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

Peoria Welcomes You - April 15, 2013

Very true. Peoria has been welcoming.
Peoria is northwest of Phoenix North where I was.
My last area was sort of split. They used to cover two wards - North Mountain and Bethany Home. They added another set of missionaries to cover North Mountain exclusively and then gave Sister Vallejo another English ward - Moon Valley - that they took away from the Spanish elders. So now there are 3 districts in Phoenix North. I was so devastated to not still be in the zone that I almost didn't notice when President Taylor called our names to serve in Peoria.
So yes, I'm in Peoria now. My companion's name (as I'm sure you've seen on the blog) is Sister Barnett. She's from Cypress, Texas.
We took over two wards in the Peoria Stake from Elder Beck (who I served with in the MTC) and his companion. We live in a converted garage apartment adjoining their house. The elders didn't leave it a total wreck, so that was nice.
And I had to pay a dollar to use the computer in this public library since I didn't have any mail proving that I lived there. Just a hint ;)
We're driving a Chevy Cruze now. Still got a great turning radius, and it's a beautiful dark blue like the Suburban was. We need to call the office today and see how many miles we have, because we're already over 500 (from what the elders who had the car before us did) and our area is only like 3 miles by 3 miles. So... I don't know what to tell Elder Rodgers, the vehicle coordinator. .And I keep getting lost. And my companion doesn't have a bike yet (thank you Dad for getting me one before I got here). We'll see.
Transfer meeting was very interesting again. I don't know why President thinks I can train. I'm having great difficulties in a new area with a new companion. I'm just trying to take an hour at a time. Or 10 minutes at a time. Whichever's easiest. But anyway. Something interesting that happened at transfer meeting was that we had just finished introducing all the new missionaries and sitting down when President stands up and starts to talk. I don't remember what he said, but basically he got down to showing us something. He asked all of us missionaries who have been out longer than a day to stand up if we'd ever felt alone, that the work was too hard, that we were inadequate, that nothing seemed to be working out, that we weren't sure what else we could do, etc. All of us were standing. It was a pretty emotional couple of minutes. President then just assured us that when we feel alone, we can know that we never actually are.
After transfer meeting, we ran around the parking lot talking to people and trying to track down a car, area books, the phone for our area, etc. It was really hard to say bye to my last zone. Really hard. We finally got it all together and our zone leaders helped us move into our new place. We met the old couple we're living with, and he took us around a tour of the place. We have like every type of grapefruit tree in our backyard. Literally. We sat down and looked at the area books, called our bishops and ward mission leaders so we could meet with them that night, and basically just tried to get things figured out. We did a bit of grocery shopping and ate too because, understandably, the elders hadn't left us much.
Something that has been really neat about this area, though, is how much everyone loves Elder Beck. They were all really sad to hear that he'd left, so thankfully the novelty of having sisters in the area rather than elders will hold off their sorrow for a while. But it got me thinking about the last couple of days in the MTC - we were all really nervous to head out to the field. I think Trenton will remember the breakdown I had right in the middle of the cafeteria actually when I said bye to him and started crying in front of everyone. Not appropriate. But anyway, Elder Beck seemed more down than the rest of us. He just wasn't sure that he'd be able to be a missionary, if he'd made the right decision, if he was going to be successful at all. Typical, but hard to watch with him. He really seemed to consider calling it all off. So, a little over a year later, it's amazing to come into his area and see just how much incredible work he's done. All the members have raved about him so far. He has become a marvelous missionary.
Our church building is the same layout as the Pflugerville building. That's weird. Someone asked me if I knew Richard Jamison since I was from Austin haha. Which I did! Sort of. Apparently he and the younger Brother Jamison had served together in Zimbabwe (please check the spelling on that one). There are tons of connections everywhere. The wards are very missionary-minded - they have multiple guests at church every week and are really excited to have us here. There was an incredible baptism in one of our wards this past weekend that Elder Beck was able to come back for. Very spiritual. We have a few people already to teach (what a blessing!) and have some more potentials we need to look into. We're just trying to get the hang of things.
Bishop McNeil in my last area bought me a digital video recorder as my going-away present. I've been recording into it as my journal entry every night. It's been really neat because I get so much more out of it. Now I need to remember to write in my real journal too just in case something happens to it. That's been really nice.
I'm going to email President Taylor now. Lots to do today (mostly cleaning and sleeping - I can't believe how tired I am).
LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH. Missed you a lot at church yesterday, but then the thought came to mind of how much Heavenly Father misses all of His family too and what a joy it is to be part of bringing them back to Him.
Have a great week.
Love, Sister Parks


Yes family. It has happened. I keep expecting to wake up from this bizarre change of circumstances.
President Taylor called me Saturday night and asked me to be a trainer. Right when I finally accepted that I would never train. I'm ridiculously nervous. He also said that I might have to leave my area as well (which normally doesn't happen - the trainer should stay in the area but with all the billion sisters coming in President has to do a lot of rearranging) so yeah. This morning we got the text confirming that. We were all together as a zone and had lunch right then together. I've only cried twice today. I'm so nervous. It's just unreal.
BUT then we got a call from the Assistants telling us to bring the Area Book for one of our wards which means that our area is 99% sure being split (as in the sisters here will only cover one ward instead of two). So I might just be going to transfer meeting to get a brand new missionary and find out that I'm only covering one of the wards I'm covering now. But I still have to pack my stuff... So we're not sure. Who knows?! We'll find out tomorrow. We'll have a meeting tomorrow before transfers where all the trainers and trainees will meet each other and be assigned. I just won't know where I'm going! Crazy.
Oh bleh life is so crazy. I'm just overwhelmed. Just feel grossly inadequate as always. I loved what was said in conference though about how we imperfect people are all God has to work with, but He deals with it anyway haha. But it's so true. I have definitely felt that on my mission. We are so inadequate for God's purposes, and He could easily do it all Himself, but He doesn't. He allows us the opportunity to participate in His work and feel the incredible blessings that come from that. It's amazing.
Look in this paragraph for all the parallels between training and parenting - it's ridiculous but amazing. Yesterday Sister Vallejo and I went to the meeting for new trainers. President Taylor talked a lot about the importance of our calling as trainers and what an impact we would have on our new missionaries. It was very daunting, but I couldn't get my own trainer, Sister Falke, out of my head the whole time. I realized even more than ever what an amazing trainer she was and how blessed I was able to have her. They said that as trainers, we're preparing our missionaries for the worst day of their mission. I realized how, when I felt so dark and alone in Glendale, I clung to the habits and attitudes Sister Falke had instilled in me, and those carried me through each day. I knew how to rely on heaven because of her example. In the middle of the meeting, I was really just struck and overcome in realizing that I still want to be the missionary that I know Sister Falke envisioned me becoming. Her influence has molded all of my missionary work and who I am as a missionary. I want to be half as amazing for my new missionary as she was for me. But yeah they talked a lot about how we're training these missionaries so that they can be prepared to train new missionaries in three months. We lead by example and let them go out and experiment (think teaching a kid how to ride a bike). It's just incredible.
Oh Dad - the Liberians we're teaching are all friends. Some are related. It's so funny. Last night we were coordinating with our ward mission leader, and he said, "Okay. 1609 West Glendale" and we just started laughing because they all live in the same complex and none of them have cars. It's hilarious. They have such great intent. It's going to be great to see how the ward will be able to grow in charity with the opportunities they'll have to serve these families.
Got emails from Hermana Jolley, Hermana Morgan, Sister Murdock, Tracie, and Alina. This new email policy is such a wonderful blessing.
And Dad thanks for talking to the mission office :) You're a dear!
Also, fun missionary experience that I forgot to tell y'all about: we went bowling a few weeks ago as a zone. The elders all put names from the Book of Mormon for their names which was so funny. And then we're going to pay for our games and the guy's like, "Where did you come up with all these names?" So in a very natural way, Elder Vaoga was able to explain the Book of Mormon, testify of it, and then give him a card and commit him to look up more about it. It was awesome! What missionary opportunities have come to you since Trenton and I became Elder and Sister Parks?
All right well I better go. I need to email President soon :)
I LOVE Y'ALL SO MUCH. Can't wait to tell you all about my new missionary (she's going to be great!)!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Parks

April 1, 2013