Monday, August 26, 2013

2 Timothy 1:7

As I am writing this letter I am listening to Elder Macdonald and Kayla sing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." What a tender mercy. I have the best family ever. I will probably listen to it another 10 times. Man I love them. 

Every time I sit down to write these letters I just feel overwhelmed because I just wish I could tell you all those feelings of my heart. You feel so many different things as a missionary. Lately I’ve been studying the topic of Fear. The bible dictionary by far has the best definition! It says something like the following: fear is something unworthy of a child of God; it destroys the feeling of confidence a child of God should have in a loving Heavenly Father. Therefore we see that fear is inconsistent with our divine identity as children of God. 1 John 4:18 says that "perfect love casteth out fear." I have probably talked about this topic a lot but its because I think it is something I struggle with a lot. I don’t feel like I am a fearful person by any means. But I think I am holding myself back sometimes by focusing on my own abilities and who I am rather than who I can be and what I can do with Christ. D&C 50:41 says "Fear not, little children, for you are mine." We are in good hands. I just think I sometimes don't let that sink in. But my goal is to be more like the stripling warriors (Alma 56). They understood who they were and what they could do with God. Their hearts were placed in Him. As a missionary it is even more important that I do that because if I don’t, then how can I teach these people with power and conviction. I testify of the validity of the Book of Mormon on a daily basis, I need to trust in every single promise and word of comfort found in the Book of Mormon. There is no room for fear or doubt- only faith. 

That was kind of a tangent! I guess I needed to just vent for a second. 

This week I went on exchanges down in a cute little area called Heights. It is right next to downtown and seriously looks like Coronado Island. I was in love with it. I could definitely serve down there! Anyways, I think that this was a very important day for me. I met a member named Hermana Colunga. I asked her one question about why she joined the church (she is a member of 8 years) and she ended up spending the next hour explaining her conversion story. She is amazing. I wish I had time to relate the story to you but just know that GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS. He does it in His own time in His own way, but He does it. The reason I think I had to meet her is because she just glows. My face has never hurt from smiling so much as I did from that lesson with her. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time that we were there. She told me that before she found the church, she was anti-social. I had the hardest time believing that because I look at her and she is the happiest, kindest, most outgoing person I have ever met. There was a glow about her. Something extremely special. She was telling me also that she always carries a Book of Mormon with her so that she can strike up conversations with those around her in lines at the grocery stores. She wants EVERYONE to know about this gospel because it literally has changed everything about her. She is so beautiful. 

This past week our lesson with Omar/Alex Jiminez fell through. I don’t know if I told you this, but they live super close to Maria and Florencio. So when it fell through, we all felt that we should stop by and see them. Mind you, this would be the first time seeing them since everything happened. We walked up and Lencho was just getting out of his car from work. We were a good distance away but immediately I knew that something was not right. Something was very different. Hermana Burnham was practically running to him and yelling but I was feeling super hesitant. When we finally made it up to him, I knew immediately he had been drinking. Heartbroken. He was just like he was the first day I ever met him- Florencio not Lencho. Luckily we talked long enough to set up another time to stop by- 2 days later. I got back to the car and had to make Hermana Burnham drive (just like she did that night in June). I was a mess. It hurt my heart so bad because it appeared that he fell so hard after we left. The only upside that I could see from that day is that at least we can help him point out that things were a lot better when we were visiting with them and studying the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We went back to their house yesterday and I saw Maria. Wow, she was different too. She is very caught up in work. Still an amazing, stalwart women but different. She didn’t stay sitting with us for very long because a friend came over, but she did make us melon juice because she remembered that was my favorite! We sat and talked with Lencho and Emilio. Emilio is their granddaughter’s boyfriend who is living with them right now. He is under house arrest and while he was in jail he found God and started reading the bible. HE IS THE REASON WE ARE BACK WITH THE GOMEZ FAMILY! He was sleeping when we first got to their house but while he was sleeping he felt the tingles- the kind of tingles he says that he feels when he feels the Holy Spirit. He then woke up and heard our voices and knew that he needed to come out and talk to us. We read the Book of Mormon with him for a little and he is really excited to start reading it himself. He then told us as we were leaving that Lencho said to him, look, those girls are angels. Emilio agreed with him. He said just like the Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu. Ya that isn’t really correct to say that by any means, but they fact that he made that connection is pretty cool. We are literally the Lord's servants and they see it. 

I had another heart to heart with Hermana Negrete this week. She was talking to me about her mom and how she took care of her when she got to be really old. The best part of the conversation was when she told me how her mom was so proud of her when she finally got a house that when she found out, she raised her hands in the air and kept saying gracias a Dios. The way she talked about her mother was so sweet and endearing. We both just started crying. Mothers are the best. I love my mom! 
She also talked about her son who died of cancer and how interesting it is how God works. I know that nothing ever separates us from Gods love and he is ALWAYS mindful of us. He is ALWAYS working with us to get back to Him and be happy. 

I hope this wasn’t too jumbled. I just had a lot of different thoughts coming into my mind while writing this. The subject of this email is one of my new favorite scriptures. I also love Alma 27- just read it yesterday and I have an even stronger testimony that we just need to do what the Lord asks and go forward even when we don’t know how things will turn out. Have that faith. The best part is that he will send us tender mercies along the way- verses 17-18. God has a plan for each of us; it is our job to get on that path and work! 

I love you so much! Hope it was a good 1st week of school. It really put into perspective how long I have been on my mission when everyone went back to school here. Its crazy!! I can’t believe it. 

Keep smiling, 

Hermana Parry

Additional Story from Hermana Burnham:

The Keys:

So we live in a pretty sketchy part of Houston, right? You've heard the stories. And there are also many more that I choose not to share of scary things that have happened to us. So, as soon as we come in our house we double bolt lock the door and then go into our room and lock the door to our room as well. Well, this is difficult to describe over email, but my bed is right next to the window of our bedroom (as in, my face hits the blinds all during the night) and that window is right next to the front door – but not "next to" as in on the same wall. The door leads into the living room, but you walk down the hall and do a little turny turn and then the window is on the right wall and the door is in the left wall (divided by some more wall and water heaters and such).  Okay, so now that you are all thoroughly confused, I will proceed with my story.

One night we come home, plan, go to bed and go to sleep. Well, they go to sleep; I never sleep haha. So, at about one in the morning, Hna Koch woke up to go to the bathroom.  I was still awake and Hna Parry is out like a rock, when all of the sudden there is a knock at the door. I hear it, but choose not to talk nor move because the window, even though covered by blinds, is still right next to where whomever is knocking on our door is standing. Hna Koch then says in a loud whisper, and for anyone who has ever been in dangerous situations whispering seems to always be louder than talking, "Someone just knocked on our door."  This comment wakes Hna Parry up.  By this time, I have concluded that there are two men standing outside our door . . . at 1 am. They are talking about the stuff on our door [a picture of Jesus and a sign that says no smoking . . . I was really tired of 1) always smelling like smoke; and, 2) feeling like I was developing lung cancer]. They proceed to knock 2 more times, and that is a total of 3 knocks for anyone counting, each knock growing louder and louder. By this time, I am plotting ways to save us. These ways included throwing the girls into the closet, arming them with various make-shift weapons as I go to conquer the enemy by hitting them over the head, after being cleverly hid, clearly, with my "Bubba Gump" cup – that really is more of a weapon than it is a cup. All of the sudden they start banging on the window. Let me remind you, I am laying RIGHT NEXT TO the window. If the window wasn't dividing us, they would be touching my face in that moment. So, needless to say, I think I am about to have a heart attack when they well: "YO!!! YO KEYS A AHN DA MAT!"

That's right folks. Our keys, to our home, car, etc., had been IN OUR DOOR all night long and these kind people, whom we thought were there to kill us, found it a pressing enough . . . I don't know how to speak in English[editor’s note:  Brian, just for you, I am sure] . . . matter to violently bang on our window and wake us up and let us know that 1) our keys were NOT in our house, and 2) they had placed them on the mat.

The Lord protects us.

P.S.  After waiting to make sure they were gone and no one was waiting for us outside our house, we retrieved the keys. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

How could life get any better? I just want to live like this forever

I know, I start all my emails like this but I can't help it. It’s just the simple truth. Mission life is the best! I AM SO HAPPY!!!!

So the other night one of the Elders asked me, “How important the people here are?” I immediately started balling. He didn’t ask how important the people are to me, but rather just how important are the people here in Gulfbank. I can't quite explain what I felt when he asked me that but I think it was a little piece of the love that God has for each and every person here. These people are amazing. I know that I was sent here to them because we both needed each other. I mean right now my best friend is this 45 year old man named Pedro who has the best bigote I have ever seen. He was baptized 2 years ago and rides his bike to avoid falling into his bad habits of drinking. My favorite thing is to be tracting around his neighborhood and seeing him on his bike because I know that he is just trying to be a good guy. I literally could talk to him for hours.  I also have so much joy just sitting with Hermana Negrete eating ice cream at her kitchen table while she tells us some of her crazy life stories. This week I had a heart to heart with her because she is getting ready to move to an assisted living home in San Antonio. She is so funny. She kept complaining how our favorite ice cream went up from 2.50$ to 5$. I told her its because we keep buying the stores out clean. I also love when we leave Hermana Trujillos’s home and her mother gives me a big kiss on my cheek and says te amo! 

Quick update on Omar, we randomly stopped by his house this past week and Omar called us out about how we always just randomly come to their house. We apologized and he said "no, IT’S AWESOME!" He also told us that he was planning on coming to church again this week. He was inviting his friend to join him again but the friend said to Omar that they should try this other church that is way nicer. Omar responded back to him and said, "dude, its not what it looks like but its what you feel." Amen to that right! The spirit is essential in conversion.  

We finally were able to teach Ana and Eddenilson the Restauracion. She flat out said that she feels the spirit- like something that can’t fit in her heart, just complete joy. The spirit was so strong during that lesson. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and por medio del cual se restauro el evangelio verdadero. Its amazing when people come to that knowledge too because it completely changes your life. I love when people feel spirit. It’s the best part of the mission! And that is when I know that I am being a successful missionary. It’s not at all about the numbers or baptisms but about the spiritual experiences. As a missionary I am suppose to do everything I can to help create and allow for these people to have spiritual experiences in order for them to come closer to Christ. What better job could there be?

This is an awesome scripture that President Pingree pointed out to me in our interview/meeting on Friday- D&C 117:12-13. Y Ademas, os digo que tengo presente a mi siervo- Hermana Parry. He aqui, de cierto le digo que se nombre guardara en memoria sagrada de generacion en generacion para siempre jamas, dice el senor. Por tanto, luche seriamente por la redencion de la Primera Presidencia de mi Iglesia, dice el Senor; y cuando caiga, se levantara nuevamente, porque se sacrificio sera mas sagrado para mi que se ganancia, dice el Senor. Just remember that the sacrifice is so much more important than what you gain! But the ironic thing is that you always gain so much after you sacrifice. That is just how God works. He loves us so much and when we truly have a desire to sacrifice everything for Him, He is so happy and just fills us with happiness everlasting because He can't contain how happy he is for our righteous doing. I'm not sure if that makes sense. I just have a really strong testimony that God wants us to be happy. I know that is the purpose of this life and the life to come. The only way we can reach full happiness is through living the gospel. THATS WHY IM HERE! I need to make sure everyone knows that and has a glimpse of how incredibly loving our Heavenly Father is.

It was a really amazing week. I love serving. I love our Savior. I love my companions. I literally am a better person because of the mission. So grateful to be a missionary right now- fyi, there are 75,000 missionaries serving right now!! If you haven’t gotten the hint by now, then here you go, PEOPLE NEED THE GOSPEL NOW MORE THAN EVER! Go share it.

Keep smiling.
Hermana Parry

PS. Sang in the Pulga again this Saturday. Hermana Koch y Elder Cobabe placed a book of Mormon with the man in the booth across from us and 10 minutes after they placed it, he sat down and started reading it. Somehow we always end up exactly where we need to be!

PLEASE ADD THIS TO MY EMAIL!!! Coolest story ever.

So we were tracting last week because all of our citas fell through. But we were finally able to tract in this trailer park area that we have been wanting to tract but haven’t been able to because of killer dogs that live there. When we saw that the killer dogs weren’t there we bolted at the opportunity to go knock the doors. The first lady rejected us but the second trailer was this cute, young mom who attends Lakewood church. Everyone here attends Lakewood. Anyways, we got talking to her and ended up setting a return appointment. The tender mercy was that when we were leaving she asked if we wanted water!! Clearly we said yes. When she came back, she was carrying 4 drinks. Mind you there are only 3 of us. I definitely think that there was an angel that was with us on her doorstep.
I cried at the new temple endowment.  It was amazing.
I love my companions.  I have learned so much this transfer.

Herreras house learning to cook

A rain storm that was absolutely insane - welcome to Houston Folks
Singing in the Pulga