Monday, April 16, 2012

HIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - April 16, 2012

Hello family and hello all.
This week has been super crazy weird. It hailed Wednesday, snowed Saturday, and then was in the 60s/70s the rest of the week. Random.
We were working with a really great family who ended up dropping us this week right before the ward coordination meeting when we were going to talk about their progression and needs. Yeah. That was rough. But thankfully it's not my first rodeo, so I recovered faster. But it's still sad every time. You want these individuals and families to progress and have life more abundantly, but everyone has their agency!!!!!!!!! Ah. What's that French phrase? Say lah vee. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
OH MY GOSH DAD JUST TELL ME THE STAKE CHANGES PLEASE!?!?!?!?! I have literally no one to tell.
Also, everyone has been like, "oh there have been a billion tornadoes in Austin. Is your family alive?" The first couple of times I brushed it off, but the next 40 times I was getting concerned. I mean you're emailing me so I assume you're fine, but what's the 411 on that? Just wondering.
Went to the chiropractor today (he's a member of our ward and didn't charge us anything) and that was nice to get adjusted. He took the knots out of my neck too which was awesome.
We had elk tacos this week at a recent convert's house. The couple was married and sealed to each other last year, and now that they have full custody of their kids they need to be sealed all together as well, but the Bishop wants them to go the temple a few more times before they go and get sealed. Their kids were baptized in the past few months (one was my first baptism, Kyle). It was really cool to teach the importance of families and the covenants that we make in the temple. We challenged them to go once a month which they said would be difficult, but that's why they have a billion friends in the ward to encourage and invite them :) But yeah they go hunting all the time and the 13-year-old girl Katie shot an elk last time. So we had elk tacos. And then I held a baby chick and it totally pooped in my hand. The first time we met the family, the zone leaders were passing them off to us with the boundary changes, and we met their goats and one of them bit Elder Nelson. This family is awesome. Kyle likes to show me all the antlers they find.
We visited a less-active member this week who had 6 giant poodles that bombarded us when we walked in the house. It was seriously the weirdest experience. We're just walking in the house and there's some barking, and then all of a sudden we're in the room but pinned to the wall by these giant poodles that are barking super loud and everything's echoing. Anyway. The couple was super nice and told us to come back again.
Chris and Ashleigh both received the Holy Ghost this Sunday by the laying on of hands. It was super spiritual and amazing. Elder Nelson performed Ashleigh's, and it was cool having the zone leaders there. Chris has a ton of LDS friends that are all doctors and so they were all in the circle for his.
Also have y'all met an Elder Burtoch there? He's apparently the son of a member of my stake presidency and is in the San Antonio mission. Just let me know!
Hey was Trenton's name read off at the stake conference after he received the Melchizedek Priesthood?! I was just thinking about that the other day and how awesome that is. Also, Kyle was ordained to the office of a deacon and received the Aaronic Priesthood this Sunday which was awesome because we got to be there too! So many ordinances!
Hey Mom - is Trenton's room converted into a sewing room yet?! Also, the little notecards you sent me are adorable. We use them for thank you notes and special thinking of you notes for ward members and investigators.
And Taylor I get a ton of compliments on my red shoes all the time. I'm thinking of running to Target soon and buying 3 pairs of them so I'll always have them for my mission. They're great in the snow too!
So yeah this week was pretty interesting. We're still desperate for new investigators and are out finding when we can. We have an interesting approach called house blessings which I think I've mentioned before which just really helps us focus on why we're want to meet more people - to serve them! As servants of Jesus Christ, we should be serving others! Which we are, but we need more opportunities. So we're able to touch more people as we approach it that way rather than "Hi we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ yadda yadda" which is all important and true, but the house blessing approach helps us continue to develop charity for all of God's children and a desire to do everything we can to help them and hopefully bring the Spirit into their lives!
District meetings are super amazing. So it's just the three of us; Elder Keele (DL) and his companion, Elder Hohman (from Georgie with the funniest accent ever!!!!!!); and the zone leaders, Elder Nelson and Elder Brame. So we share our goals and see the progress that's been made in our areas and then we have like an intense thought from Elder Keele which always gets our wheels churning and then practice teaching. This week we talked about house blessings and Elder Nelson talked about how he's got his "greenie fire" back (so that energy and enthusiasm you have coming straight from the MTC) and it made me so sad because I think I lost my greenie fire like day 2! Lame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! House blessings have been difficult for me, especially as I work to balance like being a representative of Christ and the crazy lover of people with a billion hugs and sarcastic jokes. I think it's something I don't really understand still - like how to love people the way Christ would and just not really having friends anymore. It's super confusing, I know. And hopefully it didn't come off negative haha. Honestly the mission is just teaching me a lot of things, and I'm constantly being humbled by those things that I need to work on. There's a vision for Prescott that wer're only just tapping into!
Well this email is super long and hopefully not too pointless.
Love you all. Thanks for the emails. Like they uplift me so much. And sorry if I sound super condescending sometimes; I just get super excited about being a member missionary for the rest of my life and want to live vicariously through your efforts! Ha.
Also I was looking through the last conference issue of the Ensign and saw a billion pictures of missionaries in there, so I'm excited to pore over the next few when Trenton is in them :) Was he in the field by conference or not?
Okay sorry I'm seriously ending now. Thanks for all the letters and emails! I'm making picture postcards today and should hopefully be able to catch up a bit on all the people that are totally awesome and write me (like my wonderful second family the Andersons).
Sister Parks

Happy Esther Easter! - April 9, 2012

(Hannah here, just to explain the title for her email. My dad's mom's name is Esther and he'll always call her on Easter and switch her name and Easter and say, "Happy Esther, Easter!" just to make her upset but mainly just to be funny.)

I told my companions that story but they didn't think it was as funny as we did at 1:30 in the morning in a 5-star hotel in Salt Lake City. Remember that? Ha so funny.
So. Hi. Thank you for the emails this week haha. It's good to know that you're not dead.
I've been keeping brief notes throughout the week on what I want to tell you (like I think of something and am like - oh I want to tell Mom/Hannah/Taylor/Tracie/etc that!). I promise I'm focusing on my mission.
Haha also everyone thinks I type really fast (we all email here in the family history center library with other missionaries and people who are here doing family history) and it's so funny because I think of Taylor every time and how she would have just blown them away. People think I'm a good singer too. And that I have small hands. I don't know where any of this is coming from. Now I feel pressure to type fast, sing well, and shake hands well. Okay maybe not the last one.
Ah so we're teaching this one guy named Chris. He's really awesome and in his 40s. He's just getting divorced but is dating someone else (sort of) and has been working with LDS doctors for like 8 years. Anyway well he gives me a hard time because I can take (or maybe just respond more) and I think he felt bad about it because he gave me a side hug on Sunday (I WAS TOTALLY UNPREPARED FOR THIS AND RESPONDED APPROPRIATELY I PROMISE). Anyway it was super weird and I had to tell him not to do that because I could get in trouble. And it just made me laugh afterward because sometimes I'll think of experiences from before my mission, and if I was alone with a man I automatically think, "Whoa! What? Ah!" and then I realize I wasn't a missionary at the time so it was totally okay. It's just funny how quickly the rules become your life. Obedience brings blessings!
So animals: I think they're super fascinating here. And I'm in Arizona, not Africa. We almost ran into some mule deer (I think) on our run last week. It was cool because they just ran our in front of us and then we both turned and stopped and looked at each other for like 30 seconds. White-tailed deer are a lot prettier... And then they have this GIANT black ravens here [shudder]. Oh they're so scary and freaky. And huge. They're bigger than my torso. And we saw a jackrabbit the other day that was SO BIG. Like as big as our car window. If that makes sense.
Oh and hey Ashleigh's family has the same Easter rabbit swing thing that we have! You know the one where Mom is the one standing on the side crying and Dad's in the middle and I'm in yellow laughing and we're all bunnies on swings? Yeah? Okay anyway I had a minor freakout when I saw it because I was so excited.
So finally after 2 years with my CTR ring (not even actually - more like 18 months), it's starting to scratch off everywhere! I have 3 CTRs that are totally blank. I wonder if it'll be completely white by the time I get home in like 40 bajillion months.
So here in Prescott they have gravel yards mostly. Because there's not a lot of grass. I think this might be the one downer to living here one day, but it's actually kind of cool all the designs we've seen in front yards. Very interesting designs. And I guess the backyards have grass in them sometimes. I don't know. I just like grass. I heard there's like no grass in the valley haha.
Also I just learned that the date for Easter is the Sunday closest to the first full moon in April. Is that right? The moon is SUPER bright here because there aren't many street lights haha. Random, eh?
I've found the place I'm retiring to. It's the greatest place ever. It's called Granite Oak Resorts I think. Someone look up how expensive it is and tell me. They had free popcorn and Wii and libraries. Yum. We didn't take any popcorn though which was super sad.
Hey Mom. I was thinking instead of sending me any more packages for the next year (because I love them SO MUCH but this favor I'm about to ask you is huge) you should finish that pretty blue dress I started making like 2 years ago for me! My ward mission leader's wife is a seamstress and can take all my measurements for me! I just want more clothes but mostly that dress. I can't believe how long I went in my life without fully dedicating myself to anything. So ashamed. I think the mission will be the first think in my life I've actually committed to and completed. But it won't be the last!!!!!!!
Well I think that's it haha.
District meeting was amazing. We have it every week, usually on Friday. Our new zone leader, Elder Brame, and Elder Nelson weren't there but it was still cool. We talked about the week before how we can better fulfill our potential as our missionaries. And then this week we talked about how we need to know what the Lord's vision for our area is. Anyway it's tough to explain haha right now but it was super awesome. Elder Keele (DL) based it off of the talk that Elder Haleck gave Sunday afternoon in General Conference. Just read it. It was my favorite talk. Yay!
Chris is getting baptized this week! He's super solid.
We went to a lake last Pday. It was nice. I loved the sign (obviously) and took a picture of it. The first one is part of how we pranked the zone leaders' truck. They finally figured it out when we saw them on Sunday (they asked and we're not supposed to lie :) ). And the last picture I look psycho in but it's of this kid in our ward who dressed up to perform at the Relief Society party this past week (best food I've had in a long time - wow).
We had five dinner appointments this past week which was awesome! We had lunch appointments too. Anyway but now we have to figure out what to do during the 8-9 pm hour which is super awkward. Any suggestions?
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH IT'S RIDICULOUS. Trenton should be writing his email right now. It's cool being in America with him hahahahaha.
TALK TO YOU NEXT WEEK BECAUSE I'M SO FULL OF LOVE FOR YOU. Your emails make me laugh so hard and tear up because you're all so adorable.
Love, Sister Parks

HELLO? - April 3, 2012

Is Trenton leaving this week? Crazy. Does he get to call you?
No I'm not being transferred so I'm still staying for at least another 6 weeks. Please send the package wherever you want. Maybe if you send it to Prescott put c/o Barbara Hutchins. But if you send it soon, I know my zone leaders are going to Phoenix a few times in the next couple of weeks. Thanks! Also, I get to check my email even if I'm being transferred unlike the MTC transfer. So...
One of our zone leaders is being transferred. We are super sad. Our zone leaders are awesome. So thankfully we're keeping one. We had a baptism this Sunday and our whole district was there which was awesome. We took some pictures since it'll be different starting tomorrow.
So Ashleigh was baptized this Sunday. It was pretty awesome. She started off as this awesome girl with gages and blue hair and super shy (like wouldn't even talk to us) and now has slightly less blue hair, a lot less piercings, and will pray in front of us! She's just made a ton of changes in her life, and it's been amazing to watch her grow and change as she's realized how much her Heavenly Father loves her and how she can have a personal relationship with Him.
General Conference was awesome! It's amazing how uplifting and encouraging it is every single time and for every session. Did Taylor and Matt go to a session? How was priesthood session? Ugh I wish everyone in the world would listen to general conference. It is that awesome.
We're desperately looking for new investigators right now. So a lot of proselyting. Which is hard because it's hard to feel as purposeful as the rest of our schedule.
Also, I ate scrambled eggs yesterday. Yuck. It's probably a good thing I was called to the United States. A member fed us lunch so I didn't want to say anything because hello they're just eggs. But I doused them in salsa.
Also do we know a John J. Naylor in our stake? Is there one in our stake at all?
Can Taylor send me the recipe for that crock pot chicken creamy thing?
What are you doing for Easter? We're really enjoying sharing Easter messages with people and that Christ lives and still leads His church. Isn't it cool that because of Him we all get to be resurrected? Nice.
It randomly dropped in temperature here like 20 degrees the past two days. So Prescott is nice. I think I might live here one day if Texas doesn't work out. There's an aeronautical college here that is super good apparently here in Prescott that Trenton could go to... Just saying...
Well I'm not really sure what else to say honestly. All I want to do is share my testimony and all the cool things I've learned haha.
So yeah I just hope that everyone is still alive and well. I'm honestly a little concerned since Dad was the only one that emailed me this week haha. Requirement: everyone needs to send me at least a line so I know you're alive. Thanks.
Exchanges was pretty interesting. Sister Chord and Swallow's area is literally 2 miles by 2 miles but they have a car. It was very warm down in Deer Valley. It made me super grateful for Prescott. It was really weird because literally every single one of our appointments fell through. Hahaha so that was cool.
This whole week since Wednesday actually has been pretty weird. So Tuesday night we went for exchanges and I was in Deer Valley all Wednesday. Then Friday we went down to Phoenix for a Trainer/Trainee meeting. Saturday and Sunday was General Conference. And then Pday is today, not yesterday (Monday). We're a little weirded out. But it's officially April now! We're very excited.
Hope everyone is doing well and that life is just utterly fantastic. I love my family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Sister Parks

YooHoo! - March 26, 2012

Well kids. It's been another great week.
So Brandy - the LEGIT woman who cancelled her baptism date (thankfully it was like over a month in advance) - is meeting with us twice a week now. We met her husband who has been less active for like half his life and thinks he knows it all but just isn't committed to 3 hours of church (LOL). Anyway but we're meeting with Brandy tomorrow, and she's aware that we're planning a date for her to be baptized in May. She expressed to us that she thought April was too soon. Which we can understand, and it's great that she sees the importance of this commitment. They have two daughters - one is seven and one is just a few months old - so both of them will be blessed the same weekend Brandy's baptized so all their family can be there. It's super exciting! She's really intense and really pretty and really awesome.
Well we met with a family in one of our wards (so a member family) just to get to know them better and honestly I couldn't stop staring at one of their girls and couldn't figure out why. Okay fine that sounds creepy - I just kept looking at her because she looked so familiar and I couldn't figure out why. And then I got it! Morph Morty's and Shea's faces together and that's exactly what she looked like (in a child form - like 8 or 9)!!!!!!!!!! It was super freaky. And THEN I learned that she's a FRATERNAL TWIN JUST LIKE TRACIE. It was honestly pretty ridiculous. I felt obliged to warn her that her brother will leave on a mission before her and therefore without her. But she didn't seem too concerned, and her mother said it's that time in life where having a twin is not cool (is that true?! is that possible?!) so she seemed okay. Anyway. Roommate connections everywhere I guess!
Have been getting maybe 40 billion compliments on that red shirt with the roses you got me, Hannah, and was very sad when it ripped again this week. I'll have to figure out how to get it fixed.
We FINALLY had our first ward councils yesterday. I went to one of them because they were right in the middle of our 3 wards, so we were all split up pretty much all day (we're at church from like 7:30 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon). It was super intense and super cool! It's so great to see the leadership of the ward come together and try to address the needs of every single member of the congregation - even those that don't come but are in our records! We're super excited for the ward mission plans to be enacted, and hopefully that should start happening this week as our coordination meetings are picking up too. Our goals for April are BIG, and we can't do it without the ward behind us and basically dragging us along when necessary.
Our goals for the district are really big too! Want to hear them? Okay. So this is between 3 companionships and 7 wards: We are hoping to have 11 people baptized and confirmed in the month of May. 50 people with a date (they count for each week they have a date), 57 at sacrament meeting, 89 lessons with a member present, and 38 new investigators. WOW RIGHT?! April is going to be a great month; this really is the work of the Lord and my goodness it is moving along.
Wow I just realized that there are a lot capitals in this email. I guess I'm just super full of IMPORTANT THINGS. :)
Oh my gosh we got one of the new For Strength of Youth pamphlets. They are maybe the coolest things ever. I really like them.
We had some appointments fall through this week which was hard because you love these people so much and just want to meet with them! Not to mention a week feels like a month in missionary time, so when they say they can't meet for the next week and a half we start hyperventilating. Hahaha. But really.
This past week we met with some older ladies in the wards who are so good about being nice and just meeting their neighbors! We got a lot more referrals this week than we normally do since we went to them. It was so funny - they'd be like, "Well I just feel so bad since I don't know very many of my neighbors... oh but you should go see so-and-so! They're great!.... but yeah I should go meet more of my neighbors... Oh but you should go see this person! They're so sweet." For this one sister, Sister Lamb, we were there for like half and hour as she talked about how wonderful all her neighbors were. Hilarious. They're really good at being examples of how the gospel helps us lead better and fuller lives.
Have been trying more with the "tracting" by offering house blessings. We think our vernacular may be hindering us, but it's also completely necessary for all 3 of us to be completely obedient and completely excited about this work. We're trying to work on ways in which we can be better about this. One zone in our mission blessed 40 of 90 homes and got like 20 return appointments. Our numbers are not nearly that great, so we know we have work to do. We were really grateful for the time this week that we had to practice and really increase in our faith. And help people figure out that blessing a home is saying a prayer for them right there in their home addressed to their specific needs... I think people have said no out of pure confusion more than anything else haha.
A bird flew into our home this morning... That was pretty great. I think it pooped on Sister Falke's suitcase though and we forgot to clean it up...
The weather is pretty perfect here! It's crazy to think that a week ago there was like 8 inches of snow outside. Random. Also, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a house here in Prescott... Just in case the Austin area doesn't work out! So now I'm debating between Prescott, Colorado, and Kyle. I suppose some of this would depend on where my husband and I get jobs, but it's mostly up to me, right? Right :)
Okay I think that's pretty much it. Can I get Aunt Tara's email address please? AND THANKS FOR THE GREENIE PACKAGE IT WAS SO ADORABLE. So cute.
Am excited to see the Hunger Games one day! I think I want to research the sociology of films and theaters. For some reason it sounds more appealing than environmental sociology. Thoughts?
Hey I love all of you so much. Miss you bunches and oats. Really though. Hope everyone's doing well. Talk to you next week!
Sister Parks
P.S. Isn't it totally weird that Trenton is Elder Parks? Random. But awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's a winter wonderland - March 19, 2012

So. It snowed. A lot. Saturday night we were expecting 3 inches when we woke up Sunday morning. We had like 8 inches of snow. And it snowed a little more last night.
We had Sisters Training down in Phoenix last Wednesday and were the only companionship there with a truck. And all the sisters were jealous and confused as to why we had a truck, so when we woke up and dug ourselves out of the snow and drove down the hills and valleys with 4-wheel drive, we all exclaimed, "THAT'S why we have a truck with 4-wheel drive!" So there. I am very blessed to be in Prescott. The temperature is only in the 20s so it's not that bad at all. A lot like Utah. I'm wearing my red flats that Taylor gave me because they stay on really well as I go through the snow and they're super waterproof. The elders think we're crazy, but we obviously don't have anything else to wear. Ironically the only reason I have sweaters and my purple coat is because I was going to be in Provo in February, so I'm glad I brought all that stuff and have it with me.
We FINALLY have our last Ward Mission Leader and are super excited to get the work going. We have a ward mission plan in which each auxillary comes up with 5 names and then they take us to appointments with them. It's a way to reactivate people, meet new people, and just let the ward really tell us what they want so we can help them strengthen.
One of our investigators who had a baptismal date called us and said that she didn't want to be baptized anymore. We are really sad but are meeting with her tomorrow to see what her hangup is.
We spent quite a bit of time going through our 3 area books and finally figuring out who is in what ward and making copies of everything for our ward mission leaders which was pretty exciting but kind of annoying. So hopefully we never have to do that again.
We just started teaching a new family with 5 kids and they are positively amazing. We're taking them on a church tour this week but I'll be in Deer Valley that day so I'm kind of sad! But they're super amazing and we love talking with them and teaching them the restored gospel. But yeah I go on my first exchange this week! I'm going down to Deer Valley for 24 hours (8 pm to 8 pm) with Sister Chord and then Sister Swallow is coming up here to be with Sister Bruckman and Sister Falke. So thankfully I don't have to know where I'm going and everything. I'll just go by the Spirit and let Sister Chord drive me everywhere!
Sisters Specialized Training Meeting was pretty cool! It was so AWESOME to see Sister Murdock and Sister Bailey again. I probably spent too much time with them but that's okay. And oh my gosh the food was incredible. Wow. So we went on a little hike just down the street from where the Phoenix Temple is being built (wow it's going to be beautiful) and along the hike talked about how the gospel of Jesus Christ leads us to make more covenants in the temple which leads us to the celestial kingdom! Awesome, right? Right. And then we learned this new thing where we weave Lesson 3 into Lesson 1 as we teach it (get out your Preach My Gospel and look this up) which is amazing because it's all amazing how it all goes together. When we teach Lesson 1 correctly, people understand that something is missing, it has now been restored, and that priesthood authority makes it possible for there to be one baptism and one church and one Lord and such (see Ephesians 4).
We met another new family through an older couple in the ward who have been connected with the family for years, and want the younger generation (so it's a couple and their two [almost 3!] children) to know about the gospel and feel it enrich their lives. So they're pretty awesome and we just started teaching them this week too.
Had an amazing experience last night where our one investigator with a baptismal date received a blessing from our zone leaders. I LOVE BLESSINGS SO MUCH. I love that through the restored priesthood authority to know God's will and act in His name. The blessing was beautiful and addressed those things that Ashleigh was concerned about - some things we knew and some things that only God knew - which was evident as she talked to us a little bit about it later. We hope that she realizes that she's such a beloved daughter of our Father in heaven and that He WANTS to hear from her all the time.
Anyway nothing much else to report for this week! Ha I never really know what to say. Keep praying that the Phoenix Temple will be finished BEFORE I LEAVE so that I can spend the last part of my mission being a tour guide. I literally cannot think of a better way to finish my mission (other than like 50 baptisms or at new investigators).
The hiking pictures are from Sister Training. We took the snow pictures this morning. I dropped my CTR ring in the toilet and had to fish it out.  Do you like my new Arizona shirt? I spent like 45 minutes at Walgreens picking it out. There was a lizard (gecko?) on my window. Our truck bed is completely full of snow.
I love all of you so much. On to individual emails! It was really nice to get an email from Fisher as she finally alerted me that she's engaged. Do they have a date yet? I'm so excited. Her ring looks legit, but it was hard to tell in the pictures. And Tracie = failblog hahahahaha. So Hannah be sure to send her that file so that she remembers who I am. That would be nice. Also, we only have zone conferences like once a month, so for you family and such go ahead and send things to my real address - the Country Park Drive address - so I can get mail in a timely manner.
I think that's it. Wow I spent a long time. It's fun and sometimes distracting to be here in the Family History Center with half the zone because the elders are super distracting.
Sister Parks