"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 December 17 email

Hey family, I hope you enjoy these pictures I sent you that I took while I was in Pogradec.  I know I am a terrible photographer, but whatever.

Ok, I will first start with that comment I got from my blog.  Yes, I do know who Elder Woods is, and I think I have actually heard about this person getting baptized.  Woods is training Elder Finklea, actually.  He does have a blog, and if you google "Adriatic South mission"  look for the blog that begins with "Two by Two," it's like the 4th entry, that's Woods' blog. 

Yeah, the Boydells told us about Connecticut yesterday.  It seems we've been having a lot of shootings lately.

Holy cow, one whole semester has already passed on my mission. (Friends from BYU are home for the holidays). That's messed up.  Tomorrow I hit 5 months, this thing is flying by, I can't believe I will be approaching 6 months.  What's crazier is that Juan hits 1 year on Friday.

So, yeah, it got freezing last week, and our heater broke and our pranari (landlord) was in Greece for a few days so we couldn't contact him, so yeah we had layers and layers of stuff, but now it's fixed and it's warm inside our house again.  Outside, it's bitter cold, and it doesn't snow here in Elbasan, it just rains like crazy.

That's awesome that y'all are in 3rd Nephi, I am almost done with Helaman, I am in chapter 14, right in the middle of Samuel the Lamanite prophesying to the Nephites.

Yeah, thanks for the skittles, and if you want, feel free to send more.  Yeah, the thing is, we're not really involved with the 'primary,' if you want to call it that.  The primary is made up of the kids at the orphanage right across the street.

Oh, yeah, about skype, I really don't know when I'll be calling you, so my advice is just to leave it up all day.  Obviously it'll be, my guess, around noon in Virginia or something like that.  Just make sure to give me your skype name so I can find it on Christmas.  It's so weird here, these people really don't celebrate Christmas at all, they like New Years a whole lot better.  I still have to remind myself that Christmas is next week, and that my birthday is in 10 days.

Jake, Andrea, I am glad you love school.  So, I got a question, any particular reason why school stops on Thursday?  (It doesn't.  School goes through to Friday.)  Is it why I think it is?  (No, it is not the end of the world.)  Enjoy the Christmas presents I sent you, I worked really hard to get them. (Sarcasm)

Ok, dad:

1)  Our phone is not international, I have no idea what phone we would use if I called you.  We don't text, only zone leaders and assistants text.

2)  Yeah, I just tried googling it,  (a dessert called tre lace) and I got the same problem.  It's a cake with a good icing, but the cake itself is also filled with milk, and it's pretty good if the proportions are good.  Honestly, other than candy bars, there's no dessert that I really like.

3) (Where did you go last week for P-day?)  Pogradec, as I said.  We're actually going there again because the zone leaders didn't go last week because they were in Tirana doing stuff.  It was fun, it's by the beach, I kissed a girl (as I have shown you in the picture I sent) and I finally bought my first two ties in Albania.

Ok cool, so this past week.  So, this week was pretty great.  We got 2 new investigators from English course.  One just wanted to be baptized, and her friend at first just came because the other one didn't want to come alone, and kept telling us that she has already been baptized.  But, after watching the Restoration, I think I saw a change in mindset in the both of them.  They both came to church yesterday and really liked it, and said they'll be back next Sunday.  We also had these 2 other guys from English course that have come to church two weeks in a row now, and one yesterday in Sunday school said he does feel something different when he comes to church.  We haven't had any meetings with them outside of English because they have been busy, but we're meeting with them this week.  They're really cool too.  It's crazy what's going on, I have 2 more weeks with Elder Knight, and then training is over, and we'll get transfer calls on the 29th, and I really want to stay in Elbasan.  I just want to be able to leave the place where I was born (started the mission) completely fluent.  Man, this week as far as understanding was awesome, I started having those moments where I didn't even have to think to be able to understand the people.  It isn't always happening yet, there are still a few people where I am like 'what?' but it's getting better.  My speaking is good, but I still think like an American when I speak sometimes, and that just makes no sense when you directly translate English to Albanian in your mind.  Oh yeah, we had an earthquake, it wasn't bad, no one was hurt and nothing was damaged, we're all good.  I think it was a category 4 or 5. (What?)

Oh yeah, something else.  With the new missionary changes as far as age and time in MTC, transfers will now go from 3 months to 9 weeks, so that could change when I go home.  President said if it has to be staying a little bit longer or going home a little early, he would prefer if we stay a little longer, which, overall, I am fine with that, but I really don't want to miss Fall semester.  I specifically wanted to leave in July so I wouldn't be in the predicament that Eric was in when he got home.  So, president is working on it now, because in our mission we will start to get Serbian speakers, and they are only in the MTC for 6 weeks, while Albanian speakers are 9 weeks now. 

We also had general priesthood meeting in Durres on Saturday, it was pretty cool.  We had 20 people sustained for Melchizedek Priesthood, including one from Elbasan.

Anyway, things are good, hope you all are doing well.  Be safe this week, especially Friday.  (12/21/12- the end of the Mayan calendar) I am confident nothing will happen.

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 December 10th email

Hey family, how's it going?

So, first of all, a bit congratulations to Ha Young for being called to serve in the Boston mission!  Is she speaking English?  (Ward member's mission call!)

Glad yall enjoyed this week.  They still haven't picked Jake's band teacher?   That's gjynave (I think that's how it's spelled, meaning 'messed up')  Glad yall enjoyed the Christmas activity, and hopefully Jake enjoyed the Hollyball.  I'll try to distinguish the letters, but I doubt I will since I don't really know anyone in the youth anymore.  (Youth members wrote letters to the missionaries during a stake dance)

Yeah, Elder Knight and I already destroyed the two big bags of skittles you sent me, and we're working on the little packages.  It has gotten freaking cold here too, so I have already broken out the warm clothing so I won't die, and I am pretty sure I already know what the Christmas present is, so that you, hopefully it will be very useful.  Yes, we love the root beer float gum, it's fantastic.

Yeah, the language was better this week, it's just everyone is telling me that after 2 months in the field they didn't really have any troubles with understanding, and I feel like I could be a lot better than I am right now still, but this week was definitely better than last.  I just looked through Chase's blog to find the picture, apparently when he brought up Jeremy just getting his mission call he accidentally wrote that he's going to Albania and not Armenia, that's pretty funny.

Andrea, glad you enjoyed going to elementary schools and performing for them.  (It is happening this week...)

Jake, I am glad you feel accomplished, but that stinks because I never had to do a research paper in high school until junior year.

K Dad,

1) Cash?  So far so good.
2) Desert?  I haven't really tried very many, but I like tre lace (I think that's how it's spelled).  (Well, he can't spell dessert in English)

Ok sorry I don't have much time now so I'll write this quick.  So this week we got 20 lessons down this week, it was exhausting but rewarding.  We got 2 potential new investigators, one is from Greece and he and his friend both came to church yesterday and liked it. We also have General Priesthood meeting this Saturday in Durres, and we are trying to get like 4 less active MP holders there.  Ok, sorry, I didn't have too much time to write this week because we're going to some city nearby that I don't know it's name, and we have to leave soon.  Take care!

Ju dua!

Elder Palmer

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2012 December 3rd email

Hey family, how's it going?

Man, it's warm back home, ain't it?  (65 + degrees)  It's started to cool down just a bit this week, but apparently the coldest doesn't come till January, so that'll be fun.  Yeah, I know dad weighs like nothing now, don't rub it in.  Kidding.

Yes, I got the package, thank you all so much it's awesome.  I am currently using the countdown calendar to Christmas.  Speaking of Christmas, for when we skype you'll just have to create your own account, and I'll just use my old skype account, I think I remember the password and everything.  I have no idea about what time yet, I'll let you know soon, probably the p-day before we skype.

Good luck with the Christmas program.  Yeah, we can listen to Christmas music, if it's appropriate.

Tell Spencer I say 'Congratulations.'  (Engaged)

So, how does the church basketball team look this year?  Champions?

No, people here don't make Christmas a big deal.  The only place I have seen decorations are in the YSA center and the couple's house.  This is gonna be weird, this Christmas.

Andrea, I am sorry that you're smarter than everyone.

Jake, glad you like school.  This is the best year of high school you'll have.  (sophomore)

Dad, stop mocking me, I know I am the fattest one in the family now.

Ok, dad's questions:

1)  President Ford is about to reach a year and a half, and they will go home I think just like 3 weeks before I go home, so yeah.  The Boydells have been out 6 months and now have just under a year left.

2)  Albanians, I love them to death.  I would say they are quite family oriented, a lot more than what America is becoming.

3)  I think there are either 4 or 6 missionaries in Kosovo, and one companionship in Macedonia and Montenegro.  Yeah, Macedonia is 50-50 Macedonian (but they can communicate with Serbian) and Albanian.  Yeah, I could serve in Macedonia at some point, and Kosovo as well.  But I would prefer to be fluent before I go there.

Also, during this last week was the celebration of the 100 years of Albania being an independent state, and so President told us to be inside early on Wednesday and Thursday.  Nothing happened at all in Elbasan, it was dead quiet.  Only in Tirana and in Vlore were there major parties in the country.  We are also working on strengthening Melchezikek Priesthood holders because we have district priesthood meeting on December 15, and we want to get as many people there as we can for that.

The language is coming along, I think I can speak pretty well, but for some reason for the last couple days I have been struggling a bit more than I have lately with understanding, I don't know what it is.  Last week I would say I could usually understand about 80-90% of what people say to me, and now I feel like I'm back to like 60%.  And that's with Albanians, with missionaries I have no problem understanding them.

Other than that, it's been a pretty good week, nothing else interesting going on in the boring city of Elbasan.  Take care, have a good week!

Ju dua!

Elder Palmer

PS:  Dad, po, kam ftohte.  (Yes, I'm cold)

Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 November 26th email

Hey what's up?  Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving Day!  I did!

So, we first had mission conference in the morning, pretty much where President Ford talked about the importance of teaching, and like two weeks ago, challenged us to 20 lessons a week.  It was really good though, the Ford's are awesome.  I just gotta say, and I know I have already said this, but Brits are hilarious.  The stuff that Elder Boydell jokes about is downright funny.  It's so great, I love them.  I unfortunately could not get any pictures of the talent show because my camera died.  The entire mission was there, so I have met everyone now.  The furthest?  (a missionary traveled for the conference)  I don't know, probably the missionaries in Macedonia or Montenegro,  I don't remember what city is open in Montenegro, but they came down the night before.

Sounds like Thanksgiving was good.  Yes, we had stuffing.  In fact, I eat stuffing almost every week because the Boydells almost always make it for Sunday lunch.  It's funny, because the people that made the food (for Thanksgiving) were the Fords and the senior couples, and I think more than half the couples are either British or Irish (the Fords did a lot of recruiting), but it was really good.

Oh, the turkey bowl, oh how I miss it, as well as 7-11 breakfast, but it's all good.  (Family tradition: play in the turkey bowl on Thanksgiving morning with other young men, fathers and members of the ward followed by a trip to 7-11 for a breakfast of donuts, slurpees and hot dogs.)

(I have a clock at home set to Albanian time)  When you look at the clock and wonder what I'm doing, assuming when its the daytime in Virginia, for the most part I am probably sleeping, otherwise if you look now I am on the email.

(Has the weather started to cool down?)  We're doing good, actually it hasn't gotten cold yet, it's been very disappointing.  I'm wearing shorts right now.  President Ford told us we're in for a very harsh winter, yet it's almost winter and it's just a very cool temperature.  Albanians think it's bitter cold, though, they see us only in suits and they're like, "A s'keni ftohte?" (you're not cold?)  and we're just like, "Jo fare."  And then they're like "marshala"  (oh my gosh).  That's actually turkish, they stole that phrase.

Ok, dad:

1) Well, the zone leaders (the other companionship in Elbasan) are in Elbasan have a car, so we went to Tirana with them.  No, the senior couple's car only has 6. (Not clear, will ask next week)  I have seen train tracks, but have not seen a train yet.

2)  Christmas isn't celebrated too much, but New Year's Eve is gonna be a party.  I have been told it's insane.  We're already told to not go out that day, so we'll chill at the zone leaders house, and then this member's house is on the top of a building, so we're gonna go there and sit at the top of the building and watch the fireworks go off. 

3)  Yeah, Sister Ford told us there will be more and more missionaries coming in the next couple transfers.   President Ford said he doesn't plan on opening any other cities though while he's president, so he's gonna be beefing up a couple cities in Albania, and hopefully Macedonia and Montenegro will start to pick up soon, and then more missionaries can be put in there (only one city is open in both countries).

Alright, this past week.  As I said, we had mission conference, and then we ate food, and then talent show, and then we had a testimony meeting where all the dying (the ones going home after this transfer) missionaries all were told to get up, and then all the missionaries who have been reassigned to this mission from the Adriatic North to go up.  2 Serbian speakers came down in April, both were set with an Albanian speaker to open up both Macedonia and Montenegro, and now one of them is an Assistant, and in 6 months has become fluent in Albanian, it's ridiculous, but he's cool.  We just got another missionary from Serbia to go up in Macedonia, and he's really cool too, he's got about 10 months left.  We get our first Serbian speaker called to this mission in January, and I'm assuming he'll go straight to Montenegro, since that's the only country that's almost completely Serbian speaking (Macedonia is about 50-50).  And then, right after that, we went on exchanges with the zone leaders the next day.  I was with Elder Lewis, and Elder Knight was with Elder Kay.  Elder Lewis has about 4 months left.  It was fun though, a good experience.  And yeah, this week, again, we're gonna try to get 20 lessons done, so that'll be good, but nothing out of the ordinary happening. 

Well, that's about it.  Enjoy this week, and enjoy all the Christmas stuff that's gonna happen.

Ju dua,

Elder Palmer

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 November 19 email

Hello all.

From what I have heard, we can skype for at least an hour, but I have heard missionaries go on for like 2-2.5 hours, so we'll have time.  I will be in Elbasan, most likely chilling at the Boydell's house, and then we'll probably go to an internet cafe and skype you, don't exactly know what time yet I'll let you know at a later time.  It'll probably be through skype, but that's ok because I created a skype account back when I was normal so you can probably just use that and I'll use an account that the mission gives me.

Well, I did not get my 'Albanized' nametag yet, and I'm disappointed.  It's going to be spelled 'Pallmer,' except the 'e' will have 2 dots above it, so that will be cool, and definitely make the difference while I am proselyting.

I'm glad you like the pictures, I can see the ones you sent me, looks like a good time was had.

(Tell us about the orphanage by the church)  There are probably quite a lot of orphans in it, and between 4-10 come each week, so it really helps our church attendance as we are trying to prepare for a stake next year.  Yeah, since missionaries can't touch them because it's not allowed we mostly just tell them that they need to be quiet and they usually don't like that, but some of the girls sit by them and they're usually more quiet.  They're all little kids.

Yeah, I'll make sure to get the talent show recorded, I haven't seen Elder Boydell do his version of Jake the Peg yet, but apparently in England he is well known for it, so Thanksgiving is going to be a fun day.  On Thanksgiving the entire mission is going to Tirana for mission conference and then for dinner, and then the talent show, and then we'll go back to Elbasan at like 6 or something.  Enjoy Thanksgiving, and the Pie thing, I hope that's a good time.

Sounds like the temple trip was fun, I remember when a temple was near where I was inhabited, but no, not now.  That's cool about the room in the DC and LA temple, DC by far has the best temple in the world, even though Elder Knight keeps trying to tell me that the Laie Hawaii temple is better, I'm gonna have to call a big fat 'me kismet' (maybe, but pretty much means 'no') on that.  (I have no idea what this means, but he hasn't been to Hawaii so he can't really compare the two.  It is Hawaii afterall.)

Ok, dad, you have the turn.

1)  Until Rome Temple is finished, we are in the Frankfurt, Germany district.  Yeah.  I think we try to get 2 trips to the temple every year for the members, and if it's their first time the church will pay for it, otherwise they pay their own way. 

2)  No, 'xh' makes a 'j' sounds.  So jajee, I guess.  I don't think it's offensive, I think it's what they're known as by the Albanian people, but if they appear as an 'old-timer,' they're a xhaxhi.  We don't call them that, we say, 'Zoteri,' which means 'mister.'  It's more respectful.  I have no idea for women

3)  I'm really not sure for phones, because we'll be in Elbasan, I don't know where we'll be able to access any phones that can do international.   And as I said, I don't really know much about the times at this point.

Yeah, these people are talking a little bit about 12/21/12, that's why I was asking, because I wasn't sure how the people in the states are doing as it approaches.

Jake, I told you to stop lying to me.  (Jake tells Scott he does not have a girl friend.)  Do work in Churchball.

Andrea, when you say 'down there,' where the heck is that?  I think I am to the right of you, not below you.

Ok, sports real quick.  Sorry about the U.  The Jazz won some games but can be better, understandable.  From what you said, sounds like Randy Foye is pretty dang good.  Cards lost, but Skins won, ok, 1-2, not bad at all.

Alright, this me and this last week.  So, we went to Tirana, and did midway training.  That was fun, but President Ford gave us an assignment.  We needed to have 20 lessons this week, and that included just going to members houses, if need be, and that was only 3 of them.  The other 17 were with investigators and less active members.  He did this because he said we needed to be teaching and not finding.  Language is getting better, pretty much understand the gist of what people are saying when I talk to them now, so that's good.

Ok, I think that's about it for this week.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and that pie thing, and 3 days off school and work and whatever else you all are doing. 

Ju dau!

Elder Palmer

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 November 11 email

Hello?  How are you good?  With health?  With Strength?  That's what we say to xhaxhis (old men, I think that's how it's spelled) while street contacting.

Alright, I'm just gonna say this now, because I have been meaning to tell y'all this for a while.  Things are a little different here than the Congo.  (Where his brother served a mission)  On Christmas, we will be skyping, not phonecalling.  So, get that skype account created so I'll know who to call.

Sweet, thanks for the box, I'm pretty excited for it, I'll let you know about the price thing when I can.  (Boxed mailed with Christmas/birthday)  Dang, they start school late.  (Siblings don't have to be back to school until 1/7)  When does winter break begin?  12/21/12?  That's a sick joke if the world really does end?  Is there more talk about 12/21/12 now that it's getting closer?

Well, I just figured out that I can send pictures through the wolverine, so I'm sending a ton today to y'all.  Yeah, you'll have a ton of emails today.  Sorry.

Yeah I just checked out the blog.  I have no idea where Thessalonia is specifically.  So, as far as Alabama goes, I don't know anyone who's in the field now from Alabama, but there is an RM from Alabama who served in Albania.  In fact, he actually lived with Sang last fall, he goes by the name of "Freddy," he volunteered a few times in the TRC when I was in the MTC.  Yeah, that Elder from Australia is Elder Woods, he's training Elder Finklea in Tirana right now, haven't really talked to him much, but he seems cool.

So, are you telling me that the Ford Flex is a car that you are considering buying now? (No, just rented it for the weekend.)  I don't know cars at all, so let me know.

So, yeah, we had that exact same lesson yesterday in church, ("Kindness" in the George Albert Smith manual) and in fact, I taught the lesson.  I am now the Elders Quorum Instructor every 2nd and 3rd Sunday of each month.  Man, I thought street contacting every day would take away anxiety of teaching, but no, I taught in butchered Albanian, it was alright.  It was tough involving the members, so in the end, I felt like I was just teaching the missionaries, which was weird, but apparently I did ok. 

So, you said it was 12:20 in Virginia when you wrote this, eh?  That means it was 6:20 here.  We changed time too when you changed time, so I still was asleep for ten more minutes.

Ok, dad:

1)  I really don't know how the YSA works because the missionaries don't really do anything with it, but they have an institute every Saturday at 4:30, I believe.  But, I think the YSA does have a lot of activities that involve the entire country, there's not enough people in just Elbasan to have an activity.

2)  There are like 10 youth in the branch, and there is seminary, and the seminary teacher is 18, she's awesome, she's beginning her mission papers in January.

3)  There are like 2 primary kids in the branch, but there's an orphanage right next to the building where they just walk in and we don't do anything as long as they're quiet, and then they usually do primary.

So, for my quick opinion on sports, all I can say is I am happy that things are going the way they are for the Lakers.  Take that, Laker bandwagon fans.  Of course BYU wins, we're playing a bunch of scrubs now.  How's the basketball team?

So, it's snowing like crazy in Utah, eh?  Dangit, because last year was terrible as far as snow goes in Utah.  Grandma and Grandpa, thank you for helping me get that coat, it is dang useful and convenient.  No, they don't have Thanksgiving in Albania, but we're celebrating it in Tirana next Thursday, which also happens to be mission conference.

Ok, so my time to shine.  So, yeah, this last week we had the baptism of the century, 2 girls, after 2 years of waiting.  I think we had 14 missionaries there, all who either served in Elbasan or are just their companions, and President and Sister Ford came and presided over it.  It was awesome.    We also committed 2 other people to baptism, We're also working with this one girl, a media referral, who likes the church, but she has a ton of questions.  She's awesome, though, and really smart.

So, this week, tomorrow I am actually going to Tirana for midway training.  By the way, I just gotta say, Brits are absolutely hilarious.  Just saying.  Next week, at Thanksgiving, we are having a talent show, and each district has about 7-8 minutes to do something, so Elder Boydell is doing something called "Jake the Peg."  Look it up.  It is funny.  The rest of us will be singing 'eedle eedly um' in the background while he does the main part.  It's absolutely hilarious.

Well, that's about it for this week, enjoy the pictures I sent, it's a good thing I discovered this.  See ya next week!

Ju dua,

Elder Palmer

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 November 5th email

Hello, how's it going?

Well, it's good to hear that (Hurricane) Sandy did not affect home too much, and I have actually heard a lot about New York and New Jersey, the Albanians pay quite attention to what goes on in America, and I'm gonna keep the people there in my prayers.

For other stuff that I might want, I would probably like some sweats, because it's gonna be getting really cold here real soon.  And maybe some skittles, the ones in the light blue or purple bag, if I have to be specific.  As far as like coats and stuff, I think I'm ok with that stuff because that coat I got from the missionary mall is incredible.  (Yeah!)

So, the move last week was good, things went pretty smoothly.  So, simply, we just switched YSA buildings.  We actually have a legit church building right now, for the time being at least.  Our apartment is separate from the other church buildings, so we didn't move houses.  The purpose of the YSA building is for FHE every Wednesday and to teach investigators.

For English classes, there is beginning, intermediate, and advanced English.  Most are in intermediate English, but Elder Knight and I taught Beginning, but we don't have English this week since we moved buildings.

I don't think anyone else in my district has a blog.

Ok, that makes sense now about Dave, well tell him I say 'yo' and to send me the baby pictures.  Finally, I can be an uncle-in-law.  (Getting married in November....)

So, you (Mom) went tracting to talk about the Mormon Presidential candidate with 2 other Mormons, eh?  That's funny.

I've heard from a few friends from school who are in the field now, they're doing really good I hear.  I lost Colin's address, could you send me that?

So, right now, I am in Alma 35.  The Book of Alma is legit, I love it.  This is the first time I'm reading the Book of Mormon (with a purpose, I guess, I've read it twice before but I didn't pay attention), and it's awesome like actually knowing the stories in them and when someone asks you about those stories you actually know what's going on, because before I started I didn't know jack, and I could really see the difference.

Jake, glad you liked band, write Michael Jordan and send him my congratulations for that 1 win, here's hoping for a few more.

Andrea, glad you love band so much that you don't get bored because Mr. Swartz (the man) is yelling at someone, that's just who he is.

Dad, we didn't do jack for Halloween, but there was a YSA party in Durres, but we didn't go because we're not on our own time right now, but yeah no pumpkins or anything.

Favorite candy bar?  It's called White Lion, it's so good.

Food?  Chipotle.  But, as I said, if it has to be mailable, I do miss skittles like no other, so that would be lovely if you would be willing to send me some, thank you.

Yeah, Albanians are paying quite a bit of attention to the election, and since everyone knows we're Americans, they'll probably let us know by yelling, "Romney" or "Obama!"   No, the people aren't aware that he's Mormon, and honestly we have been told not to use that to gain interest.  The members in the church know, however, and yesterday in Priesthood, our teacher told everyone that it's very important that we all pray that Romney will win the election.

So, from what you've told me about football, BYU is playing nobody, and the Redskins and Cardinals are pretty much how they usually are.  The Jazz lost to New Orleans?  Outside of Anthony Davis, who did they have that made the game difficult?  The Spurs?  We always lose to them.  I feel like we got a pretty stacked team if everyone plays to their potential, but whatever.  Glad to see Marvin Williams is doing well, as well as Mo.

Alright, so this past week.  We actually got something that we had never thought we would get in Albania.  We got a media referral!  I think it's a couple, but not sure, but one of them actually knew a lot about the church because when they traveled to South Korea (yeah, I know right?) with their Mormon friends they talked with the missionaries a lot.  They can speak Albanian, English, French, Spanish, Czeck (which means they can pretty much understand Serbian, Macedonian, Russian, and Slavick), and Korean.  Apparently once you master Albanian, you can learn any language with ease.  But anyway, they're awesome.   Yeah, and yesterday at church, outside of the branch president and missionaries, we had 3 priesthood holders, 2 of them Aaronic.  I blessed the sacrament for the first time in Albanian yesterday, it went just fine.  I'm pretty sure that the ward still thinks I don't understand a lick of Albanian, but I think I can understand between 60-70% now when I talk to people.  I definitely need to work on speaking more, I feel like I have been focusing more on understanding than speaking lately, so I am working on that this week.

So, this Friday, these 2 girls in our branch, after 2 years are getting baptized.  This is so significant that every missionary in Albania that has served in Elbasan is trying to come, as well as the Fords and the assistants as well.  I'm pretty sure this is going to be the biggest event Albania has this week.  It's incredible.

Well, for any of my friends reading this blog, feel free to take the time to send a letter to a kid in Albania who hasn't gotten much mail since I hit the field, as a missionary I invite others to make commitments, so, as I say to my investigators, I encourage you to make this commitment, and I promise you that you will be blessed beyond all belief for sending me a letter.

OK, well that's really all I got for this week.  Hope everyone is doing well, feel free to email me pictures of what you guys look like, after all it's been 3 1/2 months.  Ok, see ya next week!

Ju dua

Elder Palmer

Sunday, November 4, 2012

2012 October 29 email

Hello, my friends!  How are you?  That is what cuns (teenage boys) say to us as we're street contacting.  They say all 20 English words that they know and they leave thinking they really got us.

Anyway, how's it going?  Yesterday I had lunch with the previous senior couple (the Prestons), and they actually told me about Hurricane Sandy, so I hope you guys are all good, that would kinda stink if I came home to no family, so stay safe.  (No problems at all from the storm.)

Yeah, that video of Elbasan is pretty accurate.  Elder Knight and I have been wanting to try the bumpercars and the other rides around that area for a while.  (Video linked on this blog)

Dangit, I forgot to ask the Boydells about if they have a blog, I will do that tomorrow during district meeting.  I don't think any of the other elders have blogs though, they just do email.

English class is alright.  We do 45 minutes of English, and 15 minutes of a spiritual thought.  Usually the spiritual thought goes ok, but Elder Knight and I teach the beginner class.  This week we will have class Tuesday but not Thursday because we're actually switching buildings this week, and I'll talk about that later.

(What do you do at church?  Is there a primary?)  Yeah there's a primary program, but the missionaries don't really do anything with that, our prime focus as missionaries is activating the priesthood, because we the missionaries are pretty much the priesthood here.

(The Hobbit movie is coming out soon.  Andrea and I are reading it-did you ever read it?)  Nope, never read the Hobbit.  I read the first book, and the first half of the second.  It's ok, the movies are good enough for me.  In fact, I heard the Hobbit is now split into 3 parts.  Is that true?  Life of Pi, eh?  Hopefully that will be good.

(Do Albanians celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving?)  I think they do celebrate Halloween, but no trick-or-treating.  And no they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but the whole mission is going to Tirana on Thanksgiving, so that'll be good, I can meet the missionaries not in Elbasan, Tirana or Vlore.

(Has the weather started to get cooler?  Have you bought any warm clothes yet?)  Yeah, it's gotten cooler.  In fact, I have been told that Elbasan is the coldest and hottest area in the mission in winter and summer.  But it won't start getting brutally cold until December apparently, but now it's nice and cool.  Yeah, I've been looking for stuff, but I haven't really seen anything yet.

We had 53 people come to church yesterday, so that was good, 15 more than last week.

Andrea, sorry that your feet hurt, but what do you do, eh?

(Jake wrote him "nothing happened this week.")  Jake, stop lying to me.

Eric, tell Sang I love him too.  Tell him I got a picture holding a bear, and I'll send the picture soon, but now the jokes can finally end.

Ok Dad, your questions:

1:  Daily schedule:  Up at 6:30, shower and workout till 8,  comp. study till 10, proselyte till 12, lunch till 2, yeah we have two hours of lunch, personal and language study till 4, then proselyte the rest of the day.  I think since like January apparently the church instigated a new training program, and that includes a longer comp. study, and what we do is talk about different aspects of missionary work and how to apply them.  It's good, but man are we inside a lot, I almost feel bad for Elder Knight.

2:  Well, I think the education setup is the same as America, Elementary, Middle and High School, and some of the kids I have talked with seem really smart, so yeah.  They do have universities, and I think the University of New York has a study abroad in Albania.  That's really all I know as far as education here.

3:  So yeah like I said it's getting colder here.  As far as clothing I still have that fat jacket I got at the missionary mall, wore that thing for the first time Saturday.

Well, as far as sports go, best of luck to the Cards tonight.  SF Giants won again, eh?  The Jazz led the NBA in 3pt.%?  I know it's preseason, but still.  Glad BYU finally won.  Is Georgia Tech any good, or did we just beat another scrub?

Ok, so last week was pretty cool.  We we're visiting a member one night, and he happened to have his son and his wife, and also his niece over when we came.  We had a really good discussion with them about the Gospel.  They asked us good questions We were gonna visit them again this week, but they were up in Tirana this week, so we'll get them this week.  We have another, a girl named Armanda, who accepted getting baptized but not to a date.  We also have Eni, an older woman who, after 3 visits, has said that we are like her sons already.  When we went in her house, she had the Libri i Mormonit open.

So, this week is gonna be a big week.  As I said, we are moving to a new building that will become our YSA building, and we need to be out of the old one by Wednesday, so tomorrow we are going to be moving out for a good chunk of the day. The new building is gonna be awesome though, it looks really good.

Alright, well I don't think I have anything else I need to talk about this week.  Have a good week, enjoy time off from school.  Jake, do you remember when we missed a whole week of school because of Hurricane Isabel? (We missed two days for Sandy).   That was awesome.  Alright, see ya next week!

Ju dua!

Elder Palmer

2012 October 22nd email

What is up, family?  Ok, first of all, before I start, a big shoutout to Jeremy Moore (friend in our stake) for being called to serve in Armenia!  That is legit!  Yeah, he definitely has the coolest call in the stake now, no questions there.  I actually saw an Armenian Book of Mormon in the MTC, that language looks legit.  In all honesty, I was thinking that if I was called to learn an oriental language, I would probably want to learn Armenian.  Congratulations to him for that.

Oh yeah, happy birthday Andrea (13) and Jake (16)!  I hope you like whatever presents mom assigned me to give you!

Ok, Elbasan,  It's a cool little city, it's pretty small.  There is like a fortress right in the middle of the city, we are next to it every night because that's where we go street contacting.  There's this road right next to it where the city blocks it up so drivers can't drive through it at night, so that people can take walks on it.  Taking walks is like a past time in Albania. I think people are aware that we are there every night, so when they see us they try to walk around us, but we've been trying to stand at different places now.  But yeah, we actually have a legit church building too. 

Yeah, syflaqes, they are good. (See picture from October 15th, 2012)  We get them a few times a week, they're pretty cheap too.  Fruit, we eat apples, I usually try to eat quite a few a week.  If possible, can you send me a fat bottle of like Centrum or something, I have a bottle of like 60 vitamins, and that'll run out real quick.

Yeah, I am trying to get all the flags of my mission.  Today I saw on the street an Albania and Kosovo flag, so I'm gonna try to get them next week.  Montenegro is gonna be tough, because our mission is going to be getting Serbian speaking Elders in January I think, so I doubt I'll go to Montenegro at all.

That's cool that Jake's about to become a priest, that's kinda weird though.  We're old.  How's Bishop Holdaway doing?  I am assuming he is dominating the ward, like usual?  That's awesome though.

Andrea, good luck at the Pep rally, you'll do fine, just dominate at the piano like always.  Jake, have a fun birthday, and enjoy those 5 or 6 dates I know you already have setup.

Ok, dad, you're questions:

1: Pershendetje (this keyboard does not have albanian letters with it, dangit) is not the most common greeting.  We say c'kemi (what have we? (literal translation) or what's up?) usually.  Pershendetje and Tungjatjeta both mean 'greetings' and are used when talking to old people, as respect. 

2:Yeah, it would probably be great if you can send an adaptor where I can plug it into a computer (like where you can plug in a flash drive), and on the other end you can insert the SD card.  I know those exist, because I used them in the MTC.  If that is possible, that would be great, and that can be my Christmas and birthday present if need be.  I am using the wolverine to back everything up.

3:  Shopping?  Yeah, they have supermarkets.  We go to this one store called 'roadhouse.'  It's just a supermarket, not a barbeque place or anything, and they got what we need.  I haven't really gotten anything else as far as souvenirs, but this past weekend the zone leaders went to Elbasan for exchanges, and they brought us back Dominos!  Macedonia has a Dominos, a couple McDonalds, and a couple Burger Kings.  It was so good!

So, yeah, the election.  People here keep up with what's going on with elections. 

So, Taken 2 was pretty good, eh? (a movie Mark saw)   Even if it was bad, I'd still watch it when I get back, probably just for translation.  So you saw Tirana and some countryside?  (online video-linked on this blog)  Yeah, the countryside is pretty cool here.

Yeah, I got Lek and Denar when I used the ATM.  Stupid fee, well at least I know now. (Scott used the ATM twice for small amounts of cash and was then charged a fee.  Lesson learned.)

Yeah, college football sounds awful, luckily I don't really care, at least the Jazz are sounding good?  When does the season start?  Next Tuesday?  That'll be weird, but what can you do? 

So, just before I got here and started emailing,  Elder Knight and I were walking over, and we saw a guy walking with a bear.  A legit bear.  So, I got a picture with it.  He had a chain leash, and I held that leash.  I got a picture next to a grizzly bear, (probably not a grizzly bear but a brown bear) holding the leash.  Only in Albania.

So, yeah, this week we got a new investigator named Armanda, she was found through the English course we do every Tuesday and Thursday.  She knows a bit about the church.   And then we have Meriglen and Sylvia, a couple who have investigated and want to be baptized.  But they are awesome. 

Well, I think that's everything I got this week.  Hope things are well, things are good over here.

Ju dua!

Elder Palmer

Monday, October 15, 2012

2012 October 15th email

What is up, family?  Before I start, let me give a shoutout to Dave, who is getting married.  Congratulations Dave.

So, yeah, (Elder) Knight's tag is just a little bit different, and that's because it has been Albanized.  I soon will also have an Albanized name tag as well, and if I serve in Macedonia or Montenegro, I'll probably get name tags in Macedonian or Serbian as well, which would be pretty cool.  So I think it's called a syflaqe, otherwise I don't really know how to spell it, but it's meat with lettuce and fries all wrapped in like pita bread or something, it's pretty good, so maybe google syflaqe and add 'albania' and maybe you'll find it.

 I don't know if the Boydells have a blog, I'll ask them if they have one tomorrow during district meeting.  Yeah, I can tell you now that World of Coke doesn't have Fanta exotic, because Fanta Exotic is illegal in the United States because it's too good.  (Favorite soda)

So, does that mean Jake plans on going on a mission at age 18?  Congrats to Courtney (Carter) for getting her mission call, (to Tahiti).  Yeah, I think I remember Gabbi and Tess telling me something about doing something international, so that's pretty cool, I think a few other friends from BYU told me they're trying to do something like that too, so that's pretty cool.  So, did Brother McKeon move back to Virginia?  I remember when I was a midget when he was my Young Men's President for like 6 months, and that was 8 years ago, that's kinda weird.  I don't think I ever really affiliated with the Whitley's when I was in Young Men's, but the name is familiar.  (Former ward members who visited Innsbrook ward on Sunday)

(Mom's questions)  Yeah, so about the Mercedez, they sure look like shiny new cars.  Yeah, a lot of people smoke here.  Yeah, the ceiling is low, and the zone leaders in my district that picked that house are basically midgets, so they saw no problem.  Yeah, we have no issue with water temperature, I usually have hot water, but the water pressure is very inconsistent, but what can you do?  We usually have around 50 members in sacrament meeting.  Most of the members are the only members in their family, but there is one family that I think has 6 kids, the most I have seen so far. 

Yeah, I think the language is coming along, hopefully.  The members are pretty nice about it, but it can be frustrating when you're the only missionary that can't understand.  The thing is, when teaching, I understand what (Elder) Knight is saying, but the natives, I just slap myself in the head.  But I think I understand people a lot better, and I think I know all the grammar principles I need to know, I just need to master using them.  And them comes the slang that people say usually that I have had to learn, and that's getting better as well, so avash avash.

So, dad, if you were able to explain the Pearl of Great Price in one or two sentences, could you do that for me?

Alright, dad's questions:

1:  The MTC does kinda seem forever away, I can't believe I'm approaching 2 weeks in the field already, it's kinda weird.  Yeah I was going to have you send these emails to my MTC teachers, but I can do that myself.

2:  Yeah, each companionship has a cell phone, and I won't get the privilege of using it until about a month when I understand Albanian a lot better, so (Elder) Knight uses it most of the time.  For internet access we go to an internet cafe.

3:  Transportation?  We walk.  Yeah.

4:  Breakfast, I had corn flakes.  Lunch, well yesterday we ate at the Boydells, as we do every Sunday, and honestly we don't really have dinner, we just stay working until 9, return, and eat what we got in the fridge.

So the Jazz are doing alright in pre-season, eh?  What's the starting five?  Please tell me Favors is starting, otherwise Corbin is ruining the future of our team.  But whatever.  I guess with the old refs back the Cards are playing like they usually are, at least the Skins won.  And the Nats got upset, eh?  Figures.  I guess this is what I get for now being a fan of the Lakers, Yankees, or Patriots....

So Eric, you play both JV and Varsity?  Not bad for someone who didn't play a lick of high school soccer.  Do you think that if I try out post-mish I can make the team?  I'm just kidding, don't get mad.  By the way, another Elder in my district, Elder Kay, his brother also served in DRC Kinsasha,(same mission as Eric) but he came home just before you left, April 2009, so you never knew him.  Still, though, it's weird.

Jake, you're more interesting than you think.  When do you turn 16 again?  Look out.

Andrea, I'm glad you love everything that you do in life.  Keep that happy attitude going and love cotillion.  (Sarcasm)

And today, for P-day, our district actually went to Macedonia today, which was pretty fun.  Macedonia is definitely not like Albania, the people of Macedonia actually check your passport before we went into Macedonia.  It was fun though, I bought a Macedonian flag.  I made it a goal to get all 4 flags of my mission before I go home, so yeah, it was a ton of fun.  That's why you got this email a lot later today than last week, because I just got back from it.

Ok, so I think that's about it for this week.  I want to send pictures, but I think I need to use a flashdrive on these computers, so I might have to mail you an SD card, so I'll get to that soon.  Ok,  love you all, stay awesome, and I can't wait to hear from you next week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

2012 October 8th email


Alright, before I start anything, let me apologize about the
jacked up phone calls that came about while I was in Vienna.  I don't
know what happened, but the phone just stopped working, I
could hear you but you couldn't hear me.  Why does that always happen
with me?!  So, Eric, we were talking about what you did your first day
in the Congo, you were talking about Castaway, and that's when it
stopped working.  So, I hung up and tried again to call Eric a few
times, didn't work, so then I thought I'd call mom to see if that
would work.  It didn't. So, I just had to wait it out until now to
let you know that I am alive, which I  am, and things are good,
so yeah you know that.

Alright, so, Albania is straight up the [poorest] place I have ever
been to.  And I love it!  Seriously, I don't have to worry at all
about being robbed or anything, and these people are so nice.  But
yeah, things are so far so good.  The apartment which I live in is good,
except the ceiling is really small, (I think he means low) I've already
hit my head like 3 times already.  My trainer's name is Elder Knight,
from Texas, he's pretty cool, he's been in Albania for 6 months, and
has the language down really well, which I don't.  My first area is
called Elbasan.  In our first day we were in Tirana, and while doing
interviews with President  Ford, we went out with experienced Elders
and did street contacting and tracting.  Man, the people here are so nice!
Yeah, they rejected us, but they are a lot nicer to us than people in Virginia
are to us.  But yeah, in our first day in Elbasan we went tracting, and we got
into one woman's house, her name is Leila (I think), and she's been
taught before, and we taught about the Restoration, gave her a Book of
Mormon, and we're working on a return appointment sometime this week.
We are also working with this woman named Mirella, who met with the
previous missionaries before us for quite a bit, and I think she wants
to get baptized, but she can't come to church because of work, but she's
really nice, and her daughter came yesterday to church, and we're
meeting with her tomorrow I think.  We also taught a lesson to this
guy named Eris, he's a friend of a member named Mundi who's been
trying to quit smoking, so we taught him about the Atonement, and
I think we'll meet with him again this week.

So, first Sunday at church was cool.  I had to go up to bear my
testimony, which was in broken Albanian because I am the Fringo
(greenie) and my Albanian stinks compared to the remaining elders in my
district.  So the other Elders I am with are Elders Kay and Lewis,
they're zone leaders and both have about 6 months left, and a senior
couple called the Boydells, who are British as well, and are
hilarious.  We have lunch at their house every Sunday after church,
and they cook some good stuff.

So, I haven't tried too many Albanian foods yet, but the one I have
tried is called Syflaqa (I think that's how you spell it),(I cannot find 
this anywhere, will have to ask him about it again.) and that is
like a salad with french fries wrapped around in a thick tortilla, and
it's really good.  They also have Fanta Exotic, which just might be
the greatest thing ever, and it's so dang sugary, and it's not in the
United States.  There is this one drink that every new guy has to try
because it's awful (kind of like that snail on a stick thing Eric ate)
called dhall, where it's just a mix of water, plain yogurt, and I
think salt.  Albanians love it, but Americans hate it, for good reason
because it sounds disgusting, but my MTC teacher, Bro. Hoxha, said it
makes his mouth water whenever we talk about it.  I was going
to ask you to send this email to my MTC teachers because I have their
emails and they wanted to see my first email, so I won't forget that
next week.

So, I actually saw two sessions of conference, so I am aware of the
fact that guys can go on missions at age 18 and girls can at 19, which
is awesome!  Now Gabbi, Tess and Ha Young can all get ready
to go on missions, someone tell them to get on that.  Also I have
a friend from BYU who really wants to go on a mission, so I am really
excited for her if she's gonna plan on going on a mission soon!

So, yeah, I feel like I had something else I need to say, but I
forgot.  What's up in the sports world?  Are the Jazz champion
favorites yet?  Have the Cardinals started losing since the NFL got
good refs again?  Nats champs yet?  How's school for everyone?  Eric,
are you engaged yet?

Ok, I think that's about it.  My P-day is Monday now, like the rest of
the field missionaries in the world, and you'll probably get my emails
before you wake up, so make sure to write Sunday nights!  Miss yall!

Ju dua,

Elder Palmer

(We had sent emails, he didn't see them before he wrote the above
 email.  This is his response to our emails...)

Ok, so I got your emails while writing my first one.  Dad, I'll start
with your questions.

As I said, after the plane we got picked up by President Ford and the
assistants and went to the mission home in Tirana, did President
interviews, went street contacting with experienced Elders and then
came back, had a testimony meeting, ate food, went to a hotel and
passed out.  The next day we went back to the mission home and got
assigned our trainers and areas and went our way.

Elder Knight is from Texas, loves football and basketball, has been
out for 6 months, yeah.  He likes the Suns and the Patriots and the
Rangers, he just likes sports, and were getting along just fine, and
we're having fun.

The language, yeah, I can't understand most of what the people
are saying.  Members are nice to me about it right now, for the most
part.  They say I speak it well, which is good and all, but I kinda
need to understand it if I want to communicate, but, avash avash.
(Slowly, slowly)

Elbasan is cool, but both Elder Knight and I are new to the area,
so we don't know squat really, everyone except one of the zone
leaders isn't familiar with the area.

Ok, I think I got everything answered.  So, I remember what I was
gonna say that I forgot.  So, I don't know if Eric had this, don't
think so, but there's a new training program, which for the first 3
months means more study time, which means more time inside than out
working, which kinda stinks sometimes cuz we feel useless, but we're
ok, we're not trying to waste any time.  Also, we have 2 hours for
lunch because there's "Siesta" time everyday, so they suggest not
waste that time outside.  But, life's good so far.

Jake, remember that going at 18 is only an option, so it's up to you.
I am too hyped that sisters can go at 19, I was talking with the other
Elders, we think the field is gonna explode with them now, which will
be sick.

Andrea, nice job at dance and at becoming section leader, (jazz band)
way to keep the Palmer name a good one!

Mom, thanks for the scripture, I actually think of that one a few
times a day for some reason. (Moses 1:39)

So, right now I am in Mosiah 29 in the Book of Mormon.  I feel really
good now that I know what exactly happened in Mosiah, because if you
told me to tell you a story from Mosiah before the mission, I wouldn't
have known one.  But yeah, avash avash, I am no longer kot
(worthless) when it comes to knowing stories out of the scriptures.

Oh yeah, something else about the members in church.  There's a 17
year old girl named Arrjeta who is a seminary teacher.  She's 17.
That's legit.

Ok, I think that's everything I got for this week, I love you all, and
I'll see you next week.

Elder Palmer

Oh, yeah, another thing, for being the poorest country in Europe, I
have never seen so many Mercedes Benz in one city.  That's all I gotta
say about that.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

2012 October 5th-email from President Ford

Elder Scott Palmer and his trainer, Elder Knight

5 October, 2012
 Dear Brother and Sister Palmer,
 Your son (Scott) arrived in Tirana on Wednesday after a long flight from Salt Lake City and the Missionary Training Center.  Sister Ford and I are delighted to have him as one of our missionaries serving in the Adriatic South Mission. We look forward to getting to know him well. We know he will be a great asset to the mission. He is assigned to serve with Elder Knight  in the Elbasan Branch.
We have attached some pictures of him with his companion, Pres and Sister Ford and his missionary group. The group picture includes from left to right: Sister Ford, Elders Wagstaff, Tanner, Pierce, Finklea, Hanks, Palmer, Sister Hoover, Elder Hoxha and President Ford.
Thank you for preparing your son so well for this experience of serving the Lord and sharing the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people here in the Adriatic South Mission.
 Since mail is such an important part of missionary life we encourage you to write each week.
 If you have questions or concerns about your son please contact us.
President Andrew Ford

 President and Sister Ford with Elders Palmer and Knight

 President and Sister Ford with the new missionaries in the
Adriatic South Mission on October 4th, 2012:
Sister Ford, Elders Wagstaff, Tanner, Pierce, Finklea, Hanks, Palmer, 
Sister Hoover, Elder Hoxha and President Ford

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012 September 26th MTC email-last one!

Hello Family, What is up?!

Yeah, it's weird to know this is my last P-day here, but I am also happy to know that in one week I am going to be a legit missionary.  Well, I forgot to bring my travel plans with me, so I'll come back at a later time to send them to you, but I do know for a fact that I am flying from Salt Lake to DC, and then to Vienna, and then to Tirana.  So, it really hasn't completely sunk in yet, but it will in a couple days.  I've gotten too used to this place.

Mom, I did get the camera case and the medications, thanks very much for that, and I'll make sure not to put my SD cards in the front case.  I remember the state (stake) fair, it was ok, I guess, I think I played volleyball.  Yeah, sarcasm was tough to give up, (for a week) and I definitely wasn't perfect, but I think I did a lot better.  I'm glad I can speak English now, there was this new district of Hungarians that had to go a whole week listening to us speak nothing but Albanian, and when they heard us speak English after the temple they thought it was the weirdest thing ever.  It is kinda weird, I'm used to saying certain words or phrases in Albanian now instead of English and I have to stop myself to make sure the people around me can understand what I'm saying.  But, I thought it was really helpful, my overall grammar usage is a lot better now.  That's cool that Laura Johnson (first sister missionary ever from our ward) leaves next week, tell her I say 'good luck' (Taken reference). 

Andrea, that's cool that you're in TSA,(Technology Student Association) but isn't that like the airport police?

Jake, I'm sorry Deep Run sticks at football (again).  Good luck with 10th grade, I'm sure it was as chill as it was for me.

Ok, dad's questions:  1: I kinda understood your instructions, but they were kinda confusing, maybe when I call you in DC you can explain how to call in Vienna. (phone card instructions)
2:  I think I should be ok for packing up, although it'll be interesting.  In Vienna my carry on bag can only weigh 18 lbs, so we'll see how that goes.
3:  I don't think I have any other general questions right now before I leave, if I do I'll ask at the airport.
4.  Yeah, you emailed me your dear-elder and I responded to it.

So, I was already told about BYU and Utah football games by grandpa Jerry, that's ok basketball is better anyway.  That's good that the Cardinals are good, and also that the Nats are legit, I still want that t-shirt if they win the world-series.

Dad, thanks for the letter about you getting in France the first time, it'll be interesting to see what happens, I hope I don't travel to my first area by myself, but I guess we'll see.

Ok, that's about it I think, if I have any other news I'll write it in the letter I'll write next week.

Ju dua,

Elder Palmer

Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012 September 19 MTC email

Hey family!

Ok, I think I might have to write a short one right now because I have to change laundry real quick, so I'll probably write another email if this one is kinda short.  Dad, if you wrote I won't get the letter until after this one is already sent, so I'll see you next week.

Ok, mom's questions.  Yes, I do have a few friends from school that write me, and yeah I have enough time to be able to write back, we have like 3 hours of personal time, so I have enough.  Yes, Provo has gotten a little bit colder, but not as cold as I thought it'd be at this point, which is fine by me.  My flight will be that long because of that fat amounts of layover that we are given.  To occupy my time, probably just to read scriptures, practice Albanian, and avoid the tv screen showing The Dark Knight Rises.  33 hours.......

Ok, so mom, I will get my travel plans on Friday, so next week I'll let you know the details when I write, but we're going from Salt Lake to either DC or New York, and then to Vienna, and then to Albania.

So I have been told about the BYU-Utah game already by my teachers, all I know is that we only lost by 3 this year compared to the 482650234795629374865923 we lost to last year, so that's an improvement.

So yeah, we have started Consecration week, and along with that I will not play basketball, nor will I say any sarcastic jokes at all (this will be a long week).  It's tough, I ran into Elder Crowley and it was tough to talk to him because I just had to wait for him to guess the right word.

Eric, when you go to class do you wear your team jacket to let all the girls know that you are a college athlete?  Do you have an ESPN profile?  Give me a rundown of your statistics next week.

Andrea, glad to know you're not completely depressed and don't hate everything in the world, at least you got jazz band.

Jake, glad you got a director for the season, Mr. Chlorie I heard is cool, so you're set.

K, I don't really think I have anything else to tell you about, but I am finally like on the verge of getting out of here and becoming a legitimate missionary.  Too hyped!

Ju dua,

Elder Palmer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 September 12 MTC email

Wattup family?

Ok I gotta be quick, I don't have too much time to write because it took me forever to send pictures today.

First, dad, yes, I figured out the Wolverine yesterday.  I just never got around to looking at your instructions because I never had time, but yeah I figured it out.  One question though:  How much memory does it hold up before I have to start erasing pictures?

Jake, I think I have heard of Sister King,(seminary teacher and she is cool) and I think she's cool, but you can be the judge of that.  I can't believe Deep Run lost to Atlee again (football, ugh), that has to be like the 4th time in a row. 

Andrea, enjoy Jazz Band, it's a lot of fun.  They (Striker Soccer Club-Andrea plays) schedule soccer games on Sunday because they don't follow BYU's honor code, or scheduling matters or whatever, but you'll be fine.  I heard you have new intense dance classes, so good luck with class.

Alright, I'll start with mom's questions:  yes, I got the cake.  (Chocolate cake with caramel frosting, family tradition)  It is SO good, like always.  However, when I got it, the frosting was all on the left side, which is fine, i just scooped it on the cake, so it's good.  Um, I don't know people from most of those places that are reading my blog, but the one from Canton, GA is my roommate from college, Chris Van Aken.  He reports next week and is going to San Antonio, so I am looking forward to that.  I am actually only wearing contacts when I exercise, and a few other times, but not too often.  I don't remember how much of a supply I got before I left, either a year or 2 year supply, but I might need some more for the whole mission.  I haven't really been sleeping well, the mattresses are terrible, so it sometimes takes a while to fall asleep, so that's why I am usually wearing glasses. I can't really think of what else I would need from you guys, but overall I am great.

Ok, dad:  I actually got released as DL a week and a half ago.  When you sent your letter saying you found out about it, I was already released ha-ha.  All good, but I am nothing now, my companion is district leader now.  The language is definitely coming along, we have some pretty intense SYL goals this week, and next Wednesday we kick off consecration week, where we speak only Albanian and give up something that we like for a week.  For my itinerary, I leave October 2, I don't know flight plans, I'll get them next Friday.  But from what my teacher told me who served there, we fly from Salt Lake to either DC (it is tempting to go hang out at the airport...but we won't) or NYC, have like a 10 hour layover, and then to Vienna, Austria, another couple hours of layover, and then to Albania.  I'll find out about calling stuff and let you know next week.

Ok, sorry about the short email but I am out of time.  Tell Eric to write to me.  And if the Nationals win the World Series send me a shirt.

Ju dua!

Elder Palmer

Saturday, September 8, 2012

2012 Sept 5 email from MTC

Whattup, family? This computer does not let me change the keyboard to Albanian keyboard, which kinda makes me mad.

Anyway, I'll start with answering you're questions for the week.  Mom, laundry is just fine here.  Haven't screwed anything up just yet haha.  We'll see what happens when I get to Albanian though.

Dad, your turn.  1: Labor Day was just another day.  I don't think there are any holidays in the MTC.  The closest is probably Christmas, and my guess is there are just a bunch of devotionals that day, or something, but no days off in the MTC as far as I know.  2:  Lessons are always Albanian.  Haven't taught one in English.  My first two lessons were pretty much just reading straight out of Preach My Gospel, but no English lessons.  3: yes, 'ju' is the exact same thing as 'vous.'  It has the exact same function in Albanian as vous does in French.

Alright, onto normal business.  I can't believe I didn't think of Brother Holdaway. (New bishop) Well deserved!  When you see him, tell him I say congrats!  He's the man, he's gonna do work as Bishop.  So, Bro. Hutchinson and Howard are done already, eh?  Hmmm.  Anyway, so who does Jake get for his seminary teacher?

I'm glad Labor Day was fun for everyone.  Honestly, those picnics were always depressing to me, because I would just think about the next day.  It's weird not worrying about school in September, but it's cool too.

Andrea, way to go on the dance competition, 6th, 5th, and 4th ain't bad at all!

Eric, way to get off the Bench! (Soccer game) Did you help the team win in any way?  Oh yeah, and I saw that guy who was in the singles ward who dated Devynn this last week.  What was his name, Betancourt?  Well, I saw him.  Didn't have the chance to talk to him yet, but I'll try to if I can.

Jake, enjoy sophomore year.  It is the EASIEST year of high school you'll ever have.  So enjoy that.  Do you have a band director yet?

Tell Grandpa Bob happy birthday for me, send me a piece of that cake.  (I sent him a whole cake)

So, no more trees, eh?  That'll probably be weird when I get back if there are no trees.

Ok, sports.  Stinks about(Scott) Layden leaving (Utah Jazz).  Are they going to hire a new coach?  And is it true CJ Miles signed with Cleveland?  You can't leave me out on this stuff.  If it's true, good riddance.  Another headache off the team.  Is Raja Bell with anyone yet?  That's good that BYU won, but I could see them losing to Utah State, especially if we barely won last year. 

So, the Hungarians in my zone leave this week, so my district will be the senior district in our zone.  I've watched 6 English districts leave before ours, 4 of them coming in after us.  I want to get out.  We had a culture class last week, and because of time I can't get into detail now, so remind me to talk about it next week, but I am stoked to get out of here.  Less than 4 weeks!  Oh yeah, mom or dad, can you call the person in charge of my visa to make sure everything's in order?  I just want to make sure.  There's a paper in my file that has the number to call, her first name is Jaime, I can't remember her last name though.  We leave October 2nd, by the way, so get ready for a call then. 

Anyway, that's all I got this week.  Stay happy, and I'll see ya next week!

ju dua!

Elder Palmer

2012 Aug 29th email from MTC

Wattup family?

Ok, so they just installed new software for the computers, so I can send pictures via email now!  So I am gonna do that real quick.  You'll get another email with the other pictures.  I don't have too many right now, but I thought I'd send some.  One is Elder Nair, (Not posted yet) I know him from EFY, he's going to South Carolina, he actually left for the field a couple days ago.  Then there's me with Elder Fiala,(See entry dated Aug 14th, 12.) and then me, Elder Nelson, and Elder Romney.  Elder Romney is the blonde, and Elder Nelson is the other.

Ok, now I'll start the questions, first mom's.  Yeah, I ran into Elder Romney a couple times already in the past week, so it was good to see him.  That's about it for mom.  Dad, 1:  I haven't really had time to use the wolverine yet, so I'll find time to use that this week.  2:  (How much are you lifting?)  Oh,  you know, the max weight they got is 75 lbs, but that's too easy for me haha.  Nah, I'm not lifting a ton but I'm probably lifting more than I ever had.  Elder Finklea and Miller Elder (Hungarian Elder in my zone) are my fellow muskullkokes, and I go lifting with them, and I'm the wimpy kid while they're lifting really heavy stuff.  3:  I'm gonna guess I won't watch football in the MTC, but I know I'll probably hear it every Saturday night.

Eric, because of that I'm gonna talk even more about sports now.  If the Kings go to VA Beach that would be sick, but where would they play?  And hopefully the Jazz will be that good by 2016.

Ok, onto mission stuff.  We've been doing a ton of teaching this week, and with our new investigators, we're not going to receive any feedback for how we did after lessons this time, so we can only hope we do well.  We're doing ok,  So, I told you I'm district leader.  Everyone believes that Me and Elder Tanner will be the next zone leaders for my zone.  Since my zone is made up of one Albanian district, two Hungarian districts, and two big English districts, only missionaries going to foreign places are zone leaders, and since I have district leader training, everyone's saying it's us.  If it is, then it'll probably be cool.

Ok, so what else has been going on?  Not really sure.  The language is getting a lot better, we do SYL (Speak your language) Tuesday morning, all day Thursday, and Saturday night.  We've done a pretty crappy job with SYL as far as accountability goes, but this week we're gonna go hard in the paint and keep each other accountable.  I have almost no problem starting a conversation in Albanian, and for the most part I can understand my teachers when they speak.

So, this week, I finally finished 2 Nephi.  The ending chapters we're a lot about Isaiah's prophecies and the 2nd coming, and that the wicked will perish, so, it's good that I know that now, because if you asked me what happens in 2 Nephi before that I would have had no idea.

I can't believe it's been a whole year since I started BYU.  I remember thinking, "oh, the mission is so far away, I don't have to think about it now."  Well, I'm here.  Jake, sophomore year is about the easiest year you can have in high school, so make sure to enjoy it.  Andrea, 7th grade's pretty chill too, so do the same.  Eric, when you make it on the cover of MLS '14 send me the cover picture. (Eric is playing soccer at SVU this year.)

Eric, go onto my FB page, and if someone with the last name Hoxha added me, accept it.  He's a teacher.

So, wait, why do these emails not go onto my blog?  What's the point of a blog if there's no writing in it.  I'm not going to be able to write in it until I hit the field, so you might as well put these in here.  I don't think I'm writing anything too personal, and if I am you could just take it out.  I don't know, that's what I would do if I could.  (OK, I have been posting the MTC letters....)

Anyway, that's about it.  I'll give the wolverine another shot this week, we'll see how it goes.

Ju dua,

Elder Palmer

*I kept getting emails that it did not successfully send with the pictures, so I wasn't sure if you got them, so I sent this again.  If you got them, then ignore this.

2012 Aug 22 email from MTC

What is up, family mine?  I was gonne write in Albanian, but the computer wouldn't let me switch to the Albanian keyboard, so I wrote it out the way you'd translate Albanian into English.  First, tell Sister Warnick thanks for the letter, it was awesome, I'll find time to write back next week.  Second, can you give me Grandpa Bob's address?  I need to respond to his letter still, I feel kinda bad about it.  I saw my great uncle, the one who works at BYU, who is grandpa Bob's brother, I forget his name.  I can't remember if he's on a mission himself, or if he's in a branch presidency, I think it's the latter. (Uncle Steve and Aunt Karen Benzley, preparing to serve in Rexburg, Idaho at BYU, as a professor.)
So, I'm kinda ticked that I lost the SD card, even though it's my fault. (See previous post about mailing)  I don't know how to get the bubble package, but I'll figure it out.  Dad, I'd retake the map pictures, but Elder Fiala left for the field yesterday.  See if Sister Fiala has any pictures with me in it.  I did get one last picture with him Monday before he left.  I saw Elders Dial and Bleyl walk in today, but I haven't seen Elder Romney yet, but I know he reported today.
I guess that stinks that Mr. Ransome is gone, (High school band teacher)  I never had a legit experience working with him, so  Jake and Eric can be the judge of his departure.  That does stinks that there's no director, what would happen if they don't hire a new one on time?
Alright, I'll start off with mom's questions.  First:  yes, all that money is for tithing, use it all.  Phew, now I can actually be here without guilt now that I am a full tithe payer.  Also, yes I did get both packages.  Thanks for the food, and I missed my VCU hat.  And the chips.  And the European kit kat bars #thebest. 
Alright, dads.  1: Yesterday we finally had our first general authority speak since I've been here.  It was Elder Anderson.  Since it was President Monson's birthday yesterday, he talked about him and his qualities.  It was called "10 things President Monson would say to you right now."  Crap, I wish I had my journal with me, but mostly it was tips on how to be a missionary, so I'll give a few of his quotes:
"Only compare yourself to yourself"
"NEVER ignore a prompting of the Spirit"
ALWAYS testify of Joseph Smith"
"Have a strong testimony of the Savior"
I know those are quotes that have been said before, but I really liked it, and I got quite a bit out of it.
2: I've tried using the wolverine once, and I have no idea how to use it, so if you could maybe dearelder a quick and easy guide on how to upload photos that would be fantastic.  I see you left a lot of family pictures in it, it was good to see your faces again.
Ok, sports.  All I can say is Kevin Kolb needs to go.  Hopefully RG3 will become a beast.  I'm pretty sure there's another quarterback out there unsigned who's better than him.  As far as NBA goes, has Derek Fisher gone anywhere yet?  What about Ronnie Brewer?  Is there absolutely nothing on the Jazz?  Remember, I want every last little detail about the team, no matter how important or unimportant the news is.  I already know it's gonna be Lakers-Heat finals right now, booking it.  And the Lakers will prolly win with Nash and Dwight Howard, so..........
How about baseball?  Are the Diamondbacks playoff bound?  That's all I really care as far as baseball.  And BYU football will be mediocre again, not so sure about basketball. 
Anyway, on last thing.  Can I get Elder Fiala's and Elder Pyron's address?  I wanna send them a letter before I get to Albania and it takes 4 months for them to get it.
Also, about the blog, I don't think I can get on it while I am in the MTC.  There's no address bar or anything, just links to myldsmail and lds.org.  I'll just check it out once I hit the field, and hopefully soon you'll receive my SD card, so there will be more pictures with that.  Anyway, I'm out of time, so I'll see ya next week.
Ju dua!
Elder Palmer

2012 Aug 15 email from MTC

Wattup family?  
Well, I only got letters from dad, and Eric this week......awkward.  (Miscommunication about who pressed the "send" button)  Anyways, I guess I'll start by answering Dad's questions. 1: So, I have rec time 6 days/week and I play basketball twice, Monday and Friday.  That's when I have it at night.  I have it at 1:25 the rest of the week, and I usually go lifting with my fellow muscleheads in my zone #gettinbig.  2: The hardest thing about Albanian is something I can't really describe in under 30 minutes, so I'll just leave it to you to look it up online.  They're called clitics.  In a sentence, if we're using the word "me, you, he/she/it, us, you all, or they"  we have to acknowledge that we are describing "you me he/she/it us you all they" twice.  For example:  Ata na jep neve një libër which means they gave us a book.  "na" and "neve" both mean "us" so they say "they us gave us a book."  Fortunately, it's usually not necessary to put 'neve' in the sentence, so if translated, Albanians say 'they us gave a book.'  Ok, I'm done confusing everyone, you can look it up on your own now haha.
So, I already knew about the Dwight Howard trade.  There goes another star I've lost respect for.  So much for striving for competitive balance.  It's gonna be Lakers-Heat finals this year, pretty much without question.  The other teams shouldn't even try now. The magic did not get a good deal in this, I don't think.  They could have gotten more draft picks from that trade.
Is Kevin Kolb still the starting QB for the Cards?  I guess even with RG3 the Redskins are still the Redskins. Whatever.
I guess that's pretty cool about Romney, don't really know much about that guy, but I'll probably still vote for him #nobama2012.
I don't really have anything else to say.  I sent a letter with an SD card in it, but apparently someone told me while they scan the letter it'll erase the memory on it, so my bad if you get an SD card with nothing in it.  Now I know.  (We got the envelope, but someone had cut it open just enough to get the SD card out.  Even in the US, you should use padded envelopes.)
Well, that's all I got right now.  Next week you should all write to me.  Oh, and when am I gonna get a picture of the family?  All I got is a picture of me with Marcus and Duncan.  They're cool kids and all, but the fact that I don't have a family picture yet worries me.  Anyways,
të dua!
Elder Palmer

2012 Aug 8th, email from MTC

Wattup family?
Ok, today I'll start by answering mom's questions first. 1:  I have stamps and envelopes for envelopes, they're at the MTC bookstore.  2:  I have not had my last shot yet, I will get a note in my mailbox about when to get them. (Typhoid) Some elders in my district need to get it too, and they have yet to receive their notes either.  3: I did sorta understand granpda's (Bob-wrote him a letter in Albanian) message, however, it's not perfect albanian grammar haha, but I understood it overall and appreciate it.  4:  Things to eat?  Honestly, as time goes on, all the food is pretty much at the same level as far as quality #goodolecannoncenter.  Jeremiah 4:19-20 describes MTC food pretty well.  They do serve Papa John's every friday, but by the time I get there all that's left is crappy pizza that has slices of tomatoes on it #whothecrapeatsthat?  And that's too bad about the Carters moving, they're good people, but I have friends who live in Palmyra, so maybe they'll meet them.  Dad, I'll be honest, I completely forgot you had shoulder surgery, so I hope you're doing well. (Right shoulder)
Alright, now with Dad's questions. 1: Yeah, I've seen Elder Crowley quite a few times, he's pretty excited to be here.  2: Our new roommates just arrived today, they will be serving in Hungary, so for the next couple days I'll be at their level of speaking, becuz I've learned a few words in Hungarian from hanging out with the current Hungarians in my zone.  The most interesting thing I learned in Albanian, let's see: çdo ditë unë jam shuffling dhe ne humbëm sepse ti je majmë!  That is "everyday I'm shuffling" from Party Rock Anthem and "we lost because you are fat!" from Nacho Libre.  So, that's about it overall
Ok, now time for me to say what's on my mind.  So, apparently the only way to send you photos is to mail you my SD card, which then you will mail back, so I'm probably gonna buy another mini SD card, they have them in the bookstore.
Tell Jake he's the man, and tell him and Andrea that I know they have more to say, but he's just too lazy.  (Jake and Andrea didn't much write this week-Jake had band camp and Andrea didn't have much to say.)
Anyways, that's crazy about Kevin O'Connor.  It looks like the entire franchise is pretty much entering the modern age of basketball, no more old fashioned management or coaching anymore.  But the new guy they hired is from the Spurs, which is really good, since they're a pretty smart franchise as well, so I feel pretty good about it.
So, Elder Pyron's in the mission field.  I can't wait until he and Elder Aldridge are companions, that'll create some interesting stories.
Thanks for making Eric do dearelder from now on #wastingemailtime
Today was a pretty exciting day because one of my best friends from college, Elder Shawn Nelson, reported to the MTC today.  He's going to Paraguay, so he's gonna be in the Provo MTC for like 3 weeks, and then he'll go to an MTC in either Argentina or Brazil.  I haven't seen him yet, but I'm excited my college friends are finally getting here.
I see Elder Fiala often here, he's got about two more weeks, he looks like he's ready to get out of here.  I'm jealous.  I still got like 8 and a half weeks left.  Counting down the days until October 1.  I was talking to people who served in Albania, they said if we had a 200 word vocabulary, we are technically fluent.  Well, I think I know 200 words by now, I'm ready to go.
Anwway, I'm outta time, 30 minutes isn't enough.
te dua,
Elder Palmer

2010 Aug 1 email-first from MTC

Ckemi family!
First, I'll start off by answering Dad's questions.  1: I have no idea how many missionaries are in the Adriatic South mission, but I would hazard a guess a max amount of maybe 120, but that seems really high.  I assume like a 5:1 ratio of elders to motras.  2:  So, yeah, during class and study time she just hangs around with the district, but she is part of a companionship with 2 sisters going to Hungary. Her nametag does have a "solo" sticker on it so people know she can walk around with a bunch of elders.  (There is one sister in his district)  My Philly rommates left yesterday morning at like 4 AM, woke me up too.  We were supposed to get new roommates with English speaking elders, but they haven't shown up yet.  3: the hashtag stuff means absolutely nothing, you can ask Eric.  It's a trendy thing, but I could have just written them in a normal sentence.  I don't have a twitter, but I have given in to using hashtags a bit, so it's just a trend.
Alright, anyway, on to other stuff.  Jake, I'm glad you enjoyed EFY.  I'm sure you got all the girl's numbers and now text them all the time #ladiesman.  Andrea, you're not a beginner at dance, I would know.  It sounds like mom and dad had fun in England, but that's probably because you didn't just explore castles the whole time #justkiddingdad.  (Actually, thats almost all we did.)  So, grandma (Carlene) actually told me about Randy Foye, and that's a legit pickup, especially since he's gonna play backup.  Eric, I think the Jazz already bought Raja Bell out anyway, and I wouldn't be against the idea of Josh Howard coming back, he played well before he got injured last season.  So has Dwight Howard been traded to the Bobcats yet?  In my humble opinion, I think he should just stay with the Magic, and the Magic should just assign him to the d-league for the entire season so he can be humbled.  
So, the language is coming along, I'm getting good at knowing what to say when I teach lessons rather than just memorizing lines.  I've been spending all day looking for Elder Crowley, but that kid has been avoiding me all day.  Also, Elder Wein already left for Chile yesterday, apparently he was already really good at Spanish and they put him in the intermediate class #notsurprised.  Also, tell the Fialas thanks for the tie, it's awesome.  Elder Pyron leaves for Vegas on Monday, a little jealous.  Elder Fiala's doing good, but I hardly ever see him.  Also, remember the kid who played Joseph Smith as a kid in the most recent Joseph Smith movie?  Well he reported to the MTC last week. His name is Nick Whitaker, and I think he died his hair red so that he won't be noticed #didntwork.  I think that's just about it, I can't really think of anything else to say, other than I love you all and I miss everyone very much!
Te dua!
Elder Palmer
PS:  Answer this conflicting question that's going on in my district.  So, when we fly out to Albania, we'll fly from SLC to either New York City or DC, then to Vienna, Austria, and then to Albania.  We were wondering if that, while on the 11 hour (I'm gonna die) flight to Austria, they show The Dark Knight Rises on the plane.  Would it be bad if we watched it? (Yes) Obviously we're advised not to, but it's gonna be right in our faces, and it's gonna be tough to look away from it the entire time.  Obviously this is assuming the movie is played at all, but usually they put new movies on planes before they're actually released, so it's possible. (Scott was bummed that the movie "The Dark Knight" came out two days after he reported to the MTC!)

Also, I just remembered, we're allowed to wear hats on p-day, so can you send me my VCU hat?  I miss it so much.  Falemindirit!