Sunday, April 12, 2015

Coming Home: The Reunion




Sooooooo......


Have I kept you hanging too long?? Gosh I feel like Chris Harrison about to host an episode of "The Women Tell All"  HAHAHA! Ok don't get your hopes up...it's not THAT dramatic:) 


......but either way......here goes nothing;).....


So I sat down on my first flight to Detroit, my stomach was in a total knot (partially because I had only three bites of a dry english muffin for breakfast that morning and mostly because my life was about to be turned upside down)  and I remember wanting to do nothing more than to curl up in a ball and pause time until I could process what was happening. 

Yea like that would EVER happen. 



Instead, I had to act like a totally composed adult, casually buckling in, glancing out the window, staring across the isle, checking the phone.......minus the checking the phone part......while inwardly I was starting to shut down. I was starting....just starting....to decide that for the next hour flight I would deal with the stress, strain, butterflies, confusion, 90mph-brain-processing, emotional rollercoaster, companion separation anxiety, nervousness, overwhelm, etc. by going into my comfort zone and shutting out the world around me by reading the scriptures, praying A TON, writing in my journal A TON, thinking A TON, and not talking to ANYONE

(((((BUBBLE MODE)))))


YES. I just wanted to be in my own bubble and deal with all the emotional chaos going in inside me by doing all the good things I knew how to do. Seemed like a good idea, right??

WRONG.


Just when I thought I'd figured out how to solve my stress-case of a self....the spirit spoke clearly to my mind, reminding me of a prompting I had received about a week prior in a mission meeting: "Sister Parker, IT ISN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER. If you want to solve all these feelings you're feeling......if you want to cure your stress, your anxiety, your worry, your sadness, your sorrow, your uncertainty, your doubt, your nervousness.....do what you've been called to do. You've been called to share the gospel!! That calling never ends! Open your mouth! Use every minute you've been given! Until the last moment when you have to take that tag off, PROCLAIM. MY. GOSPEL!"

YES, I am sitting here, writing this post, with tears streaming down my face, remembering this moment!! AH!! It still gives me chills!! 

That prompting....that simple, sweet, yet EMPOWERING prompting breathed new air into me. I filled me with such incredible peace and hope. It calmed my fears about the future and assurance that my role as a missionary was ongoing. I was still hesitant, but I felt the strength of that witness and THAT was undeniable. It wasn't comfortable at first. I still wanted to curl up into my seat and cope with my problems solo style, but He knew me better than I knew myself so I trusted Him. 

I determined right then and there, to share the gospel with whoever I could on that flight. I even remember thinking, "45 min, huh....yep....well...Preach My Gospel says a lesson should rarely go over 45 minutes......PERFECT." hahaha! I know.....what a dork:) lol

Ok so here comes the drama.....

I no sooner committed to that prompting then I looked up, and saw an attractive tall dark and handsome guy (we're talking deep brown eyes, just-right Adam Levine scruff, and thick wavy hair kind of handsome) coming down the isle...


***OK PAUSE***

CLARIFICATION:  It's a well-known fact that being a missionary and trying to share the gospel with someone your same age of the opposite gender especially if they're even relatively attractive is for some reason ALWAYS RIDICULOUSLY harder than it should be. DON'T ASK. 

The Lord WOULD give me one of those "talk to everyone" kinda tests right after I committed to keep on preachin' till the end, now wouldn't He:) 

And of course....as SOON as I saw this guy....I got one of those "he's the one" feelings.......NO not one of THOSE feelings, girls:) the OTHER one of those feelings....like the ones that missionaries get when they see the "ones" that their suppose to talk to;)

Gosh.....who do you think I am??:) hahaha! JK:)


Sure enough......he comes right over....checks the seat markers above the window and says, "Looks like we're sitting together!" And......that's how it all began. Before we'd even taken off, we'd established that he was traveling to NYC to visit his brother, but that they were both originally from Peru (gotta love them guys with accents:) , didn't grow up in a specific religion, but that they were raised by "spiritual parents." By the end of the flight, we'd had a lengthy conversation about the Plan of Salvation, read from Alma 40, Moroni 8, 2 Nephi 31, exchanged contact information, discussed multiple church pamphlets and he agreed to have a Book of Mormon delivered to him, and said he wanted me to send him "lots more on the path for happiness thing over email.....like links and stuff." I can think of a website or two that could help with that:)

In return, he even helped me get on board my next flight that had been redirected. 

What a gentleman:)


By the time I got onto my next flight to New Hampshire, I realized just how completely happy I was. My previous feelings of anxiety, sadness, and even fatigue were completely gone. I was content, filled with energy, and enlivened knowing that I was still fully engaged in the work of the Lord. I sat down in my seat and waited, feeling like a kid on christmas morning waiting for my next "present" to come sit down next to me:)


Turns out, I couldn't have asked for a better seat mate. Sean and I talked the entire 2 hour flight!! We talked sports, his life in the military, his work, school, family, his growing up years in CHICAGO (coincidence?? i think not:), his hobbies, my mission, his world travels, foreign affairs, and then of course, it all came down to our common interest in religion. I'm pretty sure I had my Book of Mormon cracked out before the first half hour was up and we were talking about his kids, how we could help them through the stories found in the Book of Mormon, and what it was that meant the most to him in this life. 

I found myself on that loud, noisy, nauseating flight, feeling a rush of the spirit as Sean opened up to me about the struggles he's facing and the questions he has in regards to families, religion, and his search for more spiritual knowledge. With my testimony just BURNING in my heart, I was able to open the pages of the Book of Mormon--a book I have come to love with all my heart--and I was able to answer those questions, to bless his life, and to give him direction and in some small way perhaps some of the peace that he was looking for. 

Sean and I kept talking for the rest of the flight until about fifteen minutes before we were about to land. We'd discussed quite a few topics and I'd let him sorta guide the conversation and we'd been all over in the scriptures as I'd tried my best to answer his questions one after the other using passages from the Book of Mormon. 


>>>>And then came the PROMPTING of all PROMPTINGS<<<<<


"INVITE HIM TO YOUR HOME FOR DINNER"



I DISTINCTLY remember getting that prompting, glancing out the window, smiling to myself, and thinking, "Oh, Mom is going to love this one" but inwardly I knew that it was exactly what needed to happen and I couldn't wait to ask him! (plus I knew my rockstar-of-a-member-missionary-mom well enough to know that she'd catch onto the idea fast enough:) 

YES, I know it sounds UBER sketchy and YES, I DON'T recommend EVER doing it unless the spirit directs you to do it, but I can't tell you how excited I was for the spirit to give me this chance of a LIFETIME!!!! 


Sure enough, Sean readily accepted and I was GIDDY with excitement to introduce my newest investigator to my family as I walked off that plane!! Not every missionary gets to do THAT!! And it was INCREDIBLE!! 



OK.....so bear with me as I try to describe what it's like to come down that escalator and into the arms of family after 18 long months of being away from them. I first saw them huddled together holding signs and balloons and a just remember feeling happy and numb and almost like it was a dream. 

It didn't really hit me until I really saw my mom running towards me and then when she wrapped me in a hug......all those tears....all those tears I'd cried, wanted to cry, waited to cry.....I cried in her arms and it felt SO good. 

There really is NOTHING like hugging your mom. Especially after being away for 18 months. That's a hug I envisioned in my mind over and over and over again in my mind for the past year and a half and it was every bit as sweet and beautiful and amazing as I knew it would be!! Gosh....it's making me bawl here all over again just thinking about it!! hahaha!

Dad came running in late, because he had to park the car, and AS SOON as I saw him running through that terminal, I couldn't run fast enough to wrap my arms around his neck!! Gosh...there I go again.....crying over my laptop like it was a grave!! haha! Man, those moments will forever be the sweetest!! You can't replace reunions like that! A daddy and his daughter being reunited after a full-time mission!!

And then, of course, I hugged every sibling, cried hugging each one, cried more, laughed more, and then I introduced SEAN to them!!! And right then and there, I proposed the idea of bringing him home:) 


Hope you're glad to have me back, family:) hahaha! 


And I shouldn't have been surprised AT ALL when my parents both jumped right on the idea, and said, "Well if you don't have plans for lunch, why don't you just come home for lunch with us right now? And if you have more time later when you're in NH you can come again for dinner?"

Yea, basically I have the coolest member missionary family EVER.


Soooooo.....we loaded up into our MASSIVE 15-passenger van (gotta live it...gotta love it...this is home:) ......while Sean hopped in his rental car and followed us home....just like that:). Once we were home we enjoyed a meal together and then we had an AMAZING gospel discussion with Sean that eventually lead to an opportunity for me to teach the Restoration lesson one last time as a full-time missionary. 

I can't even express what that meant to me. To be able to teach that lesson--that lesson that I've taught SO many times--but that has SUCH a place in my heart, in the presence of my family, with someone that I just met, because I had the courage to endure to the end, to follow a prompting, and to finish strong, and to do the work I was given to do......AH!!! That is an experience--a blessing--I will FOREVER be grateful that the Lord gave me!! 

Sean eventually agreed to have a Book of Mormon delivered to him at his home in Indiana and I found out just yesterday that it's been officially delivered to him! He and I are still in close contact and we have discussion about gospel principles often. My Dad also gave him a For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet before he left our house that day and he and his wife are now using it to help their kids. I truly believe this is the beginning of something miraculous for Sean. Whether or not that's conversion, I believe that Sean's life will forever be changed because of that short flight from Detroit to New Hampshire. 

Open your mouth. Share the Gospel. Follow Promptings. Get out of your comfort zone. 

IT's NOT OVER TILL IT'S OVER!!!

We're all called to this work and it's for LIFE!!! 




........Coming up next........


> Removing the tag (my poor laptop's gonna get a watering) 

> What I Wish I Would've Known Before Coming Home (if any of you want to submit specific questions i can answer those here as well if that's helpful.....mom's of soon-to-be-RM's that includes you too:)

> The Home Coming Talk




The first hug 


excuse my face.....idk what it's doing:) hahah


REUNITED<3





The guy i brought home... SEAN!! :)