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