Sunday, August 11, 2013


It's true. The Arizona Phoenix Mission has been piloting the iPads and iPhones for like 3-4 months now (just one district of 8 has them) and now our zone leaders and sister training leaders are on FACEBOOK! The rest of the mission should be on by the end of the month. I'm supposed to email my family and friends this link but I'm not allowed to go to it myself since it's not a church website haha (lol how ironic, right?):
Got em? Okay! It's supposed to explain how you can be of use and not distracting to us on Facebook. Online proselyting! We'll get an hour a day but everyone seems to be using a lot of that hour to clean up their facebook profiles haha. I'm still not quite sure on how it works. No word if we'll be trained this week on it or not. Probably not. Oh well!

Anyway so good times! This morning we went all the ways out in the boonies to Wickenburg with our district and hiked Vulture Peak. It took like 2 1/2 hours. Long. But so worth it! The weather was positively gorgeous out there, and it was fun to do something with our district. Felt like I was on vacation! Sister Franz and I are embarrassingly very sore though.

Funny stories at church too (just Sun City West really). Everyone knows that I'm going home soon because the bishopric keeps announcing it. Weird.
But anyway this one really tall guy, Brother Neilson, came up to me before Relief Society and said, "Well, it sounds like you're going home soon."
"That's very true."
"Well... find a guy about this tall [here he measures about a foot above my head], grab onto him and say, 'This is eternity!'"
Oh my goodness we laughed so hard. I told him that was the plan and was grateful to be supported in it haha.
I bore my testimony in that ward too. So they announced after I spoke that I was leaving soon. Wow. I don't think they're eager to get rid of me.... And then that morning in ward council Bishop and our ward mission leader were telling us how awesome we are and how grateful to have us when our Relief Society president (sitting next to me) said, "Well I hope we keep sisters because I know one of them is leaving soon. I don't want to say anything but she's sitting really close to me." They're just so funny. They're making going home a lot easier because they're so funny about it and help me to start accepting it without overthinking or getting stressed about it. Maybe that's bad (trunky?) but I don't really care. It's working so far.
And oh my goodness EVERYONE was talking about the new movie in the temple. So Mom and Dad, it looks like we need to go to the temple when I get home! And Taylor, we're totally going in Utah (Hannah you can come too - we'll meet up later :) )!

Ha and I got your letter today, family. Haha I just read it fast and put it away. Y'all are so funny! Just as bad as Trace and Fisher who both emailed me telling me how happy they are to see me. Oh my goodness. I will try and focus for the next week hahahaha.

I sent a thank you card to the ward! I'll try and write another one this week. I got a ton of food and a gift card which was AWESOME!
Yes, Sister Bruckman had someone waiting for her. She didn't know that he was waiting to marry her though. She just thought they were nice friends and wasn't it so nice that he wrote her her whole mission and sent her packages and prepared a surprise for her birthday (yeah... no one does that unless they're going to marry you... duh Sister Bruckman).
Hahahahaha I can't believe you just left Taylor in the temple! Oh my gosh that is so funny. Why didn't anyone go with you and tell you what to do! I would have died without Lizzie and Sister Grimmer there to help me. Oh my goodness that was hilarious. You two are wonderful. How brave to always go first and headlong in things!

We just got a call from the office actually telling us that there's a senior missionary couple that just got here today and they're proselyting, so they're going to be assigned to our Sun City West ward with us! Crazy!

Boy I always feel like I have so much to talk about and then I sit down to write and I have nothing! Let's go through the week:

Monday: We take FOREVER at emails. Oh my goodness it's funny though because I get to watch all the movies and clips I want on Nothing crazy for the rest of the day. Trying to see addresses to see if people have moved, offer prayers, and then we had a lesson with Casey that evening. He totally knows it's true and is coming up with a whole bunch of excuses he knows are silly.

Tuesday: Had an appointment with Joyce and set a date for her to be baptized on September 7th! Very exciting. She is so sweet and accepts things so quickly. All the members we've brought over to meet her think she's wonderful. We do too! After that we ran over to Larry's. He lost his wife about a month ago and was about to leave for Seattle for a memorial service. We helped make sure things were ready for the sale they were going to have that weekend while we was gone and the slideshow he'd prepared. He started asking questions about what happened to his wife, and we were able to teach the Plan of Salvation to him. He liked it and took comfort that both he and his wife knew where she was going. I love that we can know that. Then we drove over to Peoria so that Elder and Sister Rodgers could take us out to lunch at Olive Garden for our perfect car. Sister Pilcher and her companions were there too, so it was nice to see her again (she left the next day after getting an extension) and lunch was nice. A little long haha, but nice. We had an appointment with a lady that we met on the street. Turns out she's a member! Hasn't been active since high school and has like 5 little boys I think. It was one fun house haha. That night we had an FHE of sorts with a family. The son was baptized a year or so ago and the parents struggle to come to church.

Wednesday: Oh things. We spent a lot of time in Sun City West. I'm not actually sure what happened on Wednesday. Seems like it was an okay day :)

Thursday: We found out that a lady in my last area moved into our area! She wasn't there though when we went by before our trainer/trainee meeting. It was so sad to say bye to people like Elder Knabe, Sister Barnett, and Sister Follett. Boy boy boy. We had a nice dinner that night with a family that have two Young Women who love us (we love them!!!!!!!!). Their dad is not active in the church and we were told that he probably wouldn't want to talk to us. But it was awesome! Dinner was running late, so we decided to share the message then (we had brought the Mormon Messages DVD). It worked! He totally listened and then we had an awesome dinner. He told us to come back! Very nice. His daughters were really happy. I probably puffed that up to more than it actually was, but that's okay.

Friday: Zone meeting! We talked about the new Facebook thing and a whole bunch of "tighten up" rules that President Taylor gave to us. We talked about the people we're working with. Our zone leaders did a great job! It was so spiritual! And then at the end I got to bear my testimony (departing missionaries always do that). It was nice. Very nice. Then we had an appointment with Charlotte who has taken the lessons before but hasn't been baptized yet. She had a ton of questions about the Restoration. Sister Franz and I were in such unity it was awesome. We totally knew what each other where going to do. Then we had an appointment with Joyce who is so great!

Saturday: We went to do baptisms for the dead with Emily! She had brought 6 family names and it was SO SPIRITUAL. Everyone in the room was crying. Oh my goodness. Then we met up with the Hermanas in Peoria for an exchange. Hermana Hansen came with me to our area and Sister Franz went to Peoria. We met a lady for a lesson, finally saw Andrea who just moved into our area and who I knew in Peoria. She was happy to see us and we invited her to church.

Sunday: A ton of people at church! We were so blessed. Everyone came up to meet Hermana Hansen who told them she was leaving in a couple hours.
Anyway. I'm kind of done now.
Life is great though! I just love it :)
I love y'all tons. Really though. And I hope all is well.
See you later!
Love, Sister Parks

It's the end of July! - July 29, 2013

Phew only one more hot month here in Arizona. Then it will just be warm :)

Everyone emailed me this week! NICE WORK FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Ha and formerly Sister Bruckman now Jennifer who was my companion twice in Prescott and North Phoenix and who went home 10 weeks ago is now engaged. Just got the email. LOL. I can't even handle all the changes that have happened while I'm gone. I think it's hitting me today how much I'm going to have to learn and accept very quickly.

Also hahahaha y'all will enjoy this hopefully: last week I was watching some church films on I decided to watch Jonny Lingo and felt SO UNCOMFORTABLE with the "romantic" scenes. Oh dear.

Went on exchanges this past week to Bethany Home. It was really weird. I got to see Sunday and Neyo, and I talked to Bijonn on the phone which was nice. I found out the Carlos and his family just up and left one day and no one knows where they are :( That was sad.

I think it's still monsoon season. It's slightly humid and sometimes we see lightning so you know.

Hahaha on Pioneer Day we tried calling the office. A missionary answered and said that they're closed which we were so confused about for like 5 minutes until Sister Franz remembered the date. I so do not understand Pioneer Day lol. Isn't that funny that our mission office was closed over here in Arizona?

AND I GOT THE MOST AMAZING PACKAGE FROM OUR WARD :) I love our ward! It's amazing. And good because Sister Franz and I are both out of money this month haha so the food was perfect timing hahahaha.

Joyce is doing well. She showed up at church on Sunday. Sister Vallejo and Sister Franz had a wonderful lesson with her on Friday while we were on exchanges.

We supposedly have a trainer meeting this week and zone meeting as well. Should be exciting! I love meetings :) Oh and this past week I received my flight itinerary and the schedule for my exit interview and arrival at the mission home. It has been a very interesting week :(

Mom and Dad! Thank you for the conversion story! I read it during church again and just loved it all over again. What about when you went to the temple? What was the date for that? I was a little embarrassed that I didn't know the date of your baptism. Whoops! What happened at the temple? Was it a lot like your baptism when a bunch of people showed up too?

Mom, I will be more than happy to detail your car. Give me the funds, and I'll perform the labor :) Dad, I honestly don't know how we did it. Mostly just attention to wiping down everything, making it shiny and organized, and vacuuming EVERYTHING. It's just details that most missionaries (like my companion haha) don't think, care about, or take the time for usually. The backyard looks SO GREEN! Oh I will be happy to see so much green again! I will also be happy to do service, Dad. It will be so nice to not feel pressure on doing things wrong haha. It's nice to do service for your own family because it's not that bad if it's wrong.

Well. I'm going to continue enjoying the day. Life is fast approaching in a weird way.
Love y'all much!

Pictures: In Sun City West and Sun City, the trash cans are in the ground. Hers was broken, so I couldn't show you how to open it (you stand on it with your foot). She claimed it's because of the coyotes (which I've seen 3 of since we've been here) but we all know the real reason - old people can't open a trash lid on their own and throw a bag at all, so it's in the ground that they can operate with their foot and drop in. True story.

CLOUDS! - July 22, 2013

Last week, the lady we live with had 2 of her sisters staying there, too. I think we had nightgown parties every night. It was awesome. I love 80-year-old women :)

And then this week like every day was cloudy!!!!!!!!!!!! A monsoon came in one night, but I slept right through it (I've been so tired this week). It was usually between 95 and 105 degrees which was AWESOME! It's supposed to get hot again later this week though :(

Also Family, congratulations on not making me trunky. My friends are way worse hahahaha. Oh dear. I finally just tell people that I'm leaving soon and don't try to lie about it anymore. I'll never be the missionary I assume everyone expects me to be, so I'll just be the missionary I am and continue to try to improve :) And I've been getting some great advice about going home.

We met a wonderful lady this past week named Joyce. She lives in the Sun City West Ward (aka our old people ward).
Background on her (which is so cool!!!!!!!): It actually starts in California. There are some kids who become friends with some other kids at school who happen to be LDS. Through the acquaintance of the kids, the parents make friends and end up being able to share the gospel. The whole family is baptized!
Enter Joyce - her daughter is the mother in the family that got baptized. Their family had been experiencing a lot of problems, but Joyce noticed how much better things were just in the few months that they had joined the church (amazing what the gospel does, isn't it?). She went to church with them in California and really enjoyed herself. Her daughter told her that she should check out the church in her own area. Whether she knew her ward was at 9 or not, I'm not sure, but she ended up going to the family ward at 11 that the elders cover. But listen to how inspired a choice this was - both Elder Nokes and Elder Stevens were speaking in church that day, and Joyce was completely entranced and moved by what they were saying. She went up to the elders after sacrament and told them that she was investigating the church and wanted to learn more. Yes, this is a true story.
Sister Franz and I were eating some food in the kitchen right after this, and the elders found us and told us the story. They told us Joyce was currently in Sunday School and planned on attending Relief Society, too, and that they would track us down afterward. So she stayed for all 3 hours of church! And then we talked with her a little bit and set up an appointment for Tuesday. She is so sweet and wonderful. Her husband is a little anti right now, but she said that she hopes he'll see her example all the changes in her life. She definitely has some struggles right now but is so into learning more about the gospel. This past weekend she was in St. George and told us she was going to go look at the temple there. And we called her on Thursday after we'd given her a copy of the Book of Mormon on Tuesday and she was like 7 chapters in! Alma 13:24 continues to have such relevance and reality to me. Miracles happen every day! And all because a family (especially the children) weren't afraid to open their home, hearts, and love of the gospel with their friends. It's amazing!

OH AND HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO: I have officially never lost a car inspection. Sister Franz and I received another perfect car award which means that Elder and Sister Rodgers will be taking us out to lunch. Elder Rodgers said to everyone as he was presenting the awards, "Now, last April Sister Parks got a perfect car on a brand new car, making it look better than when we first bought it." He shrugged his shoulders like that wasn't a big deal and then continued, "But this time she and her companion took this smelly elders car and turned it into a queen's coach!" I didn't bother to tell him that the car had been in the hands of sister missionaries for the past four-six months or so, but that's okay. It was so funny. And I'm so happy!!!!!!!!!! I'm not quite sure how much of this ability to clean cars will carry over into real life, but at least I contributed to the mission :)

I'm going on exchanges back to my 3rd area of Bethany Home and am SO PSYCHED. I'm trying not to get too excited but it's super hard. I love and miss that area so much. I wish I was with Sister Vallejo again, but she'll be here in my area with Sister Franz and I'll be with her 2 trainees which should be fun :)

Ha funny slash awkward story: we have been helping out one of our investigators, Larry. His wife was a less-active member and passed away a few weeks ago. We went by one night to share a message with him. He seemed really tired but we weren't sure why. So we put in a Mormon Message dvd and start watching it. About 7 minutes in (it was a long 25-minute special one), Sister Franz gets my attention and points out that Larry is dead asleep. He starts snoring soon after. We look at our watches and figure it's probably okay to leave (only after making some noise to see if he'll wake up). He's totally out, and we turn off the dvd player, tv, some lights, and end up making a ton of noise but he's still snoring through it all!

We were ridiculously busy this week - always running around, and the all-day meeting on Wednesday didn't help either haha. But interviews were good! I feel like my interviews with President have only gone two ways: either super emotional and long with me crying the whole time or calm, collected, and short. Last time in April was the former, and then last week was the latter. It's funny :) I'll get one more "exit interview" with President before I leave. Maybe I'll be weepy in that one hahahaha.

Ahhhh thank you so much for the conversion story!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When did you meet the Andersons then? I love our family friendship. SO CUTE. What were your first callings?

Mom, the Parks Jeopardy game looks so cool! You are so smart :) Where were you on the coast? South Padre? Port Aransas? Hannah is so cute. Any pictures? Taylor thanks for the pictures from California! Natalie looks like a princess as usual :) I'm glad you had fun! I thought Jen was in New York though. Was all the construction at USC done from when we were last there? And you're definitely right about writing down memories. I still use my voice recorder about half the time, but now I'm also using my written journal too and taking time each day to write down something else from my mission that I remember. A lot of it is just funny or cute things that I doubt will be important to anyone else, but I like them and like remembering them :) And yes, I remembered the story of the 3 blind men and the elephant, but where had I heard that before? How did I know it?

Well that might be it for this week. Hope this was a good email with lots to laugh about. Should be another exciting week (not nearly as busy so far) but exchanges will be so awesome. I love exchanges! But I love y'all way more - no worries!
Sister Parks

so the library is really crowded today - July 15, 2013

I might not have time to write for very long (it might kick me out after an hour). So we're just gonna go for this!
Our wards were SO SMALL yesterday. Everyone is out of town it seems.
We visited a less-active the other night who barely let us in but I kept talking to him and finally got in. And he mentioned the story of the 3 blind men and the elephant. I recognized it, but didn't remember where. Any ideas?
We did family history with a recently-baptized couple the other night which was really fun! The new familysearch website is so neat! It seems very simple to use which is good because family history gets confusing to me really fast. In fact, I'm trying to do it right now. Not as easy as I thought haha but at least fun to look at. I need the actual documents though to plug it all in. Right now I just have me, Mom and Dad, and Grandpa Longmire. Somehow I need to link up with Taylor's account of something. Crazy stuff! Oh and I can see that both Taylor and Trenton have done things too. How do I sync up with them?! Oh my goodness. I'll ask Taylor in a few months. Oh wow somehow I just connected to all of Grandpa's family! Oh wow there are so many of them! Wow we have someone in our family named Drago? Legit. Ahhhhh we go back to like the 1500s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And people have already done a lot of the work... so looks like we need to do some finding! Wow this is so exciting. Oh man. Now I can see that Dad has some names reserved and that someone we don't know has done some work on his side. OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO COOL EXCEPT I DON'T UNDERSTAND MOST OF IT PARTICULARLY WITHOUT THE INFORMATION RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF ME. I'm just going by memory. There are so many cool names in our family history though wow. WOW. And yes, I'm in a library so I can actually scream out for joy so I'm just doing it with captial letters LIKE THIS!
Oh and it rained yesterday! It's supposed to rain again this week! Sister Franz was so excited she drove with the window down.
We have interviews with President Taylor this week and car inspections. I need to get a perfect car again, but this one's really old so we'll see. This is my last car inspection! I've always gotten first place. So pray that I make it again haha. Some things are very important, I promise.
Bleh we have a zone activity today. I will try to be happy but I really want to take a nap.
I can go to the Mesa Temple once every 3 months so just go with my companion and do an endowment session. I can go to as many sealings of recent converts as I want and baptisms with recent converts as much as I can get permission for. It's a really neat blessing because in Prescott we used to not be able to go at all, but now they can come for baptisms and sealings. And then the whole mission goes at Christmas too. I love the temple!
Yes, I still have my bike with me. Sisters don't really use bikes anymore... so I will probably talk to someone in the office and see if I can sell it to an incoming sister. As much as I love it, it's super expensive to ship. Maybe if we're driving up to Utah I can just take the bike I have at home? Yes?
Send your conversion story please!!!!!!!!!!!!
This week was filled with the usual: we met members, tried to find new investigators (we actually found a couple in our morning exercise), coordinated with ward leaders, went to hours upon hours of church, had a meeting or two, and drove around trying to find the lost sheep. There are tons of them. I'm hoping to write a lot of recent converts today. I miss the people from my old areas - more like I just want to know how they're doing. It's incredible to think about how many people I've met over the past 17 months.
Anyway love y'all lots. I'm going to email some other people and do family history haha. SO NEAT!
Thanks a ton for the emails - you have no idea how much I love to hear about your lives - even if it seems mundane and boring to you. Really though.
Sister Parks

Oh the oldies! - July 8, 2013

I neglected to mention that Sun City West is a retirement city. You have to be over 55 years old to live there. So church is just old folks. It's like having 50 grandparents. I'm in heaven. Except I might talk extra loud when I get home now haha. Oh they're so sweet!
Surprise is great! It's northwest of Phoenix (?) so even farther out than I was in Peoria. I've done this huge spiral in the mission area. 5 areas?! Gah. No wonder I can't remember people's names anymore. Sister Franz has been out about 6 weeks. She really should be a solo missionary haha - I have no idea what to do to help "train" her, so thus far I've just been trying to stay out of her way and give her some of my experiences when she asks for them. Very very different from Sister Barnett who asked for my direction and advice all the time. I've discovered that on the mission I have a problem about getting in the way of other people. And then in my efforts to stay out of their way, I just get in the way more. That is super frustrating when people do that to me, so of course it's one of my faults too. God works in not-so-mysterious ways. Anyway I guess point being, I'm just trying to be an equal contributor as soon as possible. We talked about goals we have as a companionship.
We were able to go to the temple on Saturday and watch a recent convert couple do baptisms for the dead. A very neat experience. In the Mesa Temple, the font is in this room all by itself, so there were only like 6 of us in there and with no one watching us like at the other temples I've been to. I thought that was neat. It was very beautiful and a neat experience and so lovely to be in the temple again. I think we're trying to go this Saturday too for baptisms too. What a great time to end up in Surprise haha!
I'm back in a Corolla again. Those have the best turning radius of all time - I'm telling you.
I injured my pinky last Tuesday so that's why it's wrapped in the picture. It's all good though - I'm using it like normal (almost now) and even played basketball and the piano on Friday!
The little old lady we live with gave me a nightgown. I am so happy!!!
1. How Sister Barnett prays when she's tired.
2. The collage I made for my last apartment.
3. Sister Falke and me at the Mesa Temple
4. The next two are of Sister Falke and me with Chris and Shea after their sealing. It was so hot - please don't mind the squinting.
5. The member who was wonderful and drove me to the temple took a picture of me with the whole temple since we both assumed it would be my last time there. Hannah - should I bring that blue blazer home or leave it here? I can't decide when I'll ever wear blazers again.
6. Last picture with my Spanish district :( The Hermanas just got assigned as Sister Training Leaders, so we'll be going on exchanges with them in a few weeks. My finger was injured that day, so that's why it's in the wrap. Elder Arave (the one with the blonde hair) had to be a district leader for 4 sisters (there are only 3 districts in our mission like that) but he was so good at it that they transferred him to one of the other districts hahahaha so he's still a district leader over sisters.
7. And it's hard to see but there's an Austin Ave in my area. Cute :)

We drive around a lot here. The members are pretty spread out in Sun City West. The family ward we cover is pretty normal. Tons of kids - it was pretty loud during sacrament meeting.
Thanks for the package! Mom, my cookies turned out wonderful! A little cracked but totally soft and wonderful! They were so good! I didn't even find the sparklers yet... our room is very tiny so I still haven't finished unpacking - I don't know where to put everything.
Um I don't think I need anything else... if I think of anything I'll let you know. I don't think I'll have to ship anything home which will be nice too.
With tracting - it was never required since I've been a missionary - it was just a very commonly-used source of finding. Now it's more of a very-much-on-the-back burner method of finding. We're told not to plan tracting, but if we're directed by the Spirit as to knock on a door while we there, we should. I guess that's the biggest thing - we just don't plan tracting anymore.
We have meetings once a month at least. We have zone meetings every month, district meetings every week, and this month we're having interviews with President Taylor. Then of course there was transfer meeting and the new trainer meeting. I think next month we'll have a trainer/trainee meeting followup, Sisters Training meeting, and transfers. Missionaries go to a lot more meetings than I realized. We got some Jeep Cherokees in the mission, but it looks like the Flagstaff missionaries took them :( Those would have been fun to drive!
I've only filled one journal. Having the voice recorder now has changed things too, but I still try and write in my journal too when I remember.
My 4th was hot haha. We had a normal day with a couple BBQs to spice it up, then we had to be home by 6 and watched the firework show at the nearby baseball stadium just on our sidewalk at home.
Well I feel like this email is more than long enough. Boy boy boy. Now I can see why y'all don't respond to most of what I write - there's too much to respond to hahahaha!
LOVE Y'ALL LOTS. Stay cool (haha) and remember how awesome the gospel is every second!
Love, Sister Parks

TRANSFERRED?! - July 2, 2013

Well. Yes. My last transfer and I'm getting transferred hahahahahaha. Oh wow!
I just got an email from Lyndsey Morgan down in Argentina though - she said she's getting transferred too with only 8 weeks left. Crazy times.
President Taylor called us on Sunday actually and gave both of us new assignements: I'll be finishing the training of another missionary (so my new companion as of tomorrow will be someone who's been out 6 weeks already but has another 6 weeks of training to go). Sister Barnett will be staying in our area and will be in a trio with a trainer and her brand new trainee. So basically Sister Barnett will be the Sister Bruckman of my first companionship. Crazy times.
Well well well
The fireplace looks interesting. That will be very weird.
No, the fires are not close to me. They're up in my first area of Prescott. The elders out there were able to be evacuated before it got super intense. But I do know one of the firefighters that died. Very sad. Everyone was talking about it yesterday.
We had a new trainer meeting yesterday that Sister Barnett and I were able to attend. The whole meeting is basically about the principles behind training a new missionary and the importance of being a trainer. Very intense. But at the end, President Taylor had us all go around and say who our trainer was and, in one word, what we learned from them. He saved the sisters for last by starting in the back, and everyone was crying by the end. Super intense. Especially since I was realizing how many of those missionaries I knew that were home now and how many more are going home. Oh wow it hit me so hard how little time I have left.
But also at the meeting we met the 2 sisters we just got from Flagstaff. They seem great!
Don't worry Mom - our air conditioning works great. I think it was only up to 119 where I am, so no worries. Also, did you know that wind isn't cool sometimes? The wind here is very hot. It's so disturbing haha. We got a warning notice on our cell phone a couple nights ago about a dust storm. Thankfully we were already in for the night (we got it at like 9:00 pm). And then it must have rolled through that night because the next morning we come outside and Brother Alger (the little sweet old man we live with) was using his leaf blower to get all the dust off our car! So sweet! Clouds are the coolest thing ever - I love when we get to see them :) Prescott and Flagstaff have both had record high temperatures. I think Arizona's just hot.
Oh wow and then the temple! I love the Studingers. And I love the temple. And I love Sister Falke. I thought it would be more of this, "Oh how are you it's been so long since we've seen you we love you how are you let's talk talk talk" but it was more like, "Oh hey! We love you." Just not a big deal. Which was great! It was like we hadn't even been apart that long. A very sweet experience.
I agree with Trenton - doing service is so fun now. I love it. Except when it's hot. I still struggle with that a little bit.
Also, Mom and Dad, I want your conversion story too. Really. As missionaries, Elder Parks and I talk about you all the time.
Well. I thought Peoria would be my last area so my stuff is strewn all over the place and packing will be a nightmare haha.
P.S. Do you know of a way to shampoo car carpets without taking them in? I really don't like having to pay for all these services when all I want is a shampoo. Someone should really start a car wash where you only get what you want.
But yeah better go. Maybe I'll be able to email you my new address tomorrow. Maybe not.
LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH THOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Sister Parks

Monday, July 1, 2013

June 24, 2013

Yes that was totally Morty in the training broadcast! So exciting!!!!!!! I elbowed Sister Barnett really hard and said, "I know her!!! That's my old roommate!!!" Every time I saw her it was exciting :)
Oh wow and I just watched another clip with Morty in it and she's actually talking! Wow. Crazy times.

1) We were given dried beans (it's okay - I don't know what to do with them either) so we "let them soak" but might have forgotten about them for a few days. We couldn't figure out why our apartment smelled so funny until I decided to use the beans and saw that they were pretty moldy. Totally ewweth!
2) We have little grapes growing in our backyard! They're adorable.
3) We had a trainer/trainee followup meeting this past Friday. As I'm looking around I realize everyone from our MTC district is there! All 5 of us. Additionally, one of the Spanish elders that came out of us was there too! So we took a picture together. Elder Beck and Elder Absher will be reassigned to the Tempe Mission on July 1st, so we were blessed to be able to get one last picture together. Please ignore the fact that Elder Beck and Elder Knabe forgot how to smile hahahaha just kidding!!!!
4) These are two pomegranate trees in our backyard - it's the hope I have for Trenton's little tree in our backyard :)

Trenton: I definitely loved what President Packer said - "I know the Lord lives, and I know the Lord." Intense. You could feel it.

Similar to Trenton, we haven't received any news of changes really other than something that was hinted at in the opening film but that wasn't actually mentioned. A district in our mission is practice testing that. We're really excited to see what Elder Perry meant by the whole being there to give church tours all the time. Very interested to see what that'll mean. Facebook we've had touches of, but nothing like he was talking about. Again, super interested to see what the changes will actually mean. Haha we'll see how much changes in 7 weeks. Not that I'm trunky. I'm just saying.

Okay Sister Barnett and I cover 2 wards in an 8 ward stake. They both meet at the same building and our area is not very big at all - no more than 3 miles by 3 miles between the two of them but somehow we're still driving like 900 miles a month. I don't get it either. The wards are huge (both easily fill the chapel which is a ton of people to know) though.
Our zone covers 2 stakes, but we're just in the Peoria Stake. I'm legitimately in Peoria but really close to my old area of Glendale too and not too far from my other area of North Phoenix.
Also haha speaking of North Phoenix (where I was for 7 and 1/2 months), apparently it's a little too unsafe now so they're going to take the sisters out of it hahahaha. I laughed so hard because people always told us that we shouldn't be in certain places. Don't worry Mom - I was always smart.

This Saturday I'm seeing Sister Falke and the Studingers!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe it. I'm so excited. Like beyond belief. So very excited. Sister Falke emailed me and said, "Well I wrote you this huge letter and then realized, 'Well, I'm seeing her on Saturday', so how about I just give it to you in person this Saturday?" Perfect haha.

Exchanges were good. Funny story - it ended up being an exchange from 3 pm to 3 pm (exchanges are usually an 8 pm to 8 pm thing). But point being (I guess that's not important) but Sister Follett and I are getting ready to go exercise Thursday morning. I legitimately felt prompted to brush my teeth. Weird. Then we had just finished praying when the lady they live with comes up to our door and gives us apple strudel saying that "they had too much extra for all the missionaries that are over". Uhhh what? We're in our exercise clothes and it's 6:30 in the morning. So yep we go downstairs and there are our zone leaders and our mission president and the stake presidency. Not a big deal. We try to escape but then the stake presidency starts talking to Sister Follett and then President Taylor comes over to say hi. He told us that we looked lovely haha. Well then I try to escape again and he says, "Well wait, let's talk for a little." He then proceeds to tell me what a great job I've done with Sister Barnett and how much she's grown. He explains a little bit of what will happen with next transfer and asks me to think about and pray about what I'd feel comfortable with. So we'll see. But yeah - definitely inspired transfers because I was able to see him and talk to him.

Well the fireplace plans sounds very interesting. I can definitely see Mom's point about all the kids she'll have around. It'll be totally weird to not have a hidden staircase anymore though!!! Very interesting. Also, I don't know where Trenton got the idea that y'all are moving to Utah but I hope you don't because all your kids are moving to Texas (hope Matt knows this, Taylor). We made a deal a long time ago that we'd all move close to each other in Texas one day.

Summer heat is manageable. It's just going to get worse haha so we bought a car visor and drink tons of water and Gatorade. Oh yeah! And yes Taylor I'm pretty sure everyone and their dog has skin cancer :( so I wear sunscreen when I remember. Definitely on my nose because that's where I see the most skin cancer. Scary!
And Taylor you ran a 5k! You're so intense.

Well that's probably all for today. LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH. Next week I'll email on Tuesday as it's transfers. Can't wait to tell you about the sealing and what changes are coming up!!! Life is great.
Love, Sister Parks

Oh yeah... happy anniversary... I TOTALLY REMEMBERED ON TUESDAY! - June 17, 2013

Yeah sorry. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad! There's a new Star Trek out? Weird. Oh and happy birthday to Miss Lizzie Fotheringham Williams. Her birthday is on your anniversary and in my email time I spaced that too. June has been a really weird month haha. And hot. Oh wow it's so hot here. I'm going to buy one of those "tube sock" do thingies so I can have more professional updos. We'll see.
Well we totally took some cute pictures this week and I forgot my card reader... so... SORRY!
I officially have permission to go see Chris and Shea get sealed!!!!! I'm so excited :) And Sister Barnett will get to stay with our Hermanas here in the area so she's really excited too.
Also Dad you have to watch this video. I found it when we did time this past week and I cried. Love you. The Mother's Day video is good too, but I think the Father's Day one is better.
The June 23rd broadcast will be incredible. We know of one announcement they're going to make that will change missionary work, but we're not supposed to tell yet. Other than that, I only know it will be awesome and that we've been told from the proselyting department to expect big changes. So go!
Haha Mom I think the idea to stay out all night with a pellet gun will work great with the deer! Go get em tiger :) There are so many doves and pigeons here. I wish for a BB gun all the time hahaha. Not really!!!!! But sort of...
Hannah sounds like such a good daughter taking care of Dad's Father's Day :)
Uh are you seriously getting ridding of the fireplace? That's a joke, right?
This week will be cool. Going on exchanges again (I'll be in Sun City) and then we have a trainer/trainee meeting follow-up. Sister Vallejo will be there with her trainee, whom Sister Barnett knows and loves from the MTC, so we're planning on going out to lunch afterward. Isn't it crazy how fast you can bond with people?
We met a couple that we talked to for a while. The were raised in one religion but have been super disillusioned by it. He, Casey, discovered meditation and got really into that with Slyvia. It was interesting talking to them and seeing the similarities between their quest for truth and our quest for truth. Every lesson I've ever taught on the mission has been totally different.
Um. Nothing much else to report. Time flies. Still many things to improve on and lots of experiences to have.
Well I should probably head out. Life continues to roll along.
Love y'all lots. Hope your weeks are beautiful and wonderful.
Sister Parks

Happy Father's Day!!!!!!!!!! - June 10, 2013

Oh and the crock pot in the picture was our makeshift cooler until we bought one last Monday.
Phew sorry I just spent too much time emailing Sister Vallejo. I love her! Isn't it so crazy that as a missionary you meet all these people that you never would have even known existed?! Definitely.
I got Hannah's graduation announcement on Thursday I think. I might have started crying when I saw her picture... Wow! So exciting and totally crazy. Haha definitely sounds like a crazy weekend for y'all. I'm SO happy Matt and Taylor were able to be there.
Oh and remember Shea and Chris Studinger from Prescott? Shea just emailed me and said that they're getting sealed at the end of this month. I'm invited, and Sister Falke is making plans to come down too. I am beyond happy! It's so interesting, because I definitely had a breakdown of sorts this weekend. Satan is the worst!!! But I have a lot of support from missionaries and others here which has helped.
I got letters from my MTC companion, Sister Crandall, and Morty this past week! They're both doing great and actually both have been assigned in the new position of Sister Training Leader in their respective missions! Definitely great news and shows so much of their progression as missionaries - now they get to go and train all the other sisters in their mission!
We found a couple more people to teach this week which has been a huge blessing. Two from members and one actually from all the hullabaloo on that crazy trial about that girl that killed her boyfriend (yes, I've heard about that like 4 times... just makes me grateful that I don't have to listen to the news every day). Interesting eh?
We weren't able to meet with Tracy this week and they didn't come to church :( We really need to be doing something different but haven't quite figured out what that is yet...
Also can I just say that I'm AMAZED at youth these days. Amazed. The zone leaders just passed off this kid named Hatem to us. He is really close to a family in their ward but lives in ours. We basically started drilling him because his knowledge and testimony already is incredible. He has very little Christian background but wow - he has connected to the Spirit and is learning so much. He strengthened our testimonies. We're excited to be able to keep teaching him.
Uh Ariel said that I'll be staying with her for a bit in August... CRAZY. I don't need any details haha, I just wanted to make you aware that life is SO WEIRD right now.
Also, I love your emails. Y'all always say the perfect things. And Taylor, thank you for the picture of Hannah as well. I LOVE YOUR EMAILS.
Neat realization for me this morning during my studies. Throughout my mission, I've been really rubbed the wrong way for days when people are pretty much telling us we're of no use to them because missionaries are young and have seen nothing of life and have no idea what we're talking about. People usually tell this to us as an excuse for how they're living their lives (whether they're less-active or rude to their LDS neighbors or not interested in religion at all) because we will supposedly live out our own lives and see that in the end God will leave us and religion won't be worth it and everything we're devoting our lives to right now is worthless. Phew. But you get my drift? I have DESPISED it on my mission. Gets under my skin and I totally lose the Spirit when I'm talking to those people (I usually have to stop). I had no idea why! But this morning I was reading a talk from President Monson - I'll put the link here - and he started out by talking about his life and continued with experiences from his own life. The thought came to me that, yes, I haven't experienced much of life. I'm sure that I'll have experiences that will cause me to test my faith and analyze again the things I know to be true now. I don't know what the future will bring. BUT this I know now: my call to be a missionary at this time and in this place is from God. I have no doubt of that. For one thing, a prophet of God who HAS seen life in all it's varieties and hardships still trusts in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the truths They reveal to him. In addition, President Monson approved ME to go on a mission and preach the gospel. I have a letter call from him and a ministerial certificate signed by him. It says that I have been "duly called and set apart as a missionary" and that I have "authority to preach the principles of the gospel". President Monson has seen life and knows the truth. I know the truth even if I haven't seen life. And that's enough. Most importantly, though, Heavenly Father knows all. He has seen it all. And He trusts me to be out here right now. I don't need to have every experience in the world to know that this gospel works. It will bring the most happiness, peace, and completion to our lives right now and forever. That I know. People can make all the excuses they want, but the words that I am trying to hard to receive directly from the Spirit (which will tell us ALL things) are of infinite worth to them. That's why I'm here.
Phew. That one only took me over a year to figure out. Not a big deal.
Man. I think this Pday is going to be awesome. It already has been.
The Atonement is so real. I feel it working in my life and know that it works in the lives of everyone who asks for it. Isn't that amazing?!
Love y'all a ton. Dad, I'll be thinking of you on Sunday! Not that I don't every day hahahahaha
Sister Parks

Sister Turner and I visited someone in a hospital who had mercer... yeah...
I told Sister Barnett to not look for a second so I could do something. And so she goes in a corner... yeah I'll be a terrible mother one day hahaha. Then she found a hat. I think that's it for explanations. 

HEAT CHILLS - June 3, 2013

Are so creepy when you start shivering in the car when it's over 100 degrees outside and even hotter inside your deep, dark, blue-gray Chevy Cruze. I love that car, but I'm seriously creeped out when I get into it.
Haha I just read a couple emails from my first couple of weeks in the field. Wow how things have changed! I feel completely different and yet entirely the same as that young sister missionary. Man. I would love to get her enthusiasm back though! Done! Okay.
So life! All right. This week since last Tuesday: Good week. Just really struggling with motivation, so we're doing things to help cope with that. Oh and we rearranged our desk furniture this morning. We seriously cleaned our apartment for like over an hour today. I actually like cleaning though. Except the shower. I cannot figure out how to clean a shower haha. Oh Hannah it will be so fun when we have cleaning inspections in Utah hahahaha! So excited.
We're teaching a lady named Tracy and trying to help her husband Troy get back to church as well. We have great lessons, and she's awesome about reading and keeping those commitments, but we're having the hardest time getting them to church! We took them on a church tour this week only to realize that our church building has like no artwork in it though hahaha. So it was a nice tour. I think it helped, but not enough to come to church this week so we'll keep working on it.
Due to a funeral on Thursday, we were thrown an emergency last-minute service project. We seriously called like 50 people trying to find a truck to help this poor lady out and were saved by the young men of all people! 3 priests showed up WITH A TRUCK EVEN (one of them has a mission call and just graduated from high school... weird) and just saved our lives. It was so awesome. But Taylor she was wearing a necklace just like the one you have with the eye/hand thing and so I knew she was Jewish! Anyway she was just so impressed that we were able to help her out that she went to 2 church buildings yesterday! She says that she loves her Jewish faith but loves her "second religion" too. She's actually outside of our area which is a super downer for her, but we'll get her elders over to her. Thankfully the Spanish-speaking sisters were there to help and she's in their area so they can stop by and visit her. So that was neat to be a part of. Our Bishop was impressed that the project had been pulled off but mostly impressed that he'd be there to receive the call for her asking for help because he was only near his office because of the funeral. So yesterday he testified about miracles and how the Lord is truly hastening His work (I cannot emphasize this enough and how much we're feeling this in the mission field. It's definitely feeling like that huge wave Elder Nelson talked about last General Conference and we're expecting some big announcements in a broadcast on June 23rd). So good testimony meetings this past Sunday. Then, Sister Barnett and I had some study time after church. We were both still fasting and WOW our studies were awesome. We had all these great learning moments from the Spirit and were just blowing our minds. Too much! Sister Barnett said this morning, "I should just fast all the time because I get way more out of my studies!"
Well that was a run-on paragraph...
Mom your training is so intense! Aren't you happy to already know the solfege (had no idea it was spelled that way...) from the Sound of Music! Also Dad, can we please get The Ten Commandments because I'm reading Exodus right now and want to watch that movie so bad haha. Glad to hear that you're having fun in Utah though :)
Dad, President Taylor seems to be doing well. He's approaching his 2-year mark as a mission president. And he told us that they're out of money (since they don't receive income as a mission president and wife) so Sister Taylor went up to Provo this past week to prepare their house for renting haha. Crazy. Sacrifice. That's what it's all about. He is very busy all the time, but we always feel his love which is awesome. Shea asked on behalf of her parents for some advice when they were preparing to go to Cambodia (can you believe they've been there for almost a year now?!) and that's mostly what I told them was to just make sure the missionaries feel loved. Love is such a great motivator, and they really have become like my second parents in the field.
Dad I'm serious about the Sioux City thing! Although that joke about the teepee famine was really funny - Sister Barnett and I had a good laugh over that one. People in the library must think we're so weird haha.
Also, I heard the Church is done making the Bible videos! Is that true?! I haven't seen the one of Lazarus come out yet!!!!!!!
Life is pretty good. I'm trying to smile more and be happier (I don't know what I'm not - I'm sharing the best message in the world 24/7!). Also, President Taylor told Sister Barnett that it's almost for certain that she'll be training in just a few short weeks when her training is up. She's been a little freaked out by that, so I'm trying to help her to be more prepared for that (well for her to actually realize that she's prepared for that because I'm so amazed at how much she's changed just in the 8 weeks we've been together). I'm still trying to be better. I definitely know that it's one step at a time which is nice. I loved that about Elder Holland's talk this past conference about how imperfect people are all the Lord has to work with but He deals with it and so should we. Definitely applies to how we deal with ourselves.
Hey I love all of you bunches and oats. Seriously. Just love ya. Your emails really propel me through and give me an extra boost that I love. I've reflected a lot this week on how the gospel has blessed our lives so much and how completely different our lives would be if a great friend hadn't sent the missionaries over to kill Mom and Dad's goldfish hahaha. It's important work! Every single member of the church is a firsthand witness to this. We're part of the time that has been anticipated and prophesied of for generations - let's actively take part! Sister Barnett and I will do better as well.
Also, I think I want to see if I can be a temple worker when I'm back in Provo. I was thinking about temples this week.
Okay love y'all so much! Have a GREAT WEEK and Happy Graduation Hannah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Sister Parks

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More pictures!

So funny moment... - May 28, 2013

Yesterday was a national holiday. And the libraries weren't open hahaha. So we went to work two hours earlier than usual yesterday and then are taking two hours out of today to do emails. Fun! I have like a billion pictures to send because I lost my card reader for a bit - whoops!

Oh and side note: Chick-fil-a has amazing Avocado Lime Ranch dressing. WOW.
So this past week. Sister Barnett went out on splits while I went to Sun City with Sister Fluckiger and got two new investigators! She went tracting! Wow. President Taylor reminded her yesterday that she'll probably be training in 5 weeks and to prepare. We had 9 sisters come in last transfer (lost 3) and will have 11 coming in next transfer (losing 4). CRAZINESS.
Also can you tell the Andersons I'm finally writing them back please? I just ran out of stamps and will have to get some next week.
Hey Dad, we met a member who was born in Sioux City. I told her I have family buried there (right?). I think I told her it was William Daniel Parks. Anyway she said she could look things up for me if you want to pass along anyone related to Sioux City to me. Her sister apparently is huge into family history and can find anyone or any place.

Oh and get this! Last Tuesday night I was in another ward (Rose Valley, Peoria North Stake) with Sister Fluckiger. We're at their coordination meeting and everyone's asking about me. I say Austin and one man says, "How close is that to Cedar Park?" "Oh not far." "Do you know anyone there?" UH awkward mission fog moment as I struggled to remember who was actually in the Cedar Park ward... But then I remembered Holly and Brooke Taylor. TURNS OUT HE'S THEIR UNCLE!!!!! Crazy story. Apparently Brooke is on a mission in Seattle right now and is a BOSS. She's tearing it up and is just incredible. Her uncle is so proud of her (I am too!). She's been out in the field just a few weeks now, so that was really neat to hear.

Mom did you end up going hiking? Is the weather in Utah just incredible? It only gets up to like 105 during the day and everyone's telling us to "enjoy the nice weather". Yeah. Definitely looking at my wardrobe and figuring out new cooler outfits. We're so blessed to have a car... Really.

We're having a "historic" broadcast (as stated by the First Presidency) for our mission and basically all the members here. It'll be about missionary work and apparently will be amazing on June 23rd. Big announcements made? Not sure. It'll be great though. Watch out for updates on that.

Wait Dad you were part of the groundbreaking for the San Antonio Temple?! What? Also, President Taylor told us that they'll be down in San Antonio for training in September for like 4 days. You and Mom should go take he and Sister Taylor for lunch or something! You can talk about me!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh I'm so funny.

Phoenix is baking but definitely only during the day. It's still relatively nice at night right when we head in and then in the morning when we exercise. Definitely sweating more though. Lovely. Oh and we were talking about something yesterday that reminded me of the time we drove Taylor to Provo from LA! Remember that? So fun. That mini-van had some stellar interior lights.

Rain?! That sounds so exciting! We might get some in June and July. Maybe. It was overcast yesterday morning and we were so excited!

Nothing much else to report on the Peoria front. Just still moving along. Sister Murdock is training in a new area too so she joined a sister who's only been out 6 weeks in the area and then has a brand-new missionary too. Should be having fun! She emailed me and said her mom signed the housing stuff and all.
But we're focused! So focused. Okay well it's odd to be doing emails and then back to work. Goodness. Time's flying.
Have fun and smile everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Parks

(Last four above) Pictures are: our district last Tuesday on our hike near the temple, Hermana Jenson and I after exchanges, a funny sign I saw at a member's home, a Christmas card of a family with 10 kids (so funny), a sacrifice poster that is quadruple meaning (especially in the gospel), the Phoenix Temple with Moroni!!!, a nasty mummified frog (bone sticking out and everything), roses outside our house, and a cool poster at our church building.

Another May Day - May 21, 2013

And I'm not getting transferred. Neither is Sister Barnett. I think us and the zone leaders are the only companionship in the zone not affected by transfers. And there are like 10 companionships in our zone. This whole age change has really made transfers crazy. The past few months have been so intense. And 9 English-assigned Sister missionaries are flying into Phoenix today! Completely crazy. We started out the year with 14 English-assigned sister missionaries. I'm sure I've told you all this before, but I seriously can't get over it. I'm really working on not being bummed with all the changes. You'd think I'd be used to it by now!
So but thankfully Sister Barnett and I seem to be staying in our area with no changes. It makes a huge difference and will help us to really implement the goals we've set for ourselves.
Dad - I can't remember what I eat every week... Sister Barnett made some awesome pesto pasta thing that lasted a few days and I made some chicken/sour cream/stuffing thing in the crock pot that was good. We have recipe books and are trying a lot of the baking things in the crock pot. It's not super fun cleaning up without a dishwasher though. Guess what - I've only had a dishwasher for 8 weeks of my mission haha. Every time I say something like that, though, I always think of Hermana Jolley in Ecuador or Hermana Morgan in Argentina... whatever I was called state-side! They should expect things like that. Um I think we've had like 2-3 dinner appointments in the past week. We were supposed to have more but we never listened to the message and apparently missed 2. Awkward. I can't believe how many mistakes we've made in this area. It's ridiculous. I think that's a huge reason of why I don't like telling people how long I've been out because then there's all this pressure to actually be a good missionary. That's not going to happen; I make mistakes all the time.
Oh did I ever tell y'all that Lexie Pickett has been in my district for the past 6 weeks? She's getting transferred, but yeah! I saw her like 3 months ago when she came in and recognized her from girls camp. And then we started serving together here in Peoria! Crazy. Her parents are in Chicago apparently, but she was at BYU! SMALL WORLD. Always. But she remembered how I was her YCL. Always makes me feel old. Same thing for when I think about Derek Carter being a missionary. CRAZY.
One of the sisters here is already companionless (her companion is flying home right now) so she (Sister Fluckiger) is with us already. I'll go with her to her area tonight and Sister Barnett will go on splits with a YSA. Everyone says she's grown a lot which is such a huge comfort to me. She's a great missionary.
Oh Dad your email reminded me - the people we live with have this GIANT pomegranate tree in the backyard. It is seriously probably as big as our oak tree in the backyard. Just so big! And so many pomegranates, but he said they won't be ready until the fall :( So hopefully we'll have some in Austin :) And on another random note, I've had like 3 conversations with people this week about the thankless task of cleaning their pools. But it's awesome.
EVERYONE - they put up the Angel Moroni on the Phoenix temple this week :D I think they put it up Thursday or something, and we went and hiked Thunderbird Mountain this morning and got to see it close up. A lot of the workers were coming in and we got to talk to them and thank them for the fine work. It looks so beautiful. All the exterior of the temple looks done except for the beautiful stained glass (which I'm almost positive will be by the same guy who did the San Antonio temple!). Oh wow. How amazing to climb a mountain (ha. hill)  in Phoenix and see a House of God shining in the morning sun! Having Moroni up there makes it so much more real. Probably won't be done for another year they're telling us, so I'm sure hundreds of missionaries will be carpooling down to see the open house. It would have been nice to be one of the sister missionaries doing the open house, but after helping with the Easter pageant, I think I'll be content to just be a tourist on the open house tour over and over again.
I guess this week I'm really just going to work on thinking selflessly. Just not thinking about myself. That should help.
This week was pretty good. There's been a lot of anticipation with transfers coming up so it'll be nice to have everything done tomorrow and finally figure out what's happening. Well. I guess I should finally go email other people back like Alina, Ariel, and Tracie. That would be a nice thing for me to do. Haha I never know what to say for some reason! Oh well.
Have a great week!
Love, Sister Parks
P.S. Ooh can I get a copy of Trenton's line of authority please? THANKS.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - May 13, 2013

No worries, Mom. I got to wish you Happy Mother's Day yesterday. SO AWESOME. That was great. I loved being able to talk to you. And wow - Elder Parks sounds SO OLD. It's crazy. But I guess he's super close to being 21 now. WOW.
And there is no way Derek Carter is old enough to serve a mission... I'm in denial. Sister Duncan also wrote me and said that Wyatt Clement is serving a mission! There is no way! I feel SO OLD haha. And the Jamisons are leaving on a mission too? Wow wow wow.
Also, Mom and Dad thanks for teaching me how to talk on the phone, eat politely, and a billion other things. It's made a huge difference.
We had zone conference this week and therefore met up with all the Glendale missionaries (my second area) for like 6 hours for training from President and Sister Taylor. Good times. No Elder Holland at mine - lucky Trenton!
Sister Barnett went on splits for the first time and taught her first solo lesson! It should have happened way sooner than this, but that's okay. At least it happened. She loved it and did a great job.
We're working on just being more accountable. It will help us so much more in everything.
We also had a meeting on Friday with all the trainers and new missionaries. There were 80 people there from the changes of the past 3 months. CRAZY. And more are coming. I was able to see a whole bunch of people, including missionaries from my last area, Sister Murdock, and Sister Bruckman (for the last time before she goes home :( ). So that was good. Today we're having a sisters lunch with the 7 of us in the area since it's Sister Hawkins's last week as well. We're going to be losing like 6 sisters in the next 3 months. And getting 17! And that's just English sisters. I can't believe all the changes. It's a crazy time to be a missionary.
Just love y'all. Love love love. Mom, I hope your mother's day was awesome. You're a great Mom - I'm grateful for you every day! And Hannah wow you're going to be an adult!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go register to vote or something hahahahaha.
LOVE YOU SO MUCH. So happy we got to talk. Thanks for all the support.
Talk to you next week!
Love, Sister Parks

Isaiah 1:18 - May 6, 2013

That's our monthly scripture that we're going to memorize for the month of May (plus D&C 58:42). Our theme as a mission this month is Repentance and Forgiveness. Interesting, eh?
Oh and 6pm your time will totally work. I'll call the conference number. WOW I GET TO HEAR YOUR VOICES SOON! I hope it actually works out with Elder Parks this time haha because I was thinking about how if it doesn't I won't hear his voice for like almost 2 years. That's crazy. But it'd be okay. Hannah and I will just drive down to his mission home and meet everyone there and have them call him without him knowing we're there. Oh yeah!
Anyway away from creeper mode.
This week was fine. We had exchanges on Friday with the "Sisters Training Leaders". Basically they're the experienced sisters that are assigned as pretty much exchange conductors. They organize all the sisters exchanges and we get to exchange with them once a transfer. Oh and P.S. next week is not transfers but the week after will be so I'll email next Monday but then the Tuesday after that. Got it? I'll try to remind you next week too. But anyway exchanges were really good because Sister Hawkins got to help me just get over myself basically and helped me to see that I need to go to motivation rather than motivation coming to me. Very neat. Helped.
We were going to try and get me to Sunday's baptism back in my old area this weekend, but it didn't work out, so now I'm trying again for this weekend because Charles is getting baptized! I've been waiting for this since November! I honestly wasn't sure he'd make it while I was on my mission, but apparently he has a date for this week (it's so nice that we can email other sisters in our mission now). Charles is really one of the only people felt that I actually came out for. His wife, Barbara, got baptized back in November, but Charles had tons of reservations about religion and we thought it was a miracle when he actually started listening to the discussions with his wife. We taught him for quite a while actually in preparation for him to get baptized in January. It didn't work out - he had word of wisdom problems and got really discouraged. Probably about February or so, I was sitting in a lesson with them. Charles is like in his 70s and missing most of his teeth haha. I have to talk loud and clearly for him to understand, and he's a big burly guy. Just so you get an idea of what he looks like. Well Charles told me repeatedly that for some reason, whenever I taught, he understood things. Something in the way that I kept eye contact with him and really focused on him helped him to actually grasp the things he had questions about or that we were teaching. That touched me a ton because he was someone I definitely had to focus on and pray pray pray for the Spirit. Then back to February, sorry. I'm sitting in a lesson with Charles when right in the middle of it, I feel the thought come to mind, "It's Charles. He's one of the ones you were sent here for." I immediately thought, "What?! Charles?! Uh. Why?!" It was so random, but I've never felt that about anyone else that I've talked to on my mission. Maybe little glimpses of it, but never with such clarity and purpose. But yeah. Long story. But Charles means a lot to me in that way. I hope this weekend will work out for his baptism, because both he and Barbara tried really hard to make me promise to come back before I left North Phoenix. Missions are crazy.
Okay so the 3 pictures: one is just sunset. It's pretty. It's why people live in Arizona I think. Next one is me and Sister Hawkins after exchanges. Mom, for some reason after I straighten my hair, it's always curlier the next day. Crazy. And I'm tired of cutting my hair short - remind me not to do it. ANYWAY and then the last picture reminded me of Uncle Pat (which is so funny then that Dad and Trenton emailed about some killer turkey shot he had recently) because this is the irrigation method in Phoenix where they just flood their lawns for a few hours and look what come flocking in! Mallards for the taking!!!!!!!!! I'm not violent Dad haha. But Sister Barnett would definitely agree with you that I have NRA tendencies.
Also try listening to this attachment. It's just like a 15-minute thing of me talking haha. You'll get a sneak preview to my voice!
No, we don't get to attend CES broadcasts :( Maybe the YSA elders do. We have above and beyond meetings maybe like 2-3 times a year. I think. Just depends.
I think I'll send my card to the ward to Bishop Anderson. I trust him more to get it to the ward than you hahaha. P.S. Denise said that my plague looks great but they just need a display case! Can you send me a picture of it?!
Last year we came in early for Cinco de Mayo, but this year we didn't. Guess it's not too dangerous of a holiday here in Arizona.
Wow I can't believe we have cable now. That's just weird! And good luck with all the recitals Mom! Sounds exciting!!!!!!!!!!
Okay I really need to go. This email is exorbitantly (?) long. Taylor, I've been thinking about you a lot lately. Hope you're doing all right because I LOVE YOU AND THINK YOU'RE GREAT!
Love the rest of you too OF COURSE. Can't wait to talk to you this week and hope that everything's going great. That's something I pray about all the time - for my mission to be a blessing for you!

Well. It hit 100 degrees. - April 29, 2013

Ha. It's hot. Just emphasized that we really need to go shopping haha. I can't believe how fast my clothes wear out. It's just funny. Unreal.
Oh something that I was thinking about. Remember President Packer's talk in the last General Conference? Remember how near the end of his talk he said, "I am His witness" and there was just a still? That's EXACTLY what happened when Elder Anderson came to visit us. Said the same line - the Spirit floored us into absolute silence in the room. Wow. It's incredible. They truly are called by God to be His witnesses.
All right answers to all the questions:
Thanks for the picture Mom! Hannah looks SO BEAUTIFUL. And no, I don't remember Sister Tambe from camp... but I don't remember a lot of things from before Feb 1, 2012. It's weird.
I have church basically from the same time you do then. I'm out by 3:00 my time (Pacific!). So I could probably do it any time after that.
Wildlife sightings? Peoria is a lot like Prescott - quite a few quails and tons of bunnies!!!!!! Unfortunately, I can't go chasing after them like I did in Prescott - too many people around. I know - sad day haha. That possom story is gross. I would have had the shotgun ready to fire right after you got it after the pool. Okay fine, not really. We were talking the other day to a lady who's super into emergency preparedness. She told us to buy guns and we ended up talking about shooting things (freaked my companion out a little bit). So now my companion knows that we went out and shot those feral hogs all the time in Hochheim. They're gross!
Cutest Mormon Message I saw this week: My Brother Hyrum. SO CUTE. And so true. That's my favorite part about the Mormon Messages. It's just like little uplifting videos. I love that we get time during the week. Really lifts us up and helps us to lift up others as well as we share it with them.
Mom I love Preach My Gospel! You should totally read it.
Every member a missionary! I love it! The singles ward in this area is doing a "come and see" drive where when people ask questions, they try and respond with "come and see". I think this is great because so often I get caught up in giving people all these details they really don't care about when in fact all I needed to do is bring them to a place or environment where they can just see it themselves and learn what the Spirit needs them to know (FHE in the home, mutual, church, missionaries at dinner, etc). It just makes so much more sense. The Spirit will always teach so much better than we can.
Yeah Dad we'll find out how many miles we actually have this week as it's a new month! May is upon us! We might get Sister Barnett a bike today. Maybe. I don't know if I'm up for it haha. And we keep hoping that a bike will just appear out of nowhere. We'll see.
Training is coming along okay. I just need to be better.
Wait - what cars do we actually have anymore? I can't keep track. Didn't you get a new car or something?

Here's the guidance on emails I got from my mission president: 1 - Start making time/schedule arrangements with parents for Mothers Day calls.
A - Remember, your call is to last 30-40 minutes (ask those who were here for Christmas about our recommitment to the authorized time [we had to report in front of our zones how much time we took]). If you have divorced/separated parents, you can make 2 calls, which still total the 30- to 40-minute allowance. No other calls to siblings, grandparents, other family or friends.
B - I'd recommend keeping the call to parents and immediate family. Avoid conference calls. Give appropriate time and attention to talking with parents. If you've got a lot of immediate/extended family at home or others tied in on a conference call, you end up not spending enough time with your parents at first - then you get to the end of your time limit and one of two things happens: you either don't talk to your parents enough or you go over your allotted time to talk to your parents. Plan ahead. Focus on talking with parents. Don't go over.

I know it's strict, but I also know it's for a purpose. He said "avoid conference calls" so as long as I think it's our immediate family, I have no problems with it. I also have no problems with it though if we don't do it. It's definitely your call. That's pretty much where I stand. Haha get it? Your call. I'm so funny.

Rules on answering emails: I can email anyone living outside my mission boundaries. So basically everyone. There's no limit. Tracie emails me, I can email her back. Grandma emails me, I can email her back. Sister Falke in California emails me, I can email her back. The Studingers emailed me!!!!!!!! I was so happy. They both got baptized about a year ago and are preparing to be sealed in the temple either in May or June. I am so psyched. I can even email Sister Vallejo which is good because she let me know about some baptisms that I'll be able to go back and attend. Very exciting! President has made it a lot easier for us to go back to our old areas for baptisms of people we were involved in teaching. So hopefully I'll be able to go back to Phoenix North for Sunday's baptism this Saturday and Charles's baptism on May 11th. Does that answer your question? Tell everyone they are more than welcome to email me - I'm at a public library though so I'll never get more than 2 hours to email everyone back. So it's probably just as safe as writing me because when people write me letters I take weeks/months to respond hahaha. I still need to email Alina, Kyle, Ariel, and Tracie. I definitely have time to read all the emails at least.
TIME FLIES. I can't believe it's May basically. And Hannah's turning 15 right? That's what I thought.
This week was okay. I need to be more obedient. Strangely, it really does eventually make me happier.
I LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH. Look forward to hearing your voices in a couple weeks. I was supposed to see if I could use my voice recorder to email you one of my recordings, but I forgot to actually make a recorder of something other than my journal entry. .And as much as I love y'all, I don't know if you want to hear my journal haha. So I'll work on that for after Mother's Day when you miss my voice again haha. Hopefully the files won't be too big to email.
Sister Parks

Here are one of Sister Barnett and I our first Sunday here.
The next one is from DJ's baptism. A priest in the ward who's waiting for his mission call was able to baptism him. Very nice baptism.

okay sorry one more thing!
At church yesterday, the theme in one of wards was "standing in holy places". The experiences shared made me SO GRATEFUL for the friends I had in high school. They definitely respected and supported all of my decisions. There were definitely people that made fun of me for my standards and thought I was weird, but it only helped to emphasize who my real friends were. They stuck by me, even to the point of overprotecting haha. It made all the difference. Aren't friends great?! They have such a huge impact on who we become.
LOVE Y'ALL. HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peoria, Arizona Dad - not Illinois - April 22, 2013

Although that would be hilarious. Get transferred to a different mission... Which will be happening to some of the missionaries here in July. Crazy!
I like how everyone asked what Kamas is in Trenton's email. It's a good question. Set phaser to stun - nice one Dad :)
Haha get this - we called the vehicle coordinator, Elder Rodgers. He asked me who I got the car from (which Elders) and then told me I still had their miles - 1400!!!!!!!!!!! I was so relieved. He laughed and told me they'd probably bump it down next month (obviously) but we're definitely good for this month.
Speaking of cars, we had inspections this Friday and guess who got a perfect car?! That's right! We cheated a little bit. But that's okay. Well Sister Taylor says we didn't because we can get whatever car wash we want, but I still feel a little bad. But it was so funny because Elder Rodgers totally bowed to us. It should be on the blog soon I'd think - you should check it out. I was laughing so hard. So I've officially won every car inspection I've had so far on my mission! Oh yeah!
After car inspections, I had my interview with President. It was so amazing. He told me a lot of things I needed to hear. Definitely strengthened and helped me. He reminded me that I wouldn't be in a new area with a new companion if I couldn't handle it. He said he's been excited for me to train for a while but that I needed the experiences I had in my last area before I could (SO TRUE - my last area and especially the last 2 transfers there changed so much of my missionary work and gave me priceless experiences). So these past couple of days have been loads better. I love President Taylor! Haha isn't if funny how he tells me the same things y'all tell me but it affects me differently? I'm sorry :( You just always think I'm great!
Church was crazy yesterday! We had so many people coming up to us and giving us referrals! I've never seen anything like it! And then DJ had his baptism interview and will get baptized this Saturday. He's a great kid and has been really excited to be baptized but just not able to for a while. These wards are on fire with their own missionary work, particularly in reactivating members. so we're just trying to slide right in to the work they're already doing. Just rocking wards. We are very blessed to be here.
Sister Falke emailed me! Holy cow I miss her so much. I would love for her to come back and be my companion again haha. She taught me so much about missionary work.
Bummer that you've been sick Mom! We'll try to avoid it. It's in the 90s here during the day (gaaaahhhh) so we probably sweat it all out already haha. Still nice in the mornings though, so that's a blessing.
Oh and a hybrid companionship means that it's an English-speaking missionary with a Spanish-speaking missionary. So like when I was in the hybrid trio in Glendale for a few weeks. My companions had been called Spanish-speaking, but they were with me who was called English-speaking. It's something that's happening a lot with all the new missionaries coming in.
I remember Aunt Tara and Uncle Pat's place in Cypress! I told Sister Barnett that.
So yes. This week we tried to be more obedient. I got a ton of advice from President Taylor and he helped me realize all my sources of support and advice so I don't keep it all bottled up and overly stressed. I might have some gray hairs... just kidding! But I might as well haha. So yeah good times. It'll keep getting better.
Sister Barnett seems to be doing well. She is very patient with me. Very cute. A little forgetful haha so that's tough on her sometimes. I'm trying to do a good job and explain everything to her and train her quickly on what we need the most. She seems to be enjoying the mission. I can't believe how heavy of clothes she wears though - she always wears longer sleeves and more layers than I do. Everyone tells her she's going to die soon hahaha. She's fun. She was 19 when the announcement came out and turned 20 right before she reported, so she tells people she's "part of the wave but not a young one" haha. She went to school at BYU-I.
Taylor your new apartment sounds amazing! That service thing is something we should implement more as missionaries too! Just doing it! I'm excited to see the new apartment one day and thanks a lot for the quote - it totally makes sense!
Sister Parks