Thursday, December 4, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

I turned to Sis Carroll in the car this week with,
“I would do ANYTHING right now for some Bing Crosby Christmas music….”

*** no response ***

“You do know who Bing Crosby is, RIGHT???

“Umm….I know who Bill Cosby is……”

Oh heck….what is this world coming to. Family: I need Bing Crosby Christmas music ASAP….if not for my sake….for Sis Carroll’s:) Our Christmas collection of Josh Groban, Pentatonix, and Michael Buble just isn’t complete:)

On with the week:

THANKSGIVING………was the b.o.m.b.

No joke…..probably THE best Thanksgiving I’ve EVER had!! We kicked off the morning at our ward mission leader’s (the O’briens) house who invited us over for some “service”…..decorating their Christmas tree.

I could’ve cried.

I was SO happy.

Stuff like that means the WORLD to missionaries who sometimes feel so far flung from the festive scene. So YES. I will GLADLY decorate any and all Christmas trees… just hit me up. We spent the rest of the afternoon helping them with dinner preparations….which again….(IF I can’t be playing in the turkey bowl with the guys:)….there’s nothing else I’d rather do on Thanksgiving than delve into the party planning and prep. And gotta say…..I make a MEAN dish of parmesan garlic mashed potatoes;)


…..Yea not really….but ANYWAYS…..

The O’Brien’s neighbors then came over to join us for dinner! The husband, James, is from Ghana and his wife, Gigi, is from Hong Kong…..and they came with two of T.H.E. most adorable boys (ages 2 and 4) in tow. I could’ve smothered them right then and there. Needless to say, it was a constant conflict of interest loving the “adult” conversation at the table but meanwhile arm-wrestling the cutest 4-year old of a kid that I’ve ever met.


By the end of dinner (after I’d introduced to cranberry “jiggle” and olives the perfect size for sticking on fingers), James and Gigi began asking us questions about our missions and the work that we do. The spirit became SO strong as James asked us, “What is it that keeps you going when you’re down, or rejected, or even if you feel like you don’t want to continue anymore?”

It was SUCH a sweet experience for me to testify to him of the Atonement, of my relationship with my Savior, and of His ability to heal all my pain, heartache, sorrow, and struggle. I told him the truth—that there are many moments when I wish I was home, that I could be free of the difficulties I face as a missionary, or even that I could lay down and sleep FOREVER because I’m so exhausted. BUT….what keeps me going?? I told him: the knowledge I have of what my Savior did for me. When I think of what He’s blessed me with, how He never gives up on me, and how I know He’s always there for me when I need Him……that knowledge makes me want to do nothing more than give back what little I can give.

The look in his eyes when I testified to him of the Savior’s infinite power and love, and of my conviction that He will strengthen, support, and help me through any trial that I—or anyone else—will ever face……AH!! That is a moment I will never forget! You could see it in his eyes that he was thinking about what was said, and I knew—I knew—he’d felt the spirit! The rest of our evening together was absolutely amazing, and at the end of the night, James and Gigi took our number and said they’d be interested in calling us for some service or “just to drop by” sometime! There is so much potential there and I’m beyond excited to see where it goes!

After dinner, we hit the road….this time….to some unexpected places;) Yes…..we ended up at the ER…. and the police station……AND the fire house.

 I swear, it’s not what you think it is;)

So REWIND: about a week before Thanksgiving, I’d been thinking about ways to capitalize on the holiday season in this area. The idea came to me to drop of goodies at the ER, fire house, and police department and to thank those working there for their service, especially on such a family-oriented holiday.

So off we went.....

We managed to hit up 2 police departments, the Emergency Room front desk and security department, and 3 fire stations......all in one night. The responses we got from everyone were SO incredibly heart-warming!! I seriously was having “warm fuzzy” highs:) Each reaction of surprise and gratitude that we got from the recipients just about MELTED my heart! Here we are…..two 20 year old girls….hundreds of miles away from home and family….on a Thanksgiving night…..delivering muffins and hot chocolate…and yet having the time. of. our. lives. making others’ Thanksgiving night more pleasant!! I can’t even describe how happy each of those visits made us!!! Service like that just makes my WEEK!!

It felt SO good to be able to give back in a small way to people who dedicate their lives to helping other people. Cause honestly that’s NOT a job I could do (I learned that real quick from dating a firefighter back in the day….WAY back in the day:). I’ll stick to my proselyting;)

By the end of the night, Sis Carroll and I were singing all the way home and practically floating on cloud 9 we were SO giddy happy. It made for an INCREDIBLE Thanksgiving Day…..the best I’ve ever had!!

(even though we didn’t get to play in the turkey bowl…….2015……it’s going DOWN:)

Speaking of police departments…..we also got to help out with the Mundelein Police Department Turkey Drop-off this week too! Oh my FUN. We showed up and got assigned to distribute food to 20+ baskets of thanksgiving dinner goods and then hauled each basket out to the parking lot (along with dozens of turkeys) where we loaded up our cars with the food.

Side story: as we were arranging our caravan with the officer who was leading the group, he offered to put all the food in his car, instead of ours, and then offered to let us ride in the back of his squad car so we wouldn’t have to spend gas and miles in our own car.

sweet mother

There are times when being a missionary and keeping missionary rules is REALLY hard and yea….that was DEFINITELY one of them. I have always wanted to ride in the back of a cop car….BUT because of rules, my companion and I had to decline the offer. Oh well. One day.


On the flip side, though, it ended up working out well because he had to tally the food supply of each car before leaving, and we happily popped our trunk where six frozen turkeys were snuggled up to Resoration DVD’s, Plan of Salvation pamphlets, and stacks of Book of Mormons.

that’s one way to do it

Our drop-off adventure turned out to be GREAT though! It was a lot of fun and seeing the reactions of those we were giving the food to was such a special experience (AND….because we were with a cop the whole time, we got to park in No Parking Zones, cross four lanes of traffic all with a hand wave, AND SPEED….. #mykindofjob #i’mwithhim #legalrebels:)!!!

Ok last miracle…and then I swear I’ll end this:) So we were in the library this week doing our online proselyting and as we were leaving to go, an Indian guy (like the dot…not the feather kind….please tell me you get this;) came up to us and began asking us why we were always at the library and what “two nice young ladies” were doing with nametags on. We got to explain to him our roles and missionaries, gave him our card, and the address for the church and invited him to come. He told us he’d try and that he had an active interest in learning more about other religions.

We didn’t think much of it until Sunday afternoon when he called us, “Parker…I was there….at church…in the back. I didn’t see you so I left after the first hour. Maybe I come next week…and see you there…”

wait what??

Yea, he legitimately showed up to church, sat through all of sacrament meeting, “enjoyed himself,” and then left when he didn’t see us afterwards. Oops. We were sitting up front with some other investigators and therefore didn’t see him after the meeting which made us feel HORRIBLE. However….when we ended up at the library later this week, he was there and sat down next to me with, “Hi Parker….I like your church…very nice. Maybe I come again and see you this time. Oh….and I have a friend….he’s interested in your church too. Here’s his number…call him anytime”


I took the number from him, and planned on calling his friend, Harry, later. However, the next day rolled around and before we could call him…..we got a phone call FROM him, “Hi, Parker? Yes….my friend Peter said you are missionaries, nice ladies, and that your church is good. I want to come, and also meet with you and talk about religion, Ok?”

>> twist my arm<<

Sis Carroll and I got off the phone and just about starting SCREAMING!!! This was truly a miracle that God placed right in our laps! Just the night before, my companion had been struggling with feelings of discouragement and depression, and I’d felt prompted to testify to her that when things get really rough on the mission—when we reach those lows of lows—there is ALWAYS something the Lord has in store to bless us with if we remain faithful.

That’s been a constant pattern of my mission and it happens over and over and over again. When I bore that testimony to Sis Carroll and had some doubts myself and just prayed that something would turn up that would lighten her spirits and bring us success. Sure enough… didn’t take Him two days to answer our prayers!

Harry came to church this Sunday!!!!!!

We were SO excited!!! He told us before we sat down that he’s never been to church before in his life, but that he was ready to try it out! He was attentive during the entire meeting and afterwards said that he thoroughly enjoyed the talks and our champ wardies flocked him afterwards, introducing themselves and welcoming him to our ward.

that’s my ward

We’re gonna keep em:) Harry told us he was so impressed by the warm and friendly attitudes of everyone at church and told us he felt very welcome. He also took us out to the parking lot after sacrament meeting to give us four coffee cakes to thank us for letting him come to church! Ah!!!!! We’re already obsessed with him;) He’s anxious to learn more and is meeting with us tomorrow night! He’s humble and willing to be taught, so we’re SO excited to see the gospel start to take root in his life!

This whole experience again reminded me of God’s goodness. He truly is mindful of each of us. Sometimes, we don’t know why we struggle, suffer, or even feel abandoned by God. BUT…..if my mission has taught me one thing….it’s that GOD is ALWAYS THERE! He knows what we need…and He also knows when to give it. If we but trust in Him, His timing, and His wisdom…..He’ll lead us to where we need to be. He’s always willing to reach out and bless us with those tender mercies—those answers to unspoken prayers—that bring the gentle reminders that He is always walking with us.


Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

yea.....showed up for a "dinner appointment" at the bowling ally with some investigators and you know how hard it is to bowl in a skirt???  #sisterswag 

yes.....we dropped our phone in a pile of wet leaves....and didn't find it until it'd rained for 3 hours. Minute rice came to the rescue;)