Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28th

Well, Christmas has come and gone in the MTC, which is strange seeing as it feels like yesterday was December 1st. I feel like I've been here forever, and yet the weeks slide by faster and faster. It was a wonderful time being here during Christmas! We were blessed with many wonderful devotionals, two of which were with Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a talent show, and Mr. Kruger's Christmas. It was incredibly uplifting; there are few things as amazing as being taught at the feet of an Apostle. And that evening, while watching Mr. Kruger's Christmas, I was so overcome with gratitude for who Jesus Christ is. Mr. Kruger goes up to the baby Jesus in his dream, telling the baby how much his life and influence has meant in Mr. Kruger's life. I was touched, and once again reflected on who Christ is in my life. He is everything. I know He lives; I know He is our Savior; I know He is our brother, our friend, our only sure path towards joy. I love Him. It was very special spending the Christmas season as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, taking His name upon me in a way that I never have. I love wearing my plaque which states, "Elder Palmer...La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias." It will be terribly difficult when I have to take that off in two years.

Mom, you asked me how study has gone, and a few questions along with that. We have somewhere from 3-5 hours a day, which is called missionary directed time (MDT). I feel like this is my companion and my most effective time. We have incredibly uplifting companionship studies--immersed in Preach My Gospel coupled with the Scriptures. We have learned that as we truly study study-not just study-the scriptures and talk and testify together, it brings a sweet Spirit into our studies. I learn so much with Elder Hercules; one thing, he often poses very thought-provoking questions for us to think about, and almost always it leads into us finding out different perspectives and different little treasures in the Scriptures. Oh, and it is sooo awesome to read the scriptures in Spanish! It clarifies and adds a different perspective to numerous passages, and also, I just love the Scriptures in the Spanish language. Language study is coming along great. I feel like I can say anything I want with things related to the Gospel, and I am still working on other subjects. As Zone Leaders, we get to interact, interview, and train a number of native Spanish-speaking missionaries, which is an incredible help! (Also humbling I might add. haha) I can understand most of them with most everything, but there are one or two natives who seem to never even touch their lips together when they speak--making it a little difficult for an American missionary at my level.

Life is great in the MTC. I am excited to get out to the field, but I am loving my time here. A number of Mexican missionaries are still having temporary reassignments, and visawaiting actions happening, so we will see what happens in that regard. But whatever happens, I know it is part of Heavenly Father's plan. That is very comforting, even though I often wonder what that plan entails. I am doing great, my companion is doing wonderful, our Zone is doing pretty well, and the MTC is a wonderful place (minus the really cold weather--I am glad I am going to Mexico not Siberia!)

Well, that is about all for this week. I feel like I said nearly nothing, but I am seeing little miracles and tender mercies every day. I know God and Jesus Christ are heading and leading this work I am a part of. What a blessing!

Elder Palmer

P.S. Elder Nelson said 6 new countries are dedicated for the preaching of the Gospel! Bosnia, Angola, Macedonia, Mantenegro, Slovenia, and Croatia! Awesome!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

December 20th


This week was wonderful, busy, and a little stressful to be honest. Elder Hercules and I are doing great together; every day, we get to know each other even better. We are really excited for the opportunities that we have to serve during this Christmas Season here at the MTC. A word our district has started using every now and then, that I find hilarious, is the word "amigo-ship." We never seem to remember the word for friendship in Spanish, so that word always slips. In the MTC, every week we have a number of different goals (from doing teaching workshops with teachers, to teaching other missionaries, to number of words in english, etc.) and one of those is contacts. We would contact other missionaries and pretend like they were investigators. Well, we changed it, because we felt it wasn't very "real," and now we contact other missionaries as missionaries and share thoughts that truly apply to them in Spanish. It has brought a wonderful Spirit into our days, often looking to lift up another missionary and put a "sonrisa" on his face.

This past week has been primarily training for and then taking over and assuming the responsibilities of being Zone Leaders. The days now go twice as fast, because there is twice as much to do. But what a blessing it is to serve with our Zone and especially our Branch Presidency! They are amazing people, and I feel I have so much to learn from our Branch Presidency. We got 2 new districts today, one with intermediate Spanish missionaries and the other with advanced (so mainly people from Mexico or just fluent people), and we have loved training and getting to know them. One of our primary resonsibilities now is to train all the new missionaries about everything relating to missionary work in the MTC. It is so funny to see those "deer-in-the-headlights" looks of the missionaries faces, that we had just a few weeks ago, and then try to help them feel comfortable and excited. We have been sitting at meals often with the advanced districts for practice with the language, and it is so fun! I love trying to talk about anything in Spanish, but it is kind of difficult with things not relating to the Gospel--since we have been focusing on that vocabulary. The Elders who are from Mexico kept on reminding how dangerous it is down there, and giving me tips to stay alive and not to get all my money stolen "when" I get robbed. I am sure grateful that God will be looking out for me as a missionary, because even so it is sometimes a little nerveracking with those kind of stories. But really, I'm not worried. I'm stoked, actually. I am so pumped for Mexico! Oh and the last group of Mexican missionaries got their visas on time, so there is hope for that!

We had a missionary in our Zone go home this morning. He was homesick, and was just ready to be out of here. It was really sad to see; we talked with him, testified with him, and tried to invite him to ask God if he should stay, but he didn't want to act on any of that. But I have great hopes that he will make it out in a few months! In our Zone, there are around 7-9 districts (it changes every week), and it is so neat to work with the District Leaders and come up with ways we can serve each other during this Christmas time! There have already been many acts of service, bringing in a sweet spirit. I think what I like least is now every night we walk the residence halls and help encourage and tell Elders to get into their rooms by 10:15 and with their lights off at 10:30. However, it has been neat to see how most Elders are willing to try for exact obedience in all things, even the little things.

Well not much else to report. I am so happy to be here. And I am so grateful and thrilled to be here in the best time of year! We have a number of Christmas devotionals coming up, and I am sure we will have inspiring speakers--whoever they may be! I am grateful for my family during this time of year. Every now and then, Christmas traditions get brought up, and I am reminded of how blessed I am to be in the most perfect family for me in the world. I miss you, fam, but don't worry I'm not homesick! :)

I'm looking forward to the week I can type "I GOT MY VISA"--and hoping that that will be a future message to you all.

I wish all of you, again, a Merry Christmas during this special time of year. I also want to say that although I don't know every detail about Christ's live, although I don't know every minute of Christ's life, I know He lives. I know he is our dear redeemer. His sacrifice, coupled with His love, is infinite, and I know that His arms are outstretched to all of us. This has been a wonderful time to reflect on the blessings in my life; they are endless. I love the phrase, "all things testify of Him." How true that is.

Elder Palmer

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14th, 2010

Hola! Well this week has been another really fast seven days, but quite exciting as well! We are doing more and more teaching lessons in Spanish as a companionship, and it is such a wonderful experience! So often, while we are talking about different principles of Christ's Gospel, I will feel the Spirit testifying to me that what we are talking about is true! What a blessing! I am so grateful and thrilled to be a missionary! As I watch more and more missionaries leave, however, the excitement and anticipation of the cultural immersion I will have in Mexico becomes so real to me--and I am so excited for Mexico!

My Spanish is doing well; I have finally found an effective way to use my personal language study time, and I feel like I am progressing well in the language. There is no way I could make the progress I am making without some help from my Heavenly Father. That isn't to say some days aren't difficult. We are all learning some serious patience with trying to speak Spanish all the time, but, again, what a blessing! I can't believe I'm a missionary. There is 100% no where else I would rather be, nothing I would rather be doing, nothing I would rather be learning than what I am learning now.

Elder Hercules is still doing wonderful. We are getting to know each other more and more, and with having him around me 24/7 I am learning many lessons that I could not learn any other way. It is great though! There are certainly a few discouraging moments with the language and other little things, but they are far outweighed by the marvelous experience and preparation that being in the MTC has been and will continue to be for me. One of my roommates is a wonderful Elder, and let me tell you he loves Christmas decorations! I am more of a spot clean room with a couple photos or something, and he has transformed our room into the North Pole! Haha, it is quite humorous...we have cut out Christmas trees, stickers, candy canes, everywhere! It is crazy, but hey I am learning to get along great with a variety of people! :)

A couple days ago Elder Hercules and I were asked to become the next Zone Leaders. We are very excited for this opportunity to serve, grow, and learn so much from our wonderful Branch Presidency. This next week we will be shadowing the current Zone Leaders to get the feel of how it works, and we will be official next Sunday. I know that I will learn a lot from this opportunity to serve and I am thrilled! I am a little nervous, because now all the new missionaries will be taken through our room as a model room their first day, and, as I said before, our room is clean but kind of Christmas-ified. But it will be great. I don't know if we even get a new district before Christmas. There are 7 current operating districts in our zone, but it varies because every week some come and some leave.

Well I am running out of time, and I think that is all I have to report! I have decided that one of my favorite things about being a missionary is not only representing Jesus Christ, but testifying of Him and His redeeming influence many times every day. What a blessing! Especially in this Christmas time! Merry Christmas to all who read this!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 7th

Hola! Well, the weeks are going by so fast now! Every Tuesday, when I email home, seems to come faster and faster. I have been here 3 weeks now, with 6 more left (if all goes well with getting my visa to Mexico)--and boy am I grateful to be here! The MTC has just put up Christmas lights all around, and at night they seem to light up the environment. I just love it here! There is a sweet spirit here as everyone here is trying to becoming the best people, missionaries, and disciples of Christ as they can be.
My companion--Elder Hercules (I will never stop loving his name...even if we do get stopped everyday by people asking "whoa is that really your name?")--and I are doing so great! We have developed such a strong friendship and care for one another. We are always looking to improve our goals and set the standards a little higher for us. I have total confidence that together we will be able to achieve great things, and start becoming the missionaries we so want to be. He loves kitkats, which is really nice, because the few times the mood between us isn't perfect, I feel like I can buy him a kitkat to make it better. No, I am only joking. We really have a respect for each other, understanding that neither of us are perfect, but that we can each grow and learn from each other. I love Elder Hercules, his sweet spirit, testimony, and friendship.
The Spanish language is beautiful. I feel guilty whenever I speak in English...and I am so excited for the time when I will be able to speak Spanish to nearly EVERYONE down in Mexico. Every day, we are really trying to count the words that we say in English. My goal is to stay under 10 english words a day, but some days I just can't do it. It is so fun and exciting to learn a new language in this way! I am learning greater self-discipline and studying skills than I have in a long time! Que bueno!!!
I am grateful for the time we get everyday to study the scriptures. I am developing a greater love for them every day, along with Preach My Gospel and its wonderful teachings. On a normal day, we will have personal study in the morning, breakfast, companion study, personal language study, and then a couple blocked hours for teachers to instruct us on becoming the best missionaries we can and learning the language. Also, we have some time that we try to go and practice teaching one another, and practice contacting other companionships in the MTC. You can really tell which missionaries are sick of other missionaries contacting them, because if you and your companion approach a companionship who starts running away that is probably the case. But, in one experience, my companion and I were teaching a volunteer investigator about the Plan of Salvation. After a special meeting, we closed by asking her to pray. She said such a beautiful prayer that invited the Spirit so strongly. Although she was just a volunteer, and not a "real" investigator, I couldn't help but think about the people in Mexico that God is preparing for me to come and share the Gospel with. I am constantly reminded at how amazing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. It has changed so many lives in the past, it is changing so many lives right now, it has changed my life, and it will change so many people's lives in the future--and even more miraculous, in my opinion, than all this is that it is true. It is so true, and what a blessing that is.
Elder Holland (an Apostle for our Church, for those who don't know) came and spoke to the missionaries the other day. Since then, I have watched three other videos that contained other talks he has given, and his fire for missionary work has contagiously spread to me and inflamed my love for missionary work! I am so grateful for how much love he has for his mission. He kept on telling us how much his mission meant to him, and how much it influenced those he taught. I know that the next two years are going to change everything for me...for the better. I know, much more importantly than changing me, is that it will change the lives of wonderful Mexican people. It is so special to think about the fulness and restored Gospel being carried by thousands of missionaries to nearly every minor part of the world. I know that the Lord is leading this work.
Christmas time is wonderful. It is such a blessing to have all the decorations, all of the "Christmas Spirit," and feeling that comes from this time of year help point me back to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and what he has done for me, and all of us. I know his death, suffering, and His life was not just some story or cultural tradition. I believe and know that He lived, suffered for us, died, and lives again today. Christ is leading His Church, guiding His people, and embracing all those who will come unto Him. I am so excited to jump into the stories about Christ for study!
I guess overall things do not sound that exciting...but they sure are! Every day is amazing! I am feeling so good as I try to diligently become the missionary I know that the Lord wants me to become.
I send my love and my best wishes,
Elder Palmer
P.S. This is probably really jumbled thoughts...but we have a timer on, and my hands are shaking, and it is rather stressful trying to type what I want to. But life is good. *smile*

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010

Hola! What an experience these past two weeks have been! It has been such a wonderful experience to be learning, studying, and improving while here at the Missionary Training Center.

Just so you all know, my sister Chelsea is posting excerpts from my emails, so don't worry--I am not out bloggin while on my mission!

But as far as learning Spanish is going, I am loving it so much! Everyday, I am speaking it all day, with rarely any English (we count our English words). I am really experiencing Heavenly Father helping me out with learning the language of Spanish. I just switched to the intermediate Spanish class, from the beginning, last week and so I got a new companion and new district. My new companion is Elder Hercules. He is 22, and he is such an awesome Elder; we are becoming such fast and close friends. We have been making goals in relation to learning how to learn the language better, teach better, learn the scriptures better, and serve those around us with a greater influence--all preparing us for our service in Tuxtla Gutierrez Mexico. He is going there as well. We are progressing and having a marvelous experience in learning and feeling the Lord's spirit in our daily lives.

The experience so far is great. I know God wants me where I am now. My days are pretty much composed of Spanish lessons and study, Scripture lessons and study, teaching missionary lessons and study, and all this in Spanish. I am loving it. I don't have much time, so this week will be a little short post, I'll try to type more next week.

I know with all my heart that the work I am becoming acquainted with and engaged in is true. I know my Savior lives, and that my Father in Heaven loves me. This church I am serving for is the Lord's church; what a blessing it is in my life.

I love y'all!

Elder Palmer
Dear Mom,
(Also if you can can you forward this to other family members)

I am stressed out once again as the timer begins to click on 29 minutes and 14 seconds left. Please excuse my words if they come out as scrambled eggs.

Life is so wonderful right now! I am so grateful to be where I am! First off, I love Spanish. I love it; I love it; I love it. I am learning it pretty well--the past three days i have spoken under 30 words of English (discluding the evenings). I would love whoever can, Mom and Chelsea, etc., to write me in Spanish instead of English if you want to. I can testify, and I know that Heavenly Father is helping me with this language because I know I could never grow and progress to this point in such a short period of time. I feel like I am going to make wonderful progress by the time I leave the MTC. Speaking of leaving the MTC, my companion and I are going to fast for our visas and so we can know what Heavenly Father wants us to do while we are in the MTC. I am certain that from that fast I will understand what Heavenly Father wants me to learn before I get out into the field (and perhaps that means waiting a few more weeks for a visa).

My companion and I are best friends. Elder Hercules and I are getting along so great, and we have a better relationship than I thought was humanly possible in but a week. He is 22 and a wonderful Elder--we are setting our goals so high every day and every week, and I am certain we will accomplish great things and draw closer together and closer to our Father in Heaven during this wonderful experience and opportunity to be at the MTC. My new district and new class is awesome! Our district has a total variety of individuals, and we have become a closeknit family. We speak Spanish all the time. We aren't even allowed to say, "Como se dice..." We have to spell English things out in Spanish. One of my teachers is a Latino returned missionary--she is a powerhouse and pushes us so hard! The other is a sweet Elder who lovingly helps us improve and encourages us to live our testimony and make our testimonies central to our teaching.

A few random things. During a devotional on Sunday, I sat next to an Elder who before his mission was playing professional soccer for Chelsea! Like one of the best teams in England!!! I was like--awesome! Also, during gym time I have been pushing myself on my pushup record. The MTC keeps a record of the highest straight pushups, pullups, mile run time, etc., and I beat the MTC push up record. I did 143 push ups. My goal while I am here is to get 200 straight pushups so no one breaks my record for a long time.

Today, I just got back from the temple. I did proxy sealings as a child. It was a special experience, and a sweet feeling to be able to participate in that ordinance. I know with all of my heart and all of the conviction that is in me--from experience, feelings, observations, and witnesses of the Holy Spirit, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. That the church we are a part of is the Lord's church on the earth. More than anything, I know, I feel, and I believe that my dear Savior and friend lives. That Jesus Christ truly can help us overcome anything and become the best people that we can be. I am so grateful for the testimony that I have, and the gifts that Heavenly Father has given me to feel the sweet pricks of the Holy Ghost confirming my convictions. So often missionaries start talking about deep doctrine and things we will probably never know in this life, but I am so grateful that the uncertainties of this life are weighed completely down with the truths and precious doctrines that we do know. I know God is watching out for me right now, and I am grateful for that.

I hope that that isn't too short, I am stopping at 15 minutes, so that I can email Angela and Dad. Please show this email to Dad and others though! Thanks!

Question for you mom--what do you wish missionaries would do and/or learn during their time in the MTC?

I love you dearly! I think about you a lot, every night before I go to bed, but I certainly am as far from homesick as possible. I am soooo happy to be doing the work I am doing right now, and I can't wait to get out into the field. I love you mom! Miss ya! and miss the family tons too! You are all in my prayers.


Elder Palmer

November 23


With but a little time will i write this letter, so forgive any spelling errors or any situations shared with little detail. First off, I love you and miss you! Also, a few "housekeeping" items:
1) Bouncy balls--in order to improve memorization, many Elders are using bouncy balls, kind of random I know, but could you send me a couple sometime?
2)Mr. Mac--I have my other suit in for mending and dry cleaning. They said that it will take three weeks! And so, Mr. Mac hasn't quite sent the second pants to the new suit yet, which would be quite useful, so if you wouldn't mind could you call and see if they are sending those anytime soon?
3) Typhoid Shot--I had my typhoid shot done a couple days ago. I didn't know what you wanted me to do for payment, so I just said you'd call with your credit card ID number or something. So could you do that please?
4) My p-day is officially tuesdays, and instead of emailing, could you dearelder.com me while I am in the MTC? I know you and dad haven't done either yet, but I just wanted to let you know that dearelder would be perfect so that I can read it on a day other than p-day and write (not read) emails the whole time during my thirty minutes on p-day.
5) Last thing--sorry!--could you send me the mission office addresses of neils hazen, jordan mccullough, and david germann? And also the email addresses of everyone in our immediate family?

OK! Phew, I wanted to get all the things that I was worrying I would forget off my belt at first. So let me know if you have any concerns or anything about any of them. I would appreciate any help with those though.
Now down to business. This past week has been marvelous. I am so grateful and soooo excited to be here in the MTC and preparing to be out in the field. I arrived to the MTC and got my first companion, Elder Erickson (going to Mexico City South mission), and my two other roomates were going to my mission! Woot! So that was great! Elder Erickson was pretty homesick, particularly for his girlfriend, so we did a lot of talking about how amazing and helpful our missions will be for the rest of our lives. We became really close, and had a lot of tender experiences feeling the Spirit and receiving revelation for our companionship together.

However, last Friday, I tested out of beginning Spanish and was placed into Intermediate Spanish. Another one of my roomates did the same, but neither of us found out what was going to happen until Monday. And so on Monday, they pulled us out of our normal class and then took us straight to the intermediate. The other roomate that tested out of beginning with me is Elder Hercules (I know awesome huh?). He is going to my mission, and we are really becoming close friends (he is now my new companion). He is 22 and is a wonderful Elder with a sweet yet strong testimony. We have been sharing a lot of our testimonies with different principles of the Gospel together these past few days, and have really created a strong bond. So, I got him as my companion on Monday, and it was in some ways sad leaving Elder Erickson and the other roomate, our district, and our teachers, but I am sure that intermediate Spanish is where we need to be to progress and that it is where the Lord wants us. In beginner, I knew almost every vocab word and grammar principle they taught, so I wasn't progressing at all but I was able to help others in our district. But now, from the first second in intermediate, we are speaking Spanish all day every day, except P-day, gym time, and after 945 PM. So in two days I have learned tons! Our companionship in some ways is a threesome. Me, Elder Hercules, and my Spanish dictionary haha. The Lord is really helping me out with Spanish, and I feel like at this rate my companion and I will be able to say anything we want to in Spanish in any tense or conjugation in but a couple of weeks. So, I barely know my new district, but I am so excited to get to know them. One of them is a REALLY strong convert of two years, and I LOVE talking with him. I am so grateful to be here.

This first letter I am sure is all over the place. I will get better about organizing my thoughts before hand with this limited time I have. But, I don't have time to write a seperate email, so if you could show this to Dad and Chels that would be awesome!

So a ton has happened. I am now (as of two days) in a new district and in a new companionship. But, now I will be set in one place for 8 weeks at least. Hurrah! But anyway, I just want you and Dad and anyone else in our family you forward this to know that I love you. I want you all to know that I have a burning testimony and burning witness that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and every day I am feeling closer to Him. Despite any opposing arguments or evidence, I know that this church we are a part of is true. I have had countless pricks from the Holy Spirit telling me and testifying to me that these things are true. Every day, more tender mercies of the Lord are manifest around me. I am ecstatic, enthralled, yet humbled to have this sacred responsibility to be a missionary. I am having so much fun, but even more spiritual growth while I am immersed in the language, scriptures, and missionary life here at the MTC. I went to the Temple today, and I am reminded of the beautiful and real plan that our Father in Heaven has set for us. I am so glad and grateful that He loves us so much.

So quick recap:
Language--going amazing! I knnow way more than I though, and am learning more than i thought was possible in this short abmount of time
Spiritual--some of the most tender and amazing expereiences in my life so far
Comapanion--old and new amazing!!!!!

I love you dearly,
Elder Palmer

P.S. I will write a lot more, and try to do more detail next time, but the timer is on like under a minute so I need to go now!!!

Please dearelder me!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Going on a Mission

Tomorrow I leave for my mission! I am so excited for this opportunity to serve; I have been preparing, waiting, and dreaming of this experience ahead of me my whole life. While I know I will grow personally in many ways, I also know that more importantly others' lives will be blessed and changed as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for my call as a missionary and a representative of my Lord, Savior, and best friend, Jesus Christ. I am humbled and thrilled to serve my God all day everyday, as an instrument in His hands. I will be serving the people I will be around in many ways, teaching them about Christ and His gospel, helping them find happiness and meaning to their lives, and working hard to assist and serve them in any way possible.

My sister, Chelsea, will be posting my letters and photos from my mission on this blog. I will share experiences as well as feelings and impressions. On the side bar, there will always be my current address that anyone can send letters to. I will appreciate any letters and do my best to respond!

This message I am bringing to the people of Mexico means everything to me. I know with all of my heart and with every part of my mind that there is a God; He lives and He loves us. I believe that despite the trials and difficulties of this life, which so often seem unfair, God has a plan for us. And that plan is a plan of joy, of happiness, a plan of peace. The center of this plan, the way it is made possible, is through God's Son, our Savior and dear friend, Jesus Christ. Even though I don't know about every day when Christ walked on the earth, I know He was here, that He died for us, and that He lives again today. I am certain that through His perfect life, example, and suffering for us, we can be cleansed of our mistakes. That we can be strengthened to reach our potential and have true joy and peace. After I die, I have the utmost assurance that I am not going to disappear or vanish, but return to live with my Father in Heaven. Oh, what a wonderful thing it is to know that we have a God and a Savior who have a plan for us. God did restore the fullness of His gospel to the earth through a prophet a couple centuries ago in America. And that the Book of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ), coupled with the Bible, are the word of our Father in Heaven, and can help confirm to us that this gospel is true. I am no scripture scholar, but I have read, pondered, prayed, and received a sweet confirmation that those books are true. The authority and power of God is fully rested on His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Time and time again a serene confirmation has come over me that the things I have testified of are true. I know these things are true. I am ever grateful for them; they have changed my life and will continue to do so. I cannot wait to share this with anyone that I can as a missionary for my God.