"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."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014 June 16th email

Crud, this is my last full week as a missionary.....

The work is still slow, we're still told to keep a low profile as the country adjusts to election results, so it's been pretty boring, so no street contacting or tracting, while we have 1 investigator and no members.  It gets pretty boring.

I don't know what kind of authority muslims claim, but for women, no it's not a concern.

1) Well, because of my weight loss, most of my clothing doesn't really fit me anymore, so I'm not taking home much clothing.  Most of my clothing I am leaving behind.

2) Yeah, I don't want to go to the temple right as I get off the airplane.  I was actually hoping if I could go Friday or something, or Saturday maybe after helping Eric?  Like I don't wanna wait a long time to go to the temple, I'm gonna need a spiritual rejuvenation asap when I get home.

3)  I probably am medium. 

4)  Yeah, we've woken up at night a few times to people cheering.  No, neither is in the World Cup.

5)  I can't do that out here, I can check when I get home.
6)  Volunteer?  As in unpaid?

7)  Yeah, I'll do one more backup next week.

8)  I haven't written it down yet, I'll do that next Monday.
So, Kristen stole my job, eh?  I might keep her soccer jersey now because of that.  Just kidding. 

So, yeah, unfortunately nothing really super interesting happened this week.

But, this week we have mission conference, which will be fun.  All of us 'dying' missionaries will be able to give our final testimonies.  So will the Fords.  They go home a week after me.  Man, let me just say again that I am SO happy I only had one mission president my mission, adjusting to a new one (especially at the end) I feel like would just be really tough.

Anyway, today for P-day we went to Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, and we played basketball. There was also a statue of Bill Clinton there.  So, that's why I'm writing now.

Well, I wish I had more to say at this point.  I can't believe I only have one more email after this.  Nuk më besohet fare.

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju du shumë!

Elder Palmer

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2014 Jun 9th email

Hey!  I hope you all had a great week!

Prizren at the Boulevard

Dang, school's almost over!  Next week you all are on summer!  Crazy!

Yeah, we have a car, but that's just to drive to Gjakova to go to church.  We still have no group formed here, unfortunately.  Peja now has a group formed, so they don't come to church in Gjakova except for fast Sundays now.

The food isn't too different, the byrek is in a different shape, but that's about it from what I've seen.

Dad, I will probably first call you in the airport in Vienna.  I'll get these numbers and make sure I have them before I leave.

So, you don't want me to call you in the middle of the night this time?  Because I know when I was flying to Tirana you were completely ok with that.

1)  Do you mean a mosque?  Yes.

2)  It's opel here in Albania and Kosovo.

3) We only drive to church in Gjakova.  Otherwise, we walk.  Yeah right, biking is a stereotype, as much as I want to wear those stupid helmets...

4) Kosovars LOVE Americans! 
5)  No, just Macedonia.  Fortunately, Montenegro is no longer in our mission, so I can say I've been to all the countries in my mission.  I'll be getting a Kosovo flag today I think, so I'll be set.

6)  Well, on Wednesday we ended up playing basketball with some investigators, and Elder Foster ended up getting a blister that covered a huge chunk of his foot, so he couldn't run after that.  So, I only ran once this last week.  Hopefully he'll be fine for tomorrow.  

Ok, so, any chance I can go to the temple sometime in the weekend or something?  Here's the thing: my G's are ridiculously big on me now, and I need new ones desperately.....
Also, because I heard the Temple is a really cool place to go to.  I forgot, it's been 20 months.....

Anyway, so this last week was election week.  So, we got notice from President Ford that we needed to lay low this week.  So, what I'm trying to say, is that this week was pretty boring.  Hopefully we can work this week, because I definitely don't want to end my mission having to lay low and not do as much as I possibly could.  So, we'll see how this week goes.
Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 June 2nd email

Greetings from Kosovo!!!

So, stake conference is not until this Saturday.  Actually, it's a General Priesthood Meeting.  So, this week was supposed to be my last week in Special Assignment, but, the fact is that we finished all the lessons, and we got everyone interviewed and the final interviews with the Stake President.  So, we told the Assistants to tell President Ford that since we will have absolutely nothing to do this week, he needs to take us out of special assignment and put us somewhere for our last 3 weeks.
So, when Elder Tanner and I started special assignment, I was talking with Elder Foster about what President should do with us our last 3 weeks.  He jokingly said, "We should try to convince President Ford to take us up to Kosovo and blitz the city of Prizren."  Well, we told the AP's, who liked the idea, and the idea came to President Ford, and I guess, after weeks of discussion, he decided that would be the best thing for us to do.  So, Friday night, we got a call from President, and he said that for the next 3 weeks we would be finishing our missions in Kosovo, blitzing the city of Prizren!  I honestly thought it was good to be true.  What I thought would never happen actually happened!  I was bummed out at the beginning of transfer because I was the only one in my MTC group that never served/stepped foot in Kosovo.  But, I have 3 weeks!  The best part was that all 6 of us from my MTC group went to church together in the city of Gjakova!

So, the city of Prizren has only been open to missionary work for 9 weeks.  Right now, Prizren still doesn't have any members.  President Ford told me that our final assignment is to do what we can to get a group created here before I go home.  Obviously, that can be tough at this point.  But, that is one of his final goals as Mission President, so I will try to do my best to do what I can.  However, for the moment, Prizren still doesn't have any progressing investigators.  However, yesterday I went tracting with Elder Foster, and there was this family that immediately let us in.  They were extremely open to everything we had to say, and they had already learned a little bit about the church.  They accepted the Book of Mormon and we will meet with them again tonight.  The best part: the oldest son loves basketball and wants to play with us sometime!  After being used to everyone only knowing soccer, this was a pleasant surprise.  Kosovars love basketball, and they'll probably be able to update me on the finals every week if I asked.  

Also, the dialect in Kosovo is way different that the dialect in Albania, and I'm excited to be here because I have a goal of being able to speak more Kosovar by the time I get home.

So , I will miss the General Priesthood Meeting unfortunately, but honestly I couldn't have asked for a better ending to my mission that to work in a city that is brand new to the Gospel.  What's coolest is that all my MTC group is in Kosovo: 2 in Gjakova, 2 in Peja, and now 2 in Prizren.  The missionaries in Peja and Prizren go to church in the Branch in Gjakova because Peja and Prizren didn't have groups because Peja was also just opened as well.  But, Peja actually just became a group last week, but since yesterday was fast & testimony meeting they came to Gjakova one last time.  

I just realized that this might be the longest letter I've written in a long time.

1) I think I'm an 11.5.  I don't know still, I didn't have time to check.

2)  His foot is doing a lot better.  He's off crutches and can walk now.  I haven't run in 6 days. Tomorrow I will start again.

3)  I don't know, we'll see if I can.

4)  See above.

So, yeah, I am now in my final city.  6 areas.  5 cities.  2 countries.  9 companions.  It's gonna be a ton of street contacting and tracting, but I think that will keep the desire going to stay focused until the end.

Jake, nice job!  So, do you need to play the drums?  (Jake is Drum Major for the marching band)

Andrea, nice job at you recital!

Eric, that would be weird if you were in Innsbrook as a married man.

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju du shumë!

Elder Palmer

PS:  That city in the last picture I sent you.  Does that name look familiar?  Like in some movie about Albanian kidnappers and Liam Neeson?

2014 May 26th email

What is up?!?  Sorry I am this late at emailing, but I just got back from Macedonia, the city of Ohrid! I went there back on my 2nd P-day in the country.  It was cool coming back a year and a half later.
Mom, it's not June 25th, it was May 25th.....

Dang, Tanner Fiala left!  That's nuts!  Yeah, I'm glad I had some time before I left when Eric got home.

Interesting enough, we had an earthquake here too last week.  (3.5 earthquake in VA) It was in the middle of the night, and I was half-awake when I felt it, and I was too tired to really react, but it stopped before I could do anything.

Nice, so Toni is near!  Ima find him when I get home.

Wait, I thought Eric graduated.....(He did.  One more class for minor and Dental School)

Jake, get your eagle...

Andrea, good luck in PE

1)  I don't really know.  With a shower maybe?  (What should Eric and Kristen look for in an apartment?)

2) Yeah sure why not.

3)  I think I'm either an 11.5 or 12.  Wide. (running shoes)

4) well, not today.  I'll look next week.  I don't want to choose classes until I drop my major.

5th pick?!?!?  Are you !@#$%^&*)(*&^%#@ kidding me?!?  (NBA lottery)

Anyway, as I said in the heading, this week brought an interesting twist.  Elder Baker, in 2nd Branch, was busy trying to fix his toilet.  While trying to, he picked up the tank cover thing in the back of it in an awkward manner, and because of that he dropped it.  Right on his foot.  It was very heavy.  So, after a couple doctor visits and talks with Sister Ford, Elder Baker can't do proselyting missionary work this week, at least.  So, he has been put with me!  Elder Tanner is with his companion for the week and will work his area, and I will be with Elder Baker for the week, hoping that his foot is better by Sunday.

So, yeah, you never know what can happen on a mission.

Anyway, have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 May 19th email

What is up?!  Hope you all had a great week!

The special assignment is going great!  Right now we have 12 men who seem really solid and prepared to receive the MP.  So, hopefully they will stay strong these last couple weeks.  We are in Tirana every Monday for P-day.

Dang, Caleb is going to Portugal!  There's actually a kid from Albania serving there!  That will be awesome for him!  I was honestly hoping for Albania, so that eventually there will be someone I can speak Albanian to.

I probably was nervous for SOL's, I always got nervous for those things.

Jake, do your eagle.  It will help you so much in life later.

Eric, your Albanian attempt wasn't too bad this time.

Andrea, nice job on the dancing!

1) Yeah, in Tirana.  When I was in 3rd Branch I went to the 2 Chinese Restaurants there.  They were pretty good actually, and I never had any stomach problems.  All the foreign restaurants are mostly in Tirana.

2) Right now, the focus is getting mom one more thing, since I have 2 things for all of you except her.  I'm working on it.  I should have enough money to get the rest of what I want, and I don't plan on taking out anymore unless I absolutely have to.  It depends on whether or not I go to Kosovo after the special assignment.  (Aw, what a sweet boy)

3) I think that would probably be fine, we'll talk.

4) It's about 35 minutes.

5) No, that was just because I needed to send you the forms.

Man, I wish there was more interesting stuff to say about this assignment, but we've done basically the same thing last week that we've done every week on this job.  A ton of driving and crashing at other elder's houses.  It's good work though, definitely something other missions don't do.

But, I found out something cool!  A member here in Tirana named Toni is now in America!  In Virginia!  He was referred by the Gjoligu's to the church, and he might be living near them, so that would be cool if you got in contact with him and say that you're my family.  He remembers me, and I'm excited to see him in America, he has a 6 month visa and he's been there for less than 2 months.  So, someone to speak Albanian to when I get home!

Anyway, have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!  

Elder Palmer

2014 May 5th email

Happy Birthday Mom! U bëfsh një qind vjet!   (Something about 100 years.....)

Well, this was another crazy week.  But, it was successful.  We spent the whole week going from city to city working with those recommended for the Melchizedek Priesthood.  I think the coolest thing, is that the 3 men I baptized in Lushnjë are all recommended for it.  The one that was baptized last week the Branch President already has plans for him.  I honestly never thought at this point in my mission that I would baptize anyone that could be a Melchizedek Priesthood holder and a leader in the church. Man, I still remember last year when I was too discouraged about not having any baptisms at all.

Anyway, about skype, Sunday night at 6 PM should be good, pretty much the same as always.  Man, that was quick......(Mother's Day!!!!)


1)  We ran everyday this week!  I don't know how much specifically, but we have ran at least 2-3 miles every day.  Sorry, it's really all I can do right now.

2)  So, knowing that I probably won't get any good job in Virginia for less than 2 months, I would be so down with Manual Labor, since my goal is to not get fat again when I get home, so I have no problem with that.  But, that thing Eric does that you told me I could do last year, I would definitely want to know if I could do that as well.

3)  Yes, I'm sure.

4) Honestly, you probably know sites better than me at this point.  And, I don't think I will sit and complain the whole time this time.  (Road trip)

Alright, so, yeah, the point of last week was to just go through the names and eliminate all those who aren't going to make it.  So, right now, we have about 15 names of people who are looking good to get it in June.  Our goal is 12, so things are looking good!

Anyway, Elder Tanner and I are doing really well at staying focused.  I'll be honest, the thought of going home is kinda depressing.  Eric, sorry if I was a bum to you, I now understand.  I don't feel ready to care about life again.  Anyway, yeah, we are definitely going to end our mission strong!

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!  I'll see you Sunday!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Monday, April 28, 2014

Video of the organization of the Albanian Stake-in Albanian!

A Stake is organized!

2014 April 28th email

Well, this was an interesting week.

So, yeah, our work is to find and help prepare those to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and become Elders.  High Priest is not our work.  So, this last week, the focus was to meet with all the Bishops/Branch Presidents and EQPs to discuss possible names of people in each Branch/Ward.  So, we traveled to every city in Albania that has missionaries.  We spent one night in Lushjnë and one night in Durrës.  So, yeah.  We've made a schedule of which cities we'll go to each day, and tried to make it in a way so that we can drive smart and not waste a bunch of gas money driving to and from Tirana every day.  So, this week, we start meeting with these people.  Because we were so busy meeting with Branch and Ward Leaders, we only had time to teach 3 people lessons.  So, it will be good teaching again.

1)  Yeah probably.  (Mark question-don't know)

2)  Same as always.  Probably at 6. (Don't know)

3)  Yes, Elder Tanner and I have run every day since I got with him.  When we sleep in Tirana there's a lake we run around, and that is at least a 5K.  And when we stay in Lushnjë we do a lap around the entire city (it's that small).

So, this last week I actually had the opportunity to attend in what was probably my last baptism.   Elder Bilodeau and I found him street contacting.  He was incredible from the start.  Our stake President here said the goal for Lushnjë is to find the future bishopric counselors and Elder's Quorum Presidents.  I am convinced that we found one of them.  He is probably one of the most humble people I ever met.  Right after his baptism, the Branch President came up to me and said, "he needs to get the Melchizedek Priesthood ASAP."  Well, we're on it.  So, that puts it on a cap of 12 baptisms, which I'm happy about.  Not 1000000000000 like Eric, (who served in Africa) but I can at least remember the names of all my converts.  Anyway, I'll try to send pictures of the baptism.

So, yeah, another week of traveling.  Hopefully things will go well this week. 


Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 April 21st email

So, I'm not 1st Counselor after.  President Mema, the Stake President, spoke to President Ford about this, and President Ford told him I was leaving Lushnjë pretty quick, so Elder Bilodeau is the 1st Counselor.  Which I am so glad about!  Man, I hope I'm never bishop or stake president.  Ever.  (This may come back to haunt him....)
Anyway, Dad and Andrea, I hope you had a ton of fun touring Europe!

Yeah, I remember the trip to Delta,  (Utah) mostly that Eric and I went through a gynormous bag of Warheads.

Yes, I saw the email about Charottesville.  The thing is, when the office called, they told me you said Charlottesville, and I was like "forget that!  Richmond International!"  but, then I read your email now and now I understand.  Anyway, I just called the office and explained them the situation and they said they'll try to change it.  So, I don't know if you emailed them the specific airport, but maybe you could so they would know the exact one.  Either way, as long as the goal is to pick me up and take me to President Mullin's house so I can get released ASAP without waiting, I am down with that completely.

1) So, nothing really.  So, an Albanian Easter tradition is dying eggs red (only red) and then tapping them against each other saying "gëzuar Pashkët!"  which just means "happy Easter!"

2) Oh yeah. (Don't know)

3) Well, I've been pick-pocketed once, but in all honesty, not as bad as people would think.  (Mark was pick-pocketed in Rome last week....)

Alright, well, not being 1st counselor isn't the only surprise I have for you.  I have been released as Zone Leader, and President Ford has put me on a special assignment to help prepare men to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood when the next stake conference happens, which is June 7th.  In other words, I have been taking out of proselyting.  I will be traveling around the stake working with the various branches and wards with those ready to receive it.  And the best part is that I will be with Elder Tanner, who was my MTC companion!  I am actually really stoked!  It will be weird, but I am excited for this opportunity to work with President Ford and President Mema to help the stake continue to grow!  I will be staying in Tirana, in the house I stayed in when I was in 2nd branch, but I won't be hanging around there too much.  And the best part dad, is that Elder Tanner ran in college, so he will be willing to run with me in the morning.

Anyway, that's all I really got to say.  It will be weird, but I am excited for this experience!

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 April 14th email

Hey what's up?  Well, yeah, yesterday I was sustained to be the 1st Counselor to the Branch President in Lushnjë.  I thought I made it far enough to avoid having to be in a branch presidency. But, it's only for a month.

Zone training went well. The missionaries really seemed to enjoy it.  We worked hard on it.  I think there will be one more mission conference, (before he comes home) and that will be it.

The work has been a little slow, especially since we had to give them (additional companionship) some of our work, but we didn't have much to give.  
No, I don't teach lessons at church, at least now right now....

Hardest part of driving stick?  Just consistently stalling out before figuring it out.  It will take a while. I wonder if I can still drive it....(Mom is going to teach Jake to drive the Corolla)

1)  We start with Sacrament.  Lushnjë here is only 2 hours right now for the moment.  No Sunday School.

2)  No.  Americans really don't come to Albania for vacation.

3)  Heck no!  I don't want to.  I want to say I did missionary work the old fashion way!  (Don't know.  This is a question from his dad and cannot get clarification at this point.)

So, yeah, I'm 1st Counselor now.  We'll see how that goes.  Also, our investigator, came to church yesterday and really seemed to enjoy it!  He's progressing very well!  He's on a baptismal date for April 26th and we're really excited for him! Otherwise, we have been doing a ton of finding.  A lot of traveling to outer villages for retention work.  So, we've been busy.

With the baptismal font, we have sort of a stair case that we climb in and out of it.  I'll send a picture sometime.

Andrea, hope you're having fun.

Jake, don't get too bored.

Eric. (?)

Alright, have a great week!  be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 April 7th email

What is up?!

 Scott with his "son" and "grandson"

So, things here in Lushnjë are going very well.  We are now 6 missionaries overall in this puny village.  And, despite all the craziness of transfers last week, we still were very productive, so we're happy with the way things are going.

Elder Bilodeau and I are doing well together, we're enjoying our time together.  The new Branch President is getting more and more acquainted, but he still relies on us a lot.  That's ok though.

Yeah, we watched conference, well, some of it.  We had to set it up on the computer for the members to watch live translated sessions, while we were in another room watching them in English.  So, I saw some, but I haven't heard all of Elder Holland's in English yet.

No, I haven't talked to roommates in a while.  I am hoping kinda that I can keep most of that out of my mind for the rest of my mission.  But, we are all aware we are living together.

1)  Yes.  Man, sorry, but there are gonna be some good viruses on that thing when I get home.  Albanian computers, man.  (picture backup)

2) No.  BUT, we right now are living with the other 2 Elders because they haven't found a house yet. One of them, Elder Clawson, has gone running with me a bit.  Today, we did a circle around the entire city.  Lushnjë is pretty small though.  No, sign me up now. (1/2 marathon)

3) I would be completely down with that.  A roadtrip would be amazing!  (road trip to Utah in the fall)

Anyway, so as the new transfer starts, all our potential investigators decided to go on vacation for the moment.  So, we had a slow week, sort of.  But, we found this  man on the road and we have had a couple lessons with him, and yesterday he showed up to watch both sessions of general conference that we showed, and he absolutely loved it!  So, we're excited to work with him.  So, yeah, that's really about it.  We're just waiting for a couple others to get back from Greece and Italy.  Also, we have a zone training tomorrow, which I am excited for.  I am the King of my zone right now!

Baptismal Font

Andrea, enjoy your trip!

Jake, enjoy spring break!

Well, I have been picked the missionary in my group that's going to be the trunkiest, since this is our last transfer.  Fortunately, that has just motivated me to decide to kick the crap out of them and get the best numbers!  Which is good because a ton of them are in Kosovo, which is always more difficult than Albania!


Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 March 31st email

So, I'm...................................staying!

So, I will remain a South Zone Leader for 6 more weeks.  Meaning, right after you skype me on Mother's Day, I will get my final transfer call.  That's ok, I'm ok with staying for a half-transfer.  I will be with Elder Bilodeau, who I was with for about a week about 6 months ago when I got emergency transferred to Elbasan.  I'm really excited to work with him though!
Elder Foster, however, will be opening the city of Prizren in Kosovo!  He will be one of the first two to ever work there!  Prizren is an extremely Muslim city.  Also, a good majority of the people in that city only speak Turkish, so he's in for a fun transfer!  I'm really excited for him, this is what he wanted!

1) I just said.  (transfer)

2)  What??  I feel like the haircut I've gotten now is like the best look I've ever had.  I got messed up hairstyle.....and I thought I finally found the one that worked!

3)  I guess just general-ed classes.  Man..... I'll be honest, I don't really know exactly what I would want to do with Linguistics.  Except that I do not want to teach.  I don't know, if you want to do some research so I might someday know what I'm doing, maybe that would be good.

Ok, so the money, hopefully that will be the last transaction for doing souvenir shopping.  I got Mom's and Andrea's last week.  So, hopefully with this that will be the end of money grabbing from the bank.  I don't want to be too stupid with money.

Anyway, to end the transfer, we had two baptisms!  A mom and a son.  They were awesome to teach! Now the goal is the father, who has read at least half the Book of Mormon.  
Anyway, that's about it this week.  Just like with any end of transfer, all the work seems to go away, so hopefully we will pick up the work quickly.  Gotta end on a high note of course!
Anyway, have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 March 24th email

Alright, well, no email from mom yet.  (Yes, I forgot.  Felt horrible but we did catch each other later in the day online)  That's ok, it's like 4 AM there while I'm writing this.  But, I'm here now.

Dad, it sounds like you have a crazy trip ahead.  Bëfshi shumë qejf1

1)  Um, if they have pro basketball, it's probably the kind where I could make the team.  In all honesty I have no idea, but I want to say no.

2) I want to say it's a lot flatter, meaning less mountains, but at the same time that's completely false.  I want to say that the geography around the entire country is about the same.  Mountains and countryside.  A good fair amount of both.

3)  It's going very good.  Paç fat! (running)

Well, interesting weekend.  Our branch President just got released.  Like I said, he's an embassy worker and his time was already coming to a close since he leaves May.  But, once the stake was made the goal was to get an Albanian Branch President as soon as possible.  His name is President Deçka.  He's been a member about a year and a half.  He studies the gospel like crazy.  He was Elders Quorum President, so we'll see who that will be in the future.  Also, we are no longer clerks.  So, while I want to say we are free from the branch work, we as the former clerks need to train the new clerk on using MLS and all that.  And, because he lives in Tirana right now, we will still take the money to the bank and make deposits and withdrawals.  It's a slow process.

Anyway, this is the last week of this transfer.  Next week begins my last transfer as a missionary.  I can't believe it.  We have no idea what's happening to us.  Either one of us could stay another 6 weeks in Lushnjë, and we're pretty sure whoever leaves will go to Kosovo, which would be fun, but we honestly have no idea who's leaving.  Hopefully we'll stay focused.

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 March 17th email


So, the stake organization was held at the Palace of Congress, in Tirana.  Yeah, pretty much all the members from not only Albania, but also members from Kosovo and Macedonia came.  I do not believe that anyone from the government was there.

Yeah, there are definitely other attractions, but nothing like Blue Eye.  (last week's p-day, see that post for picure)  That was definitely a must see.

Yeah, Elder Perry always seemed like an energetic one despite his age.  I've listened to a lot of his talks.  I've really started to like apostles other than just Holland.  (Elder Perry was the speaker at our regional conference)

1) I want to say it was a Stake Conference, but it very well could have been the last District Conference.  If it was only a district conference, let's just say I won't be here for the first stake conference......

2) I know they have Duty to God pamphlets, but are they used?  I don't think so, at least not in Lushnjë.  They also have Young Women's excellence, again not sure if they actually do it.  Yes, we read a piece from the Strength of Youth every Wednesday at mutual.

3)  They've asked us about it.  Frankly, all I know is that a war is about to start or something. (Ukraine)

4) No.  (Dunno)

5) I would love to do a bracket!  Just, send me a bracket to fill out, you didn't send me one....(March Madness)

Alright, well we had two super awesome baptisms yesterday.  Two men who are 20 and 21, got baptized on Saturday!  The best part:  We found them street contacting!  I hadn't had any success on my mission from finding through my own efforts!  So, that was cool, because I honestly didn't think I would have any baptisms from street contacting at this point in my mission.  They are awesome.  They got confirmed yesterday, and they are set to get the Priesthood next week.  So, we are excited because the Branch desperately needs Melchizedek Priesthood, and they could provide a good boost, so we're excited for them!

Alright, well, I hope everything goes well for you all this week!  Crud, in two weeks the group that reported to the MTC before me goes home, so in two weeks, I along with the missionaries that reported the same day as me, will be the oldest missionaries in the mission.......  Time flies way too fast.  Luckily, I'm not trunky in any way!

Have a great week!  be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

"Byrek"-phyllo dough filled with cheese or meat-looks good!

2014 March 10th email

We Are A Stake!

So, I don't really have too much time this week to email.  We are visiting the fantastic city of Saranda right now.  It's way down south.  It's the closest I have been to Greece.

Saranda (I think there is a bug on the camera)

This is a spring called "Blue Eye"

 At the "Blue Eye"

Anyway, I'll give the great news:  WE ARE NOW A STAKE!  Man, I remember when I first got here and President told us his plans of creating a stake here, and how far away that was.....  But it was a great day.  I know like half the members in the country now because I have served in 5 branches, so it was just a great day to see everyone.

Yes mom, you can use my iPod, just as long as nothing gets erased.

Dad, I'll be honest I don't really wanna think about that right now.  Sorry, I don't wanna get trunky or think about home too much.  I might wanna car, I probably in the end don't need one/can't afford gas. Also, if I did, is there any chance on the truck?

Yeah, Tirana is like driving in Richmond, although I know my way around Tirana a lot better than Richmond.  It's extremely busy.

Yeah, we had a District President, and he was just made Stake President.  Dangit, they did not announce yet who the Patriarch will be yet.  I hope I will be here when it's announced.

Ok, well, like I said, I don't have too much time, so if I don't get back on:

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

2014 March 3rd email

Hey, what's up?  Another P-day is here.  Hope you all had a great week!

Andrea and Jake, school's coming to a close for y'all......(well, not really...)

1)  Well, I was kinda hoping that every episode that I've missed my entire mission would be accessible.  I'll figure something out, because I got to start with the episodes I missed before the end.

2) So, not really.  The word for pancake is 'petulla,' which can also mean 'donut.'  But, pancakes in general, not they don't eat them.

3) No, they don't celebrate it.

So, I really don't have much to write about this week, but next week should be a good one.  Good things happening this week.

As far as work goes, those guys who go to the American church came to church yesterday and really liked it.  They were wondering why everyone got up yesterday to say the church was true, and we explained to them fast and testimony meeting and its purpose.  They have really made a jump in the progression this last week, they've come to activities and have become good friends with a lot of the members, so we're really excited for them.

Also, those two little kids we were supposed to baptize finally came back from Greece, and we will meet with them tomorrow!  So, we're glad to finally meet with them again.

The clerk work also goes on, I think I finally got it down.  Also, I finally pretty much know my way around a whole country.  Crazy...

Anyway, have a great week!  Love you all!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 February 24th email

Hey, how goes it?

So, this P-day was slightly better.  Only that I wasn't able to go to the treg (mall-ish place) to start souvenir shopping for y'all, but it was good.  We played soccer with Lushnjë and Fier missionaries, as well as one of our investigators.

This last week was tiring, but it was a good week!

Jake and Andrea, nice job in basketball this week.

1) So, the thing with holidays here, they are celebrated.  People here don't really celebrate stuff for the religious reason.

2) No maps, no GPS.  It's called memorization.  It's amazing.  I know my way around half a country now.  The signs here to places are really good.

3) Cardio's good.  I've been trimming down pretty good.  This one member in Elbasan told me I am now officially in the 'skinny' category.  Dad, I should have those running shoes I got two years ago for my birthday.  I never took them with me.

Alright, well, we were supposed to have two baptisms this week, but the kids ended up leaving with their aunt for Greece for a week and a half.  It was ironic, their dad told us just as he was signing the baptismal record.  So, probably not this weekend, but the next weekend.

But, on a high note, this girl in Elbasan that I knew, but wasn't my investigator, finally got permission to be baptized.  I got to go because I did an exchange with the Elder who baptized her, who is now in Durrës, and drove him to Elbasan since it's really difficult to get to Elbasan from Durrës right now. She's cool, and I was happy to be a part of it.

Also, we have these two really cool kids.  I told you about them last week.  Well, they've kept coming, and both have read from the Book of Mormon, and one came to church and really loved it! We're excited because they could both be very, very solid additions to the Branch here.  We plan on getting them on a baptismal date this week!

Anyway, another week in the life of a missionary here in Albania.  The best!

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Feb 17th email

What's up?  So, yeah, today was a long day.  Not much of a P-day actually, we're more tired than usual.

What's with the Fiala's getting the same mission calls as friends?  When does he leave?  (Friend going to same mission as another member of his ward.)

Uh, yeah, holding children is not suggested, and I haven't.  (Mission rule I had not known about until I talked to missionaries in our area)

So, yeah, the baptism was awesome!  No, the dad still isn't a member yet.  Working on it, though.  

Jake and Andrea and Eric, count your many blessings....(don't know)

1) It's called Big Market, which is a shop in every major city here in Albania.  Fruits, there are fresh fruit stands, and we are starting to use them again.

2)  yeah, we have activities, not many because the branch's budget isn't too big.  Honestly, other than mutual every wednesday, we haven't had one since I've been here.  They could probably benefit from devotionals from Apostles, if only they were translated.

3) We can drive in our zone, which is the cities of Elbasan, Durrës, Lushnjë, Fier, and Vlorë.  That's like half the mission.  We have to travel for baptismal interviews, which we do for the district leaders' investigators.  Yeah, we drove to Elbasan.  President allows missionaries go to baptisms in other cities if they are performing the ordinance.  So, our boundary is our zone, i.e. those five cities, and Tirana when it's for a good reason, like today getting our new car and getting it inspected.  The limit is 2000 kilometers/month, but we have legit reasons to travel a ton.  We don't abuse our privileges.

4)  Paperwork.  I don't know how many action items they did, we just always asked how many left?  (Audit)

5)  Oh yeah. Every store seems to sell flowers on Valentine's Day.  All the women dress their very best on Valentine's Day, with the best red dress they have.   They go all out on Valentine's Day.

Alright, so this week was pretty good.  Honestly it was pretty routine, at least for serving a mission in Albania.  In all honesty, I can't really think of anything special.  Except, we met this guy on the road who is realy cool, and pretty religious. He goes to a church sorta thing every Friday run by this American guy.  So, when we met the kid on the road, he was trying to one up me saying that he's older than me so he knows more about God than me.  He's 20.  I cleared that up quickly.  Age is respected a lot here.  Then he said (and this is in broken english), "I'm with this guy (he points at a picture of Christ on one of our pamphlets), not with this Mormon guy."  So we told him to read the small letters on the title page.  That got him really interested.  So, we met, had a good lesson.  We hope to meet with him this week.  And that's the exciting thing that happened last week.

Ok, have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 Feb 10 email

Holy geez, Dave's a dad.  (Cousin)  definitely not mature enough to be a dad yet.....  Just kidding, that's awesome!  So, uncle-in-law?

I don't think there's a college in Lushnjë, it's so small I don't think it could hold enough people.  I think most Albanians try to go to Tirana for college, it's the capital and there's more job opportunities there.

1)  My cardio has been going well, at least with what i can, I try to do as many jumping jacks and the occasional jump rope.  I've even tried running in place a few times, whatever I can do.  Yeah, I can definitely run a lot more than I used to, at the end though was when I really started to get tired out

2)  No, no one can afford to do it.  (Don't know)

3) I believe so!  (Again, don't know. Sorry)

Ok, well this last week something pretty cool happened.  So, back in October when i was in Elbasan I was teaching this family and eventually baptized the mom.  Well, her son turned 8 this week, so I had the opportunity to go back and baptize him as well!  It was awesome being back in Elbasan, definitely the best city in the mission.  I'll send a picture.  Also, Elder Foster was able to go to Durrës and baptize someone he taught when he was there as well.

So, yeah, other than those two kids, a lot of our work has pretty much disappeared.  It's been interesting.  It's been tough.  

Also, dad, I think I now understand everything you had to do as Bishop.  Yesterday the Lushnjë Branch had the audit, and that was miserable!  Add Clerk to a calling I will not wish for.  It took about 3 hours.....  Everything went fine, just a lot of sitting.  Otherwise, it was a good week.  

Jake, where are you?  (No email sent)

Eric, you too? (No internet now)

Andrea, nice on the basketball!

Well, that's about it.  Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2013 Feb 3rd email

Alright, well, Eric is going to grad school?  What the heck?  That's awesome, if I ever figure my life out, hopefully it'll be something of use.

Yea, Seahawks.  (Super Bowl)

So, Elder Foster and I were in Tirana today because we had to get our car checked.  So, we played basketball with Tirana Elders.  I actually did ok today.  So, then we got back to Lushnje after, then we had a couple lessons that were set up a little earlier, so now we're on now.

1) No, I haven't heard anything about the Olympics.  Where is it held this year?  (This is what happens when you don't watch TV, especially Sport Center for 18 months)

2) No (I cannot explain this one.)

3) The Papa Murphy islands (or whatever they're called), Four wheeling, and yeah co-piloting on a plane.  It was a good trip, no doubt. (Recalling his trip to Scotland with his dad.  They are the Papa Westray Islands.  He just really wants some pizza.)

Alright, well, I don't have too much time, but this week we started teaching these two young çuns (young teenage boys, which just sounds weird to say now), and they are incredible!

Anyway, it's been a ton of fun here as a South Zone Leader.  We've seen a lot of success and miracles, and it's just amazing to watch and hear about it every week!
 The kind of traffic Scott encounters

Well, Jake and Andrea, hopefully with all the lack of school (snow days) they won't extend school an hour longer a day for a while like they did 10 years ago (what?!?) after Hurricane Isabel.

Alright, well, have a great week!  Be safe and be wise!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 Jan 27th email

Wait, seriously???  No school and no exams?  Jake, as a junior, you are incredibly lucky.  Andrea, that's a good start to your exam life.  Man, I had to do them every year for 5 years......(We had no school last week.  Started with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and then 4 snow days.  It was exam week and by Thursday the county decided it would be best to just cancel exams......)

The branch is getting better!
Yes, we do still teach English, but this week will likely be the last week.

Yeah, Colin (a friend serving a mission) told me already when he goes home.  I think he was shocked at how early I will be leaving compared to when I began.  Not my fault....

1)  Honestly, nothing really in food.  In dialect, they use a couple different words than in other cities, but that's about it.  (Difference between Tirana and Lushnje)

2)  Branch work's good.  What happens after church Sundays is that we do the online stuff for tithing and expenses, and then we wait for President Spaulding to be done with interviews, then he pretty much tells us what work to do during the week.

3)  We actually just played on Saturday with members!  But they only know how to play soccer, so it was rough. (for Scott who prefers basketball)  No, only Elbasan and Durres church buildings are normal church buildings, the other buildings are for rent.

Andrea clearly has the coolest 14 year old trip of anyone by far, just saying.....(family tradition)

Anyway, Elder Foster and I had another good week lesson-wise.  From what I learned being a Zone Leader in the South, if you don't have at least 20 lesson a week, you're not working hard enough.  The work in our zone is just going so well right now, we're just excited to be the zone leaders over it, and it's also fun when we present our work to President Ford each month.  It's been fun.  (What a great thing to hear from a missionary!)

Well, Christmas was over a month ago, why is time flying?  I don't feel like I've been a missionary for a year and a half at all.  Maybe 6 months, but that's about it.  That's ok, there's still tons do do, we got that stake to get ready.

Anyway, have a great week this week!  Love you lots!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 Jan 20th email

Hello everybody!

So, this week was definitely an interesting week.  It definitely felt like it started slow, but by Sunday we realized the week flew as always.

Yeah, the number of sisters has increased, but it won't increase again at least until after I get home.  3 sisters go home in April, with 3 coming in.

So, we just got back from Berat, another city I have already been to, but it was good to see the city again.  

1)  Yeah, we do the interviews for the District Leaders.  Two weeks ago I did one in Vlore, definitely the best interview I've done, never felt the spirit stronger in one than that one.

2)  No, they had to be pushed back.

3)  I like working with President Ford.
Jake and Andrea, good luck on tests this week! (So far we have had no school due to snow.....)

Alright, well, have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 Jan 13th email


Anyway, how's it going?

Yeah, so we spent the day hanging out with Fier, going to Apollonia and the beach.  It's not very cold here.  Man, I stink at soccer.

It's great to hear that Grandpa's doing better!

Yea, I'm so glad Eric and Kristen enjoyed Florida, maybe now he'll actually write me.

1)  Google translate does an abysmal job with Albanian.  Don't ever trust it.  Yes it's supposed to mean I love you lots.  Yeah, "ç'farë në botë!" is just a literal translation, Albanians never say it.

2)  Yes, we never walk, always drive.  We switch off every day.  Gas prices are ridiculous here, although I don't know how bad it's gotten in USA, so I can't really compare it.  We are limited to 2500 kilometers, but since we have to drive so much for interviews and exchanges, if it's for good reason, it's fine.  

3)  I haven't run since I got to Lushnje.  Don't judge.  But my comp agreed we will run at least once this week.  He wants to wait until March when it warms up in the morning.  Because of that, I try to do some sorta cardio in the morning (jumping jacks/jump rope) and I have to be more careful what I eat, since I never walk.  Getting fat again is not in my plans.

Anyway, we for the most part had a great week last week.  We have 5 baptismal dates, and 2 should be baptized next weekend. 

Anyway, I like being a zone leader.

Alright, well, I'll send some pictures in another email.

Have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua!

Elder Palmer

2014 Jan 6th email

Wow, Eric is married now.....

So, yeah, we had a busy first week in Lushnje.  We do travel a lot, there are a lot of villages nearby Lushnje that have members, and we did a lot of visiting this last week.  So, I don't know how many members in the Branch exactly, but there as 53 in church yesterday which is a really good number for Lushnje.  The Branch President grew up in Utah, but he and his family have lived in Virginia for a few years while he was doing training.  I forgot the name of the city.  But, he does security I believe.  Yeah, I can definitely sympathize with a ward clerk when I get home.  

So, the stake should be formed March 8 & 9.

1)  Juvenilje is just the name of the restaurant, at least as far as I know.  No, not Juvenle.

2)  So, in my MTC group, 5 of the 7 of us go to BYU.  One will do SUU and another will go to ISU.  I don't know how many before the mission went to BYU, but there are several that have applied to transfer to BYU or that have decided that they will attend BYU once they're done.  

3)  How small it is.  It is puny.  I have now done big city, normal city, now I am in borderline village.

OK, so like I said, we do a lot of branch work, which involves buying food for members.  We did a lot of that last week, which makes me appreciate everything I have.

Anyway, lesson-wise, we had 3 investigators in church yesterday.  So, I don't have anything super-interesting to say, but the work here is going very well!

Ok, everyone, have a great week!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer

2014 Jan 1 2014

Well, I apparently am not destined to be in any spot for an extended period of time.  With what clearly looked like Elder Pierce and I would be staying together in 3rd Branch for 3 more months, the "Ford Factor" appeared and I got transferred to Lushnjë!  (Looshnya)  I am still a Zone Leader, but I am in the South Zone now, which makes up the cities of Lushnjë, Fier, Elbasan, Durrës, and Vlorë.  So, I am in charge of about half the missions in the city now instead of just 1.  And the best part was is that I am now back with Elder Foster again!  He was made a zone leader back in November at the same time as me, and he's already been here for 2 months.  So, we're really excited to be back together.  It was tough leaving 3rd Branch.  I was only there for 2 months, but I got really close to like 12 members, including 2 families.  So, it was bittersweet.  But it's good to be here.  By the way, since leaving Elbasan for Fier last year, this is the 5th time I've packed my bags and moved cities.
The Lushnjë Branch is a little different, the missionaries here are also the Branch Clerks, so we do a lot of Branch work.  So, because of that, we are almost always busy, if not having lessons, we're at the church doing branch work.  The Branch President is an American Embassy worker who actually lives in Tirana and makes the hour and a half drive every week to church.  So, we're pretty much Branch Presidents during the week.

1)  So, I'll explain more fully what happened yesterday, but since I got transferred, I was in Lushnjë for New Years. Lushnjë is the smallest city in the mission, it's pretty much a village.  Like last year, I filmed the fire works.  Fier last year was definitely bigger.  I'll explain more fully New Year's later.

2)  My birthday was awesome!  Thanks for the sweater, it's awesome!  You actually faked me out pretty good.  I told you last week that I opened my present earlier, like right when I got it, out of an impulse, and when I saw it was a box of fruit-roll-ups, I truly believed it was fruit-roll-ups, so I didn't open the box until after.  (I would never send fruit snacks as a birthday present!) So you got me.  Good.  Anyway, I did make the cake, and it turned out really well!  (Family tradition of chocolate cake with caramel icing.)  All of 3rd Branch went to this Restaurant called Juvenilja (the 'j' makes a 'y' sound in Albanian) and it was really good.  The sisters gave me a bag of beef jerky, because one of the sister's dad sent her a ton of bags.  Sister Homer gave me a bag of home-made caramel, and Elders Acheson and Wagstaff bought me a cool balloon that I wish I took a picture of.  It was a good day, I had a lot of fun.

3)  Like I said, I'm in Lushnjë, and my move I believe was the move that surprised everyone in the mission the most.  Like I said, I'm a victim of the "Ford Factor," meaning President Ford pulled a transfer move that no one saw coming at all.

4)  Yes, I know Knaras, but not really well.  So, he was in his last transfer when I came into the field, but I never really talked to him, just never had the opportunity.  He's a cool guy though, everyone only has good things to say about him.

5)  I have words, but not words of wisdom, so I'll just keep my mouth shut.  (For Eric and Kristen's wedding.)

So, yeah, yesterday in the morning we actually had Mission Leadership Council.  We pretty much destroyed every goal we had for the year of 2013 as far as baptisms, church attendance, number of Albanians on missions, Melchizedek Priesthood Holders, etc.  It was a good year here.  So, we just set new goals for 2014.  Anyway, then Elder Foster and I traveled down to Lushnjë and had to be inside by 4, so we unpacked and everything (by the way, my house here is INCREDIBLE!  I will never complain again), and then we realized our balcony doesn't point toward the main part of they city, so we had to figure out another area to go to see them.  We wanted to go to the roof, but the door was closed.  So, what we ended up doing is on the top floor, we found windows that pointed to the main city, but they were small and had bars, and it was a high reach.  So, what we did was we got all 4 of our chairs, took them to the top floor, and put them in 4 different locations.  Then, we opened those windows so we could stick our hands out and film the fireworks on our camera so the bars wouldn't be in the way.  We thought since we had Mission Leadership Council it would have been too late for us to get to Lushnjë in time and we could have spent the night in Tirana, but no.  No worries, though, last year in Fier was good.

Alright, well, have a great week!  Good luck Eric and Kristen!  Be safe!  Don't do anything stupid!

Ju dua shumë!

Elder Palmer