Darrel L. Hammon
Recently, I awoke at 5:00 a.m. and contemplated our past 18 months. I thought about the many experiences we had. Since we have been home, many people have asked what have been the highlights. I think I will try to numerate some them, not just for their benefit, but for my benefit and edification:
|Sister and Elder Hammon|
§ Serving with Joanne—Ah, the sweetness of her spirit and her willingness to get up every single day and try to do the Lord’s work. I know it was hard for her, not knowing the language, not being able to communicate the way she wanted to, and feeling helpless when I was trying to drive. While she couldn’t communicate as well as she would have liked, she did communicate with them through her incredible spirit. When she bore strong testimony in Spanish, the spirit touched every single person who was there. They knew that she knew. So many of them wanted to give her abrazos everywhere we went. It was wonderful: spirit to spirit, heart to heart, hermana a hermana. I am and will always be blessed to have Joanne as my eternal companion. I do want to go on other missions with her. Thank you, Joanne, for being the best companion I have ever had.
|Albania, her mother, friends, and los Hammon|
§ The people—I love the Dominicans and the islanders. Yes, I complain about their driving and their lack of what I have considered “adherence to any laws,” but I love them. We love their brown faces and extraordinary smiles—las sonrisas Dominicanas. We loved the poses of the little girls when we wanted to take a picture, their little beads in their hair, the curlers, the five people on scooters, their genuineness to help us when we really needed it, their numerous abrazos and love they shared with us. It is no wonder when the Lord said to the missionaries, “You need to learn to love the people. If you don’t love them, then the spirit cannot work as well with you to bring to pass my work and my glory among them.”
|Los Glazier, McDermid, Hammon, Brown, and Shaver--just a few|
§ Senior Missionaries—We made so many friends among the senior missionaries. If I were to name them, I would invariably leave one out. We have gone on excursions with them. We have prayed for and with them. We have snorkeled with them. We have eaten with them in a variety of places, both good and bad and unique. We have traveled to the frontera (the border) with them. We have cried with them. They have become our eternal friends.
|Cristina, Los Hammon, y Francisca|
§ The Area Office—Ah, the Area Office. I love those people—Indhiana, Vicente, Victor, Hermana Dominga, Carlos, all of the Césars, Benjamin, las Elizabeths (Berroa y Baez), Jonnathan, Yadira, Francisca, Dayanara, Fidel Filpo, Wendy, los Gemelos, Katy, Rosana, Roxana, Grace, Cristina, Alysia, Benjamin, Ronaldo, Presidentes Morla and Segura, Rufino Díaz (his wife and Sara), Wagner Paniagua, Inés, Socrates, Arihanny, Wendy, and all the rest. You know who you are. What would I do without having met these people? They always stopped by and brightened my day. Some people say there was always a line of people outside the door of our cubicle, wanting to hablar con Elder Hammon. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, despite not getting as much done during the day. I think they felt comfortable coming by and visiting. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
|Santo Domingo Temple|
§ The Temple—Friday night at the temple was a spiritual boost for us. We anticipated Friday nights. They came often and quickly. Working with the people there—Hermanos Almonte, Trindidad, Peña, Rotellini, Leavitt, Larsen, Despain, Schopp; Presidentes Bair, Casanova, and Muñoz; Hermanas Olivero, Upia, King (incredible woman), the wives of all of the brethren above, the patrons who came, and the rest of the hermanas y hermanos.. Often, we wouldn’t have very many who came to the sessions, but the ones who came were faithful and willing to serve.
|Los Hammon y Hermanas|
§ The CCM—We love the missionaries! We love being with the, meeting them for the first time; teaching them; having them teach us; witnessing the light grow in them; then seeing them in the field, doing what they do best: teaching the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; being a part of their endowments and helping them through their first experience in the temple. Ammon was right: “cuán motive tenemos para recocijarnos porque ¿pudimos habernos imaginado, cuando salimos de la tierra de Zarahemla (Wyoming), que Dios nos concedería tan grandes benediciones?...que hemos side hechos instrumentos en las manos de dios para realizar esta gran obra” (Alma 26:1-3). We have been thoroughly blessed by being with these extraordinary young men and young woman. It is no wonder the Lord’s work rolls down the mountain…. Working with Elders Swapp and Button and President and Sister Glazier has been a marvelous assignment that came as a blessing to us. We didn’t ask for it; it just came quietly and without fanfare, and we tried to serve in the same fashion.
|Hermana Miranda, los Arias, hermana, y los Rotellini|
§ El Almacén del Obispo—What a wonderful assignment this was! We were able to work with Hermano y Hermana King; los Rotellini, los Arias, and Hermano Miranda, José, and the host of other volunteers that came week after week to help the coordinators. I enjoyed visiting with those who came, many of them with their children. We made friends, eternal friends.
|the Díaz-Beloni Family|
§ Consuelo—Our first assignment was incredible. Meeting President Montero and his lovely little family and to soak in the love they provided, even for the short time we were there. One of the experiences I cherish is meeting the hermana who sat by me one day, and I helped her read and find the scriptures. Afterwards, she said to me: “You have taught me more about the scriptures today than I have learned over the past three years since I was baptized. The spirit overwhelmed me. She read hesitantly, but she read. Plus, meeting the Beloni-Díaz family: Hermano y Hermana, Samuel, Ana Maria, and Junior. I still remember the first day in Consuela and meeting them and going to their home and witnessing Samuel receive his Duty to God and Ana Maria receiving her YW Medallion and the pride in the eyes of her parents. Can there be a more delicious thing than to witness the Gospel in action? I don’t know of much more.
|Presidente Reynoso from the Puerto Plata Stake and Elder Hammon|
§ Training and Capacitación—Oh, this is probably one of those things I could do every single day. I love to train, teach, and facilitate. It animates me. It charges me. It makes me want to do better. There is nothing better than to look someone in the eye and watch them “get it” and then participate. We so thoroughly enjoyed going to the branches, wards, districts, and stakes throughout the Caribbean Area and meeting with the great leaders there. When we were in Elder Cornish’s office for our exit interview, Joanne looked at the board that had all of the stake presidents, mission presidents, and district presidents. She said, “We know so many of them.” It was an honor and a blessing to work with these fine young men and the leaders of their different units. We only hope and pray that some of the teachings we shared with them will stay in the minds and their hearts so they can continue to become the great leaders they are. We always prayed hard for the local leaders that they could rise to the occasion and bless their people through revelation and counsel from God.
|The original Spanish class|
§ Spanish class—My Spanish class, wow! From the first day, I enjoyed going in and attempting to facilitate Spanish learning.
|In the end....Our Spanish Class|
I know it was difficult for many of the hermanas in the class, but they stuck with it, week after week after week. They came, they participated, and they went home and attempted to speak the language. I know learning a second language is a difficult task. It is challenging to all of us, including me. There were/are/and will continue to be times that I cannot understand someone; so, I have to have help. I ask them to repeat or slow down. Often, that doesn’t help with some people.
|Constanza project--winter supplies from Puerto Rico|
Humanitarian Projects—We thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the humanitarian projects. Our first project—el Liceo—was a good one because of the involvement of the Las Americas Stake. They wanted to do the project, and they did the project. As a consequence, the director’s husband was baptized, and good will spread throughout Las Brisas. The vision project with Dr. and Sister Christiansen was spectacular. We were able to travel to Puerto Rico to pick up the equipment and then on to Dominica and St. Kitts for the closings. But we also had the opportunity to travel with the Atkinsons and Haws to a variety of projects, including the prosthetic project with Innovación Ortopédica and those good people there. What better work than to help the poor and the needy. The Lord has taught us that we must help the poor and needy or we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
|Presidente Olivero, Bennie Lilly, Elder Dominguez, stake leader|
Working for Bennie—We cannot say enough about Bennie and what he has done for us. We probably had the best orientation of any senior couple. He had his list of things for us to accomplish. We met with him frequently in his office and even more frequently in our little cubicle. He also was praising us and really giving us rein to do what we needed to do or what we thought we needed to do. What can you say more about that? Since there hadn’t been anyone in that position before, we created the job description with Bennie’s guidance.
§ Fruit and Vegetables—We will miss the fresh mangos, guineos (banana), piña (pineapple), lechosa (papaya), and many other fresh fruits and vegetables. We will miss stopping at a street light, rolling down the window and handing over our pesos for pineapple or aguacate (avocado), or for whatever they were selling. We’ll miss going down to the vendor on the corner and buying guineas. That’s one of the beauties of the DR, the ability to buy almost anything from someone.
|Puerto Plata in the a.m.|
The country—The beaches in Bayahibe, Juan Dolio, Puerto Plata, and Samaná; mountains in Jarabacoa; the fields in Constanza and San Francisco de Macoris; the Zona Colonial and all of its incredible forts, hospitals, churches; Consuelo; las Terrenas; Tres Ojos; la Frontera and it uniqueness; and many, many more. The Dominican Republic is just an incredible place.
Truly, our mission was an adventure of a life time, and we were abundantly blessed.
|Vista Mare in Samaná|