Monday, October 28, 2013

Walking on Sunshine

Dear Family,

So this week has been great!  We were worried that we would have limited time (and we did have very limited time) because of a follow up meeting and a Sisters specialized training meeting. But, Heavenly Father helped us to have a super productive week.  We were able to see lots of little miracles from God.  One investigator who we thought had completely ignored our lesson on word of wisdom gave up coffee the day we taught it to him... plus his sister (who sometimes joins our lessons but wasn't there when we taught wow) picked up the pamphlet we left, read it and also started living the word of wisdom. :)  Sister H extended baptism to one investigator and I doubted for a second but the investigator sincerely accepted. And so many more.  The list feels endless.  The Spirit has been really strong this week and we are just walking on sunshine and trying to share the sunshine with others!
Sisters day was so great.  It was all about helping us be better missionaries and lets be honest... helping us relax. haha.  It was so sweet and delicious (free lunch).  We are grateful for all those that helped with the preparations.

So for questions: Grocery... okay they have grocery stores but it all depends on your area as to what type.  My last area was my area most like America and my area now is the least like America. haha.  The grocery store in this area has no fruits, vegetables, or meats.  So we go to the palangke for these.  I am going to miss the palangke so much when I get back to the states.  It is so fun! I almost took a picture last week.  I will totally get up the courage to do it sometime.  Mom would maybe be proud-- or horrified-- at the meat I have been eating. haha.  I just rinse it off when we get home.. then we cook it really well.... and then we pray over it.  It sounds like I definitely got the better food deal here than Josh because I have yet to get sick.  The palangke is really big.  In an outside-ish area but with a roof... like an open barn or big tents. It has everything you need pretty much, but we buy stuff like bread and milk and canned goods at the grocery store.  It makes shopping on P-day a little difficult because we make 3 different stops for groceries and there are no carts or anything so we carry all our stuff for the week.  Good thing I always liked to bring in all the groceries from the car in one trip, it was good practice. haha  Last week I bought ground pork for the first time from the market.... I am still to scared to use it... but this week.  Im gonna do it.  They ground it fresh so everyone tells me I'm safe.
Some people have refrigerators but many do not.  They either buy their groceries like every two days or buy stuff that will last out of the fridge.

Most people don't have computers at their homes.  Which is why internet shops are super popular and very busy.  Some people have computers in their houses but really not a ton.  They do however have cell phones and sometimes the cell phones are able to access internet if there is wi fi available.  I-pads.. okay I had thought apple didn't exist here.. someone said there were no towers for their service but I think that was maybe just on Palawan because some people here have I-phones. Many people have "ipads" but they are other companies.

Spiritual thought this week is from Mosiah 23:21--"Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith."  My patience has been tested sooo many times on my mission and this week too.  But it's amazing how if I try my best to use the very little patience I do have, it is always rewarded in the end.  This life isn't meant to be easy.  This life is meant to test us so we can grow and become better and happier.  Our faith will be tried.  Our patience will be tried but if we endure it well, it will all work together for our good!  I know that this is true.  And even while He is testing us, He is there strengthening us. :)  So tie yourself to the scriptures, tie yourself to the church and then press forward with a steadfastness and a hope of all things.  We will be rewarded and we will be happy. Have a great week!

Sister Hamm

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kapangyarihan ng Dios

Hello family,

So this week has been good.  We have been really busy talking to EVERYONE.  It has been fun and you just never know what people are gonna be like until you talk to them.  It's so nice to be able to build a relationship with someone you just met.

So for questions:  How do you tell filipinos from other asians?  Ummmm.... you don't.  No just kidding.  There are some differences but there are some people here that still seem more Chinese or korean than Filipino.  But they have a word for them.. inchik.  Mostly you can tell because their eyes are more round than koreans and chinese.  Their nose is what they think distinguishes themselves because the bridge of their noses are very flat.  They all like my nose which is too bad cause I would totally trade. Honestly, Filipinos are really beautiful people.

Dinner here.  Well of course it includes rice because, as I have said, if they don't get rice 3 times a day the day just isn't complete. :)  There is a lot of seafood.  Mostly just fish with rice. Sushi is not popular and I don't think anyone really eats raw fish.  But lots of people eat fish and sometimes other muscles and such.  I hardly ever see crabs.  Other popular dinners are adobo and other filipino dishes that you eat with rice. Langonesa is one like mystery sausage thing but it is sweet and I love it.

There is no daylight savings time here.  I still haven't figured out how the sun works here... as in which months it's brighter earlier or later or dark at night earlier... You would think after a year I would get it but it just doesn't matter that much.  And it doesn't have big hour differences like us.  It seems to always get dark around 6.  I know someone could tell me because of the equator and side of the world I am on how the sun works.  If you'd like to let me know that would be cool. :)

No houses have heat.  I am pretty sure any form of appliance used for the sole purpose of producing heat doesn't exist here because that would be ridiculous.  When it get's "cold" you just put on a jacket and pants and suddenly your warm enough. :)  AC does exist but centralized AC does not.  Even the churches don't have centralized air con.  They have air conditioning units.  In houses these are rare.... maybe 30% of houses have them and it totally depends on the type of place you live.  Manila-- lots of AC. Areas with esquinitas-- 0 houses with AC.  Our neighborhood has many houses with AC but ours doesn't. :)  Even when people have AC units they don't always use them because it's cheaper not to.  Pretty much all the houses have glass window slats that open and close easy and pretty much you only close them if rain is coming in. :)  Remind you of me?  I'm so at home here.

Alright well I am out of time.  But for the spiritual thought please consider Elder M. Russell Ballards invitation at conference.  It happened so quickly it seemed easy to miss but this was an invitation from an apostle of the Lord to ALL MEMBERS of the Church. He said, 

The key is that you be inspired of God, that you ask Him for direction and then go and do as the Spirit prompts you. When members view the work of salvation as their responsibility alone, it can be intimidating. When they view it as an invitation to follow the Lord in bringing souls unto Him to be taught by the full-time elders and sisters, it is inspiring, invigorating, and uplifting.  We are not asking everyone to do everything. We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."  I know that as we all pray over names of people we know, we will be inspired with one that we can prepare for the missionaries to teach. :)  And that this will be our gift to the Savior this Christmas."

I love you all!  Hope you have a great week!
Sister Hamm

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nagpapasalamat kami para sa Tootong Propeta

Dear Family,
So this week has been great!  We started with a great zone meeting and then had interviews with president on Wednesday.  Our sweet mission mom- Sister Tye- made sloppy joes with chips and cheescake!!!  It was so great!  And then we got to watch general conference on the weekend.  Okay-- General Conference is like better than Christmas!! No joke.  It was like the best 2 days ever.  If you haven't seen all of it yet make sure you watch it.  Because this isn't just something the prophet and apostles do for fun, these are men called by God who spend days preparing to give us words that COME FROM OUR LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER.  These talks are given them from God for our benefit.  So it's only our loss if we can't find the time to listen, study and live their words.
We had this beautiful woman come with us to conference.  I can't explain why I love her so much.  I just do.  She has this sweet Spirit and is a less active who came to church last week for the first time in a long time and then decided she wanted to go to conference even though it meant a 1 hour bus ride there, 5 hours at the church, and then a 1 hour bus ride home on a Sunday.  This is a woman who has no running water at her house.  This woman carries big buckets of water to her house each time she has to do laundry.  I just think she is so awesome! So glad she could come and enjoy the spirit of conference.
Umm... some cultural notes for fun.  In Tonga it is literally illegal to work on Sunday. The 2 places that work are the hospital and the police department.  And random... here in the Philippines blow dryers (i'm pretty sure) don't exist.  Hair spray does but it is not easy to find and not cheap! Anyway... so if you want your hair to dry faster you have to sit in front of an electric fan. haha.  That's the most common method I have seen.  But mostly people just walk around with wet hair for a while.
Okay so I only have 5 minutes....  More next week.. promise.  As a last note.  Let us become as little children.  I love teaching children because they get excited about knowledge.  As adults I think we get more careful about getting excited.  We get cynical or we question before we believe, we get worried what others will think of our reaction or beliefs.  But you tell these children that there is a prophet on the earth and they have all sorts of questions about how the prophet gets messages from God and what kind of things has he said.  If they are sure about something they listen when we tell them how they can find out for sure by asking God.  Obviously there are some ways in which we cannot be like children but we learn from Christ that these little children and those that are like them will enter the kingdom of God. We must be more willing to trust and act.  As we learned in conference, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." :)
I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Sister Hamm

Monday, October 7, 2013


October 7, 2013

Dear Family,
So this has been a really good week.  Of course it had it's struggles but it also had lot's of little miracles!  Like less actives coming to church for the first time in years after we visited them for the first time this week!

Cultural note: So the gas stations here have..what do you call those?...guys that pump the gas for you.  So you don't pump your own gas, they pump it for you. Also, don't know if I had mentioned this but the jeepneys, trikes, and mini buses just fill up whenever they need to. Which means even if they are full of passengers headed somewhere they just pull up to the gas station and fill up while we all wait. So if your in a hurry you just have to hope you are "living right" and get lucky enough for them not to stop. But it's a quick process so it's not bad.  The way of living and the culture here just makes everybody feel closer to each other.  Like when the Jeepney driver stopped at a gas station to use the CR. haha. One of the passengers talked to the driver about it and the other people on the jeep.  There just isn't a lot of privacy and it makes for a more  family feeling. haha. :)

Also for culture-- Sister H. informed me that while they have stairs in Tonga they are rare. Most houses and buildings are 1 story only. So when she first got here she was taking our stairs so slow but she is practiced now. :)

Let's see... oh I got to see the Relief Society broadcast yesterday. :) yay. And I will see conference this weekend. So excited!!!!  Conference here is in English but they have rooms set up with Tagalog for those who want it.

To answer a question:
Are you home for lunch most days? Yes. We are always home for lunch because study hours in the mornings are so long. :) (Which is good and bad)  So we sometimes cook awesome Filipino dishes like adobo, chikcen curry (favorite), tinola etc.  But lately we have been more lazy so we have egg sanwhiches (favorite), tuna fish, hot dogs (okay hot dogs here are different and I actually really like them... I think I might even miss them when I leave! Suprising I know.)   Sometimes we take crackers or something with us for a snack as we walk but the cool thing here is there is food everywhere.  I can buy a little bag of fresh boiled peanuts for 5 pesos. It's cheap, delicious (garlic flavor) and keeps you busog (full) for a while. 

So story for this week.  We were walking in this little "esquinita",  ( I have no idea how you spell that. But that is the way it sounds if spelled in spanish... Tagalog has no 'q') which is a narrow cement side walk with houses or walls on both sides.  So there are lots of holes in the cement. Some big some small.  Sometimes they cover them with thin wood or cardboard but you just walk around that cause you never know if it will break through to a hole when you walk on it.  So anyway... this day I was walking and avoiding the holes and suddenly there was a dust pan with a handle laying in the middle of the way. Which made it hard to step around or over it. But there was a spot and something in my brain said wet pile of cement but the thought came as I already was placing my foot in the pile... so My foot went through the big, thick pile of cement! Luckily it kept my foot from reaching the bottom of the hole and I didn't fall flat on my face. Miracle. Luckily I was wearing my plastic shoes so no real harm there and I luckily didn't get cut on the partially dried cement.  BUT I was SOOOO embarrassed.  I had just ruined someones work. :( I felt so bad. So I waited a minute and then someone realized so they called the man who had done it.  He was muttering about how he had just finished it earlier and I apologized profusely.  He was so kind about it. Saying it was fine and he could just fix it easy. But the worst part is we know lots of families and people in the area and news spreads like a wild fire through the esqunitas. haha.  SO obviously everyone is gonna know that the American missionary stepped in brand new cement. haha! Oh well. Live and learn. Luckily on the streets here they have pumps. You can't drink the water but you can use it anytime for free. So I was able to wash the cement of nice and easy as I swallowed my pride. :)

So spiritual thought.  This morning I was reading in Alma.  Alma 25:15-16 talks about the Law of Moses.  Now we know that in the bible people made the Law of Moses so strict and acted like it was the end all.  But Jesus Christ explained that salvation cannot come through the law alone.  In the Book of Mormon, here in Alma, it explains very clearly how the Law of Moses was a tool for them.  It was commandments given to help them look forward to Christ.  The Law of Moses was outward performances to help them always remember Jesus Christ and to strengthen their faith in Him.  I feel like sometimes today I make the same mistake of those in Jerusalem.  Thinking that the commandments we have been given (go to church every Sunday, read my scriptures everyday, pay tithing, give service) must be followed and that if we follow this commandments we will be saved.  While this is true.  I think sometimes I overlook the point of the commandments.  It is so easy to just start to go through the motions.  But the purpose of the commandments is to draw us closer to the Lord, become more like Him, and benefit us spiritually.  If we just follow the commandments to follow them it is better than not following them at all.  But if we remember that this is not a checklist but a process to become like Christ we will be so much more benefited from our obedience to His commandments.  I know that as we obey with a willing heart and do this routine things with our heart and mind focused on God we will find more joy in living the commandments and see the blessings of God and feel His spirit in our lives.  I love the Lord and His church that He has established on the earth to help us return to Him.

I love you all and hope you are having a great week.  I pray for you often.
Sister Hamm