Dec 27, 2011

Christmas! is over...

Hola!! Como le fue la Navidad por todos de ustedes? Me encanta la Navidad!

Where to begin...

Well, we had another Christmas party! It was on Christmas Eve and this time it was with our zone. It was HEAPS of fun - we had a testimony meeting and then a white elephant gift exchange. Elder Axxx's was probably the funniest - he gave a stuffed animal dog and two pictures of himself printed up as a Christmas card from Walgreens or somewhere and the frame had scooby doo on it. He's apparently a big Scooby Doo fan. The hot items were all healthy things - like a jumprope, ankle weights, and the like. Some of the trading got pretty heated, but we managed to all end up fairly happy with what we got. I got a Haunakka cup that lights up and a granola bar, candy cane, box of raisins, hot cocoa packet (single serving) and a Christmas ornament of a Boston was a little random, but fun :)

So, a cultural sidenote about the way that Hispanic people celebrate Christmas: They celebrate the holiday on the 24th - Noche de buena. They stay up till midnight, open presents, and then dance and talk and eat until the wee hours of the morning. It's kinda crazy! I was sad that we received strict instruction to still be home by 9:00...we even thought about celebrating Hispanic style by opening our gifts the night before, but decided we were pretty stinkin' we opened our Pajamas (well, Hermana Hales opened hers before I even got here because her mom wanted her to have her feety pajamas before it got cold) and then went to bed. You might say it wasn't very eventful, but we were pretty well-rested the next day. A lot of the families told us before Sunday that they wouldn't be coming to church because they were going to be sleeping and recovering from the previous night's festivities.

So at Church on Sunday, we started the meeting five minutes late (9:05) with about 10 or 15 people in the chapel. Thankfully we had a lot of people show up late and we pretty much filled the benches. It was a blast after sacrament meeting. We just had one hour, so after sacrament everyone was fixin to go home and everyone knows everyone, pretty much, and they were all full of Christmas Spirit so everyone hugs and says "Feliz Navidad!" and we got a little loaf of zuchinni bread and got to introduce our investigator, Dxxxxx, to a bunch of people. It was super awesome! I was so excited that she made it to sacrament meeting this time! The last two weeks she hasn't been getting there until Sunday School or Relief Society. Granted, she was still 15 minutes late, but that's only because we woke her up when we called at 8:40 :)

I was worried about how I might feel on Christmas. I figured it would be super forelorn and awful without my family. While it was definitely a little sad, I really loved getting to skype and see everyone...and then I was totally fine! We had a great Christmas! We had a Christmas Dinner with Hermana Cxxxx Cxxx - her family is super AWESOME! She has 4 kids. I haven't met the oldest brother, but Mxxxx, Jxxxxxx, and Jxxxx are hilarious and it was super fun to be around them on Christmas - we got the traditional tamale but we also got a typical Salvadoranian dish called "Pan con pollo." It's just a sandwich, but it's got this super delicious sauce - I don't know what's in it. So it's toasted bread, chicken, sliced boiled eggs, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, coleslaw and that sauce stuff. Mmmm! Delish!

The last week was awesome! We totally had a "mini-missionary" show up on Tuesday night. Nobody informed us until Tuesday morning when we got a call from President Evans. So, she came and lived the life of a missionary for 3 days and it was a total blast! We got along SUPER well! Hermana Bxxxx is from Rhode Island and is going to school at BYU to get a degree in Geneology studies or something like that. She's super chill and we had a lot of fun taking her tracting and all that good missionary stuff. Since she was only here for a few days, I got Hermana Hales to let us splurge and go out for pizza since we discovered a mutual love for all things flat, round, doughy, saucy, and cheesy :)

Well, this ends the kind of random account of my past week. One last thing in closing...we went around delivering Christmas gifts to our investigators and some of the less-active members. We gave them a "Living Christ" and just a written note since we really can't afford to get them all fancy, expensive things. Taking a chance to study The Living Christ was really awesome for me! I haven't read it in a while and it was really nice to have a good reminder of just how vital the role of Jesus Christ is in our lives. I KNOW my Savior lives and I'm SO incredibly grateful for his sacrifice so that I can have Eternal Life.

Hermana Palmer


Dec 19, 2011

Well, Time Flies

I am just starting this and I literally have only 15 minutes. So, it will be a short Christmas greeting - sorry about that!

I just want to tell you all how much I love and adore you! Christmas is a little sadder this year because I don't get to be with my beloved family and friends, but honestly this season has been really special for me this year. Never have I ever focused so much on the Savior which is a little sad because He is honestly the whole reason that we have Christmas - I mean, it's his birthday and all I have ever done to celebrate is give other people gifts. I'm trying (and still need to improve a little) to give more to the Savior. To become more like the person I know He would want me to be. Merry Christmas!

This last week has been a little crazy! We had to move the other sisters out of our apartment on Friday and so we had 8 or 10 elders traipsing through our apartment. It was kinda weird! Usually there is no one in our apartment but us four...and sometimes the landlord and his wife when they need to fix something or install something. Now our apartment is rather barren - our front room is where the other sisters used to study and now all we have is a couch and a tree. On the bright side, apart from the fact that our landlords live beneath us, we could totally have a rollerblading rink :) I have had a hankering to go rollerblading lately and when we went to Saugus last week to go to Sally's (Salvation Army) we saw one and I really wanted to go! Too bad we didn't have time.

We have two investigators that are really progressing - Dxxxxx and la familia Nxxx (a part-member family).  Dxxxxx has been to church the last two weeks and she loves it! She is doing super well in her Book of Mormon reading and we feel like she is really gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel. She is just the sweetest thing ever :) Then there's the familia Nxxx. Dxxxx (mom) and Gxxxxxx (daughter) are both nonmembers but Fxxxxx (dad) is. Fxxxxx's pretty inactive but we've been meeting with Dxxxx and Gxxxxx pretty regularly. We taught them about the Plan of Salvation this week and Dxxxx was getting really into it - she was reading the pamphlet and asking lots of really good questions. The lesson went fine and then we were going to end with a prayer. We finally got her to say a prayer out loud because she shyed out of it during the last two lessons. Her prayer brought the Spirit into that room SO much stronger than anything either one of us could have said during that lesson. She was so sincere in asking for the ability to read and learn for herself and in blessing her family that they would be able to come to church this week. They didn't make it to church this week because Dxxxx and Gxxxxxx had gotten ready and then fallen asleep in front of the TV :) But they did come to the "Cena Navidenia" with the ward on Saturday. I'm really excited for all of them!

Speaking of the Christmas dinner - it was absolutely crazy! It was supposed to start at 5:00 and it didn't actually start until 6:00 (not even sacramant meeting starts on time in this ward) and I got to play piano last minute because the primary pianist (Sister Ixxxxxx - the Bishop's wife) is in Brazil with her families for a few weeks over the holiday. The primary pageant was cute from what I could see behind the piano, and then as tables were overflowing with people we got to help serve all the tamales. :) Not my favorite but I'm learning to love it. Then once everyone was finishing the food, they cranked up the tunes and started dancing - EVERYONE danced! Hermana Sxxxxx (who is probably 70 something) was doing her thing with her daughter on the dance floor. I wanted to get in on the action so bad! They were having such a good time.

Life is good - I'm doing well I'm excited for Christmas. Thanks for the letters and packages and prayers and love. I am so blessed to have so much support!

Also, I actually KNEW as I was writing my letter last week about going to Nahant that Dad would totally be all over google maps :) Love that about our family! I'm inheriting it a little bit. Sidenote - I'm starting to understand where everything is! I could probably drive around for a little while before getting lost. It's a start! Roads are so incredibly crazy here!

Well, I love you all! Feliz Navidad and all that!

Mucho Amor!
Hermana Palmer

Dec 15, 2011

Feliz Navidad!!! Pues...casi la Navidad.

Well, I only have about 15 minutes to write before we have to leave to go to a dinner appointment with a member - the members in Revere 1st ward are pretty much the best! I realize that more and more as I'm able to actually communicate with them :) It's so hard to speak a different language and convey my love for people but I'm starting to get somewhat of a handle on it...kind of. Let's just say I'm improving.

First off: Feliz Navidad!!! Pues...casi la Navidad. Solo faltamos 11 dias! Que loco!

One of our investigators is really picking up speed - she has a new baptismal date and she is really committed to trying to be ready by then. Yay!! She is the best! She came to church this last week and brought her friend and her friend's little daughter! How cool! Plus, she's coming again this next week and has already invited two more friends to come with her. I'm really excited about that!

So, we get T-texts on the Saturday before transfers (transfers are tomorrow) and they tell us where everyone is going and you can pretty much guess who their companions are going to be based on the district that they're moved to. So...wildcard this transfer was that President started two new areas for the Spanish Hermanas! Providence, Rhode Island and Lynn, MA. To open the one in Lynn for the Hermanas, our roommates are going to be leaving us! They transferred both of them, together, to go work in the Spanish branch in Lynn with another set of elders. It's super exciting for them (they both have been serving in English but they both speak Spanish) but I'm going to be super sad that they're leaving us all by our lonesies! I am really learning to love my companion but I don't know that I'll be able to be without other friends to talk to and goof off with in the mornings and evenings. Luckily they're still in our zone so I'll get to see them every once in a while.

As for me - I will be here in Revere 1st ward for another 6 weeks at least :) I'm not terribly surprised. I think they usually like greenies to finish the first 12 weeks with their trainer so that they can complete the "12-week training." So, you can keep sending stuff to our address here unless we get moved apartments, but I really doubt we will. 

So, we got to go to the temple last Tuesday...or Thursday...I don't remember. At any rate - it was AMAZING!!! Since I've had my temple recommend I've been able to go just about every week except for these last 6 weeks so it was really great to get to go again. The Boston Temple is beautiful! It just makes me so happy to be there and to have time to think and pray. When we finished the session, we had a little extra time because two zones went that day and we had to wait for the other zone to finish their session before a testimony meeting at the Belmont chapel which is just down the hill from the temple. So, President Evans organized us into groups and, lucky us, we got to go to baptisms! I haven't done them for a while in the temple so it was actually really cool. Normally we're not allowed to participate in baptisms on the mish - no holding hands and that kind of stuff, so it was kind of cool that president asked us to go do it. Of course that meant that we were completely unprepared and didn't have brushes or makeup or anything, but we managed quite well.

After the temple we had a sweet fire-powered testimony meeting and then we got our Christmas presents! A lady in one of the English-speaking wards got presents for all of the two zones that were meeting! That was pretty cool. Now we have stuff to put under our 4 foot plastic tree sitting in our front room. I'm just really glad we have a tree. For a while we didn't think we had one, but one of the Hermanas who served here last year advised us as to where we could find the trees.

Other tidbits for the week:

We met a man who believes in Norse Gods and him and his buddies believe in "war and relaxation"...somehow I fail to see how those correlate

This morning we went to Nahant to watch the sunrise (zone tradition on Wednesday P-day before transfers) and then we went to Ihop because Elder Ang had his 22nd birthday!! He's a crazy Cambodian elder who has more energy than anyone I have EVER met...ever! It was a lot of fun even though it was a bit chilly

It STILL has not snowed! I'm actually kind of glad! It's supposed to rain more tomorrow but still no forecasts of snow. Crazy!

Dominican Spanish is NOT regular Spanish! They drop all their L's and their S's. It is probably the most difficult type of accent for me to figure out.

Doctrine and Covenants 50:40-45 is an awesome fuzzy-warm feel good scripture


Mucho Amor!
Hermana Palmer

Dec 6, 2011

Well, Hola!

So, I have about 15 minutes...sorry! This will be short, but hopefully have something interesting to read about :)

Yesterday was Sunday...our Sunday yesterday looked to be very promising at the beginning of the day. We had 4 lessons scheduled and some good ideas of where to go tracting in between. We have been really working hard on finding new people to teach so we have been using our "finding" skills a lot this last week. Well, of our 4 appointments scheduled - only one of them happened and it was dinner at the Bishop's house. The other three investigator lessons all fell through last minute - we had even gotten members to go with us and everything. How sad! So, we got to do some serious tracting and we met some of THE most interesting people probably in the whole world :) It was actually kind of fun. We met a nice old Brazilian fellow who was as sweet as pie! He and his wife were out putting up Christmas Lights when we walked by. We stopped and talked to him - the wife couldn't really speak English so she quickly jetted, but her husband was the friendliest person I've ever met. We talked to him for a good 20 minutes and gave him a Book of Mormon and he committed to read it every day! He spoke with so much passion and so much love for Jesus Christ that I just really wanted to be more like him. He is such an open and caring person which is something that I have actually been struggling with lately. So, my goal is to be more like Rob. We're going to send the Portuguese Elders his way - who knows what will come of it. Hopefully something good :)

The good thing about yesterday was that we got the chance to do some good street contacting in Spanish. I have struggled contacting in Spanish (or speaking Spanish for that matter ) but I was feeling adventurous and almost did a whole contact by myself in Spanish! I felt pretty good about it! I know I still have a LONG way to go, but it was confidence-inspiring to take a leap like that for me.

Another street contact we had was super heart-breaking for me. A guy in his late 40's (I would guess) was just walking from church to church on Saturday afternoon trying to find someone to talk to when we met him on the street. He's had some bad luck lately and lost his job and feels like losing his job and his lifestyle has ruined his chance for happiness with his little family. He and his wife fight all the time, their little four year old girl can't go to dance lessons anymore and his list went on and on. The really heart-breaking thing is that he knows what can bring him happiness. He basically bore his testimony to us but then said how he was so mad that because he didn't listen to God this one time he had to suffer so much. It's not like they're going hungry. He still has is family in tact. He's just too prideful to admit that he needs to go back to that - it's possible to find happiness when you don't have the best job and the nicest house.  We tried so many times to show him the happiness to be found by turning to the Lord but he refused to acknowledge it. It was really sad to send him on his way but I have to just pray that his heart will be softened and that when he realizes he needs to turn to the Lord that he can find his way back.

We had a SUPER-sweet Zone meeting on Friday - we focused on being better companions and on improving our "finding." We got to do some sweet role-plays of awkward street contacting information (like knocking on someone's door when they drive up, trying to catch up to someone walking really fast, language barriers, contacting a famous person, somebody crying on the side of the road...good stuff like that. You'd be surprised how many times we run into these situations as missionaries so it was really good practice). I got to practice contacting "Ryan Reynolds" That was quite the treat - the thing that I really learned from that is just that we should go out of our way to talk to EVERYONE!! Right after the meeting we had the perfect opportunity to apply what we learned. We were going to a lesson with a less-active member and saw two guys sitting on their front porch. We struck up a conversation and ended up having a 45 minute lesson with them! Go figure!

We get to go to the temple tomorrow! It's our Christmas gift from President and Sister Evans. I'm so excited!!

The Christmas Broadcast was super awesome! We got to catch most of it last night. I'm super bummed that I don't get to spend Christmas with my AMAZING family, but at the same time, I will have the perfect opportunity to REALLY focus on what this whole Christmas season is all about. I have already had lots of time to reflect on God's love for me and the love he has shown for us by sending His son Jesus Christ. My suggested reading this week would be 1 John Chapter 4 - it's all about God's love for us. I feel so blessed!

Share the joy of this season with everyone around you!!!

-Hermana Palmer

Nov 28, 2011

Hola otra vez!!



"No! You're supposed to say hola"


You fans of kid history might get it.

Thanksgiving was definitely different from what I am used to. My companion and I got to take a short trip to Chelsea for lunch with a member family around 1:00. The Saenz family attracted many visitors with lots of little kids running around so it kind of felt like having Thanksgiving with our family. In that way it was definitely great. It was really funny to watch the Elders crane to see the football game going on in the next room. The company was good - Hermano Perez from the Lynn Branch was there because he's good friends with la familia Saenz and he is probably one of the coolest people ever! He's pretty old but he's just so loving and sincere and he loves doing missionary work. I could learn a lot from him I think.

Then we had some time to plan (we have our weekly planning on Thursday afternoons and that worked out perfectly because we're not allowed to go tracting on Thanksgiving - and Christmas I imagine but I don't know about that yet). So we got in our planning and headed off to our dinner appointment with an investigator and her cute family.

As much fun as visiting with these families was, I REALLY missed the food from our traditional thanksgiving feasts. At lunch we got some really strange lasagna, rice, green beans, salad, and some strange mixture of turkey and potatoes in some unappetizing-looking green sauce. Also, they dished us up a TON of food! Meal appointments here are sometimes hard that way. Most of the time the food is pretty good but the proportions are just always too big it seems.

At our second dinner we got some super dry turkey, cold mashed potatoes, more rice, and tamales. Dad says this is pretty traditional around the holidays...which I'm not really looking forward to because they're just not my very favorite. I do appreciate that they were made with love though :) It's been really good for me to be forced to get out of my food comfort.

While we are on the subject of food, last night we got fed en casa de la familia Parras. We got these incredible sandwiches! They had bought some thin sandwhich bread that was magnificent and then breaded and cooked some vile (I have no idea how to spell that...) The sandwich had guacamole, a little mayo, onions, tomatoes and this meat stuff and was just the best thing I have ever tasted! Hermano Parras said that it's a food that's pretty popular in Mexico City at street vendors. I'm pretty sure that's where he is from.

I love being a missionary. Sometimes I get really tired of my companion and feel like just resting for a day, but this work really is so rewarding. We get to have meaningful conversations with people every day because we're just "friendly reasonable people" and aren't afraid of talking about the gospel. I can feel my confidence growing a little bit as far as the whole language thing goes but it's still hard. It's really hard because I just know that my companion could say anything I would want to say much better and with more meaning and so I generally still stay pretty quiet during lessons, but at church this last Sunday I felt so successful that I could have several interchanges with members while my companion was busy talking to someone nearby. It felt so good!! It helps that our ward is SUPER awesome and they're all really understanding about the language barrier.

Best experience this week: we had lunch on Saturday (It's funny how just about everything I have to say revolves around for thought...haha) with Hermana Rodriguez - a super strong member of the ward. She has tried a few times to come to a lesson with an investigator that has just kind of fallen through last minute both times. But these couple of times that she's come with us we've gotten to talk to her and get to know her a little bit. We went and had a delicious lunch (if you must know -- porkchop with some delicious tomato sauce, rice, beans, salad, and a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert) and got Hermana Rodriguez talking about the gospel. She could seriously talk about it all day! She has such an incredible unshakable testimony! I kept thinking that she would make a fantastic missionary - she four children all grown living in El Salvador and is just here on her own living in a building of retired people overlooking Everett. So, I mentioned, half jokingly, that she should switch me places and she could be Hermana Hales' companion and teach me the short lesson we had prepared. She totally spilled the beans that she's working on her mission papers!!! She doesn't want the ward members here to know because she wants to have her call in her hands first, but I just got so excited for her! It reminded me of how exciting it was to get a mission a call and how much more exciting the real thing is. I sincerely hope that things work out for her so she can go.

Well, I really should go! I still have to write my mission president and we need to get back home so we can eat and go do some real mission work.

I love you! The Lord loves you even more!! This is the PERFECT time of year to share that love with EVERYONE!!!

Best Wishes!!
Hermana Palmer

Nov 21, 2011

Feliz Dia de Gratitud on Thursday!!!!


Well, yesterday I spent a good amount of time thinking about what I would write in this lovely email and then writing down a nice little fried brain cannot seem to recall much and I have already lost the list so this will be goes though.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!! I am VERY grateful for all of you!!! Including (but not limited to): Mom, Dad, Al, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends (there are way too many to name!)

I am grateful for delicious food - I was very worried that I would be fed all sorts of gross foods but I am happy to report that of the many dinners I've been to so far (usually we get fed just about once a day by members) I've only had to choke down a couple things. The people in the ward are all from Guatamala or El Salvador and a few from the Dominican Republic and other places. Mostly they all feed us rice and some type of meat or veggies. My VERY favorite so far was at Hermana Palacio's apartment. She cooked us white rice, some sort of meat wrapped up in bacon, a boiled potato, steamed frozen veggies and an egg. Doesn't sound that exciting but she is an INCREDIBLE cook and it was the most delicious thing I've ever had!! I don't know what she did to it. It makes no sense to me. Also, on the topic of food - if you can find Abuelita's hot cocoa (in the latin food section at the grocery store) GET IT!! It is AMAZING!!!

I'm grateful for all of the interesting people here that make life so interesting - we were looking for a former investigator on some random street in Everett and decided to tract around the house. Nobody was really interested but we met some of the nicest people and were able to clear up a lot of mis-information about the church. This one woman, probably in her 60's, answered the door with three of those big dry comb curlers in her hair and talked to us for a good five minutes and then invited us in for juice! We weren't really that thirsty but we figured it was a good opportunity to keep the conversation going so we accepted. We got some yummy grape juice and got to listen to her talk about her life and her experiences - she had lived on the same street her entire life! She grew up in the house right next door to where she and her husband live now. She was super sweet and loving. I want to be more like that - just willing to give of my time to people.

I am grateful for nature - being here in Boston there isn't a whole lot of nature to be found, but where it is found, it is beautiful! We were strolling down the street on our way to the car to get to an appointment when we decide to stop this guy and talk to him. He was such an interesting person and really liked what we had to say about making Jesus Christ the center of our lives. We gave him our information and he called us less than 3 hours later asking us where we could meet to talk some more. We made an appointment to meet him at a Dunkin Donuts the next day. We met there and he said it was too hot in the store so we should go to the beach, a nice public place. We were honestly a little nervous but it turned out to be the most AMAZING experience EVER!! We were just sitting there on the beach, looking out at the misty beautiful afternoon over the ocean and talking about God. This man had had some really interesting experiences. He grew up in Egypt and became an Athiest upon moving here to Massachusetts. Then he realized how much pain he was in spiritually and decided to open up. He has had some incredible experiences from meditating and the more he described it the more it seemed to me like people are just trying to create spiritual experiences the best way they know how. It was so interesting to hear all his stories and to share our beliefs. I hope something comes of all this.

I am grateful for the knowledge I have - we may have broken up a wedding!! We were teaching this super sweet young woman in her mid 20's who is going to school, working as a nanny, and getting ready to get hitched. I realized she was engaged, but I didn't realize that the wedding was scheduled for the Friday after we had our first lesson with her. She talked about how she had found out that her fiancee didn't really have any drive to be religious whatsoever! She started noticing how critical he was being of her and she didn't like it. We sympathized with her but we couldn't really counsel her to do anything. We had another appointment the next Monday where she told us that she didn't get married and that she's moving out! What?! I don't know how much of it is our fault but I'm actually super happy for her. She's havin a bit of a rough time right now, but I think she knows that there's someone better out there for her. Yay!! She took a trip to NYC this week with her friend from Mexico so we will actually get to meet with her in a couple days. We committed her to be baptized last time and she said she needed a week or so to think about it...I will catch you up next week.

I am grateful for a lot of good shoes, chocolate (every once in a while...), fleece tights, a car, the Scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon, but I am discovering lots of hidden treasures in the Bible lately too), internet and email so I can email my family and so they can email me, times when I can understand more than 30% of the Spanish going on, the chance to hear people's testimonies, the Holy Ghost, Turkey (I don't actually know how much traditional Thanksgiving food we'll get on Thursday - we have two meal appointments. One with a member family and one with a part member family. I'm excited to see what comes of that), new experiences, and peanut butter. Also, I am grateful for anyone who actually reads all of this. It's a lot :)

We all have a lot to be thankful for - if we try hard we can even find reasons to be grateful for our adversities and the trials we go through.

I have some exciting news - I found out that I can totally email whoever I want! So, I would be super happy to hear from anyone who thinks zipping off an email would be easier than a handwritten letter. Please email at

I love you all!!! Que tengan un buen semana!!

Katie (Hermana Palmer)

Nov 14, 2011

I'm still not really sure that I know what I'm doing with this whole mission thing. After the one week honey moon phase I'm feeling like this is the MTC times 20!! Missions are hard!! If it's not being uncomfortable with my inability to speak Spanish it's that I'm having to meet tons of people and remember their names and show them that I love them because I do! It's a lot of pressure. Some days are just better than others though and I've learned to try and do the things that help me have an easier time of things - like following the schedule and all that jabber.
I very sincerely wish that we could do missionary work without worry of world problems. I have been looking for some boots that are dressy and water proof - You would think that in Boston that isn't really too much to ask, but it totally is. In my area there are only two or three places to find boots and none of them have anything that fits, actually feels comfortable, and is somewhat weather resistant. It makes me a little bit frusterated because I feel like if I put it off to try and find some next week, it will be too late and we'll have a snow storm. I just hope it holds off long enough for me to find some boots.
Enough of those worldly problems. So, this week has been interesting with it's ups and downs. We had zone conference last Thursday which was really good - it was like a general conference especially for us missionaries. We learned about how we can work smarter and use all the tools we've been given as missionaries. Then we got to do some cool role plays and eat lunch and all that good stuff. After lunch and before the large session began we were calling one of our investigators out in the hall. Some Elder walks by and says hi politely, so I do the same. But as he's walking away, I looked at his nametag and then had time to glance at his face once more before he ducked into the chapel. His name was Elder Smith! Elder Ethan Smith!! I caught up with him and got to talk to him for a minute - he is from Vernal and we were in band together! Small world! He's on his last or second to last transfer before he goes home. He had gotten called to the Conneticut/Rhode Island mission but is now up in Massachusetts. Crazy world!
Speaking of a small world - some guy that has been inactive forever but is good friends with the missionaries (his name is Doug and his wife's name is Maralee but I don't know last names) knows Lee Gibbons! Apparently they worked together or skiied together at some ski resort a lot of years ago. Interesting!
I love my roommates!! Hermana Jardin is the sweetest most thoughtful, funny, and kind person I've met! I just love being around her! She always makes me smile when I get home after a rough day. Mom, you asked for a clarification on where our roommates cover. They cover the exact same space that our ward does geographically but they serve in Revere 2nd ward which just means that it's the English-speaking ward. Our ward (Revere 1st - Spanish speaking) is split with a set of Elders so we don't cover as much geographic area as the other sisters do. Hopefully that makes more sense. It's nice that we cover the same area because then we can live in the same apartment with them. I think I would go absolutely bonkers if I was stuck with just one companion with no other people to converse with. 
So, I was reading in Moses this week. It's really interesting to read stuff about Enoch and my favorite part was in chapter six I think. Enoch is saying that he doesn't feel up to the task and the Lord reassures that "your words will I justify" and that he will give Enoch power to do all the things that He has asked of him if Enoch will "walk with [him]" I thought it was a rather beautiful way to put it so each day I try to more fully walk with the Lord and do what He would have me do so that He will justify my words. I need that right now because the whole language barrier thing for me is still rather tough.
The members in our ward are AWESOME!! Just last night we had a delightful chat with Hna. P who is a newlywed and had lots to say about that. It's a really special thing for me to be able to hear all these conversion stories of these people and to see and feel their unshakable faith that they have.
Speaking of our ward, we had our primary program last week and it's official - no matter where you go, kids will be kids. You've got the jokesters, the painfully shy, and the spectrum inbetween. I LOVED the primary program because they all gave their parts simply and clearly so I could understand everything that was being said the whole time! It was great!
Now for some interesting lesson experiences:
Just last night we had a lesson with a part-member family. We hadn't known it was part-member until we got there which was a fun surprise. I feel like of all our lessons since I've been here, it was the most meaningful and I think that the mom and 8-year old daughter really wanted to read and find out for themselves if what we were saying was true. The super-inactive father and his mom wanted to do the same I hope - hopefully they are willing to rediscover their faith. I'm really excited for them!
Marriage situations are tough. This one woman that we're working with was married in El Salvador, got divorced, moved here, met someone new and got married here but under the El Salvadorian law because he doesn't have papers. So, in the past she has wanted to get baptized but never could figure out if she was allowed or not. We finally went to our leaders and found out that she can be baptized but it's been a year since she's had the lessons so we get to teach her which is super fun because I just feel like she's teaching me. She has amazing faith and such great experiences. It really builds me up to go over to her house. Her brother has kind of gotten interested as well. He is super smart and has lots of really intelligent but kind of difficult questions which makes our lessons very exciting.
I've had enough tracting to last me a life-time, but each day we just do more and more because we're trying really hard to find new investigators. I hope our efforts will pay off. Even if they don't pay off directly back to us, I hope that we're making differences in at least some people's lives.
Well, I bid thee farewell until next week. I love you!!!
Hna. Palmer

Nov 7, 2011

First Letter from Boston

Well, I'm in Boston...Revere to be exact. It's more of a suburb of Boston. I'm sitting in the basement of a library that looks more like a town hall on the outside. I can't believe I ever would have been disappointed to come here because it's not "foreign" because to me - this is SO foreign! Anyway, I guess I will regale you with some of my delightful first week stories...

Our flight was great - everything was smooth sailing. I didn't really feel much like sleeping on the plane, but I think all the other missionaries took a two hour nap - it's hard to get up at 5:00 in the morning when we had had such a crazy and stressful time packing and saying goodbyes. I don't blame them for sleeping on the plane. I got a lot of studying done though - finally memorized D&C 4 in Spanish like I was supposed to have done. It sure came in handy when we had our transfer meeting. We arrived in Boston a little bit ahead of time and we got our luggage SUPER fast! Sister Evans was the first to greet us and guide us to the mission van where we all piled in after throwing our luggage in a truck that the AP's drove behind us to the mission. I couldn't even tell you where the mission home is, but it was very beautiful and we got to drive down the Charles' river and watch people practice their rowing - that's when I really knew I was on the East Coast.

When we got to the mission home we had a lovely dinner, got to know each other and some of the senior missionaries, and filled out some paperwork. I did get a picture with Pres. and Sister Evans but I didn't think to take one with my camera - oh well! I had a quick interview with President Evans and then Sister Hildenbrand did the same. There wasn't enough room for all the elders plus us Sisters to spend the night in the mission home, so we got sent off to our apartment right after all the festivities. It turns out that we get to be roommates! It's really nice to have a friendly and familiar face around the apartment all the time. We actually got dropped off at an appointment because Hnas. Hales and Jardin were at a service appointment when we got into Revere. I was so scared that we were going to have to teach or something, but they were just finishing up doing service for this lady who actually has no interest in the church. Missionaries have been helping her out for 5 years, but they just go help her clean and stuff because she's in a wheelchair and has a LOT of stuff to clean. It's like a museum! She's Jewish and very stubborn. It was cool though because as we were leaving, Hermana Hales asked her to say a prayer and besides the fact that we all held hands, she knew exactly how we say prayers.

I have SO much to tell you and only 23 minutes left to do so! Ahh!! So, I'm assigned to the Revere 1st ward with my companion Hermana Laurel Hales. Us along with two other elders (Elder Dowdy and ELDER PITCHER!! - we were in the same MTC district!) are over this Spanish-speaking ward. The ward covers Chelsea, East Boston, Revere, Everett, and Malden (that I know of). The Elders cover Chelsea and East Boston and we cover the other parts. We are lucky enough to have a car because the public transportation where we are at right now is not that great and we have a lot of places to go. When I first started discussing investigators and what our schedule would look like with Hna. Hales, she informed me that we had actually been dropped by a few investigators. So, we've been able to do a lot of finding which is SO SCARY! But a little bit fun too.

My first lesson that I got to be a part of was on my first full day and it was actually with an inactive member. She's SUPER sweet and her family seems really nice. We talked a lot about temples and about goals that she could set to get to go do baptisms for the dead. She even said that she's interested in us teaching her two oldest children who are old enough to be baptized. And she gave us the most delicious tres-leche cake I've EVER had!

The traffic is madness here! The roads are tiny and twisty and have parked cars lining the sides making it so that if the traffic is two-way, a lot of weaving has to occur in order to make it so nobody gets hit. It absolutely boggles my mind! I have a pretty good sense of direction in Utah...but this is a WHOLE different ballgame here. I get lost just when we go running in the mornings.

Growing up I had always thought it would be so cool to have a house with three floors! It turns out, I just need to move to Boston. The houses are SO tall! It's a little overwhelming when you turn down a street and have these monster houses looming over you, but it's also kind of cool. This area is very lived in, which I also like. All the houses are just so unique which makes it a fun adventure to walk down different streets.

My Spanish is not so great. Hna. Hales really likes to talk, so that really hasn't been too much of a problem so far. It's also kind of nice because when we do contact, it's mostly in English. We've been pretty lucky to find several families/individuals that speak Spanish who actually seem pretty interested who we're following up with this next week.

My first time at church was crazy! Everyone was super friendly but I had to try really hard to keep up with what everyone was saying. Because I was concentrating so much on what people were saying and trying to come up with responses, I don't think I can even remember very many names. One couple that I do remember their names though - I met Mami and Papi Ruiz who are apparently the missionary grandparents of our ward. Most of the ward members are from El Salvador or Guatemala and those areas. Some of them are really hard to understand but I'm slowly learning.

One of my coolest experiences so far is probably when we were out tracting on Saturday. We had an appointment at 2:00 so we were just out talking to people in the neighborhood. We ran into this woman named Ailine and gave her the schpiel (I don't think that's an actual word...oh well). She didn't speak English very well, but she understood we were missionaries and asked if we would come to her house to talk more. So, we walked a couple of blocks until we got to the most run-down apartment on the street. She led us upstairs. We met her husband Gabe and her seven year old daughter and 2 year old son and they graciously invited us into their dark and run-down shack. She said they were working on rebuilding - her husband is in construction so I guess it has just been a work in progress. We found out after talking to Gabe that they are Muslim and he is from Israel. We were so surprised at his keen interest but he actually knows a lot about religion. We basically taught them the first lesson and gave them a Book of Mormon. I felt the Spirit really strong! I hope they could. We have to give the contact over to the English-speaking sisters (Hna. Hildenbrand and Hna. Jardin both speak Spanish but are over Revere 2nd ward which covers our same boundaries just English instead of Spanish). I'm kind of sad we don't get to go back.

I had my first dinner with a member last night. I thought it would be super easy for me, but it was tough because Hermana Choto Cruz speaks Spanish and her two children there spoke a lot in English, so I didn't know which was best to use and ended up just keeping quiet and playing with their dog Luna. I want to show the ward members that I'm trust-worthy and that they can feel comfortable giving us their referrals, but it's going to take a while before I'm comfortable with the language.

Something a little bit surprising that I didn't get any warning about was the super-friendly greetings that are common in the Hispanic culture. Between women it's super super common to give a little kiss on the cheek just to say hi and goodbye. So...that's what we do. It was kind of weird at first, but now it's kind of endearing.

Today was our preparation day, but I still do not feel like I'm ready for the next week already! Part of the problem was that we accidentally scheduled an appointment today. It turns out that we had a SUPER-GREAT first lesson with this guy named Ronny. He seemed super interested and wants to come to church with us on Sunday. I hope he's serious and isn't just being nice. I hear that because of the Latin-American culture, a lot of people will let us in just to be nice.

Here's my new address (PLEASE WRITE!!!!)

(email/call Mom or Dad to get the address...I probably shouldn't post it publicly.)
Revere, MA 02151

We have Zone conference on Thursday this week....Don't know why I put that here...I guess it's interesting.

I really just can't believe that I'm in Boston. It's super weird to think of. I've gotta go. We still haven't eaten and we need to be to a member's house at 6:00 to help with FHE. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!



Hna. Palmer

Oct 29, 2011

Last Email from the MTC

So, last week as I was about to send you the package with the pictures, I had just found out my travel plans and had hastily written in my little notebook when I was leaving.  It sounds like you found it.  We were SO excited to get our travel plans.  It definitely made this whole mission thing much more real.  We're leaving next Wednesday morning (Poor Hermana McGrath has to be to the travel office at 3:00 in the morning!)  We at least get to sleep in until 5:00 or so before we have to get up and get ready.  I kind of have the feeling that I won't be sleeping that well anyway so I guess it doesn't matter what time I have to get up. Carla wrote and said she's leaving the same day at 8:00 - I doubt that we'll be through security by the time her plane leaves, but it would be really funny to run into her at the airport. 
Big surprise of the week is that our branch president, President Studdert, was released this past Sunday.  He didn't give us ANY warning.  But, before sacrament meeting, he pulled me and Elder Pitcher aside to tell us that we would be speaking in sacrament meeting.  This is rather unheard of since usually he just calls us up from the podium in Sacrament Meeting, but he told us because there was a slight change of plans.  President Brown (pres of the MTC) was going to be in our meeting so instead of giving a full-blown talk (by full blown I mean 3 to 5 minutes in Spanish), we just had to bear a one minute testimony.  We didn't find out until we were in sacrament meeting that the reason for President Brown's attendance was the changing of the guard, so to speak.  We were all a little sad!  The Studdert's are such powerful and kind, genuine people.  We had been told many times by other MTC district presidents, etc. that we had the best branch president in the whole MTC and I'm pretty sure it was the truth.  Hermano Collett (President Collett, now) was made the President, Hermano Call the first counselor, and we got a new 2nd Counselor, Hermano Shallamberger.  He and his wife are a spiritual powerhouse.  He was a mission president in Spain ten years back and they have been fun to get to know.

I'm doing really well.  I'm SO sick of the food and ready to get out into the real world for that reason, but I'm pretty nervous about interacting with real world people.  We went to the doctor's office again for Hermana McGrath's last broken finger follow-up and I was way too hesitant about striking up conversations with the people in the waiting room.  It's going to take some practice to know how to get to know people in a significant way in such a short amount of time.  We finally did start talking to some people, but it was after they started the conversation.   Definitely something I can practice in the next few weeks.

Testimonies are so powerful.  Nobody can dispute a true, honest, sincere testimony because no one can take away some else's beliefs.  People's testimonies have made such a big impact on me this week.  Especially Hermano Barrio - he is such a spiritual giant!  He was helping us learn from the scriptures how we can help other people have a desire to learn the gospel and as he finished, he bore such a sincere and heart-felt testimony that just pierced my soul!  The gospel really does mean everything to him.  He and his wife (they're newlyweds of 3 months!) realize how important the gospel is and he said that he would give up everything he had to rediscover the gospel.  That's pretty cool!

I finished the Book of Mormon this morning!  How great is that?!  I love the scriptures.  I feel like my love for the scriptures has grown 30 fold since I have been here.  I get so excited about studying.  I especially have loved studying by topic and finding hidden treasures of knowledge. 
We had our first "baptism" this week!!  It was so great!  We will actually have our second one today - we're on fire!  :) 
We got a new investigator this last week. This has been the hardest thing for me this last week because he's a really good guy who has gone to seminary with his friend (his high school was LDS-sponsored) so he knows all these things, but he has no desire to act on these things.  He doesn't see how the gospel means anything to him.  I feel like this is something we may encounter a lot.  It's hard to teach the gospel to people who don't feel like anything is missing in their lives.  That is going to be my quest as I am on my mission - to figure out how to do just that. 
I love you!!  I have to go. 
Hna Palmer
P.S. Ether 12:27 is my new theme scripture - it's good!  Look it up!

Oct 27, 2011

Travel Plans

Kate's mom here....she has her travel plans and will be leaving the MTC on Wednesday, November 2nd.  She has a direct flight from SLC to Boston.  I imagine we may hear more about her plans when she emails home on Friday.

Oct 22, 2011

"Shout Out" to Cousins who love "Kid History"

Mom here....For those who are curious, Kate said that she does not have her travel plans yet.  I will post them here as soon as I hear from her.  Now to Kate's letter this week...

It´s really hard for me to believe that almost 2 months of my mission are just about gone! I don´t know where they have gone. These weeks are just absolutely crazy busy and I know we do a lot, but I feel like it shouldn´t be October 21st right now.

Last week was a little rough with the whole Spanish thing. I was getting a little bit frustrated and feeling like I was hitting a wall and wasn´t able to really learn much more. The last few days especially have been much better and been much more enlightening. I´ve figured out some study habits that I can change and some ways I can feel better about my efforts to learn a language and how to teach the gospel effectively in a new language. I´m so glad I´m learning Spanish and not Japanese or something (I don´t know how you did it Dad).

So, we had another apostle come and visit us this week on Tuesday...guess who it was!   Drum roll please..................Elder Richard G. Scott! His talk was SOOOO great! Richard G. Scott told a story in general conference once about how he was able to receive revelation when the Spirit was teaching and then receive more when he prayed and asked to know what more he needed to know. This talk was basically an extension of that. He counseled us to seek learning by what we hear, see, and feel and to ALWAYS keep something to write down those things we learn. Then we need to do those things we learn about and somehow apply it to our lives.

In addition he asked a lot of really good thought provoking questions like:

What are the benefits of being led by the Spirit in your life? (D&C 8:2)

How can I determine if it´s the Spirit or me? (Ether 12:6 - ye receive no witness until after the trial of the spirit)

How can we prove our faith with a new principle?

He talked about how important prayer is when we are seeking revelation. He said that,  “If you are having a difficult time, seek prayer in a way that is unhurried and you will find out how much the Lord loves you and wants to bless you.”

I love being so spiritually edified by someone who has such a strong testimony - he BOLDLY testifies of what he knows and it makes me want to strengthen my testimony even more.

Yesterday in our class we had somewhat of a scavenger hunt. We were learning how to do the command tense in EspaƱol and so we went and hid an object as a companionship and then wrote directions commanding another companionship where to go to find it. Ours was very clever - we commanded Elder Pitcher and Elder Cottam to stop and buy us M&Ms out of the vending machine (which they didn´t do by the way - so rude! haha!). We had fun with it and made them get a roll of toilet paper out of a tree outside. Then as we were all taking turns reading the directions that we had written so we could practice different vocabulary, Hermano Van Vliet made a huge deal of acting everything out and it was rather hilarious! When it got to the vending machine, he pulled out an ID card or something, Elder Pitcher took his cue to become a vending machine, Hno VanVliet swiped his card, and he got a pen out of Elder Pitcher´s pocket. It was just really funny at the time...probably because it was so spur of the moment.

Anyway...I digress. My companions are wonderful! We are just all getting along so well - one night after gym we came back to the room and just started being a little crazy - Hna Hildenbrand was singing made up songs and singing like a granny, Hna McGrath started teaching us how to moonwalk (which I´m getting really good at by the way) and I tried my hand at interpretive dancing. We make quite the trio of fun!

We got new hermanas in our room this week! Their names are Hnas. Romney and Lake. They are SUCH sweet girls and seem really comfortable here already. They´´re on a 6 week Spanish program! Can you believe it?!?! They´re turning Spanish into a 6 week program and I´m quite glad that I got here before they started that. I think I´m going to have a difficult time with just 9 weeks. They´re really enthusiastic about it though and I think that they will pass up with their Spanish before we even leave.

Last week at the temple we went and did sealings. It was SO cool!! I had never done that before. We only got to be proxies for children because we´re missionaries but it was just a really cool experience to do something different in the temple. The temple is such a special place. I wish we could go 3 times a week instead of just one. Then again, once I´m in Boston, I don´t know how much I´ll be able to go so I´ll just be grateful for what I have.

Well, my time is short. I must bid thee farewell!!


-Hna. Palmer

Shout out to all my cousins who love kid history: My teacher Hermano Barrio knows all about kid history and brought it up in class one day and we quoted it for at least 3 or 4 minutes - it was SO much fun but it really made me miss you all!

Oct 14, 2011

Happy "P-Day!"

Mom here.  We got photos this week.  I will post them after Kate's letter.

This week I saw Allie's friend Shane Donovan!! He got here on Wednesday and I saw him as he was getting shown around by his host. I haven't seen him since, but he seemed like he was in good spirits and he was excited to get to work. He's going to Atlanta, Georgia...I think. Correct me if I'm wrong.

This Gospel is SOOOOO awesome!! Just this last week in my studies I have realized just how connected everything is in the Gospel. I had been thinking about several rather different subjects (how cool it is that there are so many people living different lives that all connect and happen in ways that our Heavenly Father has planned for us, how precious each passing moment is and how much significance moments can have in our lives, and that there are ways that we can show our faith in order to lift ourselves and the people around us up) and then in one of my classes, our teacher said something that connected all three of those ideas plus gave me more to think about. He talked about the fact that we are all here to be tested and if we will align ourselves with God's purpose for us, we can help other people. Sometimes it's ourselves and sometimes it's the Holy Ghost telling us to do something, but if we are trying to be good people and follow what our Heavenly Father would have us do, it will turn out for the best. I don't know if I could fully explain how that idea connected all three of my previous thoughts, but it gave me some insight into how connected things can be. I'm a little sad that I haven't taken this kind of time to study the Gospel like I should - better late than never though, right?

Sister Julie B. Beck came and spoke to us on Tuesday - she talked a lot about temples and how we can become better people through the covenants we make in the temple. It seemed like her talk covered a LOT of different sub-subjects and one of them was loving people for who they are. She said that sometimes people may appear and seem at first to be unlovable. She gave us great advice for what to do in those situations. She said that the most effective thing we could do would be to pray to know what to love - because our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love everyone perfectly. There is obviously something that we can love about that person. They will be willing to share with us what it is we can love about that person. The world would be a much better place if everyone would take the time to do that with those seemingly un-lovable people. That advice has already changed the way I look at my fellow-sojourners on this earth.

So, we lost the Hermanas in our room this past Monday! Triste!! We now have 3 empty beds in our room which makes it feel a bit sad and barren. Luckily we are getting two new Hermanas in our zone next Wednesday! After the oldest district leaves on Monday, we're only going to have 2 districts for three days - crazy! We will have all of 14 people in our zone. I think we'll be getting two new districts on Wednesday so that will help us fill up a little faster.

We had an extra service day this week - we had to get up early to go to the sack breakfast line at 6:30 and be ready to do service at 7:00. Luckily we got to the line early - it was getting long fast because a lot of people were doing service. After a series of mix-ups we ended up in the right building to help out, but we didn't have a lot to do. So, we helped out with some custodial stuff (putting linens away - I feel like I'm qualified to work in the hotel maintenance industry now) and then had an hour before class which made for some good make-up study time.

I NEVER would have thought I would be saying this - but we got to go to bed early last night and it was AWESOME!!! The power was scheduled to go out at 9:30 in our building so we had to get back at 8:30 to still have our allotted hour to get ready for bed. So, instead of going to bed at 10:30 we went to bed at 9:30 and it was blissful!! The MTC is awesome but it is tiring and we only have a certain number of hours that we can sleep. So, if we don't sleep well, we can't really make it up (unless we pull and Elder Pitcher and nap in the classroom while we're supposed to have personal study - which is actually allowed on Sundays because we have so much un-structured study time).

Mom, you will be happy to know that I am improving my volleyball skills! For the last two weeks I have played volleyball during every single gym time. It's SO much fun! It's really fun to play with the Elders in our zone (that are leaving on Monday - sad!) who really know how to play. Sometimes I have to dodge spikes that are rather hard, but it's worth it to get some good practice.

The weather this last week is beautiful! I was so worried last week that we weren't going to get any fall season at all. Luckily we do get a little now at least. We're trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

We had a companionship "Coaching Missionary Study" where one of the instructors just helps us know what to do better as a companionship - Hermano Barrio said something that I really needed to hear. He told us a secret: we don't have to speak perfect Spanish here! What a relief! He said that as long as we're trying hard (and we are!) and trying to bring the Spirit in our lessons that it will be okay. People will come closer to Christ and that is our whole goal.

We did the MTC choir for the first time this week and it was SO great!! The director was awesome because not only did he help us sound good, he taught us the meaning behind the song. No time to expound - only one and a half minutes and trying to type in the computer lab is really distracting.

I love you all! I hope that all is going well and that you will keep writing. Also, I just want to let you know that if you're worried about chocolate melting, it will probably make the journey just fine. Elder Hardesty's mom sent him chocolate from Hawaii and it made it here just fine....not saying that you should feel obligated or anything :)

Mucho Amor!!


Hermana Palmer

MTC Drop-off photos from Kate's camera


Water Bottle Choir

If you have spent much time with Kate,
this photo should make you smile!