Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gettin' Back in the Groove of Things

Never been so glad the holidays are over in my. entire. life.! 


Seriously. Our town-skipping, family-visiting, vacation-taking, party-hunting investigators are finally back after disappearing to some dimension we obviously don't know about.


The past week started out really slow with people only barely getting back into town, but luckily, things started picking back up!

For about three months now (since my first transfer here) I've felt impressed to contact a certain PNI named Paris. I remember seeing her name on a list of people, and it jumped out at me. Over the last weeks and months, I've tried over and over again to get in touch with her and it's taken FOREVER, but we were finally able to set up an appointment with her this week!

After traipsing around in the snow and slush for over a half hour trying to find her apartment, we were turned around and a little annoyed. This random guy passed us as we were looking like lost little kids, and greeted us with "Hello, sisters."

Wait....did he just say "sisters"??

Sure enough. I spun back around and asked if he knew who we were. Turns out, he's a member from out of town, who served a mission in Salt Lake City and was visiting non-member family in the area for the holidays.

Fancy that.

We chatted for a bit and then he said, "Well, my sister (the one who lives in our area) isn't a member, but we're working on it, and when her time is right, I'll be sure to send her your way."

I'll take that as a maybe:)

It's crazy how the Lord works in mysterious ways to put people together and to plant seeds of faith! After that interaction, we easily found Paris' home (go figure) and no longer saw the previous mindless wandering as mindless happenstance:) #miraclesintheworks

We approached Paris' door, and after ringing, an African American woman came around the side of the house, and introduced herself as Paris:

"Hi, I'm Paris, I'll be with you guys in a minute, I'm just trying to get my dog back."

There are three things that can appropriately be know as the Triple Trouble--the 3 WORST distractions e.v.e.r.: phones, kids......and DOGS. Door approaches, Joseph Smith recitations, prayers, whole lessons, basically anything..........if there is any way for Satan to distract, he does it through those three things:

"Sorry, I don't have time right kids just made a huge mess."

"Oh sorry, I gotta take this call....thanks anyways."

"Not right dog's barking too loud and I can't hear you."

"I saw a pillar of light..." [phone starts ringing]     "Gah! Seriously!?"

"What would it mean to you to know that God has called prophets again in our day?"    [the four year-old smacks the baby and off goes mom mid-sentence]

No joke. Ev.e.r.y. of those distractions just HAS to come up. Oh frostbite. So....of course, when we heard the word "DOG".....we cringed.

Sure enough, we go around back with her to find her ROTTWEILER PUPPY bounding around the backyard like her tail was on fire, non stop frisking, running, darting, and dashing all over the lawn, street, and alley.


Just our luck. We tried for over a half hour calling, whistling, bribing, and chasing that dog, while Paris let forth every "choiceword to be said in her frustration with Lady Boss (no kidding....that was the dog's name:)

Just before restoring to calling animal control (that would have been our weekly interaction with the police:), we managed to get Lady chained and on a leash......the little devil.

Take that, Satan.

Luckily, we got to go inside and teach her the restoration. It was one of the most powerful restoration lessons I've ever taught! I could just feel the love Heavenly Father had for her and her son, little 4 year-old Chris. She's in a place where she's looking for a church where she feels comfortable and loved. CAN DO. We're anxious to see her progress and to help her come to the knowledge of this gospel!

We also got to teach Abbas and Margaret this week too!! And guess what???

THEY'RE BOTH ON DATE FOR BAPTISM FOR FEBRUARY 23rd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We could not be happier!!! Miracle moment: I was thinking about them before we taught them and when I considered when we should set their baptism date, the date February 23rd came so clearly to my mind. Turns out that's the exact same day Joseph (my brother currently serving in Samara Russia) set his investigator on date for!! Didn't know that till today!!

We're both going to be witnessing heaven's light that day, brother!!!

We've also had the chance to do service for members of our ward. This week, one night while praying, a certain sister in the ward came clearly to my mind with the direction, "Call her and offer to help her." A few days later we showed up to find that they are planning to move to Georgia, and a lot sooner than planned. Last minute, they decided to take a trip down to find a home, and we caught her at a time when she really needed our help. Obviously, Heavenly Father knew she'd be needing our help even before she or we did!! She commented, "How did you know to call me? I needed this help and the spirit must have told you! You're doing your job!"

That's the best compliment anyone could EVER give a missionary! Yay, we're doing something right! ;)

We ended up helping her pack up Christmas decorations and then despite previous "I'll call the police on you" threats, we decided to shovel their elderly neighbors driveway. Just as we started, it started raining.


But, despite shoveling thick and heavy snow, being soaking wet, and trying to shovel fast enough to stay warm, we were HAPPY! #servicewithasmile! Though perhaps cold on the outside, we were toasty warm on the inside:) Service is the best.

Speaking of weather.....ahem......on Monday and Tuesday of last week, it was colder here than it was at the South Pole.


It was so cold that one of the elders here got frostbite after being out for only 5 minutes without a hat on!! Soooo......the weather quarantine lasted for both Monday and Tuesday which contributed to the slow start to our week. Blah. But, no was 50 degrees!!! Bi-polar weather, what's a sister missionary to do?? Leggings, no leggings? Boots, or no boots? Hats, or no hats?

We girls need to know these things. #sismishprobs

Anywhoozies.....the other adventure we had this week was going over to one of the members homes at 6:30 am (do the math...yes we had to wake up earlier in order to get there.....#sacrifices:) to do the very important, highly addictive, majorly successful, extremely satisfying, and incredibly captivating

JILLIAN MICHAELS 30 DAY SHRED gym doll genes were going ca-ra-zy!!! Hahaha! It just confirmed for Sister Teare how addicted I am to working out:) I LOVED it!! Being stuck in an apartment to work out at 6:30am in the middle of the winter gets old real fast......Jillian made everything better:)


So last Sunday, one of the bishopric members asked me to speak in Sacrament Meeting, as the......wait for it........

Youth Speaker.

Ok, the last time I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting was at my farewell where I was told I was one of the "adult" speakers, "take 10-15 minutes," etc. etc. etc. and now I come out on my mission and am told I'm the youth speaker. How does that happen??


Hahaha! JK! I was glad to only take 5 minutes:) I spoke about the Plan of Salvation and it was precious being able to speak with 3 of our investigators in the audience.


Later that day, Sis Teare and I got to witness Josh's ordination to the Priesthood as well!! Once again, just as at his baptism, my heart was filled with SO much joy and happiness!!! It's unbelievable how much joy you get to experience as a missionary seeing OTHERS become happier! Ah!!! #nothinglikeit

By the end of the prayer, Yolanda, Josh's mom, had tears streaming down her face and watching them hug afterwards was a very tender moment for all of us. This church is SO true!!! There is no greater joy to be found a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e. on earth!!!!!!!

Miracle #3 for the day: right before Relief Society was about to begin, a woman who lived near our chapel walked in the back doors and said, "I'm from Korea. I've been going to Korean churches my whole life, but I'm looking for something else. I want to know what you Americans believe."

Talk about a fall-in-your-lap investigator!!! This woman practically walked into us to learn more! #blessingsfromabove

We got her contact info, and she said she'd be back next week in time for Sacrament Meeting!! We're seeing miracles happen out here, people!!

So.....despite battling sickness (again....blah:/), losing our phone in a snow bank at night and miraculously finding it again, accidentally stepping on a bat that fell from the sky right as I was walking (I was  raumatized.....that crunch squish combination is going to give me nightmares for weeks!), and almost missing an entire zone conference because of a late-read text........we're keepin' it tight.

This week, my old companion and trainer, sent me a poem that had me bawling my eyes out by the end. No matter what stage of life we're it missionary, student, parent,....anyone......He's been there before. NEVER forget that. He knows EXACTLY what it's like to suffer through your pain, your worry, your stress, your doubt, your fear. He knows. When no body else could possibly know what its like, He does! And He's not going anywhere--He's there for each of us during our longest darkest nights. Though this poem is specific to missionary life, it's message applies to everyone.  (It's kinda long, but TOTALLY worth it: READ IT ALL!!) 

He's Been There Before (By Elder Troy Whittle)

The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off his sheets

A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes
The morning activities follow- study, prayer and such
When it's time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven't accomplished much

"We have a super day planned,"
My comp. says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
"Yeah, if anyone lets us in."

With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street prepared to
Face another day of humidity and heat
It's 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
My champion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate "air Box"
We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet

It's past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep,
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep
In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to father, but I'm not sure what to say

"Oh, Father" I begin, "What happened to us today?
I thought we'd teach somebody, but everyone was away
My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we'd have knocked every street"

"Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike
Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it's very hard to see"

"Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn't your protection enough?
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff
Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back"

"And what about my family: They don't have much to say
I'm sick of not hearing from home day after day after day
Oh Father, Why am I here am I just wasting time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I'm sorry but that's on my mind"

"My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?"
The way he rides his bicycle, I don't think he can see
Now you have it, I can't go on, I don't know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you"

My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead
Sleep start to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day

I'm standing alone on the hill. The view is very nice
A man walks to wards me and says, "My name is Jesus Christ"
Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
"Arise," He states, "Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak"

My attention's towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, "Your mission is similar of what happened to me
I understand how you feel, I know what you're going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I've felt the same as you"

"I even know how you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else I could do
I know you don't like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn't equipped with 21 speeds"

"I understand you don't like sweating, in fact it's something you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from ev’ry pore, oh the agony was great!
I see you don't like your companion- you'd rather have someone else-
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth"

"It's hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
I remember when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews
So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back"

"Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way
It's hard not to hear from home when your family's not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

"We have a lot in common, but there's a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me"
He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He went back to the Father above

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
I listened and heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed
My companion let out a groan, "6:30 already, no way!"
I sat up and said, "Come on, I'll even carry your scriptures today!"

No matter what we go through,
When we feel we can't take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He's been there before!

The church is true, and the book is blue!

Love ya all!!!

Onward and Upward,

Sister Anna Parker