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