Sunday, March 18, 2012

Letter from March 12, 2012

Okay so I didn't take like any in the MTC, but the ones I have are when I got special permission to see Trenton our last night in the MTC and we broke the rule and ran over to the giant map and took pictures really fast. So if we look hurried it's because we were breaking rules and we were saying bye haha. And then let's see there are pictures of all 3 baptisms hopefully. The lady with the walker is Linda - she's super golden and is OUR baptism - not one passed off by the elders Hannah. Haha thanks for the support. The young girl where none of us are looking at the camera is Alle. She's 13 and amazing. She's a great influence and example to her parents. And the boy with the elders is Kyle. He's 12 and was passed off to us from the elders kind of like Alle except Alle has been passed off twice from moving and ward changes. Kyle's pretty cool. His whole family are all recent converts within like the last two years or something. 
there's a picture of me with my bike. Do you think I should wrap it up with duck tape to protect it and love it? But it's so beautiful! But I don't want it to be stolen. Anyway. Let me know what you think.
Also, there's a picture of us in blue jumpsuits which were probably the coolest things I've ever worn in my life. We painted a bathroom for someone which was nice. Haha it was really bad but we came back and fixed all of it. 
So let's see. This week we had two baptisms and a zone conference so I was pretty much out of jacket outfits. Thankfully cardigans count as jackets. 
Shealyn Moon sent me one of those awesome candy notes that was literally longer than my bed. I took a picture of it. We are gleefully enjoying the candy.
And one night we were talking about how I don't like eggs and all the cool things you can do with eggs and Sister Falke managed to trick Sister Bruckman into being trapped holding an egg in the door for like 15 minutes. Upon further reflection and trying to apologize for it, Sister Falke said, "Well. The training book says I'm not allowed to prank my trainee. So you were the only other companion I had!" Funny. 
I think that's all the pictures that needed explaining.
So with the singing thing. It was pretty terrible. I have the vocal range of a man. Actually not even. I doubt that I can hit an D or an E. And then we get there to zone conference with all the elders in our zone and President and Sister Taylor and you know I'm not supposed to practice so I was able to fit in like 30 minutes of trying to learn the piano to "He Sent His Son" before Alle's baptism (it takes 2 hours to fill the font and we didn't have a Ward Mission Leader) but yeah so I get there and I'm freaking out a little bit and the piano is weird and electric and I knew I was going to make a bajillion errors. Anyway. So I just decided to go acapella and immediately messed up the words and started again. But it was fine. Embarrassing and hopefully the zone leaders know never to ask me to sing again, but Sister Taylor thought it was fine because she's asked me to sing at the Sister Specialized Training this Wednesday... but she said she'd find someone to play the piano for me so I guess that's good. And Sister Falke felt to bad about volunteering me for church that following Sunday (zone conference was Friday) that she took my place and borrowed a violin and played a couple hymns. So yeah. It's been fun. A real joy.
We are experimenting on a new door approach that helps us really get right to the point of who we are and what we want for people (to bless them and their homes and their families). So we're literally doing that. When we approach doors we say something like, "Hi. We're representatives of Jesus Christ and are in your neighborhood and wondered if we could come in briefly and bless your home." So obviously it changes with each person because every person is different and not everyone wants us to come in or is welcoming at all. So far we've been able to bless 2 houses, and it's a really great blessing. We meet all the family, ask them what their specific needs are, and kneel down with them and offer a prayer. I got to give the first blessing for a couple named Wayne and Beverly (we have a return appointment with them next Sunday) and it was amazing. Because that's exactly why we're here! We want to share happiness and bless people. Which is why I think it's so funny when people say, "No - we already pray and are good Christians" or "I don't think we need you to bless our house" or "Well we've lived here for 12 years and have been fine" because yeah. I don't think prayer ever doesn't help people. It's fascinating.
But one woman was very unreceptive and didn't trust our authority (which is probably part of why thus far the elders are having better success) and it really made me think about what right I had to bless people's homes. At first I was like, well I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I graduated from seminary and have learned about the church my whole life. And then I thought - wait. I have been set apart by the restored priesthood of God to be a representative of Jesus Christ - to say and do exactly what He would say and do if He were here ministering and blessing and teaching the people of Prescott, Arizona. My calling is to do exactly that. My authority is above that of kings of the earth. I may not have the priesthood myself, but my calling is through the priesthood which is the power of God. I have a right to receive revelation for those I am called to teach and find. I am a missionary for the one true church on the earth today. 
It's been my extreme blessing to be here. I'm excited for Trenton to come out into the field and feel this for himself. It's amazing. So hard sometimes! But amazing. It's hard to be completely obedient all the time and trust the Spirit to speak through us rather than relying on those things that we already know. But I know that I've been extremely blessed when it does happen - when I'm completely obedient to my covenants and the mission rules and know why I'm here. There have been moments where the Spirit is so strong that I'm overwhelmed with joy and don't remember the things that I say to people because they're not from me. And then there are other times where I get confused or frustrated and I lose the Spirit. It's been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I feel like I've been out here for months haha. It reminds me a lot of the scripture the whole mission is memorizing this month: 2 Nephi 1: 27
I know how extremely blessed I am to be out here. To be speaking English in the United States in a place that is almost a perfect mix of Provo and Austin geographically. To have 2 companions and a truck and beautiful weather right now. I am here now for a purpose.
Sorry that so much of my letters seem to be bearing my testimony, but right now my life is my testimony haha! But really. 
I love all of you so much. At zone conference I got a whole bunch of letters and a package from Shea from the last four weeks. It's nice to not be forgotten (um the Andersons are amazing!) and to know how much support I have. I know not all missionaries have the same support system I have.
Okay I'm going to do some personal letters now (including one to my mission president haha) so yeah. I love you. Talk to you next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Sister Parks

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hilary's Address

Hilary has figuered out the address to her actual apartment so here it is:

Sister Hilary Parks
910 Country Park Drive
Prescott, AZ 86301

You can send your snail mail to this address and she will get it immediatley or to her mission home and that address is on the right side bar (she'll get those later). Packages are probably best sent to the mission home.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brittany Fisher

Hilary is very angry at you. Not really, don't worry!
Last week after I sent her my usual email, then I forgot something so I sent her another quick one which said this,

Oh yeah! Fisher is getting married!!!!!!!!! In case she doesn't tell you or you haven't heard already ;) engaged to Brian clay. Know of him?

Which she then responded with,

Yes I know Brian Clay. I knew they were probably getting engaged like a month ago in California, but no one wrote me to actually tell me!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Hannah for being my saving grace. I love you. And am super excited for Fisher. She's awesome. I love her.

So tell her all your plans in an email tonight so she can read them tomorrow, Fisher!! She's dying to know :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Out in the desert they wander! - Hilary's email from March 5, 2012

So. I'll respond to all your individual emails soon. If I can. Mom I was so happy to finally hear from you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ALSO shout out to my favorite Tracie Farrell because today is the anniversary of when she was born and had some quality time with her parents before Adam really took over hahaha. Happy birthday to Elder Farrell as well. Miss those kids!
And Devin Sabin's birthday was the 2nd (Texas Independence Day), but I forgot in my last email. I'll be better promise! 
Soooooooo thanks for all the emails! I'll try and respond to all of them. Trenton is so cute - he sent me the lyrics to "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" in Spanish because he didn't sing it to me in the MTC like he said he would because we were both going to cry because you know how I am with change and music and such. It's not a good combination. 
Oh and on Texas Independence Day, we had our first baptism. It was super duper awesome. We have another one this Wednesday and another on Saturday and then it stops until April 1st when we have another one. Our problem right now is finding people to teach. It's so sweet - our wards pray for us a lot in sacrament meeting that we'll be able to find people who are ready to receive the gospel, but I want to say, "No! YOU find the people so we can TEACH. But thanks anyway." I know they have great intentions, and I know how hard it is to share the gospel with people. 
So calling everyone to repentance haha - HELP THE MISSIONARIES. And religion is so much more casual then I made it out to be before. If anything, being a missionary has taught me how bad of a member missionary I was haha. Maybe not a bad member missionary, but I think I just didn't realize how much I LOVED (LOVE) the Gospel and how much happiness it brings my family and me. Something that helps me understand life and gives me purpose I should have shared with everyone! Or at least answered people's questions. I don't know. The gospel is for everyone, and it helps everyone. I missed a lot of opportunities to share truth with people that would have helped them in certain trials of their lives. The gospel helps people because it's truth! I love it.
So with the baptisms - with all the ward changes we actually "stole" some investigators with baptismal dates from our zone leaders. So that's why we have so many right now because two are ones the elders had planned and one is an investigator with a date that my companions already had. 
The first one was Kyle - he's 12 and they've had a lot of changes in their family but they're finally all together and his dad got to baptize him and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost on him which was great. Their family is really being blessed from the unity they've found in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Alle is a 14-year-old getting baptized this Wednesday for the mutual activity (adorable, right?!). She is super awesome and a real example to her parents who see the how this decision is already blessing her life.
On Saturday an older woman named Linda is being baptized. She moved here like 5 months ago and just walked into the stake center one day knowing that someone there would help her. It's awesome. She's super strong. 
This week definitely had its ups and downs. Missionary work is hard! But oh so rewarding when we have a really good lesson or when we have a great chat with a stranger on the street or we go into a member's home and challenge them to shine the light! We love being able to add on to the truths that so many people already know about God or about why we're here on this earth. In fact, sometimes we get so excited on having so many answers that we have to back off and let them digest. The gospel is so beautiful in its fulness. My testimony has grown so much as people who profess to know "the Mormon doctrine" ask me questions that I think, "Wow. That's something I took for granted - maybe I should look into that more" and then I get to the next morning in my two hours of study by myself and with my companions. It's awesome. My knowledge of what is true grows so much as I really reaffirm and experiment on the gospel.
Our three wards are really great, but yeah haha we're in church all day Sunday - from 7:45 in the morning to 3:00 at least. Having church at 8:00 should be illegal. But at least I can stay awake! HAHAHAHAHA.
Also, there are 3 companionships in my district (so 2 sets of elders [including the zone leaders] and the 3 of us) and for some reason none of them sing really loud or anything and thus think that I am a gift from God because I have a good alto voice. As such I've been volunteered to sing at church this week in one of our wards and at zone meeting this Friday. I have 0 access to music and the vocal range of a man, so I'm fascinated to see how this will turn out. Any ideas Mom? I might just call someone in the ward who plays the piano and say, "Go to Sally DeFord's website, find a hymn arrangement for an alto that you can sing, and I'll sing it". I honestly don't have time to practice and I don't have the facilities to find music myself. So that's life. Ha but Mom I hope you're happy in that I haven't said no even though sometimes I really want to haha. My range is so sad. I'm joining ANY choir as soon as I get home. I miss being able to sing anything I want and loving it always. 
Wow. Okay well this is taking a really long time so I might just go and finish other emails. BUT WOW I LOVE ALL OF YOU SO MUCH. I hope my blog is adorable hahahahahahahaha. Also, I heard a terrible song on the radio this morning by Miley Cyrus about shining the light or something (we walk past a radio as we leave our apartment which is always awkward) and yeah the song was terrible. I gagged. Yuck.   
I should be getting letters from the zone leaders from the mission office this Friday at zone meeting (so it's like 4 weeks worth of letters haha), so maybe I'll find out what my real address is and give that to you instead because we're in the family history library at a church building using their computers and thus I don't have it with me.
Okay this is way too long. I LOVE Y'ALL. Hahahahahahahahahaha LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE
Sister Parks

The Field - Email from Feb. 27, 2012

Hi. How's it going?
Great. Let's talk about me now.
So I'm here. In Prescott. It's north of Sedona I think. I don't really know though. It's like Austin hill country meets Utah. Dry with larger hills than the hill country and like NO GRASS. Which is cool - they have like the coolest gravel and rocks I've ever seen. It's awesome.
So sad but focused news: I am 99% sure I'm not allowed to email friends. Family only. So... yeah... Guess we'll see if Tracie can really stand the trial of friendship here hahaha. I know I've already failed on my end, but I have a lot more faith in her.
So news. Well we got to the mission home safe and sound as I'm sure you know. They picked us up from the airport in this megavan with a trailer in the back for all our luggage. We drove into our actual mission to the mission office first where we filled out a bunch of paperwork and met all the senior missionaries working there. There's something weird about getting mail at our actual address here - you need to put your name on the mailbox or something, so I'll have to figure that out and until then will have to make you write and send everything to the mission home. It will get to me soon enough.
So yeah after the mission office and all the paperwork and such we went to the mission home where we took pictures and ate some food and wrote a letter to our family and had a 2 and 1/2 hour nap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The amazing thing was that almost all of us slept the whole time. So yeah there were 8 of us the whole time (6 from my distric and then another 2 elders that were speaking Spanish). We all got really close (some of us already were :) ) and yeah blah blah blah. I'm glad you kept Hannah home from school so she could hear my beautiful voice when I called from the airport haha. I thought that was so funny. It was a Tuesday right? I don't even remember anymore.
Okay and then we had dinner and met individually with President Taylor and the APs and had driving orientation and picked grapefruit from their grapefruit tree (super tall and yellow grapefruit - weird). And then the 8 of us all slept there and the next morning worked out and went to the transfer meeting where we met a lot of our mission, our companions, and found out what areas we were going to. Splitting up after that meeting was really hard - I kept crying and had a really difficult time keeping it together. So yeah that was not fun. I'm almost 99% positive I'll be companions with Sister Bailey at some point, maybe Sister Murdock too. And I just hope the elders are in my zone at some point!
So they don't think the Phoenix temple will be done by the time we leave (like literally a month or two short!) so PRAY SO HARD THAT THEY WORK REALLY HARD AND FINISH IT BEFORE I LEAVE BECAUSE I REALLY WANT TO BE A TOUR GUIDE. Okay thanks. Love you all. We get to go to the temple once a quarter and at Christmas. Cute right? That's the Mesa temple btw.
My companions are pretty cool. Sister Bruckman and I have the same birthday and she's from Layton, Utah (she does not know Elder Fisher though). Sister Falke is my trainer and our senior companion. She is always very happy. We get along really well.
It took us about an hour and a half to drive to Prescott, and we unloaded my stuff and almost immediately went out and taught an investigator and went tracting. Scary. But I'm learning to not be afraid because I'm not advertising a religion; I'm sharing the happiest news ever!
So yeah we've met a lot of people. President Taylor called last night and asked me how I was doing. We're over 3 different wards starting at 8 in the morning. I know how is that legal. But it was cool. It's fun sustaining and meeting people in 3 different wards. The building is nice. We've met a lot of people.
Prescott is beautiful. I love the truck we drive. I love the cell phone. I love the hills and all the beautiful dells and rocks and gravel. It's wonderful. A little cold sometimes, but I'm sure I'll miss it in the summer. Hopefully I stay here because it's like on average 20 degrees cooler here in Prescott than it is in hot Phoenix. Everyone's telling me how blessed I am to be out here for my first area. 
Okay well I'm gonna go and make sure I have time to email my mission president. Sorry I know this was completely inadequate. I honestly don't know what to say though! There's so much.