Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Last night, at our dinner appointment, we were playing the "Family Dinner Game of Questions" with a family, when the card was drawn, 

"Would you like your life to be made into a reality TV show?"

I probably SCARED the poor kid, because "NO" came pouring out of my mouth before he'd even finished. haha!

Why? Cause my life could actually be a reality TV show. Seriously


And a new season would be out e.v.e.r.y. week.                                       #lifeofasismish

For reals, this week has been another type of crazy. Honestly, probably one of the hardest weeks of my mission thus far. JOY.

First up, WE GOT OUR iPADS!!!! 


Uber exciting. It still feels kinda weird having one, but it's a good weird. Basically, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. we do now, is with our ipads:

Weekly planners                                #oldschool
Area book binders                            #oldschool
Paper-copy ward directories       #oldschool
Whiteboard goals                              #oldschool
Monthly calendars                           #oldschool
Flip-chart visual aids                       #oldschool

We're in the know now. 

We even got them delivered by Santa (see pics below)! #missionarychristmas #iwasntkidding

We're still in the process of figuring out how to use the Church-issued software, updating our digital area books, adding contacts, setting up area emails, etc. but it's a JOY RIDE!


On the down.....

So, I went in to the cardiologists on Thursday and after sitting in a waiting room as the only person under 80 years old there to see a cardiologist and an hour long appointment, they set me up for chest x-rays, a stress test, and a "rushed referral" appointment with a Cardiac Electrophysiologist. Whatever that is. 

Basically, I don't have an arrhythmia, its just an irregular heart beat that beats regularly. However, I feel like there's more to the story than their telling me (probably because they could already tell I was FREAKING out about the whole thing), so.......more doctors appointments. JOY.

They were able to get me in for the stress test the next day, and after hooking me up with a million different wires to the point where I looked like a WALKING SOCKET STRIP, they had me walk and then run on the treadmill.

So the nurse explains to me how it all works: 7 stages to the test--7 speeds along with 7 inclines.

Here's how it went:

         Stage 1: "Pshhhh....this is nothing. Just a stroll through the park...."         

         Stage 2: "Mmmmm....Life is good, spirits are up, feelin good..." 
         Stage 3:  The Cardiologist comes in and says, "Man, you're not even breaking a sweat! Nice! Keep going!" "Gee thanks! Still feelin' good....."          

         Stage 4:  Start running. And running 4.5 mph at a 16 incline. And "Ok, time to get this workout going!"   

         Stage 5:  Nurse: "Now you'll be running at 5.4 mph at a 22 incline." "Gah! For serious!? I didn't even know they made machines with inclines that tall!!"           

        Stage 6: Somebody shoot me. Then the dizziness set in. Duh, I'm basically being asked to run up a wall--6 mph at a 24 incline!!!

No wonder they call it a STRESS test. Geez laweez. 

(I was glad when it was all over, even though it felt good to be able to work out that hard since mission life makes it difficult to get in a blaster workout like that!)

They made me stay there till my heart rate was down, and then said I could leave. I took a quick run to the restroom to freshen up and, lo and behold, I


Yea. In the Cardiologists bathroom. Swell. Try explaining that one to the nurse. Awkward maybe?

"So I just passed out in your bathroom after you put me on a treadmill and asked me to run my heart out....."

I did learn though that if you want to get help from anyone ASAP at a doctor's office, just drop the "I fainted" bomb, and the hive'll start buzzing. So off I go:

More wires. More monitoring. More juice and crackers. More heart rate print-outs. More nurses. More doctors....

Eventually, the cardiologist said nothing looked out of the norm, so they let me go, still unsure why I passed out. SO, my next appointment is on the 9th of December, and till then, I'm supposed to do the best I can with the dizziness, fatigue, shakiness, and possible fainting. JOY.
On the up side, we got a former investigator upgraded to current investigator!! We met with him, and he's agreed to keep meeting with us, attend church, and start reading the Book of Mormon again. JOY!

We also had three of our favorite investigators (they're all our favorites, actually:) go Where's Waldo on us this week. No answered phone calls, texts, and even when we dropped by one night with all the lights in the house answer. JOY

"We know you're in there!" 

Been tempted SO many times to say it. 

It was a really hard blow losing them. Really hard. Its times like this that you feel like you've failed, and you have continually remind yourself that others have their agency and that despite whether or not they accept the gospel, you've planted seeds of faith, and perhaps one day they'll grow into something! 


Our other investigators are slowly, but surely making progress, though! We've had 3 in-member's-home lessons within the past 2 weeks! It's incredible, the difference in the spirit that comes when you bring investigators into a home where there's already such a spiritual atmosphere--it's noticeably more powerful! 

Y-- and N-- are taking steps towards baptism. It's slow at times, but they've got their sights set, and their goal is the font! It's priceless seeing how the gospel is beginning to change their lives, their hearts, and even their desires. 


This week we also got to go on exchanges, so I got to work for a day in DOWNTOWN. We also got to do some service in SOUTH CHICAGO where (I kid you not) nearly e.v.e.r.y. window has a 


or some other type of similar sign, posted in broad sight for all to see. #feelinsafe #feelinscared

Needless to say, I haven't stopped itching for more of So-Chi since:) Gonna be back.....

This week the Lord's also really been teaching me more about His love. With all the struggles I'm facing, there are times when I get home from teaching an investigator "God loves you and has a plan for you to become happy" and yet I kneel down at night, thinking, "Where are you?" However, this week, I've learned just how close He is, in the same moment when He seems so far away. 

He is always there. 

He always answers prayer.

And He always sends help when we need it.

It's completely true, our trials may not be taken from us or our struggles dissipate entirely. We're here to learn how to endure well. However, if we need help in order to endure, HE SENDS IT.
It's our job to recognize that help when it comes. THAT is how I've begun to notice how close the Lord truly is. He's sent me angels--others around me--to administer to me. He's sent me small packages of joy in little moments throughout the day. He's answered the small and seemingly insignificant desires of my heart--desires I didn't even bother to pray about, they seemed so unimportant. But He knew they were there. And He knows how to help us, if we but ask. 


Even for the small things. Pray for tender mercies. Pray to recognize them too. They're there. Daily, I'm coming to understand and recognize them better. He is at our side, His hand istruly at work all around us. If we but have the faith to see, we will know. 

Don't be afraid to ask Him for anything.

Don't hesitate to tell Him everything. 

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11)

He may not take all our pain and struggle away, but He will ALWAYS send us help and assistance. ALWAYS

There is true JOY to be found in that!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker


So-Chi Service Team! (Don't worry, the three on the left are not breaking the Missionary No-Contact Zone 'cause they're not missionaries:) 



Monday, November 18, 2013

Jedi's, Ho Ho's, and Black Cadillacs

What. A. Week. 

Somebody spilled the beans to Satan that we've been listed to receive iPads in a week, because our lives have been CRAZY.

But, y'know the quote, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"? Yea, Satan hasn't heard that quote because he can't seem to remember who comes out on top  e.v.e.r.y.  t.i.m.e.  (1 Nephi 22:15). 

Sunday morning, we wake up to a red alert text message:  flash flood warningsGreat. This would happen on a SUNDAY of all days. 

Wagers were placed on investigator attendance at church and sure minutes later: 

                            [Phone rings]

                            Me: "Hello, this is Sister Parker........oh, uh huh......really......ok.....So you won't be able to                                   come to church today because it's raining and your car is outside?" 

Good excuse. NOT.


It's rain, people. Investigators at Sacrament Meeting numbers for this week: a big fat  0 

Thanks for nothing, Satan. 

On the bright side, the accompanying hurricane winds have now provided us with every missionary's dream: SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES!


So, lesson learned of the week:  Satan doesn't always think things through when he sends torrential rains to torment innocent sister missionaries. haha!

This past Friday, Sis. Stradling and I decided to focus our efforts on finding more people to teach, since half our investigators are now with the elders (don't get me started:). 

We began tracting one night, after a particularly long and difficult day of dropped appointments and physical ailments. In my heart, I prayed that we'd somehow, someway, enjoy our next hour of door-to-door doctrine deliveries. 

Sure enough, that prayer went straight up, and blessings came straight down.

Door #1:    A jewish man wearing a kippah comes to the door.
                   Me:  "Hi, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day....."
                   Man:  ", no, no,....[shaking his hand at us].....this is not the address you are looking for."
                   Split second later in my head: "I am a missionary! Your Jedi mind tricks do notta work on                                me...only baptisms...." (in my best Watto voice).

Name that movie. 

Haha! Gosh, I'm such a nerd sometimes. (Uncle John, you should be proud of me). Well, one failed door approach to a Jedi Jew....check. 

Door #2: Nothing

Door #3: Nothing

Door #4:    A big black guy wearing multiple gold chain necklaces and a wife-beater comes to the door, clearly skeptical of two 19 and 20 year-old girls knocking on his door at 4:30 pm on a windy rainy night. Go figure. I'd be terrified too. He doesn't open the glass door, but instead stands there talking to us, all the while we're huddling there, craning to hear what he's saying. Eventually, we catch on that he's a "believer" but that he's had medical problems which he's still waiting on God to help him with. 

                  Me: "Well, we are here to share a message about how God can help us in our time of need, and how                   He is aware of us and loves us individually."
                  Him: "Ok, well, pray then."
                  Me: "Uh, ok. Um, right now??"
                  Man: "Yea, pray."

[Proceed to awkwardly stand there and pray, while he and his teenage son (who he grabbed to come and listen) stand behind the glass door and watch us. Not weird at. all.]

 After we're done praying, he nods and says, "Allllllriiiiiight. Ya hungry??"  "" He then yells at his son to go get us some food. More awkward standing there. A couple seconds later, the son comes back to the door and we're handed (very cautiously) around the door:

Ho Ho's and Microwavable Apple Pie.


Thanks? Well, he said we could come back, and finally gave us his name, reached his hand out the door, and shook ours, while saying, "I'm an ex-marine, so here....shake my hand, and my strength will rub off on you." 


Felt pretty special after that. Then he says, "I know you're God people. And now that I've shaken your hand, I think your God power has rubbed off on me."

That could be too. 

Eventually, right before we're tearing ourselves away from his door, he calls to us and says, "Hey, do me a favor, when you walk out of my driveway, give my black Cadillac a quick rub. It's been running funny lately, and needs some help from you God people." 

How are you gonna say "no" to that?? Awkwardly agreed, walk down the driveway, and sure enough,


Hahaha! Totally weird, I know, but we did it! Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and his car will start working, and he'll know it's 'cause of us "God people," and he'll let us teach him, and he'll get baptized, and we'll baptize his family, and then his son will serve a mission, and he'll baptize people, and, and, and,...:)  And it all started with a Cadillac rub. 


So, our work is going pretty well. Our investigators are getting there, our tracting is entertaining (that's an understatement, actually), our service is rewarding, and our ward is bomb. 

J-- and E--, our recent converts, are still the love of my life! Teaching them the new-member lessons such a powerful experience They're growing in the gospel, growing in faith, and growing in testimony! It's a priceless opportunity to be a part of their lives at this time!  

Our ward is awesome. It makes me so excited to see members stepping up to get involved with investigators, fellowshipping, and sharing the gospel with their friends. It gets me pumped. 

On a side note...

Foreign-serving missionaries think  us states-inaries don't get cultured. False. We've had Indian food, Thai food, Japanese food, African food, Mexican food, and Italian food, all in 6 days of eating at wardies. The 7th day was American food, but still. 

Let's get real here. 

We're meeting people from all over: Haiti, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Poland, Mexico....


So, with the new opportunity to share the gospel online, I've been able to friend all the less-actives in our ward on Facebook. This week, I received a one-line message from one of them: "Tell me of your love of this gospel." 

That was it.

For a second, I was forced to really think about how to reply to such a deep question in a short FB message. I took the opportunity to share my testimony with him. In response, he reached out and told me about his past experience with the church, trials he was currently facing, and of his desire to return to the truth. It was a precious moment for me! We are hoping to visit him and his family this week to try and do all we can to bring them back! 

His question has caused me to reflect on my answer to the question, and the emotions that motivated him to ask. He wasn't asking for how I knew it was true, or how I gained a testimony, or even what I believed.  He wanted to know of my love of this gospel.

Why do you love this gospel? 

If someone were to ask you that now, what would you say? What does your testimony really boil down to? When we're able to answer that question, that's when sharing the gospel becomes natural and personal. Just tell them why. Tell them why you love this gospel. Why you believe.Why you are different. 

I love this gospel.
I love it because it brings me closer to my Savior.
I love it because it brings me assurance that God is my Father, who knows and loves me infinitely.
I love it because it gives me the knowledge of my purpose here on earth.
I love it because it shows me how I can become better, and in turn, happier.
I love it because through it, I find answers to my questions.
I love it because it brings me peace and comfort.
I love it because it is full of light and truth.
I love it because it's true. 

I know it. I live it. I LOVE IT!

This gospel is true. 

Believe it! Share it! Cherish it! 

Quick update on the health: my doctor's appointment had to be moved to this coming Friday, so no new news yet. The dizziness is getting worse, though, so I'm hoping for answers soon. Bleh. It's been an effort to keep up with the demands of our week, but I'm relying on His strength to pull me through. Keep them prayers comin:) 

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

 Ho Ho's and Apple Pie, from our ex-marine:) 

#truedat elders

Dr's appointments....blllllllaaaaahhhhh.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lovin me some technology

No wonder I have heart problems. Headquarters keeps springing stuff on me. First it was Facebook, then it was training, now....did I mention??


Oh, but wait, it gets better.....


Sign me up for a mission, all over again. Seriously.


Yup. We get our own individual ipad and at the end of our mission, we get to take them home with us! It's not like that's making me feel trunky at all. #sheesh

It was announced last Friday, and we get them on Wednesday of next week! Ahhhhh!!! 


We don't know yet what type of parameters as well as "instructions for use" accompany this new privilege, but either way, I'm in. Sign me up.

Already my mission mind wheels are winding up with ideas of what's next.....hologram missionaries maybe? hahahaha! That'd be legit. 

Anywhoozies, our week was crazy busy! We had SO much to do, which is even crazier since we lost half our area to the elders. We're excited to see where all this busyness takes us. 

So with Fall being in full swing here, we've hit the drawing board again for new finding ideas. At the top of the list: offer to rake leaves. 

Strategize. Plan. Execute. 

Result? 1 PNI, 1 Referral, many weird looks. 

What?? Girls can rake leaves in pencil skirts and boots...


It's actually been a good door-opener-keep-opener. We met a very friendly African-American man who welcomed our offer to help rake and said he'd like to hear more from "2 young people out on a beautiful Fall day, doing whatever they can to help the world become a better place."

'Bout sums up our lives. 

We're setting up a teaching appointment and possible a ward service project for him this week. Blessing lives is truly the most blessing work!

Update on the health: Soooooooooooo......blood tests results came back. No anemia.


 Bad news: My iron levels were "dangerously" low. 95-100 range is normal. Mine: 26.  Classified: not normal.


In the process now of getting those back up to normal, which is supposed to help with the light-headed episodes. The GP is still concerned with the whole "ventricular bigeminy"  going on, though, so I'm seeing the cardiologist this Friday. Lucky me.

All in all, the dizziness, shakiness, and light-headedness (that's too many ness's:) is just wearing on me. I know something's wrong, but I'm in the "don't admit it and it might go away" mode. I'm starting to reach the end of that rope, though, and just want this all cleared up. Hopefully, I'll have more answers by next week. 


The training's going pretty well. I continue to be amazed by how well the Lord knows each of us. He puts us in situations, companionships, areas,  missions, callings, relationships, etc. that we, from our perspective, feel we can never succeed in. The work seems too hard, the effort too great, the difficulties too overwhelming, the people too problematic. But the Lord, in His gentle wisdom, knows that no growth comes without stretching.

I'm feeling stretched. 

This is a whole new hard. It's newand it's hard. There are some days when all I can do is hit the pillow at night, hoping tomorrow will be better. But those days build me. I don't recognize it then, but eventually, at some point, the Lord leads me to a look out, where I can see how far I've come. 

Sometimes, I'm tempted to skip the view, and instead stare at the course yet to be climbed. That's when the Lord gently reminds me that right now, right here, is my biggest and best. The most beautiful view I've ever seen, is the one I'm seeing now. This is the farthest I've ever come. He points the view out to me, and sure enough, I begin to enjoy the journey more. 

Stop fretting over the future, stressing over the struggles, and dwelling on the drudgery.

Note to self...

"Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!" Gordon B. Hinckley   

The work is well, and the blessings great. We cannot fail for the God of Israel leads this camp!

Staying strong, loving on.

Onward and upward!

Sister Anna Parker

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'm a MOMMY!!

Should've known this would happen. After only 6 short weeks of being a missionary.....


Be careful what you pray for. My wish list before and during my mission thus far has gone something like this:

Pre-mission: I can't wait to be a trainer eventually! It'll be so much fun!

Week 1: OK, so I don't know everything, but that's OK. I'll get to the point of trainer-material eventually.

Week 3: OK, forget it. I don't want to train. There is WAY too much to learn here!

Week 5: Yep, don't make me a trainer. I couldn't do it.

Week 6: interview with the President: Snap. Well, here goes nothing. Ready or not, you're a trainer!!!! Yay?

I'm now the proud mamma of Sister Stradling! She's from Arizona and is a joy to train! She's talented, spiritually strong, ready to work, and quotes movies just about as much as I's great.

To clear up any confusion, NO, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING.

"Wait, what's the definition of a PNI versus an FI?"

"Hold on, the address for one of our investigators was never written down??"

"Um, I don't know how to report mileage on the car. Is that bad?"

My poor District and Zone Leaders just got new full time jobs: answering Sister Parker's unending questions. 

All in all, it's a steep learning curve, but I'm climbing it! Learning as I go, and trusting the Lord won't let me fall too hard when I make mistakes like....oh, y'know, leaving the car lights on all night on Saturday so we have no battery left to go to missionary ward meeting on Sunday morning. 

Things like that. 

Luckily, my companion is bomb and puts up with my craziness. And because of it, we have a lot of fun on our "adventures."

One adventure, in particular, that's worth mentioning happened on Saturday, when we went to help out at a member's home, loading up a trailer of belongings to be put into storage. 

Sounds like we're being helpful, right?

Well, we tried. Until we got in the elevator. Floor 1 to floor 2....what could possibly go wrong? Well, apparently, fate drew our names out of the hat box that morning, because 20 seconds later we hear a thud and then...nothing.


1 minute...5 minutes...10 minutes. Nothing.

Me: "So, I guess we should do something along the lines of trying to get out of here."

[Look over our options on the panel board. Button #1: Fire Department.]

Me: "Yea, no. I'm not calling the fire department over this!"

[Button #2: HELP]

Me: "This one looks promising. It probably calls the maintenance guy for the complex."

Wrong. Ohhhhhh, soooooooo WRONG.

"Ring....ring......ring....."This is the Evanston Fire Department. Are you trapped on an elevator?"


Me: [awkward laugh] "Uh, yea....."

And about 40 minutes later, we finally walk out of our 5 x 7 prison cell with an awkward "Thanks, appreciate it." 

Better yet, no one knew where we were the whole time. 


I guess no one questioned the fact that the Sisters only showed up for about 10 minutes at the beginning of the service project and then randomly show up at the very end after all the work's been done. 

Oh well.

At least Sister Stradling and I got in a good hour-long heart-to-heart conversation, since we were stuck with nothing else to do. #blessingsindisguise

The other big news this transfer brought was WE'RE SPLITTING THE AREA WITH A NEW SET OF ELDERS.

Duhn, duhn, duhn...


It's SO hard handing over half your investigators to two 19 year old boys you don't know, but they're an awesome set of elders, and we know they'll take care of them.

It's been a little bumpy adjusting to the new proselyting boundaries, member fellowshipping, meal schedules, area book organizing, etc. that comes with a new set of missionaries in the area, but it's good to know we have added support and manpower (literally, man power:).

While visiting one of our investigators for the last time before handing him over to the elders, we began talking to a woman, L---, who began asking us questions about our beliefs. Let's just say, we lost one investigator, but got another:)


In other news.....some of the same problems I was experiencing before the mission (fainting, dizziness) started coming back a few weeks ago:/ At first, I didn't pay much attention to it, but it's been getting worse, to the point where my trainer called President's wife to tell her I needed help. 

Following orders, I went in, and basically, the whole "irregular regular" heartbeat diagnosis I got post-mission, was brought up again. 

Now, with the fainting, dizziness, light-headed episodes, etc. they think it might be related. Sooooo.....
they're referring me to a cardiologist.


While I tend to make everything into horror-story-turned-into-my-life  worst-case-scenarios, the doctor assured me that she thinks it's nothing to be too concerned about, though, it is unusual. 

They did an(other) EKG, blood work, and rhythm strip test, and confirmed that it's not a normal heart beat so off to the cardiologist I go next week, much to my chagrin.

Don't know how I feel about all of this.

Kinda panicked. Nervous. Unsure. Like I'm going to die from a heart attack at age 20:) No, it's not really that serious, but still, the word "unusual" doesn't sound good to anyone. 

Pray it all works out.  

On a happy note, our two baptisms on Saturday--that was the most joyous day of my mission thus far!!

I wrote in my journal that night, "I didn't know I could experience such happiness! Today was truly a beautiful joyous day!"

E--- and J--- both received the sacred saving ordinance of baptism! My heart overflowed with love for them as I watched them enter those waters, their faces beaming! 

I was near giddy with joy! It's missionaries, we get to look through "heaven's lens" (as our ZL puts it) and receive a portion of that excitement and joy which God must feel as two of His precious sons made such a crucial step towards eternity with Him. It was beautiful. Truly, beautiful! 

There is no other feeling like it. 

All the heartache, the disappointment, the challenge, the let-down, the fear, the homesickness, the long hours, the discomfort, the demands, and the that that 2 seconds of them being immersed in the water and brought back up again.....


J--- and E--- have changed my life. They've brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined. And in some small way, I hope I've brought them some of that joy and love which I know Heavenly Father has for them! 

These blessings are priceless!

(If you'd like to write a note of encouragement to either of them, you can send them to me, and I'll pass them on!)

For my personal studies, recently, I've been studying an article called, "The 4th Missionary." It's phenomenal.

The author prefaces it by promising that if understood and implied, it will change your life. 

It's changing mine.

It's food for thought. Deep thought. More meat than milk. And it's motivated me to reflect on my attitude and performance as a missionary. 

Bottom line, there are three types of missionaries (or saints of God):

  1.   Those who are disobedient, who fail the Lord and are sent, or request to be sent, home.
  2. Those who are disobedient, but who finish their mission, never being caught in their disobedience.
  3. Those who strive to be obedient, righteous, powerful missionaries, but who, deep down, still long for their old life, their own will, etc.. They serve with all their might and strength, but without their heart and mind. They are never truly happy in the work. 
  4. Those who serve the Lord with everything they are. They come to submit wholly to His will, keeping both eyes on His glory and His work. They are exactly obedient, find happiness in the all they do, despite hardship, and they serve with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. 

It's a lot to take in as a missionary. I ask myself again and again, "Am I being that type of 4th missionary? Am I giving all I am to Him?" It's a continual process, day in and day out, but I hope to become that kind of missionary--that kind of missionary who leaves to go home, wishing the mission would never end! The kind of missionary who looks back with no regrets, who loved every minute--both the easy and the hard--of the mission! 

I want to be fully invested in this work!

The church is true! The work is sweet! The harvest is plenty! And God is faithful!

"We are all enlisted!!!"

Onward and upward!

Sister Anna Parker