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! ...so...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! 

Oct 7, 2011



I am flying by the seat de mi vestido este semana porque yo no escribio alguna cosas down... that's awful spanglish - sorry!

This week was awesome as usual - so many things go on here that it really feels like it's been a month since I've emailed, but then it feels like it's gone so fast - my sense of time is totally messed up :)

Entonces, the most important thing that happened in the last week was GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! I have always enjoyed general conference - sometimes I get more out of it than others. This time round I feel like I got a little too much out of it - I found SO many things that I need to do better, but it was also very uplifting and inspiring for me as well. The sessions were broadcast in the gym and in the overflows in 1M but our district wanted to try something else out - so we streamed it live online in our classroom. It was AWESOME!! We probably weren't really supposed to - but we got to sit in much comfier seats, we got to take bathroom breaks, and we could have food! It was awesome! I was worried that we would get really off task, but we did a super good job of paying attention and not distracting other people. We also had some pretty good discussions going on in between sessions.

My very favorite talk (besides Pres. Uchtdorf's amazing Relief Society talk about "forget-me-nots") as actually one that was given by one of the seventy - Elder Carl B. Cook. He talked about how President Monson counseled him to look up - that's something that has been on my mind a lot lately. When we have the faith to look up, metaphorically and literally, we can see such a grand picture of why we are here and how we can be better instead of wallowing in the here and now and the "why can't I just be perfect" I LOVED that talk - it was simple and straightforward yet is something that I could spend the rest of my life learning about. I love general conference.

I love my district - it's just like we get to hang out with our best friends all day. Granted, we have to study and learn together. We sometimes get frustrated with each other (just like real friends do), but we all get along pretty well. We always are one of the last districts to leave to go to bed every night because we just enjoy being in each other's company a little too much sometimes.

This week we played EXTREME VERB BALL!! I think I told you about verb ball last week. This week we spontaneously created a new game that just involves throwing the balls as fast as we can, but we just have to think of a verb before we can. There's no point system, and really no point to the game at all, but it helps us relax and just have fun - it kind of morphed into just spouting off random Spanish words.  "Invitar!"   "Venir!"  "Ultimos Dias!" "Perfect!"  "Imperfect!"  It probably wasn't the most effective learning experience - oh well. We live and learn.

On a more serious note, we have had some great success with our "investigators." Our investigator who has had the drinking problem is also not legally married - surprise! It's a common thing for Latin Americans to say that they're married when really they just get together. So, his baptism is set for sometime next week, we're not changing it and we'll see if he is married by then. If not, then we may have to "change his baptismal date." We have another investigator who is SO interested in the  church - we had a fabulous lesson with him on Wednesday in which he expressed the desire to tell his family all about what he's been learning - he even wants all of them to be baptized. how great is that?! We also got 2 more investigators - played members of district. It's really fun to get to play an investigator - it's very eye opening and helps me see what I can improve on as a missionary.

The Hermanas in our room - Hermana Hart, Hermana Barbosa, and Hermana Young, are leaving on Tuesday!! What?! Hermana Hart (Corazon) is such a sweet heart. She has an amazingly strong  testimony and is so great at leading by example instead of always telling people what to do. Hermana Barbosa is kind of like my twin in our sets of 3-somes. She is the one that is a little more reserved, but she is super sweet when you get to know her. She has given me precious advice many times. Hermana Young is a running buddy! She loves to work out in the mornings and whenever I go work out at 6:00 in the morning, it's with her. I've enjoyed the conversations we've had about teaching (she has taught 1st grade for the last two years). They are all going to different parts of Chile. I feel like I'm really going to miss them a lot - they have such a good kind spirit about them. They know how to laugh with each other and how to take care of one another and take care of us when we need an extra pick-me-up. Hopefully they will travel safe and we'll get to keep in touch.

Strange realization - We lost a district this week, the Hermanas and their district are leaving next week, we lose one more after that and then...it's our turn!! What?!?! This time has gone by WAY too fast!! I certainly need to step-up my Spanish studying if I want to be able to say anything in Spanish.

I talked to a girl, Hermana Sheridan, who is actually from the Boston area. She said that the mission is tough - people aren't super friendly if you don't already know them. It makes me a little bit scared - I'm not super outgoing to begin with. Hopefully I will learn how to relate to people quickly in order to have opportunities to share what we have with them.

A mission is tough, but it is rewarding. I know that I need to be here in order to grow - I look back on what I was a couple months ago and I already feel like I have grown so much spiritually and mentally. I know that these next 17 months aren't going to be a piece of cake, but with my heart inclined toward the Lord, I am going to face them with determination and love. I'm so grateful to be serving a mission.

I love you from now until always!

Mucho amor!

Hermana Palmer

P.S. I could still use some letters - I haven't heard from very many people this week and I would love to hear from more of you :) Loves!