Friday, January 3, 2014

Ringin' in the Good Times

Christmas on a mission is so bittersweet. It's really tough being away from everything you love and are familiar with, but there's also a deep sense of God's love and appreciation for you as one of His full-time missionaries. It can be really lonely not being with friends and family, not being part of the gift-buying and present-purchasing,
and feeling like you don't really belong anywhere. But through it all, you develop a deeper compassion and love for those who experience those same feelings year after year at Christmas time.

Christmas Eve we got to spend with the Whittle and Myer families! They're both such incredible families.....there's no other place and no other people I'd rather spend Christmas with out here! It was such
a blessing and comfort, being able to be in their home that night. It was a tough night emotionally for me, understandably so. Your heart aches to feel like you belong, to be home with those you love, and to feel like you're not alone or forgotten. Being with them that night, truly eased that pain. We left feeling loved, comforted, and appreciated.

The Lord has a deep love for all His missionaries and He gives us a greater portion, I believe, of love, comfort, and peace during the Christmas season. It's beautiful, how when the usual Christmas festivities and distractions are no longer a part of your Christmas holiday an a missionary, you really come to understand and worship more deeply the true reason to rejoice....the birth of Christ. And, like Preach My Gospel promises, your understanding of the Atonement grows, and with it brings and increased desire to share the gospel!

So....we're stayin' missionaries for the time being:)

Christmas Day we woke up to open packages only after sitting in the 6:30 am dark for a few minutes, confused as to how to open our gifts when there were no parents there to tell us when.  Hahaha!

"Ready, set, go!" was as good as it got.......LAME, I know:)

We were both totally stoked by what we got in our! Thanks fam!!

After gifts, we got ready to run off to........DISTRICT MEETING.

Get dressed in an attempted Christmasy outfit, throw on some makeup, pull on boots, scarves, hats, and gloves, grab iPads, purses, phone, and keys, dash out the door, hop in the car, start the...........nope. DEAD. TOTALLY COMPLETELY UTTERLY DEAD ENGINE. ON CHRISTMAS MORNING.


Yep. Just our luck. And, of course, on a CHRISTMAS MORNING, NO ONE IS OUT. They're nestled all warmly all snug in their beds, with no visions of desperate sister missionaries dancing in their heads.


So, of course, we say a prayer, and then with no other option, we decide to FLAG DOWN CARS.

Someone shoot me. Worst. Moment. Of. My. Life.

First car starts approaching......."ah! It's a police car! Yay, this isn't weird, he's gotta be used to being flagged down. And, he's gotta help us! No probs."

The officer rolls down his window, and I explain our predicament. He then replies,

"Sorry, miss, I don't have jumper cables. If you need a tow, though, we can call the company we use, but it'll be expensive."

Well thanks for nothing. WHAT POLICEMAN DOESN'T HAVE CABLES?! Glad I can count on tax-funded public safety personnel to help me out when I'm in a tough spot:)

So he drives off, sipping his coffee, while we try another ten times to flag a car down with no success. BLAST.

Finally, frustrated and desperate, we decide to buzz people in the neighboring complex. After one awkward rejection, we finally got a guy to come down and jump us! Total knight in shining armor for two damsels in distress!! Haha!

First thing we both said when we got back in our car, with now a running engine.....

"FAITH IN HUMANITY.....RESTORED!!"  With an added fist bump to the sky.

It was a memorable Christmas:) district meeting was awesome, lunch was delicious (we got real fancy and bought ourselves Telestial pizza--Little Caesars. According to Sis. Teare, only Papa John's is Celestial Pizza), and then we got to SKYPE HOME!

It was tough seeing family--it made me realize how much I miss them all!! Love ya fam!!!!

Coming out of skyping, I just sat there and bawled. Sometimes, we girls just have to do that, and afterwards sure enough, we feel much better. Leaving the building, though, we ran into a member, with me all red-eyed and mascara-streaked.


Right as we were about to get into our car, he waved us back to the church door, handed me $20 dollars and said "Merry Christmas, sisters." I just wanted to start bawling ALL over again!! He was SO kind and it came in a moment just when I needed it! The Lord answers prayers and that act of kindness was such a tender mercy from heaven!

The rest of the day was enjoyable. We had dinner with a sweet family in the ward with two ADORABLE boys (can't get enough of those:), and then we headed to a nearby soup kitchen to help serve Christmas dinner to the homeless. We showed up only to find out that dinner had already been served 2 hours ago.

Well this is awkward.

Oh well, at least we tried. And showed our faces as willing Mormons ready to do service for the community:) we deserve kudos for something like that, right? ;)

So.....long story short...Christmas was good. Different, but good:)

On a teaching note, we had an awesome experience this week!!!!! One night this week, we were coming back from a teach and stopped in at Walgreens to grab a bite to eat. We came back out to the parking lot to leave, but right before we were about to drive off, a Hispanic man, Rafael, came and tapped on my window. I got out of the car and began talking with him. He needed directions, so I pulled out my GPS and found directions for him. I decided to write them down on none other than....wait for it...A RESTORATION PAMPHLET. It's like I think like a sister missionary or something:) haha!

I also wrote down our number on a card, handed him the pamphlet with the directions, told him we were sister missionaries for the church, and offered to let him call us if he needed further help. And off he drove.

So later that night, we're starting our planning session, and we get a phone call. I realize it's Rafael, and my first thought was that he was calling for more directions. Nope. First thing he says, "I wanna
come to your church."


Yep. He's Hispanic and tried to read the pamphlet but couldn't understand it. He asked for a copy in Spanish and asked for the address and time for Sunday meetings.


Small means, great things. We're excited to meet with him and introduce him to the Spanish elders....and all because of directions written on a pamphlet.


We also got a new investigator this week!!!! She's awesome! We actually found her one night when we went to meet with one of our recent converts, Marie. We taught Marie a lesson on missionary work and we're about to close in prayer when she opened up to us about all her efforts to share the gospel. We were kinda FLOORED, because she moved here recently from Sierra Leon and doesn't speak English very well. However, she recounted her (multiple) conversations with friends about the Book of Mormon, church, and other gospel topics. Then, out of no where, she picks up her phone, calls her downstairs neighbor, and says, "Hi, Margaret.....the missionaries are here with me. Should we come down, or are you coming up to meet them?"

We just sat there kinda stunned by this incredible member missionary!!! Lemme just say, I LOVE CONVERTS!!! They're the best missionaries and are so passionate when it comes to their love of this church. After a short while, we went downstairs, taught her neighbor the Restoration, and shared the Book of Mormon with her. The very next day, she was sitting in church, stayed all three hours, and said she loved it!!!


We're anxious to go back and teach her the Plan of Salvation!! She's from Ghana and is a sweet woman. Please pray that her interest and testimony continues to grow!! We. Love. Her!

Funny story: one night tracting, we approached a house lit by many lights and a large tv screen in the window. A guy comes to the door, and with him, a wave of weed stench.

Alriiiiiiiiighty. Here goes.

So we start our door approach, but before we can finish, his friend pushes him out of the doorway and says, "Thanks girls, but this is a good Christian home, and we're just fine."

You sure about that?? Cause I would swear good Christian homes don't smell like they're made of marijuana. Just a thought.

Haha! We had a good laugh walking away from that door:)

Sister Teare and I are continuing to work hard between trying over 40 times to make testimony videos to post to Facebook (our bloopers are p.r.i.c.e.l.e.s.s.:), killing creepy spiders in our apartment during comp study with our hymnals, and trying to not freeze our faces off in the -15 degree weather:)

It's a work in progress.

Line of the week:

Elder Ray (the Spanish elder for our area): Sister Parker, where are you from again?
Me: New Hampshire
Elder Ray: Really?? You don't act like it!
Me: What's THAT supposed to mean??
Elder Ray: You're so normal!


Hahaha! Oh elders. We love em:)

The work is sweet, the blessings great! I love and miss you all!! Keep the letters coming!!

Onward and upward!

Sister Anna Parker

Christmas Eve Dinner......canned clam chowder and a freezer-burned roll. Gotta keep the fam bam traditions alive:)

The extent of our Christmas decorations.....and our chairs waiting to be visited by Santa:) 

The adieu:(    (and me trying not to cry:)