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