Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas from Colombia!

Well this week was definitely a different week then the other weeks, since its Christmas and all. I am really not understanding the cultural very well. Basically the people do what they want to do and that’s the culture I think. If you think of something different, it happens in Colombia! Its pretty funny and keeps the days interesting as you don’t know what’s going to happen. You see people going to the bathroom in the streets, a man in a horse and buggy in the middle of the street feeding his horse, people climbing in and out of there windows. It’s very fun! This week for Christmas the actually celebrate it on the 24th. So that was a bit different. Our day went as usual though, but it was just very difficult to have appointments that day but we had dinner with the Lopez family. Hermano Lopez is a beast!! He was in the military for 8 years and fought against the guerillas in the jungle here! He had some crazy stories! The then he brought out his pictures and all from the military. He did some crazy stuff! He actually was called to be Bishop yesterday! He's going to be excellent! They gave us the best Christmas present ever!! No lies, I like almost cried when I opened the package and there was a pair of socks!!! IT was the coolest thing ever!! Then he came over and was like look, the socks stretch!!!  I was so excited!! When he saw how excited I was he got even more excited and then he brought out this beautiful tie!!! It was the sweetest present ever! This family that lives in a 1 bed 1 bath apartment in very humble circumstances and gave us both socks and a tie!! It was so cool and we were all so excited!!

For the 25 we had a zone meeting and Lunch! The lunch was perfect, one of the ladies in our Zone likes to cook American food and made Chicken Cordon Blue! It was fabulous!!! I loved it! It was very difficult to get appoints this day too but we spent the evening with the Familia Piraquivia family! Haha! They are all so sweet!  We just talked and shared a message with them! They are great people!! Thank you Ken for the CDs. They are perfect; I am putting them on my MP3 right now! I can’t wait to listen to them!! I have the packages in the office, they called me and said that I could pick them up at the office today or they can give them to me on the 6th at Zone meeting! If we have time today we are going to go pick them up! But we have to get back to work at 2 so its difficult!

Yesterday we had 4 investigators at Church! It was spectacular! 2 of them have a baptismal date and the other 2 we only met with them once and they came!! I was so excited! It has been different working with a Latino companion. For the most part we don’t have a language barrier. I can understand lots of stuff obviously not everything but I usually can get a jist of the sentences and respond decently, but it’s just a clash of cultures. Latinos are very blunt and straightforward. Like they hardly say Please or thank you and if they want something they just ask for it. I don’t get offended or anything its just how it is and its different. I try to talk in the conditional for, which is more polite and all and he are like why do you like to talk in the conditional form, if you want something just say it. It’s different. The other day I was kind of taken back that he wasn’t eating his food at lunch, and then he told the sister that he wasn’t in the mood for eating right now so he didn’t eat it. I was like oh no homeboy, we are going to eat or food, I am eating stuff that I don’t even know what it is then you can eat a soup and some beans rice and this meat. I eat slow but I eat everything single piece of rice on my plate, so when the sister went into the kitchen I had to eat his plate too. Its just the mannerisms of us are very different. I was so stoked that for Christmas his Christmas present to me was that he made his bed!! Haha!!

I’ve been adding a lot of suggestions into how we can contact lately and get our teaching pool bigger. The 1st week was very difficult because we only had 1 investigator. That is rough coming to a new area with one investigator. I started inviting people to come to Church with us in Sundays, I don’t know why we weren’t doping that before, then we actually scheduled appointments with the people, before everything was just a passing by visit, but I asked why don’t we actually schedule a time with the people and then the will be a home so we can visit more people and now we call the people before we visit to confirm the appointment, and we also call the investigators the day before and of Church to make sure they can come and we have a member bring them to church! This week we had 4 out of 6 investigators come to church that promised they could come!! He was like, how did you come up with these ideas; I was like we learned this stuff in the MTC. I thought it was weird that all this stuff was new to him. The Lord has really blessed us with us working more diligently. We now had 8 progressing Investigators! And we have the month’s record of 26 lessons taught in one week! So the Lord is really blessing us when we really just go for it! It’s been a great week! I was very grateful!

I’ve figured out that I am like mom and like the house very clean! I clean alot. The house was grouty when I 1st got here I mean there was fungus in the tile, stains on the wall, plates of food under the bed, the works. Today we finished doing a good heavy cleaning this morning! He mopped and I scrubbed the house and now it looks legit! Oh ya for Christmas we got new tables and furniture!! It is alot better! Now we have actual desks instead of little tables and a dinner table and Elder Valdivia has a Closet Armoire thingy!! I think since we have like legit stuff now, Elder Valdivia doesn’t mind cleaning as much.

I was very happy to see the pictures! Thank you very much! Hen, you sure are pregnant!! Yesterday when we went to a house there was a little girl that was about 18 months and I was like oh my, that’s gonna be the Size of Evy when I get home, but Evy wont be a little Colombian Girl!! I am stoked; I tell everyone that my sister is pregnant!

Even though I am super far away from home and everything is new and out of place for me, I feel really close to Dad right now! I feel like I know Dad the best I’ve ever know him in my life. Being here with these people and experiencing these things in the same country as POP I can really see why Dad is the way he is! I can really tell that Dad was a superb missionary. Just talking with e Familia Piriaquivia and seeing the lives of these people and experiencing this culture, I can see how this has affected Dad in his Life to be the person he is. I’ve always known dad was The Man! But it is so much more evident here. I mean, I know why dad eats all the meat of his chicken and why he is so ready to serve and has such a big heart! Even though we are not as close in distance but I fell like I understand Dad a whole lot better being here!

Most of the members here that have served missions serve in Calli. The Stake mission leader went to Calli and we went out with him yesterday to visit menos Activo miembros. He is so cool. The way he talks and describes things is awesome. Every thing is Super, Buenisiimo, Fabulouso, Bulleza, Spectacular!! He has such a happy mood, I like going teaching with him he is great!

So ya everything is going good right now! I can understand most things in Spanish, I get topics and the direction of a conversation, the most difficult thing now is the cultural and how things are done.
It was great talking to the Family, I wish I could have talked with J and Hen more, I really miss the Family but all is well.

Love ya all,
Love Elder Hammer

Monday, December 20, 2010

Updated Address Info

Please send letters to:

Elder Emerson Hammer
Colombia Bogota South Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

This only costs 1 stamp.  It has to be one page, folded in 3rds, with a stamp.  Do not put in an envelope.  It can be a postcard too.  Packages cannot be sent through the pouch.  Packages can be sent to:

Elder Emerson Hammer
Colombia Bogota South Mission
Apartado Aereo 77604
Santa Fe de Bogota Distrito Capital
Thank you everyone for your letters! They were very uplifting I appreciate receiving mail! It is very nice to get! We only get emails now, sorry but Dear Elder is only for the MTC. And I believe you just send the mail to the mission office, sorry I should have told you sooner but I didn’t expect packages so soon. A little hint I got from the Elders here is that when you send a package tape a picture of Christ and a picture of Mary on the package and label it religioso materia. This keeps thieves out of the packages, but I'm sure these packages will be just fine! I’m excited to get them!

The life of a missionary in Colombia is seriously like a roller coaster. Bigger and more windy and floppy then Goliath roller coaster at 6 flags! I have my ups and I sure have my downs! I feel prepared with my testimony and right now everything that I do I live off of faith and a testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ! There have been many deep heart felt and tear filled cries to my Savior this week. I feel like I was prepared as much as could be for this mission but there is always a curve ball! I am doing a whole lot better with my Spanish, I am growing tremendously! For the most part I can get the topic of a conversation and every now and then add a word or two into the conversation! But at other times I am so lost! I don’t know what is going on and I can tell like it’s a critical part in a conversation or contact and I can’t jump in and I want but I can’t! At other times I won’t know what is going on in a conversation but I get a prompting to say something. At times I say what’s in my mind and it seems like I actually contributed. But twice this week I hade two impression to say something to these people on the street but for some reason I didn’t open my mouth during the contact! I hate it when I don’t talk to people!!!! It’s very difficult to not get frustrated or mad at yourself. Those feelings drive the spirit away and without the spirit I am doomed!! When ever I open my mouth the spirit has to be there to direct me on what to say and with the person I’m talking to for them to understand. I see the spirit working a whole lot different in me now then in previous times!

I get enough sleep every night. The Lord is blessing me with a wonderful 8 hours of sleep every night and it’s the best sleep I’ve had in my life!! And yes the picture of the bed that is made is mine! I am actually pretty organized I found out! I always do the dishes, make my bed, keep my desk clean and all. Anyways I sleep well, but I am consistently tired by 2 in the afternoon. After lunch I’m done! The food here is always some type of rice, maybe some beans, always platanoes, fried or sliced, sometimes like two leafs of lettuce they call salad Haha! and some fruit drink. The drinks are very strong at times and they have all these cool names like tçia and stuff. or the drinks are like freaking hot milk, I don’t know why but they just put milk on the stove and drink it! it’s alright. But after I eat I’m full for like ten minutes! and it’s like impossible to finish the food it’s just so huge but it’s just satisfies you for a few minutes and the rice makes me tired. Since I’m tired the rest of the day I really rely on the Lord to carry me through the day! Right now I really have to fight off the natural man! Everything is different. Nothing is the same!

I have a good companion! Elder Valdivia is from Argentina. He has been out for 9 months now! I think that he is more American than I am! He can speak good English! He says that he didn’t have many friends so he watched a lot of TV! He can quote any American hip hop song, TV Show Movie! Anything media from America he knows it! It’s hilarious at times but when ever I say something he can sing a song about it and he sings the entire song, not just the line, so when ever I say a sentence it takes like 10 minutes before I can finish! We speak Spanish in the Street and English in the Apartment! He has been a good help for me! this week I went on my first intercambio! I changed with the zone leaders I went to Ciudad Jardin! Ciudad Jardin is like in centro Bogota with a lot of buildings and things and very city like! It was fun I was with Elder Cruz for a day and I learned a whole bunch from that intercambio! Elder Cruz is from Peru and speaks no English so I felt good that he understood what I was saying and there wasn’t really a big language barrier!! The new had a Zone meeting on Saturday! Elder Neville is the other Zone leader and after the meeting he came and talked to me and he is just the best Zone Leader Ever!! He just bore his testimony to me and really helped me out a bunch. He’s a gringo too! So he just told me about how the transition is going and told me about how it was hard for him and all! But he helped me a lot!!!

Yesterday the Lord answered my prayers! For the past 2 weeks we’ve only had one investigator named Yolanda. The rest of the people we’ve been teaching have been recent converts! It’s been very difficult because we haven’t been able to teach things that I learned in the MTC. We were sharing scriptures and stuff not the lesson, which is fine but I just didn’t know the vocab for the Sower Parabol. And its frustrating coming to a new area with only one investigator! But This whole week during my prayers I was praying for people to teach and help us find ways to teach people! Sunday the Bishop came up to us and gave us a ward list! Which is a huge thing! People here don’t have ward lists! so it was like a Christmas present for us! And it had all the names of the part member families active and not active people and everything! Score!! Then 2 of the people that we were trying to contact the past two weeks contacted us! One of the came to church and the other one finally returned our Call!! So now we have 2 progressing investigators!1 Hurray!! And then a Member gave us 2 referrals that we are going to visit today! I am stoked!!

I really don’t have any fears here! The Lord really blesses his Missionaries! Sure it has been a difficult transition but it makes me rely on the Lord a whole lot more! The Lord is my best friend! He is the only constant in my life! I am doing a whole lot better now, I’m learning, I’m transitioning, all is going better!

Here are some more pictures I’ll try to keep sending the pics each week! I’ve been getting a lot of headaches lately because I don’t fit into any of the doors hardly most of the doors are like 5 10 or 6 foot! There’s really no consistency to the way the build things the just slap it together! Our house is very cold! It’s a cement apartment and we have tin roof! 

This week the Elders had a Missionary choir performance for Christmas Monday through Thursday we were at the Stake center for about 5 hours everyday! The new missionaries were allowed to be in the choir because we missed the practices! So Elder Fuqua and I and 4 other new missionaries and 2 Latinos went and contacted on the streets and invited people to the program! It was so fun! there were 7 of us on 3 street corners! Elder Fuqua and I were companions once again! Yes! I really miss him! He’s a great kid! We got along fine in the MTC but now he is like my best friend! I missed him a lot so it was good to hangout with him this week! We had fun talking to people in our broken Spanish! I don’t think I could ever be married! I just don’t live well with other people! I don’t know why! Like Elder Valdivia is cool and all, but I just don’t like living with someone! Elder Fuqua was ok to be with in the MTC but now I’m like dude you’re the coolest man ever! Some how he got hooked up with some peanut butter from a member! and he was kind enough to bring me a sandwich one day at practice!! It’s impossible to find peanut butter! That’s I what’ve been craving! peanut butter and Cream of wheat actually!! next package please hook me up! I don’t fit in the shower too! Showers are miserable you never know if it’s going to be freezing or bearable and is just free falling water, no water pressure! This really makes me miss America! So these are the Pictures of the week! This is where I live. There's a pic of Elder V. in the kitchen and you got the other ones! I Love ya all and miss ya! Oh ya! for my friends! I don’t really have a mailman in Villa Sonia everything goes through the Mission office and it takes almost a month for me to get it! The Zone leaders drop stuff off the 2nd week of the month so I can Email people through my parents! So they have to be the middle man! So I send mail to Dad! dad sends to friends and then friends respond to dad and dad sends to me!

I GET TO SKYPE HOME!!! THIS WEEK!! December 23 at 4 Colombian time! We are on Central time I believe!! So be by the Computer!! I get like 45 minutes!! so please be there cuz I want to see ya'll. Hopefully hen is in town then or hen and Jay can hook onto Skype too! Love Ya all! Ill try to call home before I Skype to tell you to get on, but its very difficult find a phone for international calls here!! Love ya all and talk to you the 23!!

Love you All
Elder Hammer


Monday, December 13, 2010

First Letter from Colombia!

Well, I’m a Colombian boy now. It sure is different here. Sorry I don’t know how to work this new keyboard and can’t find out how to punctuate and stuff. The keyboards are even different in Colombia. Just know that I’m excited and I want to put exclamation marks on all these sentences. Well this has definitely been the hardest week of my life. Everything here is different. I'm definitely not in America at all. But it’s all good. The culture is way different than I expected. It's not Mexican culture at all. I don’t really know how to explain it, but its just a really carefree whatever lifestyle I think kind of describes it. The people love to party. I got my new companion on Tuesday and that night in our apartment the music wouldn’t stop playing till like 2 in the morning but its all good, I slept so hard. I was beat so it didn’t bother me too much.

The drivers here are way different. I’m not sure if there are any traffic laws. You’ll see big buses just squeezing by cars swerving in lanes. It’s almost hilarious to watch. When we first landed Monday night we got into a taxi and off we went. It felt like I was at 6 flags and we were just zooming around everything. I think that everyone thinks that they have the right of away. There are people in the street walking dodging cars, cars dodging the people. It’s seriously like a life size game of Frogger. No lies. So it’s always fun to get into a taxi or bus. I’m in a place called Villa Sonia right now. It’s in Bogota. Bogota is like LA in a sense; it’s made up of a lot of other cities. Bogotá has about 12 million people in it so its big city! And I’m a couple of miles from the mountain and on a clear day I can see them but usually there are buildings in my view. It’s a very crammed city. There are no yards just buildings. Every apartment in about 3-4 stories high and every floor is someone’s house. I’m on the 3rd floor of a building living. It’s seriously so crammed!

The people here are awesome! I’ve got no clue what there saying half the time but its all good. It is very stressful. This truly has been a hard adjustment but I'm doing better. At church yesterday I could understand what was going on and stuff and understood the topics, but if someone wants to talk about something besides religion I’m lost quick. The members are great though and like my English accent and they’re good at speaking slow enough so I can get a jist of what there saying. But all is well. The food is definitely hard to get used to. They feed me so much of stuff I don’t really know what it is. Elder Bundy, he’s the P.A. told me don’t ask just eat. So I do. Its usually a form of rice, meat, a pastry, and sometimes a soup. Remember how I’m a picky eater, well not anymore, you put it in front of me I say a prayer and go for it. The Lord has blessed me with eating and with Spanish a lot! It’s definitely is an adjustment though. Even though I’m in a completely new environment and doing things I’m not used to or anything, this whole time I've not really had any fears of anything. The thought of fear is replaced with faith. I just go and do and do my best and I know that the lord is on my side so all is well.

I contact and try to communicate and Elder Valdivia is good at helping me when needed but lets me talk and teach too. The people are very nice; no body’s really mean here. I thought that they wouldn’t like a gringo in their country but it’s just the opposite. We get like a contact every now and then cuz someone wants to come and talk to a gringo and all. It’s pretty funny. I listen but I cant really respond back to them yet. I usually just smile, nod my head and say bueno or si and let them keep talking. It works about 75 percent of the time. I didn’t meet the Cano familia though, Dad. They must have called the North President cuz my president had no idea what I was talking about. But I did meet the Paranquiva familia. I probably didn’t spell that right but they came and visited you after your mission! They brought out picture book and everything of there trip to America! It was fun to look at and talk to someone that knew a little about my family! So it was a fun reunion with them.

The main meal of the day is Lunch, so everyday we have lunch with members, and we hardly eat otherwise. So today I’m going shopping and buying me some goods. My favorite food here is actually these dried bananas. They’re pretty good. I eat them alot. So that’s what I’m up to. We don’t have a pday in this mission field. We get like a half day pday and have to be back to work at 2 . So it gives us just enough time to do our laundry write and shop. But all is good. I’m truly in the Lord’s hands now. I’ve got no idea what’s going on really so I have to trust the Lord in everything I’m doing! Love ya all and miss ya, my address is now

Elder Emerson Kent hammer
Mision Colombia Bogota Sur
Calle72# 10-07
Edificio Liberty Seguros
oficina 303
Sante Fe de Bogota District Colombia, Colombia.

Love ya all,
Elder Hammer

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Hi All,

Emerson departed for Colombia yesterday and today is his first day out in the field! As he would say, Hurrah for Israel! [I don't know where he gets that!] If you ever feel so inclined to write him, here is his address. All packages will be mailed to the Mission Home. If a private courier is being used, the telephone number below may be required:

Elder Emerson Kent Hammer
Columbia Bogota South Mission
Apartado Aereo 77604
Santa Fe de Bogota Districto Capital

Phone: 571-347-1679

You can still write him via dearelder. In the future if you would like to access his address quickly and would like to avoid scrolling through posts to find it, the easiest way will be to click on the label "Address" on the right hand bar. That will link you directly to this post.Thanks!