Tuesday, February 24, 2015

You Don't Say....

Note to self: Don't believe anyone who says anything is "free" in Chicago. Especially when it comes to parking.....and museums.

We decided on another adventure for P-day this past week, and carpooled down with the Hermanas to visit the "free" science and industry museum together. It took us over an hour to get down there (I swear....rush hour is like a 24/7 thing in Chicago) and when we finally found the place, come to find, parking is $22 an HOUR.

Dad, forget residential real estate.....we need to buy a parking garage in Chicago.

We'll make it RAIN.
Instead, being the broke missionaries that we are, we spent the next half hour trying to find "free" parking and eventually landed ourselves a spot after awkwardly stalking people walking down the street who even looked like they might be going to their car to leave.

<<welcome to my life>>

By the time we got into the museum, it was closing in an hour and a half, and as soon as we get to the front desk, our conversation with the receptionist goes like so:

"Hey, can we get 4 free passes?"
"Sorry, what?"
"Y'know, like the free February passes?....a friend told us all museums in Chicago were free this month....."
"Yea, no. Not this one...."

[if only it was appropriate for adults to throw tantrums.....]

Instead: "Oh ok...well....sorry to bother.....thanks anyways..." (and then awkwardly walk out)

So yep. THAT was our P-day. Lesson learned: Freedom isn't free...and neither is sightseeing in Chicago.

Other than that memorable start to our week, we've been SO busy this week! It's been AMAZING!! Seriously, I'm never happier than when I'm so busy that dinner hour seems like a nuisance:)

We had a miraculous moment this week, when Sis Green and I were planning and she started trying to clean up our phone (we have SO many contacts in our phone that neither of us know and there's no record from past missionaries on who they are). She started calling everyone and ended up calling a former investigator, Armando, who said he'd met with missionaries a year back and had never really heard back from them, but was still interested. We set up an appointment and met with him on Saturday.

Gosh, is he prepared!!! We were both SO impressed by his thoughts, desires, and his active search for truth! We were about thirty minutes into the lesson, and he was going off about how the universe reflects God's hand and power, when he said, "Here's what I think....we need to ask ourselves three or four simple but important questions:

“Where did we come from?
Why are we here?
Where are we going after this life?
And who created us?"

You don't say.

Yea, that's a moment when I was inwardly having a Buddy the Elf "Santa's coming!!" reaction, but outwardly we're both like, "Mmmhmmm....yea....we totally agree.....uhhuh...."

hahaha! Gosh....mission life:) We extended a baptismal invitation to him at the end of the lesson and he accepted!! He is so receptive to the truth we have to share with him, and it's incredible to see the
light of Christ within him resonate with the message that we have to share! I am just SOOOOO excited to see him start down this path to so much more light, truth, and knowledge!

Last-minute highlights of the week:

-Sister's conference!! I got to see all my comps again!! Sis Bishop, Sis Teare, and Sis Carroll...gosh we could hardly stop cracking our inside jokes again just like old times!! Gosh, have i missed them! Oh
and the messages and workshops were also FANTASTIC!! The elders should be jealous:)

- Taught mutual this week on using Preach My Gospel as member missionaries!!! I get as excited and passionate talking about that as I do about the Red Sox vs the Yankees....no shame. #mytwoaddictions #PMG #sports

- Got "cold quarantined" again this week. Gosh, Chicago. Can't a girl just preach the word for her last three weeks in the mission...?? hahaha

We're sacrificing. We're serving. And we're saving! And I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm becoming keenly aware just how short of a time I have left, and while I'm excited to see family and friends again and forge on with life, I can't help but feel like my heart is being broken.

This is the experience of a LIFETIME. It's exhausting and it's challenging, but it is priceless! I am FILLED with gratitude every night as I kneel to talk with Him--SO grateful for the chance He's given me to take His hand in this work, to walk alongside Him for 18 months of my life, to bear that burden and to feel that joy--the joy of being HIS servant!!

Onward and upward,

Sister Parker

Heading downtown.....we're suh cute....

found this epic mural on the way home..... good ol' chicago  

Aaaaaaaand.....then we passed this:) If drugs weren't illegal before...they are now;)

valentine's day flowers from my daddy!!!  #sweetheart

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Question of the century.....did you know that there's a lego comic book edition of the Bible??? Yea, didn't know either until a couple days ago when we were at a members home and their two boys brought it out to show us. They were so absorbed in reading it, that their parents had to keep telling them to shut it and be sociable.

And word on the street has it that there's a Book of Mormon version too.

Someone is brilliant. Expect convert baptisms to soar.

hahaha! Hey...if it works, it works. Those members' kids now know the bible better than I do:)

Anyways....gosh, this week was something else! Tuesday morning kicked off with loud banging on our front door and, "It's your neighbor, let me in!" We opened the door and let our 5 ft african american neighbor, Jamie, into our kitchen. She had her dog in one arm, and a water bottle and ding dongs in the other.

"Girls....i just heard from my agent...and I'm finally going to be able to move into my new apartment! So we're gonna have a toast....with water...since that's all you guys drink.....and then i need to you brush my hair since I'm going out today...."


So at 8:15am on a Tuesday morning, we had a water toast, brushed our neighbor's hair (while she kept saying she was "tipsy from that shot so early in the morning":), and ate ding dongs. Hey, at least she now knows how we celebrate Mormon style.

Yep, this is my life.

One of the highlights of my week, though, happened on Wednesday when we were dropping by some less-actives. We'd finished visiting them and made our way back to the car just as I saw a woman walking her dog on the other side of the street.

[Spirit to Sis Parker moment]

.......and I knew I was supposed to talk to her. I drove down the street, still doubting the prompting, but by the time I'd hit the stop sign, I knew I needed to go back. So we flipped around, drove up, and we tried engaging in a conversation, but it ended up not going anywhere. We drove off again, and I was stumped.

Anyone who's been a missionary knows what that feels like....following a "prompting" only to have it go absolutely nowhere and then subsequently feeling confused and a bit defeated. I eventually brushed it off and we went on with our day. By the evening, we had one more less-active to visit, and they turned out to have no interest in the church. As we were walking away from their house, though, the spirit prompted me to go and tract their neighbor's house. I was SO close to brushing it off since it was cold and dark, and I already felt beaten, but at the last moment, I was reminded of my willingness to follow promptings earlier that day, even if they didn't amount to much, "If you can do that, you can knock on this door..."

So I made my feet turn and up to the door we went.

We knocked just as a guy with his 5 year old daughter came to the door. The spirit filled my mouth with words about eternal families, Christ' ability to strengthen those relationships, etc. and Mike, the dad, responded as soon as I'd finished, "I'm actually VERY interested in this. I've been looking for a church for a long time now, and I'm looking for answers and opportunities for my family."

He gave us a return appointment on the doorstep, and promised to read the pamphlet we gave him. We were both ecstatic walking back to the car after that!! As we got in, the spirit spoke to me, "You received that prompting to knock on his door, because you were willing to follow seemingly unfruitful promptings before."

In that moment, I was SO grateful that I had listened to the spirit that day, even when it seemed awkward and even when nothing came of my efforts. Those other promptings were preparing me to receive and follow a prompting that mattered MUCH more.
I believe the Lord was testing me to see if I would follow His instructions, even if I didn't know the results of those actions. Since that first initial contact, we've met with Mike once more, and after answering his many questions and giving him an overview of our beliefs, he looked us in the eye and said, "Where do I go from here? What do I need to do to take this a step further? Can I come to church? Do I need to meet with your pastor or someone? How can my girls get involved too?"

Oh my gosh! We were floored!! We gave him a book of mormon, and he agreed to come to church, and our plan is to extend a baptismal invitation to him next time we meet! By the end, he also told us, "I can promise you guys, I will give this [holding up the Book of Mormon] a sincere try. I really want to know...."

What if I hadn't listened to that prompting?? Ah! I don't even want to know! I am just eternally grateful for the Lord's quiet promptings and for my ability to follow them and show my faith! NEVER ignore promptings! Even if they don't seem to yield immediate results, perhaps the Lord is preparing you for something greater!

Mike is golden and his heart is sincere! We are SO excited to start helping him down this path to find his answers, peace, and happiness with his family!!

Last minute moments of the week:

- My little hometown of Merrimack NH was trending on FB this week for issuing a warrant for the groundhog who said 6 more weeks of winter. REPRESENT. #merrimackhomies #atleastitwasn'ttrendingforsomethingworse:)

- On P-day we braved the transit system with the Hermanas and went DOWNTOWN!!! We visited the Shedd Aquarium and managed to get two potential investigators along the way:) #ballin

- We had a Linger Longer social after church on Sunday, and I'd just sat down to eat when I heard someone come up next to me and ask, "That looks really good. Can I have some??" I turned to see JAMES KUMAR!!!! Oh my gosh!!! No girl was ever more surprised and never more HAPPY!!!! Turns out, he was dropping off his son at his mom's house in Westchester and popped on over to the church to see if I was there by chance! Ahhhh!!!! I felt like I was home in BG again and it felt SO good to reconnect, talk, and laugh like we used to!! That was definitely a tender mercy for me and a HIGHLIGHT of my entire WEEK!!!!!! It's crazy how you realize how much you care about and love people when you see them again after being away for so long!! Ah!!! James told me he's now received the Melchizedek Priesthood and has been made a 7/8 yr old primary teacher and I couldn't be more proud! And then, like good old times, his phone went off when we were talking and of course....his ringtone is Mo Tab:) My convert is still the coolest convert out there:)! hahaha! #feelingproud #feelingblessed

Anyways.....so yes, it's been a week. I still can't believe that my time is running out. It's kinda terrifying actually. But like Elder Holland said, "It's not over till it's over." So here we go.........another week of living the dream:)

Onward and upward,

Sister Parker

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'll Take it as Change

I'm starting to think that witnessing drug busts is just anther part of life in this area. We visited a less-active on Friday, and passed a group of guys hanging around their building. We cut through the crowd (and smoke), made our visit, and came out to find them still clustered together. We'd barely made it back to our car before a black sedan swerved into the parking lot, and we watched as two officers sprang from the car and started searching and handcuffing the guys one by one. 

Some things never change:)

Oh well....moving on.....

I translated for my first time an entire sacrament meeting in ASL! Yea....I'm pretty sure I was shaking like a leaf for the first 15 minutes and I won't say that everything said from that pulpit made it's way into my hands but....I tried:) One of the speakers mentioned that he served his mission in Japan, and I'm pretty sure I accidentally signed "moon" instead of Japan. No joke:) That's Brian Regan material right there...."I served on the moon..."

We also helped out at the food pantry again this week, but this time we were assigned to stock and organize the storage room. I don't think I've handled more boxes of Cheez-its in MY LIFE. But hey, in case your wondering, I now know how many boxes of Cheez-its come in a cardboard flat, and how to stack them just right so that they fit on a converted utility shelf. I can now go home. Learned what I needed to learn out here:) 

Finally, we had an amazing night with the Villegas family this week! Before our lesson, they sat us down to dinner and filled our glasses with juice and our plates with authentic mexican food (my fav). I was so thirsty, I gulped almost all of my "juice" (that's what he called it) before beginning to eat. They saw that my glass was almost empty and filled me up again, as I commented, "That juice is really good! What kind is it??" "Oh, it's not juice...it's from the container above you on the fridge." I looked up and expected to see koolaid or something of that nature.....but no. Nope. 



I didn't have the heart to say anything, so Sis Green and I just looked at each other wide-eyed and went through the rest of (spicy mexican) dinner without drinking the rest:). THAT'S a feat, just saying:) hahaha! 

Our lesson went well, though:) We shared the Mormon message, "The Hope of God's Light" with them and then the story of Naaman's healing and talked about how receiving blessing from the Lord requires our action. It went SO well and the spirit was strong!! They're reading the scriptures now and said they're going to start praying more as well. 

(side note: right after we' finished our BOMB lesson with them, their daughter and her husband came over to drop their kids off before heading out to get TATTOOS. But not before meeting us and then showing us pictures of what they wanted to get and asking us our opinion of "this color rose, or this color of rose? Should the shield be over the vines, or kind of behind? I think I'd like it too start here on my shoulder....what do you think??" "Uhhhh.... ummmmm ....well...... ehhhhh....."......yea try wiggling out of that one:) it was an interesting conversation:) hahaha!)

Anyways...so the next day (Sunday) I was sitting at the front signing the whole meeting, and didn't get the chance to look for our investigators. But afterwards, I turned to see Ricardo making his way up to the front to meet us!!!! THAT is one of those moments when my hear just SOARED as a missionary! Here he was.....in church for the first time in "more years than he could count," smelling thick of smoke, and with multiple earrings and gages, wearing his black leather, and yet all of that just made that moment all the sweeter for me, because I knew....and I believe that he knew....that he was RIGHT where he needed to be. And NOTHING else mattered! 

I've found myself sitting in church on my mission, smelling the residue of smoke or even weed on others, seeing people covered in tattoos or piercings, hearing them disrupt the silence of the meeting with their questions about what's taking place, or wearing clothes that haven't been washed in weeks or that don't conform to the Mormon expectation of "Sunday best," and yet I LOVE it. I love it because I KNOW that if the Savior were there, THOSE are the ones that He would single out, wrap in a hug, and welcome back with tears of joy. I love it because THAT is what the gospel is about. It's about acceptance. It's about growth. And it's about change. I love it because it's an opportunity for me to love. 

While some might roll their eyes, cover their noses, avoid any contact, or scoff and scorn.....I love it because of what it means: it means that they are coming home. It means that they are finding hope. It means they are looking for love. It means they need help. And it means that I can play a part in that. It means that I can choose to look past the image, the smells, or the sounds and see them as He sees them. They are His, and my greatest joy comes in showing them that love through my love. 

The gospel is about change.....continual change.....and it's a path we all walk whether we're sitting on the stand at General Conference every year, or in a sacrament meeting for the first time after years of addictive habits and serious sin. THAT'S what the gospel does for each of us. Ah! This gospel is glorious!!! It just fills my WHOLE heart and these short 5 weeks left of my mission will NEVER be enough time for me to express that to everyone here! 

The gospel is hope. It's love. And it's HAPPINESS!!!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker 

(our video from the first snowstorm last week.....this was taken at the beginning of the snowstorm....by the end we gave up the idea of doing a before and after video....brrrrrrr;) haha

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I'm Dying in Westchester

(ok ok...i know i know....i forgot to post my last two weeks worth of letters. what a jerk. sorry. but they're up now...so go enjoy all three posts:)

I’m dying in Westchester.

We got transfer calls on Saturday, and it’s official: I’m staying in Westchester for my last 6 weeks. Basically…...I’m “dying” here.

p.s. I really don’t get why missionaries call it that. Like why can’t we call it “getting translated” or “receiving exaltation” or something cool like that?? But no…instead I feel like I’ve been black-listed.


And members and missionaries are now continually asking me if I’m getting TRUNKY. I just refer them to my companion who can tell stories about me randomly bursting into tears, having anxiety attacks, and manically tripping head over heels when I realize I don’t have enough time to do everything I need to do before I get thrown back into the “real world.”


(confession session: the only time I got trunky for 1.4 seconds this week was when a member texted me last night, “Your Patriots won the Super Bowl. Congrats!” Yep…...there it is:)

Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my pretty little mind around the fact that this is MY last transfer. It doesn’t feel real. So I don’t try to think about it:) Instead, we’re determined to get CRAZY busy, work like our lives depended on it, and leave it all on the field:)

See you in the locker room.

On to our week!

-        February entered with a bang by dumping over a foot of snow on us in less than 5 hours. I’m having PTSD moments to last winter here……it’s bad.

-        We found a community food pantry to volunteer at every week and ended up hauling cans, boxes, bags, and birds the size of my head out to people’s cars for 4 hours and being asked if we were nuns, if we were planning on never marrying, or if we were from “The Sisterhood” by Lifetime TV. Gosh, I know I shouldn’t say it…..but I get so tired of explaining the whole “we’re not catholic” thing….that sometimes I wonder if it’d be easier to just say “yes…I’m a nun” haha! jk;)

-        We were snowed in yesterday, and per suggestion from our mission president, decided to try baking cookies for service. We were shy a freakin 1 ingredient for EVERY recipe in the book, so I got “creative” and……yea, we all know how that ends every time. Our neighbor dropped by to sample the goods, took one bite, and said, “Um….do you have anything else I could try?” Thanks, Jamie. Hahaha!

-        I’ve been feeling for a while that I should actively brush up on my signing skills more and then…..we show up for a dinner appointment this week……and lo and behold, she’s deaf! I was in ASL HEAVEN. What a nerd;) Turns out, she (the member) has had other members type what’s being said for her every Sunday for all 3 hours, but she’s been praying that an ASL missionary would be sent to her area!!!! As soon as she found out I was an ASL missionary, she just kept signing, “Really?? Really?? I’ve wanted this for so long!” By the end of the night, she enlisted me as her Sunday interpreter and yes….I’m TERRIFIED…but also excited! The Lord has a plan:)

-        One night this week when we didn’t have a dinner appointment and had endured a long day, we decided to go all out for dinner and chose a hole-in-the-wall Puerto Rican restaurant. After we’d finished, Sis Green and I turned to go, but before we left, Sis Green gave the typical thank you we usually give to members, “Thanks for having us over!”……[hand slap to forhead]…..gosh, what a missionary:)! I’m still not letting her forget that one…hahaha!

-        We met with Sherman this week and OH MY GOSH!!!! “Golden investigator” got it’s name from him!! We got a call from him Thursday night, and he explained, “I know….we’ve tried to arrange to meet now for the past month and that devil, Satan….he just doesn’t want us to meet! But that’s it! I’m not letting him get away with it! We’re meeting tomorrow, and that’s a promise that Lucifer himself can’t break! Well alright then. We showed up, and come to find, he’d waited at the library for 3 hours previous, “just to be on the safe side.”

Oh my gosh. I love the guy.

We sat down in a study room, and he immediately extended his hands to us, “Let us pray, and start this scripture study off with the Lord’s blessing.” He then opened the bible and book of Mormon we gave him and we began teaching him. He ABSORBED it, asking us lots of questions, nodding, taking notes, and then when we’d finished, he said, “I have an idea. How bout you give me weekly reading assignments out of the book of Mormon so I can learn more from it, I can come to your church it that’s alright, and if the Lord tells me to join your church, I will.” We were BLOWN AWAY by how prepared he was!!! He said he’s active in his church, but recently he’s been feeling some “discord in his heart” about going there. He then told me, “I’d actually been praying that the Lord would bring me more of His word, and then you two young ladies came into Panera the very next day. I think God has a part in all of this!” AHHHHHHH!!!!! He’s basically the most legit investigator EVER and he’s rekindled my testimony that God is actively preparing people to receive the gospel! We CAN’T wait to meet with him again!! Please pray that he’ll receive of witness of the truth as we teach him!

Our mission impossible program for the members is coming together and we are SO excited to see it take off! I’ve included pictures of our first “Secret mission” (see below). It’s SO rewarding to see members become engaged and not only that, but excited about sharing the gospel! The Lord is hastening His work, and it’s most powerful and achievable through the members!! We’re out to convert, and we’re in this together!

So here’s to my last transfer. Sis Green keeps slipping “Anna” into normal conversation to “help me adjust to non-mission life” and yes….it just about gives me a heart attack every time. I’m gonna be the most awkward RM….fair warning.

So until then, I’m living up these last 6 weeks, recommitting daily, getting creative, working hard, loving lots, and trying not to think about the moment when I’ll be asked to take my tag off…..oh gosh….here I go…..about to cry in the library…..again. Ok, not gonna think about it….

Onward and upward till the end,

Sister Anna Parker

Our winter blizzard........

Secret Agent Looks Good on Us

Sis Green and I woofed down our lunch in under 20 minutes one day (ok, it's more like every day:) this week, so we could catch a legal 15 minute power nap in our remaining lunch time. We'd just set our alarm and closed our pretty little eyes when we heard our next door neighbor start arguing with another woman. We both tried to nuzzle deeper into our pillows to drown it out, but it got worse.....real fast. Every "choice" word in the book started flying.... LOUD .....and Sis Green and I eventually turned to each other wide-eyed and open-mouthed as the f-bomb came floating through the wall over 10 times in 2 minutes.

Well....so much for a nap.

We tried "politely" knocking on the wall but when nothing worked, we finally gave up on the idea of a few extra winks, and blasted our Bible Videos instead:)


That same day, we went to visit Patti and felt impressed to share Elder Holland's Mormon Message, "Testimony of the Book of Mormon." Ok....when is Elder Holland NEVER a  good idea?? :) So it shouldn't have surprised me when we got into the lesson, shared some scriptures, and then introduced the video. We started it, and the spirit came flowing in SO strongly! And then came the killer line, "They. would. not. do. that." (and he pounds the pulpit....gahah!!) Man, gives me chills every time! In that moment, my heart was SO full of gratitude for the miracle and blessing of technology to share the gospel! There was NOTHING like that feeling that that short video brought, and it could have only happened through the blessing of these ipads! The Lord is SO wise in the way He works:)!!

After it was over, Patti just kept nodding and nodding. Sis Green then asked her, "Patti, do you believe that the Book of Mormon is true?"

Just one week earlier, Patti had avoided that same question, and said she only believed some of it was true. She'd been less than committal, and we weren't sure if she would progress.

However, after that 3 minute video, she had a very different answer for us.
She took the next 5 minutes bearing her testimony to US of the Book of Mormon!! I then got the prompting......like THE prompting. So I went for it, "Patti, would you consider considered being baptized?"  "Yes," she said, "I'll consider it. I have in the past, and I still have a lot of questions, but I feel like it's just a matter of time before I know it's right for me."

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! We got out of that lesson STOKED!!! The spirit is SO amazing and I am SO grateful for the power of technology (AND Elder Holland, let's be honest:) to assist us in this work! It's working!!!!

And now......for Sis Parker's crazy new idea of the week.....


This is going to end up in Clayton Christensen's next book, called "The Power of Everyday Creative, Off-The-Wall, Borderline Crazy, So Incredibly Fun, Possibly Insane Missionaries." hahaha

I'm SOO PUMPED:)!!!! Ok, so back story, one day this week during personal study, I was getting down because I still didn't know my purpose here, or what I was meant to do to make a difference in this area. The promptings came so clear, 
"Use your creativity. Make it fun. Focus on members with families."

They say creativity loves constraint and that was enough for me. The ideas came flowing and here's what we got: drop off Top Secret packages to members' homes, weekly. Inside is a top secret mission, designed to help families take 7 steps towards finding the missionaries someone to teach. They complete the mission, fill out the "Report" and their package is retrieved and replaced with the next mission.

And we're going all out! And the ward is getting excited too! In the days that have followed since I've devised this plan, our ward mission leader, members, other missionaries, and even President Woodbury has brought up ways that we need to improve in this area as a ward, and this new project seems to be just the thing to do it! I. can't. wait.!!!

And the district is pumped for it too!! It's uniting us as missionaries and it's getting the ward united in their efforts to share the gospel as well! On top of it all, I'm finding my place and my purpose here. I LOVE LOVE LOVE working with members, getting creative with the work, and finding the fun in .....well.... everything:) So I feel like the Lord is showing me how to use my abilities and put my talents to good use here, and it's giving me the peace and assurance that I so desperately want! And it feels SO good:)

We launch it next week, so pray all goes well!!!

Well....the other highlights of the week included finding out that our church building has an attic AND a basement (where seminary used to be held.....yeaaaaaa......talk about creepy:)! hahaha! And yes, we got a tour of both. So legit.

Got asked if we were police officers while trying to contact some investigators. 
"Undercover agents?" 
 "Ok.....you can come in then..." 

Gee thanks:) See??.....secret agent? I could totally pull it off:)

I also got to see the Robisons from BG this week!!!! AHHHH!!!!! Talk about a highlight!!!:D We got to go keep Bro and Sis Robison "company" while Richmond was in surgery at a hospital in our area!! Let's just say it was like 2 of the best hours of my life:) I miss them SOOOOO much!!!!! It was like seeing family again, and it was SO hard to say goodbye! Let's just say that I'm a firm believer in tender mercies, though, and that was definitely one of them:)

Tracted into a guy with a 180 POUND BULLDOG. Seriously....that thing looked like a mini elephant!! haha! best news though: the guy wants to learn more about the church and seems really solid, so Chopper and I are going to get better acquainted:) It's suuuuuuuch a blessing I'm a dog person on the mish:) haha

And last but not least, we had interviews with President this week! Ah! I love that man with all my heart! He really has become such a father and a role model to me here on the mission. I find myself wanting to do nothing more than to be worthy and successful in his eyes. It gives me a taste of what my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would be like if they were here. He's such an inspired man, and I'm truly blessed every day of my mission to work alongside him!

Physically, I'm doing ok. The fainting and seizure-like episodes (yea:/....had a few of them this week) are getting more frequent again, but I'm being strengthened ((and so is my companion to deal with it:)) so I know it's in His hands. He truly is there, walking alongside me every day, and I find so much comfort in that!!

The blessings of being a missionary are incredible, the work is difficult, but our faith is growing stronger!

Onward and Upward,

Sister Anna Parker

I'm Where I'm Meant to Be

  I was introduced to our newest house pets this week. COCKROACHES. aghablaghegalghahbeghah!!!! Yep.....that's an understatement.

They've taken up residency in the bathroom and I've now got into the habit of flipping on the light before entering and hoping that that 30 second warning was enough for them to take a hint.......before I walk in and start using every toiletry weapon in site to smash the little buggers. If anything, it's entertainment for Sis Green:)

And at least they don't fly......right?........right?! :)

Tuesday afternoon we were invited to a part-member's home for lunch. I'd met them once before and they're a sweet adorable older couple. I was on exchanges and took the lead in the lesson, which went well. I still felt like our invitation to them to come to church wasn't fully accepted, but I was at a loss as to how to connect with them and help them understand our love and concern for them. We were about to wrap up, when I got the impression to ask Art (the husband who's a member) how to pronounce his last name. He responded, 

"Lahtinen.....it's Finnish."

Before I could even think, I blurted out, "No way! My Dad served there on his mission, and lived there for three years when my grandpa was a mission president there, and my grandpa served there too, and we learned Finnish growing up, and we have all kinds of Finnish traditions at Christmas......" and basically I just blasted him with all the info on my all-but-actually-blood-born Finnish family! And it was exactly what created an instant connection between us and he began telling me all about his Finnish parents and childhood! It was incredible to see how the Spirit used one small seemingly random prompting to help me build such a unique connection and friendship with this less-active! we were then able to revisit the topic of church attendance, and they committed to try and come, and to pray together as a couple!!! Gosh....the spirit is amazing:)

Sis Green and I have been trying hard to know our purpose in this area. It's been a difficult couple of weeks, and I feel that the Lord is testing our faith and dilligence. We're trying to stay positive, though, and we've been feeling repeated promptings to start working more with members. I just want to leave my mission and this area knowing that I made a difference and I feel like I'm running out of time! AH! It's a bit overwhelming at times, but it's motivating me to pray more, work harder, and stay closer to the Spirit!

I had a beautiful experience this week which started as our district was sitting together at lunch. One of the elders casually mentioned the name of a member in the ward, and for some reason it perked my interest. I'd obviously never met the family, but felt an instant attraction to them. Then, the next night, another ward member mentioned them in passing, and that was my second witness. I told Sis Green that night that we needed to meet them, so acting in faith, I called them up and the husband welcomed our visit. Long story short......they ended up not actually living in our area (they actually lived quite a ways out), the wife is not a member, and the husband is actually a returning less-active!!

Turns out, they invited us over for dinner (!!!! this is kind of a huge deal in this area:) and we were able to get to know them better. It didn't hit me, however, until we were actually in their home and sitting across from them, that the Spirit had been driving me to that point the entire time. I'd subconsciously just felt that it was a hunch or "a good idea" but when we were there, and began teaching them more about the atonement and our Savior, the Spirit confirmed to me, "This is RIGHT where you are meant to be tonight. And this all happened because you chose to follow promptings."

I can't even describe how much I needed that personal and loving impression from the Spirit! Just that same evening, I'd broke down crying to Sis Green, expressing my frustration because I felt that I wasn't receiving clear direction on my purpose here. I felt that I was just a smile and a name tag......just another missionary passing through. I felt aimless, and wondered if I even mattered. 

I still get those feelings sometimes, and I'm still discovering what I specifically have to offer this area and these people, but that whispering from the spirit that night confirmed to me that as long as I'm trying.....as long as I'm listening to Him and following His will....

I'm RIGHT where I need to be.

And that's all that matters. So for now, I'm just keeping a prayer in my heart and the song in my head, "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, I'll be what you want me to be."

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker