Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy December! - November 26, 2012

Haha Sister Pilcher couldn't even make it to Thanksgiving - we've been listening to Christmas music since the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
I bought a basket for my bike last Monday - my back was killing me even just carrying a Book of Mormon, water, and my scriptures. I feel like such a pansy now, but it's okay. And it's a lot harder to balance haha. But no wipeouts yet! Yay!
Oh and President Taylor wanted us to make sure that our families knew about the mission blogs - one is what Sister Taylor puts together from most of our activities and the other is more FAQs and is awesome. Apparently! So we've been at emails for way too long already because all of us got super distracted by the blogs and how awesome they are! anyway here are the sites:
Thanksgiving was good. Our rules were no sports or TV (duh), no visits unless you have an appointment, and dinner appointments had to be less than an hour. Our district got together in the morning for a couple hours and played Risk and a couple card games. Then we went and had lunch at an investigator's house (Carlos who's getting baptized on the 15th!). We went home and napped. That was awesome. Then our ward mission leader and his wife had us over for some Thanksgiving dinner! So we were home by like 6:30 I think and super bored. So we talked to the elders for a while and had scripture wars and pick up line contests (we have like 3 elders going home). Anyway. Slightly less than productive day. Thankfully I wasn't homesick until I saw all the pictures today at emails haha. I didn't eat anything crazy. Yay stateside English-speaking mission!
Sister Pilcher has recovered well. Although on Saturday haha she slept on her neck wrong and couldn't turn to the right so I got to drive the car that day! It was awesome. So nice to actually go the speed limit, feel safe, and have a bit more say on where we're going! And not have to have the phone! I'm feeling okay. I've been taking Vitamin C and drinking extra water.
I don't know how it works in Trenton's mission, but in our mission consecrated housing is like a 3-year contract and they pay the utilities every month I think. In Prescott, the lady we were living with had renewed her contract every time for like 30 years hahaha. So it's not a lot of money that they're given, but it saves the mission SO MUCH money by having them in houses rather than apartments.
Mom you asked about gift cards for Christmas - honestly we don't have much time to eat anywhere haha. So maybe like fast food - like Wendy's or Jack in the Box. It's not a bad idea, but something like Wal-Mart of Ross would be better. As sisters, we usually do okay on food during the month. And I could always use cardigans hint hint. Lightweight or heavier, whatever. Mine are wearing out so fast. But I do have to give credit for my Lone Peak roommates getting me into cardigans. I don't know. Tell people they don't have to give me anything for Christmas.
ALSO WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR CHRISTMAS? I'm debating sending a whole bunch of stuff to Hannah, Taylor, and Mom collectively because I have no idea what to get you anymore. I have some clothes/jewelry I've been collecting throughout the mission with y'all in mind (whoops I just gave it away but it's okay). Dad I'm not sure. Hahaha Matt and Elder Parks I have no idea. Oh dear. I'll probably try to send everything super early.
Sister Pilcher is doing well.
I don't want anything for Christmas.
2 more weeks until transfers.
And our zone for some reason has been on a kick about glasses - everyone wants RayBans and were super impressed by mine. I made sure to tell them that my mom and sister mostly picked them out because I was way too stressed out about having to wear glasses full-time and oh yeah leaving on my mission. Just thought you should know that everyone loves my glasses haha. Good pick!
10 Things I'm grateful for:
1. that initial burst of speed and excitement when you first start running
2. letters from the Anderson family - especially how Denise gives me all the facts about life (which is so awesome!) and then Ben gives me his humorous take on the same events and more (hilarious!)
3. how my parents email me every week!!!!!!!!!!
4. the way "Sister Parks" looks in any way and in any place (especially on my nametag)
5. the perception people have of me back home and what kind of a missionary I am - it really helps me want to become that
6. recognizing different ways the Spirit speaks to me and helps me along
7. books!
8. duh my most amazing family of all time
9. no food allergies!
10. LOVE - mostly being loved and being able to love
This week was fine. We were able to have a pass-off lesson with the zone leaders (so they could take a YSA from us) and it was so neat to be able to see them teach. They're really good. Gave us some things to work on.
And this email might be my shortest one ever! Yay!
Also, sorry that I don't get to respond to your personal email often. Just know that I seriously love them so much and am so grateful for them. I wish I could respond to everything you say because it's all so good! I love each and every one of you. What a great family we have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's great to be able to depend on each other.
I hope this week finds all of you well and wonderful. Keep smiling! And share with everyone hahahahaha
Sister Parks

Happy Turkey Day! - November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! Isn't it great? Ha everyone was asking us yesterday at church what we were doing for Thanksgiving and we honestly had no idea what we were doing. Nor did we have any mission rules about what was going to happen. So we just said, "Uh we don't know. It'll be great though." So we got a lot of half invitations. These are our rules for Thanksgiving that were texted to us last night - "Thanksgiving standard will be regular AM schedule (exercise, studies), no sports or turkey bowl, no TV or TV sports, visits by appointment only. Dinners no longer than an hour and use time in apartment productively (weekly planning, cleaning apartment, etc)" Ha so it should be great!
Questions: No Dad, it was Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the 70. Although our mission does report to Elder Callister and he comes to talk to President Taylor every so often. Coral was coming along super great. Later in the week we felt like she was holding something back but for some reason we were never able to bring it up. We didn't see her Saturday but she said she was really excited to see us at church the next day and have her baptismal interview. Then on Sunday she didn't show up for either times. We haven't heard back from her. So yeah we're pretty concerned. We're going by today. Yes, we've heard a lot about the new youth teaching curriculum. It sounds so exciting! It'll definitely talk a lot more to be a teacher, but I know it'll be great for the youth! How exciting! Very Preach My Gospel style. Mom, thank you for signing me up for Fisher's wedding announcement. That will be great (slash crazy!) to get. And no, I didn't know about her date, so that's awesome too! Wow. So much is changing. So with greasy spoon style, we had 9 items for dinner (4 food items and 6 utensils/drink/napkin). Each one was coded by the mom, and we wrote down 1-9 and then she gave us options to fill. So like she had coded the silverware (knife, spoon, and fork) as S1, S2, etc. Each course was 3 items. So like for the first course I had put down the codes that ended up being bread, napkin, and spoon whereas Sister Pilcher ended up with spaghetti, ice cream, and salad haha. It was interesting but hard to explain. I'll have to tell you another time.
And the Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos are the most amazing things. I love them.

And now BRIEFLY through my week:
Monday: Great. Pday rocks. We were missing some elders at basketball, so I actually played Dad! I totally held my own. And scored some goals! I might play again today. We'll see.
Tuesday: Fine. We had a really great RS activity that night. But then we were super late to our appointment with Coral. But it gave Bishop and his wife some time to get to know her better. Yeah...
Wednesday: Good day. Great lessons with Carlos and Coral.
Thursday: So crazy! Usually we take out like 3 hours in the morning to do our weekly planning on Thursday, but we were so busy that we had to move weekly planning to Saturday. It was mostly so crazy because our two wards overlapped appointments and meal appointments and so yeah. We were a little overbooked. But we had time to practice for our musical number that we were going to sing the same day. Mom I totally held my own on alto. Bam. Thanks. The elders brought a member to play the piano so I could sing.
Friday: 5 hours with Elder Koelliker! Wow. It was one of those, "you're awesome, but here's 1 bijillion more hard things you need to be doing". Kind of rough. But good. We were combined with 3 other zones, including the Prescott Zone so I got to see a lot of missionaries that I know. It's fun knowing so many. It's also hard that so many have left too though. And - this is important - Sister Murdock officially agreed that we're living together at BYU after the mission. So when it comes time to sign up for housing (when is all of this btw? I'm kind of freaking out), you parents get to talk to Katy Murdock's parents in Dallas (Flower Mound? Highland? I don't remember) so we can live together. Then Barbara's baptism was that night and it was really great even though Sister Pilcher was super sick with a cold and about to pass out haha. Then as we were cleaning up after the baptism a youth dance started and I felt so awkward. We cleared out of there fast.
Saturday: Good day. Running around. We are so low on miles but Sister Pilcher is too sick to bike haha.
Sunday: UM SO YEAH. Awful. Coral was totally MIA, Sister Pilcher was still pretty miserably sick, and we lost 2 investigators. Then, I walk into Bethany Home's sacrament meeting and see some weirdly familiar faces - CHRIS AND SHEA STUDINGER FROM PRESCOTT!!!!!!!!!!!! Remember, the ones that got baptized in April? Oh my gosh it was such a happy moment. So I got to sit next to them in sacrament meeting. They had tracked me down through the missionaries up there and kept track of my transfers so that this weekend, when they were in town for a wedding, they knew exactly what building and sacrament service to come to to see me. Wow. It's so nice to loved. I miss them. I'm saving my temple trips next year though so I can go to their sealing in April! Wow. It was great. I mean that was great. Having investigators drop off (3 in a few hours?! Ugh) was hard. But it's all right. Trials are usually a smack in the face because the faith propelling experience that moves you forward is so worth it. I think. Wow. Life is hard ha.
The pictures are of my district before Elder Wheelwright left. The elder with the ridiculous glasses on is Elder Colovich, our district leader. Charles isn't looking in the picture at the baptism, but that's okay. He's getting baptized in January. Also, thanks Mom and Hannah for the curling iron because I used it like every day this week. Don't ask me how I found the time. But I did.
Love, Sister Parks

SWEATER SEASON! - November 12, 2012

Hi. Yes. It has officially dropped below 70 degrees and everyone is freaking out. I am too. I honestly was not aware that the city of Phoenix dropped below 70. I thought that a "mild winter" meant that we didn't have the same temperatures here that we do in Austin. Oh dear. So Austin has "mild winters"? I think I'm becoming a total pansy. But I'm not complaining! I love the cold weather. It just seriously throws me off every time I walk outside haha. I'm pulling out my jackets, cardigans, and sweaters and actually getting to keep them on all day!

Yay this is where I get to answer all your questions!
Taylor: How's the weather? Chilly. Does it get cool at night? Yes. Do you need warmer clothes? Sweaters are nice. But I figure if I survived a winter in Prescott I should technically have enough clothes to last me through this Phoenix chilly season. Ugh so no. My closet is in a constant state of change it seems. Outfits get super boring when you wear them over and over haha. Not complaining though!
Mom: No there was no post it note – you had written it directly on the box so I knew exactly what you were talking about with not calling me fatwood. Thanks for explaining it! The shoes fit all right! With the heel grips I put in them they fit just fine. Thanks! Haha it was weird getting used to wearing even slightly raised heels again. I'm going to have a super hard time going back to my 3-inch heels apparently. Yes, my birthday balloons survived the trip. Haha they were fine. I have no idea if Elder Wheelwright is related to the Wheelwrights in our ward. I AM SO JEALOUS THAT BROTHER SALISBURY ASKED YOU TO SPEAK WITH HIM. Ugh I'm telling you it's on my bucket list. Seriously. Brother Salisbury is not allowed to be released as a high councilor until I have the opportunity to be his opening act. Haha I wish I had time to write a talk for you. You know everything about the youth! I'd just recommend talking about how they need to be prepared! We're going to have a whole bunch more of little 18 and 19-year-old youths taking our their endowments. They need to have testimonies now and be doing everything to gain those testimonies. Oh and Mom our mission is trying to bring in more special musical numbers, so I'm now being asked to sightread Sally DeFord music too... God is really blessing me Mom because some days I totally can't do it and other days I can. It's freaky. Thankfully I only play when our zone rehearses, not for actual mission performances.
Dad: Yes my biking shorts were a very good investment. I might need another pair because I came out with one but they're definitely too short, so the ones I have now Sister Bailey left me when she went home. I honestly think I'm doing okay. I always think I need more clothes but that is probably incorrect. Haha. Thanksgiving I think we'll just be eating at a member's home and going in at 6... so yeah. We don't have any plans right now haha. Yeah we heard that we're literally doubling the number of sisters in our mission come late January/early February (whenever the next transfer is). So everyone will be training probably. Looks like I'll finally get to be senior companion hahaha. Oh dear. I agree with Elder Parks - responsibility is not my forte. I think I haven't had much responsibility yet because I get prideful too. I'm power hungry! Hahahahaha. Well sort of. Then I get responsibility like being a solo sister on my Spanish-ish assignment and I just go into panic stress mode. God has to work very slowly with me. That is very obvious.

MONDAY: New investigator named Coral! She's great. Super prepared and showed up out of nowhere with her boyfriend. Owns a beauty salon. Might be giving us a spa day today... we'll see. Very interesting. I honestly don't know how this keeps happening to us but we'll be super grateful for all these ridiculously prepared people that keep showing up out of nowhere.
TUESDAY: Was fine. Oh and my ballot came on election day. Wow. It was sad haha because obviously I wasn't able to vote. Just a day late!
WEDNESDAY: We taught Coral again. That was nice. Then we got to go and bear our testimonies about the Personal Progress program to one of our ward's Young Women groups. That was super great. I hadn't really considered what an impact Personal Progress had on me developing my own personal habits of prayer and scripture study. I learned a lot and my testimony grew significantly from it! Amazing. Hello inspiration!
THURSDAY: We went on splits that night so I was with our new assistant ward mission leader and his wife. We were teaching a woman named Sara who has so many doubts it's sad. She's had great spiritual experiences that have helped her to know that God is there but then she starts doubting it! I don't know why. Also, children have randomly started loving me since I became a missionary and can't hold them... Children did not like me before my mission when I could hold them. Just saying. It's interesting.
FRIDAY: We had a meeting with our whole zone! Love it! We thought it was only going from 2:30 to 4:30 but turns out it was from 2:00 to 5:00 and we stayed an extra 30 minutes to learn Sally DeFord's SATB version of "Come Thou Fount" which we're singing this week when Elder Kolliker (probably butchering his name) comes to see us. Elder Hastings, Elder Wainwright, and I all took turns trying to play it and trying to learn our singing parts too haha. It was funny. I told Elder Fagersten I'd try to learn it so I could play it when we practice again this week. But yeah zone meeting was really good. We have good zone leaders and great elders in our zone. That night we had dinner with a family and they did it "greasy spoon" style where the meal was coded and so whatever you put in was what you had for that course. I did pretty well and had a utensil and food for every course, but Sister Pilcher had spaghetti, ice cream, and salad her first course with no silverware haha.  It was funny to watch. Not sure I'd recommend that for when y'all feed the missionaries, but it was fun. After that we met up with Hermanas Folsom and Holmes in the Phoenix Stake (right now I'm serving in the Phoenix North Stake) for exchanges. Isn't that cool?! President announced in August that we're going to start like every quarter or so going on exchanges with Spanish sisters which is so great. Sister Pilcher went with Sister Holmes back to their area and I stayed here with Hermana Folsom.
so then on SATURDAY: I was the "exchange conductor" and led the exchange in my area. Thankfully we had a super busy day. Hermana Folsom is really great! Turns out that we entered the MTC the same date, but since she learned Spanish I never met her and she came out into the field a transfer after me. But we'll go home together come next August. And she's a triplet. Crazy. We had a couple interesting lessons that day with people that I honestly couldn't discern their intentions and then went to a baby shower for a bit. Almost had a joint lesson with the Spanish elders (the mother is a LA in our ward and her father is a LA in their ward) but of course the family wasn't there for our lesson. I'm telling you - every time we have an opportunity to teach with the Spanish elders it doesn't work out haha. That night Barbara had her baptism interview with Elder Colovich and is good for baptism this Friday! We're excited for her. Her husband Charles needs to stop smoking and then he'll get baptized too. Hermana Folsom and I got to attend part of the adult session of stake conference, and then we left early so I could drive her back and get my regular companion back. I love exchanges. I always learn a lot.
And then SUNDAY: was so awesome. Our stake conference was a broadcast from Salt Lake. Elder Holland and President Eyring spoke. It was so good. They talked a lot about missionary work and how members need to be more involved. Yes! It was very sweet because Elder Holland talked about how we feel sending our sons and daughters out into the field and how we want them to be successful so as such we should help our missionaries (other people's sons and daughters) that have been sent to us here. He talked about how these times are different with increased suspicions, dangers, offense at invasion of privacy, and gated communities. He asked the 95 stakes in Arizona that he was addressing how we can possibly send missionaries to places we ourselves wouldn't take them. It was so great. We missionaries were like, "THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!" He talked about his apostalic calling and said of him and the other apostles that "what we have always said, we really do know" and bore testimony about the Godhead and the Restoration. It was beautiful. He talked about how there's a greater urgency in the world and how we need to be more, do more, and go farther. He said near the end of his talk about missionaries that "we want them to be successful, so be prepared because they're coming in great numbers". It's true! We have no idea how it's going to work with all the missionaries we're going to be getting next year. Then President Eyring spoke about being a wise optimist. It was so great! He quoted the scripture in D&C 71 I think it is about how no weapon formed thee shall prosper and how that is our heritage. Our faith in Jesus Christ allows us to be optimists. He then talked about how exciting it will be with all these missionaries coming home younger from their missions and how they'll be on fire and fearless and spread that to their children. Finally, President Kimball's vision of "every member a missionary" will come true! It was exciting. Wow. So good. Everything after that was not as exciting haha.
And now it's Monday and my email of course is very long again. You should see if you can watch or listen to the stake conference! It was so good. So good. President Eyring and Elder Holland weren't the only speakers, but they were the best in my opinion. I feel very blessed to be here in Arizona at this time and having the opportunity to talk to so many different types of people. I feel that I'm being prepared to constantly be a missionary the rest of my life and never having an reservations in talking to anyone about the happiest part of my life. Arizona is preparing for something big - I'm not sure what. But it's going to have 6 temples soon. Our ward leaders and us as missionaries have been having a lot more meetings lately with people of great importance in the church. It's exciting to be a part of.
I'd say this email is way too long so I'll go. LOVE Y'ALL LOTS.
As always, Sister Parks
P.S. Can someone get me the mission address for Sara Jolley? She should be in Ecuador by now. I think. Morty wrote me from Tampa! Little Sister Mortensen. And I haven't heard from Hermana Shea Moon yet, but I'll probably write her soon. When is Brittany Fisher getting married?

Hello! - November 5, 2012

Well folks haha it's been another interesting week. I think missionary work brings the greatest joy only because it brings the greatest hardships too.
Mom what in the world is "fat wood"? It was written all over the shoe box that had one of my presents in it (p.s. as a side note, I totally thought for a moment that you'd sent me tacos from H-E-B for my birthday and I was super confused until I saw the box was already open and there was a shirt inside hahaha) and all you wrote to explain it was, "Not you Hil!"
Dad: Yes, when it's transfer week, my Pday is Tuesday, not Monday. Sorry for forgetting to warn you! The next round of transfers isn't until December. Pavel didn't show up for our appointment :( and he didn't come to church. Why do people lie to us?! I don't get it. We'll try and see him again this week because the gospel in his life would be AMAZING. Ugh no I never got my voting ballot. I am so sad. We got mail from the office twice this week but it still wasn't there. My favorite meal this past week... Sister Pilcher made this awesome chicken/broccoli/potato stew/chowder thing in our crock pot. It was awesome. Normally we're in members' homes for dinner like 6 days a week (I know - it's awesome) but this week we had one! Crazy. That is super odd. With our two wards though we have a plethora of people signing up to feed us. This week was just really weird for some reason.
So now for the week's report!
TUESDAY: Pday is the greatest thing ever. Not really but it's pretty awesome. I took a nap. I love naps. Then that night we had dinner with our ward mission leader and then the weekly missionary coordination meeting which went well. Lots of involvement and we just got a new assistant ward mission leader. Then we had an appointment with Quiah. We had some members with us, and we kind of forgot that Quiah's apartment complex has a lot of cockroaches. A lot of cockroaches. They were like on the couches with us. Our members were really distracted hahahaha. But it was a good lesson! Quiah is very prepared and has so many good questions and intentions. His lesson on Thursday was at the church hahaha.
WEDNESDAY: Tuesday and Wednesday were both bike days because we're totally out of miles. Thankfully we're going to the chiropractor today. Yay for state-side missions!!!! Anyway but being on bike is awesome. It's super tiring, but it gets you pumped for the work in a great way. And thankfully I have bike shorts because I cannot keep my skirts down. Wow. I've seriously tried every method I can think of and every skirt I have. Impossible. Sister Pilcher has been encouraging me to take the lead in biking (like I go in front of her haha and she expects me to know where I'm going - it generally works!) but it's also good because I've had a couple almost wipe outs haha. The first one I did some maneuvering around a palm tree and garbage can and almost lost my balance on the grass and the second time I tried to press the crosswalk button, but I didn't slow down enough. So I safely dismounted and watched my bike fall over a foot away from me. Then, classic Hilary, I raised my fists high in the air like I did it on purpose just for all the cars driving past us at the intersection. Riding bikes is so fun though! Oh and then we stayed inside for Halloween and were super bored. I think I watched every church video we own. And we went to bed like an hour early. But I'm glad we had to go in at 6 because around 4 there were some really sketchy people riding their bikes around town like us except they had creepy masks on haha. Can you see why I'm not a huge fan of big cities? Smaller places you can escape the craze a bit more.
THURSDAY: We did some tracting (door-to-door) in a really pretty neighborhood. We didn't have much success at all, but people were very cordial and a little more honest about how uninterested they were in hearing our message. Oh well. But hey in Phoenix they have this crazy concept of "winter grass". I think it's rye grass, and they replace their nasty summer grass around this time of the year and let me tell you winter grass is gorgeous. Kind of creepily gorgeous because it's super green and super thick. I always want to touch it. It looks fake but it so soft! Anyway. Creepy moments from Sister Parks done. Later that night we had two appointments with Quiah and Barbara that both went really well. Fun!
FRIDAY: District meeting and district lunch! I love our district. Our zone leaders were a little moody but that's okay. Our new Spanish elder, Elder Scott, seems pretty cool. We might all be lying to him currently though because we're pretending that Elder Laititi is the district leader, not Elder Colovich... yeah we're missionaries and have no entertainment. It's okay. We're going to see how long we can keep it going. So Elder Laititi conducted district meeting. Oh and Mom you'll be happy to know that with our Spanish elder, Elder Wheelwright, transferred, I'm now the only person in our zone (so like the 12 missionaries in the Phoenix North Stake) that plays the piano. So I'll always be playing at meetings now haha. Oh and I learned a hymn the night before (87 - God is Love) for Josh's baptism Saturday morning because we forgot to find a pianist. Fun! Anyway. Then Friday night our appointment with Pavel fell through, so we went with our ward mission leader over to an investigator that we've had a really hard time getting in contact with. Well they were home and his wife was really sick, so our ward mission leader was able to give a blessing and we got to talk to him and overall it was just great. He was really touched that we've always been there for him and said he'd be at church on Sunday. Which he was!
SATURDAY: Crazy day. We were running all over the place but nothing was really working. Also, a couple homeless people came in while we were eating lunch at this Mexican place. One of them was apparently Mormon and they asked us for money. I don't know. It was a really weird situation. We felt really weird about it. I don't know. Maybe I'll tell you about it another time. I just have a hard time of being able to balance that concept of that we're all beggars and that we need to help people according to their wants, not their needs (isn't that what it says in King Benjamin's speech in Mosiah?). We took Barbara to a baptism in our district leader's ward which was really great. She was happy to see how her own baptism will be on the 17th and is excited.
SUNDAY: was crazy church as always. Lots of meetings. Lots of people we still don't know but we're working on it! :)
Elder Paul Kolikker (I'm probably butchering that spelling) is coming to visit our mission in a couple weeks. He's from the 70. Apparently they'll be meeting with us as multiple zones and they might come visit our apartments. Weird right? A member of the Quorum of the 70 could be inspecting my apartment for cleanliness. Random. But it'll be very good. All of us are supposed to prepare a talk on a Preach My Gospel subject because he's going to call on some of us to give it. Wow! We're having lots of great opportunities in our mission right now!
Today will be good. We're happy to have miles again. And this email is ridiculously long so I'm going to go. Boy.
The gospel is true!
I love y'all so much. And Mom and Dad - thank you for writing me every week. Apparently that is a rarity in my district at least, and your emails really help me for the rest of my week. It really does mean a lot.
LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Parks

HIIIIIIIIIII - October 30, 2012

Hello my darling family!
We're sitting here in the family history center waiting for the text to tell us if we're being transferred or not. Yay.
Let's see. Happy early Halloween! We have to be in at 6.
MONDAY: GOT MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE. IT WAS AWESOME. I OPENED A PRESENT A DAY. It's all so cute!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!! We were expecting to have a lesson with James to discuss his baptism on Saturday or Friday and it ended up being a pizza party. It was super uncomfortable. But we managed to go over the baptism questions with him and set an appointment for Tuesday.
TUESDAY: Tuesday was crazy. We were biking and ran into this guy who was clearing dead trees. We offered to help and called the Spanish elders to come over and help us too. Turned out the guy was super needy and rude so we left after some hard labor moving giant tree limbs and truck sections. Sad. That night though we had coordination (this is the meeting led by the ward mission leader that we have weekly where we make specific plans on how we're going to help those we're working with) and two lessons. We had to be very blunt with James and dispell some false doctrine that he believed. So that was interesting.
I'M NOT BEING TRANSFERRED. So.... Ha. Yeah. Please pray for me.
WEDNESDAY: We met with our young ward mission leader in the other ward and started developing a ward mission plan. It's nice to see him taking his responsibilities more seriously and realizing there's more to it. We stopped by the Spanish elders' apartment because they had our mail and we had Elder Anderson's voting ballot. Anyway we went a different way than we normally do and knocked on a door that was opened by a half-naked Mexican man... yeah... awkward. It was pretty funny though  - we had a good laugh.
THURSDAY: Dinner with our Bishop which was good. James had his interview with President Taylor for baptism. We were on bike all day because we're completely out of miles. It was funny.
FRIDAY: District meeting was awesome as usual. Then we had lunch together at a district. A member happened to be there and paid for our meal! It was so sweet. Then James was baptized that night. There were a ton of people there, including President and Sister Taylor. The Spirit was really strong, and Sister Pilcher and I gave a presentation on the Atonement. A lovely baptism.
SATURDAY: Service project at 7 in the morning. We got to wear the Mormon Helping Hands vests! I was so excited. We were cleaning up a golf course and it was super hard work. We were totally drained haha. The Spanish elders sang happy birthday to me in Spanish. There was a wedding that night for Angela and Josh at the church right after the Halloween party, so everyone was in costume.
SUNDAY: Josh was baptized at 8 am. Very nice too. There was a surprisingly large amount of people there, so that was wonderful. Lots of meetings.
YESTERDAY: Bikes. We met a really cool guy named Pavel from Poland. He was a sociology major! We talked for a super long time outside his house near where our bikes were parked. Then we went home for lunch and Sister Pilcher fell asleep during it and then she woke up and started getting sick. So we stayed home for a bit while she kept getting sick. It was gross.
Ha I have no idea what to talk about. I got a really sweet letter and card from Grandma. That was nice.
It's good to get your emails. Thank you very much. Love y'all a ton!
Love, Sister Parks

Monday, October 22, 2012

WOW - October 22, 2012

Hey guess what! October 19th was my beloved Lyndsey Resnik's birthday (wow 22 - I never thought we'd get to this age) but it's also the year mark of when I got my mission call!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!
Yeah it was a cool discovery.
MONDAY: Was pretty interesting. Our ward mission leader picked up a kid off the street and was convinced that we should teach him the lessons. Needless to say it didn't work out, but we ate dinner with them Monday night. And then scheduled an appointment for Tuesday night which (not surprisingly) the kid did not show up to. And during Pday we spent like 3 hours playing sports with the elders (okay Sister Pilcher played and I sat and wrote letters when I really wanted to take a nap) and then I came to the realization that I should probably be participating with my zone... I refuse to play soccer or basketball though. Volleyball only.
TUESDAY: Tuesday was weird. We're trying to meet people in the ward and like no one was home. We're already low on miles, so it probably wasn't good planning on our part either. Yeah. And I felt nasty that morning. Just like dead tired. Anyway. Sorry. We won't go into Tuesday. But our coordination meeting that night was great because auxillary heads actually came! Apparently in the new handbook, it says that the auxillaries don't have to come to coordination (which was not at all what happened in Prescott or Glendale so I was really confused when I got here).
WEDNESDAY: time! I love Slash mostly I love the Bible videos and the mormon messages. Wow. It's fun sharing those with people when they don't want to listen to what you have to say too. We stopped by a member who we needed to reschedule dinner with and she said, "Oh can you wait a few minutes? My next door neighbor has been asking me questions about our religion so I'll invite her over and you can talk" Uhhh okay! It was pretty awkward because she really wasn't interested and had a lot of misconceptions that she wasn't willing to clear up, but I think we made a good impression at least. The Phoenix North Stake (aka the stake I'm currently serving in) has a mission prep class they do once a month, and Sister Pilcher and I were the "guest speakers" this month. We gave little talks - me about the importance of bearing testimony and Sister Pilcher on sacrifice. Then they had the pre-missionaries prepared in companionships to teach a principle and we got to give a positive evaluation on how they did. Haha it was good because they're learning Preach My Gospel, but they're going to get hit hard by the spiritual bat of reality when they go to the MTC. It was cool though.
THURSDAY: Fine. Why am I even going through these days?
FRIDAY: because in reality I only want to get to
SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: ELDER NEIL A. ANDERSEN AND SOME OTHER GENERAL AUTHORITIES CAME AND SPOKE TO US. We were physically and spiritually exhausted the rest of the day. And it was at the Phoenix Temple site which was so beautiful. They're filling in the concrete on the baptismal font today! And the outer framework is all done! It will be beautiful when it's done APRIL 2014. Geez.... Oh well. It was so crazy to see the whole mission. We were crammed into the stake center chapel. It was so great. And wow. Elder Andersen is like a real person. He was making jokes and forgetting names in his stories and flipping through his scriptures to find a particular one. It was great. Wow. Wow. He talked about so much. Wow. Our minds were blown. He talked about the Atonement and the doctrine of Christ and repentance and how missionary work is different than how it was in the past and how something wonderful is coming! He told us to read the new Testament where Christ speaks and to always bear testimony of Him. he told us to know that He lives more than we know now. And it was so amazing. As he closed he touched his chest 3 times and said that one day, our badges from the Arizona Phoenix Mission will be badges of honor for eternity. Wow. And then he talked about Christ a bit more and said, "I am His witness" and then he got just a little choked up and the room was silent for like 30 seconds. Completely silent. And then he bore a very powerful testimony and we were all just floored by the Spirit. It was amazing. Wow.
SUNDAY: I came to the realization that you will always be responsible for other people throughout your life. So. I need to get over it and be okay with it.
THIS MORNING: We went hiking as a district and with our zone leaders, so there were 8 of us. And it was fun! I think we were only up 2000 feet at the top of the mountain(ish thing), but you could see the whole Phoenix valley and it was very beautiful. Reminded me of how when we flow in back in February, they did that great spin around the city and I just got so excited because it was mine! Bahahaha! Then I got transferred to Prescott haha and never saw it. But now I'm back in the valley so it's mine!!! Also, we love our elders. They're so great. I'll have to email you pictures from the district leader because I forgot my camera.   
ALSO HELLO?! How is Hannah's birthday present going? If you don't answer, I'm not emailing any of you next week and I'm not telling you about my birthday. Okay maybe Taylor and Matt. And Elder Parks. Maybe Mom too. But that's it! Ugh okay maybe not. Just tell me!
The pictures are from the mission conference Saturday. The sun was really bright so we all look ridiculous. But it's right there on the temple site with our whole zone. Pretty neat!
Also, District meeting on Friday was great. Elder Colovich had us write down all the truths and ordinances that have been brought back through the Restoration of the gospel. Then he had each of us bear testimony on one of them, why it's important to us, and how it has shaped us as a missionary. I bore testimony about revelation and how I get to tell people every day that the heavens are not closed! God still speaks to us! He cares about us on an individual basis, enough to reveal what we need to help us become the best people we can become. But He also cares about us on a worldwide basis, enough to reveal the organization of His church and His doctrine through living prophets. We can be united, strengthed, and made safe in this worldwide church and can be together forever as families. ISN'T IT AMAZING?! It was great. We need His guidance more than ever, and He gives it.
Wow. Isn't the truth amazing?
Time for maybe a couple individual emails! I love y'all so much. I'll try not to feel guilty about the birthday package. THANK YOU FOR THE SLIME TIRES.
Sister Parks

WHAT A TRIP - October 15, 2012

Blizzard all the way! Snow 20 feet deep!
Okay no but really this week was crazy busy! One of those weeks where you feel like it's a billion years long but yet speeds by. Does that make sense? Mission time is WARPED. Also, Tracie emailed me again! Wow. I guess I should write her hahahaha.
ALSO A MEMBER OF THE 12 IS COMING TO TALK TO US THIS WEEKEND. I won't go into more but OH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are so excited. It will be the first time I see our whole mission together. It will be so exciting. I am thrilled. And it will be basically on the temple site for the Phoenix temple which like has all the metalwork or something! Oh wow.
MONDAY: Pday was interesting. Sister Pilcher and I were kind of going up and down for various reasons. We saw Mesa missionaries in Wal-Mart again. I don't know why, but it's always so funny that we grocery shop outside our mission which is so taboo. But we have permission I promise! Then the rest of Pday (our evening proselyting time) was not as productive as it could have been. We met with our ward mission leader and with a member who just moved here from Liberia and she wants her daughter to be baptized. Her daughter's not having any of it but at least was nice.
TUESDAY: Car checks and zone interviews! Elder Rodgers, the senior missionary (so like as in a senior missionary couple assigned here to Phoenix) over cars LOVES ME. Which is so great because I love him too. I won't attribute that to the fact that we beat our Spanish elders and Zone leaders in car inspections, but I'm sure it is. My interview with President was pretty good. A lot like my first interview with him because he mostly just gave me advice on how to balance things. He gave good advice on how I could be a better companion which I've tried to implement. Later that night we had coordination and then met with a wonderful older lady named Barbara. She just moved her from the Mesa mission and is on fire. Haha she's going to be baptized either the 26th or 27th. Poor Mesa missionaries. She is very well-versed and has a doctorate in theology. She loves the Book of Mormon and came to church yesterday. A wonderful lady! She's so funny.
WEDNESDAY: We met with some less-actives and invited them back to renew of their covenants and be happy again. We were knocking doors and found some Jehovah Witnesses who invited us in for like an hour. It almost got heated a couple times, but I didn't have my Bible on me and the Spirit totally left when that happened, so thankfully we left on good terms. Although now I am just more confused than ever on their religion. It doesn't make sense. But they were really nice. Then we had a dinner appointment with some members who invited some people from the ward and their friend who's not a member. We shared a message from Jeremiah 1:5 and how God knows us and loves us and knows our capabilities. Their friend really liked us, and hopefully we'll be able to meet with her soon. The members who had us over were really grateful and excited. And they loved your conversion story Mom and Dad. Somehow I end up sharing that a lot.
THURSDAY: We found a really great view of Phoenix. Turns out downtown Phoenix is not in the Phoenix Mission but in the Mesa Mission. Funny huh? That's all I'm going to say about Thursday.
FRIDAY: I was back in Glendale for exchanges! It was pretty crazy to be back in the last area I left just a few weeks later. Sister Follett was extremely grateful to have me there. I don't feel like I solved any of her many concerns or problems, but I think she at least took comfort in being able to talk to someone and relax a little bit. The Elia family from Iraq are getting baptized on the 20th! And they're inviting tons of people (like their neighbors) to come to church with them! How exciting. Jason is not progressing, but we went by to see him and at least discuss that. He's going through a lot of hard things right now, and that was hard to see. But he was grateful that we came by. It was really amazing to see people continuing to progress and interesting to see how quickly things change.
SATURDAY: One of our investigators named Carlos got married. Then we went to a baptism. That's all for Saturday.
SUNDAY: Long day. It ended nice by the end of the night.
Love y'all so much. Please don't send me any more packages - my guilt is racking my soul.
Love, Sister Parks


OH MY GOSH GENERAL CONFERENCE WAS SO AMAZING. I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE IT. There were 8 of us missionaries in the stake center when President Monson made the announcement about lowering the age of missionaries (apparently Elder Holland later announced that they're reducing the time in the MTC by a third too). This is what I wrote in my notes because we were all SO overwhelmed by the Spirit. It is definitely inspired (as if you needed me to tell you that): "President Monson just announced that young men can serve missions at age 18 and that sisters can sere when they are 19 - wow. We are dumbstruck, amazed, and overjoyed. Hannah is so close! I can't imagine. Oh my word it's a miracle. The missionaries are going to start flooding in. Think of how amazing this will be for those who are stronger than ever and needing the wonderful gift of missionary work to help save their souls as well as others. Let no man despise thy youth!" Hannah - I couldn't get you out of my mind during the first session of conference. Not that I receive revelation for you (oh wow no) but you were just definitely in my thoughts all throughout that morning session. I just love you and think you're great. I don't know it's just so amazing. I already feel like the kids just a few years younger than me are so much stronger and more capable. They will be perfectly ready and capable to go out earlier. I was thinking about where I was at 19/20 and how EXCITED I was to serve a mission, especially with all my guy friends going out on missions at the same time. It's great. It will be amazing.
So yeah. General Conference was amazing as usual. I was very moved and inspired.
Also totally random: the Spanish elders turned around to us at General Conference Sunday morning and asked, "Are you two watching conference here?" We answered in the affirmative (I like watching Conference in the stake center way more than at members' homes... I know it's bad). They said, "Okay well there's this guy we met who says that he knows you from BYU. Like our member's nephew or something." I looked befuddled and an elder said, "Well he told us that there was a Sister Parks serving in this area, and we told him that 'yeah, she's in our area' ". Now I was really confused and they said, "He speaks Spanish [duh]! He served in Florida." "Andy Wallmann?!" I exclaimed. They affirmed my guess. And then they told me that they told him not to come to the stake center and had like no information about him. So it's funny because it's against church policy for Andy to purposefully see me, and it's not allowed for me to write him since he's probably near mission boundaries. And he's like right here and I had no idea. Funny huh? Okay well I thought it was funny. And totally random. I honestly had forgotten about Andy because last time we exchanged letters was like in March. And I've forgotten A LOT of things since then...
I had a neat experience last night when we were doing some studies. There's a really great chapter in the beginning of Preach My Gospel - it's Chapter 1: My Purpose. I have been feeling a little dissatisfied with the work we've been doing here in this area. Mostly the lack of work we've been doing in this area - not in numbers per say (although we do have awful numbers) - but just in the actual time we go out fishing and actually having our lines in the water. And then at conference as they read all these facts and statistics (!!! <3) from social science research I really wanted to be back at school or just back home doing something. I felt like I wasn't doing good here in this area. Well then there was this amazing quote by President Benson that I was drawn to. In essence, he talked about how the gospel is the cause that must unite our world today. It will unite nations and nationalities and will bring joy, peace, and consolation to our world. Basically, the gospel is what will save our world from calamity. The best good I can be doing right now if I want to help the world is by helping the people here in Phoenix, Arizona have the gospel in their lives and in their families. I shouldn't pass by any opportunity to spread the gospel and share the joy that I have and that has saved my family so much heartache. This is more than I will ever do as a research demographer or park ranger or writer or whatever other occupation I wanted to have. And I've been blessed to have this opportunity to do this at this time. This was daunting and yet comforting. My thoughts of school and jobs were put on hold and then I pondered how I could ignite this fire again of wanting to share the solution to all problems with everyone I saw. And get this - the paragraph right before President Benson's quote said that as we understand the Atonement more, we'll have an increased desire to share the gospel. WOW. So I guess I'll be studying the Atonement a lot.
We have interviews with President tomorrow and will be focused on obedience from what we've heard which is actually what I'm struggling with right now. Yay! And then get this - I'm going on exchanges this week (so I spend 24 hours with another sister in another area) in Glendale hahaha. Only 3 weeks later and I'm already going back. I'll be with the new English sister there - Sister Follett - and Hermana Garcia will be coming to be with Sister Pilcher. I am honestly super excited because I think it will be a great push for both Sister Pilcher and me.
Well I know details about my week are very much wanted, but you'll just have to do and guess about what I do every day. Wait... I'm a missionary... you can figure it out and make up the people and the places hahaha.
I'm going to respond to some personal emails real fast. Know that I love y'all very much. Please tell Tracie that I loved her email but am not sure as to how soon I'll be able to respond.
The gospel is true! It is the greatest gift we have to give to our children, our friends, our neighbors, and the world.
Sister Parks

exhausted fingers - October 1, 2012

Because I've been writing a billion other emails. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!
We have so many meetings this month! October is going to be great!
Um Relief Society Broadcast was amazing!!!!!!!!!! An investigator came. Wow. Her name is Phyllis. She's a little older (just a little) and lost her husband recently. We've only taught one lesson with her, but she was able to come to the broadcast. She was like in tears the whole time and was just floored by it. She said she felt like they were only speaking to her. Isn't that so sensational?! I am so excited for General Conference, and then we have interviews with President that following Tuesday. I know it might be bad, but I LOVE MEETINGS SO MUCH.
Also we have to leave in like 2 minutes. Hahaha sorry for this email. Looks like people are just going to have to write me to see what's going on in my life!
A missionary gave his farewell in one of my wards this week. It was so emotional - his ward family had invested so much in him, and the whole congregation was so proud of him. It'll be amazing.
The gospel is so true. It's incredible. I can't believe it. Well obviously I do hahahaha.
Life is good. Emails are great. My family is the bomb. I feel really mature right now. Dad I'll write you later. But thanks for the voter registration form!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited! I love this country. I feel very blessed to serve here.
Love love love love love
Sister Parks

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PHOENIX PROPER - September 24, 2012

Hello lovelies!
HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY MOM! I'm scared I'm going to forget it next week so just in case. Make sure Elder Parks doesn't forget.
I got to speak in my first ward yesterday haha. So Hannah we could have been speaking at the same time! Wow!!!!!!!!!! I read your talk - it's adorable. You're so cute. I'd send you my talk, but it's a lot of random notes because I don't have a computer to write my talks on anymore hahaha.
My new companion is Sister Pilcher. She is a realist from a little town near Sacramento. She's just a transfer ahead of me. She and Sister Murdock got along really well. She's tall and nice.
Yes we have a car. We have just a few miles less than my last area, so Sister Pilcher says they usually end up riding bikes a few days every month to keep the miles within our limits.
Oh and then I guess there's an odd number of English and Spanish sisters because Sister Follett (this ADORABLE sister who was serving in the retirement community of Sun City) was transferred to be with Hermana Garcia. They'll be a hybrid companionship covering Manistee Ranch and Solano (the Spanish ward). I think they'll do really well together. Sister Follett will be perfect for Manistee Ranch and she knows some Spanish too which will really help haha.
I love my new wards! Oh my gosh they are so great. Inactivity is really high (like really high - like 60/70%) so we'll be doing a lot of getting to know the ward and bringing people back to church and happiness and keeping covenants! Oh yeah! We have really great support and a huge variety of people. The members are very involved and we have great ward mission leaders. And people will give other people rides all the time! It is so great! And our area is literally the southern and eastern boundary of the mission (we're right next to the Mesa mission). In fact, we go grocery shopping in the Mesa mission. It's hilarious.
ALSO PLEASE DON'T SEND ME ANY PACKAGES. ESPECIALLY NEXT MONTH. I spent way too much money shopping in Glendale. Then, as I hung up my new clothes here in Phoenix I had that embarrassing moment when I realized that as much as I always feel like I need more outfits, I should probably be happy with what I have. Please don't send me anything more. I feel so bad. My last Pday in Glendale we went to this store for like 30 minutes (we had no time to do anything other than email family, go shopping there really fast, and MOVE out - I didn't start packing until like 9:00 that night) and the lady totally talked me into cute clothes that I never would have spent that much money on. Oh my gosh I was mortified. So yeah. And my tennis shoes are falling apart, so I'll go get some cheap ones. Oh my gosh and socks probably too. Basically don't send me anything. I'm so embarrassed at my materialism.
My back bike tire kept going flat and we realized it was because the valve was off just enough that the pressure kept making it go flat. The tire itself should be fine. We had our district leader (who's on bike) fix it on Sunday really fast so it should be fine now. Gah if you feel like you should buy tires, here are the measurements: 54-559 or 26x2.10 or other stuff. I honestly didn't get it.
Life is good. Personal study has been so great lately just being able to feel the Spirit and see needs met. I'm getting my feet here slowly but surely and it's so great. I know I'm being blessed well beyond my own abilities. I'm working a lot on not comparing myself to other missionaries and what would you know but it makes me so much happier! I'm really grateful to have been blessed with the ability to just go up and talk to people and be genuinely excited to meet them. Sunday was super fun meeting two new wards!
Also, my goal in life is to one day be Brother Salisbury's opening speaking when he's a high councilor still when I'm home (that better happen!). Remember when he asked me like twice or thrice and I couldn't any of those times?! UGHHHHH. Haha it'll be great.
Okay sorry we have to go to the chiropractor. HEY BUT I LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH! THANKS FOR EVERYTHING.
Bunches of oats,
Sister Parks

TRANSFERRED - September 19, 2012

Okay I was transferred literally just down south to Sister Murdock's old ward - Bethany Home. hahahaha it's so great. I'm with a really tall great sister named Sister Pilcher. She's great! We're over two wards right by the mountain. North Mountain that is. My old area is now a hybrid companionship (well still a hybrid companionship) with Hermana Garcia and Sister Follett who speaks a little Spanish. She's way more optimistic and happy than me, so she'll be great.

New address:
6148 N 16th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85015

Love, Sister Parks (your favorite sister missionary - DENY IT IF YOU DARE. And deny also that you're the Shropshire Slasher!!!!!!!!!!)
hahahahaha I love life
P.S. I got to see President Taylor after transfer meeting and he asked me how I'm doing and I just finally asked, "President, did I fail?" and he said no and that I should never say that. He just knew how stressed I was. Oh dear.
More news Monday. Love ya lots

THANKS!!!!!!!!! - it's short Elder Parks - maybe you can read it! - September 18, 2012

What a great week! A great week indeed! Letter from Lizzie, email from Kyle, package from Taylor.
Oh and I'm being transferred. That I wouldn't include in my great week moment. I think I've been in a state of shock for the past 8 weeks. This just adds to it. Hermana Garcia is staying, and we have no idea what will be happening to our area.
Hermana Graves left for the mission home yesterday and flew home today. We have 24 new missionaries coming in today and will be in a LONG transfer meeting tomorrow as we'll get to meet all of them haha. Finally some English sisters coming in! 3 of them! We're happy to have them. And thankfully I am not training. I hope my time in Glendale has not made me look like a failure.
These are pictures essentially from like the last 4 weeks from Hermana Garcia's camera and mine. This one day we all accidentally walked out in salmon hahaha. And we stayed like that all day hahahahahahahaha. Oh wow. Missionary jokes. Wow it was funny though. And then it was over 100 again (it actually gets down into like the 80s at night sometimes!) and so Hermana Garcia thought she might try cracking an egg and frying it in a parking lot. It didn't work... But it was still pretty funny.
Okay so I only have like 13 minutes left aaaahhhhh - I spent too long writing President, looking at pictures, and watching the newest Bible Video. Wowsah.
But last night we only had Spanish appointments and Hermana Garcia was SO nervous to be by herself. So we were praying really hard that I would have the gift of tongues. It was a really good night! Hermana Garcia and I have struggled a little bit in getting along - she is very strong and bold and I'm not and then she and Hermana Graves got along ridiculously well. Anyway but we prayed a lot and went into our lessons and I understood so much! It kind of was a miracle. Hard to explain I guess. But it was actually really amazing. And so I got to be like nodding along and contributing and Hermana Garcia wasn't having to explain things to me in English. Not that I understood every word, but I got the gist of it! It was so great. A nice finish to my time as Hermana Parks.
We've been teaching a man named Jason who was a "devout Atheist" when we met him a few weeks ago. We've finally be able to start teaching him the past couple of weeks, and as we left a lesson Sunday he said, "well, it looks like I'm an agnostic now because I keep letting you come back" hahaha. It was so great. I'll miss him. He really did feel the Spirit but just didn't recognize it. The plan of salvation really hit some tender spots with him.
Well 6 minutes left. I'll probably be able to send a short email tomorrow with my tire measurements and OH YEAH where I'm being transferred to. Today is going to be crazy.
Love love love love love love love love
Sister/Hermana Parks
P.S. hahahahaha Lizzie told me that Shealyn Moon (who is serving Spanish speaking in Virginia) calls herself Hermana Luna now hahahahahaha I LOVE HER
P. P. S. Well if my email on the 27th didn't alarm and depress you, this email will just make you think I'm CRAAAZZZZYYY. Yeah transfers tomorrow will be a rollercoaster of emotion. Per usual.

September 10, 2012

Had an interesting experience Wednesday because we had an extra Hermana with us - Hermana Zidek who's just a few weeks out. Her trainer needed to go to a meeting like all day so Hermana Zidek and I spent morning studies together and then went out on bike. Hermana Garcia came and relieved Hermana Zidek around 3, and then we got her back to her normal companion around 6. What a day! We were super late to the meetup and biked across town a lot faster than I've ever biked before. It took us like 40 minutes to get across town! What a difference it makes to be in a car! But it was a good experience. I only got lost once and didn't feel like I was dying (I honestly thought I was in El Mirage on exchanges a few weeks ago).
Overall it was a pretty good week. There are some rumors going around that we'll be in a hybrid companionship for another transfer just with 2 English sisters instead of 2 Spanish sisters. Please pray for me. Hopefully President will be talking to us soon.
We finally found an Arabic translator for this darling family we're trying to teach from Iraq. They have a very strong desire to learn more about God and to be baptized despite the very hard language barrier. The translator lives over in Surprise though so we'll have to figure out how exactly we'd like to make that work. Maybe the family can move to Surprise? Don't know. It just feels wrong taking someone from their own ward. Phew it looks like more people need to speak Arabic hahahaha.
We're going bowling with the Elders in our zone soon which will be fun.
The pictures are from when we went to the temple. The sister with us is Sister Sullivan from the Manistee Ranch Ward. She's great for last-minute splits. Love her! She is a really great ward missionary and sacrifices a lot for others. Sorry the sunrise picture turned out blurry. Just know that it was beautiful.
This week I ate a real Mexican meal of meat right off the bones and beans. With no silverware - just tortillas. Yum! My fingers were very messy but I cleaned my plate just like I should have :)
The weather is cooling off just a little! It's in the low 100s to 90s which has been a lot nicer. I even wore a cardigan all day Friday after our zone meeting! Yay! We had a really good zone meeting. Our zone leaders had us watch a video of the importance of missionary work and loving our investigators. Then they led us into a room where they had the white jumpsuits that people wear when they're baptized. Each jumpsuit had a name written above it - all people that the zone is working with that are progressing towards making their first covenant with God. Then our zone leaders, Elders Young and Weston, bore testimony about the importance of missionary work and how everything we do affects the progression of these wonderful people that we love so much. It was actually really powerful and very spiritual. It was a very good meeting.
I'm slowing getting to know my area a little better. We're going to try and be on bike more this week (maybe) and that will help even more. Our ward mission leader should be taking over splits this week which takes a huge load off.
It's super surreal that I'm a missionary still. It's been especially weird with elders and companions that I know going home. Elder Keele, Elder Nelson, Elder Anderson, Sister Falke, Sister Graves and more. It's a definite reminder that this time is short and precious. This week I've really felt the strength of the Lord in helping me to overcome the feelings that often overwhelm me. I feel calm more and accept that some things are simply out of my control.
Haha these past emails have been lame, sorry. Love you all very much.
Sister Parks

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Labor Day! - September 4, 2012

Bah sorry. Right after we left the library I realized my email was super negative and felt really bad. I almost asked Sister Taylor to call y'all and tell you that I was okay. But Matt knows so that's good :)
Labor Day is so funny. Yes Mom everything was the same for us except that the library was closed so we get to do emails today instead of yesterday.
Last night was pretty fun. At the conclusion of Pday I hadn't found anyone to go out with me on splits, so I went with my companions to a whole bunch of Spanish appointments. For the last part (so like the last 2 appointments of the night starting at 7:30) we got on our bikes and met up with a recent convert, a 17-year-old named Eddie. It was so funny all 4 of us riding around the neighborhoods in the dark. It was a lot better riding just for a couple hours and at night. Haha maybe I should tell Sister Jewkes.
Also something that was really great and humbling last night was just realizing why things have been so hard lately. The beauty of missionary companionships is that there are two people knowing the area, the people, and everything else. But it hasn't worked out like that in this companionship for a lot of reasons which I won't go into at this time. Basically after a lonely planning session last night, I really poured out my heart in prayer before I went to bed. And the experience that I had was really miraculous really. At the very beginning, I started receiving all this insight as to why I feel the way I do and why it's happening. Without going into too much detail, I know that this experience is something that will affect the rest of my life. The things that I learn now and the way I am able to just get over myself and overcome the feeling that I'm alone and incapable will affect future callings and responsibilities. It was really amazing honestly. I went to sleep peaceful and determined. My prayers today have been so much less of desperation and rather of a humble plea for strength. I've been much more calm today. Not perfect, especially as I have no splits lined up this week. But better. Much better. And this morning during personal study I received a lot of insight as to how to help encourage my ward. Now I just have to do it.
Sisters Training was crazy. When we got there, President Taylor greeted us and then talked to me. He asked me how everything was working out. I said fine and then he said, "Sister Parks, I asked your leaders how you were doing. They said you were doing fine but that you seem to think that you need to learn Spanish." Here he paused and then said, "You don't have to learn Spanish. That's not what I want." I'm pretty sure I teared up then. I had no idea it was stressing me out so much until he took the burden from me. So phew that was nice. The rest of the day was SO GREAT. I got to play that hymn arrangement of "Nearer, My God to Thee" for my companions as they sang. I totally beefed it up because haha I never have time to practice, but it sounded pretty good overall. They sang it in Spanish and it was very beautiful. See Mom! I got to do some real accompaniment. And I'm the only missionary in my district who plays piano so I get to play every week at district meeting too. I always think of Mom when I'm playing. And then for the rest of Sisters Training we had "classes" and oh my gosh were we awestruck by them. Apparently sisters get more stressed out than elders (go figure) and so our classes consisted of making memory boxes, learning massage therapy (and receiving massages), making scarves, and getting a pedicure. I'm not kidding. My toenails are red right now. It was so funny and very needed. Sister Robinson was really excited to see me and was telling me about all the people in Prescott which was good. And then she had the nerve to say that it was too cold up there hahahahahahaha. Oh my gosh I laughed so hard. My district leader, Elder Burden, had told me that being trained in Prescott had made me weak for the Phoenix heat, but it looks like the Phoenix heat has made Sister Robinson weak for the 67 degree mornings in Prescott. Crazy eh? I told you it was like a completely different mission up there.
President's email this week addressed the fact that we haven't been getting very many missionaries coming in (we're down like 30 or 40 from our standard number) and how a lot of changes have been made (missionaries leaving areas, missionaries covering more areas, companion changes in the middle of transfers). It helped me to realize that duh I'm not the only one going through this and that duh there are always people that have it worse than I do. Wow.
Also, in the 5 hours of Spanish last night I realized that it's much easier to understand what they're saying when the Spirit is there. There were points during the night where I literally had no idea what was going on, even when they used phrases I should have known. It was really weird. But then we'd start a lesson and pray and I would be able to understand so much more. Pretty amazing huh? People should seek the Spirit when they're learning a new language. It helps a lot. But I'm sure everyone knows that. It just never meant anything until I was able to apply it to me.
I went on splits with a really nice YSA girl named Indago who's right in the middle of submitting her paperwork. We were out together for 2 and 1/2 hours! It was really great - she had some key missionary experiences. We got to randomly help a lady move, teach a couple lessons, and contact some members and potential investigators. She said she really felt the Spirit the whole time and really enjoyed herself. So that was nice to be a part of. A less-active that Sister Bailey started working with felt comfortable to come out with us on splits as well. That was really good too. Splits ended up being pretty successful last week - I went on splits 7 times in 6 days. I need to prepare better for them.
AND WE WENT TO THE TEMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhh. I had never even seen the Mesa temple before. I forgot my camera, but we took some pictures of how it looked with the sun rising behind it (we had to leave at like 5 in the morning). It's not as big as it looks in pictures, but just as beautiful. We were able to do an endowment session. Wow. There is such peace in the temple. It was so lovely.
We are teaching a family that speaks mostly Arabic and very little English. They're from Iraq. We almost had to drop them because we weren't sure if there was going to be a translator and our mission leaders had told us to stop teaching them. But the stake actually really got on board and is actively seeking for someone who can translate. And then President Taylor sent out a text to all the missionaries to see if anyone knew anyone who spoke Arabic. So hopefully that should work out! They're a really lovely family and they really want to be baptized. They have great faith in God and the firm belief that He will help everything to work out and for them to understand all things.
So yep just working on it all. Still breathing. Still happy. Still grateful to be here. Still incapable of writing short emails. My goodness. I guess Trenton has literally no idea what's going on in my life then. Sad. Poor kid. He's missing out!
Next week emails should be on Monday but then the week after will be transfers and so I'll email Tuesday with news. I seriously doubt I'll be leaving because this area is in shambles and I need to fix it.
Sister Parks

Monday, September 3, 2012

Here Elder Parks - it's short - August 27, 2012

So you had better read it.
Yeah Elder Parks I'm a trio with Spanish sisters.
This week has been crazy.
Today has been crazy. We still haven't gone grocery shopping and Pday ends in 30 minutes.
Also, one of my greatest fears is that y'all will call the mission office to complain or ask about me or something. Please don't do that. Everything is okay.
Hannah - I need some updo ideas please. Really easy stuff.
Numbers have been awful the past week because literally there is like no work. It's been a little frustrating and I feel really alone and inadequate a lot. But I received a powerful and simple blessing on Tuesday. I still need to work on keeping my end of what I can do for myself.
We have a special sisters training on Wednesday which will be really great. The last one we had was like back in March.
Any word on how Shea (sorry - Hermana Moon) is doing? And Caleb?
I'm working this week on being bolder with the members of the Manistee Ranch Ward in asking them to come out to lessons with us or even just to go on splits with us so we can get some work done. It's hard dividing time between the two wards. I feel pretty worthless in the Solano Ward since oh yeah I don't speak Spanish haha. I've finally been able to pick up the phrase, "Does she speak Spanish" to which I answer "No" and also, "Oh you have a new companion!" to which I say, "Hola! Mi llamo Hermana Parks. Estoy aprendiendo Espanol y comprendo poquito (or nada - whichever I feel like)" which means that I'm learning Spanish and understand only a little or nothing. And I can also tell people I'm from Texas. Everyone is super nice and supportive though, and I can read in Spanish fairly well. I just have no idea what I'm saying haha. Boy. It's a trip.
We went on exchanges this Friday so I was over in Surprise for the day with Sister Jewkes. On a bike (they don't have enough miles to use their car every day). I got a beautiful burn on my arms haha and the Spanish people we saw on Saturday and Sunday told me I was cooking hahaha. It was a good experience though - a lot of good teaching opportunities and great chances to say hi to people on my bike. And Sister Jewkes loves to cook. A lot of opportunities to share my testimony. Riding a bike was really hard - I won't lie. I was in agony. But somehow saying hi to people while I thought I was going to die made it easier. I'll probably be sent to a bike area after this hahaha. Sister Jewkes said only the first 3 days are bad.
I have a lot of support from my companions of course and also from my district and district leader. That has been very helpful. I want to sit down with President Taylor on Wednesday too and tell him to stop ignoring me haha.
I think I'll quit now so we can go. And so Elder Parks has no excuse not to read haha.
Love you all so much. Thanks for the emails! Hope Hannah's first day of school went well. I can't believe she's a senior!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My little sister. So cute.
I know that it's in the depths of our sorrows and tribulations that we truly have the opportunity to know God and to rely on the Savior. I wish this trial wasn't as much for me as it is, but for some reason it's really overwhelming me more than I'd like. So I'm learning a lot about myself and a lot about the Savior. I'm also learning more about God's plan for me. Sometimes I wish I knew His reasons, but I'm sure that will all come soon. I just have to work harder, be more obedient, and look outside myself. Should be easy right? Right.
Please keep up the prayers. I feel them.
Talk to you next week.
Love, Sister Parks
P.S. These very belated pictures are of exchanges with Sisters Fluckiger and Follett, saying goodbye to Sister Falke and Sister Robinson, real puddles, and my new companions (Hermanas Graves and Garcia) with our Texas crackers that Mom sent me.

HERMANA PARKS - August 20, 2012

Okay not really. But basically.
So the big news is that I am back in a trio. Sister Falke flies home
today to get back in time for school (so she's going home just 4 weeks
early) along with some other missionaries but she was the only English
sister so she's the only one that really affects me.
But yeah so President called Sister Robinson and I Friday and told her
that she was going to Prescott to be with Sister Culler (massive sad
crying face here because I miss Prescott a lot still haha) and that I
was going to be paired with the two Spanish sisters that are in our
zone. SOOO I don't really know what's happening. Okay well here's what
we know: I am now in a trio with Hermanas Garcia and Graves. They are
both super amazing, but I'll go into that later. We are covering both
wards - so my ward, Manistee Ranch, and then the Hermanas cover half
the Spanish ward (they split it with Elders because the ward is the
size of the stake). So we're covering both wards and living together
somewhere (last night we stayed at my home but that might change).
We're driving the Hermanas car and I just got a call that I'll have to
give mine up to the Spanish elders :( Anyway so this should be the
situation for the next 4 weeks until we get our next batch of English
sister from the MTC come September.
yesterday we made the change and last night I sat through two lessons
completely in Spanish that I didn't understand at all. Yeah. So
thankfully we get an hour every morning to do language study. So my
companions are going to be teaching me Spanish. Last night I learned
"muho (mucho?) gousta" and this morning I learned the alphabet and
vowels. I made the sad discovery this morning that I can no longer
roll my r's with ease. I really have to work on it. So basically the
past like what 20 hours have been pretty intense and crazy.
We met Sister Culler and Sister Falke at the mission home, and Sister
Robinson got to drive the truck back while I went with our member back
to Manistee Ranch and waited for the Hermanas to pick me up so we
could continue with our day. It was really great to see Sister Falke
again - I had no idea how much I really appreciated her as a
companion. As crazy as she is, she made me laugh all the time and
encouraged me to be my best. And she let me take things out on her
sometimes which really helped.
Also I'm pretty sure Elder Parks' emails are so short because he
spends all his email time reading my emails (right?!).
So yeah I'm in a hybrid trio. Apparently this hasn't happened since
President Taylor got here 14 months ago. I sometimes wish God didn't
have so much trust in me because I keep having waves of panic. I think
I'm going to ask my district leader for a blessing soon because I need
so much strength beyond my own right now. I need to learn
When President called us he said something along these lines, "Sister
Parks, I've been kind of ignoring you because I don't know what's
going to happen. But the Spirit finally gave me some direction and I
think you need to stay in Manistee Ranch. Can you do that?" Though
uncomfortable, I laughed a little and said, "Well if that's where the
Lord needs me, of course." He then told Sister Robinson that she was
going to Prescott to be with Sister Culler. And then he explained to
me how I was going to be with the Hermanas. I immediately felt very
peaceful about that and that this truly was an inspired decision.
There is a reason for this big and difficult change.
For the next 3 days we didn't have a lot of communication or answers.
We had to go up a ridiculous line of authority with each level knowing
only slightly more than the next and leaving most of the decisions up
to us anyway. We didn't even know where we were staying last night
haha. So yeah we'll have a lot of figuring things out today and
tomorrow and every day probably for the next 4 weeks.
I don't know why God would have me learn Spanish at this time. I
think, knowing my personality, that this is something that could
really make me or break me. So now I'm back to a trio (which is
comfortable and yet difficult as always), need to learn Spanish, and
honestly am pretty alone in my ward which means I'll need to be
relying and pushing the ward to provide sisters to go on splits with
me so that, as a companionship, we can have the most time in the wards
we're assigned to as possible.
Bam. So that's the big news I've been waiting to tell you for 4 days
now. Pretty crazy right? I know.
So to answer some questions: yes, I've been in a couple dust storms,
but they're never that bad. It mostly just gets dirty windy. Does that
make sense? I think the worst ones come at night or something because
oftentimes our car will be really dirty and dusty when we go out in
the morning. It has rained a bit, but lightly and obviously evaporates
soon - except once which was really exciting and we woke up to puddles
outside!!! Next week when I have my camera cord I'll send you
pictures. Gah I keep forgetting that.
Zone Conference was really good - I kept going back and forth between
moments of really good motivations for our area that we've honestly
been struggling with a lot and then moments of like drowning in all
the things we're not doing. It was a big wake up call. Our plan of
action for the ward is to really utilize this opportunity we have to
NEED member help with allowing me as much time as possible to be
working in our ward. Granted, there's like no work here (seriously -
right now there's not), but the members are the key to making that
happen. We are all going to whipped into shape together. There are
people here in Manistee Ranch that need help. And we're going to help
So I'm still technically assigned to the Manistee Ranch Ward only -
it's a 1 1/2 by 4 1/2 rectangle block that includes downtown Glendale.
I get to travel with the Hermanas though as their area is much larger
than mine.
My companions have already been stellar examples to me. They are
ridiculously diligent, and Sister Robinson and I were totally slacking
off. They are both very spiritual and very smart and fast-paced. I
have been humbled many times already by their example. I have not
grown to love and understand my area as I should have, and now I'm
supposed to help my companions learn this ward and love it as well. It
is very humbling. Very. I read Mosiah 4 today about beggars and how we
all beg and owe everything to God. It gave me great comfort as I
considered how Christ never allows our suffering to be in vain. I know
that He'll be here for me in this particular time of need. I will be
begging Him for quite a lot.
It's funny. I spent so much of my life avoiding my own furnace of
affliction that now God has thrown me into it all within 8 weeks. I
need it. My leaders keep saying how much they trust the 3 of us and
how great this will be, and I know that God obviously trusts me enough
to not completely ruin this part of His vineyard.
But hey isn't it great that both Elder Parks and I will be speaking
Spanish on our missions?! And we're still in the states so it's not
too expensive to send us packages. Oh yeah!!!
Um I could use more shirts. My 3 that I use for everything are too
tight to wear by themselves and are wearing thin and getting holes. I
definitely have enough skirts (yay!) and almost all of them are pretty
and patterned. But some solid, pretty colored with nice-looking
necklines would be great. Does that make sense? Kind of like the
modbes. I'm good on black shirts. I could use another white one, a
navyish one, a gray one, and maybe like pink or red and such. And I
wear mediums now :( Gah I never make sense. Good luck! Maybe I'll just
go shopping. I guess just keep an eye out. And short-sleeved
jackets/cardigans are always great. Solid colors again. I can do
anything with solid colors - it's wonderful. is a
GREAT resource on what missionaries wear. Loose, pretty, and nice. Now
if they would just have links to where they bought them!!!
I think I might buy new soles - the ones I got from the orthopedic are
wearing out, and my tennis shoes are really old and could use new
ones. So I might do that.
Oh and I was looking at the stake directory and saw that Omar
Contreras has a mission call - is he out already? There's no way he's
old enough to be a missionary hahaha.
Anyway this email, as usual, as been ridiculously long. I LOVE Y'ALL
SO MUCH IT'S RIDICULOUS. But seriously. Thanks for the emails - they
always make me emotional hahahahahaha. It's great! I love it so much.
I promise to send pictures next week. Maybe life will be silghtly more
normal then too.
Sister Parks
P.S. Lyndsey and Aanika wrote me recently and it was SO SWEET! Love it.