Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 7 My First Baptism

Hello, everyone!!! Wow has it been a week! So much to talk about and so much has happened in such little time. Let's get right to it, shall we?

I'm going to answer some questions that have been asked by family and friends:
First off, I'm alive. Yes, there was a shooting in the Mount Vernon area of the mission, but just to remind you all, I'm in Bellingham. It's weird to be in the area that had a shooting going on that was on national news. I've never had that before because one, no crazy person lives in Utah that's like this dude was, that's for sure, and two, I'm in Washington where a lot of people are high on drugs and other things!!! Haha jk jk. (Note from Jordan's Mom: I'm not sure whether to be glad or a little worried that he thinks there are no crazy drug using people here in Utah...)

"I believe you also had a baptism scheduled correct?"
Yes, I did. His name is Jacob Lynch, and he was baptized on Saturday by Elder Kirk, one of my trainers. He is a good kid. They met him through referrals and found out he had a smoking problem, but through the spirit of the Lord through a blessing my companions had given him right before I came into Washington, Jacob was able to give up his addiction. He is cool kid. I really enjoyed teaching him, and I get to do so through the new member lessons.

"Have you been able to use some of your mission prep experience?"
Yes and no. I've been able to use a lot of things that I was taught at home and on the mission, but I'm still being trained and taught new things. I feel that I am picking some things up more quickly than other things I'm learning. I feel that I've also become a better teacher with everything I've been doing. For those who are taking mission prep right now, PLEASE pay attention! The lessons help so much...SOOOOOOOOOO much!!!!! I'm not even kidding you. Those of you who are in my stake and hate mission prep, stop it now!! You need this experience in your life because once you get to the MTC, you only get taught how to teach a lesson and not any of the other stuff that you're learning right now. Dad, make sure that every single person that is preparing for a mission and that is going to mission prep sees this part. If you do not take mission prep before you come out here, you will not be able to keep up with the rest of the class in the MTC. Plus they teach you super important things in mission prep that you won't learn anywhere else, so PLEASE take it! Your mission life depends on it.  
"What would you like to share with the future missionaries here at home?"
Well, one, that 👆 and two, I'll tell you what I told Bishop Shaw to tell Hannah Figueroa: While you are in the MTC, they're going to teach you everything about teaching a lesson, but nothing towards tracting or contacting people, so learn as much as you can before you leave for the MTC so that you don't fall on your face when you get out in the mission field. Also, tell them to study as much as they can for themselves before they get out to the field because once you get out there, you have no study time for yourself but only your investigators. Also, make sure you have a firm testimony in our Savior, Jesus Christ and his teachings. This gospel is the plan from God for all of us to be saved in this life, and it blesses every family you meet, it really does! I've seen it happen time and time again. Take every chance you have to bare your testimony to someone you meet. It will help you in your life and give you that spiritual influence everyone needs. I know that to be true without any doubt in my life. Remember, you don't have to be serious in everything. There are times where it's ok to loosen up from the tense times, but remember why you are serving the Lord and that you are a "disciple of Jesus Christ" and you represent Him in everything you do. It will be hard at times, but if you remember everything you can and if you love the Lord, He will bless you because your faith.

"Do you have good study time in the mornings?"
I love my study time in the morning! It's that one time where I can rely on the spirit and hear what it's teaching me. I read so many conference talks, scriptures, and preach my gospel, to study for my investigators because remember, there is no such thing as personal time any more when you're on a mission. I try to learn and do the best I can to be prepared for my lessons, and it helps so much when I know what to say because I studied!! Trust me. It does!!!

"Where will you guys go to watch general conference?"
We have church in an institute building right next to Western Washington State campus which works out well because we don't have to drive too far away, and it's in the area where we proselyte the most. That's where we will watch general conference, and I can't wait! I've heard so much about it as a missionary, and I read so many of the talks. I'm so excited to watch it again!! 

Well, that's all the questions I've been asked, so now I'll go into my week:

Monday was p-day, and we went to Mount Baker. If you look it up, it is one of the tallest mountains in my area. It's an awesome place and so much to see, but when we went, it was really foggy and you can see that in the pictures. We still had tons of fun. I wanted to get a picture with my companions and district, but every time I tried, it was already too late, and everyone had moved away from that area. That's ok. They have more of a bond together then I do with them, but we're getting there.

At Mount Baker

Tuesday was pretty chill. We had tons of visits and people we tried to go see but never really could. We also had several people fall through and several reschedules, but we made it through the day and made it all work out. Did i say pretty chill? I meant pretty bad, but it all worked out, and we got the lessons we needed for the day.

Wednesday was ok. We had an exchange with the assistance's because my companions are zone leaders so we got to exchange with Elder Merrill. He's one of my favorite missionaries. He's such a fun guy, and I like hanging out with him when i can. Idk if he likes me that much, but he's a fun elder. 

Thursday was great! We had several good things happen and had a fun time, but people fell through again, and time changes happened again so that was no fun! It's ok, though. I got through it again.

I forgot to answer one question, though. Ivy, one of our investigators, is doing a great job, and she's on date. She had to move it again because she was going to be out of town the day her baptism was scheduled. Now she's getting baptized on the 29th of October. Not cool to push it back on us like that, but that's ok. It doesn't matter anymore. It's all set in stone. 

We had another lesson with Ivy on Friday, and she understood it really well. We talked about JSH and talked about the first vision. It was a great experience, and she understood it really well. We also had a lesson with Jacob before his baptism to tell him how things would go and what he can expect after. He really wants to become an elder in the church like we are. Sadly, there is a difference in an elder in the church and an elder missionary. He's a good kid, though. He wants to learn so much.

The big day came when we baptized Jacob. The ordinance went well, but the part I hated was having to wait for the font to fill up. Sure, I studied, but I got really bored after an hour, and it took 3 hours to fill it up! That's ok. I found things to do before the baptism so it's all good! It was a great experience. Elder Kirk preformed it, and Jacob really enjoyed it all. I'm so proud of him for making that choice to continue on the straight and narrow path to God again. 

Jacob and I

Jordan, Elder Kirk, Jacob, and Elder Manezione
Sunday was a great day. It was fast Sunday, so i wore my tie. (Jordan, his dad, and all of his brothers have the same tie that they wear on Fast Sundays to have a special connection to each other while he is gone for 2 years.) We had a good day at church, and I learned a whole lot. I came to an understanding of several things, like how John Tanner was one of the biggest reasons the church exists today or as Joseph Smith call him, Father Tanner, and he knew and understood what it meant to sacrifice all that he had because it was God's will. Sometimes we need that heavenly correction in all of our lives. Jacob's confirmation was great too. I got to be in the circle for it. Elder Manezione confirmed him, and it was great!!

Finally, my spiritual thought is from Elder Christofferson's talk, "The Will of God." Here's the link for the video:

"I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we're to meet our Heavenly Father's high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek corrections. Elder Hugh B. Brown told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet high and was yielding no berries.
So he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say: "How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. ... And now you've cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. ... How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here."
"Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I [don't] intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, 'Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.'"
Years later, Elder Brown was in line to be promoted to general. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. Continuing his story, Elder Brown remembered: "I got on the train and started back ... with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. ... When I got to my tent, ... I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven.
I said, 'How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could to measure up. ... How could you do this to me?' And then I heard a voice. ... It was my own voice, and the voice said, 'I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.' The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. ...
And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, 'Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.'" All of us can meet God's high expectations, however great or small our capacity and talent may be. Let us pray for His love-inspired correction, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
I have never really understood this talk until I came out on this mission, and I feel that the Lord gives us those corrections in our life when we need them the most because we need to be put back on that straight and narrow path back to eternal life. I know that He is helping each and every one of us to get on to that path when we need it in our lives the most. He will remind us in our minds that "he is the gardener (shepherd),  and He knows what He wants us to do. I'm grateful for everything He has given me to learn and to understand so that I can continue on that straight and narrow path He wants me on and hold steadfast to the iron rod. I pray He will do the same for you, that He will lift you up when you may not expect it or when your spirit needs it. This is my prayer to you all, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Hammond 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 6 Dare to Stand Alone


This week has been a great one, so let's get started with it. I would like to point out that I did not have a baptism this last week for one of my investigators, rather I went to one because the zone leaders have to go to every baptism in their zone. It's required, so yeah. Anyway, last p-day was really great! We got everything washed and ready for the week to come, got the car washed, got our clothes washed, and prepared for everything. Then we took the whole district and went and played ultimate frisbee in a high school football field. It was pretty fun, and we had a great time. Then after p-day was over, we had a lesson with Jacob who is one of our investigators and has his baptism this Saturday. Elder Kirk is going to baptize him. Then we had an activity with the ward which is something we always do on Monday nights, FHE. You can probably guess what that means. We had a trivia night, and that was a lot of fun.

Tuesday we did a lot of visiting and lessons along with tracting and contacting. That's been getting a lot easier for me as we continue to do it, and I'm becoming more and more confident as we go. We had a lesson with Ivy who is getting baptized on October 8th, and it went well. We talked about "Dare to Stand Alone," a Mormon message, and we taught her that there are going to be things in this world that may bring you down, but you need to stand for your rights and what you believe in. We also had to go to the bishopric training because President Pringal wanted us to be a part of the training with them, and it made sense because our stake is doing terrible with referrals. Please, please, please give referrals to missionaries, guys!!! It's so hard for us to find people, and then our president and leaders get mad at us when our key indicators aren't reaching standards. Plus, we need them badly.

Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder Goodman and Elder Squire in Blaine, a pretty cool place. They do a pretty good job with their area. They had Elder Kirk and I exchange with Elder Goodman so that I could get out of Bellingham that day and explore what's around me which was good because it's great to see new faces and stuff. We went to talk to a lot of people and had one lesson that day. They have a good area, and I had lots of fun. Good experience too.

Thursday was the longest day this week. We had zone conference in Mt. Vernon. I go there every now and then. It's a good area, and I heard that Justin's friend (Steven's) wife's family lives there.  It is such a good place for them. That took up most of the day, and we talked about a lot of good things. Then we had dinner with our ward clerk, Justin, and talked with him and shared a message. After that, we had a lesson with Jacob, and then we went back to Sister P's for planning and bed time.

The Elders and Sisters of the Bellingham Area
Friday we had a lesson with a recent convert named Audrey. She was baptized the week I came out here, so that was cool. She's a great girl. Then she came with us to our lesson with Ivy that day. We talked about Lehi's dream and the symbolism behind it. It was a good lesson, and we enjoyed it. Then after that, we had a lesson with a less active named Jason, and haha this lesson was interesting. We missed him at church last Sunday, so we went to go see what was wrong. We found out that the Saturday before Sunday, he was on YouTube and was looking up Mormon messages when an anti-Mormon message appeared. He wondered what it was all about, and sure enough, he was shocked by what he watched. It was about how there are stars on our temple and how some people believe them to be pentagrams and that the Mormons are followers of Satan and bla bla bla. It made him scared, so he went to go have a smoke... We told him when we met up with him that people put those on the internet to try to bring us down and to try to convince people that we are an evil church when we are not. Those stars on our temples represent the telestial kingdom. We also told him that he needed to stand for his beliefs and what he knew to be true because there will be times like that (like the pharisees in Jesus's ministry) when people will try to catch us in our words and try to bring us down, but we have to be strong and know that what we believe is true!! Because it truly is. I hope that helps him.

Saturday we went to the baptism in the Bellingham 3rd Ward which was ok, and it looks like she is liking being a convert. Her name is Laura, and I congratulated the elders for their hard work. We also did service and visited a lot of people. Then we went to a lesson with Zack and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a great kid, and he's so solid. He's so ready for his baptism. I can call him kid because he's 18, but he looks like he's 23 because of how tall he is. He's great. 

Sunday was pretty great. We had 3 investigators at sacrament meeting, and some of them stayed for the rest of it. 

I enjoyed this week a lot, and I hope that everyone's week was great. I'm sorry for BYU losing, but that's pretty normal when it comes to their offense :) Just saying, but that's ok. I'm glad the ward is bigger since they realigned the boundaries, and I hope you are all having a great wonderful day today.

Now, here is my spiritual thought. Remember this...when it comes to the times you're scared, frightened to take a task that is in front of you, or you can't go on any longer in your trials, look towards your Savior. He atoned for the sins of all the world, for the heartaches and for all of the trials in this world that would ever happen. When we need a rescue in our life, He will know when and how we need it. His love and grace is sufficient for all of us. It is the one thing that keeps us from going too far into darkness. It is the one thing that binds us and makes us happier in life. When you need His love and support, HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. No matter what you're going through, and if you feel that no one has suffered like you have, remember He has and is always there for you with open arms so you can cry all your fears and trials away. When we need a rescue in our lives, Christ our shepherd will leave his 99 sheep and look for the one that is lost. He will find you! He will love you! And He will lift you up on his shoulders and carry you home. Brothers and sisters, no matter how hard our trials have been our will be, there is NO one that truly understand more of what we're going through than our Savior does. I know these things are true. I know I have been sent to Everett Washington to serve the Lord and to show our Savior's love for everyone who needs it here, and that is everyone here. He has blessed me as a disciple of Jesus Christ to lift people on His shoulders and to bring them home. Remember "as Christ turns outward, man turns inward." Let us not be man who turns inward after everything good we do. Let's show people that He loves everyone and that He will never leave us comfortless. His love shines like the sun with perfect light, and we are the earths that need it so continually in our lives. DON'T LOSE HOPE! He's never going to give up on you. Brothers and sisters, I know that my redeemer lives, and at times I've seen His hand pull me through trials that I've faced. When I needed to be rescued, he has lifted me up on his shoulders and has taken me home where I want to be. It is my prayer that we can show this same love He has for each and every one of us to others and help them to be RESCUED! I know these things are true, and I say these things in the name of our endless, loving Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Hammond

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 5 A Note About the Weather, Investigators, and P-Days

So week 2 in Bellingham and I'm doing just fine. My companions are zone leaders, and we do a lot of work for the zone. We have to run around Bellingham a ton, but I enjoy it because it helps me learn, and they teach me so much. Being in a trio is hard. You don't get a lot of say in a lessons a lot of the time, and you take different approaches to different things. For instance, in studies you don't have just you and your companion talking things out. You have two voices from both sides of you giving their own opinions and thoughts. It can be hard sometimes, but I get through it. 

One thing I love about Bellingham is that it doesn't rain a whole lot up here. There are several overcast days but not very much rain. We also have several bays and lakes many I can't count, and this last p-day we went to one of them. I can't remember what the name was, but there was a park that overlooked it, and it was so beautiful!! I love this place so much. Bellingham also is so alive. I've never seen so many trees in my life, and everywhere you go is a forest and is so beautiful. 

If there is one thing I've learned with my mission is you never have time to study for yourself. You're always studying for all your investigators and how to help them learn more. This week we had so many lessons and new investigators. I can't believe how many members we had with us and how high our numbers are. They are way above standard, and I feel pretty accomplished in my life. Our investigators are great and almost all of them are on date for baptism. We have one who is getting baptized next Saturday, and I'll make sure to get pics from that for you all to see, but ya, that's it for baptisms. My investigators names are Ivy, Zack, Jacob, Kristena, Inyoung, Matthew, Rainbow,(don't ask why, but she picked that name when she was 3) and Henry. They all have great potential but some are more or less then others. I love our investigator Zack! He is so solid, and it's so funny how we found him. My first Sunday here and Zack walks into church. We thought he was a member because he was all dressed up and looking nice, and we went up to greet him. We learned what his name was and stuff, and then we just let him go right into sacrament meeting. After the service, Jacob was sitting right next to him and said, "Ok so this is where we do Gospel Principles for the next hour," and Zack was like, "What is that?" and to our shock we found out that he was not a member, but his whole family is, and he wanted to be baptized. So we got him as a new investigator. We didn't even have to tell him to read the Book of Mormon after the first lesson. His girlfriend who leaves for a mission soon told him about the BOM and invited him to read it. When we asked him how far he's at it surprised us all that he was in Mosiah 8. It's funny how the Lord's work works sometimes in a missionary's life. Sometimes he makes it easy on us, or sometimes it's really hard. Like this last week I got to feel what it was like to drop my first investigator. Not cool, but he really didn't want to learn anything about the church, just about what was in the Book of Mormon and the science behind it. Once he noticed that our message was centered around Christ and church, he made no effort in wanting us to come any more, so he didn't stay up to commitments, and when we asked if he would like us to come by any more his answer was no. But with him I knew it was going to happen so i wasn't so worried. 

I love my district and my zone. We get along so well and do so many fun things. Like last Monday we went to a park that overlooked the bay, played football, and looked around and took pics at the bay. I really enjoyed that, and I took pics for everyone to see.

I have two sisters that I know that went to Copper Hills when I was in my junior year. Their names are Sister Hoch and Sister Stokes. It's been great to see them again and spend more time with them as friends, and Sister Hoch serves with me and my companions in the YSA ward. We have loads of fun. My district is great and, I really get along with them.

I'm almost done with my package candy that you guys sent to me, and I'm glad you did cause it's always great when I need a snack. I'm working on getting rid of the Apple Jacks, but it's hard cause I get fed my meals..... definitely not roughing it. I'm so spoiled, but I'm ok with that. It's saving me so much money.

Anyway, I think that's it for me from last week. I don't know what we're doing today, but I'll tell you next time. 

My spiritual thought today is to seek remembering what is important in life, whether it's family or friends or even memories. Keep them close and remember them always, and don't forget what you've learned in church about our Heavenly Father. He remembers everything, and if we cherish the things we love most about the gospel, the Lord will show us tender mercies in this life and the life to come. Have faith always and remember what Christ has done for us. He is our redeemer and savior!! I love him dearly, and I hope we all reach out to others in love and a compassionate way. Remember the good in your life and show the same to others. Remember 3 Nephi 5: 13 "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ," and we all are, and we should see others to be as well. I pray that we seek for Him in our lives and in others, that we may come closer to Him. It's my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

- Elder Hammond

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 4 A Note From Bellingham

Hello everyone from Bellingham, Washington!!!!
Yes, that is where I've been assigned, and it's been great so far!!! I love it here. The area is so beautiful, and everyone here is so kind. Some are more then others.... anyways, so I'll share what happened the last two weeks you didn't hear from me.

At the Provo Temple
MTC District
Last week in the MTC:
So my last week in the MTC, I had several classes, dull food, and long days of work, but it was all worth it cause I was learning how to serve the Lord in the best way I can. I loved having Elder Roche at my side the whole time for the rest of the last week, but now that we're not together anymore, I miss him. That's ok though. He is with a better companion and trainer than I probably was a companion for him. On the last week, we had a day called in-field training day where all we did was sit in a classroom for the whole day learning what the field was going to be like, how to find people to teach, and how to plan. Even though that day was so boring, and I just wanted to fall asleep, it worked out so well!!!!! I am using everything they taught me there, and it's been working in what I need to do out here. Our last Sunday at the MTC was great. They had a farewell devotional and a regular one where the guy that made all The Districts came and spoke to us. If you all wanted to know for your missionary peeps, District 3 is coming out soon for everyone to see. So ya, Monday came by, and we mostly used that day for packing, saying goodbye to our district, and learning how to street contact. A pretty fun and long day at the same time. Tuesday was the big day when I left the MTC with Elder Roche and headed to Washington. We had to wake up really early like 2:30 to make sure we were out of the MTC for our flight. I got to call home which was great, and it sounds like everyone is doing fine at home, which is good. Then ya I left Utah to embark on my 2 year mission.

This week!!:
When I touched down in Seattle, we all went out of the plane and met the mission president, President Wilding!! Great man! His wife is wonderful as well, as far as I can tell for as much as I got to meet them. I'm super far away from them. They gave us our assignments and our trainers, and I was so lucky to be trained by zone leaders from the Bellingham YSA Ward...... what!!! right?? So ya, I'm in a trio and... I don't know how or why God put me in a situation like this. Elder Kirk and Elder Manzione are great elders and have been out for a long time now. When you're in a trio, it's really hard to adjust to the mission because the two trainers have been together for so long that when you are put into the pack you have barely any room to talk..... which is a really big strength for me to talk to people. I think God is trying to show me that waiting is a virtue and is needed a ton of the time you're out here. You know that P word I don't ever Have or Do (Patience). But they help me so much, and I've learned so much from them already. Our investigators are all on track and are on their way for baptism which is really good and none of my doing. But we are getting new investigators as we speak. We already got three new investigators, so ya, pretty great. There's not a lot of sun up here though, but it's still just gorgeous up here...better then staring at a dry dessert for half of my life if i do say so myself. The YSA Ward is different then what I'm use to, but I like it. Everyone is so friendly and nice, and I couldn't be happier.

Well now that you learned it all, i hope everyone at home is doing great and just to let you all know I've been running all over my mission. When you have zone leaders as your trainers, they take you all over the place, and it can be pretty fun at times. But ya, we've done tons of tracting, and I loved it all. I'm having a great time, and I hope you are all too.

For those who are going to serve a mission and don't know what its like, please before you leave talk with an RM because once you get out here it's all going to hit you in the face faster then a jet plane can break the sound barrier. I love you all and miss you all and wish you the best!!! So long.

-Elder Hammond

Additional info from this week's email to Elder Hammond's Mom:

Bellingham is great. I forgot to include in my email that we are living with a member. Her name is Sister P, and she's great! She makes every single meal for us!!! So I don't have to use my mission funds that much.................. funny, huh? I'm not roughing it. She does everything for us...feeds us, cleans for us, washes our clothes. It's nothing close to roughing it. I'm living in the Celestial Kingdom as many missionaries say, and the President. I am so freaking spoiled, and I love it, but I know in my next transfer it's going to hit me so hard in the face that when I need food I'm not going to have so much. But I'll have so much money for food saved up I won't have to worry so much...... anyways, that's my mission life. And ya, I've already had one door slammed in my face. But that's it, so far. I hope this week goes well, and I'll write again soon.