Friday, October 31, 2014

Died and Gone to Heaven

Out of all the haters I've met on my mission, BORN AGAIN's are the worst. Don't ask me why. They've cursed me off their lawns, told me I'm going to h--, and one once yelled at me, "May God send you what you deserve!"

That's when I just played dumb and said, "Aw thanks!! That's so nice of you! God bless you too!" before they slammed the door in my face. Aaaaaaaaannnddd.....that's when Luke 5:9 comes to mind.....

"'Walk it off....just walk it off!' 'Ok....'" (if you can name that movie...I'll be SO impressed:)

This week, though, I actually met the nicest born-again Christian ever.

We had exchanges this week and I left Libertyville to work in Lake Zurich for the day with one of the sister training leaders. As we were driving around in the pouring rain, I noticed a small hole-in-the-wall shoe repair shop. I remembered that I needed my winter boots repaired and thought about maybe bringing my boots there the following P-day. It soon left my mind, though, as we got on with our day, and I left the area that night.  

However, last P-day, we were driving around and I was hoping to go to a strip mall near us to just buy new boots. We called two ward members to lived nearby, put the address in our GPS, and drove for almost an hour and a half, around and around Mundelein trying to find the store, but with 0 success.

**you've got to be kidding me**

 I was getting frustrated, wondering why we couldn't find such an obvious shopping center, when I realized we'd ended up in Lake Zurich, far out of our area. Still frustrated, I kept giving Sis Carroll driving directions to get us back to our area, until we reached an intersection and I noticed the little shoe repair shop again. I immediately felt drawn to it and asked Sis Carroll to pull off. 

Still unsure if this was a good idea, I took my boots out and we entered the shop. As soon as we walked in, "Nearer My God To Thee" came floating through the air and we looked around to notice big hand-written signs all around the shop with "Jesus loves you, love others!," "Believe in Jesus who can SAVE!," "God is with us, have no fear!" and many other phrases written in bright red paint. 

>> died and gone to heaven<<

We just stood there kinda dumbfounded, til a short Greek man with a thick accent came out of the back with a gold cross around his neck. I showed him by boots and he gave me a steal of a deal to fix them. Dope. 

Just as he was about to return to his work, I felt prompted to ask him about the signs and about his "conversion." He stood there with us for over a half hour, and told us his ENTIRE conversion story; about how he'd been a gang member in Chicago and had committed "the most vile sins" but how a man had come into his shop one day and asked him about baptism. Over time the man returned again and again, giving him a Bible, and eventually converting him to Christianity. 

I was amazed at his faith and began telling him about the Book of Mormon. He hasn't read it (and because of his "born-again" beliefs, isn't quite enthusiastic about reading it....) BUT......when we returned again the following week, he took it from us and said he'd save it for a rainy day.

good nuff

I walked away from the shop, realizing that God had had a hand in directing me to this man all along. While I'd been frustrated about not being able to find an obvious shopping mall (which...turns out...we'd been right around the corner from about a half hour earlier:), He had a bigger plan in mind.  God always has a reason for everything:) Definitely went to be that night on some apologetic prayers for getting frustrated;) hahaha

2nd P-day miracle (i swear...good things happen on p-day;): we went grocery shopping missionary style......a.k.a. scrimp on produce, buy everything else on clearance, and only get the bare necessities, because you're not sure if you'll have enough on your debit card to last for the rest of the month.

True least for sisters.

Elders on the other hand.....ehhhh.....I've legit heard the following from them,

"I ran out of money (all $140) by the fourth of the month"

"Do you know if there's a way to get food stamps on your mission?"

"Man.....Costco....that place does things to your wallet"

"Is it bad to ask for left-overs from members?"

"I don't know if spending $100 bucks at Walmart was a good idea"

"Gosh, no one ever told me that milk was THAT expensive!"


Missions are good a number of ways. #budgeting101 #realworldproblems we got to the checkout after shopping, and just as I'm about to swipe my card to pay, the woman who was in line before us, returned to the register, and said, "allow me" as she swiped her card. I stood there kinda taken back, as she said, "I'm from the other ward, and I LOVE MISSIONARIES." She then paid for my companions groceries as well, before hugging us and then walking away with, "God Bless!"

Gosh, it's days like that that you can't help but know that God's there watching out for you! #tendermercy That woman will never know what an impact she had on me, but I definitely left the store that day, feeling determined to go out and change someone else' day! Ah! 
The Lord is good:)

Oh and while we're on the topic of food.....we went to zone activity this week (basketball (!!!!!!) and pumpkin carving) and showed up in time to find all the elders in the RS room, attempting the 100 CHICKEN NUGGET CHALLENGE.

Ok.......there's dumb....DUMBER....and then the 100 chicken nugget challenge.

Basically, three of them were seated around a table, each trying to scarf 100 chicken nuggets in once sitting. The rest were sitting around egging them on, and Sis C and I just stood there appalled.

"You're kidding me, right??"

Yea NO. AND.....did I mention that this all went down BEFORE basketball even started? hahaha! Elders.....elders.....elders. They only got to the 80's before puking in the bathroom. Yea, sometimes, I really don't understand guys. lol

Later this week, our ward had a Halloween party that was the bomb. We had multiple 
wardies come up to us, telling us they'd brought friends, and then took us over to meet them! It was amazing!! I also ran into two young women who'd both stolen my identity:) hahaha! #lovethem #immahalloweencostumenow #claim2fame

We then got roped into sitting in the back of a ward member, Bro A's car, and hiding under a blanket for Trunk r' Treating. We'd sit there, Bro A would put candy on our laps, and then tell the kids to grab the candy. Since it was dark, they couldn't tell that there were people under the blanket so we'd try to grab the kids' hands as they reached for the goodies!! Oh. My. Lanta. SO much fun!! hahaha! The kids had a blast too, and at one point when the blanket accidentally fell down, one of the girls burst out laughing when she saw it was the sister missionaries with, "Sister Parker!! I TRUSTED you!!!" bahahaha! It was for sure a "bonding" experience with all the kids in the

And last, but not least, we hit record number of teaching appointments in this area this week!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!! We are s.t.o.k.e.d. We set some pretty high goals and then did everything we could to reach them, and it worked!! The Lord has really been blessing us and we're seeing our efforts rewarded! #standardofexcellence #onthatlevel

And as for a spiritual take-away from the week, I've come to realize more and more that love truly is the essence of the gospel. A friend, whose since finished his mission, told me that the greatest love of this work comes through loving others to the greatest. He couldn't have been more right. He also told me how important it is to lose yourself in that love. Forget about what others think, and throw your whole self--your real self--into loving other people in the way that only you can love.

It's so true. Sometimes, ya just have to love like there's no tomorrow<3

Keep calm, love on!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

YES. #nailedit #NaaaaaachoLiiiiiiibre
 (this was definitely another halloween party fav;) lol!!)

it aint a halloween party ..... till candy apples are made

more birthday presents from the wardies one month later.....yes i have the coolest ward ever

always have time for selfies

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Honest Truth About Missions

"So are you getting paid to do this?"


"Are you getting some kind of school credit?"


"What about church promotion?"


"Well how about community recognition?"

"Definitely not"

"Then why would you EVER choose to do what you're doing??"

He had a point. I'd been talking to one of our investigators about missions and how we work as missionaries, and his final question wasn't foreign in my mind. I'd asked myself that question many times. 

You asked for honest. Here's honest.

I believe many--my pre-mission self included--have a warped opinion of what it's like to be a missionary. Before I put on the tag, I had only a vague idea of what it was really like to actually be in those shoes.

I thought they were perfect.
I thought they were always happy.
I thought they loved every minute of their service.
I thought they were invincible.
I thought they didn't have a care in the world.
I thought it was probably hard work, but easy to love.
I thought they were almost always successful.
I thought that it was easy for them to sacrifice.

It seems like a lifetime away since I lived life not as a missionary. In the time that's followed--now 14 months into my mission--I've come to see missionaries and missions in a completely different light.

"Sister Parker, missions are 98% hard work, struggle, disappointment, difficulty, sorrow, and even pain. 2%.......2% is pure joy," my mission president told me during one of our first interviews together.

He was right. SO right.

Here's the honest truth: missionaries hide a lot. Sometimes it's behind a smile as someone slams the door in our face after cussing us out. Other times it's behind closed doors when we fall to our knees, sobbing and begging for the help of The Lord to carry us through. And at other times, it's only disclosed in a simple journal entry reading, "Why aren't we seeing more success?" or "Why is this so hard??" Investigators don't see the tears we cry the night they've told us they're no longer interested in meeting with us. The strangers on the street don't see our hearts sink when they refuse to listen and instead call us names. The family members back home don't see the long sleepless nights when we can't think of anything but the faces of those we miss. The members don't see our pain when ten minutes before church, an investigator calls to say he won't be able make it. And even our companions don't always see our exhaustion after a long and difficult day.

Let's get raw:

I'm not perfect.
I'm not always happy.
I don't always love every minute of it.
I'm not invincible.
I struggle.
It's hard back-breaking work, and not always easy to love.
I'm not always successful.

And it is HARD to sacrifice.

I've missed the weddings of two siblings.
I’ve missed the farewell of a brother leaving to serve in Russia and
I’ll soon miss the farewell of another brother leaving to serve in Portland, Oregon.
I've had more medical problems on the mission than I have my entire life.
I've been called every name in the book, and been harassed for what I believe.

I've struggled with difficult companions, areas, and people.
I've spent long and lonely nights, aching for help and comfort.
I miss home and family every. single. day.
I’ve cried more tears in the last 14 months than I have in the last 14 years.
I question my ability to succeed often.
I feel completely inadequate to meet the needs of those around me.
I often feel weak, lonely, exhausted, frustrated, disappointed, and homesick.

And yet…….my mission president continued, “Sister Parker, missions are 98% hard work, struggle, disappointment, difficulty, sorrow, and even pain. 2%.......2% is pure joy…….  

And somehow that 2% makes it ALL WORTH IT.

I don’t even know how it’s possible. Serving as a missionary is THE hardest thing I have ever done. By far. It’s more demanding, challenging, and draining than anything I’ve ever experienced.
And somehow…..somehow……it is all worth it.

Yes…I struggle.
Yes…I fall.
Yes...I long for home and family.
Yes…I miss the comforts I gave up.
Yes…I often wish people understood how much we sacrifice just to bring them the gospel and make their lives better.
Yes…I’m FAR from perfect.
Yes…I’m weak and inadequate.

And YES… mission has transformed me and others into people we wouldn’t have been without it. Therefore, YES… is worth it.

That pure joy—PURE JOY—that President told me about……I had no idea what that was like until I became a missionary and have seen the gospel change lives, including mine. Most of the time, the joy we experience as missionaries isn’t even our own. It’s the joy we feel seeing others experience the joy of the gospel……Yes, it doesn’t come often. It takes HARD work to get. But it is PURE. It’s a joy I’ve never felt before in my entire life. And I believe it is a type of joy that few will ever feel. And it comes only to those who are willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord in order to receive it.

So yes….. I’ve often thought and often been asked: "Why would I EVER choose to do what I do??"
It IS hard. It doesn’t even make since to the outside world why young missionaries like me would go out for 18-24 months, paying thousands of dollars to go, abide by such strict rules, live such a rigorous schedule, have such limited communication with family and friends, and all just to share a message about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.
I do it because IT’S TRUE. I would not be here….doing this, sacrificing like this….if I didn’t know with all my heart that it is true. It has changed my life, and I continue to see it change others’ lives.

 That is undeniable.

I can’t even begin to describe to someone why, specifically, being a missionary is so incredibly difficult. 
It’s much harder than I’ll ever be able to express. But while, I don’t believe my mission will ever be easy…..nor that sacrifice or conversion will ever be easy…….I KNOW that with the help of God, it’s worth it.

Now go hug a missionary ……... they need it:)

[To read the original  post click HERE]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Make Me a Match


Got my first brother-in-law this week.

No biggie. JK it was kinda a huge deal (check out my other blog for more on this later!:)!

So sister has graduated to wife lyfe......and it still blows my mind that my best friend is actually MARRIED......(btw, trying to wrap your mind around that as a MISSIONARY is ten times harder than trying to do it in real life....just sayin......#lockyourheart #preskimball;). Congrats Julia and Zach! You two deserve the best!!

After helping out at an investigator's house for a couple hours this week, packing boxes, moving furniture, etc.  we got ready to head out the door, when our investigator showed us to the door where a brand new pair of UGGS were sitting, and said, "They're too small for me......want 'em?"

Is that even a question??

Basically, I'm most definitely serving in Libertyville (where else to people hand out Uggs for free??) and service most definitely brings blessings:) haha! #spoiled #luvourpeeps
Our next service project was actually more packing and moving....and yes, it all happened on the same day. This time, we showed up to a member's apartment, and one of the first thing she says is, "Ok good are you at playing Romeo and Juliet??"

Uber confused.

All I was thinking was, "well....i'm pretty good at the whole fainting thing....but the kissing little outta my league right now..." Sis Carroll just looked at me REALLY confused, so we just kinda did the awkward laugh and, "Uhhuh....what??"
She took us out to her balcony and explained, "So rather than taking all this stuff up and down the stairs to the car, I was thinking we could just lower everything over the balcony, Romeo and Juliet style."

Good thing I do push-ups in the morning. hahaha

We actually pulled it off surprisingly well, despite really weird looks from the neighbors, and we even managed to give away a card in the process. #likeaboss
As I was about to take down a box, our member opened it to find why it was so heavy and found their spare change jar. She then grabbed my purse, with, "Here! open your bag!" before dumping nearly $40 worth of coins into my already too-full Coach purse.

Ummmmmmm. ok.

What she didn't know was that trying to get quarters to do laundry here can be such a pain, and now Sis C and I are are set. for. life. Yep.....service brings blessings;) (even though it took me a day and a half to dig through my purse get all the coins out:) haha! we love our members<3

On Saturday night, we carpooled with Ally to a district bonfire testimony meeting at a member's home. All the missionaries in our district invited less-actives and investigators to attend and we hoped that it would give them an opportunity to share/discover their testimonies in a more intimate setting. We showed up, ate dinner (a.m.a.z.i.n.g. homemade pizza.....mmmlicious:) and the elders headed out the door to "start the fire."

After 20 minutes or so, we followed wondering why it was taking them so long. We walked up and........let's just say my scout master dad would've been appalled. I'm no Boy Scout......but......i know for certain that's NOT how to start a fire.....#tomboy #noshame #comesinhandy

So I stood there, wondering what to say, while the elders kept devising ways to torch the pile of sticks. Yea.......guess where this is going.


of course

The member hosting the bonfire, Bro K., came splitting through the ring of onlookers with a gasoline tank, DRENCHED the wood before anyone could say anything, and then one of the match-happy elders struck up and......yea.....we just about ALL got our eyebrows singed.

 And.......of course.....the fire only burned for under 2 minutes before going out with a poof. Next idea? The elders WOULD have Axe cologne in their car, now wouldn't they. Yep.....that came next. At this point, I feel like Sully watching Boo's costume going through the trash machine. Shoot me.

What are they gonna think of next??

The Axe-and-lighter technique only went so far before we heard an engine buzzing and turned to see the member walking over with a leaf blower. This is getting out. of. control. But comes the leaf blower, and the fire lights up, THEN the leaf blower turns off, fire dies down, AND leaf blower goes on, fire goes up.....and so on and so on.

this is going NO WHERE

Finally, after 45 min of trying to get a fire started, one of the women of the group went to her car, pulled out a packaged fire log, and shoved it into the dying fire. ONLY then did the fire perk up and stay lit so we could manage to have our testimony meeting around an actual fire. Geez laweez.

Luckily, the testimony turned out to be fantastic!! The spirit was so strong and while Ally didn't bear her testimony, on the way home from the bonfire, she opened up to us on why she wants baptized! In her own special way, she was bearing her testimony to us--just us--for the first time, and it was SO incredibly heart-warming! I love that girl with all my heart and felt like a proud mama seeing her identifying her testimony for the first time! #priceless

We had another miracle moment this week, when we decided to do more leaf raking for those who needed it. The elders chose an investigator to serve and we showed up to help just as she was walking out the door. We told her why we’d come and asked if we could be of service. She stared at us for a moment then said, “What have you guys been taking??” This just got awkward. Fortunately, she laughed, and continued, “How did you guys know to come? Today was one of those days when everything is going wrong, and I was about ready to just cry! Then you all show up, and my day is completely turned around!!  You guys must be heaven-sent!"

tru dat

It was one of those moments when you’re like, “Yes! I’m doing my job!”  We got to talk for a while, and after serving her, the elders were able to teach her and she’s accepted the invitation to be baptized!! Service=miracles

Sis Carroll and I got creative with the whole service thing and decided to drop cookies off to some of our investigators, but make it anonymous.  Ok……well actually…….we rigged it so it was kinda like “I’ll bet I can guess who left these cookies on my porch, so maybe I should think of coming to church to thank them” type of deal.  I know. Brilliant;) hahaha! Either way, Sis C and I had fun swaggin our ninja costumes (black leggings and inside-out sweatshirts;) while doorbell ditching with treats (see below for pics…..they about sum up our lives;) haha

And last but not least, we had a prompting to drop by a potential investigator this week, and we walked up the driveway to find Dave (our investigator) sitting outside with a friend, Dan. Dave came up to us and we had a really friendly conversation about missions, what we do as missionaries, and why we do what we do. Dan sat quietly to the side, not really talking much, but clearly listening. After we’d shared with Dave a bit more about ourselves and missionary work, Dan got up, came over and said,

 “I wanna serve a mission. How do I do it??

*blink blink*

Come again??

He handed over his number, said to call him, and when we started talking about other kids he might know from the High School, he became even more interested and kept saying, “Yea! I guess I just need something more in my life.” Even Dave nudged him and said, “Yea, Dan, meet with these girls….they can help you find a path in life.”

Well, y’know Dave, we could do that for you too;) hahah! We left feeling SO grateful that the Lord had put us in the right place at the right time. This work is truly inspired. The Lord is clearly leading us to those that need us, and it’s hastening!

( I know.....this email is getting REAL long....but just wanted to send a shout out to all my blog readers;) I love getting your letters and messages! They keep me going and I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing about how it's helping you decide to serve and join in the work! <3 ya peeps)

Keep on keepin on!!!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker we had a girl's party at our apt on P-day with the sisters in the was definitely a pinterest-worthy party......minus the pinterest:) #missionarystatus #missmypins

this pic just looks like it BELONGS on pinterest;) 

YES. We did donuts on a string. should be proud;) the other sisters weren't made fools of ourselves on our own;) lol 

Yep......bout sums us up:) lol

We got into an intense convo with the elders this week on whether or not ghosts are real. Don't ask. Day after, we found this in the library. PMG should add this to "questions of the soul" cause apparently the elders think they're legit. #boys

We then took these photos and told them we'd actually caught a ghost in out apartment.....#immabeliever

.....i do pretty good as a ghost....

isn't this kid just the living end?!?!?! AH!!! Never wanted a kid more in my life:) haha! #heartbreaker #futuremissionary