Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Days of Our (Missionary) Lives

Every week on P-day, I go through the same routine: sit down to write my weekly email, feel like my memory's been wiped because I can't remember a thing that happened that week (but somehow I'm exhausted from working so hard:), resort to using my nightly journal entries to figure out what I did for the past 168 hours, and then try to put my gazillion thoughts into an email less than a novel long;).

True story.

This week, I flipped open my journal and here goes:

- It got down to -30 degrees today with wind chill. #NBD. Frozen eye lashes, wearing four shirts, three pairs of pants, and two pairs of socks to bed at night, using blow dryers and the stove to stay warm, shaving ice off the inside of the windows, dancing on doorsteps to avoid freezing, and spending ten minutes trying to get INTO our car because all the doors are frozen in the life:)

- One of the elderly less-actives we're working with introduced me to her "old self" this week by pulling a bright red and yellow outfit out of her closet and announcing, "I used to be a professional clown, y'know!" And then proceeded to try and make me a balloon pet. Ohhhhhhh....bless her heart;)

- Y'know that scene from "The Best Two Years" where Elder Rogers says, "oh, and make sure no one flushes the toilet while the shower's running"? .......yeeeeaaaaa......found out why this morning.

- One of our African American investigators, schooled us tonight on how to "appropriately" use the N word: "I can call you n--, but you can't call me n-- unless I say you can, and if I call you n--, it's meant as a compliment." OH. Well guess what? She now calls us her "little n--'s"......and YES....I'm still adjusting to that one:). Whatever makes her happy;)
- We wrapped up an awesome lesson on the Plan of Salvation with one of our investigators (who's been meeting with the Jehovah's Witnesses weekly as well), the end of our lesson, she was so thrilled with the doctrine of the plan of happiness and it "made so much sense" to her (vs the teachings of the JW's that she struggles to accept) that she said, "Y'know what....y'all should come over after they leave and I'll tell y'all what they said, y' I could be a Jehovah's Witness spy!" Welp.....I think she's officially picked a side:)

- Our 65 year-old investigator went off on a tangent about how she's a 3rd degree black belt, then demonstrated a head kick to my companion (barely missing her face), and then put her elbow on the table and said, "Here....arm wrestle me." What am I supposed to say to that?? Turns out.....she surprised all of us with some stiff competition....AND.....convinced us that we needed to take those morning push-ups more seriously:)

Gosh.......our lives:)

Our week was filled with some incredible spiritual experiences as well though. THOSE are the real highlights! We taught Norine more about the pre-mortal life and how we knew God before coming here to earth, and how we'll someday return to Him. She sat back, nodding, and then said, "Yes.....yes.....I hope this is true.....because that's....beautiful. I always just thought we were lined up on a shelf and one by one we come down, live, then die. But you're saying that we actually lived and knew God before.....and that just makes sense! Oh, I would love for this to be true!"

It hit me as I thought later about what she said, just how beautiful this gospel truly is. Life is hard enough knowing where we came from, why we're here, and where we're going. To be without that knowledge or to feel so detached from God......ah! I can't imagine! Teaching this gospel teaches me just how much God truly loves each of us. He knew us perfectly before we came here, He knows us perfectly now, and if we walk with Him through life, we'll one day become perfect just as He is. How more beautiful can this gospel be?! I love it with all my heart!!

One of our "miracle moments" this week came in disguise, when we were on the brink of discouragement. We'd arranged to go with Norine to the Family History Center one night this week. We were excited to help her get more involved, but when we showed up to her apartment to head to the church together, no one answered. Eventually her brother in law pulled up and joined us on the doorstep in the sub-degree weather, waiting for someone to come down and unlock the door. Norine then called to tell us she wasn't home and wouldn't be able to make it to the FHC. ET, her brother in law, turned to leave when we told him no one was home, but as he was walking away, he slowed, turned, and said, "Wait.....Mormons. You guys do studies with people, right?" 3 seconds ago, we were feeling discouraged, beaten, and freezing cold, but when he said that, we knew the Lord had made plans. We started talking with him, introduced him to the Book of Mormon, and gave him a brief overview of our beliefs. By the end, he took our number and said, "Yea, I'd like to meet with y''s my me anytime. In fact, let's meet next week."

AH!! The Lord is amazing:) We'd actually debated whether or not to go to Norine's that night, or whether to just meet her at the church building, and after that encounter with ET, we were SO glad we'd listened to the prompting to go!! The Lord always has a back-up plan to the back-up plan, and while we were thinking that our efforts had been wasted that night, the Lord put ET into our path, because He knew that ET needed to hear our message! The Lord turned our "tears of sorrow into tears of joy" and my heart was SO full of gratitude that night!

Sis Green and I are seeing the Lord put people into our path that are ready to hear the gospel, and it's absolutely incredible! He is so good to us! At the same time, we've been feeling an increase of Satan's attacks, and it hasn't been easy, but in zone conference this week, President told us that the last few months of our missions is when we learn the most valuable lessons, specifically in Christlike attributes, because the Lord is refining us this last time before we're released.

Well....I'm feeling refined:)

It's hard, and there are some days when I just want to smack the devil, but I'm determined not to coast through these last 2 months. This is my "4 minutes." The spirit's been direct with me this week, in telling me that I need to re-commit. I want to leave it all on the field. I want to walk off that plane, knowing I gave this mission my all. I want to have no regrets. I want to finish my time here, confident that He's proud of me. I want to know that I did my best.

So that's what we're going to do. We're setting our sights high, aiming for success, and holding nothing back. "Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage.....and on, on to the victory!" (Joseph Smith)

So onward and upward!!

Sis Anna Parker

"it's like a Christmas tree....."
if you don't know where that line is from..... need help....
Sis Green could've killed me....but instead she took a picture:) haha! #whatachamp

our "professional clown" :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ask Anna


Notice the new gadget in the sidebar???

Yep. Just for you:) 

Over the past year, I've been getting emails, messages, and letters from you beautiful blog readers all across the globe, and your questions for me range from 

"How do I share the gospel with my friends?" 
"What advice do you have for a soon-to-leave missionary?" 
"Why did you decide to serve?"

I decided to add a gadget to the blog to make it easier for you to ask me questions!! (and hopefully I can keep up with responses:)!!  Just click on the "Ask Anna" gadget to send me your questions!

I don't claim to know the answer to every doctrinal stumper, or how to share the gospel with anyone anywhere, or even everything you need to know before, during, and (heaven knows) after the mission.....BUT...that being said, I absolutely LOVE sharing what I've picked up and learned along the way and let's be honest.....

missionary work is one of my all time f.a.v.o.r.i.t.e. hobbies:) 

Hearing from you girls (and guys;) and getting the chance to help you out with your missionary work and prep is a HIGHLIGHT of my mission experience!!

So if you've got questions....SEND THEM MY WAY!!

We're all in this together
so keep shining, lovelies! 

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker 

check out the gadget this way -------->

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

All You Need is LOVE

Thursday morning, our phone rang and we picked up the call from our zone leaders, "Hey sisters, how would you like to get a foster kid?"

*awkward silence and confused comp glances*

"......a mini missionary, sisters....a mini missionary." Oh that:) We hung up all jitters excitement because just two days before, I'd been telling Sis Green how much I'd love to host a mini missionary before the end of my mission. God answers prayers:)

The next day, we drove down to Chicago to pick her up and she spent the next two days with us! And it was AMAZING! We joked that it was like getting a new pet......we had to pick up her bed (an air mattress from a member), go shopping for her food, and we teased her about getting a new leash:).....I know...we're mean;). Elli, our mini, was a lot of fun, and we spent most of our time together sharing laughs and finding the fun in our work. 

And we WORKED! We had more teaching appointments in those two days, than the entire first half of the week combined! Our first night, we went over to a less-active's home to drop off some frozen meals, spent some time with the family, and then returned to our car. Right before we were about to drive away, a man came walking down the street, and the conversation in the car went as follows: 

"Whoa....that's a HUGE wad of cash he's carrying..."

"Oh gosh....I think that other guy saw it..."

" he stopping to talk to him??"

"Oh my gosh...are those....??"

And then our mini yells,"Oh my gosh! It's a DRUG DEAL!!!! Drive! Drive! Drive! Oh gosh....don't make eye contact! Oh gosh...I just made eye contact! AH! He saw me!! Guys!!"

Sis Green and I couldn't stop laughing!! was by far one of the BEST moments of that exchange:) We were half a block down the street before she stopped gripping the back of my seat and ended up laughing along with us!! hahaha! 

Welcome to Chicago.......

The actual highlight of our week, though, was our lesson with the Villegas family. The father and his brother are members, though the wife isn't and we decided to stop by to get to know them better and invite them to church. Our initial visit went well and they invited us to come back the next day to do a "refreshers course" on the gospel for them since they readily admitted that they've drifted far off the path. 

When we came back the next day, we shared the Plan of Salvation with them, and they asked a lot of questions (including REALLY deep questions like "is there progression or repentance within the three kingdoms of glory?"). We did our best to give them answers, and ultimately the spirit took over and they began opening up to us about their desire to return, to find relief from guilt, shame, and the results of sin, and to find peace--true and lasting peace--in their lives. It was one of those moments where my heart just ached for them.

Here we were, sitting a smoke and weed-stenched room, across from two men with multiple piercings and gages and a woman stamped with tattoos, with beer and alcohol bottles on the floor, and yet I LOVED it. I loved them. The look in their eyes as they asked, "Can God really take away my sin?" was a look I will NEVER forget! Everything in me just wanted to take away that pain, and the love that came into my heart from Him, I wished more than anything that I could somehow convey to them. 

I took the opportunity to look straight back into their eyes, and promise them that God had His hand outstretched to them still. I promised them that they could become clean again, find peace of mind, and return to Him and be welcomed back into His arms. Ricardo, the brother, sat there with his brows furrowed, but after I'd finished testifying to him, he sat there for a few moments and then responded, "I believe you."

We got back to the car after that lesson and just looked at each other, smiling. That was one of those lessons where you know that the spirit was there, and that they felt it. I knew that they were touched. The Spirit had witnessed to them, and though perhaps small, they'd taken a step to come closer to Him. AHHH!!! This gospel is SO true.....and it is SO badly needed in the lives of EVERY ONE of God's children!! I was filled with gratitude that night as I knelt to pray, for the opportunity to bring His message of peace, hope, and love to the Villegas family and ultimately to every person I meet!! It's just like the white handbook reads, 

"How great is [our] call!" 

The rest of our week consisted of NOT staying up until 12am on New Years Eve (I second what a zone leader once told me: "late nights are for least on the mission"......yep, that's our excuse:), painting a 78 year old woman's nails for service, being out-numbered in a game of teenage mutant ninja turtles with three little boys in the ward and coming home with multiple bruises (it's ok though... it was totally worth it;), challenging another investigator to baptism and her ACCEPTING our invitation(!!!), and dropping more cookies off at fire departments where the guys ask, "Yea, can we get a stack of your cards? We'll give them out to the whole house!" 

Well, I guess:)

(And then they gave us a tour of the entire station.....and accepted the invitation to visit that's another story:)

All in all, it's been a good week! The Lord is definitely blessing us and we're seeing His hand in our lives daily! Thanks for your prayers and love! Till next week!!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker

(and here's pictures as're welcome:)

(some of these are old....but better late than never, right??)
Christmas packages waiting to be opened!!

Santa socks from the Green family:)
Christmas selfies.....don't ask me what my companion's doing:) lolz

caroling at the Kris Kringle market......ok at this point we're actually NOT singing,.......we're taking selfies, but it's whatevs:)
photo break from singing

Christmas with Sis Silski!! We put together mini cardboard chapels......that's how we Christmas;)

Our FOSTER KID!!!! (a.k.a. Elli, our mini missionary:)
Yep....we made it a special occasion and made crepes, bacon, and eggs.......#domesticpride