Monday, December 30, 2013

Manigong Bagong Taon

Dear Family,

So this week. Well I got to talk with you on Wednesday. Yay! The Branch Christmas party ended at 8 and was a success so all is well that ends. ;)  We have had a couple great experiences this week where I really felt the Spirit as we were teaching so hopefully all involved were edified, I know I was. haha.  We also had many families tell us they have set goals about church and/or temple attendance for 2014. Can't tell you how exciting that is for us as missionaries and I'm sure Heavenly Father is excited for them too.  As it is that time of year...I encourage you all to read from Preach my gospel under chapter 8, using time wisely.  

There is a quote by M Russell Ballard: "I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life ". 

I love this quote and believe that that is so true... Goals are great, but we must learn how to reach them for it to benefit us at all. :)

Really there was just lots of little good stuff that happened this week but nothing that really stands out for me to share. So spiritual thought…

With the holiday season we tend to gather together as families more than other times.  We enjoy each others company or we miss our family that cannot be near to us.  With many serving missions I'm sure there was a lot of happy phone calls home and quite a bit of missing just being together as a family.  Well here on the mission I have gained a greater appreciation for our eternal family.  Everyone here on earth are literally sons and daughters of God.  We "grew up" in His presence (pre-mortal life) and He knows us as a parent knows their children (and even better).  He is our Father and as such we are all literal brothers and sisters. When we start to let that sink in it means a lot.  Compare it to our families here on earth. I think of how happy Heavenly Father must be when we remember to "call" Him through prayer.  I think of how this life is just a short separation from the family we would long to be with if we could just remember that "growing-up" period.  Think of how much our Heavenly Parents are praying for our safety, happiness and hopefully safe return to once again live in their presence. Think of how sad we would be if in that final family reunion one of our siblings was missing.  Thinking in more worldly terms of our very real eternal family helps me better fathom just how important this gospel of Jesus Christ is and just how important it is for us to help each of our brothers and sisters make it back to God's presence so we can enjoy a family reunion where no one is missing.  I know that as we live the gospel, as we constantly repent and strive to follow God's commandments and make and keep covenants that we will be preparing to return to our family above. I know that it is possible for us to all enjoy that day of our family reunion and that we can all return to Him but that it takes covenants and it takes obedience.  Please, let's all help each other to live this gospel of Jesus Christ and partake of the ordinances and blessings found only in the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Happy New Year!

Sister Hamm

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pasko :)

Me with all 3 of my "anak" (trainees).  Just missing one "apo" (grandchild).
Hello family,

SO how are things in the US?  Things here are good... it's beginning to look a little like Christmas.  I even got a nasty cold to go with the season. haha. This morning there was this awesome, cool breeze that just felt so good! :)  Really put me in a good mood. :) Hopefully the tylenol I am on will be able to sustain me through our ward Christmas party later that starts at 2pm and goes until 9pm! What!?!  I don't get it but.. okay.  The missionaries were put in charge of games so we will be attending. haha.  
We went out to eat dinner cause the West's drove us
home and we were all hungry. :)
So the big news this week is that I have a new companion! She is from.... Tonga! Sister V.  She is awesome and her Tagalog is already really good for being brand new but she reminds me of me when I first got here because Tagalog is her biggest stress right now.  She has 5 siblings too she is the oldest and she has one other brother on a mission now in Hawaii so we have a lot in common.

This was definitely a slower week of work because the first half of the week was busy with Christmas party and transfers. and the second half of the week... um... nobody was home. But we had a good time anyway and got to have some great lessons.  I love this one woman who is preparing for baptism.  She reminds me a lot of Grandma Hamm. :)

So spiritual thought comes from Preach my gospel.  In the section on repentance (Lesson 3) it reads something like, "Bringing our lives in line with God's will through repentance is one of the central purposes of our lives." So maybe this was just me but I feel like I grew up mostly focusing on the fact that we must repent when we do something wrong in order to become clean again.  And while this is true and necessary for us to return to God there is another purpose to repentance.  We should be using repentance to literally become more like Christ and change.  We learn in Mosiah 5:2 that the Spirit had wrought a change that made it possible for these people to "have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."  Their hearts were changed.  Also in preach my gospel it explains that as children of God we need not continuing making the same mistakes over and over again. So now I have come to realize that true repentance comes when we can say, "I'm ready to give up what I want to do for what God wants me to do." We repent and realize that His commandments must be followed and that it is the way we will be the happiest. I know that as we truly repent we will find joy in becoming clean and we will bring our lives in line with God's will leading to the best way of life.
Merry Christmas everyone!  So grateful for all the blessings God has given me, the greatest of which is His son.  I love you all!

Sister Hamm

Oh before I forget again.  The letters from Sister Kisa Smith and the young women came.  I can't tell you how much it meant to sister Tierra.  I said "this is for you" and she didn't want to believe me and then I had her read Sisters letter and you should of seen her face.  She was so surprised and then she went through and read each letter. (plus bubble wrap is her favorite so she popped all the bubbles of the packaging. haha) Anyway please give a big thank you to the young women and to sweet, sweet Sister Smith! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Great Week

Dear family,

Well this has been another great week. Also very long. Things that happened on Thursday feel so long ago!  But we have been receiving and contacting lots of referrals.  And when we went to contact one that wasn't home, we got invited into the home of another sweet couple that chatted with us and then insisted we stay for lunch.  SO they then feed us lunch.  We were able to share with them and they said we could come back. yay!  We have had lots of people accept baptismal dates and we are excited for all of them! 

Other big news.  President just called and I will be training again.  I am excited but also kind of disappointed because I love Sister T so much and have really enjoy our trio.  So the countdown of my last two transfers will be the 12 week training program. haha.  Hope I can help this Sister shine and make the best of the last little time I have left!  

So as for spiritual thought: PEACE. For some reason this has really been a focus for me this week.  I keep bearing testimony of the peace that comes with reading the Book of Mormon and living the commandments of God. In the world today there are many things that can cause us fear. There are many natural disasters which we cannot control, there are many unknowns in our futures and temptations all around. We learn in 2Nephi 4:27 that Satan is set out to destroy our peace.  And it really isn't that hard when you think about all the things we see on the news and are exposed to every day. But when we follow Christ we receive peace, "peace that comes from knowing you are living in accordance with God's will."  Christ is the Prince of Peace.  He birth and life were not devoid of challenges or losing loved ones, civil unrest. However, He had peace knowing the plan and will of the Father and as the Son of the Father and Prince of Peace, He offers us that same gift.  If we will just live the commandments of God...not pick and choose which commandments but honestly strive to live all of His commandments I KNOW we will obtain peace. That as the world rages on around us and news of wars and weather reach us, we literally need not fear.  When life doesn't go according to plan and we lose our job or a piece of our family.. we will be able to carry on knowing that He who knows all is ever in control! "We as latter-day saints are happy and confident, we do not fear life." (Elder Eyering Faith to Face the Future May 2011)  So if your life isn't going the way you planned and your stressing over your future.  Examine what you need to do to come into line with God's will, to follow His commandments and then turn to the Prince of Peace and receive this gift offered to all. [Other scriptures on peace that I liked :) 1Nephi 20:18 and Mosiah 4:3.]

Sister Hamm

Monday, December 2, 2013

Matagal at masaya na linggo (Long and Happy Week)

Dear Family,

Well this week has been great! This week also felt like it was like a month long but I guess that's fine when things are going good. :) Tuesday we got to meet this great new family of investigators and we are so excited about them and their progression in the gospel.  Tuesday was also a really... mixed emotions experience.  After the new family we went to 3 appointments at which people shared with us really big problems with their family or their faith.  Like the father in an active family who tells us the minute we sit down that he won't be coming to church because he has gone back to Catholic church because of his parents and siblings. Another family that has marital problems after being sealed in the temple and an investigator who is getting pressured not to investigate.  It was just a lot of blows to the heart and spirit but it was also a wonderful experience as we as a companionship strove together to follow the Spirit and share what Heavenly Father wanted this people to hear.  It was amazing to feel the trust that He had given to us and the trust that these people were giving to us by opening up to us about their struggles.  It is amazing how much (After just 2! weeks in the area) I love these people.  And I know that that love comes from God and is just a piece of what he feels for them. Grateful for the opportunity to serve Him and grateful that even though I am totally inadequate He uses me anyway. :)  

Wednesday we had Zone Conference which is always great. Saturday was awesome... starting with a small hike and crossing of a stream to find what we thought was a new investigator (referral from a new member) but turned out to be a mother who was baptized 13 years ago and really wants to come back to the church.  Her husband and children aren't members. She and her kids came to church on Sunday!  We actually had a lot of people come to church that we were hoping for which always puts a huge smile on my face as we sing the sacrament hymn.  So awesome to see people sacrificing in order to change their lives to be more in line with God's will. :)  And then to top it off on Sunday night we went to contact another referral and they are this cute little christian family with 3 kids (one is a 5 day old baby!!) who have lots of questions and an open mind.  We are so excited to get back to them and share what we have!  So pretty much Heavenly Father blessed us immensely this week.  The miracles just don't stop coming!

As for questions:
Most people do not have lawns. Almost none. When you do have a "lawn" it is usually quite small. Some people (very few) have lawn mowers but I think many use weed wackers? not really sure on that.  Like I said very few have lawns so it's not like I see people out mowing on Saturday mornings as we walk around.  For some that have little flower beds of grass in front of their house they literally use bush cutters... you know like the scissors for plants in order to cut the lawn!  I would die from lack of patience but they seem to do okay. haha.  Leaves do fall off some trees but there are usually green leaves still on them as well.  Crazy right? haha  It's like fall and spring combine or something.  I don't know.  Sometimes answering these questions makes me feel very "ignorant"... but we are just gonna go with very "focused" instead. haha!

As for things people do for fun.  Well there is a lot of TV depending on the house but almost no video gaming systems.  The super popular thing is computer games online.  The computer shops... like right now.. are FULL of kids in school uniforms here to play online shooting games.

However, also very popular is basketball and almost every "neighborhood" has a basketball court in it. and some street corners have wooden hoops hanging up so they can play have court.  Lots of people recognize our church as, "the one with the basketball court" because every Mormon church here has an outdoor court.
Yes all 3 of us sleep in the same room. Sister B claimed the floor over the top bunk so I am up there. :)
I carry one copy of the Tagalog Book of Mormon everyday so we can give it away in a lesson.  Other than that we carry pamphlets. Those are what we give away like crazy because pass along cards don't exist in the Philippines. :) Like really they don't have them here.  The pamphlets though are awesome!

Spiritual thought for the week is really short. (Preface first--I have been reading the New Testament-- highly recommend it- go figure. And I love Acts 2+3 where Peter is just so full of the Spirit you can feel the power as you read the words) Stay close to the spirit. It is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.  We learn in Preach my Gospel that it is a foretaste of eternal life, the joy we will feel when we receive eternal life. I testify that I have felt that.  The overwhelming, incomprehensible joy, peace and contentment that comes from the Spirit of God.  Those feelings I had did not come from outward circumstances (because trust me the circumstances would not have brought joy or contentment) but from a loving Heavenly Father reminding me that He is always there, that He loves me and that if I endure I can feel that way ALL the time after this life is over.  I know that feeling this is possible for every person on earth and that it will come when we truly repent, read the Book of Mormon and pray.  Heavenly Father loves you, He wants you to return home and He has given us this  Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we can be successful and "finish the course".   Please turn to Heavenly Father and His only true church.  Have a great week!

Sister Hamm