Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Dec. 31 2012

Dear Family,

Thank you for the emails and the love.  Also thank you so much for the package.  I love the purse and am slowly, sparingly enjoying the caramels. Thank you also for the deoderant and face wash. It was the perfect little package from home. :)  The visit with the Satina's was actually quite short which I was grateful for, but also disappointed.  I felt bad they went out of their way to see me for such a short time.  It was much appreciated!  Fun to see them and the package they brought was SOO sweet!  I can't remember if I had written this or if she just knew that it is very possible to burn yourself on laundry soap when you do it by hand.  I have done so once and almost did again the other day.  Anyway, sweet Sister Satina and family brought me an entire bottle of liquid tide specifically gentle on skin!  It was a heavy bottle and I was so grateful for their thoughtfulness. I will use it for the first time later today. :)  They also included a sweet note and KASHI trail mix bars!  That is my favorite kind and I only ever eat them at home.  I have eaten two so far and treasured every bite.  Please express my thanks to them for their lovely, thoughtful gifts and the sacrifice of luggage weight!  Also, about the picture she posted... don't worry my hair did not look like that all day! Haha

This morning I was reading 1 Nephi 22:26 and it talks about everyone dwelling in righteousness after Christ comes.  I remember mom talking about how in Heaven perfection doesn't mean every one is perfect in your eyes.  I thought about dwelling in righteousness and how it will be us being Christlike. When something bothers us about some one else, we ignore it, we endure it.  If they are acting righteously just accept their way of acting and love them for it. :)  Part of life and become perfect like Christ is having Christ's acceptance of all people as they are, loving them for the good and ignoring the annoying parts.  It's a choice to enjoy each others company at any given moment.  Not sure that completely got my thoughts across but that was the gist of it.

Another random thought-- we were in gospel principles and going over tithing.  Tithing, fasting, word of wisdom, law of chastity (24 hours, caffeine, modesty etc) --- all topics that can easily be turned into a letter/spirit of the law discussion and trying to help people understand the higher law and personal accountability to God. So the question came up on whether you pay tithing on gross income or on what you actually receive after taxes.  Good times, my companion and I look at each other, confirm what we have been taught/believe is the same and then wait to see how it plays out. haha.   Luckily, (haha) as the discussion began and the teacher turned to us for an answer the member of the mission presidency popped his head in and was able to give a really good answer.  He teaches so clearly and with the Spirit.  Something he said was new to me but made a lot of sense.  He said all those things that are taken out after gross are for our benefit.  It may not always seem like that (aside from SS) but paying taxes is something we do because we are privileged to live in the US. Anyway just a thought.  Then he also shared that with the Lord 1-1=2 and 1+1=0 because the more we give the more He can bless us and the more we keep the less He can give. Food for thought.  

So we went tracting this week in a new area and I was so grateful I was serving in the Philippines.  I like to call tracting Treasure Hunting. :)  For 2 reasons, one we are looking for souls to teach and every soul is precious and we are looking for "golden" investigators. haha.  But also (2) because finding some of these places here is like a treasure hunt.  We look and it's like, "oh, I think that's a path there." So we follow this little dirt path and it opens up to a cute little house.  Or we walk down a narrow little alley and are led to a whole neighborhood we had never seen.  It's so fun and we were excited to see so many areas where we can try and find more people prepared for the gospel! 
Well that is it for this email.  And this year.  Hope everyone has a Happy New Year and sets some goals.  I know a goal I would like people to make is to give a referral to a missionary at least once in the coming year (or months). :) haha.  But really...  Have a great week and 2013. :)

Sister Hamm

Pictures are the roasted pig at the Christmas Party and what I will call Temple Square for this Christmas (only because of the lights, the Spirit and purpose of the area is in no way comparable.)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hanggang Wakas

December 24, 2012

Hello Family and friends,

Thank you all so much for the mail.  I have received the last delivery before Christmas. (Of course)  Lots of fun mail!  I promise I am writing everyone back it just takes a while since I only have so much
writing time and the mail is slow. :)  MERRY CHRISTMAS!  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and remembers the true meaning for the season.  Sister D and I just came from packing rice and canned
corned beef, meatloaf and sardines into bags for some of the families in the ward.  It was a wonderful reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.  I am so grateful for all that I have in my life and feel
so blessed.  I am grateful for this opportunity God has given me to serve a mission and come closer to Christ.  I have gained a greater appreciation for the Book of Mormon and the things that it can teach
me through daily study.  I encourage everyone to read it daily even if you can only spare 10 minutes.  Just set a timer and then 'just do it'! :) (Easy for me to say, I know, while all I have to do in my life is study and teach the gospel.  But I bet 10 minutes can be spared.)

Not sure if you posted about the family for baptism on Wed.  But yes, the three of them were baptized on Wednesday!!! :)  And Sister delivered a healthy baby girl early Friday morning.  Thank goodness
for the inspiration to move the baptism!

Let's see.... random fact of the day....everything here is smaller.  I told you my height is average but also the babies are like the smallest I've seen and there are little puppies and kittens wandering around and they are absolutely adorable and way smaller than I've seen them in the US.  So yea.  That's that.
This week has been good. We were fed multiple times which is always nice. haha :)  I tried a new dish.... Its a chicken curry with potatoes and carrots.  It reminds of mom's chicken broccoli casserole. Delicious!  And I got it twice this week!  We had our Christmas party and had a roasted pig! :)  Really fatty meat and crunchy outside.  It was pretty yummy.  (Pictures to follow on a different day.)
At our Christmas party the Mission President and his wife taught us a lesson about JOY. :)  The fail safe equation for happiness is putting J-Jesus first O- Others second and Y-You last.  Good reminder and lovely talk.

I was saddened this week when we visited a less active family where the mother left some while ago and the father (sometime within the last 3-5 years, since his baptism) lost his left arm and leg.  The oldest daughter (18) now drives a trike to earn money for the family. It was sad because I knew how much the gospel could help ease the burdens they all have and that it must be so hard for them to have this trial of their faith and this trial in their lives.  I don't know why they became less active but it reminded me of the talk from this October Conference, "Trial of your Faith".  In there it talks about how trials are meant to be hard and that there will be nights of wet pillows and anguish but they do not have to be spiritually fatal.  When a trial comes the best thing to do is do those things that brought conversion originally.  We repent, we pray, we read, we go to church.  "Leaving the church during a trial is like leaving the safety
of a storm shelter just as the storm comes into view." I do not judge this family at all and understand that it is so much more difficult to do than to say.  It simply made me think of talk.  I hope that the
Spirit will once again touch their hearts and help comfort and strengthen them.

Well I think that is it for this week.  I hope everyone is safe and well.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (Maunlad na Bagong Taon)!  (Say that 10 times fast :) )

Sister Hamm

Cant wait to talk to you... tomorrow... today.... whatever it is! haha 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wala Po (in a hurry again)

Hello Family,

Magandang Umaga!(morning) (Normal Filipino greeting. We say this as we walk by people or as we approach someone to try and share the message.  (or hapon(afternoon) or gabi(night).)  Then you follow with how are you.) How are you all doing?  I love you so much!  Thank you for the letters and pictures. 
 Also thank you for those that send snail mail or dear elder.  I love them all!! 
 Thank you mom and dad for the Christmas stories.  They are the perfect little piece of Christmas.  Even though Christmas lights are up it really doesn't much feel like Christmas to me.  I think it's partially because it is so stinking warm! :)  It has been nice though.  The nights are quite comfortable and this morning it was cool-ish and refreshing.  Such a wonderful gift from Heavenly Father.

That is so fun that you got to all 3 be at the elementary school and have lunch together. :)  Congratulations JOSH on your finals and grades!!!  Such a good feeling, deba (right)?  And now you get to relax for a little bit before starting a new adventure!  Enjoy the family time in January.

Um...Dad.  Haws has 3 what?.... Games without missing any free throws?  I walked by a house watching a basketball game the other day and could hear the announcer.  It brought a smile to my face thinking of BYU basketball and you.

So I had a lot of first's this week and most of them came from yesterday. Lets see...  I showered by flashlight.  Thank you for the mag lite from last Christmas that I brought with me! :)  Also we went on splits with ward missionaries!  I was nervous when Sister Delmendo first proposed the idea since I still can't speak Tagalog that well and struggle to teach everything well. (Even in English I don't think I would be a very good teacher at this point.  It's hard to hit all the important parts of a topic while teaching.)  But I received some peace about it and we decided to try it so that we could find more investigators and teach more lessons.  It actually went pretty well.  I was able to give 2 lessons without the help of the ward missionary.  As we went around to the houses if I couldn't understand what they were saying I would just keep asking questions or talking until they said something I could understand as Yes you can teach or Go away. haha.  Oh good times.  

 To answer some questions.  People don't regularly wish a Merry Christmas like in stores but a couple people have said it on the street.  I think they will on Christmas.  In English is the usual.  But they also have signs around that say Masaya na Pasko.  Happy Christmas.

So about the Book of Mormons.  We pass out Tagalog Books of Mormon.  However, they are in very deep Tagalog.  Most of the long time members use English scriptures. In fact, so funny.  We asked a ward missionary to read a scripture (we also read and teach from the Tagalog scriptures) and then explain it.  He read it in Tagalog out loud and then said wait... as he grabbed my english copy and skimmed the verse.  We all had a good laugh. And then he explained it.  I made me feel better about my struggle when using the Tagalog BoM.  I always open both languages while teaching.  And the one family we are teaching asked for an English BoM.  So we need to get one of those for them.  As for different dialects.  We have come across a couple but they are close enough to Tagalog that Sister D can understand them and most people also speak some Tagalog.  One person we came across only speaks the native dialect of deep Palawan.  Im not sure how much he understood of our Tagalog, we only understood some of what he said.  So like I said most people speak Tagalog as well as another dialect but yes some of the missionaries had to learn different words for certain things to use in Tagalog instead of their native Cebauno or Illicano. (pretty sure I spelled both of those wrong)  I don't know what the Elders on the island of Coron do... I assume they might run into other dialects.  I figure they just teach from the Tagalog and translate to the dialect.  We have a few people who can't read here so we just read to them and explain in Tagalog.

I read the Chocolate covered cherry story and realized that I would miss that this year (but hadn't thought of them until then.) Not sure about as delicious here.... Another dessert that is common is gelatin with coconut milk in it.  It is only slightly sweet.  You would think all these Filipinos were LDS for how much gelatin I see everywhere. :P haha.  I am thinking there will be fireworks on Christmas so that should be fun. :)

Heavenly Father is so wonderful and merciful and loving.  I feel His love and the prayers that you send my way. He always protects us and sends tender mercies.  (I swear we would've been eaten by 10 dogs at once that all ran to attack us and then suddenly stopped at our feet and just growled. :) )  His hand is in this work.  It is so exciting to be in a lesson and feel the Spirit confirm the truth of the things we are teaching.  I love and miss you all!

Sister Hamm

So funny... they play so much 80s music here (they play new music too) but so much 80's.  I've heard Chicago 3 times and in the comp shop just finished another one that I can sing but suddenly can't find any of the words to... anyway one Dad used to play all the time. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

In a hurry :)

Jaclyn eating a young coconut or buko on member farm

Dec. 10, 2012

Dear Family

So I gave you some information in my letter with pictures and it took awhile for those to upload.  Long story short.  I will only have time to follow up on your letters... which is really good because not much to report this week... except that one of the less active members that we have been teaching for a couple of weeks now came to church for the first time yesterday.  Can't tell you how excited I was to see her there! :)

Flooded street outside apartment, ankle deep
So first off, we heard about the typhoon that was maybe coming when the weather channel was on at a recent converts house. haha.  So we thought maybe... Then it turned out that the path it took was different so it didn't really hit Palawan hard.  We 

happened to be grabbing dinner before LDS night when the worst of it hit.  It downpoured for about 10 minutes and the thunder and lightning were seconds apart.  But then the rain let up and we made our way through the dirt, potholed road leading out to the main street from our apt.  The main streets weren't flooded but our little one definitely was.  haha.  Feel free to post that pic but you cant even see it that well.  Oh you can also post the one with the coconut and just me if you want.  So we were safe and sound. We do feel sorry for those down much more south than us because there houses are completely destroyed.  I’m sure the missionaries there are serving but here it is normal work/service. :)

Elders riding a caribou on a member farm in Palawan
Christmas is somewhat like in the US.  A lot of people have Christmas trees although they are all fake (go figure! haha!)  and most of them are 3 or 4 feet tall.  They are all beautifully decorated and many people have Christmas lights outside their houses.  Some hang stockings and Santa Clause fills them.  Apparently they wait up till midnight on Christmas Eve in order to celebrate though.  More to come on that later when I learn more! :)

As for treats.... Well there is a very popular dessert here.  I’m sure you can find pictures and recipes online. It is a dessert Josh might like, although it kind of depends on where you buy it.  So it is a lot of shaved ice. With a sweet sauce like sweetened condensed milk or coconut milk with evaporated milk etc.  But it also contains strips of uncooked, unsweetened coconut, unflavored but colored gelatin cubes, cooked corn, sweet potato chunks, flan chunks... like I said depends where you buy it but it has lots of different things in it. It has grown on me.  I like it most places. :) 

So the church has only been in the Philippines for 51 years!  Can you believe how new that it?  It is crazy.  So there are a couple people (missionaries or members who are 20 or 30) that have been members from birth but most of them are converts.  My companion was baptized when she was 12.  Many have the same story.  People are sometimes surprised that I was born in the covenant and most are shocked to find out that both my parents were also born into the church.  It makes me very grateful for what I have.

View of street and trike from another trike
It is supposedly rainy season... not too bad yet.  It is cooler than when I first arrived.  I sleep with a top sheet (half way through the night.  I’m still hot when I lay down) every night now!!  yay.  Other than that they don't have seasons.  haha.

Enjoy celebrating 12.12.12.  Ice Cream party for sure!!!  And definitely service especially since it's around Christmas.  It shouldn’t be hard to find some service to do. 

I love you all so much and miss you.  Can't wait to talk to you.  We get 30-40 minutes. :) I'm thinking I want to call after you have opened presents so probably the night of the 25th for you, which would be the morning of the 26th for me right?  
Okay.... send pics of Tyler with braces please.

Love Sister Hamm

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ipinakikita natin ang ating pagmamahal sa diyos sa pamamagitan ng paglingkod

Monday, December 3, 2012 4:11 AM

Hello Family,

Thank you of course for your emails.  I love them so much.  Thank goodness for technology! :)   This week has been great!  Thank you for your prayers with the language, I certainly need them, but I can feel the help of Heavenly Father and know that I am progressing even if it doesn't feel like it. I'm so grateful for a native companion that can help me so much and for the other sisters in the apartment who help me. :)  

My companion and I have set lots of new goals this week to try and help us move the work along better.  I have also set some personal goals.  I am excited about all of these.
We went and did a service project weeding the back yard of a part-member family this week.  That was fun.  We did it with the other two sisters and another set of elders in our district.  It was hard work but felt good to be outside serving.  It was also fun to be with the other missionaries.  We had a zone activity today in which we went to a waterfall and then had lunch.  Then we ended up going to the beach as well.  The water was so blue and green.  It was gorgeous.  The car trip with the Senior couple (2 hours) was really fun.  One elder brought his guitar and the other brought his uke. They played and we all sang hymns.  It was so fun. It was great to be around everyone and hear of their experiences before and during the mission.  It is always nice to see the American elders who can now speak Tagalog because it gives me more hope. :)

We are teaching a 9 year old of a less active family right now.  It' but also rough because he has (like all 9 year olds) a very short attention span.  So we are trying to figure out how to make the lessons with him more interactive and interesting.  Send any ideas you might have. :) 

So we always talk about how it is harder for those who have money to be humble, etc. and I've understood why... But I have seen it first hand recently and it is sad.  We went tracting to some of the bigger and more well built houses to try and find families like we have been encouraged to do.  Most of them have maids that were there and seemed willing to listen but the owners were almost never willing to listen to us.  One man was very abrupt (probably more like the reaction of Americans haha)  and told us not interested before we had said anything past missionaries. :/   It was such a stark contrast to most people who even when they seemed not interested at all, are willing to at least listen.  Sayang  (too bad).  It is just sad to realize that he doesn’t even realize what he is missing.  He has a car (most of the people we teach do not), he has a job and a family and he is successful.  He is probably relatively happy and doesn’t realize what he is missing out on.  It makes me want to start our message with, "We have a way you can be happier than you are even now.  There are 3 kingdoms of heaven and in the grandest kingdom we can live with our families and God forever, and we can teach you how you can obtain entry."  Anyway..  just a little side note.  

Thanks dad for sharing the Philippines in the service of God.... :)  At first I was like, you must have been thinking of me that's crazy but then I thought wait... fellow beings - it does sound like Philippines!!  :)  That's exciting.  I was remembering today about when I opened my call and the spirit I felt when I read Manila Philippines mission.  :)  So fun.  Now I am actually here doing it... it's a cool feeling. :)

Yes we do dishes and laundry by hand.  It doesn't seem very hard anymore which is nice.  Heavenly Father strengthens me in so many ways everyday. :) We always have electricity, unless there is a brown out (rolling black out)  they are relatively common (couple times a week while we are home) but usually last less than a half hour and often are more like 10-15 minutes.  We went to the church for PEC this week and were surprised to find it dark.  It looked empty but we thought institute should have been going on.  As we cautiously walked toward the dark church someone waiting in a trike out front said brown out (even though all the buildings around were lit.)  Then suddenly the lights came on and the whole church lit up and we could see that all the institute students were sitting along the side of the bldg.  haha.  It was funny and fun to see it all come alive. :)

During language study I memorize vocab that I have heard in lessons the day before that I didn’t know.  So fun going over that list.  haha.  The other day out of 17 words (it’s not that those are the only ones I didn’t understand but those were the ones I didn't understand that I understood enough to write down :) ),  we found one that was a name of a grocery store, one that was 7 o'clock in Spanish that had sounded like an English swear word to me :), and one that we couldn't find a word in Tagalog for.  I also read the pamphlets in Tagalog and write out phrases that I want to say first in English, then in Tagalog.  Then I go over them with my companion and she corrects them and then I try and memorize them so I can use them later.  At first I was hesitant to memorize phrases because I want to be able to express my thoughts and follow the spirit but not only do I memorize phrases that are often what I want to say, it also helps me become better at forming different but similar phrases, so yay! :)

Many people here are Catholic but other popular religions are 7th day Adventists and born again Christians. We did meet a Jehovah's Witness the other day.  

I love you all so much!  I pray for you every morning and every night.  Hope you are all doing well.  
Sister Hamm

Good luck to Josh on his finals and mission prep.  Tyler-- your Halloween costume looked great.  Nathan-- keep working hard at school esp. on that German.  Jacob-- I love you.  I had a minty watermelon mento the other day and had a good laugh remembering your discussion trying to return that pack of mentos. haha.  Thanks.  Choose the right.  I didn't realize just how important the gospel was until I came on a mission and now more than ever I hope you are reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day.  Hope you are having a great senior year.  Mom-- thanks for your encouragement and love always.  Enjoy every bit of the holiday season and I will enjoy every little bit of my mission.  :)  Dad-- I hope you are enjoying work.  Remember that sometimes retaining the Christmas spirit takes a little work.  I always love how excited and happy you get over the Christmas season.... make this a great one!

And my favorite filipino dish is Minudo. :)