Monday, October 7, 2013

Didn't see that one coming!

The life of a sister missionary is never dull. There are situations you never dream you'd be in, places you never dreamed you'd go, people you never dreamed you'd meet, and things you never dreamed you'd hear and do. 


Example 1: I never thought I'd ever be at a courthouse for three hours on a Wednesday morning. I also never thought I'd be there to bail one of my investigators out of jail. Yep.  

#neveradullmoment #ever

Fun stuff, right? Sister missionaries: saving souls both literally and spiritually, one by one. 

Gotta do whatchya gotta do.

Example 2: Teaching our investigator J-- is a balancing act between staying on topic with the lesson, and spontaneous major tangents. Come my turn to teach, I'd thought I'd about figured him out. Only say this or that, don't go there, etc. etc. etc. However, I'd only barely started teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ when the words, "Holy Ghost" come pouring out of my mouth.

"Dang it. Oh no, here we go."

Sure enough, a slew of ghost stories and super-natural encounters ensued. Great. Way to go, Anna. Way to go. That day, I learned my lesson in the power of the "Spirit" to save lessons bound to be doomed by inexperienced 19 year-old greenies. 

Example 3: My birthday was....adventurous. I had multiple "firsts" as a good introduction to life as a 20 year-old. First lesson learned:

Weed. Smells. Nasty.

Oh, and it smells even nastier when it's smelled in the home of your on-date investigators. Yea, not the best follow-up appointment we've had, but, hey, we're still hopeful:) 

Second lesson learned:

Don't EVER buy IBC rootbeer as an LDS missionary, on a Friday night, in south Chicago, at Jewel Osco    

e.v.e.r.    a.g.a.i.n.

To celebrate my birthday, we though it'd be fun to get some good ol' root beer so we stopped by a local grocery store, picked out some IBC bottles, and went to check out. The cashier doesn't even look at the brand/type of drink I'm getting, she just says, "ID please." I'm thinking, 

"Girl, you serious?! I'm an LDS missionary, let's get real here." 

But, no. And being the obedient person that I am, I hand over my ID. Fail.

"How bad could this situation be, right?"   


The cashier takes one look at my ID, picks up the intercom phone, and calls, "Manager for ID approval, Manager for ID approval, Thank you." Geez Louize, are you kidding me?? And, of course, by this time, there's a line of about five people behind us. 

"Great, that's just great." 

The cashier then says nonchalantly, "The manager has to approve all out-of-state licenses." FOR ROOT BEER?? 

You've gotta be kidding me! 

Nope. Wait for half an extremely awkward minute till miss manager shows up and "approves" my ID.  

Awkward Taco.

 Totally looked like we were buying beer. We finally get out of there and I swear to never buy IBC Root Beer, from Jewel Osco, on a Friday night, as an LDS Missionary, in South Chicago, EVER AGAIN. Lesson learned.  

Other than that, my birthday was awesome! We got to help out at a food pantry, which was a very sobering experience. It totally reminded me to be grateful for everything I've been blessed with. It was heart-wrenching to see people in situations like that--young mothers with shy trailing toddlers, elderly men with limps in ragged clothes, weathered women driven cold-hearted by the oppressions of poverty, young adults, not much older than me, silent and resigned, couples quiet but pleasantly appreciative, and the one or two cheerful souls who manage to rise above their harsh circumstances and remain positive. It's sobering. It reminded me also to see difficult trials as an opportunity to become stronger, and to not let them harden me. 

The other lesson I learned this week is actually a lesson I learned from horses. 

Go figure. 

Draft horses usually weigh between 1000 to 12000 pounds. Pulling a load on their own, they can usually pull around 900 lbs--a little less than their own body weight. This record, surprisingly, isn't much less than the weight two horses can pull together if they hit the harness at different times. However, if two draft horses--even if they aren't equally matched in size or ability--hit the harness at the exact same time, they can usually pull around 9,000 pounds! Think of it!Almost 10 times their body weight! 

The same applies to each of us, whether in a relationship, a calling, or in our dealings with the Lord. We are much less in size and strength compared to the Lord. I'm reminded of that daily as a missionary. However, if I hit that "harness"--or "yoke" as the scriptures call it--with His help, I can do incredible things! The Lord also knows our ability, and will not strike out without us at His side, but we must give it our best. 

When we do all we can, he matches our efforts and together, we become a powerful team! This object lesson has given me strength to do my best, and leave the rest to Him.

Update on the investigators: WE HAVE TWO INVESTIGATORS ON DATE!!! Yes! October 19th is the big day!! They are so ready, I can hardly wait to see them enter the waters of baptism and begin a new and happy life! This gospel truly does bring incomparable joy to the lives of those who let it in!

The work is hastening! Our mission president told us yesterday, these are the times in which we have been called to gather the faithful before the latter days. I'm a part of that! We were also told that there are going to be over 90 odd missionaries in the mission by December! That's over double what it was in July!

The Lord doesn't send missionaries where they aren't needed, President said, and something great is about to happen, and we'll be here to witness it! How cool is that?! 

I'm stoked!

This work is truly rolling forth. And as a missionary, I get to witness it first hand. Lives are being changed, relationships are being mended, hearts are being softened, and angels are truly ministering to the faithful. 

This work is not easy. It's hard, a lot of the time. But, what keeps me going is knowing that this is where the Lord needs me. Whether it be for myself to learn important lessons, or whether it's for me to help other people. I don't know all that He has in mind for me, but I know that His ways are better than mine. 

There are moments (daily at this point) where I think, do I really want to do this for 18 months? This is HARD! But, I'm learning to rely more fully on the Lord. It truly is a yoke that we share. This is His work. I'm here for Him. 

Sometimes, I believe that the Lord doesn't require us to fully want to do what He asks of us, He wants us to be willing to do what He asks, and the wanting will follow. I'm sure Peter didn't especially want to risk his life and go against every law of nature in taking that initial step out onto the water towards the Savior, but he did. Yes, his faith wavered. Yes, he wasn't perfect. But, what I don't think we realize about that story is that coming out of that experience, I'm sure Peter's faith was exceedingly stronger in the power of Him to save.

If this is where the Lord wants me, I'll trust in Him enough to know that He will make all things work together for my good. He is at the helm. Everyday, I'm reminded that this is not my work. These are not my investigators, my goals, my areas, my tracting, my words. 

They're His

One more thing to think about (and then I'll end this monologue:), I'm realizing every day more and more why I'm here. It's not an earth-shattering realization. Simply put, it's because I owe it to my Savior. I owe it to Him. 

Coming from such a solid family, being raised in the gospel, having an understanding and knowledge of Gospel principles, and especially, having partaken of the "heavenly gift"--the Savior's Atonement--in my life......I owe all that I have to Him. I have been so blessed by the gospel, I don't even realize how much. I see that manifested daily by the people that I teach. Their lives are in ruins, their relationships shredded, their situations desperate. I have something that they need, and since I have that, I can't help but feel obligated to share it, even if it means spending 18 long months away from home and family and everything I'm used to. No price is too high.

This is HIS work, and my time to share in it! I truly am blessed to be called of Him to labor among His children!

Onward and upward!!

Sister Anna Parker