Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Episode 18: Baptized German!

Hey everybody,

This past week has been great. This past Saturday I had the privilege to baptize German. It was super great because his mom and little brother were able to attend and it was a super spritual experience.

Christmas was pretty good here. After we finished talking to our families we were able to attend the ward Christmas dinner, which was super yummy. It was kinda sad because like 200 people attended the dinner, but only 100 attended church on Sunday. We have a lot of work to do, but we are slowly making progress so all is good.

We still haven't found out about transfers yet. The calls usually happen tonight after our planing session at 9. I'm not sure what is going to happen but I am very excited to see what my next opportunity will be here on my mission.

My studies right now are all in Spanish. Usually I will read a chapter of the Book of Mormon, the New Testament, Chapter 6 of Preach my Gospel about Christlike Attributes, and usually find scriptures to use in teaching the lessons that day. It started out really rough in Spanish but has gotten a lot easier and I have barely looked at my English scriptures except to look up a weird word that I don't recognize.

I haven't been able to ask about the names from Brother Parker. I know the missionaries from the Loperena ward so I will try to ask them this week.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. I am so blessed to have your support here. See you guys in a few months at Mothers Day!!!

Elder Parker
Merry Christmas Skype call

Elder Parker with Elder Reyes - Christmas in Valledupar
Zone Christmas Party with President and Sister Searle

Monday, December 14, 2015

Episode 17: Meeting with the President!

Hey everybody,

It sounds like everyone is very busy getting ready for Christmas. We are getting very busy too. We have a Christmas meeting with the Mission President and his wife tomorrow and then on Friday there is a Christmas dinner for the ward. And then there is a phone call home which is just around the corner. And then transfers will happen right after Christmas too so that's crazy. I can't believe I have almost been in Valledupar for 3 months. I still feel like I just left home.

For the most part, everything is going pretty good here. German had his interview and is ready to be baptised the 26th of December. It's gonna be great because it is the last weekend of the transfer so it will probably be Elder Reyes' last experience here in Valledupar before he is transferred. But German is super excited and so that's great.

Right now we are getting rid of a lot of investigators. There are so many that just aren't progressing so we are starting from scratch with a lot of new people so we are hoping for good stuff with this. One of our newer investigators named Sandri was able to attend church yesterday. It was awesome because we invited her like last Tuesday and she has been super excited for it ever since. We are going to meet with her again tomorrow so hopefully she had a good experience.

Um. there really isn't that much going on here right now. I feel a little bit overwhelmed because I am starting to set really high goals for myself because I know we can get a lot done, but my companion is a little bit hesitant. We aren't doing bad right now, but I just really want to do more.

I hope everything is going well at home. I can't wait to talk to you guys in just over a week.

See you guys soon,

Elder Parker

Monday, December 7, 2015

Episode 16: Mail does go to Colombia!

Hey everybody,

Things seem to be going great back at home. Things here are going okay. We are really struggling to get people to attend church. On Saturday we had almost everyone saying that they would attend, but in reality only two of our investigators did. It's really stressful but we are trying to do our best here.

Everybody is getting ready for Christmas! I'm sad that I missed the ward Christmas party, but our ward will have a Christmas dinner in about two weeks, so we are pretty excited for that. The same day as the dinner we are hoping to have the baptism of German, so we'll see how that goes. Unfortunately, the baptism for Berta isn't going to happen for a while because she started working every day from 8 am to 8 pm, so we never have a chance to talk to her. Her schedule will be better in January so we are hoping that things will start to improve then.

I finally received a letter! This week at our Zone meeting I got the very first letter you sent to me in September when I was still in the CCM. Hopefully that means that any other letters will get here soon. I also got a call from one of the Secretaries that my packages arrived at the office and that they will get here in about two weeks, so hopefully right before Christmas. I do have to pay a customs fee so that is pretty lame but I still have plenty of American money so I am doing fine for right now.

Right now I am studying in Mosiah at the part when Abinadi is talking to the wicked priests. I love it because the priests are trying to trick Abinadi but he always has just these solid answers so none of the priests can accuse him of anything. It is really cool for me as a missionary to think about this because Satan wants so badly for me to slip up, so I just have to focus so much on the Spirit and what it's telling me to say.

One last thing. Today we were in the mall doing some shopping when the song "I'll be home for Christmas" started playing. That was really weird because they used to always play it on the radio with the messages from the soldiers, but it applies here too. Even though I'm lots of miles away, I'm still thinking about you guys and trying every day to do the things to make you proud.There is nothing I would rather do this Christmas than spend my time in the service of the Savior.

I love you guys and can't wait to see you in a few weeks.

Elder Parker

Monday, November 30, 2015

Episode 15: This work is so Awesome!

Hey everybody,

Everything sounds like it is going great back at home. I can't wait to be able to talk to all of you in a few weeks.

Thanksgiving was really nothing special at all here. I honestly didn't realize it was Thanksgiving until my District Leader called me at night and said "Happy Thanksgiving". Kinda depressing, but I just try to focus in what is going on here so it's also a good thing.

I'm getting really excited for Christmas. Here everyone celebrates on the 24th, kinda like New Years, so that will be kinda weird for me. But things just seem so different this Christmas and I am super stoked. I am so ready to start sharing the Christmas messages with people and to just serve people. It's gonna be stellar!!

Ah, congrats to Kekoa. He's gonna do so great. It's so weird to think that people my age are starting to leave because before it felt like everyone was going to leave so much later than me, but I guess that just shows how much time has already passed. It's so great to hear about all these people leaving because really this work is so awesome and I just love it.

When did all of these people get engaged? Have I really been gone this long? Please tell Makenna I said congrats.

Everything is going okay with the investigators here. We talked with President Searle and the bishop about German and the conclusion is that he can be baptized after he attends church 3 more times, but we stopped having a bus to take our investigators to church and we weren't able to tell him early enough so he couldn't attend church. But we are still trying to find time to teach him and his mom, but this week has been hard to find time with them. We do have an investigator named Berta who is getting ready to be baptized on the 12th and she is super great. And we have a few more in the next couple weeks so we are really hoping everything will work out. The other missionaries have a baptism this Saturday that is going to be really good and we are trying to invite all of our investigators to be there, so possibly we can get them a little bit more excited.

I love you guys and can't wait to see you in a few weeks.


Elder Parker

Monday, November 23, 2015

Episode 14: Piano Fiasco!

Hey Everybody,

Wow, things sound like they are going great back home. I can't wait to see you guys in a month and talk face to face. I can't believe all of the crazy stories that I am hearing about the kids. They are just so crazy. But they sound like they are having a blast so that is super great. 

So far, the whole piano situation has been kind of a nightmare. We were supposed to have a class on Thursday, but I found out the night before that I would have interviews with the Mission President that day so I couldn't do class this week. This week was also Stake Conference, so I had the opportunity to play for a special session with just the missionaries and for the Adult Session. I was asked to play for the regular session too, but I had to help with the bus that goes around and picks up the people that live really far away from the building, and the bus came really late so I was late for the meeting. I literally feel terrible because the mission president was there and a member of the Seventy, but it really wasn't my fault so I just have to live with it.

As for German, the investigator who is getting baptized, we talked to the Mission President about what we should do and he said that if the Bishop is okay with us baptizing a 13 year old then we can totally do it. And we talked to the Bishop and he said that he can be baptized when he has attended church 10 times, so he has 3 more times that he has to attend. It's going to be pretty great though because we are trying to do it on the day of the ward Christmas dinner so that everybody will already be at the church building to show support. And we are going to try to baptize his mom too that same day so that would be awesome.

Dad, thank you so much for that list! Me and my companion are totally going to try to apply that. I asked President Searle what some of the service projects that missionaries here do and he said it's mainly a lot of moving sand or helping to paint. I really want to find some new things to do though to really stand out. Who are the sister missionaries in our ward? Please tell them that Elder Parker really appreciates their help and service.

I hope things are going great at home. It still feels so weird to think about everything that has happened the past 3 months. It really feels like a dream, but a pretty good one. Please tell everybody that I love them and hope that they are doing well.

Elder Parker

Oh, and please tell Emma I said congrats on the book.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Episode 13: No Thanksgiving?!

Hey everybody,

Things are going so well here. I can't believe I have already been here an entire transfer. The time is going by so fast!

I am getting super excited for Christmas. It is super fun to walk around at night because there are a lot of houses with Christmas lights up and it is super awesome and I can't wait. Unfortunately we won't be having any Thanksgiving dinners here so that is a real bummer for me. But I do have another North American in my area so maybe we will have our own Thanksgiving.

So I have been asking around about the whole mail situation and I found out that it usually takes around 1-2 weeks for mail to get here, but unfortunately in the past it has taken as long as 3 months for some missionaries to receive mail from home. Also because all of the mail is sent to the office in Barranquilla and my area is very far away, the only time that we get mail is about the beginning of every month because the Zone Leaders bring it back with them when they go to Barranquilla for training. Unfortunately, that means that in order for me to get anything by Christmas, it needs to get here by the end of November, which basically means it needs to be sent as soon as possible. I'm sorry if that causes any inconveniences, but I am perfectly comfortable waiting until after Christmas to receive any packages.

As for who will be my companion, I honestly do not know. Transfers are tomorrow, but we will not receive a call until later tonight to find out if we are moving or not. It is very likely that I will stay with my current companion because I am still training, but it has occurred in the past when a missionary has had two trainers. And due to the mail system taking forever, I do not know if any mail will come within the next transfer. So if it is easier for you guys, you can just address any packages to my companion with my name and I will give it to him. And if there is a difference between my package and his, you can just put a mark on it or a note inside. Sorry, but it's rough working with mail in foreign countries.

But more about Colombia. The food, in all honesty, is pretty mediocre at best. It's just a bunch of chicken, rice, and sometimes beef. Something that is super good is called a plantain, which is just a type of banana, but here the people fry them and they are super good. Also there are lots of street venders here that sell some pretty good fried food. Very unhealthy, but very good.

The real highlight here are the juices. There are so many different fruits here and the people make great juices out of them. The most common is called Tomate de Arbol, and it's basically a tomato that grows on a tree. But the juice is super sweet and it doesn't taste like tomato at all.

The piano lessons have not started yet, but we will start this Thursday. We were supposed to have them this past Wednesday, but when we got there the guy plugged in the piano and it broke. But on Sunday when we got to church we found a piano waiting to be assembled so that is a pretty good sign.

Things are going great with the investigators. Right now we have been working a lot with an investigator named German, who is getting ready to be baptized in 2 weeks. Unfortunately what I found out yesterday is that we might not be able to baptize him because my companion thought that he was 14 but he is only 13 and kids under 14 have to be baptized with a parent. But his mom is really supportive of him so we are going to try to help her be baptized too. But he has such a strong desire to learn and he is keeping the commitments and attending church. It's pretty great.

I hope everything is going well at home. I can't wait to talk to you guys in a few weeks.

Elder Parker

Monday, November 9, 2015

Episode 12: Chikunguña!

Hey Everybody,

Things are going so great here. This week was so fast, I feel like I was literally writing to you guys yesterday.

I'm feeling a whole lot better health wise. The only problem I have right now is that one of the other Elders serving in my ward gave me a cold, but right now he's suffering from an illness called Chikunguña so he isn't a whole lot better. 

I didn't have the opportunity to play the piano in church this week because the ward had their Primary program and also I didn't have a chance to practice, but I should start teaching lessons this Wednesday. And the super cool thing is that the lessons are going to be at the home of one of the counselors in the mission presidency. Crazy, right? Even in the mission field I'm still with a member of the mission presidency.

I am seriously so excited for the Christmas box, so if it doesn't get here in time I might cry. Everyone here is starting to get ready for Christmas and in the part of town where our apartment is, which is generally a nicer area, people have already started putting up Christmas lights. It's awesome how even here in Valledupar, Colombia it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Please tell the Young Women how grateful I am for the effort that they put into the box and how much I am looking forward to receiving it.

Aw, I'm so stoked for Travis!! He's going to have such a blast. I've only been here for 11 weeks and I am already starting to love what's going on. I doubt you will have a chance to see him before he leaves, but if you do please tell him that Elder Parker is stoked for him and wishes him luck with the Lamanites down in Argentina.

I have no idea how long packages usually take to get here. Two of my Zone Leaders are from the United States and they have each been out for a long time so I will ask them tomorrow about the postal service here.

Okay, so a quick experience I had this week. On Friday night we were teaching a new investigator named Heidi for the first time. It was 8 at night and I was exhausted and was super ready to go home and eat, but I tried to focus for just a few more minutes while we taught this last lesson. It was super hard, but I just put all my effort into being alert and participating in the lesson, and it ended up being super great. We taught the 1st lesson and in the end she had serious doubts about the Book of Mormon, but I bore my testimony of how I knew that it was true and that I was willing to give up two years of my life teaching it's principles because of my love for it, and her attitude totally changed. She accepted the invitation to be baptized December 5th so we are super excited about that.

I hope everything is going great at home. I can't wait to see everybody in just about 6 weeks.

Love you all,

Elder Parker
Picnic with the District
Overlooking the river with a mermaid statue
Some cat that got up on the balcony and wouldn't stop meowing

Monday, November 2, 2015

Episode 11: Contacting Like Crazy!

Hey Everybody,

Happy late Halloween!! It was a little rough here Saturday night, mainly because everybody was out or having parties. As a matter of fact, the last like week has been really rough for teaching appointments, but we have been contacting like crazy and have a lot of new potential investigators so that is great. We have been starting to run out of investigators who actually have the desire to progress, so hopefully we can really start to make progress with these new contacts.

The language is definitely getting a lot better. It is much easier to communicate and to teach, but once we start talking about anything but the gospel I start getting very lost. It's really hard because I try to study these things during Language Study time, but there are just so many things we have to do that sometimes the study time just isn't available. But I'm trying my best to get the most out of the situation so hopefully I will continue to progress.

As for the soccer, we do different things every P-day. About 2 weeks a transfer we play soccer for a few hours. This week we had a picnic at a park by a river. It was super cool because it totally reminded me of like Yosemite or something, but then everything around it is developed so that's kinda lame.

Something crazy happened in ward council yesterday. The bishop found out that I can play piano, and there is no one else in the ward that plays so they asked me to play in sacrament meeting and to teach a class on playing piano. How nuts is that?!? I barely know how to play and haven't touched a piano for a month since the piano is not in the church building right now but I am going to be teaching a class if I receive permission from the Mission President. This is going to be an awesome opportunity to serve.

I hope everything is going well at home and can't wait to see you next month.

Love you guys.

Elder Parker

P.S. Photos are coming

Monday, October 26, 2015

Episode 10: Stomach Problems!

Hey Everybody,

Everything is going pretty good here. I'm not gonna lie, it's honestly pretty tough, but I know that there is nowhere better to be than here. 

I can't believe it's already Halloween. Because I'm not in school, in terms of months it feels like it has just been a really long September. But that's awesome to hear about how excited the kiddos are for Trick-or-treating. Halloween is a thing here, but I'm not sure how big it is. No body has any decorations up but all of the big stores have Halloween costumes for sale.

That stinks that everyone has been sick. I've had some stomach problems the past few weeks that the doctors think is some kind of infection, but it's starting to go away so that's good.

About the mission, we have been getting a lot of work done this week. We have had a lot of weird days due to exchanges and a zone conference, but we still made a lot of progress. We're trying to have a baptism this week for one of our investigators named Edwin, who has already attended quite a few times and has received all of the lessons, but his father really doesn't like the church and won't give permission to his son. We are trying to work things out with his dad but so far nothing has worked. (Dad, has anything like this happened in our mission in the past? If so, how did they get permission?)

This Sunday was very exciting because I had the opportunity to give my very first talk in Sacrament Meeting. The best part was that I got my prompt about 5 minutes before the meeting started. It seemed rough at first but when it came time to give the talk I felt super calm and everything was good. It's tough though because here no one really comes up to you after talks and congratulates you or anything, so I was kinda worried about that yesterday afternoon, but one of the new converts congratulated me later on in the evening and that was super cool. If you guys could just thank the ward for being so supportive of me throughout the years with my talks, I would greatly appreciate it. I always took for granted how great our ward is.

The work with the members here is a little rough. We are trying our hardest, but they just really aren't that open to giving references. We did have a great training from the Assistents in our mission about references and we are going to try this week to see if we might have a little bit more success.

Thank you for all of your prayers and everything. I feel so much support in everything I do and I know it's all because of you guys.

See you soon,

Elder Parker
Valledupar zone after soccer.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Episode 9: Wild Dogs and Snakes!

Hey everybody,

Things are going just great here in Colombia. Me and my companion are both doing just swell.

Our house is pretty much just the generic, tiny third-world apartment that you would see in like a James Bond movie. Everything looks and is really old, Except for the fridge, which is just moderately old. It gets really hot but we have a few portable fans so it could definitely be worse.

My area is pretty good. It covers half of our ward and another companionship has the other half. Our area is pretty known to be a tougher area because not as much happens here, but I'm up to the challenge. There are a lot of wild dogs in the streets and a lot of snakes (just ask Zack what snakes are). It is really nothing like anywhere I have been back at home. I'm still adjusting to the culture but it really isn't that bad anymore.

My companion is from Ecuador and is about to complete his first year here. He is a really great guy but is a little bit less outgoing so we're really workiing hard to get better at contacting. But all in all we are doing good so everything is great.

Honestly I have not received a single letter or package from you guys yet. I think that I've received all of the emails but I'm not sure but those shouldn't be a big problem. The letters might have gone to the MTC so they might send them here but I'm not sure. For the Christmas package If you send it to the Mission offices or whatever address it says in the call package should be fine.

It was so great to hear from Sydney and Kali. If you could tell them how grateful I am for their support and I can't wait to see them in a few years and tell them about all the adventures I am having here because it is pretty crazy.

I hope everything is good at home. 

See you guys soon

Elder Parker

Monday, October 12, 2015

Episode 8: Equadorian Superstar!

Hola Everybody,

Things are going so well here in the mission field.

We flew out of Bogota last Tuesday very early in the morning and got to Barranquilla at about 8 am. We had several hours of training and then got to meet our trainers. My trainer's name is Elder Reyes. He is this super-star elder from Equador that has been out for 11 months. I also got assigned to my first area, a city called Valledupar, which is 6 hours away from Barranquilla so I got to take a nice long bus ride my first day. Valledupar is a lot like Santa Ana in that it has its nice parts and its not so nice parts. The area that we live in is fairly okay, we live in an apartment above some members, but most of our area is really pretty poor. It is really humbling to see how these people live, because they don't have nearly as much as I do.

The heat here is really pretty bad. Everyday is like walking around in an oven, but the nights are not nearly as bad, in fact it kinda feels like back at home during the summer. It rains a lot though, which is nice because the water is really cold. Even our shower is really cold, which doesn´t actually work right after a heavy rain storm, which we have had three so far this week. In that situation we have a faucet outside on the patio which we use to kinda clean ourselves up. All in all, the hygiene really isn't our number one concern.

The food here really isn't that bad. There is nothing that really distinguishes it from any other country for which I can tell. The thing that they are really known for here is their juices. Everybody loves juice here, and you can buy it pretty much anywhere because there are a lot of street venders that are selling it, but I generally avoid that juice because street food isn't really the safest here. 

In regards to meals, we are responsible for our own breakfast and dinner, and we have a less active member who is paid to make lunch for us everyday. She is a super nice lady and loves to talk to us, and we are working to reactivate her and her family.

For laundry, a lot of the missionaries will find a member to do their laundry for them, but my companion likes to do his own so we rented a washing machine thingy to do our clothes. The washing machines here are tiny. Both the washing machine and the dryer are part of the same machine that is about half the size of a washing machine at home. It only takes like a half hour to do an entire load of laundry so that´s great, but after the drying cycle you have to hang the clothes up to dry a little more.

We are working with a lot of investigators right now. We have maybe 20 or so, but very few of them have baptismal dates. Our real struggle is that we have to work with the investigators, less actives, converts, and the ward also wants us to teach the members so that they will help us with references. Our schedule is so tight that we really don't have the time to help our investigators a lot. It's rough but with the Lord's help we can make it happen.

I would like to share a quick experience that I had this past week. One of the less actives that we are working with just came home from his mission like a year ago, but he left early for reasons that I honestly really don't know because I'm still struggling a little with the Spanish. But we were teaching him about the priesthood and how we need to respect our priesthood powers and always endure and follow the commandments, and he was just overwhelmed with the Spirit and had such a strong desire to repent. It was awesome to see how this guy's life was changed by the Atonement and how he felt the spirit.

I hope everything is going great at home. I can't wait to see everybody this Christmas. It is going to be great to see the kiddos again.

Hasta Luego,

Elder Parker

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Episode 7: Hola Barranquilla!

 Hey mom, 

I made it to Barranquilla. We flew in this morning and have been doing a bunch of training and other great stuff for the past few hours. I am having a great time here and can´t wait to start working.

My P'days are every Monday so I will write you on those days.

See you soon,

Elder Daniel Parker

Elder Parker with President and Sister Searle

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Episode 6: ¡Adiós CCM!

Hey mom,

This is my last message from the CCM. I will be leaving next Tuesday for the field. I'm not entirely sure, but I will be flying to Barranquilla at about 6 am so we get to wake up at 2ish. YAY!

It is really weird to think that I have already been here for a month, it seems like it has been much longer and much shorter than that. I'm sure the feeling only gets stronger out in the field.

That´s too bad about Brother Rowe. I never really knew him but Nan Rowe is so nice. Please tell her I said hi. We had the opportunity to watch the funeral services for Elder Scott and they were super good. 

I did hear that Alex Pratt got engaged before I left. That´s so cool that they are getting married so soon. The CCM president is really big into marriage so he´s pretty big on preaching about gettiing married as soon as we get home. I'm getting super nervious about coming home now.

So I guess Lydia is turning into a little Suarez. That must be so fun for Tyler and Sarah. I hope James is doing okay. That must be really painful! Hearing about that kinda makes me think of CCM soccer. No one has gotten bit yet, thankfully, but quite a few missionaries have battle scars from playing soccer.

So here´s something funny. Every time new missionaries have come to the CCM, there has always been a new Parker, first an hermana, and then a new Elder this past week so there are three Parkers and two Elder Parkers. We've been having a lot of fun with it and we even took a family photo at the temple today.

I have learned so much about teaching here. We currently are teaching one investigator and one menos activo. Our lessons are going so great. Just a few days ago we had a lesson with the investigadora and she was super sad because she had just lost her job and was having trouble with her boyfriend, but we helped her to understand that even though lots of bad things go on in our lives, the Lord still cares about us and he is always there when we need him. It was such a powerful moment for me and the Spirit was so strong.

This past Sunday was our Fast and Testimony Meeting, so we had the opportunity to bear our testimonies if we wanted to. I had already done it the month before, but this time I got my entire district to stand up and bear their testimonies. It was really cool to see how much their Spanish has improved in only four weeks. The gift of tongues sure is an amazing thing.

I hope everything is going good at home. How is the Priest´s quorum doing without me? I'm sure combined mutual activities must not be nearly as much fun any more. Please let all of the youth know that I love them and that even though the world is a nasty place, the church is the best thing to keep yourselves safe.

I'm not sure when I will write next so don't get your hopes up about it being anytime soon. Hopefully next time I will have a lot more interesting experiences to share.

Elder Daniel Parker

So many Parkers!
All the Elders in my current habitación
Elders serving in Barranquilla

CCM Group

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Episode 5: Hey mama, check out the llama!

Hey mom,

I guess I forgot to tell you which day was going to be a P-day this week. Whoops.

Things are super good here. Last Friday we went into some sketchy part of town and did some proselyting. It was super fun and me and my companions had a great experience, especially since we could kind of understand the Spanish.

Today we got to take a tour of the city and do some shopping. I didn't buy anything but I did get some sick photos, including one on a llama. This city is so cool, especially when I get to see something other than the inside of the CCM.

How are things going at home? Do James and Adelaide miss me? I miss them a lot but things are just so awesome over here it is going to be rough going home in two years. Tell them that their Uncle Daniel says hi and he can´t wait to hear from them. And tell James that everybody has his name on the back of their soccer jersey´s, so he´s pretty famous here in Bogota.

I´m really starting to get the hang of Spanish. We are doing a lot of practicing and classes and all that good stuff so I´m doing pretty well. The only hard part is that I am pretty much incapable of saying anything other than church stuff, so I guess in a way that´s kind of good, but I might be out of luck if I ever need to ask for directions or anything like that.

So how are things going with the debit card? I still have plenty of money with me, so I´m not in any rush, but if you need me to do anything for it just let me know. I've also been receiving weekly emails from EcclesiaticalCards, which seems to be some type of debit card from the church, so I´m not sure if that´s something I'm supposed to have or not.

I hope things are going well at home. My next chance to write is next Thursday so hopefully that works for you.

Elder Daniel Parker

Elder Parker and the llama

With Bogota as a backdrop

With the District in Bogota

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Episode 4: Superb Spanish!

Hey mom,

Things are going great here. The spanish is going superbly. We have a companionship of Latinos in our room right now and they both talk very fast, but I am starting to be able to understand what they are saying. It's pretty great.

We get to go to the temple every p-day, so we just went again today. I really like the Bogota temple. It is super pretty, but it's not even in the same league as the Newport Beach or San Diego temples.

I haven't received anything from you guys in the mail yet, but I've heard it will probably come when I am already out in the field. But hopefully it will come soon.

That stinks about David, but of course it would be him. Get Air is such a dangerous place for any of my friends. Please tell him that he better hurry up and get better because he needs to be here in Colombia with me.

So this past Friday I was called as the District Leader for 2 weeks. I really don't do anything except for lead like one meeting a week, but it's still kinda cool to know that I'm doing what I am supposed to be doing.

I can't believe that they aren't doing mission prep anymore. That was such an awesome class and I doubt that there will be as many people attending from our stake as before, which is a major bummer because mission prep is a lifesaver out here, and I´m not even in the field yet.

How are the kiddos doing? I miss them so much. I've had so many good times with them and this place just isn't as much fun as being back at home with James, Adelaide, and Lydia. Please tell them that their Uncle Daniel says hi and that he can´t wait to see them at Christmas.

I didn't feel the earthquake so I guess it wasn't close enough. Too bad. But I guess it is probably better that we don´t have to worry about earthquakes while in the CCM. 

I really can't think of much that is new going on here. Everything is pretty much the same every day. My pictures are seriously lacking too because nothing is really going on. Hopefully I will have something else to say when I get into the field.

I miss you guys but I hope everyone is doing well. 


Elder Daniel Parker

Hey dad,

I haven´t received any of the letters you´ve sent but hopefully they will come soon.

I did hear about David. I wonder how many times he is going to get seriously injured in his life, because he has already done it quite a few times.

That´s awesome about the guy you interviewed. I am meeting a lot of people from Venezuela and they are super awesome. And the fact that he has ties to Barranquilla is even cooler. I am so glad that he is choosing to be baptized, because the gospel is a great thing and it really does bless lives.

We are a actually asked to write talks every week for Sacrament Meeting so I´ve already done two of them. It really helps to build vocabulary and just general knowledge of the gospel.

I have to go but I hope things are going well at home. See you at Christmas.

Elder Daniel Parker

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Episode 3: Chapstick!

Hey mom,

Happy birthday to dad and Tyler! I´m so bummed that I missed it but I hope they had a good time. And tell James I miss him too and I wish he could be here with me.

I´ll be fine without the suit. I´ve just been wearing sweaters to any activities that require suits so it really isn´t that bad. And the cold isn´t that big of a deal because we are almost always inside.

I was actually able to get some chapstick so I am feeling great now.

For  my daily schedule, I am usually in classes all day, with breaks for meals and an hour and a half break for gym. It really gets very monotonous, but there are some good parts. We have a few "investigators", who are actually just some of our teachers, that we teach almost every day.

On Sundays the entire CCM meet together for sacrament meeting and priesthood, and then we separate into our individual districts for Sunday School. We also have a few devotionals from President and Hermana DuVall and end the night with a random church movie.

I keep all of my money in a little safe in my closet, so no one can take my money. I´ve only bought the hymn book but in two weeks we are going to take a city tour to a few shops that the elders usually pick up some souvenirs from.

I haven´t received anything from Dad yet in the mail, but it will probably take about a month from when he sent it to get here.

I am allowed to email anyone, I just only have an hour to do it so that´s really the only restriction on my end. Anyone is free to write me and I will try to write them back as soon as possible.

It´s weird to think I've already been here two weeks. We are getting brand new North Americans tomorrow so it will be interesting to see that from a new perspective.

I miss you and everybody else back at home and I can´t wait to see you at Christmas.

Elder Daniel Parker

Hey dad,

Happy birthday! I´m sorry I couldn't reply to your email last week. I ran out of time so I didn't get to write anything.

Thanks for the picture. The plaque looks great and that´s exactly what I wanted for my scripture. It still just doesn't seem right to have that be my plaque.

That´s so sad to here about the people in Venezuela. I've had the privilege to get to know some missionaries from Venezuela these past two weeks and they are super cool people. I guess it just takes a rotten leader to ruin a country.

That´s great to hear about the man who is going to the temple. It´s such a great place and I really wish everyone had the opportunity to go there. I had the opportunity to do a Spanish session today and it was so cool, but also very hard.

That was a really great thought about Alma. I was actually just studying his and Amulek's preaching to the people of Ammonihah and they are just such powerful missionaries. The hardships they endured were unthinkable, and yet they still stayed true to their calling.

It´s been great to hear from you and I can´t wait to see you at Christmas.

Hasta Luego,

Elder Daniel Parker

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Episode 2: One Week In!

Hey everybody,

Everything is going great so far. I met up with a few other missionaries in Atlanta who were also going to the Colombian MTC. We all flew together and when we got through Customs there was a mission couple waiting for us. They bused us to the MTC and we had a quick meeting with the MTC President before going to bed, because we got to the MTC at like 11.

I am actually currently in a companionship with two other Elders, Elder Bush from Texas and Elder Hamblin from Utah. They are both super chill dudes and we are having a blast. Our District consisted of 7 missionaries until halfway through the 1st day two of the elders moved to the two week program so they will be leaving in a week. We have the smallest district in the MTC, but it's not bad because these guys are super fun. There are only two missionaries currently in the MTC that will be serving in Barranquilla, me and an Elder from Utah who is honestly so much like Jason Messer it's kinda freaky.

I have been progressing super well with Spanish. In fact, I talked with the MTC president a few days ago and he is considering sending me two weeks early depending on what my mission president. Wouldn't that be crazy? Anyways, the other members of my district do not know spanish as well so I help them out a lot. 

Our days are so filled with stuff it is insane. We do a ton of grammar (which kinda stinks because I already know all of what we are learning right now) but I am really loving the teaching that we are doing. We currently have two investigators, which are really just two of the teachers roleplaying as investigators, and they are such a blast because there is such a strong spirit at our lessons that I sometimes forget that they are fake. We do all of our teaching in Spanish so my companions are struggling with that a little bit.

It's been kinda awkward for me without a suit because like half of our meetings require us to wear suits. I usually just wear a sweater though so it isn't a huge deal though. President DuVall said that I am the first missionary he has had at the MTC without a suit since the new rule was passed.

We were actually able to go to the temple today. It was super cool because it kinda looks like newport from the front but its in the middle of a kinda sketchy neighborhood. We got to do the session in English so that was good because I'm not sure that I am that good yet. We will be going again next Tuesday, which is also our next P-day, so that is when I can write next. There is a Distribution Center next to the Temple and I was able to buy a small hymn book for 8,500 pesos, which is just over $3. The price of stuff here is really low because the Colombian economy is heading downhill, but it was definitely nice to get the hymn book for cheap.

The food is kinda weird, mostly just an assortment of eggs and hot dogs, but over the past few days it has been getting better. We have had hamburgers, pizza, and today for dinner we had burritos. I definitely wouldn't classify it as gourmet, but it isn't terrible and it keeps me functioning.

Something that I really need is chapstick. It is honestly pretty dry here in Bogota and my lips are very chapped. It definitely isn't the end of the world and it will get better once I get to Barranquilla, but for now, it kinda stinks.

Well, that's kinda been my week in a nutshell. I miss you guys but I can't imagine being anywhere other than here. It feels like it's been an eternity but I'm learning so much that the time flies by. I know that this is the work that the Lord wants me to be doing and he is making sure that I will be prepared to face whatever will be thrown at me. 

See you soon,

Elder Daniel Parker

PS Feel free to forward this to anybody who asks about me or wants to know what's going on. The more people the better

PPS the pictures will take a few messages to send

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Episode 1: Hola from the CCM!

Hey mom,

Sorry I didn´t call you yesterday. The airport had taken out most of the payphones and the ones that they had left in were not working.

The CCM (Centro de Capacitacion Misional) is great, but things are going kinda slow right now. Hopefully I will have more to say when I get to write you next.

I am super limited on time right noww so I have to go. I will be able to write again on September 3rd.

Tell the kids I said hi.

Elder Parker