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*