Tuesday, March 26, 2013

WHAT A TRIP - March 25, 2013

Seriously this week has been insane.
But to answer all your questions and comments first:
Yes, Dad, we're allowed more time to email now. I'm not sure how that works for missionaries that use public libraries, but oh well. We're very blessed to have use of the family history center here.
So the Easter Pageant: We went up Tuesday at like 3:00 with the Deer Valley sisters (Follett and Turner). As sister missionaries, we got to park in handicapped parking (oh yeah!!! and yes, Dad, I drove all the way there). We looked around the Visitor's Center there at the Mesa Temple for a while and then had some training from the Mesa sisters. They have like a secret room where they have food and lockers and stuff! It's crazy!!! Being a temple sister would be so fun, but that's okay. It was fun to pretend for a night. Tuesday was just the dress rehearsals, so there weren't a ton of people there and we got to watch it in both English and Spanish. We were basically told to smile, smile, smile, and invite people to check out the Visitor's Center while they waited for the show to start. There weren't a whole lot of people in our sector, so we didn't do a whole lot. We didn't get home until like 10:40 though. Wow. The pageant was good! It was neat to actually see some of the pictures I've seen of it before in real life. They go through like the whole story of Christ. Very nice. I thought of Lizzie Fotheringham Williams during like all the dance numbers. We're going this Friday with our ward and some investigators and then will go again this Saturday to help out (on its last night!!! should be crazy!!!). Very exciting.
Taylor that sounds so exciting about your new apartment. I breathed a huge sigh of relief to know that you're staying in that area hahaha.
Mom the pictures of the saris are so cool! Beautiful!
And um also on Tuesday I received an anonymous (?) package from the ward with A LOT of gift cards... Please thank the ward. I'm not quite sure how. It was just ridiculously amazing. My companion and I were on Cloud 9.
Also Dad - I've decided that you and Sister Vallejo would get along really well. Actually she'd just get along with our family really well.
Bleh there's just so much to talk about - so much happened this week.

Monday: Went shopping at Kohl's. Awesome. Got 2 shirts and a jacket (thank you Aunt Kathleen!!!)

Tuesday: Had an appointment with a lovely woman named Sarah in the morning. She's very sweet. Suffers with short-term memory loss, though, so it's always interesting to see what she actually remembers from week to week. She has a really strong desire to know the truth and is very spiritual. Then at 3:00 we met up with the other sisters and headed down to the temple. Our district leader, Elder Brothers, let us borrow his GPS which uses the Mr. T voice. So thankfully I never got lost because he totally would yell at you! Anyway but yeah GPSs nowadays are kind of freaky - like it always knew what the speed limit was and if I was in a camera-monitored zone and my speed and showed me pictures of what the upcoming intersection was going to look like. Creepy! But helpful. It was my first time going to the Visitor's Center, and we watched a great video about eternal families. Very beautiful. The pageant was fun.

Wednesday: Sister Vallejo, with our ward mission leader, get along way too well, so our coordination meetings with our ward missionaries are sometimes less than reverent. But that was fun. Wednesday was weird. We taught Grant who decided to move his baptism date back to the 14th of April so that his family can be there. Excellent!

Thursday: We left for Sisters Specialized Training! We met up with everyone and carpooled down to the Mesa Temple to do a session. So beautiful. There is such a peaceful feeling there. Definitely got a lot of inspiration as to how I can improve. Then we walked over to a park and had lunch there and had some training about not gossiping, relationships with elders, what we want to be remembered for, and more. We got home a little after 5, had coordination with our other ward, and then went on splits to teach the Tso family and Charles. Charles we've been teaching for a while. He was pretty agitated when I walked in, but I didn't ask why. We had planned to talk to him basically about what he wants from us. So I just tried to go by the Spirit, and we had a really great lesson. When Sister Vallejo rejoined us for the end of the lesson, Charles shared that at the beginning of the lesson he was planning on telling us to stop coming by, but he felt the Spirit really strong as I was able to just focus on him and he really wants to be baptized. He just has to stop smoking. That was very fulfilling. I definitely feel like I'm here to help Charles. And then Sister Vallejo was able to commit the Tso kids to baptism! We are teaching such golden people. It's ridiculous.

Friday: District meeting! Bomb! Since we have 4 Spanish elders in our district now, they always do practice teaching together so they can do it in Spanish which means that we the sisters are always stuck with the zone leaders. Pressure! Well today we were teaching something I've never taught before: teaching someone how to pray and why we use formal language in prayer. I seriously had never thought about teaching that. So we dove right in, and the Spirit was very sweetly there and helped us to realize why we use proper pronouns when we pray. Oh but awkward moment - the Spanish elders came back into the room so we could discuss how it went but we were still in the middle of teaching so I just kept talking and finished my sentence in like absolute silence as 5 elders stood behind me just watching. Scary. Anyway. Our elder are out of money so we just went to Taco Bell again afterward. Elder Brothers said he didn't want me spending my newfound gift cards on the district. Nice. We tried contacting a lot of people after that. Had a lesson with Bijonn that night - he is very prepared and has had so many special experiences.

Saturday: WOW! So our stake conference was this week and we had a member of the Quorum of the 70 there. He flew in from Ghana at like midnight Friday night and had a meeting with us at 9:00 the next morning. Crazy. His name is Robert C. Gay - he gave the talk last General Conference about what would you sell your soul for? Very good, although I was a little intimidated by it at first. Anyway. It was a special meeting for just us, the full-time missionaries, our ward mission leaders, our bishop, and of course our stake presidency and President Taylor. Sister Vallejo and I were the only two women in that whole room. Crazy! He gave us a lot of great insight - I took a lot of notes. Definitely gave us a lot of ideas on how to work better with our ward.

Sunday: Stake conference. Amazing. President and Sister Taylor spoke along with our stake presidency and Elder Gay. President Taylor had us all stand up and introduced us. He got so chocked up and everyone was so impressed that he knew all of our names, but we just though, "Duh. He better know our names. He's our family right now." Anyway. Very good. We talked about how there might be 14 full-time missionaries in the stake but that how technically we have like 4500 missionaries in the stake because everyone is a missionary. Elder Brothers interviewed Bijonn for his baptism - he's set to go! He's getting baptized this Saturday and then we'll head down after that to help with the Easter Pageant again.

Okay this is the longest email of all time. I love y'all so much. This week should be totally amazing.
Talk to you later!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Sister Parks

P.S. I met a sister in Mesa who is from the Oak Hill Stake and knew Jerica! Crazy!

it's getting hot... - March 18, 2013

Anyway. Tomorrow night we're headed down to Mesa to help with the Easter Pageant. So exciting! We'll be there again Wednesday night with our ward, Thursday for our mission's Sisters Training (so all the sisters in the mission will be doing a session together!!!!!!!!), and then on Saturday night again to help out. SO AMAZING. The temple is a beautiful, sacred place, and we're so blessed to have one so close.
I taught Sister Vallejo how to make guacamole this week. She was embarrassed to see how easy it was haha.
And for the first time on my mission, I'm getting a new Bishop! All of our ward appointments were cancelled yesterday and then the stake presidency was in our sacrament meeting and then yeah... wow! We loved our Bishop, but it's exciting to have a new one called. So yeah we'll see how that goes.
Oh and last night we met with a 24-year-old young man who said he didn't want us to come back because we're too attractive... Sister Vallejo and I were laughing so hard in the car. Poor guy. We'll have the ward continue to fellowship him and reach out. Interesting.
Sara Jolley's dad just started forwarded me her emails for some reason! How did he know how much I was thinking about her this week?! REVELATION PEOPLE. The heavens are not closed.
Also, this week we were teaching Sunday about the law of chastity. Yeah - I don't know how you teach a 9-year-old the law of chastity either. So finally I asked, "Sunday - do you think it's good to have slumber parties with girls?" Yeah I was stooping pretty low... He replied, "No" to which I delved, "why?" His response just proved how terrible we were hahaha, "Because I don't want makeup put on my face." LOL GOSH. I think we finally got our point across. Hopefully he shouldn't have to worry about it too much as a 9-year-old, but we keep reminding him and going over everything we've taught so he'll be prepared for life. We're working slowly on his mom too which will make a world of difference. United families make all the difference.
Ah your spring break sounded so fun! I'm SO HAPPY you were able to go to the temple. Wow. I actually teared up when I read that. No big deal.
 Haha good luck with the sari's. That is so crazy that Chris is getting married.
And haha Mom I laughed so hard in your email when you reminded Trenton that you've converted his bedroom into your sewing room hahahahaha. I love you.
Dad, it's true - sisters are not supposed to be in biking areas. That means every set of sisters in our mission has a car. However, we are still not allowed to go over the number of miles that are allotted to our car every month. So our car and area has 950 miles a month, but Sister Bruckman's last area only had 300 miles. So they had to be on bike every day and just use the car at night. So yes, we are very blessed to have so many miles. Especially as the weather is getting warmer ahhh!!!!!!!!
Hannah - my companion has me listen to other music from lds.org/youth the music section. There's this singer who sounds like Taylor Swift to me (so like I want to rip off my ears when I'm listening to her but yet can't stop listening). Her name is Debra Fotheringham. My favorite song right now though is "He Knows Me Better" by Jenessa Buttars. SO GOOD. Listen to it. https://www.lds.org/youth/music?lang=eng#d
Okay I think I'm done for this week. We are struggling with focus and desire and faith, so we're trying to think of ways to increase our desire. Any suggestions? It's also known as the "missionary fire" haha but I feel like I have always struggled to feel the fire of missionary work. I get too caught up in all the things I'm doing wrong. Anyway. How did you do it Matt? (P.S. Isn't it SO COOL that you're my brother-in-law?! Oh my gosh I get psyched out every time. love it)
I LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH. What a blessing it was this week to hear from more people because of being able to email more people. Now I should do it with my extended family hahaha.
Sister Parks (soon to be a temple sister this week hahaha)

soooooo - March 11, 2013

We got a ton of new rules this week (of sorts), BUT one of them is that we're going to get more email time BECAUSE WE'RE ALLOWED TO EMAIL ANYONE NOW!!!!!!!!!! We still need permission to email people of the opposite gender living within mission boundaries, but now I can email Kyle Allen myself haha. Thanks Mom! And Ariel! Isn't that exciting?! I love how when we're obedient, we see the blessings of a bit more freedom. Heaven definitely respects our ability to choose.
Also funny story: last week we went to Carls Jr after district meeting, and I got up to use the restroom while we waited for food. Didn't bother to look up at the sign and totally took one step into the men's bathroom before I quickly stepped back out. And all the elders saw... nice :)
And we got a text from President Taylor this week. Ready for it? WE GET TO GO HELP OUT WITH THE EASTER PAGEANT IN MESA! So excited. We get to go and be there from like 5 to 9 on March 19 and March 30. Hopefully we'll be able to go with investigators too. But we'll see. Anyway so we'll be like pretend temple sisters for a night. It will be very exciting. Here's the link: www.easterpageant.org
Also, this week I taught Sister Vallejo how to play the piano! That was interesting. Thankfully she already knew how to read music. Now I have to fight her for the piano hahaha because I need to practice too! She's learned really fast though! We're going to work on playing the bass cleft (?) this week.
We had a really great zone meeting this week. Very spiritual. It was interesting - we talked a lot about asking heaven-inspired questions and how the Spirit is the senior companion.
Dad, Sister Vallejo says that yes, I still talk all the time when I drive. But I go the speed limit now... As of this point, I will probably never be a trainer. I don't want to be anymore haha. It was wrong for me to want that.
Today for Pday we're going bowling! On Pdays, we have studies like normal in the morning, then emails at 10, the grocery shopping/cleaning/laundry, then we write letters if we have time and then we go to zone activity. We got lectured a little today in President's email about how we should be doing more cleaning though... oops... Sister Vallejo are going to plan the Pday activity for next week, and we think we're going to have a ping pong tournament. Now we just need to find some ping pong tables haha.
Psh don't send me anything for Easter. Also, my companion doesn't eat sugar... awkward! Haha not really but mostly just that now I might gain more weight if I keep eating her desserts like she tries to make me do...
Yes Mom, Arizona does not do Daylight Savings Time. As if they need to save any more time during the summer... NO. I do not miss it haha.
I'm driving a little Toyota Corolla. Much better than the Chevy Malibu. Don't let anyone buy that - it's a boat. No turning radius whatsoever.
It's supposed to get up into the 90s this week again. Not ready for summer. All our ward members are telling us that this is the end - it's all agony and sweat from here on out. Yay! Ha yeah. Phew.
Love y'all lots. By the way. A lot.
Hope you're having a great week! It's always wonderful to hear from you and find out those things that are going on. Crazy!
Love, Sister Parks

Thankfully I have a companion who takes a lot of pictures.
We took stucco off a house this weekend with most of our zone.  Cute :)

Well hello! - March 4, 2013

Transfers were crazy!!!!!!!!!!!! Like everyone is training (we got 29 new missionaries) and Sedona was opened up to sisters (so jealous). Additionally, President has called what's called Coordinating Sisters that will start orchestrating our exchanges every transfer and go to zone leader council meetings etc. Also jealous. But excited.
My new companion is Sister Vallejo (vi-yeh-hoe). She's the bomb! She's been out about 6 months and was serving in Sun City before this. We get along really well but also lose focus a lot because of that haha. We'll work on it. And oh my gosh it is so nice to be driving after like over a year. So nice. I love driving. So yes transfers were incredible!
I don't think all the US missions are on the same transfer cycle because we have a sister here from Temple Square and she'll go back mid-our transfer.
We're still having a hard time getting a hold of Sunday! Hopefully he can be baptized with his brother in a couple weeks, but right now it's not looking too good. Then again I'm not exactly sure how knowledgeable about the gospel a 9-year-old will be...
The Phoenix Temple should be done early next year with the Gilbert temple right behind it. With the announcement of the Tucson temple and the new missions, we'll basically have a temple for every mission. How incredible! I can't believe how amazing the church is in this area. So many members and so much work!

All right so this Sunday was amazing. So Neyo passed the sacrament last week and then did again this week BUT the even more amazing part was that Conrad was up there breaking the bread! He didn't bless the sacrament this week, but maybe he will next week. Oh wow it was so amazing just seeing the progression of people that I've been able to work with. And then Conrad's wife, Lindsey, bore her testimony in sacrament meeting! It was so sweet. I bore my testimony just a couple people before her and for some reason got up there and starting rambling for a bit about how I know I'm supposed to bear my testimony because my heart starts pounding etc. And then Lindsey went up there and said that she wasn't sure how everyone knows how to go up and bear testimony and how me explaining it helped her to know that she needed to go up as well. So amazing. Loved it. Hahaha and then my companion bore her testimony and mentioned that she "got into the area only a few days ago" (which is true) but now everyone thinks she's my trainee hahahahahahaha. So funny.
Dad did you ever get to pass or bless the sacrament early in your conversion?

Um so yeah! People seem happy that I'm still here which is very gratifying. I think I'm going to be here until I watch Charles enter the waters of baptism. That guy... It's going to happen! We're meeting with him this Thursday. His wife, Barbara, got baptized back in November and he's having tons of issues we're trying to work through.
Good times. Life is good. I miss Elder Parks sometimes. Oh but there's an Elder Parks in my mission now! Did I already say that? Anyway, I have yet to meet him. Should be awesome. I will refrain from hugging him. Maybe... hahahaha jokes I won't, promise!
Also, yeah, I was looking our our stake website and seeing in each ward how many missionaries are out! Crazy! The Lord truly is hastening His work. What a thrill to be a part of! We're making history.
Sister Parks

I love my new companion. Things are great!

TRANSFER NEWS - February 25, 2013

I'm staying. I'm not training (yes I cried when I found out). Sister Bruckman is leaving. I'm a little bit in shock. So no matter what, this will be my longest area.
Um yeah.
Neyo's friend, Sunday, is doing pretty good. As with all 9-year-old Liberians though, we have a hard time meeting with him haha. His older brother has a date to be baptized in the YSA ward, so if we can meet with Sunday often enough we can get them baptized together which will be super awesome!
I got a beautiful little note from Hermana Shealyn Moon today!!!!! And a letter from Grandma!!!!!! Good day. I can't believe how much Heavenly Father answers my prayers when it comes to letters. It's amazing!
So this one time I got to wear jeans to emails and it was super awesome. We had a bbq with the zone this morning (of sorts) and we all got transfer news together and then ate lunch.
We think one of our investigators just had a baby. She was super psyched to come to church (we've been teaching her for a couple weeks) and then she just dropped off. She was expecting to have the baby any day now. Anyway it's just awkward haha because if she hasn't had the baby, we did something very wrong in that she's totally avoiding us. So we're praying that she just had her baby.
We keep having extra time in the 8:00 hour which is not a great time to be out because Phoenix is a large city (therefore the craze is more evident). Anyway... we have been dropping off thank you notes to members of the ward and it is super fun and already strengthening our relationships with them! People love to know when they're doing awesome and why.
Not much to report on this week. Sister Bruckman and I are trying not to be pansies when we go out and contact people. No luck so far haha. We need to pray for more charity.
Oh and I got a letter from Aanika this week! Apparently she had a dream about me haha and felt that she should write. Awesome! I doubt I'll have time to write anyone today though - President asked that our apartments and cars basically be spotless before transfers tomorrow.
And I have a ton of pictures but for some reason this computer isn't letting me download them... so you'll have to get them next week with my new companion I guess.
Thanks for everything. Love y'all. Sounds like both Matt and Dad had great birthdays! And looks like we'll all need to send Elder Parks some happy stuff this week. Poor kid.
It sounds like our zone is changing a lot. So next week's email will be awesome!
Love, Sister Parks

Elder Fagersten let me get on his computer. Enjoy!
Oh yeah and it hailed this week. Like 2 inches while we were doing weekly planning. Crazy!!!!!!!!!
Oh and there are 2 new missions in Arizona coming soon. We know that they'll affect our mission but are not quite sure how. The effects with take place July 1st.

Hey happy birthday Matt! - February 18, 2013

Ha so I've realized my emails are probably getting pretty dumb to put on the blog because they're so long and mostly just responses to your emails. Oh well. I'm assuming that since Shea is gone on a mission nobody but Grandma reads it anyway hahahahahahaha. JUST KIDDING HANNAH AND TAYLOR THANK YOU FOR DOING IT. I was just thinking the other day about how AWESOME it will be to come home and have this beautiful record of my mission emails. So sweet. Thank you.
Oh Hannah my first and last Youth Conference were treks!!!!!! Wow!!!!!!! We're such adorable twinkies. Have fun!
Haha I spent my Valentine's Day in a giant meeting. Then we had dinner at home and a couple lessons that night. Wooo! Jokes it was actually great. Seriously! It was super nice actually. We had zone conference with another zone from like 9-4. At the beginning they had some announcements and then the zone leaders left for a minute and came back in with tulips! There were 4 sisters there and 4 zone leaders so we each got one. So cute! I'm sending a picture.
And the other picture is that there's a Parks & Sons dumpster service in Phoenix hahaha and I've never been in a good spot to take a picture with one other than last Monday when we accidentally turned into an alley thing where no one could see me take a picture next to a dumpster! Oh yeah!
Yes Mom, the weather here is glorious! There's no other description. It's supposed to ice later on this week, so thankfully Sister Bruckman and I haven't sent home our sweaters yet!
ALSO - NEXT WEEK IS TRANSFERS. It's just a 5-week transfer instead of 6 weeks so I'll be emailing next Tuesday, not Monday.
And Mom, thanks for emailing Kyle. He already got back to me. You're the best!
Haha yes I got the Texas card, thanks! Uber cute! And yes, I had some of the Valentine's Day candy and then became the elders' favorite sister when I brought it to district meeting the next day haha.
I love Grandma. Thanks for that note, Mom.
Dad you are so not turning 42! Yeah right. I can do math.
Yes Dad change is good! I'm super excited for your new job. Keep smiling :)
All your emails this week were very sweet, thank you.
Okay here's the great stuff! So this week was good. Zone conference was amazing! I got to see Sister Follett (who I've never actually served with but adore) and Elder Brame (who was one of my zone leaders in Prescott). We went into Jacob 5 which I have only understood once, so that was awesome! President talked about how it requires lots of efforts to acquire deep roots, but we do have deep roots because we're out here as missionaries. Then he talked about how it's something we want for our investigators and less-actives and that is the difficult part. It takes time and nourishment to cultivate strong roots.
Ha we had another bed bug scare. Apparently bed bugs LOVE ME. This is the 3rd scare I've had with no bed bugs actually present and living in our apartment. They must find me somewhere, bite me, and then ditch me. 3 times. They itch something terrible. And I know they're bed bugs. Trust me. Anyway so apparently yeah we don't have bed bugs. And hopefully these bites won't leave scars like the other ones did. Oh the memories I'll have to tell my kids one day!
Mom my red shoes came! Thank you so much! I'm wearing them right now. LOVE RED SHOES. So does Sister Taylor, my mission president's wife haha. Hopefully I'll be a legend when I leave.
We're teaching 2 new people. One is a chef and he's the bomb. His returning less-active fiance (?) is wonderful and sharing the gospel with him. And the other is his 9-year-old in Neyo's complex who is the bomb. He catches on so fast to what we teach. It's fun using all the visuals with him. And Neyo is coming to our appointment tomorrow with him! Awesome! AND Neyo received the Aaronic Priesthood this week. Wow. Life is amazing.
All right well we're going to go. We have way too much to do today. Ha pdays are so short.
Thanks for all your support. It definitely carries me.
Sister Parks