Saturday, December 21, 2013

These Girls Are On Fire

Oh. my. lanta.

What a crazy week. Crazy good, crazy unexpected.

Bur the new comp: SISTER TEARE!!

Gosh, I love this girl!! Off the bat bestie.....woot woot! She's from New Mexico, has a wicked sense of humor, is part Native American, and loves donuts:)


She's a joy.

Up for the crazies: So the day before transfer meeting, I was at the office with Sis. Stradling, and Elder Taggart (one of the senior office elders) showed me the pictures of all the new missionaries that were coming in. I looked over the list, saw Sis. Teare's pictures, pointed to her, turned to Elder Taggart and said, "That's my new companion."

Sure enough.

At our first planning session (about an hour after getting back to the apartment after transfers), I started us off with the uber long "planning prayer" where we pray specifically for each of our investigators, less-actives, recent converts, PNI's, leadership, members, etc. and as soon as I'd finished the 17 min prayer, I turn to find Sis. Teare's asleep.....yea, my voice has that effect. 


Despite jet lag and culture shock, Sis. Teare is such a hard worker and has jumped right into the rigor of mission life and training.

 I feel like the luckiest trainer on earth! I love Sis. Teare and we're forging forward together in the work!! Couldn't ask for a better greenie:)

A day or two later, we got to go help out at a member's home, making crackers and meatballs for a party. We'd barely got the ingredients mixing, when we realized that the preheating oven was belching smoke from some spilled roast sauce.


Oh well. We kept on cooking meanwhile the whole apartment is filling with smoke. We soon had to break out the fans, crack the windows, and......yep, eventually a fire truck showed up outside, just as we'd cleared the oven and the apartment lost it's fog.

GREAT. Ok who squealed?......

We obviously didn't volunteer ourselves as suspects and eventually they left but it wouldn't be the first time we've had interaction with the Evanston Fire Department:)


The next day we had our ward Christmas party!! It was a blast! We got to help with one of the "story rooms" for the kiddos, where we gave out Books of Mormon for them to give to their friends.

Oh, if only we still reported how many BoMs we gave away each week. We'd be bomb:)

After helping out there, we booked it to a less-active's to help her move to an apartment one floor down.

Hauling heavy stuff up and down two flights of stairs is somehow appealing to me.....#rugbydays  #missionprep #whatcanisay

We were having a good old time till............the POLICE showed up. So.....Sister Teare has a history.........jk:)

Apparently, one tenant called the police on another tenant, who then had to be cleared by a different tenant......OH DRAMA.

Learned that day how to maneuver around two cops and one suspect being interrogated while holding 30+ pounds of boxes, clothing, and furniture, all in a small 5 foot hallway.

#sisterskillz       #dayinthelife

On my next trip upstairs to get a load to haul downstairs, one of the men from the ward hands me a gold container and says,

"Here Sister, this is her (our less-active's) sister. Don't drop her."

I just blank starred at him for a second and "I'm holding a URN."



Felt so weird........TOTALLY out of my comfort zone! That was the longest haul of MY LIFE, but hey, gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Basically, I was praying the w.h.o.l.e. time, that I wouldn't drop it, and in doing so, be scarred for life.

Elevator convo with Sis. Teare:
               Me: "Agh...this is so wired!"
               Sister Teare: [just laughs]
               Me: "And it's heavy too!"
               Sister Teare: "Well yea, it's a whole body!"

GAH!! This just got 10 X WEIRDER!! Hahahahaha!!! Gotta love moments like that:)

Work-a-thon Wednesday was the start to an amazing week together. We set our goals for the week and rest of the month, and they're high! We prayed that night that The Lord would help us reach our goals as we put in the work, and sure enough, He has!!

We were able to meet our weekly goals in only the three short days we had left!! By the end of the week, we had 2 new investigators and 6 potential investigators as well!!

Hit that pavement, pound them doors! We're...


We love it, we hate it.

It doesn't always yield results, but this week it did!!

E--- and his father, T---, let us in Sunday night to teach them the Restoration (my all-time favorite lesson:). They're from Nigeria and are currently Pentecostal Christians. They were open to hearing our message though. The spirit was so strong as we began to bear witness of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith as a true prophet.

The more I teach that lesson, the more my testimony of this gospel grows. The church is SO true! SO TRUE! And knowing that, gives me such a capacity to love complete strangers and even those who reject our message.

There is power in being a set-apart full-time missionary. It's not always a physical or outward power, or even the power to teach and testify with eloquence and convincing force.

I believe it's a power to love.

To care so much about the welfare of others' souls that you give up 18 months-2 years of your life to save them.

There's no greater work that comes with greater power.

One if my favorite quotes from our District Leader, Elder Gurney (who's awesome, btw!) is,

"I paid 10 grand for this 
small piece of plastic [pointing to the name tag] 
and it's the best investment I've ever made!"


True dat. I love my tag. LOVE IT. It represents so much more than just a name badge or even a title.

It represents work. Hard work. Sweat, tears, heartache, discouragement, fear, failure, and constant effort. But it also represents success. Love, service, comfort, joy, prayer, and tender mercies.

It represents the Lord. His Atonement, everything He did for me, all that I owe's all found in those few words,

           SISTER PARKER
             The Church of
            JESUS CHRIST
         Of Latter-Day Saints

I love this work! I love the Lord!

This is His true church!! I KNOW it! I KNOW IT!! There is no greater work to be done on this earth than missionary work!

Keep calm. Stay strong.

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easy Come, Easy Go

Transfer week is the full-time missionary version of receiving a mission call...all over again.

Stress levels are through. the. roof.

So we usually receive a text around 10am Saturday morning, telling us whether or not we will be receiving a transfer call. Then, at around 9pm, we'll get the call from President.

Only this time around, Saturday morning rolls txt.

1 or two texts from other companionships start popping up: "let us know when you hear about transfers!"

2 now almost every compship has sent out a text underlined by paranoia: "has anyone gotten transfer texts yet???"

3 pm...........panic starts setting in and the text messages start flying: "have you heard anything??? What's going on??!!"

FINALLY, at 4:30 pm....."You WILL be receiving a transfer call tonight!"

Stress levels have arrived at Pluto.

Then we're forced to wait for 4 hours for "THE CALL", all the while my mind is going BIZERK.


Totally lost my appetite, and resorted to being an introvert for those longest 4 hours of my life.....THAT'S how stressed I was (Sis. Houghton, see where I'm at? :)!

THEN...President called. At 8:30 pm. "Sister Parker.......(and of course, there's a long pause......"ah, you're killing me, smalls!")

"We would like for you to TRAIN ANOTHER NEW MISSIONARY!"

Happiness levels to the sun and back!!!!!!        Yup!! I'm gonna train AGAIN!!!!

With only 17 new missionaries coming in, and so many trainers available who have done this much longer than I have, I have NO idea why they've picked me to train again!

"Well, she failed at it once, maybe we should give her a second try:)" (I know its gotta have come up in SOME meeting!)


For reals though, I'm SO excited to train again! Training really does motivate me to do my best, pushes me to grow, and teaches me to be efficient and hardworking. It's a HUGE responsibility, but I'm excited for the challenge!

So, tomorrow, I become a new momma:)                 #take2                #superstoked

Sis Stradling is going to be transferring to North Shore 2nd where my MTC companion and bestie, Sis Butler is currently serving with her greenie, Sis Raccuia. (They are the closest set of missionaries to us,
and even meet in our same chapel). 

Sis Butler is going home for medical reasons, and my heart is breaking seeing her go!! She has been my best friend ever since the MTC (and even before that, actually, thanks to FB:) and I feel like I'm saying
goodbye to my sister! I will miss her with all my heart, but this is God's will for her, and she has been an inspiration to me of trusting the Lord and facing challenge with faith and hope.

She and I were talking on Tuesday about Chicago accents, and realized that it's spreading to us.....YIKES.

SO....Chicagoans have this way of saying "yea, yea, yea" at the end of their phrases, and sure enough........IM SAYING IT!!!!

#killerrealization             #imbecomingoneofthem                   #headsupbwoston               #chigirlnow

This past Thursday, we got to go downtown [insert raise the roof motion!] for a night of Christmas music that the YSA ward put on. We missionaries were asked to perform for one of the numbers. 

After a painful attempt at coming in together, we managed to get through "Still, Still, Still"  as the last musical number, before joining in with the audience for "Silent Night."

It was all going well till we realized we were singing the the 2nd verse while the audience was singing the 1st and the conductor was singing the 3rd.

SILENT NIGHT MASHUP.                


We were all so clearly confused, mixed up, and exchanging desperate "what are you singing??" looks that if nothing else, we passed as comic relief for night.


Speaking of Christmas........Chi town is decked!! Makes me SO happy! I love love love the lights, nativities, and music!!

AND....we got SNOW yesterday!!!! (The elders couldn't resist.....flipping donuts in the parking lot MAY have occurred.......#iaintguilty)

My winter driving, shoveling, and un-stucking car skills are coming in handy with a companion from desert-dry Arizzony:) It's crazy how fast Christmas it coming up!!!! WEIRD!!! EXCITING!!!!

Oh and wasn't the Christmas devotional SO good!!!! Elder Uchtdorf's talk was my favorite.                            


The Lord has a special way of bringing you to points in your life where you feel like you can't find assurance or peace anywhere....and then an inspired message from church leaders come, and you're convinced that they wrote it just for you.


His words totally hit home for me. I left that devotional feeling recharged, comforted, and inspired.

This church must be true or something!!

And now for the weekly health update you've all been waiting for:

My consultation with the EP went well, he was a really good doctor and assured me that there's nothing seriously wrong with my heart. WHEW.  Yea, my heart beats weird, but it's nothing to be concerned
about...that's just the way its decided to tick for the rest of my life.

[insert "Just the Way You Are" lyrics.... (James, don't hate!)]

However, he said I should continue to try and figure out the whole dizziness, shakiness, exhaustion, etc, stuff going on. Sooooooo.........back to the GP I go. More doctors appointments.....


For good news though, the heart problems don't seem to be problems any more:) He thinks it could be a brain thing, though, so he suggested getting a neuro consult.

Stay tuned.........

Work wise, this week has been slow. Depressing slow. I feel like all but maybe two of our investigators can be classified as non-bipolar investigators. All the rest, it's hit-or-miss, up-and-down, progressing-to-failing status every. other. week.

It's kinda exhausting trying to keep up with all of them. We're thinking of dropping a few of them to be able to focus our efforts more effectively on new investigators.


But, even during weeks like this, The Lord is helping us become better missionaries, breaking us down, so He can build us back up.

Missions are amazing things. They're hard....not gonna lie. But they make and mold you into someone you could never be without it.

There are times when I feel like I've hit rock bottom. Like I can't keep going. Like I've failed. Like I'm not enough.

But The Lord knows that. He knows when we are spent and I'm gaining a testimony of why He pushes us to our limits: because when He pushes us to the point where we can go no further, THAT is when we find Him--on our knees in awe of His ability to take the wheel and lift us out of our pain.

A friend out here texted me this morning after we talked about the difficulties of our lives, 

"Take pride in how far you have come. Have faith in how far you can go. Trust in the work you put in."

I love it.

As missionaries, sometimes we feel like we're expected to be perfect. Perfectly obedient, perfectly dressed, perfectly versed, perfectly successful, perfectly's exhausting sometimes:)

Truth is, we're not. And we'll never be.

But as long as we try our best, learn from our mistakes, have faith in His strength, and trust in our abilities, The Lord will make up for the rest.

I'm so far from being the missionary I want to be. SO FAR. But letting that get to me is a tool of Satan's and is totally destructive.

Let it go. Do your best, leave the rest to HIM.

If I'm doing my best, then I can rest assured that I'm being the missionary The Lord wants me to be.


Keep it real. Keep it tight. But not real tight;)

(Ok, so now that I've pep talked myself.......hahaha!)

I love you all a million! Letters mean the world to me! Prayers keep me going!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

Yea, yea, yea:)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

You Know You're A Sister Missionary When...

Ok, so you already know where this post is going. Yep, it's happened. I've become an official typical sister missionary in less than 3 months. 


How did that happen?? Still trying to figure that one out, but in the mean time, here's the evidence...

You know you're a sister missionary when:

Your vocabulary becomes overrun with all sorts of abbreviations: PNI's, WOW, ZL's, DL's, AP's, STL's, FI's, LARCS, etc.

You start considering your tag an accessory for any outfit ("Look! It goes with everything!")

During teaches, you love/hate and covet/curse the awkward companion eye contact "you're-turn-to-start-talking" look

You resort to brushing your teeth in the pitch dark because its 10:31 pm

At the doctor's office, when they ask for your name, you let "Sister" out as your first name

You have to stand out in the middle of a 4-way for 15 awkward seconds because your companion failed at a u-ey 

Your dinner calendar is worth more to you than your phone

You accidentally end random conversations with "Amen"

A smile from a stranger means they're interested in the gospel

In Best Buy, you go around to all the display computers and tablets and pull up and leave it there

In Office Max, on the "try-it-out" pen pads, you write, "Check out to find answers to life's most important questions!" 

In Wal Mart, you put David Archuleta and Piano Guys at the front of the CD stack

"Popcorn Popping" is your favorite rock song

Using the word "guys" is as bad a swearing

Asking a 25 year old male stranger if you can come visit him in his home isn't weird at all

Your celebrity crush is a Book of Mormon hero

Buddy the Elf button pushing is your type of apartment buzzer board style when tracting the high-rises

You can spontaneously scripture-quote-only convo with your companion 

You see dogs being walked as conversation starters 

Getting apple cider from Starbucks feels wrong

Ah, it's great.

And there are probably a million more of these to come, so stay posted:) #lifeofasismish

So the day before thanksgiving, I get a phone call from a less-active in the ward that was looking for more than help with re-activation:

                   Him: "So what's your name?"
                   Me: "I'm Sister Parker"
                   Him: "No, like your full name?"
                   Me: "Sister Parker"


                  Him: "Well I'm not married and I live alone, and I'm looking for a new roommate....."


Yea, that conversation ended pretty quick.

Luckily, he actually did  live in the elders' area so that was a quick and permanent turn over:)

Our thanksgiving day was practically a.m.a.z.i.n.g.! VIP privileges: I got to spend it with family!!!


The Mangelson's (2nd cousins!)  had us over for a wonderful thanksgiving feast, turned into dinner and a show with little 3 yr old James being the entertainment for the night:)


They're a wonderful family and kept me from feeling homesick! Definitely one of my favorite thanksgivings ever! It's amazing, when you're on a mission, feeling like you're missing out on so much you used to have, you start to realize how much you truly have--the things that really matter most.

In prep for thanksgiving, I started a "gratitude wall" in our apartment, where we've begun to put our girly sticky notes up with everything we're grateful for. We're up to over a hundred and counting!! It's humbling and satisfying seeing how much we've truly been blessed with. When we take the time to count our blessings, we start to count more on The Lord. He's given me so much...SO much! My mission experiences are just the tip of the iceberg and he continues to bless me day after day! How does that work??


The other part of our unique thanksgiving day that's worth mentioning was our online proselyting experience at......


Felt like an thankless un-American vagabond being there on a holiday.

#whatwedoforwifi     #loserstatus

A short while after we got there, a random 50 or so year-old guy comes up and tell us that he didn't have an affair with some woman, and that if she ever asked us if "that daughter of her's is mine, it's all lies!"

You have a good day, too, sir.


Then we got poems given to us by a stranger that he'd written, "...not copies, originals!!!"



And then yet another stranger starts talking to us about a lot of problems she's having (including the police being on "their" side) and asking us for employment help.


Only at Mickey D's on Thanksgiving morning.

And only as a missionary with a name tag on do you get random strangers voluntarily confiding their lives, in public, to 19 and 20 year old youth.


Another highlight of my week, was going over to a family in our ward's house for dinner, and afterwards, realizing that their two 11 and 13 year-old sons are ping pong fans.

I couldn't help myself.

5 ping pong games later......champ of 3.


Totally brought back memories of playing with the brothers in the basement for hours on end:) I miss ya, boys!!!

The ultimate highlight of my week, however, was getting 2 new investigators!!! The Lord is good to us!! We found them tracting one day, after praying that morning over a map of our area and then choosing 5 streets to go tract. Let the spirit guide, and those people can't hide.


We've been able to teach the restoration to L---, our first investigator, and she wants to learn more!

B-- is our other investigator who has a religion already, but said he'll give anything a try. Booyah! That's our cue:)

Pray they continue to read and pray, and feel that confirmation of the truth from the spirit!

One quote I've come to love this week, is by Dr. Seuss (don't hate, it's basically doctrine:).

"Be who you want, and say what you feel, 
because those who mind don't matter, 
and those who matter don't mind."

It's easy for me to look at myself either as a missionary or as a person, and pick myself apart. I frequently let myself be defined by others, and often, by the world.

It's SO easy to fall into that trap.

What I'm coming to find though, is that it's useless trying to please the masses. No matter how popular, how pretty, how talented, how unique, how hard-working, how anything we might be, there will ALWAYS be those who won't think we're good enough, that won't be impressed, or that won't accept us for who we are.

As a missionary, it's easy to think, "If I don't meet these numbers, my leaders will think we're not working hard. If I can't answer all these investigators questions, they'll think I don't know what I'm talking about. If I don't so this or that, I'm not a good missionary, etc."

"It's a trap!"

Yea, and Satan's the one behind it all. I've started to figure out how to beat him at his game, though.


Think about it. How does the LORD feel about me? What does HE see in me? How does HE love me? And how do I please HIM?

Suddenly, we're in the winners bracket.

I'm realizing that HIS is the only opinion that matters. True, it is harder than hard to not worry about what others are saying or thinking, and only focus on Him.

But it's all worth it, because you find your true worth when you let the one who made you tell you what you mean to Him.

Ask Him how He feels about you. One of my best friends out here gave me that advice, and it's changed my life.

He'll let you know. And after you know, you'll realize how far you've come and how much farther you can go with Him as your guide. Others may try to drag you down, but no one can drag you so low that the Lord can't lift you higher.

You mean everything to Him, and He'll never let you feel otherwise if you keep your sights set on Him.

His love is real, so keep it real:)

You all mean the world to me! Keep them letters coming!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker