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