Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 12 Happy Halloween

This week has been crazy and somewhat frustrating, but with every day going by, I know it's getting better as I serve the Lord. Let me start off my letter this week by answering some questions that I've been asked:

How is the work going in Stillaguamish?
Let me just tell you that Stillaguamish is the name of the ward, and the city I am in is Arlington. Sorry for not clearing that up last time. Compared to the work in the YSA ward, the work in Stillaguamish is way more frustrating. In the past few weeks we have lost 2 investigators and only gained one. The members don't help that much when it comes to referrals, and we are trying everything to make sure we can find new investigators. It's not easy. The problem is I can't apply some of the same stuff we did in Bellingham here in Stillaguamish. The area is so big and spread out so we can't tract anywhere like I could in my last area. Members don't give referrals when we ask, and missionary work doesn't get focused on enough for anyone in the ward to really care about it. We have to do the work ourselves and try and beg the members to help us. None of our investigators now are on date, and it just keeps getting harder and harder. But my companion and I have some ideas to use towards getting those wheels to turn in the ward.

Do you get fed dinner every night?
We get fed EVERY SINGLE NIGHT by members. We haven't had one day without a member feeding us, and I've been so grateful. We had someone in the ward go to each classroom and tell everyone to sign up, and they did. She has a missionary out, and she and everyone else understood how the members should help us when it comes to dinner. That's so much of a change from my last ward. I'm so grateful for that!

How are you managing your cleaning and laundry and cooking now that you aren't with Sister P any more?
Really? That question is so easy. I did it a ton while in the MTC. I can do it on my own anytime. That was just the plus side of living in my last area, but now that that responsibility is on me, I don't mind so much. We have a washer and dryer in our apartment, and that's always great to have.

How are you managing living with the other elders?
Haha! Oh boy, this other companionship we live with is so much fun! Elder Lindsey and Elder Poulson. We all get along so well, and I'm grateful that we do because I have had some Elders that I didn't get along with so well before. But that's okay. It's in the past. Anyway, they are so much fun. We joke around so much and have a great time.

Do you like being in a family ward or do you miss the YSA ward?
That question is a tender question. I do miss the YSA ward a lot. There were a lot of things there that I really miss and I wish I could keep having in my life, but as we all know all good things have to go away sometimes. The family ward is great, however. There is such a good bond in this ward, and they do so well with making everyone feel welcomed. 

How has the weather been? 
Very gloomy  🌧🌧🌧☁☁☁🌧🌧🌧🌦🌦🌦💧💧💧🌂☔☔ Sorry, I got distracted, but lots of rain and just foggy days. I don't mind it one bit.

Are you pretty excited to be an LDS missionary for Halloween?
Heck yes I am!! Haha! Today is so crazy! We have p-day all day, and then at 6 we have to stay in our apartments and do something productive. So it's like p-day all day, and I already got my laundry done! I'm so pumped!!

Anyway, now to how my week went.

Last Monday I had a great p-day. We played racquetball in the morning, then worked out, had studies, emailed home, did shopping, then went and played wallyball. Then we went back home and had dinner with the Anglens. They have a missionary out in long beach California, which is really cool because I know a couple of elders from the MTC that are also serving there, so I hope all goes well for him. We had a really good dinner though. They have a drum set, a piano, and lots of guitars!! I got to play all of them, and I felt like I was in heaven!! It was so much fun. Then we went home and planned for the next day.

Tuesday was a good day! We visited a lot of people and picked up one new investigator. Her name is Buddy, and she is a former investigator in the area. She came up to us on Sunday and asked us to teach her the stop smoking program. I was really excited because this was my first time teaching it, and it's so cool how it works. We haven't heard back from her to see how things are going, but we're going to go follow up with her sometime this week to see how she's doing. We are praying for her and hoping she can quit so we can teach her the lessons too.

Wednesday we had zone meeting. It was really cool because Tuesday we had planned out a role play with Brother Brown, a family search worker who showed us all how to help investigators get involved with family search. It is something I feel this ward really needs a lot so we're going to do it more. It was cool because he gave me clothes to dress up in to play the investigator, and I acted so funny when we did it. It was so much fun. Then after zone meeting we had a luncheon with Brother Brown, and he fed us sourdough waffles. They were the best! I think I ate 3 whole ones. They were so good. After that, we went and visited people, and then we also had the trunk or treat that night. We got to judge the chili that was cooked for it. It was so much fun! Elder Stoddard and I had a great time.

Thursday I went on exchange with the district leader, and we had a blast. His name is Elder Qubalio, and he is such a great leader. We went and visited a lot of people in Arlington, and then we drove up to Darrington, and trust me, when you're behind the wheel, that is the longest drive in the world having to make that trip all the time. It was his first time in Darrington, so when we got there, he jumped out of the car and started looking around and acting so happy while I put my head against the wheel and said, "Longest Drive Of MY Life!" I banged my head against the wheel until he asked if I was ready to go. Don't get me wrong, I love Darrington. I just hate how far of a drive it is. We had a lesson with Alex. Funny story. We put him on date that lesson only to find out later that he wanted to drop us and not be baptized. It made me so sad because he was doing so well. Some just use their agency in the wrong way, and it messes up there lives some days... but that's okay. We still had a good day. After that, we visited some people and then headed home to exchange back with Elder Stoddard.

We went to the food bank and helped there, weekly planed, and then visited some people. Nothing big.

Saturday was a great day. We helped with the old folks place and bowled with them. That is always fun. It's great to see all the old folks roll the ball down the mat and make strikes every now and then. Then we helped with a move with a new family in the ward, the Berrys. They had a lot of stuff to move. It took about the rest of the day to help them, but we had to leave them in the middle of it for dinner and stake conference adult session. That was really good. The focus was about family search and how as member of the church we need to do it. Elder Foster of the 70 was there, and he instructed us. It was a great session.

Spaghetti and eyeball dinner before adult session of stake conference
Sunday we had stake conference, and that was great too. There is so much spirit in this stake, and I really got to see it during this session. The main part they talked about is that families can be together forever, and as we help others realize that, we can work to help our family too. After that, we visited a lot of people. Then we had dinner at the Glenns and carved pumpkins. It was so much fun.

Carving pumpkins
Elder Hammond's "Flash" pumpkin

Well, sadly I'm running out of time in my session, but i'll try to be quick with my spiritual thought. 

Elder Craig C. Christensen of the 70 said in our last general conference, "Because Joseph was a prophet, we have more than a window into heaven--the very doorway to the eternities is open to us."

I know that this is true, and I testify of it everyday that he helped bring to pass the restoration. It was needed for all mankind, for all eternity. Brothers and sisters, if you don't have a testimony of Joseph Smith yet, then you need to get one. He is a big part of the reason why this church is here. I know that he was a prophet, and I know that my redeemer lives. Because of Him, you can know too. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Week 11 Every Member a Missionary

What a week!! I can't talk a lot about it because there was a lot of meetings so I don't have a lot of time, but let's get to it .

Monday we went shopping and played walleyball, so much fun. You go to a racket ball court, and you play volleyball but in the court. It's so much fun! You need to look it up. After that, we visited some people and had dinner with some members that have a missionary in the family. He is in California. Pretty cool. Ya, that was it for the Monday.

Tuesday was the best!! We had Elder Dube of the 70 come and talk to us. He is so cool. He spoke about how to find people through members and also how to do missionary work in general. He is just so funny and a great general authority. I learned so much from him, and I'm going to use all of what I've learned in our area. After that, we had studies for the rest of the night and that's about it.

We went to Darrington and visited some people. We had lunch down there and then taught seminary. It was a good day, but one of our lessons fell through. That's ok though. We're seeing him tomorrow.

We went to the stake center and had interviews. That was great because I got to talk with President about what I wanted and what I needed. He helps a ton, and he listens to me and helps me to understand and learn what I need. After that, we went and studied and visited some people and had a good rest of the day.

Friday we went and did service at the food bank for 4 hours, and then we did service for one of our members. That was fun. We did a lot of cutting down plants and grape vines to make his yard look good, so that was fun. Then we visited more people and had a good day.

Saturday we went on an exchange with the zone leader, Elder Harmon, and we had a great time. We went and visited members and tried the instruction Elder Dube gave us to use for members to find referrals, and it worked out really well. Then we went to an old folks home and bowled with them and played bingo with them. They are so great and so much fun. Then we visited a lot of people and members. We also had a RCLA (less active lesson) with someone who just way overthinks things. I don't like that we have to teach him, but it helps me to keep moving. Then we exchanged back at the end of the day.

I got to talk in sacrament meeting, and I talked about "we are the rescuers."  It's something that I made up myself. I talked about how missionary work doesn't just happen once in our lives, but we need to bring people back to the fold as members. It went so well with the rest of the program because the people after me explained how we can do it in a effective way. I just touched on reaching out to less actives. After church, we studied and then had dinner and visited a lot of people.

So to answer some questions... Stillaguamish is a great place, and its not normal Washington. It's country Washington. We drive a jeep around and hit many dirt driveways and many dirt roads. It's so much fun. It's a great area. It's so big too! Elder Stoddard is so much fun, and I learn so much from him. He reminds me so much of Elder Roche, my MTC companion. I heard that my mom and his mom have texted each other, so that's cool. He's awesome, and I learn so much from him! I can't wait to keep learning more. Um, my bishop is great. He has a great testimony, and he wants the best for everyone, but he's not as cool as Bishop Shaw!!!! ;) jk jk He's cool though. That's my mission. If you have any more questions, just ask me. That's it for this week. I love you all, and I'll see you soon. Before I go, I'll share a spiritual message. 

"The Lord has provided all of the tools necessary for us to go to the rescue of our less-active and nonmember friends." 
The cool thing is that is so true! I talked about this talk a lot in my talk Sunday, and I know that He has provided everything for us. Just read what his story talks about.

"Brother Marques knew the name of every sheep in his priests quorum and realized that Fernando was missing. He hunted for Fernando at his house, then looked for him at a friend’s home, and even went to the beach.
Rescuing Fernando
He finally found Fernando surfing in the ocean. He did not hesitate until the boat sank, like in Daniel’s story. He immediately entered the water to rescue his lost sheep, bringing him home rejoicing.7
Ensuring that Fernando does not leave the fold
He then ensured through continual ministering that Fernando never again would leave the fold.8
Allow me to update you on what has happened since Fernando was rescued and to share the joy that came from rescuing just one lost sheep. Fernando married his sweetheart, Maria, in the temple. They now have 5 children and 13 grandchildren, all of whom are active in the Church. Many other relatives and their families have also joined the Church. Together they have submitted thousands of their ancestors’ names to receive temple ordinances, and the blessings just keep coming.
Fernando’s family
Fernando is now serving as bishop for the third time, and he continues to rescue, just like he was rescued. He recently shared, “In our ward, we have 32 active young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, 21 of whom were rescued in the last 18 months.” As individuals, families, quorums, auxiliaries, classes, and home and visiting teachers, we can do that!"
Fernando’s young men
Brothers and sisters, you should do whatever you can to bring these people back to the fold. They need it in their lives. You don't know until you try. I love you all, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
--Elder Hammond

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 10 Transfered to Stillaguamish

Hello, everyone!!!! What a week it has been! So many things happened, and I can't wait to tell you all about it, so let's get started.

So I believe last Monday I told you all what I was doing, so I don't need to tell you about that, but Tuesday was transfer day. 😢 Leaving Bellingham and Sister P and Molly was really sad. However, I got to spend a whole hour and a half in a car with several suitcases on top of me and all around me because Elder Manezione and I got transferred to different areas. But the day went on as we studied in the morning, and then we said goodbye to Sister P. 
Sister P and Elder Hammond
Elder Hammond and Molly
We drove to the mission home, stayed there for almost the whole day, and then I met my new companion, Elder Stoddard. He is a stud, and I'll tell you a little about him later. (photos below were texted to Elder Hammond's mom by members they were visiting in his new area with a hello and I love you message from Elder Hammond. Great surprise!)

Elder Stoddard and Elder Hammond
Then we drove to my new home. We live with 2 other elders in one apartment. It's pretty crazy, but we all get along well and enjoy each other. We didn't go shopping when I got there, but we'll do that today, so ya.

My first day in Stillaguamish was pretty good. We had district meeting with Elder Kuballio, a Spanish missionary. Our district is a lot smaller then what I'm use to, but I really don't care as much. Our district leader is so good when it comes to leading discussions. He speaks with the spirit, and it's so uplifting for everyone who hears his message. After that, we did some service for someone who can't mow his lawn anymore because he can't move around that much any more. He reminded me of grandpa, and I hope that he is doing better. I keep all the grandparents in my prayers, and I hope that everything works out for you all. Then we went and visited a ton of members to try to get some referrals because we have like no investigators it seems, which is different from where I use to be. We could go tract and get many investigators, but now it's harder because we have to try to get the members trust as well now since Elder Stoddard has only been in the ward for 6 weeks. Sadly, members don't really want to do missionary work either, so its really hard to get them motivated. We have been making plans to go tracting several times but havn't gone yet because I'm new and the ward needs to meet me. So ya, but that's what we did Wednesday.

Thursday was a interesting day. The Stillaguamish Ward has two cities in it, part of Arlington and the rest is from Arlington to Darington, which is crazy because it's like 45 minutes away from our church building. That's like having Sunset Ridge 6th ward all the way to Provo, Utah. That's about how big our ward boundary is. It's huge!!!😨 But I'm ok with it. We only go up to Darington on Tuesdays. So ya, but Darington has been promised a ward if they stay faithful by a general authority. Elder Stoddard and I want to help make that happen, but the only way we can do that is 1) Darington members to give us referrals; 2) we go tracting down there, and 3) the members need to do missionary work too. We got told two weeks ago that we need to do it all. Members do too, but I feel like when members hear those two words (missionary work) they shrink and turn away from doing it. So, missionaries and members need to work together to bring people closer to Christ, and I hope people can understand that quicker then it's happening now. We visited a lot of people in Darington, taught seminary, and had a lesson with an investigator named Alex Dival. He's a good kid, but he sees religion from an educational standpoint. Several of the other religions have been bagging on us with every investigator we get down in Darington. I've heard this from my ward missionaries and Elder Stoddard. Not cool!! So ya, the work is pretty frustrating down there. We don't want to drop Alex, but if it comes to that point, we might have to.

Friday we helped at the food bank and then had a lesson with one of our investigators named David. He's a cool guy, and we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and spent a lot of time on repentance. We helped him to understand the concept of it. 

We just visited a lot of people this day.

Yesterday we woke up really early to go to a mission/ ward mission training meeting. It was ok, but we had to get up really early. That's ok. It was a good meeting. I hope the members learned a lot though. ;) Then we had church and then correlation meeting. Then we studied, visited some people, ate dinner, did accounting, and then went to bed.

So Elder Stoddard is so different than my last two companions in so many ways. We are almost like the same person except he doesn't play music. He's big into computers like me. He's a really big jokester and a funny guy, but when he needs to be, he's really serious. I enjoy that. Training is going well. I'm on week 8 now and it feels like I'm finishing up really quickly. It's so much better being in a two pack than a three pack because I get to talk a whole lot more! My personality comes out more. I do miss Bellingham and Elder Kirk and Elder Manezione, but there are some pros and cons to me not being with them anymore, and all is good. I hope I can continue to be a great missionary for this ward that I'm serving now, and I hope Elder Stoddard and I stay together for a long time.

Well that's it for me. I'll tell more as I continue in the area, but for right now, peace out, and I love and miss you all.

-Elder Hammond

Message and pictures sent by Sister Jamie Balderas from Arlington:
"Hi Sister Hammond! It was a pleasure having your son and Elder Stoddard over for dinner Friday night. I can't believe he has only been out six weeks. He seems very comfortable, like he is a senior missionary. This is great! They blessed the sacrament today, and Elder Hammond has a very sweet spirit. Thank you for sharing him with us. We are excited to have him in our ward. I'm hoping he stays through the next transfer so we can have them here for Christmas. Blessings to you and your family!" (How great is that??)

The pictures were posted the the Washington Everett Mission Facebook page with the caption, "Elder Hammond and Elder Stoddard sharing a message with us after dinner last night."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 9 My Last Week in Bellingham

It makes me sad to say that... I really like Bellingham, and I'm going to miss it so much!!!! I'm transferring tomorrow!! I just found out today, like 10 minutes ago. I'm not happy about it, but it's what happens right? Elder Manezione is transferring too, but I don't know where yet until tomorrow. I'm pretty sad about it. It's like the celestial kingdom out here, and now I'm leaving my spoiled life and going to somewhere else in an actual ward. I'm going to miss my YSA ward back in Bellingham. I just said goodbye to them yesterday, and I'm saying goodbye to them tonight at FHE... It's not fun. I've gained such a bond with them this first transfer, and I won't see them again unless I get reassigned as zone leader in Bellingham. I don't know for sure if I'm leaving Bellingham, but I have a pretty strong feeling I am. Elder Kirk and Elder Manezione have been great companions, and it's sad I have to say goodbye to both my mission fathers (that's a thing we call each other on our missions. Justin and Dad may know what I'm talking about) I'm getting a new trainer in a new ward, and I'm leaving the humble living quarters of Sister P..... but that's ok. My camera battery died so I'll have to send you pictures of her next week. The family will know where I go in the letter the church sends out before I can tell you all, but on that note, lets get to the week, shall we?

So I'm not going to go with the weekly procedure like I always do, but I'm going to point out the highlights, One reason why is because I've got to do some things to get ready for transfers, and 2, I don't have my other planner... so I'll just say what I remember.

Monday I wrote to you guys, and then we went and played ultimate Frisbee with the district which was lots of fun. It was one of the elders last p-day so we made it fun for him! We also had FHE, and that went well. We did a get to know you game, and we got to know the ward a little more. That was fun.
Tuesday was a good day. Not much happened though. We just had some lessons with some investigators and talked with several people.

Wednesday we went to district meeting with Bellingham district, and Elder Rilly talked about being a dedicated missionary. It was a pretty cool meeting. For the rest of the day, we visited people and taught some investigators. Pretty great day.

Thursday we did some service for Watcom Land Trust and helped the owner tidy up the place. We also visited and did some tracting in several areas. Fun day.

Friday we had to do some exchanges with Bellingham 2 missionaries because Elder Barlow was training to be a district leader. Elder Bunting, his companion, came with us, and we did some tracting and some visiting while my companions ran some errands around the zone. It was fun because I got to experience what it was like to not have a car.

Saturday was a good day. Zack got baptized, and I got to meet his family. He's a good kid. I can't wait for what lies ahead in his future in this ward.

Sunday Elder Kirk spoke in sacrament meeting, and Elder Manezione and I gave our final testimonies for the ward just in case he and I were leaving. Sadly, we are so that was good to give that one last time to a ward I love. Zack got confirmed Sunday as well. I'm so happy for him.

Today we're going to go get hair cuts and play some ping pong and pool at the institute before Elder Manezione and I leave the zone. 😥😥😞😞😢😢 It makes me so sad... but I know I'll live. I don't like that. I have a feeling that my next area is going to be a bike area. I hear it's not fun in the winter, but we'll see.

My spiritual thought this week comes from general conference. President Nelson said, "When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives."

As we grow closer to God, our joy will continue to grow. Don't let anything small bring you down. Look for the positive in life, and the Lord will bless you. This is my hope that we all do this, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Hammond

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 8 Ups and Downs

I really don't feel like writing a super long email today.... so I'll try to keep it short and simple.

Monday we had a blast playing ultimate frisbee in one of the parks close by where we lived. The cool thing is we get to be with the district in my area unlike other places where you can't hang out with other missionaries. That's just how some mission presidents make rules, but I love President Wilding and what he has done for this mission. He's an awesome mission president, and I wouldn't want anyone else. Anyway, after that fun p-day, we had a lesson with Zack. He is so solid and is getting baptized this Saturday. I can't wait. It'll be my first investigator that I've gotten to sit through all the lessons with, and i get to see him be baptized. We talked about tithing and fasting with him, and it was a good lesson. We also had FHE that night which was really great. We watched Meet the Mormons and met some new people. Two of them were recent converts that had barely moved into the ward, and the other person was their friend who tagged along, so we may be getting a new investigator soon. Her name is Rachel, and she's going to Western Washington University with those two friends who's names are Trever and Diana. Cool people.

I went on an exchange with the Spanish missionaries, and it's a whole different culture many tacos and other things I love so much! There are a lot of Hispanics up here. I enjoyed meeting everyone. The two elders that are running the Spanish branch are Elder Rilly and Elder Eastwood. Elder Rilly leaves this week, and Elder Eastwood is new and does really well at teaching. I can't speak the language, but I can understand most of what people say when they speak it, mostly because we had Spanish missions all around our classroom in the MTC, so everyone spoke in Spanish. I sorta got the gist of what they would say all them time, but I never really understood how to say it all. Pretty awesome stuff.

Wednesday was ok. Nothing much there...just taught lessons, tracted and didn't find many people to teach, so not much then.

We exchanged Elder Manezoine for Elder Hatch from Everson, another missionary that leaves the same day as Elder Rilly. We did some painting and had several lessons that day. We had one with Ivy and Zack. Ivy decided to move her baptism to November because she isn't going to be here when we could do it. We taught here about what general conference is and that she needed to watch it because it's so cool. We taught Zack about the priesthood and how he can get it after he's baptized. Ya, pretty chill day.

Friday was such a fun day! We had a fun carnival at the institute, and we had a good amount of people show up and play games. The ward set up for the opening social for institute, but during it we had to leave to have a lesson with Zack, and we taught him about baptism and other things he needed to look forward to.

Saturday and Sunday I watched general conference and enjoyed it all. I'm still getting quotes from it so don't quiz me on anything. Yesterday we also met up with someone we tracted on Thursday. So ya, that was cool. His name is Johnathon, and he's so strong in the belief of Christ. When we told him about the restoration, he wanted to learn more, so we're going to teach him more! Now we have a new investigator.

Well this week has had its ups and downs, and I've loved it all, but now it's time for my spiritual thought:

"Hope... hope is one of Christ's attributes, oddly enough, and we all need it in our lives because hope is what runs our faith in Jesus Christ and in Heavenly Father. 'Hope is the anchor of our souls... hope is the trust in God's promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future' (1999 ensign) Hope is the willingness to look forward in life and expect greatness to come in our lives. We need hope to get through every day of this life. We, like Peter, have to hope that we can take that first step on the water and hope we won't sink, but we also must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who stood waiting for Peter as he started to walk towards him. We must not lose that belief that everything will be fine, like Peter did. As he looked down at the water below him, his faith shrunk, and so he started to sink. We can't sink in the times when our faith is being tested the most. We have to fight back temptation and stand for what we know to be true and hope that things will get better, not worse. But if we have hope and faith and believe in Christ, our savior, we will see an end to our worst days, and our happiness will grow. So will our faith." (Elder Hammond Character of Christ missionary journal) Guys, I'm learning so much, and now I have a journal devoted to finding what the character of Christ really means to me, and it's something I will bring home for everyone to read. As God shows me the tender mercies of this world, I will continue to write as I learn more about Christ. May we all have that same desire to learn of Him, that is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Hammond
We got this in the mail from the Mission Office. I was beginning to wonder where the picture of my missionary with the mission president was and if I would get one at all. It was a happy piece of mail to open. =)