Elder Richens actually was in the MTC a year ago and had some stomach virus or something! He is back now and healthy and he is still going to the same mission he was called to go before and everything! So that lifted our spirits about Elder Moser, and that he could still go to Mexico when he gets better! His surgery went well and is recovering now, so hopefully he will be back soon! Elder Moser was a good friend of mine.

It is very fun, yet sometimes tiring being Zone Leaders. We are like the parents of the Zone, and we have 55 Elders in our Zone currently. When new missionaries come in or sometimes Elders that have been here for a while they get a bit sensitive and its weird, but apparently us men have emotional feelings too, so they come talk to us and we try our best to help all of the Elders feel loved and welcome at the MTC! But I love my Zone, we are all very close and we get along for the most part pretty well. It’s Elder Galati's Birthday in like a week or so, so he's been getting presents and all. He gets the funniest stuff! Someone sent him a Lego set, so we played last night during free time and had Lego men wars!! HAHA! It was pretty fun. We built some awesome dudes! I love all of the Elders here! Some of the Elders here are catching on to the Spirit of the Zone! Some Elders now started to do Meditation night!(HAHA) So on Fridays we bring our towels and sit on them in Elder Wymans room, we cross our legs and sit indian style on our blankets. We all make nature sounds, do breathing sounds, and Elder Wyman walks around with a mist bottle and says "Feel the ocean mist on your face!) HAHA! It’s hilarious! Every now and then some new Elders join us and think that we are being serious and they like think we are legitament, but we laugh half way through the ceremony cuz someone will toot in the middle of silent breathing time!! HAHA. We might be missionaries, but we still are boys and a good little toot will still crack us all up in the midst of silence!

Thank you for everybody’s delightfulness this week! I got a letter from Uncle Curt, he is awesome, and Cambria. They are sweet hearts! I love getting letters! Grandma Brennan is scoring some points with me, she sent me the best food ever on Monday!! I don't know what it was but it was like a cookie, brownie thing of heaven!! I ate that in like 2 seconds! It was delightful, and Aunt Diane represented this week and hooked me up with a box of goodies too! Gotta love the relatives!! Thank you mucho, mucho, mucho!! And family, I loved the Napkin Poetry! Very Clever, loved it all and yes I shared with my Poetry crew. Gotta love the napkin poetry, the winner of the napkin poetry will have to be tookies, she wins for having the best "I miss you poem!" If you need any tips for writing poetry, tookies understands poetry from the soul, and she makes it Napkin poetry! But all poems were good nonetheless, HAHA! I loved them all! You are all champions!! (BIEN HECHO) Bien Hecho is my new word I say! Since I now am a Spanish little boy I say words and Spanish, Bien hecho meaning "good acts" So I just say that to everyone!
This week we have a special program prepared for thanksgiving! We get like a 1 1/2 lunch and breakfast actually, and we have an apostle of some sort doing a fireside that night! We have some type of service project, I don't know exactly what it is but we will be serving. We basically have Thanksgiving off for studying, so that will be nice to have our minds relax un poco! We will be playing a Paper football tournament in our Zone that day! It will be wonderful I'm sure!

Parents, just to give you the heads up, I should be giving you a call later on this week or early next week. President Watkins says that our Visas are looking good and should be receiving travel plans sometime this week or early next week. We should be getting them Thursday but since its Thanksgiving, we don't know when we will be getting them! Hurray! So in like 2 weeks I should be in COLOMBIA! When we get our travel plans we are allowed to call home! I will probably call dads cell, just cuz he always answers and always has his phone on him. We only get 5 minutes to just say "Well, I'm heading to Colombia, see call you for Christmas." But we are all excited to go to Colombia! I am really doing better in my Spanish. I can read Predicad El Evangelio with hardly any problems, and I can read EL Libro De Mormon decently, its a bit harder just cuz it has the vosotros form and is older Spanish with harder words. I can read Spanish great .I feel I speak it decently, I can usually get my point across in a choppy way, and listening to Spanish is another story. I can pick out 1 out of 5 words in a sentence! It’s really ridiculous! But I am working super hard to learn as much as I can before I leave. There are 32 other Elders besides me in my district heading to Colombia and 7 that are going to Argentina. Elder Fuqua, and Elder Smith and I are going to Colombia; we are a good bunch of kids! So all is well, I love you all! The church is true and the work is going forward.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why do I feel like I am fifty years old?! Que en El Mundo! For some reason, there is no such thing as sleep here! I am soo tired all day long, then when I go to bed my eyes sting cuz they're so tired so I can't sleep! haha! It looks like I have to black eyes from the bags under my eyes! Haha! Its all good, I'm just exaggerating (But only a little).This week was an amazing week! On Tuesday we had Elder BEDNAR!! come to the fireside! AWSOMBROSO!! He is the most amazing man ever to speak words out a human’s mouth! I loved his talk! It was all about Doctrine, principles, and applications! I couldn't stop writing notes the whole time he was talking! He is amazing! I loved it! Since I've been here there's been 4 apostles speak to us! We are getting another one for sure on Thanksgiving! It is truly a blessing to be here at this time!

So we had a new district come in on Wednesday! As the duty of zone leader we get to welcome them and give them the orientation and everything! It is so fun to do that, I love it a lot! We have a new district coming in on Wednesday too! We will have a huge Zone then! We might have over 50 people in our Zone!! We have one district that was supposed to leave about 3 weeks ago, but they are waiting for Visas to get into Mexico! It’s extremely hard to get visas to Mexico so they are patiently waiting! They are doing a great job waiting though! I mean, they're going on 12 weeks now being in the MTC! They should get Visas this week or next week! They are great examples to the Zone though so we don't mind them staying! I love being a Zone leader but it is a bit more stressful then I imagined! This week one of our Elders, Elder Moser, had his heart beating at 200 beats a minute. That’s insane, so he had to go to the hospital! so of course he is struggling, he is back, but has surgery on Wednesday and is getting his heart cauterized? I don't know how to spell it. But it is kind of hard to hear of Elders struggling and then Elder Fuqua and I do our best to help in anyways we can to help new missionaries feel welcome and not get homesick. The new district is having a bit of a hard time adjusting, but they are doing better! Elder Fuqua and I are like the parents basically of the Zone. Every night we walk around to all the dorms before they go to bed and say good night and ask if they need anything! Its fun, the Elders make our go around at night and they always have to say some sly comment, they're a great bunch of kids!

So last night we had the most interesting Napkin Poetry reading Ever! I wrote a killer napkin Poetry (that means it just has big words and it doesn't make any sense) Elder Galati owned his and Elder Bart is the king of Napkin Poetry as usual. All of the Napkin Poetry is just stupid stuff, and the point is to make up words and make people think that these words are real or that they could actually have some deep meaning in the poem that you just have to find it out searching your soul! So we were in the middle of it and Elder Rupp come in and actually had a real poem that he wrote on a napkin, and it was about the atonement! It was insanely awesome and good. Like he even started crying in it, everyone like felt the spirit in the middle of napkin poetry! It was insanely awesome! so after that we had call it a night, because you couldn't follow that! So it was a very awesome, interesting, napkin poetry reading in the world! who would have guessed that Napkin Poetry would turn into a spiritual event, but it did.

So all is well in the MTC1 I love getting everyone’s letters, keep them coming! They are all so awesome! Uncle Kurt sent me one last week, it was so cool! I love getting Dear Elders! I have a request though, Mom and Dad, if you could please send me like a fridge full of food, that would be awesome! we eat dinner at 4:30 and we don't eat again til 7. So at night we are all starving. All that we have here is snack food. Popcorn doesn't really fill me up. Last week grandma sent me some heaven sent cinnamon rolls and I loved them. If you could send those like microwavable macaroni stuff I would love you for ever and eternity even more!! For some reason, the food here has changed all of our bodies in interesting ways. This may be a bit crude, but I am still a boy and I’m living with 10 other boys so stuff happens. Anyways Elder Fuqua did a 6 second toot! yes I counted it. It was ridiculous! We now go to the bathroom about 8 times a day (between the 2 of us.) Elder Fuqua is laughing that me cuz I'm writing u about his bodily functions. Living with someone 24/7 you get to know them. Elder Fuqua and I are great friends.

We have the best teachers in the World! Hermano Burnham is so cool! He's 24 or so, married for a year and just the coolest kid on the block! He teaches us awesomely, and he also will make jokes with us and everything! He is pretty easy to sidetrack! He will tell us some of his "Secrets" and tells us weird fears of his and some times tells us just weird fun things in general! I love him!

We started SYL (Speak you mission language) this week! I love it! I'm decent at speaking Spanish; I can pick apart sentences when my teachers legitimately talk to me. If they talk slow I can basically completely understand. I speak ok, it’s probably pretty choppy, but it's doing better! Our expected departure date is for Dec. 6th! We are on schedule as of now to leave then. We should be getting our travel plans next week or in 2 weeks! We are all getting very excited! It's crazy to thing we will be in the field soon! I love it though!

All is well; I am alive and healthy, loving the work! Learning a lot and loving the scriptures! Oh ya parents, if you could send my memory card back that would be fantastic! Hopefully everyone likes the picture of Elder Dickinson! He left last week to the field he is missed but love him! He's the red head! Love ya'll Bye

Monday, November 8, 2010

Called to be Zone Leader!

Que en el Mundo!!? This week Elder Fuqua y yo have been called to be the new ZONE LEADERS!! AHH! We were officially called as of yesterday! It is so crazy! We are both the 2 youngest in the whole zone! There's about 40 Elders in our zone as of now! We have 10 leaving this week and we have 9 more coming in! We get 5 more Elders and 4 new sisters coming in! I've only been in here for 4/12 weeks! I don't know anything more than anyone else! But it is great! President Watkins told me if I don't know something look it up in the white handbook, if it ain't there, make it up according to the spirit and my better judgment! When ever you ask someone a question around here they always say "well, did you ask God to help you?" It’s so awesome! We truly are learning to rely on the Lord and to be more in tune with the spirit and listen to its promptings! The Spirit really does have a voice! I've felt it! It's amazing, we use the Spirit as a constant resource in our everyday studies! I love the Spirit! Thank you for everyone who has sent me ASOMBORSO packages and stuff! I got some awesome Halloween packages from the Vanwags, I wore those socks for Halloween, Grandma Brennan sent me some terrific Cinnamon rolls, The Huyettes sent me the best Halloween riddles, Hen sent me the best big cookie ever!! Haha, it was amazing, hen air vacuumed it shut and it made the whole cookie all one big ol' piece, but it was delicious nonetheless!! Mom and Dad thanks for the sweaters! They are lovely and Delightful!

Spanish is coming along ok. I love to speak Spanish. I'm not so good at responding yet, but I'm good at listening and reading Spanish. I can understand most of all that is said in conference talks. Once a week I listen to a general conference talk in Spanish and read along in English to see how well I can understand it! When I read it I understand it best, speaking, is more difficult, pero I tengo amor por ESPANOL!! Me Maestros are the best EVER!! They are all so cool! We only have 2 "real teachers" Hermano Osuna, Mitchell, and Hermana Perez pop in every now and then but they mostly just spy on us now through the camera! But Hermano Burnham is amazing!! He went to Guatemala for his mission, and Hermana Penaflor is the sweetest thing ever! She is a small Hispanic woman. When she sits down her feet don't touch the floor, we all love our teachers a lot!
Elder Fuqua and I are anxious for the new district to come in on Wednesday! As zone leaders we work a bit more with the Hermanas. It is kind of an odd relationship. I still don't know exactly how to interact with the hermanas here, as of now I just avoid them. Don't worry I still say hi, but that’s pretty much it. That is something I will improve on. So with this new district coming in with 4 hermanas, this will give me a great opportunity to shine!

I am still getting adjusted to our new schedule of Monday P-days. I have mixed emotions about it but all is well. Now that we are on the same schedule as the rest of the zone we have all bonded a lot more together! I've made more friends in our hall. Elder Rupp, Elder Moser and Elder Kitterman are like my new best friends! They are here for who know how much longer, they are waiting for visas to go to Mexico. They don't have a teacher after Wednesday so they will be all on their own for their learning studies all day! But those Elders are amazing I love them all. I love playing basketball with Elder Schuller! I wish I could just ramble on about all of the Elders here cuz they all have such great personalities! Hopefully you got my memory card with all of my pics. I sent it in the letter in maces envelope. So now you can hopefully put faces with names now. Last night Elder Dickinson and Elder Pirkinsen were trying to do a 2 man cartwheel but Elder D. dropped Elder P. and now Elder P. has a rug burn on his forehead cuz he skid across the carpet! It was hilarious! President just laughed at them! Elder D. is kind of a wild man, but he is so funny. He's the red head in the pic with the succor in his mouth! There’s this Elder here that looks like Iceman for m Top gun, so Elder D. and I obviously had to take a pic with him! Whenever we see him around the MTC we treat him as if he was a celebrity. He’s cool enough to play along! He sometimes acts out scenes from the movie HAHA!

Last week we had Elder Ballard for devotional! It was amazing! We've had 3 apostles talk to us in 3 weeks!! ASOMBROSO! For sure one apostle is coming for Thanksgiving they said! We are all excited! As of now we are expected to leave on Dec. 6th. But we don't have any travel plans yet, we should be getting those around Thanksgiving they said. We are anxiously awaiting the Snow, it only rained this week, but we still have faith for snow!

So it might sound like all we do is mess around, pero, that’s a NEGATIVE! We work our little hinnies off! We mess around cuz we work super hard! I love personal study the most. There is now enough time in the world to read the scriptures! I've always loved the scriptures but they are soooo much better since I've been here! We get an hour of personal time a day! I've finished the 4 Gospels in the Bible and now I'm in 3rd Nephi! I love the scriptures and all of its applications to life! The Scripture truly are the Word of God and I am very excited to share them with the people in Colombia! Time has a weird way of working here! The days go by slow yet the weeks fly by! It is an interesting concept. I love and miss you all. Thank you for your prayers and love and letters. God be with till we meet again!

Elder Hammer

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week 4 already!

Well, being part of the pilot program means that we have to deal with a lot of changes all of the time! It keeps us on our toes! Our schedule has been completely changed now! We now have P-day on Mondays!!! Its ok so far, but I loved having P-day on Wednesday because it gave us a mid-week break from our studies and all. This just gives us a 2 day weekend cuz Sundays here are awesome and we have a lot of free study time! The teachers don’t teach on Sunday but we just do Independent studying all day practically!

Last night was our biggest night of Napkin Poetry! It was the best one yet! It was our Holiday Special! We had Elders all over our room on top of the cabinets on the bunk beds on the desks! It was truly a sight to see! I loved everyone’s Napkin Poetry! They are actually getting pretty good which is the funny thing! Elder Galati got a package earlier this week from home and of course it had a box of mustaches for us!! HAHAH! Elder Galati wore his almost all day; he wore to class and breakfast! It was hilarious thank goodness he didn't wear it to sacrament or anything but it was funny to see an Elder wearing a mustache around the MTC! That night we all wore them for Napkin Poetry reading!! It was hilarious!! I love the Elders here!!

We switched our schedules so now we have lunch and stuff with our whole zone! Before our district was just off and about with a completely different schedule so we only saw our Zone basically at church and in the halls! I have a great time with our Zone Though! They are all so fun and funny! But I was sad to leave my basketball friends and stuff because now our gym time has changed too! Our teachers and kind of changing now too. Before we had the head of the Spanish department teaching us Hermano Mitchell and Herman Perez! They are so awesome! Hermano Mitchell knows everything there is to know about missionary work! He even helped in writing Preach my Gospel and helps with some of the church movies too!! It is insane! Hermana Perez is just the most loving Hermana in the world! When ever we do something weird she always says "Elders, I don’t know why I love you so much, but I do!" It’s hilarious! She is from Mexico and doesn't speak much ingles so she always asks us to see if she is talking correctly and she has the sweetest accent ever! So they will be missed! They were just training our real teachers how to teach the pilot program! So now Hermano Mitchell and Hermana Perez are going to be observing through the cameras and we won’t see them that much anymore! But our real teachers Hermano Burnham and Hermana Penaflor are amazing too! I love them all so much! They are the sweetest people ever! I wish I could just hangout with them all the time!

Elder Fuqua and our are having a blast learning Spanish himnos!! They are so fun to sing! Me himno favoritos es "Grand Eres tu" y "Mas Cerca Dios de ti" I love those, they are How Great Thou Art and Nearer My God to Thee! We will just go and find people in the halls and sing to them! It’s a blast! WE actually have pretty good sounding voices together! We have realized that we both have the same sounding voices and we have the same eyes! It’s ASOMBROSO!! aka awesome!

Everything is going swell here! I feel like I am making sure yet steady progress with my Spanish! I focus soo much on Spanish! I study as much as I can everyday with Spanish! I am really nervous about my Spanish! I can read it and pronunciate pretty decently, but I can’t have very well conversations yet! if they talk slow enough I can talk with them very well, but when someone talks fast Spanish I get lost quickly! I am doing better at my sentence structures and all but still struggling. I love talking with the Hermanas/hermanos speaking Portuguese! It is so fun! Spanish is very similar and they talk a bit slower! They just say a lot of J's and GEES sounding words and sound awesome! So I talk to them a bit here and there!

Thank you Jerry for a wonderful DEARELDER! That secret spot that were talking about in the trees! We go there all the time and do journal/poetry reading there! We love it back there! Your letter cracked me up! I can totally relate to everything you said and the Cordon blue is amazing! We had it for dinner last night! Mom, if you could send my poetry book/sweater it would be appreciated! They are both necessary!! The snow melted away but it is still chilly here! All is well and love you tons! I would do anything almost to give you all a big hug! I miss and love you all!