How They Met
Oliver and Rebecca first met in January 2010 when he was attending college in Princeton, NJ, but it wasn't until the next year when Rebecca returned to New Jersey to visit family that they caught each other’s eye. After one happy semester together, Oliver graduated from Princeton and moved to Washington DC to begin work in a fellowship program at The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Rebecca returned to Brigham Young University to continue her studies in Business and French.
Over the years they continued dating... passing through her semester abroad in Paris and later living and working in Washington DC near him... His move to working as the Country Director for China in the Pentagon and numerous trips across Asia... And her mission to Tahiti, French Polynesia.
How He Proposed
Finally, one sunny Saturday in April 2014, a week before Rebecca graduated from BYU, Oliver flew across the country (a monthly tradition that had spanned three years) to surprise her by proposing. He hid a sparkling diamond ring in the blossom of a Magnolia tree -- the same variety that surrounded them that first semester in Princeton where their love began to bloom.
The couple is delighted to be marrying in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The newlyweds will be spending their honeymoon in Southeast Asia and will be establishing their first home in Washington DC.
Where They're From
Oliver was born in New York City while his parents were students at Columbia University. He was raised in Southern California. Rebecca was born in Washington DC after her parents had completed business school and law school, both at BYU. She can't claim to be raised in one particular place as Oliver can. Rebecca has lived in DC, Russia (twice), Washington, Indiana and New Jersey. Rebecca was heartbroken when her family moved to China and she couldn't join them. If Oliver's future employment involves international travel or a relocation, Rebecca will be more than willing to accompany him.
Wedding Website: http://www.mywedding.com/oliverandrebeccapalmer/
What a flurry of change! I moved out of my beloved cabin home and into a new, so-clean-and-white-it-almost-feels-sterile house with three other Soeurs. YES! CLEAN!! :) :) I am now serving in Puurai exclusively with a Tahitian sister and a new American sister, Soeur Aniel, both of whom I love dearly. I know the ward fairly well and LOVE these members. I love teaching and testifying and singing! I love being a missionary!
More than anything this week I am learning to trust in the Lord's timing and in His ways. Like Joseph in Egypt, many times in our lives we do not understand why things happen to us, or why they happen when they do. The best road to take is to follow His will for us and trust that He is shaping us into the person He wants us to be. I know God can do better with my life than I ever will be able to, and for that reason I am attempting to approach everything that comes my way this week with faith and courage and of course, love :)
Je vous aime!
Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Bradshaw, Rebecca
Papeete, Tahiti, 98713
It is a soft, comfortable skirt made out of cotton and worn in well by Sister Bangerter, the previous mission nurse. She passed it down to me when she went home, and I have loved it ever since. My time was short that morning and the washing machine was down, so I pulled the blue skirt out of my drawer -- ready to face another day. Around nine AM I scratched my leg on a sharp bush, and it started to bleed a little bit. I sopped the blood up with my skirt, and continued down the road. Lunch cancelled, so we ate whatever we had in the trunk of the little white car. Bishop walked over to greet us during our little meal, and I quickly wiped my hands on my skirt before I caught his solid and friendly handshake. I cried in general conference and had no access to a tissue. The skirt soaked up my happy tears as well as my runny nose. During a lesson the mosquitoes began to invade the air -- I tucked my legs up under the trusty skirt. At the end of the day, I curled up on my bed as we tried to figure out the crazy transfer schedule for the next morning. The skirt was warm as the air began to get cooler. We had been awake for 19 hours, thanks to the early broadcast. The next thing I knew, it was six am and I was waking up for the day, having fallen asleep in that very spot, still in my nametag, still in the blue skirt. I threw it into the hamper, hopped into the shower, and grabbed a fresh skirt from the closet. Another day begins!
Love you! :)
Where do I begin?
Let me start by saying serving a mission is the most ridiculous, wonderful, nutty, crazy, decision of my life, and the best choice I have ever made. I am being humbled to the bone and being stretched in every way imaginable. I have never before experienced such trial, such beauty. Never before have I seen so much affliction but been encompassed by such a still, peaceful hope. Faith is a warm light that floods this cold, sometimes stale world. The world needs this light! Life is beautiful, life is vibrant! S Mann and I frequently have companion study halfway in tears of gratitude, because guess what? IT IS TRUE! ALL OF IT! Every day, even the hard ones, we smile and laugh and proclaim to all of Tahiti from our bedroom window… it’s still true!!!
This world is nice, and fine, and can even be good, but without the gospel and the light of Christ, we always find our lives ridden with voids. People try to fill these voids with drugs, with success, with control, with business, with pride... but nothing can fill the void in our lives but one thing --- that is love. Knowing that God LOVES you, really! and that there is a plan for all of us. Knowing that someone loves you and understands you perfectly would solve 99 percent of the world’s problems. Knowing who YOU are, and that this someone is God, would solve 100 percent of them.
A well of compassion and understanding is growing in my heart as I work and learn and live and laugh and cry and pray with these people. I love them!!
This week I want you all to pray with all the energy of your heart. Seek to feel and find evidence of God’s love for you in your life. It is there, and it will take more than a lifetime to discover the grandeur of it all :)
As Sister Mann said once, a mission is like a roller coaster! A wonderful, crazy adventure that sometimes thrills you, sometimes makes you laugh, sometimes makes you want to throw up, but always leaves you happy and lively at the end :)
So, signing off! Another week of adventure awaits :)
Love love love,
P.S. Shout out to Heather, Victoria, and Chanel! Thank you SO MUCH for your sweet thoughtful letters! It does wonders to hear from such kind, supportive friends! I love you and LOVE reading your updates! Your lives are so lovely!!! :) :) You are in my prayers!
:) La Vie est Belle
I am happy and healthy and loving the work.
I am doing well overall. Somedays are better than others. Today has been lovely and calm and refreshing. A much needed break :)
We went on our normal run this morning, down by the dock, through the park on the boardwalk, regardless of the storm clouds gathering. Five minutes into it we got caught in the most WONDERFUL, terrible! tropical downpour! Running in the rain is one of my favorite activities :) and we were SO happy! We splashed all the way down to the yachts, sang American songs out loud, twirled around in the thunder and lightning and let all of our worries wash away as our hair, clothes, shoes; and skin got delightfully soaked to the bone. It is still drizzling and cloudy and cool :) Laying on my bed earlier this morning, with the rain patter on the roof and the dark wood ceiling, I slipped away into my thoughts, thinking of cabins and fires and autumn leaves and ski lifts. Of hot cocoa and Christmas with family. Of warm PJs, fond memories, and dreams for the future.
This week we taught a number of lessons to an ami who is an angel. I am amazed by her. She lives, literally, naturally. No electricity, surrounded by a forest of trees, in a house on stilts. Her little boy runs around naked in the yard and dirt. She is simple and full of child like faith. When the 2+ year old is hungry, he runs over to his mother and pulls up her shirt and nurses right in front of us. No one blinks an eye, because this is normal, and the lesson goes on.
No time left!! I love you all SO MUCH and am printing your updates now!
Just deleted my email! Oops!! I am happy and healthy and working HARD! :) S Mann and I have been SO blessed this week with a handful of amis who have truly been prepared by the Lord. Today has been a lovely Pday! We went on a run, went grocery shopping, giggled over cereal in the kitchen this morning, had a little activity at an amis house, and then met up with all of the other Soeurs for a training meeting at President's! We have FHE tonight with our amis! I LOVE these people and every day S Mann and I marvel truly, at the things we see, the miracles, the tragedies, the heartaches, the beauty!
We taught a family that lives in the dirt-trail neighborhoods behind the stadium. No electricity, but no problem! She has been prepared by the Lord... I can see her little family being sealed in the temple in no time! I love these people so much. So much. They are my brothers and sisters! Yesterday we watched a 38 year old solid, tattooed, Tahitian MAN cry like a child in front of us because he fell back into an old habit and is experiencing the sting and soothing balm of repentance. We watched little kids play marbles in the street. One loves us so much! She will not stop hanging off of me with her little chubby body and strong arms! hahah The little kids are so funny and IMPOSSIBLE to control! They frequently eat everything in the car after stealing our car keys ;)
Every morning S Mann and I wake up to a beautiful day ahead of us :)
I am so humbled and grateful to be on a mission and so ELATED today! My joy is missionary-complete :)
Until next week, mes cheris!
Love love love,
Soeur Rebecca ;)
Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Bradshaw, Rebecca
Papeete, Tahiti, 98713
Family and Loved Ones,
Miracles abound!!!!! I do not even KNOW where to possibly begin or where to end this letter. S Mann and I are SO happy and ON FIRE! I was transferred out of Tipaerui last pday after President declared that I was too tired and too frail and he stuck me in a car sector! (No worries, we still get plenty of opportunities to exercise during the day ;) ) We are all still living in the same house, but I am now working in Oremu and Puurai with S Mann and I LOVE it!
Yes yes yes, I am feeling much much better and seemed to have gotten more than all of my strength back! I am alive and kickin’ and happy! ;)
We are working HARD and loving our days here! The wards have a reputation for being some of the more difficult/problem areas, which is great, because we both love a challenge and are so motivated to get things rolling! This week flew more quickly than any of the others because we spend EVERY MOMENT doing everything we can to build the kingdom and share the gospel with all those around us. We are pouring our heart and soul and energy into this work! I have learned to talk to EVERYONE and oh my!! how worth it it is! We fixed so many baptisms this week and fixed so many lessons! So many new amis! So many hearts that are open and willing! Not a single day has passed that I have not witnessed a miracle working in their hearts and in the lives of these people. My days are enveloped by such a peace and happiness. As long as we give our everything to our amis and to our days, we are given more and more tender mercies, more blessings, and more opportunities to share the gospel! I laughed when I realized that I agree so wholeheartedly with the statement "This isn’t missionary work, this is missionary FUN!!" What joy in the work!
Maybe it sounds silly, all of these little sentences in an email, but how can I possibly relate every miracle I see, all the moments my heart is touched during lessons, the seconds when we follow the Spirit and arrive at just the right place, at just the right time and the lessons that are filled with such light and love. With the Lord’s help and a great amount of effort on our part - all we have to give - we are starting a great thing here. There are so many hearts that are waiting and ready to accept the message that we have! The world NEEDS this light! I am so motivated and feel such a sense of urgency to find every single one of Gods children who is seeking the truth. I see faith in their eyes and a flicker of understanding even in the visage of those who the world would judge as impenetrable to the gentle influence of religion.
Well, I love you all!! We have a busy, busy, happy week ahead of us! More details next week!
Love you all!
Pictures: The view from the chapel in Puurai. The view from my kitchen (above). A hilariously tacky French bakery downtown hahahaha :) :)
President stopped by our apartment today (after hearing about me all weekend from S Bangerter and Hemming) and talked with me for a while and gave me a blessing. He insisted that I was too weak and thin (A whopping 110lbs, according to the hospital...yikes!!) and put me in a NEW SECTOR so that I will be in a car and not have to bike around all day and feel like I am going to fall over all of the time. Sister Mann is my new companion and I am so happy!!! The car will be a change, but I am relieved that I will be able to get my strength back. I am so sad to leave all the people and members and amis in Tipaerui but so relieved because now I have HOPE that things will look up for my poor little body.
So, yeah... turn my world upside down! The good news is that we will all still be in the same house together :)
I’m not sure what else to include in the email! You know of course about my day with S Hemming at the hospital with S Chytraus. What an answer to my prayers that she was also taken in on the same day! And, with what? Exactly the same thing as me. Oh I almost cried with joy when I saw her!! We hugged each other in the car like little girls and tipped our heads together as we laughed and cried on the way to the hospital. They took our blood etc and sent us away with a prescription for vitamins and scolded the mission nurse for working us too hard. The doctor was a hilarious guy... so typically FRENCH with a little body and a big happy nose and a HUGE laugh and smile. He reminded me of someone from a cartoon....
More than anything this week I am SO grateful for Sister Hemming and Sister Bangerter, the mission nurse. They both work around the clock to help the missionaries. Sr Hemming is working at the office but has designated herself as the Mission Mom and OH BOY do we need her! She has called and stopped by many times this weekend to check in on me, for which I could never express my full gratitude. I feel taken care of!! Hallelujah!! She even came by to drop off a bag full of granola bars and salad :) -- rare and expensive goodies here in Tahiti!!
Many lessons this week, and at least another 5 billion miracles. Given the commotion that happened over the last few days I cannot think of specifics at the moment, but I do retain, of course, this testimony -- prayer is powerful, families are eternal, and God takes care of His children.
Living in Tahiti is rough sometimes. Living in China is rough sometimes. Okay -- REALLY rough sometimes. But what an amazing adventure! Let’s all make the most of it and come home with a happy heart full of memories, a camera full of pictures, and a suitcase full of goodies for everyone ;) hehehehehe. This week I am going to focus on gratitude. Thank you for supporting me while I serve this ridiculously hard but worth it mission!
All my love!
Tahiti Papeete Mission
Soeur Bradshaw, Rebecca
Papeete, Tahiti, 98713
Rebecca is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She has been assigned to labor in the Tahiti Papeete Mission, teaching the gospel in French and Tahitian, for a period of 18 months beginning May 1, 2013 and returning home November 1, 2014.