Thursday, December 29, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY. Whoever reads this...I hope Sunday is a wonderful Christmas day for all of ya´ll.
Ok, well, this week was pretty good in some ways, and not great with health for Elder Sanchez. He had Denge a couple of months ago, and has been a little bad this week in his health. We went to the doctor, because he has red eyes, and can´t focus on things very well, among other symptoms. There, we found out, that in these months he has already lost 20 pounds. And he already was a skinny guy...So that has been a little rough for him, but we are still leaving out to work.
Random note: we have a hammock in our house, and I slept in it every night this week...very comfortable.
We had our activity Triple A- animo, amor, y activación on Saturday. Unfortunately, many people had other activities, so we were only like 12-15 people from the Ward. However, it was great...we made plates of goodies, and finished the cards. We divided in groups, and did visits to about 21 different less-actives or investigators. It was a special moment, and those that went became much more excited about missionary work. We truly are gaining the trust of the Ward members, and hope to work on their side this week.
Carlos Hernandez is a funny old man that has 2 grandchildren kidnapped more or less right now. He came to church on Sunday, and later told us that if he comes to know that the Book of Mormon is true, that he will be baptized. Karen is the cousin of an investigator from earlier in the transfer-Fernando. She came to church, loved it, and said she will come next week. Also, we had the pleasant surprise of giving a talk on sunday...and I was grateful for the numerous occasions that we had that in Yajalon to almost make it normal for me.
Spiritual Experience of the week:
We went to the house of a lady in the ward, shared a hymn, and asked for references. She gave us two good references. One of them is named Maria José, and as we began to talk with her she told us that 15 days beforehand, her best friend died. She was angry beforehand with God, and wouldn´t listen to people talk about Him. However, she listened to us...and as we testified of the reality of a life after death, the spirit was so present. I felt a certainty about what we told her. While we walked away from her house, I remembered of many prayers that I had made to God about 7 or 8 months ago pleading Him to help me know with a surety that the plan of Salvation is real. That experience was an answer to my prayer, and I hope that she will progress in the Gospel.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dec. 14th, 2011

Ok. Well, the biggest even of this past week was such an inspiring Zone Conference. I believe it was one of the most motivating and spiritual reunion that I have had. Beforehand, frankly, I think that most of the elders felt a distance between them and our new President. Some had lost trust in him as he made some surprising calls of leadership in the mission. For me, I just didn`t feel like I knew him beforehand very well...however, I think every one left that conference feeling a deep respect for him, a certainty of the inspiration in his actions, and excitement to work. Many of the principles he talked about apply to more than just missionary work.

I don`t have time to share everything, but maybe one or two thoughts. He talked about "telarañas". Literally, it translates as spider webs.  However, in Spanish (in Mexico...I don`t know about other parts) it refers to mental barriers, believing generalizations, excuses, and/or really a lack of faith. He talked about how in the mission, unfortunately, "telarañas" were prevailing. Examples such as: my companion doesn`t work hard, the members don`t help us, there are sooo many inactives, this area never baptizes, I`ve talked to everyone in this neighborhood, they are all Catholic and won`t change, and the list goes on and on. Truly, I was able to recognize the "telarañas" that I had, and the barrier that that is creating between me and success. I felt the inspiring feeling that we are the people God needs, we are in the right place at the right time, and that we can work miracles...if our unbelief doesn`t hinder it.

Also, in the conference, apart from many other things, we played a few Christmas games, sang a few Christmas songs (’d be proud, I tried doing harmony in small groups haha)...and ate the best i have eaten in the mission. However, for me, the greatest of all was that Elder Hercules came, visiting, from the offices, and Elder Peterson (roommate from MTC too) is now in Tapachula...what a joyful reunion those type of moments can be. I repeat...Elder Hercules is my hero (literally ha!)--he is such a fine missionary. Elder Peterson, too...he was so humble, and has truly worked some grand miracles in his mission!

With the work here, we are trying to apply new principles. We recognize that the obstacle, more than anything, is helping people come to church. Sometimes, I feel like it was easier in Yajalon inviting people to travel 2 hours and pay 100 pesos to go to church than here when it is around the corner. However, we are thinking of new things that we can do to help them.

We are excited for our ward activity we are planning... Triple A (AAA) animo, amor, y activation. We chose 18 families (6 in three neighborhoods) that we will make plates of cookies and go visit this Saturday.

I send my love and testimony, and deep thanks for the prayers on my behalf. I feel the support from them, and pray that the work keeps upward and onward here.


Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5th, 2011

                                                The photo is of a small part of Xochimilco
Hola! This week has been good. I will try once again to give details. OK...well in the mornings Elder Sanchez and I continue running and doing exercise outside...sometimes we run to the church building and play futbol on their field, and then we eat a little breakfast. It is so hot here, even at like 8 in the we are always drinking waters like a camel in a sauna. I love my three study is like a gift from God: 3 hours to study with no interruptions. It could be the only time in my life with that sweet deal. Our mission president has advised us in our personal study of the scriptures to divide it into three parts of 20 minutes. 1st- read and study the Book of Mormón, 2nd- study the doctrine that we teach people (using the Book of Mormon, Bible, Preach my Gospel, and other books), and 3rd- to study 1 of 8 topics that are part of the simplified curriculum for missionary work. In our companionship study, we do a number of things that I won´t list here, but also we practice for what we are going to teach people in the day. One time this week, we practiced contacting people, but it didn´t work because we ended up laughing a bunch. In the night, we plan the next day, fill out paperwork, write in our journal, and if there is time (rarely, but every once in a while) I hop into our hammock and enjoy that comfort. I love hammocks...and I must confess that one night I accidentally fell asleep in the hammock all night.

The work is going well. The Ward is brightening up, giving us people (family members or friends) to teach, and we are planning a number of activities. We are pending on our Open House activity, but next week we will do a "tarde de reactivación". This idea came to me as i thought about how in the states, we often bake cookies and take them to people, so we are going to talk to the sisters in Relief Society to make tomales or whatever, and then as a ward in divided groups we will take them to less actives and investigators to tell them hi, merry christmas, and we hope to see them strong in church. So we will see how that goes. We hope to see Jorge Osorio, piano player and brother of a member in the ward, get baptized on Christmas eve. 

Also, we had the Christmas devotional. That was so good. On our way there, we went with a family who owns a Combe (a huge van for public transport)...and we went to pick up some investigators. There were four kids noisier that an elephant in a firestorm right next to me, however, I still managed to feel very uplifted by the Christmas message. The poor mom looked like she wanted to throw the towel in and give up at the end of that devotional.

Margarita is a woman who got baptized when she was a child, and inactivated the same year. Now, 30 years later, her son Michell just got baptized a month ago with Elder Sanchez. Her son is a handful, and pretty funny. She had attended a christian church for years beforehand, and yesterday at church shared how she feels something special...and familiar to her that draws her to come to church with us. It is a wonderful thing seeing the conversion process take form in many different people.

Sometimes I just get so excited I think I weird my companion out. Other times, I am more calm. However, its all good, and we get along well and are trying to improve. I have realized in the mission that my Christlike attribute that I lack the most of is patience. I used to joke with my companions that I would try to develop patience, but I don´t have time. Haha. However, I am trying to develop that with Elder Sanchez. 

It is an interesting quest, as a missionary, to try and become the best missionary...but still be your self. I will always remember the phrase my mom always says, "Be your best self", and how true it is! God doesn´t want me to be someone else, but He wants me to be the best me, finding a balance and funneling my "best me" to being the best missionary I can. Sometimes, I have found it difficult to remember that. Before the mission, I felt happy soo often so easily. Now, I sometimes have to work hard to be happy, and to remember who I am. But ya, I´m going to cut these abstract conclusions and finish my letter.

To finish, I want to testify of the life of Jesus Christ. It is December, and almost Christmas, and we get to remember His life in so many aspects. His love; His sacrifice. And what all of that means to us now. Honestly, I believe that He came to this world, was our Savior, and in that made possible eternal life. In the Christmas Devotional, they mentioned eternal life a number of times. It is true, through Christ we can obtain that. 

Ánimo de Tapachula, Chiapas,

Elder Palmer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

November 28th, 2011

O.K. I don´t have quite as many details to say this week like last week, but I will try for you, Mom. That photo is about the baptism on Saturday of Flor de Maria. She is the lady in my past area (Jardines) that had been waiting to get baptized for four years...and finally got married. We got permission to go to the baptism. Her family is incredible, her and her daughter (who is a member), have such strong testimonies, and I am so grateful for their example to me. The Baptismal service was very very special. She has back problems, and so we were praying that she would be able to submerge 100% without too much pain in the Baptism, and too our great satisfaction it went perfectly without much pain. Afterwards, she had a large meeting with a group of people celebrating her marriage.
In my new area, Xochimilco, we are still having difficulties in finding new investigators. We have been studying, thinking, and trying new ideas to find people. Sometimes, just knocking on a bunch of doors doesn´t seem very effective (even though it is sometimes necessary). So, we are looking for a better way. Our ¨ward¨ has between 55 and 60 people in church on sundays...and we are trying to plan some activities to get them excited. I really admire many of the members here. They are such simple, faithful people. Many of them were pioneers here in Tapachula, and they have stuck to it through thick and thin...truly clinging to the iron rod. However, the numerous inactive members in our area are those lost sheep that we hope to help the members rescue.
Elder Palmer

November 21st, 2011

O.k...well a little birdie seems to tell me that my family wants more details about my life and mission. So, I will do my best to write details and little nitpicky things to sound like me and not a weekly reporter. This first photo is with my new companion. And yes, those are two snakes that are my little buddies. This is in the house of a family in the ward; the mom used to be the Mamita for many years for the Elders...but they just abolished that. However, we eat there on Mondays, and I like playing with their pet snakes. One is named Taquito.

The next photo is from a baptism a few weeks ago with Elder Dìaz. (Arlette and Yuleimi are being baptized).

Now with Elder Sanchez, we get along really well. He is really funny, speaks the best english out of all of the mexican missionaries I know, and maybe will go to BYU afterwards. We enjoy being companions, and it has been the smoothest transition going to being his companion: in teaching, talking, contacting, etc.

Um...honestly...we did get to this area with very few investigators (none with baptismal date). Im kind of used to it...getting to a new area, asking who do we have, and hearing about few people. It isn`t bad about Elder Sanchez...because they just baptized the investigators they had, but we are going to have to do lots of contacting. We tried all sorts of creative contacting ways (even to singing hymns on the doorstep...that was fun). We found one young man-Fernando-who has a family member who is a Mormon and Elder Sanchez knows him from Mexico D.F. He accepted a baptismal date, and we will see where that goes.

Our house is pretty good actually. It is the first time I have drawers or a closet to put my clothes in while in Mexico...score! Xochimilco is in the same District as Jardines, so I still am stomping on the ground of my last area a lot (district meetings, etc.). My companion is a district leader for the first time, and his first baptismal interview was Marcelo (the young man that I taught). Marcelo still isn`t ready for baptism. However, if yall remember Flor de Maria (the awesome lady who has attended church for 4 years and not been baptized), she will be baptized this saturday, and the President gave permission so that I can baptize her in the baptismal service this Saturday.

Chapter nine of Preach My Gospel is about how we can find people that are prepared. I am studying, and I think I will be restudying that Chapter this whole transfer.

The Church is good...the ward is small and a little too calm. We will do what we can to get the members excited and increase the attendance. It is really sad to see how many less actives there are in these areas. Some wards have like 60 people active, and like 400 inactive. However, there are a number of families here that were part of the pioneering in Tapachula, and they are very strong.

How else can I be detailed? Oh, there is a Chedraui in our area! It is the mexican walmart. So, that is crazy. Um...what else. Oh that third photo is a picture of the milk and water here. We have to drink water from a Garrafon (20 liter jug) because we can`t drink from the tap, and the milk comes in a box. I will miss a lot of Mexican food when I return one day, but I will not miss the boxed milk. It tastes funny.

Muy bien. La vida es buena,
Elder Palmer
                           Bum bum...du da bum bum...da du--da du dooooo da du doooo dò dò.
                                              Mission impossible. code: tapachula over.

It always makes my laugh when I see a pig randomly in the road

                                                        Making pan a couple of weeks ago