Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30th, 2011

Wow, what a week! First thing, before I forget, I received letters this last Zone Conference, and it came to my attention that the majority of the letters had been written a long time ago. So, if it takes a long time for me to respond to some of you, lets blame the mexican mail system (with a combination of not much time to write letters)...=)

Leiver got Baptized this Saturday! We had a little meeting for this, and then went to a nearby river and had a beautiful experience as he took this step in following Jesus Christ. It was such a special thing, and confirmed my testimony of the importance of this symbolic act. I have learned in the mission, how real the promise we make with God at Baptism is. We promise to follow Him and do our part (repenting, gaining faith, etc.), and He promises countless blessings in this life and in the life to come.

A few random experiences and notes:
     -There aren`t any changes, so I will be with Elder Walker here in Yajalon for another 6 weeks! Its a good thing :)
     -We contacted this one person who wanted to talk in English. Her English wasn´t very good, but she laughed and told us that our English is     terrible. I like Spanish much more than English right now. Haha.
     -Lots of people carry big pirate swords (in my eyes...but just machetes haha) everywhere they go. And this one guy whipped it out and started hitting a drunk with the blunt part while we were contacting him. We sprinted the other way. haha.
     -We have to go to ocosingo for the next two Sundays! That will be a difficult challenge to work through again. Its been like 6 weeks since we have had to go to Ocosingo for Church.
     -Members of the Stake presidency came to church here the other day, and said they are going to start helping us with support in finding a better meeting place and all that good stuff. Between the three active families of the church, they have been paying for the rent of the little Casa de Oración.
     -In the different neighborhoods, water only arrives every 8 days. Thanks to storage, we normally have water, but we haven´t have running water for a day now, and won´t for another couple of days. Showering with store bought water doesn´t quite feel the same.   

Also, to Nick...I just got your letter and I am working on responses for your questions, however when you talk to the missionaries in Austin ask them these questions also. And when you get a Book of Mormon, read it with excitement. I´ll send you references for that. I just wanted to include this so you know, because it will probably take a long time for my letter to arrive.

For those who know, and those who don´t know, every morning we get the chance to study the scriptures. I feel every morning reinforced the need I have for my Savior. Why would God send His Son to Earth to die? Because we need Him; because he fulfills the very plan of happiness made fore us. I know that Jesus Christ lives now, lifts us up, and loves us always. I don´t know why it is so easy for questions and doubts to naturally invade the human mind, but I do know that through the sweet influence of the Spirit they can be dissipated--replacing them with the comfort and solace that comes from constant truths. Like that of our Savior.

Oh está, todo bien!
Elder Palmer

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23rd, 2011

I am feeling very good right now. I am heading to San Cristobal...again...for a Zone Conference. Everytime we have a conference, we have to travel more than most of the missionaries because of the location of our city. It takes about four hours traveling to San Cristobal--if only they had real freeways we could cut that time in half.
Like we have said, we have 6 active adult members of the church, and about 6 kids that are active. But in church yesterday, the Lord really did bless some people with the desire to attend church because we had 34 people there, 14 that are not members. There was a very special spirit there.
Leiver, the most prepared investigator we are teaching, got married on Saturday in a little town called Chilon nearby. Finally! We have been trying to help him save money, and do the work to get married for some months now. He, with lots of animo, did all the work this last week, and will get baptized this week if all goes well. He is about 30 years old, and I am stoked for him and his family to prepare to become an eternal family later.
Also, we had a kind of funny/special experience. By the way, it is starting to rain a lot. Here, it varies between really hot and pouring rain. And we had our weekly fireside on a Wednesday at 7 o clock. Right beforehand, it started to rain hard, and so nobody arrived by seven. We offered a prayer that those that had the desire to come would arrive. Within 30 minutes, a large group arrived. But then, we realized that we didnt have light. Our little rented room for church doesnt have electricity, and so we had been borrowing with extension plugs from the neighbor--but they moved. So, with the "fire" of our cell phone, we had a special "fireside." Somehow, the investigators were all good with it, and enjoyed socializing and listening in the dark.
One young man of 22 years, who had been a member of the church, Luis, accepted us to teach him and his nonmember wife. They started to pray every day together, and realized the power that entered their relationship from that. He is way stoked, and the fire of a testimony that he used to have is back up. We are excited for his wife to prepare for baptism, his younger brother to prepare for the mission, and his older brother and parents to make the gospel of Jesus Christ a part of who they are.
After teaching about Jesus Christ to a family, an 8 year old girl asked us a question that really touched my heart. She asked us, "why did those people kill Jesus?" It was so innocent and sweet. We told her that they didn´t really know who He was. Like this young girl knows, I too know that Jesus Christ is our  Savior. 
We have watched the movie of the Restoration with investigators a lot this week, and there is one line I would like to finish with. The father of Joseph Smith says at one point, "I don´t think that He [God] intends to save only a few of His children."
I know that that is true. I know that God wants and truly desires that all of us return to His presence with our families. I feel the truth that God wants this for me and for all the people we teach: for my family now, and my future family. 
Much love and greetings from Yajalon Mexico,
Elder Palmer

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17th, 2011

This week was a very wonderful week. We have felt the hand of the Lord in guiding us to much success. A family that was a reference from a member is now preparing for baptism, a twelve year old kid that is so sharp and already has a testimony strong. We have been meeting with the family of a menos active member...he has began to accept us and go to church, while his wife is praying and reading. They are going to be a strong family in the church I know it! Leiver now has his wedding scheduled for this Saturday in a community nearby, and his Baptism the following Sunday. Really, we are way excited for the wonderful people we are teaching right now, and more than anything, the eternal families that are going to be created. I am grateful to see--as I think I always say--how much the gospel blesses families.
Also, yesterday we had a very special opportunity to listen to Elder Cook! We traveled in total about fourteen hours to travel to Tuxtla and then return from Tuxtla. Ya, they don´t have highways here really. Just really long windy roads with a variety of trucks, taxis, and vans that we take. There was such a sweet spirit there, and I felt like his message was prepared for me (as i am sure all of the Elders did). More than anything, I was touched with how he shared about the influence that we can have. That it is not an accident that we are where we are. I know that that is true...even though it is hard to see sometimes, I have felt the reassuring touch of the Spirit letting me know that I am where the Lord wants me to be. I know that all of us are put in situations, with people, and challenges, for a reason that our Father in Heaven knows.
My companion is great! He is quiet, but a very special missionary. We are becoming great friends.
We learned how important it is to do service this week. We have a family that we are teaching that we didnt know what to do in order to help them progress. My companion suggested that we serve them in some way or another. When we arrived, we asked that we wanted to help do some service for them. The mom was saying all sorts of stuff "oh but you will get stains..." etc. But nevertheless, with persistence, they gave us something to do. We went out back of their humble house and they gave us a machete (more like a big sword thing that you see pirates with) and told us to clear a section of the weeds, trash, plants, and stuff. Machetes for people here play the role of everything...weedwhacker, lawnmower, harvester, and who knows what else. All the time, people are just walking around with these big machetes. I didn´t find much success with the machete, and so we went at it with hands. Then we helped them fix up a little house. We shared a message, and went on. However, the mother--always skeptical and a little standoff from us--was very content. She looked like she had much more trust in us. I know that they will be able to progress.
We are stoked to be teaching families and wonderful people. I am not going to lie, missionary work is harder than I thought it would be. Really, I had no idea. Every day, my testimony is challenged by people; sometimes it is hard to stay animated; it is sometimes devastating to see the obstacles that are put in our Investigators paths; and much more. But, I am learning a lot from these challenges. Every day, I learn a little more how little I am and how big God is. How real the fact that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that we have a Savior because I can feel it inside me. When I turn to the Lord, I feel the warm hug of our Savior.
Sorry if this was long. But I am sure grateful for one of the most special weeks I have had in my mission.
Elder Palmer

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 9th, 2011

I just got back from visiting Mayan ruins--Tonina it is called. It was a really really big pyramid thing with lots of steps and little habitations and cool art. I decided that this civilization had to be small people and they had to have really strong calves, as there were more stairs than I have seen there. I don´t know if I mentioned it, but Yajalon is in a valley thing, so there are a lot of hills and big staircases in all sides of the city. But not quite as many as Tonina.
I had the opportunity one day to go on exchanges with Elder Hercules! What a treat that was, and we were able to work my area like good old times. I am pretty sure we are going to be companions one day again.
A quick spiritual experience. Tuesday was one of those days. Every lesson fell through, and I felt like we weren´t able to accomplish anything. I felt pretty down that night. Before I went to sleep, I prayed with all my heart and had to humble myself a lot--recognizing my reliance on Him and my need for His help. I prayed for help and the Spirit. The next day, I felt the influence of the Spirit so strong. We had wonderful references from members that we could contact, a day of success, but above all the Spirit of the Lord strengthening us and testifying of the truths that we share. I know God answers our prayers...even our pleas.
One of our investigators got together with one of the members and painted the main room in our little ¨Casa de Oracion¨. Now our little house that used to have holes in the walls and drawings all over, and pink paint, is a solid beige color with leveled walls. It is major progress. I am looking forward to making this little house ours, a little more attractive, and helping people arrive there to feel the weekly strength of God in their lives.
In our area, there are four members of the church that are inactive males with spouses that aren´t members of the church. We are starting to teach them all, and two couples arrived at church this week. I have seen and have such a testimony that the Gospel with strengthen a family more than anything else. Just avoiding addictions and being a ¨good person¨ certainly helps, but I know that to have a faith in Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel brings people together in harmony even more. I have felt how true it is that families can be together...and how important it is.
Being away from my family for a so many other missionaries...has helped me recognize that there is nothing more important than returning to live with our Heavenly Father in happiness, personally and as a family.
I know that all of that is possible through Jesus Christ.
Much love,
Elder Palmer
P.S. In a lot of the areas of the city only gets water every 8 days. And sometimes they skip that day. Normally it doesn´t affect us because our apartment has a reservoir up top, but this past week it did for a little more than a day. We showered with like five gallon water jug thing that we bought. (in spanish they are called Garrafón...much easier than five gallon water jug thing. I don´t know what it would be in English)