Doctrine & Covenants 93:1

"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dec. 27, 2011

Dear Family,
This past week I don’t have much time to write. I had a lot to write to President Brown.
Christmas went very well. It was so much fun to spend Christmas with Finns and have a legitimate Finnish Christmas.
I love you.
Elder Hamner

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dec. 20, 2011

Dear Mom and Super excited family !!! Merry Christmas!!!!
This past week the Lord has performed more miracles. Currently missionary situation in Espoo is that Elder Leppard and I take care of two wards so our area doubled for this 6 week change. Which means that on Sunday we attend both wards. This is the first time this has ever happened to me where we attend both wards so on the first Sunday we were at church for 7 hours. At the end Elder Leppard and I were fried!:) But anyways because of the formation we inherited the investigators from the second ward. And one of those investigators L, who has investigated for some time, we met on Thursday (our first meeting with him). So we planned the teach and arrived at his home. We came in and started talking, had an opening prayer, and then as we got to know each other the Spirit prompted me to share my story of how I felt prompted to leave West Point. I shared with him that I didn't see the whole picture of why nor do I see it completely now but I trusted in the prompting and still do because of the peace that has come into my life. I added that sometimes Heavenly Father will give a prompting and then wait to see if we are willing to act on what has been given. Heavenly Father wants us to learn and grow which often proves to be uncomfortable and trying. But as we step into the dark trusting in the quiet promptings of the Spirit we can know that He, who knows all, is leading.
After I shared that with L, he then shared how last night Heavenly Father had given him a strong feeling about baptism the night before. As a result we invited him to be baptized and he gladly accepted. Ever since that L has felt so good. The Lord is good. He truly prepares His children. What a blessing it is to be an instrument for the Lord.
I love you and have a memorable Merry Christmas!!!!
Elder Hamner

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec. 13, 2011

Dearest mom and family, I have noticed as I see the Finns rush around from place to place how the peace of Christmas sometimes is lost. It also happens to missionaries where we try to pack our schedule to the brim trying to be most effective but really forgetting to ''take time to be holy'' (song by Mormon very good).
When the Savior taught that His peace is not like the worlds, He spoke truth. The world tries to paint a facade that peace can be obtained tomorrow after shopping or maybe during vacation which does not come until another 3-5 months. But the Savior wants us to enjoy peace every day. Such peace that our hearts and minds are at rest. Yes, life is not perfect but the adversary wants us to feel that we cannot have peace. He cannot mimic true, lasting peace. He wants to take it away but he cannot unless we yield it to him like Nephi said, how he ''give[s] place to the enemy of [his] soul''. It is a choice to develop more peace as well as losing it.
I have set personal goals to develop more peace for the past 7 months and it has been so hard but so worth it. I have never felt so much peace, spiritual growth, and love of a tender loving Heavenly Father. As I have taken each step, I have felt my faith grow and my sensitivity to the Spirit increase. Inner-peace is a great measure of your standing with Heavenly Father.
I hope those words shed some light at this special time of the year. Remember I love you and look forward to seeing and feeling your personal growth.
Currently I am in Espoo with Elder Leppard. What a blessing to be with this amazing British elder. He has many gifts and I am seeking to learn from him. He is actually from the same MTC group as I so we have been good friends for some time.
The Espoo 2 (two wards in this city) ward has already planned our Christmas Eve and Christmas day with some great dinner appointments. So do not worry, we will have a special Finnish Christmas.
Our ward is great with missionary work. They support us and do their best to work with us. Also Abe Silvennoinen, a 4 day old return missionary from Japan Tokyo Mission, returned and gave his homecoming talk. We had a dinner appointment with him and felt his spirit. He gave his heart to the Lord in which the Lord expanded Abe's heart and abilities.
I pray that Christmas is everything that you dream it be. I love you and remember let peace flourish in your heart.
Elder Hamner

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dec. 8, 2010

Dear Mom and Christmas loving family:)
First, I want to apologize for not writing on Monday. It was Independence Day for Finland and everything was closed. However today we found time to email.
This past week I was transferred to Espoo which is about 20-30 min west of Helsinki. The temple is located in Espoo. Elder Leppard and I are responsible for two wards in Espoo which is a first for both of us so the Lord is definitely guiding us as we work with both the members and leadership in training them and fulfilling their needs. In the transfer down south, means that I am now in Helsinki zone. Elder Leppard and I have been assigned to lead it. This past Tuesday was a specialized training in which President and Sister Brown did a Christmas special. It was a spiritual feast. President Brown taught the Atonement in the most simple and beautiful way that painted the picture of the Savior in a way that helped make the whole Atonement personal. He quoted Pres. Hinckley who said that the reason the birth of Jesus Christ is so celebrated is due to His adult life. Because the Savior fulfilled the Atonement we celebrate His birth. So as we strive to understand the Atonement and know Him we will feel more of His spirit.
This Christmas season is very special and I will do my best to enjoy it. Elder Leppard and I have and are still setting goals to help share this Christmas Spirit as much as possible. With a new area, I am pleading with Heavenly Father to help me understand and fulfill His will. Change is good. The Spirit is teaching me new things and how to do missionary work better especially with the members. The members in our wards are good members. They want to do missionary work better. If we all studied Preach My Gospel more and applied the Atonement daily then missionary work would sky rocket even more.
Currently in the Europe area, President Brown reported that it is the fastest growing area in the whole world. The brethren are saying that this is only the beginning, that we have seen nothing yet.
Christmas phone calls- I will give details about it next Sunday with times and the phone number to call.
I love you
Elder Hamner

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nov. 29, 2010

Dearest Mom and family
This past week the Lord has performed miracles. First, the Lord led us to one man-TDearest Mom and family
This past week the Lord has performed miracles. First, the Lord led us to one man, T, who has had the mightiest change of heart that I have ever seen. When we met him tracting, he invited us in and had a spiritual experience with the Book of Mormon in which he saw and felt the power of the book. Ever since he has become a new man. He has stopped or stopping his bad habits. He even refers to himself as being a week old because this life change. He also said that God has given him this opportunity to change and if he doesn't take it then he might be lost forever. Just in the past week, his faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has grown exponentially. He set his baptismal date for December 18th and just full of happiness. Though his family and friends have rejected him, he holds strong by saying, ''It doesn't matter, I have my God.'' Wow, what faith!
Transfers! Elder Peterson and Elder Grimm (from Espoo) will be continuing the journey with T. I will be going to Espoo with Elder Leppard, from England. Elder Leppard is from my MTC group. I am very excited for this opportunity. I love that elder. Transfers are always bittersweet but it is life. I love Elder Peterson and have learned much from him and his excellent example.
Thanksgiving was very fun. It was during zone conference and I took plenty of pictures. I will be sending some in the near future.
Hope you soak up this Christmas season. It is magical.
Elder Hamner

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nov. 22, 2010

Dear Mom and Family
This past week was quite eventful. K was baptized and confirmed. We had district meeting in Rovaniemi and visited Santa Claus afterwards.
Currently in Oulu is looks like winter but according to the Finns it is still fall. (ps I laughed when a Finn wished us a happy fall when there was 4-5 inches of snow outside) This next week we have zone conference in which Elder Peterson and I have felt to focus on the most basic principle- God is our Loving Heavenly Father and what that means, how greater understanding of it will affect our entire understanding and testimony of the gospel, and how it applies to working with members.
As I was writing a thought came to mind, as the year is coming to a close with our most celebrated holiday-Christmas. This is great time to review our goals for this year and check our progress. As we take time to review and allow the Lord to teach us, our vision of what the Lord expects for the remaining of the year will be brought to light. This is an act of faith. Let’s exercise more each day.
Elder Hamner

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nov. 15, 2010

Dear Mom and Family

The Lord's hand definitely was evident this past week. It was the four day leadership training in which for four days President Brown teaches us, we role play, then after the training we go out to work in Helsinki. One central theme that stuck out from the training was how everything we do in the gospel, we do to received more of the Lord's spirit. President Brown outlined the main parts of the gospel which helps us qualify more of the Lord's spirit.

1. Atonement
2. Prayer
3. Book of Mormon
4. Church Attendance (especially sacrament meeting)
5. Word of Wisdom
6. Law of Tithing
7. Law of Chastity

When we are more obedient to any one of theses then the Lord will bless us more with the Spirit. For example, when we apply the atonement more in our lives by improving, developing Christlike attributes, and forgiving others then we will have greater guidance from the Spirit which leads to eternal life. Another example and a little more simpler, if I am to eat more healthier and exercise then I will feel better and the Spirit can then be with me more. Sacrament meeting- I prepare myself for this most important meeting that the Church has more us which if approached with the right reverent mindset, the Lord will bless us even more of the Spirit.

These past couple of months, Heavenly Father has been helping me improve in this areas and I have felt the Spirit become my companion even more. We can always increase the measure of the Holy Ghost within us. Always. That is one of my favorite things about the gospel. We can always improve. Also this is something that has helped me. If our deepest desire is to have the Spirit more with us so we can bless more people, the Lord is more willing to bless and aid in this tough but simple life commandment-keep the commandments and the Lord will shed His spirit more upon us. Interesting that that principle is repeated twice every Sunday in a special simple prayer which we call the sacrament.

These were my thoughts and feelings this past week when President Brown was teaching and helping us see the real picture of life- Life is a part of the gospel not the other way around.

Also this week, I. was baptized and the branch just loved her so well. This branch is doing very well at this time in embracing recent- converts. Also this next Saturday is K.'s baptism. Please pray that he will be protected from all evil which will attempt to prevent this miraculous ordinance from happening.

I did have a birthday dinner yesterday with the Senior missionaries in Oulu in which a delicious chocolate cake was made. I am still smiling because it was that good:) Also this Tuesday we have a dinner appointment with another family. Plus a family Hyvärinen from Kouvola, my first city, sent chocolate for my birthday. I miss that precious family.
Time has come to an end and hope that the Spirit helps deliver this email the way it should the heart.

Elder Austin Hamner

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nov. 8, 2010

Dearest Family:)

This past week flew as fast as some of those Finns speak- lets just say lightning:) Earlier this week we had splits with the elders from Kajaani in Oulu, our city, during which the Lord guided my companion and another elder to this man-S.. They set up an appointment and Elder Bradshaw ( from Kajaani) and I went the following morning (ps still splits). As we were teaching the Spirit helped us say certain things that softened his heart and helped him embrace the message. At the end of the first lesson in which we focused on the Book of Mormon, he promised, ‘‘If I come to that point of receiving answer that this is true I will be baptized.'' I assured him by saying, ''I know that God will answer you when you do so sincerely.'' During the teach the Spirit would whisper to me when something would hit home for him. Then we would camp on it. Lesson: by focusing on people the Spirit can testify more strongly and help you fulfill their needs. This principle applies to all teaching- missionary work, home teaching, visiting teaching, teaching children. It is all about the one. The Savior did this perfectly. He knew how to teach, care for, and love each one perfectly. That is a worthy goal to strive for.

In addition to what I have written, I thought you might enjoy some funny stories: 1. while I was at a member's home there was a little boy playing with his grandmother and I asked the little boy, ''Do you like Mummi (cartoon for children)?'' but I said ''Do you like Muumi (mom)?'' Fortunately the mother was not there, but the grandmother and us had a good laugh. 2. While on splits we were making eggs and an idea came to mind to add cayenne pepper like I have done in the past. So I searched for it but could not find any. Then I remembered that Dad sent me cayenne pepper tablets. So I took one tablet of ''unknown powder to the other elders'' and added to some of the eggs. Two elders thought I was going crazy for a moment adding drugs into the eggs. I eventually told them the truth but it was fun to see their reactions.

Thank you for your email. I appreciate it and look forward to hearing how the Lord's hand was a part of your week.

Elder Hamner

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nov. 1, 2010

What a great time to be on the earth!
As I reflect upon the significance to be a missionary I am humbled greatly. My eyes to the significance and importance of service have been opened tremendously. I remember reading in Jesus the Christ that the Savior received all His supreme power because He did it not Himself but for others. As a missionary this is a priceless opportunity to serve and give your all to others. Then as we do so the Lord magnifies our abilities and talents by the Spirit. Then as I have dwelled upon that principle of 1.service and 2. how God will use us to bless others and at the same time build us, I now look at all the callings in the church and opportunities to serve others with a greater perspective. This life is very short and the Lord blesses us with many opportunities to serve in which we help God in His vineyard (see Jacob 5).

This week was quite fruitful. Sister I, bapt date Nov 13, moved to her new apartment where the members helped make it easy for her to transition. Also her non-member daughter was there to see how the ward loves her and just want to serve.

K., Y., came to church and is progressing so well. His countenance is much more full of peace. He also fits in well with the members. This past Saturday he came to the Young Single Adult Halloween party. In addition the ward is doing a good job of loving him UP! He is still on track for the 20th of Nov.

This past Saturday we were following up on a referral from the sisters and the referral was not interested. However the referral's neighbor was interested. She just moved to Finland within the past month to study has always believed in God and Jesus Christ. So then after a short teach Saturday he committed to come to church. He came, with the help of the members giving a ride, and enjoyed church. We taught about the Book of Mormon and he accepted it very well and promised to pray about it.
Personal Study:
This past week I spent about five days in Jacob 5 and the Lord helped open my eyes to how involved He is in missionary work. He does lead it, and I just need to follow His counsel and ask for the needed blessings for the Finns.
I love you and life gets better each day! Love life by serving and learning

Rauha (Peace) :)
Elder Hamner

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oct. 25, 2010

Dear Mom and beautiful family:)

As I reflect upon this week and what I feel would be most spiritually appetizing to you. Sister Brown's (President Brown's wife) challenge came to mind which is: to write in our journals daily where and how we saw the Lord's hand in the day.
As I have been doing it, I am able to review the day at night when it is quiet and perfect time to reflect upon how the Lord led the work. I can tell you my gratitude has exponentially grown and my measure of peace as well. For I know even more that the Lord leads this work despite our weaknesses and is perfectly patient with us. Another blessing of this challenge is my vision has grown and I see more because I am seeking for Him. This has helped me let the Lord do His work and Elder Hamner obey and follow.
This past week was quite special. Elder Peterson and I visited the Vaasa District in Pietarsaari where they held their district meeting at Larsmo, the spot where Elder Ezra Taft Benson dedicated Finland for the preaching of the gospel. It was a very special district meeting. The Lord taught me much that day...which reminds me. Please take time to reflect and ponder. This allows our spirits to catch up and when we slow down, the Lord will help us accomplish so much more.
M., recent-convert, is doing so well. Her testimony is burning bright and sharing it with others at work hoping to bless someone else. Also K. will be baptized this next month. He is progressing very well. Being with him, I can feel his faith and understanding growing as he keeps his commitments such as reading, praying, and the commandments.
Also as a zone we are focusing on working smarter with the members. At this time we are including the members in the finding by prayerfully choosing a family that the Lord feels is ready. We ask them a week in advance that we intend to tract in their area. During the entire week they as a family pray that we will find someone in their area. So when the day comes we share a short spiritual message and go out tracting. We have found much success through this and the members faith grows tremendously.

This is the Lord's work and it will go forward and is at a faster pace.
I love you,
Elder Hamner

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oct. 18, 2010

This past week was full of Lord's tender mercies. We were in Eastern part of Finland for splits in which we found a young family. The Lord blessed us as we handed over the work to Him. Relying on Him is so key to be instruments in His perfect hands.
As I do missionary work I have never felt such a strong spirit. I know that it is part because missionary is about others. That is one of many aspects of the gospel I feel peaceful about is that everyone at every stage of life can receive an increased measure of the Holy Ghost in their lives if they choose so by serving others/doing missionary work in whatever form. In the scriptures service for others transform the person doing the service. Like Ammon and the Sons of Mosiah the vilest of sinners who became men of God comparable to Captain Moroni. My testimony of the scripture ''losing yourself, you find yourself'' In the service to others the Lord unleashes special gifts that you never thought you had as you serve others. That is the secret to a happy life when you help others ''come unto Christ.'' (see Missionaries Purpose) The gospel is simple.
Also, I wanted to write a little about Finland- This past week it snowed and we have put on our snow tires. Elder Peterson and I are still running in the morning (the best wake-up ever!!!) especially when it is quick nippy.
Lastly, I love you and remember life should be simple and peaceful. At the world's pace it is very difficult to hear the Spirit. Don't compromise a member of the Godhead to be your companion for getting too many little things accomplished.
Elder Hamner

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oct. 11, 2010

Terve! Terve! This past week I have been working to apply what the Lord spoke to me during General Conference and all I have to say is Wow. Well, I can start from the beginning. President Brown has taught us how important it is to prepare for any church meeting in which we receive personal revelation especially General Conference. I did my best to prepare for this sacred occasion and the Lord answered my questions and some I did not think that I had. He helped me see what is my next spiritual step for the next 6 months. So the Monday afterwards I got to work to put it to practice. As I was doing I felt such great peace and surety through the Spirit that yes the Lord will sustain me as I focus on accomplishing His will. In conclusion, my testimony of using faith daily to accomplish it what He has revealed has grown significantly. Also the Book of Mormon challenge has been a critical tool in sustaining me in this next adventure.

Challenge: Remember what the Lord spoke to you during General Conference and trust in the Lord that He will help and then put all that you have into accomplishing it. Even if it is just one thing (which I prefer being a simple person) then do it. I promise the Spirit will be more with you.
Currently with our investigators, I. will be baptized on Nov 13th and K. Nov 6th (tentatively). Please pray to comfort I.'s heart concerning her family and that K. will pay the price to be truly converted.

Love you
Elder Hamner

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oct. 4, 2010

Dear Mom and family
This past week was a spiritual highlight. Let's walk through the week.
Wednesday we had splits in Vaasa (5 hour train ride one way to the western shore of Finland) where two golden investigators were interviewed. What a privilege it was to ask them about their testimonies. I felt a portion of the Lord's love for them, for they were so humble and willing to submit to the Master. While in Vaasa the Lord taught me more about the gift of simplicity in which helped as we taught a Chinese young man the gospel in childlike terms. The Holy Ghost testifies more powerfully when we teach simpler. You probably noticed how simple the prophets taught this past weekend. One of them, Pres. Ucthdorf, even clearly pointed out that we need to simplify life. Life does need to be simpler because then the Spirit will be more present. (Do you see the connection between power of the Holly Ghost in teaching and how we live?) The Lord has been teaching me this for a while.

Then on Friday Elder Peterson and I went to Helsinki to be participate in zone leader council with President Brown. Before the council we attended the temple in preparation for the council and also for General Conference. President Brown has set such a good example. He follows the example of the people in the book of Mosiah when the people prepare for King Benjamin's address (general conf or any big meeting) by performing temple ordinances. I can say this, that this past week has helped me develop the vision and goals that the Savior wants me to accomplish in the next 6 months. Every day is so precious as another prophet this past weekend taught so beautifully.
Currently, with our investigators. I. P.- will be baptized in the beginning of November. Also please pray for K.- receive a burning testimony that it is true and J. that he can come to church regularly.
I love you and pray that my words have shed some light.

Elder Hamner
PS Indiana is getting a TEMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! My heart jumped when President Monson said that!!!! What a great way to start off conference:)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sept. 27, 2010

Dear Mom and Family
This past week was another 4- day training where Elder Peterson and I went to Helsinki. For four days President taught about the fundamentals of teaching found in Preach My Gospel. It composes of eight lessons 1. Doctrine of Christ (baptism- our purpose!) 2. Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion 3. Revelation through Prayer 4. Revelation through the Book of Mormon 5. Revelation through Church Attendance 6. Teach People, Not Lessons 7. We invite, They Commit, We Follow-Up 8. How to Begin Teaching.

All these lessons are focused to help us teach in such a way that the investigator develops their own testimony and establishes a firm foundation. Also this training has blessed me personally in so many ways. It has helped deepen my personal conversion, expanded my vision, and brought heaven even closer.

Also I wanted to share my future plans after the mission. As I have prayed over this and taken it to the Lord. He has answered through the peace I feel as I think about it. I intend to go to BYU Provo next Fall 2011. I already have been accepted (I applied before I left as a backup plan) and just postponed it until the fall of 2010. They gave me half tuition scholarship for four years so that will help. I intend to study business and medicine. The Lord has opened my eyes to what He wants me to be and shown some gifts He has given to help accomplish what He has planned now and in the future. All I have to say is that this plan feels good.
Currently, as I am typing Elder Peterson is right beside me. He impressed me. He is such a good, fun elder. Our relationship is growing each day and I am learning by his example.
This past weekend M. was baptized and confirmed. Her life has changed completely. She smiles so much more and is more out-going. The scripture in Matthew 7 where it describes Heavenly Father's perfect ability to give good gifts to His children. My testimony of this has grown by seeing the gospel revolutionize people's lives in the best direction that they thought was impossible and only for those in the movies.
Remember the power of the Book of Mormon. It continues to open my eyes to what life is really about.
I love you!
Elder Hamner

Baptism :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sept. 20, 2010

Dear Family,
This past week was our zone specialized training in Oulu. 11 companionships came and learned from President Brown. He taught about the Doctrine of Christ and the Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion. One thing that he focused on is the difference between testimony and conversion. People can have a testimony and then go less-active but when people are converted they almost always stay strong continuously. Many examples in the scriptures, People of Ammon, Moroni, and Nephites when the Savior visited. I will expound more upon this next week due to time limit.
However this Saturday M. is being baptized. Please pray for her that she will be protected. I will be sending pictures next Monday of her baptismal service.
Elder Hamner

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sept 13, 2010

Dear Mom and Family
Wow, as I reflect on how each week the Lord has performed miracles and each week they grow in significance. Currently the Lord is protecting M. and I. In both of their situations the Book of Mormon has been the key to their personal testimonies. M. committed to baptism even before we taught the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, or Gospel of Jesus Christ because she saw in us true happiness and prayed to know for herself. As she was reading and praying she received this powerful witness that, ''Yes this is from God.'' Her life has come a new light. I made that comment during a lesson about how her countenance has changed. I asked her if she replaced any light bulbs (jokingly). She laughed, but we helped her realize that yes she has changed and as it says in the scriptures, ''become a new creature''. Also I., who we found through tracting in the area trying to contact a referral who was not home, where she did not understand the restoration completely but because of what she felt from reading the Book of Mormon she committed to baptism. The Spirit is number one in this work and the Book of Mormon is the number tool to bring the Spirit into the Conversion process. Which brings me to my special challenge to you: President Brown is giving us all a new copy of the Book of Mormon in which we are to read it completely by the end of the year. As we read it he has given special instruction to highlight scriptures that reference the Savior in four different ways. So this is my challenge to you: Read the Book of Mormon along with me by the end of the year. I know this will increase our vision and the Spirit will be even more present in our lives. Please read the hymn ''The Spirit of God'' as you contemplate and commit to this. I love you all and we will meet again.
Elder Hamner

Monday, September 6, 2010

Zone Conference

Hey Mom, this was after zone leader council in President Brown's home. We are fed spiritually and physically. We went to the temple before the council.

Elder Hamner

September 6, 2010

Dear Family
This past week the Lord has blessed M. and I. (our Russian investigator). M. we gave a priesthood blessing so she could cope with all the opposition she faces from the adversary. She is still going strong for the 25th of September. I. is currently praying when she should be baptized. She has experienced a tough life and she will be a great blessing to her whole family.
This past week was zone leader council. Before it we all went to the temple. I cannot express enough how much peace comes from the temple. It truly expands your vision. It helps you see the next step the Lord sees for you. Pres Utchdorf's most recent message in the Ensign was perfect which spoke about the blessings of the temple.
I love you with all the energy my heart. The Lord is stretching me beyond my capacities and I love it.
Elder Hamner

Monday, August 30, 2010

Aug 30, 2010

Dear Mom and my precious family
This past week a miracle happened in Oulu. The Lord blessed us to find a chosen vessel. It is interesting because we followed up on some potential investigators but they were not home so were driving back and a certain apartment building came to my memory. So we drove there and as were knocking on the first door, M. was just entering her apartment. She invited us in and as we taught, initially, she was skeptic because this seemed too good to be true. She even had studied some anti-literature. Well, it was funny how on the second lesson when we mentioned baptism she stopped us and said no but still curious about the message because how she has tried all of the world's ''cures'' for depression and other personal trials. Then on the third teach when T. A. came and shared her conversion story, M.'s heart just broke because Sisar A.'s story is almost identical to M.'s. During that teach we extended the baptismal commitment but she said, ''I'm not ready'' but committed to come to church. We had another teach scheduled on Saturday of the same week. But before that teach we sent a text message to see how she was doing and she responded with joy! She said that ever since that teach with Sisar A. she prayed that Heavenly Father would take away her doubt and stubbornness. And after that she felt this joy that she had never felt before. She said that she has just been the happiest ever. She has read the Book of Mormon ever more intently because through the reading she knew the feelings came from it. Then when we met on Saturday we asked her about the text message in order to confirm her feelings and show how she has a testimony. She said with a beaming smile, '' Yes, I believe that this book is true.'' After that we extended the baptismal commitment and she accepted. Then as we were concluding the lesson she told us to continue. I could see through her eyes this child-like humility with a spiritual hunger to eat a spiritual horse. M. allowed the Lord to change her heart and M. came to church this past Sunday where the branch just welcomed her with open arms. M. has found her refuge from the world. What a tender mercy to be a part of it.
I love you. Always remember that
Vanhin Hamner

Monday, August 23, 2010

Aug. 23, 2010

Dearest Family

This past week, Elder Peterson and I spent five days in Helsinki for the Simplified Curriculum training- new course to apply Preach My Gospel better and help us become better teachers. During this training we had hand-on training with President Brown as he helped us practice, evaluate, and re-practice. What a dream come true! 28 years of seminary teaching experience!

For example, one portion of the Simplified Curriculum is teaching people, not lessons. During it President helped us practice asking inspired questions and answering which at first you wonder, ''How can you practice that?'' I thought the same thing. Then President showed us how during lessons we need to go to Heaven throughout the teach. For example, when an investigator asks a question before we answer we take a second and think what is there motif, go to heaven, and do our best to discern so that we answer the question that should have been asked. I hope that made sense. Well, the role playing went very well and the entire training was miraculous. President Brown said that if we learn to apply the principles within this training throughout our lives it will be such a great blessing to ourselves and to others, especially our families. Some of the principles: Revelation through Prayer, Revelation through the Book of Mormon, and Revelation through church attendance I have been focusing on and they have proved to be great blessings already.
This past week our Russian investigator, I. came to church again and shared with us a fantastic dream. She said that a few days before she came to church a second time she had this dream. In which she was with a group of people and everyone received bread (sacrament), but then she expected the water to come next but nothing came. She asked the people and they said there is no water. So she went to the faucet to get water but nothing came. Then she remembered at that moment that there is water at the Mormon Church. She woke up after that and a couple days later came to church where she received both. Also she is told us, after we asked about her reading, that is studying the Book of Mormon not reading! When I heard that, I was grinning similar to the Grinch but with much better motives :)
Thank you for praying for our investigators and for success. I love you and don't ever forget it. You are too good.
your eternal brother and son
Vanhin Hamner

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aug. 16, 2010

Dear Mom and Family

As I write the weather is transitioning to Fall-my favorite season. This is when some of the best memories I have ever made occurred. For example, I came into Finland in the middle of summer but by the time I got over jet-lag it was fall. So I mainly remember fall :) Also the smell of fall is another favorite.
This past week was another busy one. We traveled a lot. We spent two and half days in Pietarsaari and one day in Helsinki. In Helsinki we had zone leader council. Before the council we went to the temple which was exactly what I needed. The Peace of the temple helps your vision come more in congruent with Heavenly Father's vision. I went through in Finnish and my understanding was quickened so much that as I listened I could follow and analyze some of the grammar principles used at the same time. During the council President Brown shared with us how the mission is experiencing new records in baptisms. This year the mission has 54 baptisms and over 20 with baptismal candidates. That puts us way over last year's 48 baptisms already and we have enough time to double it. This is possible. Please pray that the Lord will lead more of the elect to us. This work requires greater faith.
I am so excited. Each day is another opportunity to bless someone else. Really that is where the true, lasting joy comes from.
Well last Sunday, not yesterday but pervious, we found this sweet older Russian lady who let us in at the door. As we discussed and got to know each other, she expressed how she has searched for truth but can not find it. (I was grinning from ear to ear because of her humility in that statement). In the end the lesson went well and she came to church. The members just loved her. One sister in our branch went to Russia for her mission and was her best friend that day. The Lord took care of her. Thank you for your prayers. Many are being blessed because of them.
My prayer is that everyone take a few minutes and count your many blessings. Our lives are full of them.

I love you,
Vanhin (Elder) Hamner

Monday, August 9, 2010

Aug. 9, 2010

Dearest mom and family

Wow, This past week was quite amazing. The Lord's tender mercies are all around and it requires us to take ourselves out of our fast-paced lives (which I am eliminating) to notice them. I have been learning this lesson over the past 3-4 months. Rush does not mean success. I used to just go from point A to point B and see if I could jump to point C in the same leap so I could be most effective. However, I was missing the mark in allowing the Spirit time to breath and use my brain in this work. As I have been heeding the whisperings of the Holy Ghost I have never been more at peace as I have slowed down. As I did, everything came more natural. My teaching, Finnish, love for life improved dramatically. I have never felt the influence of the holy Ghost as much as I do now. i know it because I feel it. My vision for the future has never been so clear. My desire to love and bless has never been so fervent as now. The Lord is truly taking care of his missionaries. I see it all around in the North Zone. Working with each elder is a blessing to learn and to love. I wish I could write every story in this letter and in my journal but time does not grant it. I trust what I feel will suffice.

Yesterday, Elder Peterson and I found a Russian lady who speaks decent finnish who expressed her desire to know what is truth and what is not. When she said that, my heart just did flips! Well, we have another meeting with her this week. Thank you for your prayers. Please keep praying that elder Peterson and i will be placed in the elect's path and vice versa. In the north we do a lot of traveling and not a whole lot of tracting and contacting in the city so every hour we do get is gold. Please also add to your prayers that we will plan better by the spirit so this comes to fruition--baptisms.:)

This past friday was Zone Conference in which was presented the Simplified Curriculum. The purpose I have already explained but it is quite big because it reduced the amount of zone conferences and interviews with President. As a result President can train us personally in our teaching! Which means Elder Peterson and I will be getting hands-on training with the 28yr career as CES teacher President Brown. Sorry I'm salivating. This is too good to be true.

Well, time is running low. I love you and remember to not do too much in a day and lose your peace. That is what the adversary wants. As we do less, we will come to find out that we will do more.

Elder Hamner

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aug. 2, 2010

Dearest lovely mom and amazing family,

Wow, this week has been fantastic. Elder Peterson is an amazing companion. It is so easy to be yourself with him. First of all, Elder Peterson has been in Finland for about 9 months and just came from Kuopio (city from the east). His finnish is pretty amazing. He is so funny and the perfect companion for me at this time. We both want to bless the Finns more than anything else. That is one thing that I have noticed with my companions. That when you focus on the greater purpose- bring souls unto Christ, all the little problems just fall away. Continuining on about Elder Peterson, he is from Arkansas (FYI his dad works for Sam's Club International...pretty cool) and was going to major in French at BYU then he got his call to Finland. He likes to run. His whole family is musically talented. His mom has completed an Iron-Man Competition. Yes the IRON-MAN or should I say IRON-WOMAN!!! In the end Elder Peterson is pretty awesome. We are definitely looking forward to this next change and implementing this new Simplified Cuuriculum from the First Presidency. This is taking PMG teaching to the next level. After this I think Elder Peterson can qualify to be an Iron-Teacher-Man.

Currently, Elder Peterson and I are searching for our vision this next change- 2 baptisms. Please pray that we will find them and teach in such a way that the Holy Ghost will change their hearts.

I love you and am living this mission up. I will be sending pictures soon.

Vanhin Hamner

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010

Dearest Gorgeous Mom and wonderful Justin, Jordan, Kaity, and Karlie

This past week was crazy, edifying, and miraculous. As we were on the trains Elder Henderson and I were either teaching others or ourselves when time allotted. On our train from Oulu to Kuopio I met this one older lady, Mi, who was going back to Kouvola, my greenie city. As we were talking we came upon the subject of the bible and she expressed how she is disappointed how the bible is losing its meaning and power because of all the many translations. Upon that I introduced the Book of Mormon and taught how this is a record that God has brought forth to help us know which is Christ's church and original doctrine. When I gave her my copy of the Book of Mormon, she noticed it was my only one and denied it out of politeness, but I assured her that I can get another one in Kuopio. She was very grateful. After our discussion I returned back to my seat next to Elder Henderson and noticed that Mi was reading the Book of Mormon more about 20-30 min. I was praying that she would feel the Holy Ghost and accept the message. Then towards the end of the train ride came down the aisle two girls who were selling strawberries. Mi then bought one box and gave me and my companion half. I later told Elder Henderson that was the fastest I have ever reaped the ''fruit'' of my labor.

Besides that train ride, the Lord has blessed me in many ways. My love for this people is growing daily. This land is full of precious people. What a blessing to be here.

Elder Henderson and I did receive our change calls. He is now one of the assistants to the president and Elder Peterson from Kuopio will be my new companion. I truly love Elder Henderson and look forward to loving Elder Peterson.

Also about this new program from the First Presidency. Its purpose is to help us become better teachers and they have simplified our training so that when we met for zone conference, district meetings, and leadership training there is time to practice what is taught, evaluate, and practice it again. I am looking forward to this. This is where lasting progress occurs.

Accountability is an amazing principle of character. In the world no one wants to take accountability unless it makes them look good, hence gold is more common than character. It takes character to stick to a goal and accomplish it. And it takes more character when a goal is not set, to analyze why it was not accomplished, and then accomplish it.

I am grateful to come from a family where action is taken to improve and love the Lord. That is what matters.

Vanhin Hamner

Picture with Elder Causse.
Elder Causse is in the 1st Quorum of the Seventy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

Dear Wonderful Mom, brilliant brothers, and sweetest sisters,

That is so crazy that summer is coming to a close soon and fall will be beginning! I am doing my best to savor every moment. And this next week Elder Henderson and I will be traveling most of the week all around Finland. We start onTuesday going to Kuopio (eastern side of Finland), then leave for Helsinki (southern) Wednesday night, after which we go to Pietarsaari (western) on Thursday night and return to Oulu (northern) Friday night. The reason for the traveling is district meetings, a baptismal interview, and mission leadership training meeting in which President Brown has received something from the First Presidency to change the way training occurs. The focus of it is to improve our teaching abilities. I am so excited for this program. I will definitely write more about it when President shares it this next Thursday.

Saturday was M's baptism! It went so well. It feels so good when you see someone who you have prayed your guts out for, studied for every need you find out about, and done your best to help the ward be included, and to see them enter the waters of baptism. What a blessing the Lord granted to Oulu. M was so ready. She was dead set on it even though there was resistance from mom and a recent tragedy with her brother. She is an excellent example of when life kicks you, to kick back. Her confirmation on Sunday also went well. Our branch president performed it as Elder Henderson and I participated. In that prayer he said some things that he could not have possibly known except only through the Holy Ghost. Also at the baptism we had a former investigator who came and asked about the details of getting baptized! I will keep you updated about him-Br (a native Swede).

The Lord is moving His work forward here. I love each of you so much.

Vanhin Hamner

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010

Dearest mom and family

This past week has just flown by. We had splits with the Kuopio elders and it went great.

Something happened today that was pretty crazy. It being P- Day had this big service project to help this older couple at their summer cottage. The whole story started when on Sunday we met this Finn (lady) who was accompanied by 3 Spaniards. The Spaniards spoke some English to explain that they are from Spain, not Madrid....sorry Elder Ketchum, and they were staying with this older couple who have never visited church. Apparently they have been friends (couple and Spaniards) for 25 years and visit each other periodically. So these Spaniards are members and invited us to help them do some yard work and introduce the missionaries. While there working on the yard four languages were spoken: Spanish, Finnish, English, and Swedish (older man being Swedish). Yes the lesson after dinner was quite fun. I hoping someone could have thrown in another language but I guess four will due :)

I love you all. Remember how much influence one person can have on so many. The rock thrown into the lake ripples farther than the rock thrown in the water can see. Only the Thrower can see it all. I know we all can do better in allowing the Thrower work through us.
V. Hamner

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010

Dearest Mom and family

This past week was quite miraculous. Let's start with the beginning of last week. M., almost 18 year old girl who has been up north for the past 3-4 weeks, returned. We were able to meet with her and we set a baptismal date for July 17th! During that teach she testified how the gospel came just at the right time in her life because she was depressed and about to take a scholarship for the violin even though this was not her dream but other's. She expressed how the gospel has given her the peace that she has never felt and yearned for. She is happiest that she has ever been. The whole teach was spectacular. She is ready to be baptized. But because she has committed it seems that the adversary is doing his best to stop it. This past sunday her brother got into a car wreck where he ended in the hospital. M. found out about this at 6am sunday morning. She doesn't live with her family so she couldn't go visit him but just wait and hear back about his condition. Despite the circumstances, she came to church when it was fast sunday. President Brown, who was present with Elder Causse (Europe Area Presidency), noticed M. in the congregation even though he had not met her before. He said, '' She stood out from all the other members.'' After the meeting a member pulled Elder Henderson and I aside and informed us about M's situation for we knew nothing about it.The member asked M. if she wanted a priesthood blessing and M. said yes but let the elders do it. So Elder Henderson, President Brown, the member, and I gathered in a small room and gave her a blessing of comfort and counsel. Before the blessing M. was trembling and almost fainting because if she lost her brother from the car wreck then that would be her second brother , but after the blessing she was at complete peace. She, afterwards, went to Relief Society where she bore her testimony and invited all to her baptism! The Lord definitely protected her from the powers of the adversary.

Then Elder Causse visited the north zone where Elder Henderson and I were instructed by him for 12 hours= 6 hours zone conference, 3 hours zone leader council, and 2 hours for local ward meeting in which we were invited. It was a spiritual feast. I will be sharing more about what he taught next week.

I love you all
Vanhin Hamner

Sunday, July 4, 2010

video - Beautiful Kuopio

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27, 2010

Dearest Mom and beautiful family

This past week was quite fun. We had our district meeting with President Brown during which we had our interviews! Every interview is precious. One on one time with President Brown. Just a little background President Brown has taught seminary his whole life, bishop, and was a stake president. He knows how to teach and I watch him closely. Every time he just amazes me with how natural teaching is to him. Even when we are eating together he is teaching whether through personal experiences or just through example. I love him with all my heart just like all of you:) Actually he shared a story about the importance of focusing on the doctrine and teaching by the spirit. He said that there was once a problem in a certain reservation where the deer were not able to get enough food because a lot of it was still frozen. So some of the rangers put out alfafa hay thinking this would solve the problem and all the deer would survive. However after a few weeks they found hundreds of deer dead with huge bloated stomachs. They ate plenty of hay but they could not digest it. They literally starved to death while as it seemed to them feasting. President Brown emphasized how when we teach by the Spirit and focus on the doctrine there in lies the true nourishment. That is just a sample of President Brown's excellent teaching.

This week M., our almost 18 year old investigator who's mother says no, is back in Oulu. Please pray that her mom will be softened to the message. We have been keeping in contact with her this past month through texting, phone calls, and sending letters (for example Liahona General Conference issue).

Also this week is Mission Tour where Elder Causse of the Europe Area Presidency is visiting and in Oulu the north zone is holding a conference. For Elder Henderson and I it will begin on Friday at 9am and end 9pm same day because of councils and meetings after the missionary conference. I am so excited for this. Please pray that the missioanaries here, including I, will hear what we need to hear and apply it.

Receiving personal revelation and applying it so that we accomplish what the Lord asks is one of the toughest challenges all Latter-Day Saints face including missionaries. President Brown would say, ''That's the whole shooting match''. It's true, following through when the Lord speaks to us and making sure you fulfill is tough, but so rewarding. That is one thing I am working on: focusing on one thing at a time which the Lord reveals and make sure I do it thoroughly. I have already felt the peace and the blessings that come from it. I wish I could give more stories and examples but my time is soon to expire. I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers and being specific in them.

Vanhin Hamner

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20,2010 (video - The Lofty Apartment)

Dear Mom and Family,
Wow this week was pretty different because we were in Oulu the whole week. We did a lot more tracting which was refreshing. Teaching is the best. whereever whenever teaching is the greatest call.

We learn the most as we are in the work. We can learn so much in the classroom until we come to the point where we must apply what we have learned. This can be compared to the pre-earth life and life on earth now. We learned a whole lot before this life but we needed to come here to put it into practice: faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end are what we need to do.

Currently, we will be having a member of the area presidency coming to conduct a ''Mission Tour'' Elder Causse. He will be in Oulu on Friday of next week. I cannot wait. The Lord wants to teach us more and we are ready.
I am sorry this letter is shorter than normal. There was a miscommunication about the computer reservation.

Vanhin Hamner
PS Please tell Papa happy fathers day!!!!!

Vanhin Hamner meeting Santa.

Sooo awesome!
We watched this together and my littlest, who just adores her AJ, said; " Mom, when you write to AJ will you tell him that next time he goes on a mission will he take me with him?"
Needless to say it was great to see him in video.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

Dear Mom
For one thing I cannot believe how it is already summer! It was just winter, then spring for about a day, then constant sunshine. The Finnish summers are gorgeous. I wake up to sunlight and fall asleep to sunlight. It does not matter to me if the sun shines when I sleep. I am too tired to bother about it anyways. But currently, I am just loving life. Elder Henderson and I will be together for another change (6 weeks) so I'm pretty excited (understatement).

Currently, M., our young investigator, is still with her mom up in lapland (or in other words North Pole) so we have not been able to meet with her. M. and J. had their baby so they are excited. We made for them cookies and gave them the January Liahona which explains so well the basics of God- Our Heavenly Father. We will be meeting this week. This past week Elder Henderson and I had splits with the Pietarsaari elders. Elder Karlsson, my former swedish companion in Kouvola, is there. It was a great experience. I met one family, F., where the mother and children are from a country in Africa where they only know Portaguese. They are refugees and the father died in Africa. So they came to Pietarsaari where they only speak Swedish and Finnish. Miraculously, there is a family in Pietarsaari who lived in South America for 15 years. So they speak Spanish and translate the lessons from Swedish, English and Finnish into Spanish. Fortunately Portaguese speakers understand Spanish speakers. So we had a teach with them and there were about four to five languages being spoken. After the teach my head was pretty sore. In the end we were able to teach about temples and importance of family home evening.

I love each of you so much. I will be sending pictures soon.
V. Hamner

I forgot to write about how in church this past sunday I translated for this senior missionary couple in sunday school. I did not realize how hard it is. Finnish is nothing like English and on top of that you have to continually remember what the teacher is saying so the whole thing is understandable. Another instance where my head was sore afterwards :)
V. Hamner

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010

Rakas Perhe,

Wow, I cannot believe that summer is already here. I am sorry about the lack of letters. It seems that we get busier and busier. For example, this past week we had splits with the elders in Kuopio (4 hour drive there). We left on Monday and came back on Tuesday night. Then Wednesday and Thursday we used to prepare for zone conference. There was a lot of logistics that went into it. I can tell a little about it. Well there are 11 companionships in the North zone ranging from the west coast to Santa Land up north to the East side of Finland. They came to Oulu and spent the night thursday night, had zone conference on Friday, slept the night again at the church then left Sat morning. We did a lot of driving to and from the train station. After ZC we had splits with the Assistants to the President. It went so well. I learned roppakaupalla tietoa (a boatload of knowledge) to improve how I teach, plan, and do missionary work.

How investigators are doing - well. Please pray that M's mother will soften towards the gospel. Also we found an older couple, P and A, where the wife is just golden but the husband is proud. P is the boyfriend so please pray that he will choose to soften his heart.

I love you all. We are visiting Rovaniemi this week. There is Santa. I will get a picture. Also there is the most northern Mcdonalds and the artic circle.

V. Hamner'
I will have more info about M and J next week :)!!! Pray for them to!

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010

The Lord has blessed Elder Henderson and I so much. This past week we were hardly able to contact and tract but the Lord led us to 3 new investigators. That is the first miracle. Two of those investigators is M and J who are expecting their baby any day now. We found them at 8:58pm (9:00pm curfew if not teaching) just outside our apartment. So the story is we were coming back from a teach and had some stuff we were carrying back to the apartment and Elder Henderson said, ''How much time do we have?'' I said,'' a couple of minutes'' so we quickly set all of our stuff just inside the apartment building then immediately went back out. Then just at that moment around the corner came M and his two huge dogs which he was walking. We started up a conversation and set up an appointment the next day. He had questions about how one can really know if God exists. We said, '' We know that it is possible. May we show you how?''

Also this past week, the Lord is helping me simplify everything for we complicate everyday matters too often and especially the gospel. As I do so there is such a greater measure of peace or in other words greater measure of the Spirit. There is power in order and simplicity.

The next thing the Lord is helping me learn is to forget myself even more and not worry so much about personal improvements. The Lord will take care of me as I just focus on others. By doing this, the burden of trying to learn everything so fast is just lifted. Greater peace results. It's interesting how simple it is to find greater peace but we, and I speak for myself, just get distracted but the Lord, His perfectly patient self, continues to coach us along. I hope this email expressed what my heart feels and what the Lord wanted me to say. I love you all. Please take time to see what is your measure of peace and then work to improve it. I am doing the same. The Lord is performing miracles. I love the mission and especially the Finns. The weather is always shining and each day is another day to seek His will. :)

I love you
Vanhin Hamner

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010

Dear Mom and lovely family of mine :)
Wow it is seems that each 6 week tranfer goes faster and faster. This past week Elder Henderson and I had splits with the elders in Kajaani. While there I interviewed E. for baptism. I still remember vividly when the Spirit confirmed it in my heart that he was ready. It was during the closing prayer which E offered when he said, Please help me become a better person'' After that sentence I knew without a doubt he was ready for baptism. For he had a broken heart and contrite spirit. I know for I felt it.

It is interesting how we as humans sometimes try to make spiritual things into physical, tangible things. I can give an example, We had a teach with one investigator who brought a friend who questioned the reality of God. He said where is God? Have you seen Him? How can you know He is real? Well the member we brought with us answered in the best manner with a question. P, the member, asked, '' What is love? Please show to me how much you love your children?'' P helped the athiest, whos name was H. realize that you cannot put everything into scientific terms. The humans feelings are just as real as the other senses.
This past week I have focused on getting more out of my personal study rather than just spiritual strength. (More bang for my buck!) For example, if I compared personal study to receiving the necessary energy to live and do missionary work. I could just receive an IV (needle and nutritous liquid) or I could eat a good healthy beef stew with vegetables. The IV provides the necessary energy  (Receive necessary spiritual strength to keep going) but the soup provides even more. There is subtance in the soup than the IV. One can be more effective with the Soup rather than the emergency life support.

 I wish I could write more but more time has come to an end. I love you!
 Vanhin Hamner

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17, 2010

17 May 2010

So I have tried downloading pictures to email but ei onnistunut (did not succeed) It is always a new adventure to find out how one can email pictures over computers in the library.

But this past week was a lot of driving. We visited Kuopio's (city in the east of Finland) district meeting. The drive there lasted about 5 hours so if that gives you an idea of how large the north zone of Finland is. And that city is not the farthest we travel to. While in Kuopio Elder Sharp, the stud district leader, did a fantastic job in leading the whole district to set change goals (for the next 6 weeks). Then Oulu (we belong to this district) had there district meeting where President interviewed us. In each district meeting the district leaders asked Elder Henderson and I to teach on the divinity of the companionship. It went well. Elder Henderson and I are learning a lot together. In fact, at the end of each night my head hurts a little bit just from all there is to learn. There in lies to tough balance of learning too much and learning enough where you still feel peace. If one makes that their measure (how much true peace they have) then they can know how much of the Spirit they have. Elder Henderson has been teaching me all about this. This has really helped me step back, look at the sky, enjoy life. Elder Henderson is truly a blessing.

Then M.,our investigator with a baptismal date, came to church! She had so many obstacles in the way but Heavenly Father helped and provided the way. Her mom is still against it but we still pray for her.

Also one last thing which is personal but needs to be said. The Lord has helped me identify many of the adversaries tools that he uses specifically towards me. As a result I am working with the Lord to focus on building my defensives against such tools. This has proven to be very effective.

I love you.
Vanhin Hamner

This pic was taken in Kuopio. My companion, Elder Henderson is third from the left 2nd row.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, 2010

Dear Family,

It was such a blessing to hear all of your voices. I felt truly refreshed after it. I Love You so much.

Well this past week was one of the toughest in regards to mental opposition. Elder Henderson and I are much a like. We tend to run faster than we can go. However the Lord has been teaching each of us ever since the beginning of our missions that it is much better to work smarter not necessarily harder. Let me share an example (told at the MTC), if a farmer was to buy 50 watermelon seeds for 50 cents each. Then after time when the watermelons were ripe went to the market to sell them. At the market he sells them for 50 cents each. After everything is sold he does this process again. Eventually he wonders why he is not making a profit. Well we can see that in this situation the farmer does not necessarily need to work harder but smarter. If he worked any harder he would not get anywhere just more exhausted. However if the farmer would do it smarter he would notice that he could increase the price so he obtain the necessary tools(planning wisely, following PMG) to speed up the process and receive the greater end result (success). However if he doesnt use the tools correctly then he is just playing in the dirt. Elder Henderson and I have made it the top priority to slow down and make the Spirit top priority. In so doing we give the Spirit more room to breath and dont miss unplanned opportunities in our paths due to rushing or trying to do too much.

In conclusion that is why it has been pretty tough. And as I do it the Lord has blessed me with the greatest sense of peace I have ever felt. Therein lies the confirmation that the goal we have set is His will.

Also our top investigator is facing some opposition to be baptized. M. is too young to be baptized by her yourself but will turn that age this year. Please pray that her mom's heart will softened towards this message. She has been prepared by the Lord for some time and she is so ready for baptism.

So currently in Oulu (almost to the artic circle) the sun shines almost all day or in other words that when I wake up and go to bed the sun is still shining. The branch is amazing. The Branch president has the most contagious smile that I have ever seen. He is just genuinely happy.

Thank you so much for your prayers. They are felt. Also in those prayers if you could please focus on M. and gift of tongues.

I love you! Suomesta (from Finland)
V. Hamner

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day Phone Call :)

Talking to AJ was so awesome! It was so good to hear his voice and feel the peace that is surrounding him. I am grateful for the precious blessing that he is in our lives and for his strong determination and desire to righteously serve our Heavenly Father. He told me of people who had written him and been strengthened by his blog. His goal and purpose of the blog was to create a mission tool that could lift people up and inspire them as well as let everyone know how he is doing and the progress he is making for himself and others. Knowing that this blog is fullfilling it's purpose inspired me to continue posting his inspirational letters and challenges. Recieving AJ's letters each week reminds me to keep the spirit with me on a daily basis and to take time to search the scriptures and conference talks so that I am edified and wrapped in the armour of God, more prepared to be a better mother and servant of our Heavenly Father. I hope they inspire you too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010 Zone Conference Photos

May 3, 2010

Dear Mom,

Wow what an eventful week!

On Monday we had our first meeting with J.We found him on the street while contacting which is a great story. We were walking down the road when the thought came to mind to turn around and go down another street. So I suggested to Elder Lytle and we did so. As we were walking down the sudden different route we met him. He owns this market research company which is experiencing bankruptcy. He said that he cannot concentrate in his work. We taught about the peace that comes from the gospel. This caught his attention and as a result decided to meet with us. He said that he has tried everything to have peace. He exercises frequently but could not be at peace. After our meeting on monday he said I feel at peace and agreed to meet again. He even reads from the Book of Mormon in the mornings at work so he can begin the day right with peace. He is amazing.

On tuesday was district meeting which was great. As a district we counseled together and decided on some district goals as also discussed needs of our investigators. After the meeting I interiviewed E M for baptism. He is one of those investigators who just sails through the gospel. He has the gospel understanding of 30 year old converts.

On thursday a member took Elder Lytle and I to the temple. I did one session in english and then the next two in Finnish. The Lord has been very merciful towards me for I have not lived in Helsinki at all and I have had unique opportunities to go to the temple.

This past week, the Lord guided us to a family who lost the father last year due to cancer. At the first time meeting them it was just the mother so we later scheduled an appointment on sunday but she thought is was monday. So we came on Sunday with member and come to find out the daughter, who is married and with a child, was present. So we taught them all, and they are all sincere, ready to know that its true!

PS (FYI)Also I received change call. I will be moving on tuesday to Oulu to be zone leaders with Elder Henderson.

PPS Look forward to Mother's Day phone calls!!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Apr. 26, 2010

Dear Family,
Wow, time here has just flown by. This next Saturday is change calls. This has been the most fun change for we are so busy. This past week was zone conference, splits with the elders in Tampere and Jyväskylä. Each experience was edifying and taught me special things fitted to my needs. This email might not be as long as the others but know this, I love each of you so much.

Currently our investigators are doing well. O. P. is still working towards his answer by reading and praying each day. Also, the Lord guided us to 3 new investigators this week. Very cool!

Bytheway, I received permission from President Brown for a member to take Elder Lytle and I to the temple because Elder Lytle has never gone to the temple before in Helsinki. We are going on April 29th which also happens to be my 1 year anniversary as a missionary. I have already been preparing for this time of counsel and learning with the Lord. This next tuesday is district meeting in Tampere (2 hour train ride there). I am excited for what the Lord will teach us.

Vanhin Hamner

Monday, April 19, 2010

Apr. 19, 2010

Dear Family,

Well this has been busy week. On Tuesday we visited Orimattila where we taught a recent-convert, followed-up on potential investigators, and served a less-active member. Later that same day we taught the man with the 5 year old daughter, with our ward missionary leader. He loves church as well as his daughter. Unfortunately, his daughter was a little sick this past Sunday so they couldn't come but they want to come to Tampere for stake conference. Then the next day was splits with the zone leaders. Elders Struthers and Young are such good leaders. I will be sending pictures soon so you can see who they are. While they were in Lahti we taught a new investigator who was a referral from our mission president( yes Pres Brown. the example)

Then while contacting Elder Lytle and I found one lady who said she is currently searching for the truth. We discussed for about 15 min on the road and gave her a Book of Mormon with the restoration pamphlet. She was definitely prepared by the Lord (Alma 16:16)

On Friday, President held a Mission Leadership Training meeting where all the zone and district leaders in Finland gathered in Helsinki where we held a council, received further training from President.

Also all flights in and out of Finland have been canceled due to the volcano in Iceland. Therefore that also means no posti (mail) in or out. So if you do not hear from me for a few days it is because of air travel. I believe there are still boats that transport mail so katsotaan (lets see).

This week I have zone conference, splits with the missionaries in Tampere and Jyväskylä. We have one investigator, (Norwegian), who is asking for his answer from Heavenly Father. He is overcoming his coffee problem by switching to hot chocolate. He has his baptismal date set for April 1st so please keep him in your prayers.

I love you
Vanhin Hamner Suomesta!!!!! (from Finland)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Apr.12, 2010

Dearest Mom,
This past week has been quite amazing. On wednesday I was able to attend the temple for Elder Lytle had language school. I did it in Finnish and it went really well! I cannot wait until you all can go with me after the mission. It is so weird I will be hitting my year mark pretty soon. Elder Lytle and I will probably buy kebab to celebrate.

Stories: While we were tracting we were following-up on a potential investigator but they were not home. As a result we tracted in the potential investigator's building (see PMG ch. 9) and the last door before we had to catch the bus was a 56 year old man and pieni (tiny) 5 year old girl. He invited us in but he was eating so we set up another appointment two days later. We brought a member along and taught the restoration. Though He talked a lot, which is expected for he recently went through a divorce, the member, Hannu return missionary, invited him to church. Then sunday came and there came they came. The members just wrapped them up with love. One mom with 4-5 little kids took care of the little girl and our WML (ward miss. leader) welcomed this man warmly. It worked so well. Afterwards he was so impressed by the genuinity of the members for they live the gospel not just come on Sunday then leave. It is a life style. (I was just smiling ear to ear). We have another appointment set up with him this week. Our WML will be there. To be continued....

Next story. When I came to Lahti the elder I replaced had gotten a haircut in a local barbershop. The owner, is filipino and speaks english, tagalog,and finnish. Well we tried to stop by a couple of times for she is interested but she was always busy with customers. So I decided: Well then Im going to make time. Sign me up for a haircut. I usually cut my own hair for it is too expensive to get it cut professionally. So today she cut my hair and we were able to talk about the gospel. Upon the conclusion of the haircut we set up an appointment. The Lord has definitely prepared her. To be continued...

Also about the culture here. The Finns love rye bread. I like it too. It is soooo much better than the american rye bread. Also the cheese, yogurt, and ice cream is so good. In Lahti we use the buses to get everywhere which is really fun. We are able to talk to so many more people.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging words. I love you each so much.
Vanhin Hamner

(Answers to our questions:)
Kebab is lamb meat. very good just dont eat it often

I did make the banana bread. it tasted great but it didnt rise well. I gave some to a member. She loved it!

I have not tried the chocolate smoothie yet but will soon

Tagalog is the language spoken in the philipines. She is still interested but she is way busy so we just need to stay on top of the situation.

Elder Hamner

Monday, April 5, 2010

Apr. 5, 2010

Dear Family,

Wow, this week was busy. First of all district meeting went very well. Heavenly Father definitely guided me as I prepared and taught. WHEWW!!!! (as I wipe sweat off the brow) In the district meeting we focused on improving our capacity as teachers (mainly chapter 10 in PMG... p.s.such a good chapter) After district meeting I had my interview with President where he gave some priceless advice. I feel the Lord's hand in my shaping. He leads this work.

This General Conference was just perfect. It's sort of like the Mormon Superbowl, but you get it twice a year! Also there are pretty cool commericals :) But most importantly you can learn what the Lord wants to teach you. Then afterwards it is up to us to apply and strive. That would be my challenge to each one. Please set goals according to the inspiration given to you through general conference. How lucky we are to have continuous revelation from the Lord through a living prophet. I get such good feelings as I type this.

This past week I have been reflecting upon the deepest desires of all people. For as a missionary you teach according to their needs and do your best to meet them through the restored gospel under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Everyone wants to feel loved. We feel God's love through the Spirit. So when we listen to conference, attend church, study the words of the prophet, or in other words be more obedient we receive the spiritual nourishment we so desperately need. I understand that this topic is very broad and difficult to describe but it was just something I have been pondering about. In Summary everyone yearns for the Spirit even if they dont know it. Only through the gospel can one receive this spiritual nourishment. My desire for the Spirit is ever growing. I love how this all makes sense( the gospel that is).

I love each of you individually. Thank you for your prayers. They are heard. I feel them.

Vanhin (AJ) Hamner

PS I just used that plan of salvation finnish puzzle thing you gave me. Thank you!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mar. 29,2010

Dear Family...and caterpillars:)

Wow, this week has been crazy. Lahti is a beautiful city with an amazing ward....just ward not branch. It reminds me so much of home.

First of all, I will get a picture with my new companion this week, then email it to you all. Also keep sending letters and packages to the Neitsytpolku Helsinki address. Its better that way.

The Lord has blessed Elder Lytle and I so much this week. Miracles are just occuring. One night we went tracting in search of a potential investigator. So we made it to the place, but unfortunately they weren't interested anymore....Just wait it gets better. Then we decided to knock the doors around the former potential but almost all the doors were already tracted except one. We knocked and a dad with a baby boy answered. We taught about the Book of Mormon, and he was really interested. He told us during our discussion that in the past month he has experienced an ''awakening'' and right now he is trying to find what God wants him to find. We will be following up on him soon. We gave him a Mormonin Kirja (Book of Mormon) and a couple of pamphlets.What is even better is that he mentioned, ''I feel good talking with you'' and ''I believe there was no coicidence that you two came here at this time.''Afterwards as we were returning home to catch the bus, we missed the last one. Therefore we walked an hour home. Hold on, it gets better. Isn't this exciting?! As we were entering the keskusta (downtown where we live) we saw one man who was alone. We started to talk with him and it was apparent he just came from the bar. We talked, and he expressed sincere desire to change. As he was in the bar just a moment ago, he came to the realization that this is not happiness. So he left and thats when he met us. He told us that he failed the Alcoholic Anonymous program because it was focused on critizing yourself. He wanted nothing to do with that. As we discussed, taught, testified, He felt the Spirit enough to want to know more. He said that he has failed everything but I asked him, ''Do you have a desire to change?'' Hän sanoi (He said) ''Yes I do'' I replied, ''Then you can do it'' I taught how Heavenly Father will work with us as we desire and act upon it. Heavenly Father will strengthen our resolve to change as we follow the steps He has outlined so lovingly.

These encounters were no coincidence. Thank you for your prayers. For they affect many lives including the Finns who head the Spirit whispering to them. Thank you.

This next week is General Conference. I am so excited! I am still studying the General Conference issue of the Liahona from last year. So many golden nuggets!

I love you all
Vanhin Hamner

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mar. 22, 2010 Zone Conference Photos

Mar 22, 2010

Dear Mom & Family,

This past week has been quite eventful. We had district meeting in Turku (about 2 hour drive). The drive back the Lord taught me much, and I felt complete peace as we drove through the beautiful country side.
The Lord continually is guiding me along this journey. I wish I could write each precious experience but that would not be appropriate in an email nor do I have time.
I will share this though. Peace is priceless and only through the Savior can one actually taste heaven while in these earthly tabernacles.

About this week, I still make smoothies but not every day but in them I include wheat grass and when I remember wheat germ. This past week I made banana bread. Se onnistui (It succeeded!) Elder Pond liked it too. I added cinnamon to the recipe to see what would happen. This was my thought process in the baking process- I looked up in the cupboard and saw cinnamon. I thought, '' I like cinnamon, let's try it!''

This past sunday Elder Pond and I both gave talks in sacrament. The two days before church I helped him translate. Then we took both of our talks to a member to edit.

Also, I received my change call. I will be moving to Lahti to be the district leader of the Tampere District. Also my new companion will be Elder Lytle who has been in the country for 6 weeks. One thing of the many things I am looking forward to is to be in a city where we walk around and use the bus system. Two benefits-1. we are able to interact/talk with more people 2. I will be burning more calories. It is pretty tough to get cardio workout when you drive everywhere and it is too cold to run in the morning.

In addition, because this next change Elder Lytle has kieli koulu in Helsinki which means I will have the opportunity to attend the temple. I am already beginning to prepare so that I will ask the right questions, learn what I need to learn or in other words that my eyes, ears, and heart will be open to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

If you look in Mosiah right before King Benjamin spoke the people prepared by sacrificing burnt offerings eli (or in other words) performing temple ordinances before his speech (Gen Conf)

That would be my commitment to you which is to prepare the best way you can for General Conference so that your eyes, ears, and hearts will be open to what you need to hear and apply. I am doing the same now. We must pay the price for such precious revelation. President Brown sent this quotation to me this past week in his weekly email:

“Humility is that quality that permits us to be taught from on high through the spirit or to be taught from sources whose origin was inspiration from the Lord, such as scriptures and the comments of the prophets. Humility is the precious, fertile soil of righteous character. In it, the seeds of personal growth germinate. When cultivated through the exercise of faith, pruned by repentance, and fortified by obedience and good works, such seeds produce the cherished fruit of spiritual direction.”  Richard G. Scott

Talk about powerful. I love each of you so much. Keep striving to become what you promised you would be before you came to this earth.
Vanhin Hamner

PS Thank you for the recipes. I will check to see if dates are even in Finland.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mar. 15, 2010

Dear Family, and also any pets who wish to hear about Finland :)

This past week was great. We had zone conference in tampere where I was able to interview with President Brown. What a great man! He taught me some great life lessons. Then is conference each message hit home. Sister Brown taught about peace and how to attain your vision for yourself. I liked the part which she said that if you are not reaching your vision then exercise more faith to reach it. Then President taught me about working smarter not harder. By applying this principle I have found greater peace in missionary work. I love
Pori is a great city. The members take care of us quite well. One member taught Elder Pond and I how to make pulla (sweet bread) and apple cake. Both came out great though Finns like to use a lot of butter. I might be moving so please keep sending all letters and packages to the Helsinki address.

This Saturday and Sunday I was sick so I was in the apartment with Elder Pond. Wow, it was hard to just lie in bed when I felt I needed to be outside. The Lord comforted me so I could recover in peace. Thank you for your prayers I love each of you so much.

Elder Hamner

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mar. 8, 2010

Dear family,

This past week we had splits with the District leader, Elder Pettus. He is a great missionary. He goes home in about 3 weeks. So weird to think that the end comes so fast. As a result I am doing my best to live up every second in Finland. I know I can only be a full time missionary like this once in a lifetime so lets take it to the max.

I remember one speaker in the MTC who said that the mission is the best time to develop Christlike Attributes, good healthy habits, and effective routines. Also it is the best time to shed the unChristlike attributes especially pride. As a missionary the Lord is able to separate us from the world and give us direct uninterrupted tutoring about ourselves. This time is so golden. I do miss each of you so dearly but I know I need to be here...for the Finns sake and mine. The Lord has yet much to teach me. He has already taught me so much through my companion Elder Pond. He is a blessing.

Tomorrow is zone conference in Tampere. The rauma elders are coming to spend the night in Pori tonight for the mission office found it most cost effective if we just drove them there.

The weather is improving oops sorry I mean warming up :) I like the cold but cool weather is the best. The members are feeding us so well. They are amazing. I am asking for as many recipes as I can get so I can make this delicious food for you!

I love you so much
Vanhin Hamner

PS This week I am going to experiment with banana bread!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mar. 1, 2010

Dear Family,

This week has been another week filled with learning, teaching, and warmer temperatures. Its fun to joke about the weather when you are pretty close to the artic circle. Well I wish I could type every thing I have learned this week but it would be near impossible.

I will start with the beauty of a study journal. In PMG it talks about the importance of a study journal in one's personal study. I know this to be true. If you have a notebook, binder, journal, or another sort of record keeping object then Heavenly Father can help you understand the deeper meanings of certain doctrine and teach you additional spiritual truths that apply specific to you. I understand that in the beginning it is hard but through diligence once can improve and magnify one's personal study. I only share because of how much it has helped me in my personal study. Also one tip, I would recommend reviewing your study journal frequently. The amount you get out of personal study is in direct relationship of how much you put into it. Also the most beautiful parts of the gospel are the simple gospel principles.

Currently Elder Pond is doing well. He still does not like winter. Coming from California that is completely understandable. Next week is zone conference. This week we have splits with the district leader and his companion.

The weather is getting better. Elder Pond and I have gone out a couple of mornings and run. (sitä tarvittiin--it was needed). It is really wet due to a lot of the snow melting. The Finns tell us this is/was the harshest winter Finland has had in the past 10 years. I really appreciate the sun so much more now. I love Finland and I mean that. I cannot believe I have been on my mission for almost a year. I know many of you have said how the mission trains you for the future. You are so right. Every thing I have learned and continue to learn can and will be applied in the future (tulevaisuudessa).

I love each of you so much
Elder(Vanhin) Hamner

The Lord is blessing me much as I focus on the investigators and the members. My diet is getting better and better each day. I am growing wheat grass (dont worry I passed it by the president's wife) and just bought organic cracked wheat. I do not add any sugar or brown sugar to my food. Also for dinner I mainly just eat vegetables (my favorites: carrots and broccoli....dont eat the finnish celery its just not good :( Also I like to add red bell peppers to my eggs in the morning. IT is ssooooo gooooood. Mom the Lord guided me in developing this for my energy level, and outlook on everything has improved drastically. Though it is dark, cold, and wet I love it here! The Lord is tutoring me much. I thank you for your prayers.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feb 22, 2010

Oh Dear Family who live another continent (Does that put it in a different perspective

Finland is still cold but still amazing. This work is a miracle. The temple was as you guessed what I needed. The Lord taught me what I needed to learn. Thank you for your prayers. Heavenly Father tutored me as I studied the scriptures. After the temple I felt a stronger receptiveness to the promptings from the Holy Ghost. The peace that comes from the temple cannot be found anywhere else. Afterwards I felt so refreshed to go back to work. That is one of my personal future goals :go the the temple once a week if travel is small.

Also this past week we had district meeting in Tampere. It was so good. President Brown taught about Pride by President Ezra Taft Benson. For point he taught was how to identify it in ourselves for everyone battles daily against pride. I am so grateful he taught about this. When you have time this week please prayerfully study this talk. Please pray to see where you can improve. I have done this and will continue to do so.

These past couple days have been a little bit cold. While I was in Helsinki I bought another pipo (beanie/winter hat) so I could layer them.

One of our investigators is just eating up the Book of Mormon. He told us in the past lesson on Saturday that he feels the Book of Mormon is true. When I heard that my heart almost skipped a beat. I looked at Elder Pond with the biggest smile I could do. It was amazing. Next teach will be great. We feel he is ready for the baptismal commitment. He said when he reads his testimony of the Book of Mormon grows. This Friday we will be meeting again. He has work all week :(. I am so grateful the Lord guided us to him.

Also a member gave me whole wheat so I have ground some of it up to make cracked wheat hot cereal. It was so good. Do you have any suggestions for good sweeteners because I am trying to stay away from processed sugars. Love you all!

I love you
Vanhin Hamner

Helaman 5:12

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.