Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Pivotal Week"

Hello hello!!! Shoot I am in a great mood right now and I am so excited to let you know ALL about my week. This will probably be a really long email because so much happened and I don't want to leave anything out. Knowing me, I will probably forget to write some parts but at least in one year you can read my journal all about this week because I recorded it all!

I can honestly say that this was a PIVOTAL week for me here down in Gulfbank. As cheesy as that sounds, its true. My life and outlook is forever changed because of this week. Missions are the best!

First off I just want to preface this by saying that I KNOW God is in the details of our lives. He fixes every minute detail so that his purposes can prevail. His plan can never be frustrated. He is indeed our loving Heavenly Father and we are in His hands. We have no need to fear and we just need to develop patience and trust in Him. I also know that God is literally using me at this very moment to do much good down here in Texas. He is constantly with me and helping me share a message about Christ to those who are willing and needing to hear it.

Remember the family that lives in the cute little yellow house? Well we have been teaching Alex and it is amazing. He is such a quirky weird guy.  He is very in to nature and magic. But it’s awesome to see how close he has got to the doctrines of the church on his own. When we taught him the plan of salvation last week, he took notes and explained it back to us. Throughout the week, he told us that he was teaching it to his friends. This week we were excited to teach about the priesthood and the restauracion. It turned out to be a very, very powerful lesson. One of the most powerful lessons because the spirit was not only guiding us as missionaries but also Alex. We used this torn picture visual to explain the apostasy and he loved it. He was smiling the whole time. He didn't just understand it but he loved it. We then talked about Joseph Smith and the First Vision. All he could say was wow. For a while it was silent. Then he said, "You know, I just wish there was a book." We were all freaking out and just dying to dive right in to the Book of Mormon. We explained it and he said that he was VERY interested to read this book. We then restated our purpose as missionaries and he said that he needs to get baptized and born again into the Mormon Church. Right when we were going to invite him, his phone went off and his best friend showed up... Alex made us teach him the plan of salvation. This time we focused more on this life then the spirit world. We told the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. God was working with Alex in that lesson to prepare him to receive the fullness of His blessings. It was beautiful. This is literally God's Kingdom here on the Earth. IT’S SO REAL!

A few weeks ago Hermana Burnham and I were trying to find a menos activo y when he wasn't home, I told her we needed to knock this one number. No idea who lived there or anything but we needed to knock it. So we did and we met this man named Jose and his son Eddenilson. We were very bold and used a line that President Pingree promised would gather the elect. We said that we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we have a very special message that will change your life. He was astonished and was quick to set a return appointment when his wife would be there. For weeks we tried to get in, we called but we got nothing back. We weren't giving up though because we both felt something incredible when we first met him. Also his little son is the cutest, most polite child I have ever met. I want an "Eddenilson" one day. Anyways, we went last week and we met Jose's wife Ana Ruiz- yes they are happily married. She told us how Jose had talked about us and they were both really interested. We were thinking we didn't want to teach one without the other because we wanted a super powerful first lesson with them both there. God wanted it otherwise. She said do you need my husband to be here or can you just talk to me? So we went in, not knowing what to say. I was praying so hard that our mouths would be filled. We talked and testified about eternal families, our purpose, and how her and Eddenilson are children of God. I talked about prayer and cried because I have been having some interesting experiences with prayer that made it so I could testify powerfully about it. Through that I learned that everything God does it for the benefit our not just ourselves but for others as well. They were smiling so big throughout the lesson. Eddenilson said the closing prayer. We left a children's Libro de Mormon and right when we left he started reading it. He later told his mom that he wanted to be Mormon just like us. Great thing is, he is 8. Ana also accepted baptism. They had the light of Christ and it was amazing to see how simple truths really do resonate with that light. God has a plan and he is anxiously working and preparing.

And now another story that furthers proves this point. My first weekend with Hermana Burnham and I was so hard because we had nothing to do. We did a lot of tracting. Our first Saturday, we met an atheist named Ezequial. He told us that his wife had cancer and that he didn't believe we had a purpose and that we just die and nothing happens after. So depressing right? Anyways, we developed a fast love for him. We tried to testify that there was a purpose for him, that he could live with his family forever, and that he is a child of a loving heavenly father. He was pretty hard headed. For the following weeks, we kept trying to go back. People wouldn't answer the door if they were home. There was one time when we actually met his wife but she was too sick to talk and frankly couldn't care less that we were missionaries. But when Hermana Koch came, we were in the area again and decided to stop by- Hermana Koch's first Friday. Juana's (the wife) sister opened the door and left us in. We shared el Libro de Mormon con ellas. Juana was very stubborn and critical but she said she would read it. She then told us how she wanted us to be friends and meet with her daughter because she is so worried about her. She wants us to bring her daughter close to God again. We set up to meet with them both the next Friday. When we went over, we met the daughter Christina. She informed us that her mom had passed away on Tuesday. We sat down at the table and saw the Libro de Mormon sitting there. Everything was neat and tidy in the house so it caught our eye that it was on the table. We asked if we could read a verse from the Libro de Mormon with her and she said of course. She then told us that her mother had taken the Libro de Mormon with her to the hospital so she could read it. We noticed that the book clearly had been read and used. Christina told us that her mom's dying wish for her was to read the book. She told her "this is your book." In 4 days, Juana grew to love the Libro de Mormon and gain a testimony that it is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ.

This last story is just the cutest thing of my life. We took Sara Marin with us last week so we could do splits and get member present lessons. She was my companion. We were having a great time. We saw these kids playing outside and decided to go talk to them and see if they could get their parents so we could introduce ourselves to them. The little boy, Ethan, ran inside to tell his dad that there were some girls outside to see him. He told Ethan he didn't want to come out. So we continued to talk to the kids. We told them how they were children of God and that Jesus Christ is our brother. We told them what we do is talk to people about Jesus Christ. The little boy then said, wait, I NEED TO TELL MY DAD THIS! So we once again ran inside, but his dad once again, denied. But this little girl Rosa told us not to leave because she loves talking about Jesus. So we told her a little bit more. Then when we were about to leave she once again asked us to stay. So I pulled out a children's Libro de Mormon and read the story about when Jesus came to the Americas and blessed the children. Afterwards I stood up and Rosa ran to me and hugged me and wouldn't let go! And told her she could keep the book and her mom could read it to her everyday. She was so excited! The whole time I was thinking about the children's hymn Dime la historia de Cristo. There is a reason we are commanded to become like little children- pure love and so receptive to the spirit! Those children recognized and accepted that they were children of God and it was so amazing. When we are all feeling unimportant or unloved, pray to God and ask, "do you love me?" and then let it happen. He is there and wants you to know that.

Anyways, this was my week in a nutshell. I am the happiest I've ever been. I know that God answers prayers through others because each of these stories I shared with you was an answer to my pleadings with the Lord over the past few months. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that we are God's children and he loves us. I know the gospel changes people. We have a Savior who died for us. I got a blessing from Bishop this week because I felt really prompted to and he explained how I need to more fully rely on our Savior., Believe me I am learning but its a process. The blessing was really beautiful. It was a visual. He explained a tunnel, very dark tunnel that I was in. I was at a bend so I couldn't see the light but that the end was very near. He promised that my family would be unified soon. I just need to hold on and keep moving forward in faith that God will build sturdy ground around me until I get through this particular tunnel. I know that we all can find the light of hope through our Savior Jesus Christ. He died for us and carries us. Keep holding on and pushing through even if you feel like you are in a dark tunnel and there is no sign of light. I was reminded this week if this simple truth. I know that God is in the details of our lives and he does not leave us helpless.

I love this work. I love that I have a loving Heavenly Father. I love that we have scriptures to guide us and fill us when we are alone. I read the Book of Mormon every day claiming that I have a new favorite scripture because each day I am filled with what I need to hear.

I have been so blessed and I truly couldn't be more grateful for these experiences this week.


Hermana Parry

I just wanted to leave you all with this statement from Elder Perry that he told all the new mission presidents recently:
“2013 will be looked upon in the story of the church with the same regards as that of 1820 and the first vision. 1830 the organization of the church and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. 2013 will be looked upon as the day when the Lord started to hasten his work”

So humbled to be part of this work at this time.

*Message from her cousin Elder Macdonald, "mack and i both had "pivotal weeks" i said that in my email too. hahaha it kills me how similar we are. love her."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

That awkward moment when I am still in Gulfbank

Monday, July 22, 2013

Remember how I was so dramatic last week that I would be leaving the area? Well I’m still here! And I am so happy. I just feel a little awkward because I definitely told my favorites of the ward that I was leaving and did the big dramatic goodbyes. I definitely made Angie cry. So I feel terrible. In my defense, I was told that I was leaving so it’s not all my fault haha. But it’s definitely a blessing I get to stay!!! There is so much that I want to do here.

Erika is so close to accepting a date. And so is Marta! It’s about time. We were so blunt with Marta this week. I was a little scared I might make her mad with all the questions I was asking but I really felt inspired to ask. So I did and I think it went over pretty well. We also took Hermana Gandara to a lesson with Marta this week and it was amazing. Hermana Gandara is una viejita y es un fire ball. Seriously the sassiest woman I have ever met. It was perfect though. We read Alma 34 and we even read the super intimidating parts of that chapter to really make Marta feel the urgency of the decision to be baptized. There was one part in the lesson when Hermana Gandara leaned on the edge of her seat and got in Marta's face and pointed her little finger at her telling her that she needed to get baptized. It was so intense. The spirit was so strong though. Marta says she knows that it is all true and wants to be baptized one day; she just wants to know more. Keep her in your prayers. She is so close.

So Hermana Burnham and I are trio training. I feel like something crazy always happens right before I am about to train. Last time it was the food poisoning and this time we had a huge massive blackout the night before. We couldn't even get into our complex. Which was really ok because there is no way we would sleep there without any lights with everything that has happened there. We ended up sleeping at the Marin's home since the mission home was packed with greenies. Our baby was due on Thursday and her name is Hermana Koch. She is from Laguna and is SO cute. Seriously, so adorable and funny. We are always laughing! But don’t worry we are extremely focused.  You just have to have fun while doing the work. We are working bien duro aqui. I am exhausted. It’s amazing how just a few days all together and we are already making a ton of progress here in this area. Its unreal to think about how much this area has changed since I first got here. I kind of feel like a mom to everyone here and it freaks me out. (Also can you believe I am almost 20- that's disgustingly old right?) Gulfbank is the bees knees.

I’m realizing a lot lately that everything is just between my Savior and me. This whole mission is supposed to get me to KNOW who my Savior is. I hope that by the end of this whole experience I can say that I know him a lot better than I did before. Life is never going to be easy and comfortable. In fact, we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The mission is just teaching me how to get good dealing with trials and problems. All your insecurities and doubts spring to the surface out here and at times you really feel alone because you are separated from everyone.  The only refuge is found from our Heavenly Father and his plan for each of us. I’m so grateful He sent His son to this earth for me. There are times I want to throw in the towel but then I remember I can do this because HE DID THIS and some. Little by little I am realizing that I truly can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.

I am happy and healthy!

Love you lots,

Hermana Parry
TRIO - Companionship
Hermana Parry
Hermana Burnham
Hermana Koch
They are feeding us too much food....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nearing my 6-month mark

Dad keeps telling me to get Maria and Florencio baptized before I leave this area but to be honest, I don't really think that is going to be happening. I am probably leaving this area on Thursday. I have to say that leaving my baby area and Hermana Burnham might be harder than leaving for my mission. The reason why I say that Maria and Florencio will not be baptized anytime soon is because we got a response to that letter we left on their door. In the letter I was pretty bold. I basically told them that you know that this is true and that you know what you need to do. Our response came in a funeral card. On the front it said, with caring thoughts and in the inside it said, may your memories comfort you now (or something to that effect). Then there was this really long letter from Maria. You know some parts were really good and I definitely think she was inspired to say some of the things that she did. I had to read it through a lot of times in order to finally be able to find peace with the whole situation. She was so sweet in the letter and told us not to be sad. She said that she knows we really were sent by God for them at this time. She said that we did our work and now the rest was up to God. God has a path for each of us individually. She and Lencho are attending a Baptist Church right now. She is a Sunday school teacher for the ninos and Lencho is in the alabanza choir playing the guitar. I have to say, it is awesome that they are trying to sincerely follow and serve God. I know that they will get to where they need to end up. It is just going to take a while. I know they truly love us and will remember us forever, which makes me feel so good. I cannot tell you how much I have learned from meeting them. I feel like my whole mission can be summed up with them. They were put in our path for Hermana Burnham and me. That is another reason why I think I am leaving this area because I love them so much and I can't bear the thought that they just broke up with us.  

We had a really awesome tracting experience this week though! Our correlation meeting was canceled so we thought that we would just knock some doors until 9. The very last house of the night was this cute little yellow one. I remember seeing it and thinking how much success we have had with cute yellow houses (I will probably end up having a yellow house after my mission because of it). Anyways, we knock and the door and a son and his mom answer. We say we are missionaries of Jesus Christ. There is a definite pause. The son then asks who sent us because his dad had just passed away the night before. His mom immediately turns to everyone else in the house and says "There are 2 angels on our doorstep!" We were invited in and pray with them. We then went back Saturday to do men's work. Seriously though. We did yard-work for hours, in the Houston heat. I have never sweat so much in my life. Every minute Hermana Burnham and I would shake our face and sweat would fly off. I know that is disgusting but I just wanted to give you guys an idea of what its like down here in the South. We are going to teach the plan of salvation tonight because they have A LOT of questions. Really excited. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Family, I love my mission. I am truly on the Lord's errand. A couple of times every day Hermana Burnham and I will turn to each other and just be like dude, we are missionaries!!!! I cannot tell you what an honor and privilege it is to serve. Everyone go on a mission. It is the best. There is not any other place that can replace the experiences and lessons that are gained from a mission. I can’t believe that I am coming up on my 6-month mark. Time goes by so fast because you get so caught up with the Lord. Literally, I am so grateful for the mission because I have a REAL relationship with Him. He sustains me, strengthens me, encourages me, guides me, heals me and empowers me. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you choose to do things the Lord's ways. There is a lot that we as men can do. But when we choose to do things with Him that is when we reach new heights. Wow. Isn’t the gospel great?

Praying for you always,

Hermana Parry

PS. How awkward would that be if I didn't leave this transfer? Just a thought haha

Monday, July 8, 2013

Poison Ivy

Grateful to serve but oops...it was poison ivy

So you know how I sent you a foto this week from a random phone of Hermana Burnham and I working in the yard? Well we got poison ivy...

I guess pica in Spanish doesn't mean pokey. In a matter of fact it means itchy.  So when the family told us that it was up to us if we wanted to help them with the pica plants, that was their warning.

By some miracle we didn't break out into ugly rashes. We were just very, very itchy for the following couple of days. But it’s ok because we always pray for service opportunities and we finally had one! The cool part is their neighbor is a member and wants to give them a book of Mormon. The mom has 2 sons with severe Down syndrome so the member feels like this could be a really great opportunity for them.

Just a quick side note, that picture was also sent to all of their family in the DF. Go tell Elder Macdonald to find and baptize them. Thanks.

This week was slow and hard. We had more people give us fruit, which was a blessing. I don't even have to buy groceries this week because we have so much.

The cutest thing that happened this week was with Angie and her family. She was asking if it was hard to be away from my family and for some reason, this week was really hard to be away. Probably because this is usually the time that we have family reunions. But anyways I replied saying ya le entrano muchisimo!! But then listen to her response, she said, "but its ok, your doing a good thing." doesn't that just kill you? She is the cutest. She was just baptized a few days before and then to just have her say that meant the world to me. It was a little tender mercy to keep me going this week! We also had a super powerful lesson with her mom about the Plan of salvation and not procrastinating our day for repentance. She wants to be baptized. We just haven't set a date yet.

We had specialized training with President this week too. Ah what a great man. Seriously though. The theme was that the Lord's ways are higher than our ways: Isaiah 55:89. It was awesome. It was all about trying to set inspired goals for our areas during planning sessions. It was also how affliction is part of the Lord's way. God's wisdom is affliction and struggle because that is how we grow. We need to realize that the mission is hard. The Lord is capable of just putting prepared people in our path, but that it not how this whole mission thing works. We have to go to him to find out how many people are here ready to receive the gospel, then plan a way to accomplish his goals- ask yourself what you have to offer & what you can do but most importantly tell him how you need his help, and then you act. The whole time I was thinking about what I needed to change and work on in order to more fully follow the guiding spirit in this process. This is what I got: Remember your divine identity. Doubt is inconsistent with each of our divine destiny. It is lack of confidence. I need to more fully let the Lord be my confidence and let his power (virtue) garnish my thoughts unceasingly.

Need a FHE idea? Go watch Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by Elder Kevin W. Pearson.

This was a good, hard week. But hey, afflictions are part of the process. I am just so grateful for the little tender mercies.

Love you so much!

Hermana Parry
Happy Fourth of JULY
Jaqueline Santos