How to School Satan

“30 pounds of cookie dough!”

Our investigator placed a massive pan piled high with cookie dough in my arms and sent me off to the kitchen table with half a dozen cookie cutters and enough wax paper to wrap a mummy, before flipping on Beyonce Christmas and dancing out of the room.

Mmmmmkkkkkkkkk.

We’d asked our investigator to “help” us make cookies to give out to ward members, people in need, and some friends for Christmas, in hopes that we could spend some “quality time” together and warm her heart with some service. 5 hours, 30 pounds of dough, WAY too much “sampling” of the goodies, and a whole sink full of dirty dishes later…..we sat down in front of almost 150 cookies, ready to then be decorated. 

Our investigator picked up the first cookie, started drizzling on the icing, and then announced, “And, girls, the fun doesn’t end here! We still have the cheesecakes, the cake pops, and the brownies to make after this!” 

My stomach just about FLOPPED

Luckily, we’d arranged to go caroling as a district that evening, so we were “forced” to cut out early, but not before we’d loaded our entire trunk full of cookie bags…..AND our investigator proved that night that she’d make a GREAT RS Compassionate Service Coordinator. All we have to do is get her baptized now…. 😉

Speaking of caroling, we all went out that night, chose a member to visit, and then decided to carol to a few of their neighbors as well. We grabbed cookie bags and then hit up their neighbors across the street. We began singing, and after a LONG wait, an older woman came to the door. She waited till we’d finished a rather rough verse of “Hark the Herald Angel Sing,” before opening the screen door and snapping, “Who are you?!” Sis Green extended the bag of cookies and said we were just wanting to bring some Christmas cheer and asked if she’d like some cookies. The woman retorted, “Nope! Can’t have them!! I’m not interested! I suppose you guys think you’re pretty….pretty….  what’s the word you all use now days?? ‘Awesome’….yea, awesome. All that means is that you think you know everything…..and you don’t. So no, I’m not interested! And that goes for your singing too!” and slammed the door (which….I should mention, had a bright red banner reading “JOY” hanging across the front…..I’m confused;). 

…..Well….Merry Christmas anyways….

We all walked away kinda stunned, not sure if we should laugh or cry. Instead we just visited house after house until an adorable African American couple opened their door, came outside, and started singing along, swaying, and praising God (Baptist style:), till we’d finished our performance and then gave us an enthusiastic applause. AND….they actually took the cookies:)

>>Fist-bump<<

Christmas was another adventure:) On Sunday, the widow in our ward who was going to host us Christmas day, came up and introduced herself to me, and then added, “Oh…and did Sis Green tell you?? We’re going to have a jammy party on Christmas Day!”

…..I’m sorry, what??…..

She continued, “I’m 76 years old….and I’ve never had a jammy party….so on Christmas Day, be sure to wear your best jammies, because we’re going to make a day of it, ok??”

Yep. On Christmas Day, I had a “jammy” party with a 76 year old:)! hahaha! It was unforgettable to say the least! She was so grateful, though, to have us over since this is her first Christmas as a widow and it was so rewarding to see the impact it made on her holiday. I really did feel like we were serving the Lord that day, as we sat there and she shared pictures and stories with us about her life, her late husband, and her family. 

We also got to SKYPE HOME!!! AH!!!! It’s still SO weird to think that the next time I see them, I’ll be walking off the plane (as an oh, so awkward RM:)!! I was already awkward enough over Skype…..especially when meeting the new in-laws:) Yea, sorry Zach and Rachel….I’ll try and make up for it in person;) hahahah! It really was SO good to see everyone’s faces and to reconnect, though. I miss family a lot out here, so Christmas Day and Mother’s Day mean the world to me:) love you fam!! 3 months….3 months!!

The Lord’s also been blessing us with people to teach this week as well. On Monday, as we were sitting in Panera writing friends and family, one of the waiters came up to clear our table, and as he turned to go, he read my name tag. “Sister?? Are you from a church or something??”

That’s our cue.

We told him who we were, and started giving him a brief explanation of what we believed and why we were out serving as missionaries. He’d listen for a little bit, then excuse himself to go back to work, then he’d come back ten minutes later and ask more questions, and back and forth until finally, we asked him if we could meet sometime to talk about religion. He agreed, gave us his phone number, and accepted a Book of Mormon. I’m now a firm believer in Panera. That’s the second investigator I’ve found on my mission by eating at Panera:) We’re meeting with him this week, and praying that he accepts the invitation to be baptized!!

Our other….unique…..lesson of the week was with our investigator, Norine. She’s a hoot:) She’s around 50 yrs old, has fiery hot pink hair, and when I first met her, she went off for over 15 minutes about her recent appearance on Judge Judy where she sued her granddaughter……and won🙂

Yeeeeaaaaa;)

We finally got to the lesson portion of our visit, where we’d planned on showing her the Restoration DVD. We started by introducing her to various scriptures in the Bible (her father was a Baptist minister so she knows her Bible well) that prophecy about the restoration of the gospel. We hadn’t gone far, when we heard moans and rustling noises coming from the nearby bedroom. The door was open and we could see the foot of the bed, where a man was lying. Then, almost out of nowhere, we heard him turn over and start violently puking off the side of the bed into a trash can. 

Sis Green and I just looked at each other, tried to focus again, and continued, until Norine yelled into the other room,”Willie!!! You wanna go to the hospital?!?!” We just sat there awkwardly while he brushed her off, and she turned back to us with, “That’s my brother-in-law. He’s REALLY sick, girls. Sorry…..continue…”

…….Ummmmm…..ok……

We managed to get past the scriptures and introduced the video. She popped it in and pretty soon the First Vision scene was starting. I swear…..Satan does E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. he can to ruin that moment….and therefore, disrupt the spirit. Kids getting hurt, pets making noise, the phone ringing, gunshots firing outside, spouses barging in, the fire alarm going off…..yep, seen it all. It’s actually an unusual experience to have the First Vision read, recited, or watched without something–anything–in someway or another becoming a distraction. THIS time around, though….it was a whole new ballpark. The closer the “humble kneeling, sweet appealing” moment got, the harder I started praying for 3 minutes…..just 3 minutes….of break time before the hurling began again. 

BUT…..that didn’t happen.

RIGHT before the heavens opened, Willie’s stomach decided to do so first. Just as the Mo Tab started swelling, so did his dinner from the night before,  and it was by NO means quiet. Sis Green and I just sat there praying for divine intervention and trying our best to focus on Norine and the movie. Norine, without breaking focus on the screen, but clearly aware of the background bedroom noises, picked up the remote and FLOORED the + volume button. 

That brought back the spirit soon enough….the whole complex probably heard it:) hahaha! 

Whatever works, right?? Sis Green and I are still getting lots of laughs over that one:) By the end of the film, Willie had rolled over, and we enjoyed the last 10 minutes of our visit without distractions, as we asked her, “Do you think a boy–Joseph Smith–could have been visited by God and Jesus Christ?”

She thought about it for a moment, and then smiling, responded, “Absolutely! God can do anything!!”

Satan……SCHOOLED.

Sis Green and I definitely walked away from that visit, with a firm testimony of the Spirit’s ability to testify……despite all odds:)! Norine was touched by our message and agreed to come to church, read from the Book of Mormon, and pray about it’s truthfulness!! 

The work is working:) Our area is difficult, but Sis Green and I are setting goals and making plans to find and teach more. We’re enjoying the companionship of the Spirit on a daily basis, and it is carrying us through. This week of Christmas prompted me to reflect on the gift of my Savior, as the feelings of loneliness and homesickness became harder to ward off. As I thought about Him, His birth, and the lonely circumstances in which He was born and lived, I was reminded again that He knows my situation and my struggles perfectly. The scripture in Moses 6:34, where the Lord beckons, “Walk with me” came to my mind as I laid in bed Christmas Eve, missing home and family. 

I’ve felt Him extending that invitation to me many times this week, as I’ve allowed my thoughts and feelings to drift inward. He’s reminded me to walk with Him….and in doing so, I find myself turning outward. And it is such a sweeter experience! I truly do have the opportunity and blessing every day of my mission life, and beyond, to walk with Him as I choose to walk the path He wants me to walk. It requires effort and sacrifice, but I see evidence of His appreciation and love all around me as I do so. It is rewarding! And the relationship I’m developing with Him because of it…..I wouldn’t trade for the world!

Onward and upward,

Sis Anna Parker 

(pics to come soon……..these library computers won’t let me upload:/)

Staying Alive

Bishop got up in sacrament meeting yesterday, and announced, “Brothers and sisters, just as a reminder, starting at the beginning of January, our meeting time will change from 1pm to 9am with leadership meetings being held before church.”

*you’ve got to be kidding me*

I knew it. I knew this was going to happen….I’d get transferred from a ward that met at 9am to a ward that met in the afternoon, just to have it changed at the beginning of the year back to 9am. Called it:) I guess I’ll never get my wish of being able to “sleep in” till 6:30 on Sundays, so in the mean time, I’ll just appreciate the fact that I’m an early bird:)

This week has left me brain fried and bone tired, but I made it:) Leaving Buffalo Grove was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done on my mission. I cried myself to sleep that last night, feeling like my heart was breaking and wishing more than anything that I could just stop time and never leave. But, the Lord has a plan and with that plan He gives us the strength to overcome and achieve. I’ve felt Him so near–SO near–as I’ve taken every day since leaving BG, one step at a time.

I still miss it. I can’t see an Oregon ducks bumper sticker without thinking of the O’Briens. I can’t drive past Harding st. without thinking of the Kumars. I can’t hear a Georgian accent (or visit the hospital:) without thinking of the Robisons. I can’t pass Bass Pro Shops without thinking of the Kuffers. I can’t notice Taco Bell without hoping for a reunion with the Eyres. And when we were at the mission home this week, and President Woodbury offered me an “amazing Austrian cookie from the Lex’s,” I just about cried.

Those members, those investigators, those people…..they have my heart! And it hurts to be so far from them. I wondered as I sat in church yesterday, surrounded by people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me and feeling sorry for myself, how I’d ever be able to let go of my old area, those relationships, those memories and to move on. Almost immediately, the spirit reminded me of a letter Pres Woodbury had written to the missionaries a short while ago. He wrote about receiving a new heart from the Lord (Ezekiel 36:26) as we turn over our hearts to Him: “He will give it back to you new and refreshed, full of hope for good things to come and full of love for Him and all mankind.”

I realized in that moment that I didn’t need to forget…..I didn’t need to forget those people I loved, those memories I cherished, or those relationships I’d formed. Those will always be close to my heart. All He asks of me now is to continue to love even more. That loves never runs out, and I DO have more to give, because He’ll fill my heart with love for these new people as I strive to be His hands here in Westchester.

*Keep Calm. Love On*

That’s what I’ll do:)

This area is a 180 from Buffalo Grove. I’m back to buzzing buzzer boards, smelling weed in almost every apartment complex we visit, ignoring the cat calls and whistles while walking the streets as the only two white girls around, and….of course….life isn’t complete in Chicago without getting honked at every time we change lanes or the light turns green.

>>TBT to the Evanston days<<

We’re having fun though…and every day is an adventure……like when the elders texted us Saturday evening asking us if we could go to the church building THAT night and find a baptismal dress for their investigator who was getting baptized the NEXT day. Nothing quite like cramming at the last minute, elders:) So we naturally head over there, and Sis Green goes to open the baptismal closet only to find that it’s locked. Well….only one thing to do. While Sis Green starts scrolling through the phone to locate someone to open the closet for us…

…..I pulled a credit card out of my wallet…….

Hey, ya gotta do whatchya gotta do sometimes:) I explained to Sis Green later that at college, it was easier for me to pull my student ID out of my pocket when I got back to my apartment than to go digging for my keys in my dark abyss of a backpack. Sooooooo….i got pretty good at the push-and-slide technique. You never know when stuff like that is going to come in handy…..just saying:)

AND…the elders’ investigator had her outfit pressed and ready for her by the next morning.

Mission accomplished. hahaha!

On Wednesday, we were invited to gather as a zone downtown at the Kris Kringle market to carol and give out hot chocolate. After an hour of driving and another half hour of trying to find a parking spot, we finally started off on foot to walk about a quarter mile to where our zone was caroling. Before we’d gone very far though, we stopped in at a CVS to use the restroom, but before we’d even made it to the back of the store, a man bumped into us, saw our name tags and said, “Mormons!” We were a bit surprised, but told him that’s who we were to which he responded, “I need to talk to you.”

Well ok….

He escorted us out into the metra food court and sat us down at a table. Then, for over an hour he talked and talked and talked…..all about his life, serving in the Vietnam war, his struggle with PTSD, giving us life advice (including how NOT to “run off after our missions and marry the first guy we meet”:), his relationship with God, and a million other topics (not the least of which was his view on physical fitness, how “beautiful and angelic” our faces were, the ingratitude of younger generation “yuppies,” and the corrupt politicians of America). In any other circumstance, I’d have been totally creeped out, eyeing the closest exit, and possibly speed dialing the elders. However, as we sat there with him, the spirit prompted, “Just listen.”

Our zone was waiting for us, we were already half an hour late, and it was getting dark, but the spirit spoke, so we sat there. Honestly, I couldn’t take my eyes off him; I was totally intrigued by this perfect stranger sitting in front of me, telling me all about his life and struggles. He fascinated me, and though we didn’t say hardly two words during the whole hour we “visited” with him, I knew that’s where we were supposed to be. He began wrapping up, talking about how he was haunted every night by the memories of his time in Vietnam. His eyes clouded as he told us he’d wake up in cold sweats, see the faces of those he had been forced to kill, and hear Vietnamese phrases screaming in his dreams. “But, he said, there’s nothing you or I can do about it. I’ve asked God to take it from me and He hasn’t……so that’s the way it is.”

Immediately, the spirit spoke directly to my mind, “PROMISE him, right now, that his PTSD will be taken from him if he reads the Book of Mormon and pursues this course.” I was taken off guard. I’ve always wanted to have an experience on my mission where the spirit directed me to promise a specific and….let’s be honest….impressive…blessing to an individual. However, when the prompting came, I instinctively questioned it. “I don’t know the ins and outs of PTSD. If doctors and psychologists can’t help him, how am I supposed to make this promise to him?? I don’t want to get his hopes up. Maybe this prompting isn’t from the spirit, it’s just wishful thinking.”

But that prompting kept coming and coming, until I KNEW that it was undeniably given by the spirit. I finally spoke up, “Dave, you said just a moment ago that we couldn’t do anything for you….and to a point that’s true. But I KNOW that your Savior, Jesus Christ can and will.” I testified to him of the divine mission of Christ to administer to those in need, and to save us from our pain and suffering. Then, I extended a Book of Mormon to him and said, “As messengers of Him, I can I promise you that if you read this book….and follow its teachings and continue to progress towards Him…your PTSD will be alleviated.”

I’m sure my companion was a bit shocked, but once the words left my mouth, I knew they were meant to be said. He just looked at me for a second, his eyes bloodshot and teary….and then said, “I’ll give you my word, I’ll read it tonight.” Before he walked away from us that night, he told us, “I can’t tell you enough what this has meant to me.” We hadn’t solved all his problems, given him every answer to all his questions, or even taught him earth-shattering doctrine…..but we had LISTENED. We’d loved. And through the spirit, we’d promised him a blessing that only God could give.

I walked away from that conversation, so deeply grateful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to be His servant…..His messenger….to a man who needed two young girls to just listen. It took an hour long drive into the city, a half hour of driving in circles to find parking, and a quarter mile walk on foot, for the spirit to bring us to him…..but he did. And there’s no better feeling than knowing you were in the right place at the right time, for the one person that needed you. How grateful I am that I was the one given that incredible opportunity!

The rest of our week consisted of an amazing (and much-needed) trip to the temple, a Christmas lunch and uplifting devotional at the mission home, a beautiful blessing and interview with President Woodbury, and a lot of introductions to investigators, members, and ward leadership.

I’m exhausted. But I’m alive:)

Quick health update: all the tests are in, and still no answers. After a lot of prayer, I’ve felt that the Lord’s will for me is that I endure these challenges for these last few months I have left. It’s frustrating to not feel at my best all the time, especially when all I want is to go fast and hard till the end, but the Lord has a plan, and for now, I’m putting it in His hands. I’ve decided to put further tests and doctors appointments on hold until I’m back home, and to instead just take it a day at a time, trusting in His strength to pull me through🙂

Thank you for your love and prayers! They work miracles out here!! This work is hard and demanding, but it is oh, so rewarding!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

Beautiful Heartbreak

I know, I know….I’ve missed like 3 weeks…..you can fire me. AND…..on top of it, the computers won’t let me upload pictures sooooooo….stay posted for pics when I get it figured out:)

(I’m posting two posts today to make up for the past 3 weeks….so go check the other one out too:) 

Ok moving on……..

Over the past few weeks, the medical issues have been getting worse, so I finally agreed to go in for an MRI and an EEG. I called, scheduled an appointment, and then the nurse explained that they wanted me sleep-deprived for the EEG. No problemo. SOML. BUT…..she had to take it a step further by telling me that I could only have 4 hours of sleep the night before.

kill joy

Wednesday night was the big legal late-night…..and it consisted of watching every church-produced movie in the apartment, writing letters to missionaries, soaking in the tub, doodling, cleaning the kitchen, and painting nails. That’s the STRAIGHTEST late night I’ll ever have:) lol!

#holy

Needless to say, I was more than tired the next day, but after getting to the hospital, having over 20 electric wires attached to my head after what felt like half my scalp was scrubbed off, and talking to the nurse for over 30 min trying to clear up her firm belief that we practice polygamy, all the while she had “Pregnant and I Didn’t Know It” on on the tv…..it was a little more than hard trying to sleep on command. I managed to “rest” through it though, and ended up giving the nurse a He is the Gift card before leaving.

The MRI went well…..no where near as bad as I thought it would be, and after that was done we went back to the front desk to contact Peter. We’d met Peter that morning when I went to register, and he’d been standing there talking to one of the receptionists. When he saw our name tags, he asked us a bunch of questions about what we did, where we were located, and some of our basic beliefs. Between signing medical forms, getting fitted with a hospital wrist band, and showing ID, I managed to tell him about our purpose as missionaries. When he found that we believed in the Bible, he offered, “That’s fantastic! Y’know a group of my friends and I get together every Tuesday night for Bible study, and we’d love to have you join and share some insight.”

Where do I sign??

hahaha! We were surprised, but readily accepted his invitation. That very morning as I’d been getting ready to head to the hospital, as I put my name tag on, I got the impression that there was some one at the hospital that day that needed me to be there. Turns out, it didn’t take us 10 minutes from walking in the door, to meet Peter!! God has a plan. And though it perhaps took a lot of stress, anxiety, worry, pain, frustration, and lack of sleep on my end……if He needed Peter to find the truth through me in that way….then this is all worth it.

When we finished the tests and went back to talk with him (he works in the hospital), he met us with, “I was hoping you’d come back!” He handed over his information to us and announced loud enough for the entire waiting room to hear, “We’d love to have the Latter-day Saints at our Bible study! You Mormons are great!”

He’s going to make an AWESOME member missionary when he joins:)

We’re so excited to have this opportunity and Peter just seems like one of those people who’s been prepared to receive the message! God works in mysterious ways;)

The next morning, I woke up early around 4am and couldn’t sleep. I was completely weak, shaky, and yet so anxious that I couldn’t lie still. Around 7:15 that morning, I passed out on my way to the living room and had another muscle spasm episode that lasted longer than any previous episodes. This time, Sis Carroll called 911 and the EMT’s soon showed up (come to find, one of them was the EMT we met and visited with Thanksgiving night when we delivered goodies to the firehouse….. AWKWARD ……yep, I’m as lucky as 13, I swear:). After taking my blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure, they told me I needed to go to the hospital. Not again……

But, sure enough, after receiving orders from my neurologist to go in, we ended up at the ER…..again. And just like times before, they didn’t find anything seriously wrong. They even reviewed my tests from the day before and reported that the MRI and the EEG were both clear.

*tell me, tell me, tell me something i don’t know, something I don’t know*

Geez laweez.

So after being discharged, I was sent over to out-patient services to get hooked up to a 48 hr halter monitor……classy, I know. For the first 24 hours I felt like a jihadist every time I brushed against the device…..gawl.

Then, Saturday night, we finally had a lesson with Harry (our referral from our Indian library friend:). We met at the church, and began teaching him the Plan of Salvation since he doesn’t have any Christian background. We brought a member of our ward who is also from India and it was incredible to feel the spirit and see the unique interactions between the two of them! By the end of the lesson, HE COMMITTED TO BAPTISM!!!! We were blown away by his willingness to accept the challenge to follow Jesus Christ and to change his life. We were bouncing off the walls after he’d left and couldn’t help but do the awkward hug-laugh-cry-jump up and down-and-scream act. It was pretty legit:)

That night also turned out to be the night of transfers. We got the news…….I’M LEAVING BG2:( My heart literally feels like it’s breaking. After 9 months (half my mission!) in this area, these people have become family to me, and it is ripping my heart out to have to say goodbye. However, after we got the call, I was overcome with peace and assurance that this is what needs to happen. I’m heading down to south west Chicago to Westerchester. It’s going to be a complete 180 from my rural buffalo grove experience, but I’m just striving for the faith to put one foot after the other.

Sunday I was a wreck. SO MANY. TEARS. I seriously don’t think I’ve cried and hugged more in one day. I doesn’t quite feel real yet. I feel so welcome, so loved, and so…..at home…….it’s SO hard to leave it all behind!! These people have ALL of my heart…..and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of the last highlight moments of our weekend (even though I was a mess trying to say goodbye to everyone) was when we visited Rita, an investigator who’s been interested in the church for a long time, but has just never actually taken the plunge. We stopped by and I sensed that something was wrong. She opened up to us about some health and mental issues she’s been facing, and the spirit began pounding me with promptings: suggest that she get a priesthood blessing. I could NOT ignore the prompting, it was so strong, so I asked her if she’d like to receive one. We ended up having a lengthy conversation about the purpose, organization, and strength given through a blessing. After considering it for a while, she agreed and we arranged for her to receive a blessing.

The next night, at a Christmas devotional at the church, she came up to me with tears in her eyes, took me in a hug, and said, “I got my blessing……and all I can say is thank you! Thank you!! Because you offered that to me, I was brought into the presence of God in a way I’ve never been before. It was like, I was SO close to Him! And it was all because you were close enough to the holy spirit, to know that that’s what I needed! So thank you!! Thank you for being obedient, for coming on your mission……for me! You have truly changed my life and become a daughter to me!! Thank you, thank you!!” and she and I just sat there together and cried in each others’ arms!

AH!!! It’s hard to describe why a moment like that means so much to a missionary–to me! But it’s moments like that that I can’t help but feel, “I’m doing something right! I don’t have it all figured out, I make mistakes ALL the time, I question and doubt myself…..but right here, right now, I did something right. I made a difference. And it’s all worth it!” All the struggle, the pain, the heartbreak, the difficulties, the criticism, the fears, the effort……it’s not wasted. I knew in that moment that I’d made Him proud, and that’s all I want out of my mission…..to make Him proud of me.

I believe that that experience softened the blow of transfers, because it put into perspective for me, the fact that this work is not about me. It’s not about what I want, and that’s the way it should be. Because the greatest–the purest–joy in this work, comes not in making myself happy, but in making others happy eternally.

I can’t even express how grateful I am for the months I was able to spend in Buffalo Grove. My heart, I know, is going to long for this place for the remainder of my mission, and beyond, but it gives me SO much peace knowing that the relationships I’ve grown, the friendships I’ve gained, the experiences I’ve had, and even the heartache and sorrow I’ve endured……it’s ALL been worth it. And no one can take that from me!

Onward and upward,

Sis Anna Parker

Expect the Unexpected

I turned to Sis Carroll in the car this week with,

“I would do ANYTHING right now for some Bing Crosby Christmas music….”

*** no response ***

“You do know who Bing Crosby is, RIGHT???

“Umm….I know who Bill Cosby is……”

Oh heck….what is this world coming to. Family: I need Bing Crosby Christmas music ASAP….if not for my sake….for Sis Carroll’s:) Our Christmas collection of Josh Groban, Pentatonix, and Michael Buble just isn’t complete:)

On with the week:

THANKSGIVING………was the b.o.m.b.

No joke…..probably THE best Thanksgiving I’ve EVER had!! We kicked off the morning at our ward mission leader’s (the O’briens) house who invited us over for some “service”…..decorating their Christmas tree.

I could’ve cried.

I was SO happy.

Stuff like that means the WORLD to missionaries who sometimes feel so far flung from the festive scene. So YES. I will GLADLY decorate any and all Christmas trees… just hit me up. We spent the rest of the afternoon helping them with dinner preparations….which again….(IF I can’t be playing in the turkey bowl with the guys:)….there’s nothing else I’d rather do on Thanksgiving than delve into the party planning and prep. And gotta say…..I make a MEAN dish of parmesan garlic mashed potatoes;)

 #readyforwifelife

…..Yea not really….but ANYWAYS…..

The O’Brien’s neighbors then came over to join us for dinner! The husband, James, is from Ghana and his wife, Gigi, is from Hong Kong…..and they came with two of T.H.E. most adorable boys (ages 2 and 4) in tow. I could’ve smothered them right then and there. Needless to say, it was a constant conflict of interest loving the “adult” conversation at the table but meanwhile arm-wrestling the cutest 4-year old of a kid that I’ve ever met.

#thestruggleisreal

By the end of dinner (after I’d introduced to cranberry “jiggle” and olives the perfect size for sticking on fingers), James and Gigi began asking us questions about our missions and the work that we do. The spirit became SO strong as James asked us, “What is it that keeps you going when you’re down, or rejected, or even if you feel like you don’t want to continue anymore?”

It was SUCH a sweet experience for me to testify to him of the Atonement, of my relationship with my Savior, and of His ability to heal all my pain, heartache, sorrow, and struggle. I told him the truth—that there are many moments when I wish I was home, that I could be free of the difficulties I face as a missionary, or even that I could lay down and sleep FOREVER because I’m so exhausted. BUT….what keeps me going?? I told him: the knowledge I have of what my Savior did for me. When I think of what He’s blessed me with, how He never gives up on me, and how I know He’s always there for me when I need Him……that knowledge makes me want to do nothing more than give back what little I can give.

The look in his eyes when I testified to him of the Savior’s infinite power and love, and of my conviction that He will strengthen, support, and help me through any trial that I—or anyone else—will ever face……AH!! That is a moment I will never forget! You could see it in his eyes that he was thinking about what was said, and I knew—I knew—he’d felt the spirit! The rest of our evening together was absolutely amazing, and at the end of the night, James and Gigi took our number and said they’d be interested in calling us for some service or “just to drop by” sometime! There is so much potential there and I’m beyond excited to see where it goes!

After dinner, we hit the road….this time….to some unexpected places;) Yes…..we ended up at the ER…. and the police station……AND the fire house.

 I swear, it’s not what you think it is;)

So REWIND: about a week before Thanksgiving, I’d been thinking about ways to capitalize on the holiday season in this area. The idea came to me to drop of goodies at the ER, fire house, and police department and to thank those working there for their service, especially on such a family-oriented holiday.

So off we went…..

We managed to hit up 2 police departments, the Emergency Room front desk and security department, and 3 fire stations……all in one night. The responses we got from everyone were SO incredibly heart-warming!! I seriously was having “warm fuzzy” highs:) Each reaction of surprise and gratitude that we got from the recipients just about MELTED my heart! Here we are…..two 20 year old girls….hundreds of miles away from home and family….on a Thanksgiving night…..delivering muffins and hot chocolate…and yet having the time. of. our. lives. making others’ Thanksgiving night more pleasant!! I can’t even describe how happy each of those visits made us!!! Service like that just makes my WEEK!!

It felt SO good to be able to give back in a small way to people who dedicate their lives to helping other people. Cause honestly that’s NOT a job I could do (I learned that real quick from dating a firefighter back in the day….WAY back in the day:). I’ll stick to my proselyting;)

By the end of the night, Sis Carroll and I were singing all the way home and practically floating on cloud 9 we were SO giddy happy. It made for an INCREDIBLE Thanksgiving Day…..the best I’ve ever had!!

(even though we didn’t get to play in the turkey bowl…….2015……it’s going DOWN🙂

Speaking of police departments…..we also got to help out with the Mundelein Police Department Turkey Drop-off this week too! Oh my FUN. We showed up and got assigned to distribute food to 20+ baskets of thanksgiving dinner goods and then hauled each basket out to the parking lot (along with dozens of turkeys) where we loaded up our cars with the food.

Side story: as we were arranging our caravan with the officer who was leading the group, he offered to put all the food in his car, instead of ours, and then offered to let us ride in the back of his squad car so we wouldn’t have to spend gas and miles in our own car.

sweet mother

There are times when being a missionary and keeping missionary rules is REALLY hard and yea….that was DEFINITELY one of them. I have always wanted to ride in the back of a cop car….BUT because of rules, my companion and I had to decline the offer. Oh well. One day.

#suchakidsometimes

On the flip side, though, it ended up working out well because he had to tally the food supply of each car before leaving, and we happily popped our trunk where six frozen turkeys were snuggled up to Resoration DVD’s, Plan of Salvation pamphlets, and stacks of Book of Mormons.

that’s one way to do it

Our drop-off adventure turned out to be GREAT though! It was a lot of fun and seeing the reactions of those we were giving the food to was such a special experience (AND….because we were with a cop the whole time, we got to park in No Parking Zones, cross four lanes of traffic all with a hand wave, AND SPEED….. #mykindofjob #i’mwithhim #legalrebels:)!!!

Ok last miracle…and then I swear I’ll end this:) So we were in the library this week doing our online proselyting and as we were leaving to go, an Indian guy (like the dot…not the feather kind….please tell me you get this;) came up to us and began asking us why we were always at the library and what “two nice young ladies” were doing with nametags on. We got to explain to him our roles and missionaries, gave him our card, and the address for the church and invited him to come. He told us he’d try and that he had an active interest in learning more about other religions.

We didn’t think much of it until Sunday afternoon when he called us, “Parker…I was there….at church…in the back. I didn’t see you so I left after the first hour. Maybe I come next week…and see you there…”

wait what??

Yea, he legitimately showed up to church, sat through all of sacrament meeting, “enjoyed himself,” and then left when he didn’t see us afterwards. Oops. We were sitting up front with some other investigators and therefore didn’t see him after the meeting which made us feel HORRIBLE. However….when we ended up at the library later this week, he was there and sat down next to me with, “Hi Parker….I like your church…very nice. Maybe I come again and see you this time. Oh….and I have a friend….he’s interested in your church too. Here’s his number…call him anytime”

CAN DO

I took the number from him, and planned on calling his friend, Harry, later. However, the next day rolled around and before we could call him…..we got a phone call FROM him, “Hi, Parker? Yes….my friend Peter said you are missionaries, nice ladies, and that your church is good. I want to come, and also meet with you and talk about religion, Ok?”

>> twist my arm<<

Sis Carroll and I got off the phone and just about starting SCREAMING!!! This was truly a miracle that God placed right in our laps! Just the night before, my companion had been struggling with feelings of discouragement and depression, and I’d felt prompted to testify to her that when things get really rough on the mission—when we reach those lows of lows—there is ALWAYS something the Lord has in store to bless us with if we remain faithful.

That’s been a constant pattern of my mission and it happens over and over and over again. When I bore that testimony to Sis Carroll and had some doubts myself and just prayed that something would turn up that would lighten her spirits and bring us success. Sure enough…..it didn’t take Him two days to answer our prayers!

Harry came to church this Sunday!!!!!!

We were SO excited!!! He told us before we sat down that he’s never been to church before in his life, but that he was ready to try it out! He was attentive during the entire meeting and afterwards said that he thoroughly enjoyed the talks and our champ wardies flocked him afterwards, introducing themselves and welcoming him to our ward.

that’s my ward

We’re gonna keep em:) Harry told us he was so impressed by the warm and friendly attitudes of everyone at church and told us he felt very welcome. He also took us out to the parking lot after sacrament meeting to give us four coffee cakes to thank us for letting him come to church! Ah!!!!! We’re already obsessed with him;) He’s anxious to learn more and is meeting with us tomorrow night! He’s humble and willing to be taught, so we’re SO excited to see the gospel start to take root in his life!

This whole experience again reminded me of God’s goodness. He truly is mindful of each of us. Sometimes, we don’t know why we struggle, suffer, or even feel abandoned by God. BUT…..if my mission has taught me one thing….it’s that GOD is ALWAYS THERE! He knows what we need…and He also knows when to give it. If we but trust in Him, His timing, and His wisdom…..He’ll lead us to where we need to be. He’s always willing to reach out and bless us with those tender mercies—those answers to unspoken prayers—that bring the gentle reminders that He is always walking with us.

Always.

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

You Better Believe It

I feel like I should start off every weekly email with “guess what???” And then list off all the random, crazy, stupid, funny, amazing, downright wicked stuff I’ve managed to learn that week.

Here’s my chance:

First: you can annihilate an entire 8 generations of fruit flies living and reproducing uncontrollably fast in a small sister missionary’s apartment (because of one freakin pineapple trying to get ripe) using the back end of a blow dryer. Plug that baby in, wait for the little pests to come flying around, and then dtttttttzzzzzzzz….they’re toast before the other end can even shoot em out. OK…..stop judging….gotta do whatchya gotta do:) you know you wanna try it now……

Second: giving companions tutorials on how to use sock buns will inevitably turn into “wanna see the Princess Leah look??” My excuse: two demos is better than one. The truth: I’m a straight up Star Wars nerd…..#thanksto6brothers #hatersgonnahate

Third: while waiting for dinner to be put on the table at a part-member family’s home, if I’m bored and then get handed a handful of mini marshmallows by the kids, I immediately go into entertainer mode and start taking bets on which marshmallow trick shots I can make. I proud to say I’ve mastered the off-the-wall-and-into-mouth dare and the 10-in-a-row mouth catch. #swag

Fourth: to avoid awkward and confused looks while backing a companion out in the FREEZING cold weather…….pretending to assess and check the tire pressure works like a charm. Yea……..this is my life🙂

Fifth: running out of gasoline on Sunday is NEVER a good idea. All I’m gonna say. Thank heavens for investigators who are close by, have gasoline lying around in the garage, and who could use a lesson on keeping the sabbath day holy……even if it’s in a VERY indirect way:)

Sixth: 7-11 isn’t kidding when they say that their hot chocolate is EXTREMELY hot. #stillcanttasteathing   #andthisiswhyidontdrinkcoffee

And last but not least, giving away a Mormon.org cards with your number on it is NOT always a pleasant experience. SOML. Example this week (talking to an attractive young guy who stopped to talk with us):

“Do you have a church you go to?”

“Sorta, I’m a 7th Day Adventist”

“Oh ok, well could we give you our card? It has our website on it with some information you might be interested in and we can give you our number too if you’d like so you can call us with any questions you have?”

“Sure, I’ll take your number, but I’ll tell you right now it wouldn’t be for that reason…”

*wink and sketch smile*

Aaaaaaand……at that point of COURSE my hand is already extended with our card (and number)…….GREATToo late now. We finished off that convo pretty quick and luckily he hasn’t called us yet. If he does….

“hey elders, guess what?? We have a referral for you!!”

lol

On Tuesday, we took Katy (the one who’s parents won’t let her be baptized so she’s waiting till she’s 18, but who attends seminary, mutual, and church more often then active members😉 and her friend Andy to the baptism of an investigator in the other ward. It was SUCH a unique experience being with them and seeing their faces light up as they watched another take this big step. Andy kept saying, “He looks SO happy!! How is he so happy?! He’s just SO happy!” We challenged him that night to baptism, and we’ll see what he says this week when we meet with him! AHHHHH!!!!!

Prem and James also had dinner with us this week and we talked about receiving answers to prayers. Prem is SO close!!! SO close to getting his answer!! He’s trying to read 100 pages a week (!!!) from the Book of Mormon……and get this…..he’s reading through ISAIAH right now. I swear….my investigators are SO much better than me in SO many ways.

#schooled

And THEN….there’s Patrick. Patrick is VERY scientifically minded and has deep DEEP thoughts about God and the universe. Example……..

Patrick: “God is too magnificent to be comprehended by the finite mind. And kind of like how a molecule within the ocean is coursed by the pulls of gravity and the currents of the waves, we’re that molecule. And the water….it’s in us. It’s there…..but we’re bound by the forces of nature and the mind of God. You know what I mean??”

—> (O_o) <—

ummmmmm……..yeeeeeeeaaaaaa???

  (…..no…nope….)

**CLUELESS**

BUT, as we were sitting there…..my mind WAS totally opened to the magnitude of God’s power, as Patrick talked about belief in “frequencies” of faith, being mentally “on track” to discern God’s patterns in life, and other scientific reasonings behind our purpose here on earth. We shared parts of the plan of salvation with him, and he left telling us, “I thought that tonight was going to be really weird and not worth my time, but I learned a lot. There’s something about what you’re teaching that’s different. There’s more to this!”

It was such a testimony building experience for me, because I knew that this doctrine could not be created by man. Here’s a guy who’s mentally gifted, who’s studied the elements of science and reasoning, and yet, the simple doctrine of the plan of happiness opened his mind to higher spheres! And we as the missionaries were astounded that he was as mind-blown as he was, especially since we were SO incapable (that’s an understatement) of answering all of his answers with the same depth of thought that he approached them with.

God work’s miracles though….AND we definitely saw one;) Patrick left us that night with, “This s*** is great! It totally makes sense!” Hey at least he meant well😉 AND….he wants to meet again.

whatever it takes

🙂

It’s been a satisfying week with SO many rewarding experiences that opened my mind to God’s goodness. This work is challenging, but we’re seeing the hand of God in our lives and others on a DAILY basis. You better believe it.

And…we’re having fun while we’re at it.

What could be better?

Onward and upward,

Sis Anna Parker

....what we do while waiting for investigators to show up....

….what we do while waiting for investigators to show up….

Yep......i recreated my halloween costume from 10+ yeas ago...#tbt

Yep……i recreated my halloween costume from 10+ yeas ago…#tbt

made this candy bar poster for a wardie.....#champs

made this candy bar poster for a wardie…..#champs

Guilty As Charged

. . Guilty as charged………yes, I didn’t post last week. . Oops. . It was one of those weeks that just kinda got away from us……nah my fault:) So anyways…..here’s my attempt at make-up: . We were sitting in district … Continue reading

Died and Gone to Heaven

Out of all the haters I’ve met on my mission, BORN AGAIN’s are the worst. Don’t ask me why. They’ve cursed me off their lawns, told me I’m going to h–, and one once yelled at me, “May God send you what you deserve!”
That’s when I just played dumb and said, “Aw thanks!! That’s so nice of you! God bless you too!” before they slammed the door in my face. Aaaaaaaaannnddd…..that’s when Luke 5:9 comes to mind…..
“‘Walk it off….just walk it off!’ ‘Ok….'” (if you can name that movie…I’ll be SO impressed:)
This week, though, I actually met the nicest born-again Christian ever.
We had exchanges this week and I left Libertyville to work in Lake Zurich for the day with one of the sister training leaders. As we were driving around in the pouring rain, I noticed a small hole-in-the-wall shoe repair shop. I remembered that I needed my winter boots repaired and thought about maybe bringing my boots there the following P-day. It soon left my mind, though, as we got on with our day, and I left the area that night.
However, last P-day, we were driving around and I was hoping to go to a strip mall near us to just buy new boots. We called two ward members to lived nearby, put the address in our GPS, and drove for almost an hour and a half, around and around Mundelein trying to find the store, but with 0 success.
**you’ve got to be kidding me**
 I was getting frustrated, wondering why we couldn’t find such an obvious shopping center, when I realized we’d ended up in Lake Zurich, far out of our area. Still frustrated, I kept giving Sis Carroll driving directions to get us back to our area, until we reached an intersection and I noticed the little shoe repair shop again. I immediately felt drawn to it and asked Sis Carroll to pull off.
Still unsure if this was a good idea, I took my boots out and we entered the shop. As soon as we walked in, “Nearer My God To Thee” came floating through the air and we looked around to notice big hand-written signs all around the shop with “Jesus loves you, love others!,” “Believe in Jesus who can SAVE!,” “God is with us, have no fear!” and many other phrases written in bright red paint. 
>> died and gone to heaven<<
We just stood there kinda dumbfounded, til a short Greek man with a thick accent came out of the back with a gold cross around his neck. I showed him by boots and he gave me a steal of a deal to fix them. Dope. 
Just as he was about to return to his work, I felt prompted to ask him about the signs and about his “conversion.” He stood there with us for over a half hour, and told us his ENTIRE conversion story; about how he’d been a gang member in Chicago and had committed “the most vile sins” but how a man had come into his shop one day and asked him about baptism. Over time the man returned again and again, giving him a Bible, and eventually converting him to Christianity.
I was amazed at his faith and began telling him about the Book of Mormon. He hasn’t read it (and because of his “born-again” beliefs, isn’t quite enthusiastic about reading it….) BUT……when we returned again the following week, he took it from us and said he’d save it for a rainy day.
good nuff
I walked away from the shop, realizing that God had had a hand in directing me to this man all along. While I’d been frustrated about not being able to find an obvious shopping mall (which…turns out…we’d been right around the corner from about a half hour earlier:), He had a bigger plan in mind.  God always has a reason for everything:) Definitely went to be that night on some apologetic prayers for getting frustrated;) hahaha

2nd P-day miracle (i swear…good things happen on p-day;): we went grocery shopping missionary style……a.k.a. scrimp on produce, buy everything else on clearance, and only get the bare necessities, because you’re not sure if you’ll have enough on your debit card to last for the rest of the month.
True story………at least for sisters.
Elders on the other hand…..ehhhh…..I’ve legit heard the following from them,
“I ran out of money (all $140) by the fourth of the month”
“Do you know if there’s a way to get food stamps on your mission?”
“Man…..Costco….that place does things to your wallet”
“Is it bad to ask for left-overs from members?”
“I don’t know if spending $100 bucks at Walmart was a good idea”
“Gosh, no one ever told me that milk was THAT expensive!”
Elders. 
Missions are good things….in a number of ways. #budgeting101 #realworldproblems
ANYWAYS…….so we got to the checkout after shopping, and just as I’m about to swipe my card to pay, the woman who was in line before us, returned to the register, and said, “allow me” as she swiped her card. I stood there kinda taken back, as she said, “I’m from the other ward, and I LOVE MISSIONARIES.” She then paid for my companions groceries as well, before hugging us and then walking away with, “God Bless!”
Gosh, it’s days like that that you can’t help but know that God’s there watching out for you! #tendermercy That woman will never know what an impact she had on me, but I definitely left the store that day, feeling determined to go out and change someone else’ day! Ah!
The Lord is good:)
Oh and while we’re on the topic of food…..we went to zone activity this week (basketball (!!!!!!) and pumpkin carving) and showed up in time to find all the elders in the RS room, attempting the 100 CHICKEN NUGGET CHALLENGE.
 
 
Ok…….there’s dumb….DUMBER….and then the 100 chicken nugget challenge.
Basically, three of them were seated around a table, each trying to scarf 100 chicken nuggets in once sitting. The rest were sitting around egging them on, and Sis C and I just stood there appalled.
“You’re kidding me, right??”
Yea NO. AND…..did I mention that this all went down BEFORE basketball even started? hahaha! Elders…..elders…..elders. They only got to the 80’s before puking in the bathroom. Yea, sometimes, I really don’t understand guys. lol

Later this week, our ward had a Halloween party that was the bomb. We had multiple
wardies come up to us, telling us they’d brought friends, and then took us over to meet them! It was amazing!! I also ran into two young women who’d both stolen my identity:) hahaha! #lovethem #immahalloweencostumenow #claim2fame
We then got roped into sitting in the back of a ward member, Bro A’s car, and hiding under a blanket for Trunk r’ Treating. We’d sit there, Bro A would put candy on our laps, and then tell the kids to grab the candy. Since it was dark, they couldn’t tell that there were people under the blanket so we’d try to grab the kids’ hands as they reached for the goodies!! Oh. My. Lanta. SO much fun!! hahaha! The kids had a blast too, and at one point when the blanket accidentally fell down, one of the girls burst out laughing when she saw it was the sister missionaries with, “Sister Parker!! I TRUSTED you!!!” bahahaha! It was for sure a “bonding” experience with all the kids in the ward…..lol

And last, but not least, we hit record number of teaching appointments in this area this week!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!! We are s.t.o.k.e.d. We set some pretty high goals and then did everything we could to reach them, and it worked!! The Lord has really been blessing us and we’re seeing our efforts rewarded! #standardofexcellence #onthatlevel

And as for a spiritual take-away from the week, I’ve come to realize more and more that love truly is the essence of the gospel. A friend, whose since finished his mission, told me that the greatest love of this work comes through loving others to the greatest. He couldn’t have been more right. He also told me how important it is to lose yourself in that love. Forget about what others think, and throw your whole self–your real self–into loving other people in the way that only you can love.
It’s so true. Sometimes, ya just have to love like there’s no tomorrow<3
Keep calm, love on!
Onward and upward,
Sister Anna Parker

YES. #nailedit #NaaaaaachoLiiiiiiibre
(this was definitely another halloween party fav;) lol!!)
it aint a halloween party ….. till candy apples are made
more birthday presents from the wardies one month later…..yes i have the coolest ward ever
always have time for selfies

Make Me a Match

Sooooo…….

Got my first brother-in-law this week.


No biggie. JK it was kinda a huge deal (check out my other blog www.sandandsunshine2.blogspot.com for more on this later!:)!

So yea….my sister has graduated to wife lyfe……and it still blows my mind that my best friend is actually MARRIED……(btw, trying to wrap your mind around that as a MISSIONARY is ten times harder than trying to do it in real life….just sayin……#lockyourheart #preskimball;). Congrats Julia and Zach! You two deserve the best!!

After helping out at an investigator’s house for a couple hours this week, packing boxes, moving furniture, etc.  we got ready to head out the door, when our investigator showed us to the door where a brand new pair of UGGS were sitting, and said, “They’re too small for me……want ’em?”

Is that even a question??

Basically, I’m most definitely serving in Libertyville (where else to people hand out Uggs for free??) and service most definitely brings blessings:) haha! #spoiled #luvourpeeps

Our next service project was actually more packing and moving….and yes, it all happened on the same day. This time, we showed up to a member’s apartment, and one of the first thing she says is, “Ok girls….how good are you at playing Romeo and Juliet??”

Uber confused.

All I was thinking was, “well….i’m pretty good at the whole fainting thing….but the kissing thing….eh…..a little outta my league right now…” Sis Carroll just looked at me REALLY confused, so we just kinda did the awkward laugh and, “Uhhuh….what??”

She took us out to her balcony and explained, “So rather than taking all this stuff up and down the stairs to the car, I was thinking we could just lower everything over the balcony, Romeo and Juliet style.”

Good thing I do push-ups in the morning. hahaha

We actually pulled it off surprisingly well, despite really weird looks from the neighbors, and we even managed to give away a mormon.org card in the process. #likeaboss

As I was about to take down a box, our member opened it to find why it was so heavy and found their spare change jar. She then grabbed my purse, with, “Here! open your bag!” before dumping nearly $40 worth of coins into my already too-full Coach purse.

Ummmmmmm. ok.

What she didn’t know was that trying to get quarters to do laundry here can be such a pain, and now Sis C and I are are set. for. life. Yep…..service brings blessings;) (even though it took me a day and a half to dig through my purse get all the coins out:) haha! we love our members<3

On Saturday night, we carpooled with Ally to a district bonfire testimony meeting at a member’s home. All the missionaries in our district invited less-actives and investigators to attend and we hoped that it would give them an opportunity to share/discover their testimonies in a more intimate setting. We showed up, ate dinner (a.m.a.z.i.n.g. homemade pizza…..mmmlicious🙂 and the elders headed out the door to “start the fire.”

After 20 minutes or so, we followed wondering why it was taking them so long. We walked up and……..let’s just say my scout master dad would’ve been appalled. I’m no Boy Scout……but……i know for certain that’s NOT how to start a fire…..#tomboy #noshame #comesinhandy

So I stood there, wondering what to say, while the elders kept devising ways to torch the pile of sticks. Yea…….guess where this is going.

GASOLINE

of course

The member hosting the bonfire, Bro K., came splitting through the ring of onlookers with a gasoline tank, DRENCHED the wood before anyone could say anything, and then one of the match-happy elders struck up and……yea…..we just about ALL got our eyebrows singed.

 And…….of course…..the fire only burned for under 2 minutes before going out with a poof. Next idea? The elders WOULD have Axe cologne in their car, now wouldn’t they. Yep…..that came next. At this point, I feel like Sully watching Boo’s costume going through the trash machine. Shoot me.

What are they gonna think of next??


The Axe-and-lighter technique only went so far before we heard an engine buzzing and turned to see the member walking over with a leaf blower. This is getting out. of. control. But no……in comes the leaf blower, and the fire lights up, THEN the leaf blower turns off, fire dies down, AND leaf blower goes on, fire goes up…..and so on and so on.

this is going NO WHERE

Finally, after 45 min of trying to get a fire started, one of the women of the group went to her car, pulled out a packaged fire log, and shoved it into the dying fire. ONLY then did the fire perk up and stay lit so we could manage to have our testimony meeting around an actual fire. Geez laweez.

Luckily, the testimony turned out to be fantastic!! The spirit was so strong and while Ally didn’t bear her testimony, on the way home from the bonfire, she opened up to us on why she wants baptized! In her own special way, she was bearing her testimony to us–just us–for the first time, and it was SO incredibly heart-warming! I love that girl with all my heart and felt like a proud mama seeing her identifying her testimony for the first time! #priceless

We had another miracle moment this week, when we decided to do more leaf raking for those who needed it. The elders chose an investigator to serve and we showed up to help just as she was walking out the door. We told her why we’d come and asked if we could be of service. She stared at us for a moment then said, “What have you guys been taking??” This just got awkward. Fortunately, she laughed, and continued, “How did you guys know to come? Today was one of those days when everything is going wrong, and I was about ready to just cry! Then you all show up, and my day is completely turned around!!  You guys must be heaven-sent!”

tru dat

It was one of those moments when you’re like, “Yes! I’m doing my job!”  We got to talk for a while, and after serving her, the elders were able to teach her and she’s accepted the invitation to be baptized!! Service=miracles

Sis Carroll and I got creative with the whole service thing and decided to drop cookies off to some of our investigators, but make it anonymous.  Ok……well actually…….we rigged it so it was kinda like “I’ll bet I can guess who left these cookies on my porch, so maybe I should think of coming to church to thank them” type of deal.  I know. Brilliant;) hahaha! Either way, Sis C and I had fun swaggin our ninja costumes (black leggings and inside-out sweatshirts;) while doorbell ditching with treats (see below for pics…..they about sum up our lives;) haha

And last but not least, we had a prompting to drop by a potential investigator this week, and we walked up the driveway to find Dave (our investigator) sitting outside with a friend, Dan. Dave came up to us and we had a really friendly conversation about missions, what we do as missionaries, and why we do what we do. Dan sat quietly to the side, not really talking much, but clearly listening. After we’d shared with Dave a bit more about ourselves and missionary work, Dan got up, came over and said,

 “I wanna serve a mission. How do I do it??

*blink blink*

Come again??

He handed over his number, said to call him, and when we started talking about other kids he might know from the High School, he became even more interested and kept saying, “Yea! I guess I just need something more in my life.” Even Dave nudged him and said, “Yea, Dan, meet with these girls….they can help you find a path in life.”

Well, y’know Dave, we could do that for you too;) hahah! We left feeling SO grateful that the Lord had put us in the right place at the right time. This work is truly inspired. The Lord is clearly leading us to those that need us, and it’s hastening!

(Ok….so I know…..this email is getting REAL long….but just wanted to send a shout out to all my blog readers;) I love getting your letters and messages! They keep me going and I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing about how it’s helping you decide to serve and join in the work! ❤ ya peeps)

Keep on keepin on!!!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

Ok….so we had a girl’s party at our apt on P-day with the sisters in the area…….it was definitely a pinterest-worthy party.…..minus the pinterest:) #missionarystatus #missmypins

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 10728681_1524767301096733_1064992505_n

That picture just looks like it BELONGS on pinterest…..hint hint

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10726493_1527335030839960_1891971635_n

10743702_1527335057506624_1474556692_n

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Yep….we’re officially THOSE sisters;) lol

  photo 1 (1) photo 3 (1)

YES. We did donuts on a string. Mom…you should be proud;) the other sisters weren’t down….so…..we made fools of ourselveson our own;) lol

 photo 3 (2)

We got into an intense convo with the elders this week on whether or not ghosts are real. Don’t ask. Day after, we found this in the library. PMG should add this to “questions of the soul” cause apparently the elders think they’re legit. #boys

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I do pretty good as a ghost

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isn’t this kid just the living end?!?!?! AH!!! Never wanted a kid more in my life:) haha! #heartbreaker #futuremissionary

Missionaries at the Movies

We were in a lesson with Katy this week, and told her we’d take some time to answer her questions about the Book of Mormon (since she’s reading it cover to cover…..whaaaaaat:). She immediately whipped out her Mickey Mouse notebook with, “Alright…..let’s see……ok first
question: What’s a ‘seraphim’???‘”

o_O

Well THAT escalated quickly……

yea……..didn’t see that one coming but apparently I was actually paying attention in seminary three years ago when we covered 2 Nephi 16 cause we pulled out an answer from somewhere, and Katy was satisfied. John 14:26…..it’s a real thing.

“Ok…..next question: What’s the ‘Millennial Day’??”

Geez laweez girllll.

Luckily, her 15 year-old fellowshipper (member) came to the rescue after we’d tried to explain that it was related to Christ’ 2ndComing, a thousand years, no Satan, and all that jazz by saying,

“Basically, Katy….not to be a downer….but you’re probably not even going to be alive for it so…..it’s not really that important.”

She’s gotta point.

hahaha! Every lesson with them is sporadic, hyper, tangent-crazed, hysterical, and somehow way deep into doctrine……and weLOVE it;) teaching teenagers is a joy ❤ and katy is reading her scriptures and attending seminary daily, coming to church, and actively forging her testimony! It’s incredible to watch!!

Later this week, we were at the library, messaging our investigators and blogging away, when the lady across the counter from me leans over and says, “I thought you’d just like to know that there’s a guy here who’s stalking you.”

I’m sorry…..what???

She continues to go on to describe him, telling me that he just left the computer area, but that for the entire time since we got there, he’d been spying on me from across the room. I’m officially freaked out now.  And then she has to go and say…..“I have two daughters…..so I know a stalker when I see one…..watch your back.”

*nervous laughs silence blink blink “ok thanks” *

……..honestly I had NO idea what to say or do….so instead we just wrapped up quick and then played “Where in the library is Carmen Sandiego?” trying to avoid a guy in “a blue hoodie with dark hair and black eyes”…..

We haven’t spotted him yet….but we’re staying on the lookout for suspicious characters. Ah……#sismishlife

We got a referral a week or so ago that we’ve been trying to contact via phone for a while now, and we finally decided to stop by. The background info indicated that the referral’s dad had referred him. So we hit the road determined to find this referral and we ended up driving for about 10 minutes until we finally reached the address:

A  GRAVEYARD

Now that’s just mean.

I was just waiting for some candid camera crew to come running out of the bushes and for us to turn into the next youtube episode…..BUT….they didn’t. Darn it. Instead, I turned to sis Carroll with, “Maybe we should’ve contacted him sooner???”hahaha! Guess he’ll end up as a family history referral;)

This week, I swear, the e.n.t.i.r.e. ward and all of our investigators have decided to move. Ok not really….but one after another we keep being told that everyone and their dog needs help packing, moving, and unpacking. We’re LOVING the opportunities to serve and have become experts in tape gunning and dish wrapping;) Luckily….most of the people moving are just relocating in the area, but there are some (namely James!!)  that are moving for good and it’s gonna be SO hard to say goodbye.

I hate goodbyes:/

Anyways…..we also got the chance as a district to caravan to different members and investigators houses this week to offer to rake their leaves and mow their lawns. We got to help out an investigator of ours who’s recently been through some family tragedies and it was b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l. to see the difference that we made in her life! Ah! It’s indescribable the satisfaction that we get to enjoy as missionaries as we get to go out and make a difference in people’s lives EVERY DAY. #cantcompare #thepowerisreal

The other service we got involved in this week was at a community recycling event. We get there, pull on gloves and reflective vests, and then get stationed at a table where a woman instructs us, “Ok…..so we need you two girls to count all the wine corks that get donated.”

Uhhhhhhh……can we do that???

Apparently we didn’t have a choice. So as the cars started rolling in and donations started getting dropped off, we went to town tallying every. single. cork. that got donated.

get on our level

By the end of the day, we had over 1,600 corks we’d individually counted….and our hands smelled NASTY. What was weird was seeing these little old ladies handing over bags and boxes FULL of corks. Grandma…….easy does it;) haha! We enjoyed getting the community image though, and at the end, the event coordinator spilled her life history about how she dated a Mormon in HS, and how she went to his farewell, and how they never actually ended up together, but he’s “still very Mormon and very married.”

Yep….sounds about right…..that’s how we do it:)

AND speaking of Mormons…….. on Wednesday we got a special pre-screening of

——– MEET THE MORMONS! ——-

I can honestly say it’s the >BEST< movie I’ve seen in the past year….oh wait…..it’s the <only> movie I’ve seen in the past year…..hahaha. SOML. It’s probably the only time missionaries have been allowed to watch a legit showing-in-theaters movie…….YOLO. watching it somehow felt slightly (very slightly:) wrong but oh so good…

And it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!

……basically…..

I’m part of the THE coolest church EVER.

We got to watch it as a zone and you could totally tell by who laughed at the South Park reference who actually got it;) haha! By the end, I was BAWLING though!! AH!! Moms are legit. So are missionaries<3. Sitting there watching this full-length movie produced by the church and being shown across the country….I couldn’t help but sit back amazed. ALL of it was incredible, so well done, and honestly informative. It was a strong reminder to me that the God of Israel leads this church.

It’s not the prophet.

It’s not elected leaders.

 It’s not highly-educated individuals.

It’s not Joseph Smith.

 It’s not any earthly person.

God himself leads this church.

He directs it’s affairs through those He inspires and calls, and He is the One who is hastening His work to find those who will receive Him.

I get to be a part of that!

I was struck by the simpleness of each of the “Mormon’s” testimony…..we’re just ordinary people trying to follow the example of Jesus Christ, to be more like Him, and we’re just “perfect in one thing: trying to be perfect.”

That’s all God expects of us. And with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ available on the earth today, we can come closer to reaching that potential than by any other way! I’m BEYOND grateful for that knowledge! For the path that I’ve found through the teachings and doctrines of Christ, I will FOREVER be grateful!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

We had a NASTY HUGE DISGUSTING bug on the ceiling of our shower this week. Oh my gross. aaaaaaannnnd…..of course…..my comp pulled the whole “you’re the senior companion” card on me while handing me the vacuum…..

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hecka nasty……yea me too #nomakeup #ijustwannashower

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we figured he’d eventually die in there if we taped the top off…….YES…..we are whimps. #suchgirls

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ally wanted to match me on Sunday so she went and bought my exact same outfit online…….freaking. love. that. girl:) #practicallysisters #lovemyinvestigators

Drama Much??

Ok so I’ve never actually played Russian roulette…. (duh) BUT I can imagine it’s something like getting phone calls as a missionary (that might be a slight exaggeration, but whatevs…). It’s like every time the phone blows up, we panic slightly wondering which investigator has had … Continue reading