Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baptism Pictures

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!! My Christmas was wonderful and very relaxing (and also happened to be my 5 month mark. Crazy!! I'm almost a third of the way done with my mission but I feel like I just got here..). We spent our afternoon with a member and his family and we helped him build a new TV stand and they fed us and it was great. Then we went to Tianabelle's and she let us use her computer to Skype our family's. It was so great!! I didn't cry, which I sort of feel bad about now because a lot of the elders said they cried. Hopefully my family still knows that I love them even though I didn't shed any tears...Then we had Christmas dinner, which consisted of pizza. Yep, that's right. But it was actually so awesome. Even though it wasn't big and fancy, we loved it because it was calm and relaxing and we didn't have to think about anything. But also for an explanation on the pizza. Hispanics celebrate Christmas on the 24th, so we did have a big dinner at a members house on the 24th. The 25th is pretty much just another normal day I guess.

I got a new companion last Wednesday and she is seriously so awesome. She is from the Dominican Republic and this is her last transfer on her mission so sadly, we won't be companions for very long. But because her first language is Spanish, we speak Spanish pretty much 24/7 and it's so great. My Spanish has already improved a lot because of that and it helps a lot because it feels more natural when I speak it all the time. It is kind of hard to switch back to English sometimes though because I just want to talk to everyone in Spanish and then I start talking and realize halfway that they don't speak Spanish. Anyways, Sister Alvarez is pretty much the missionary I want to be. She is super obedient (not that I'm disobedient, but she is a rockstar at obedience) and she is always looking for opportunities to serve and she is an amazing teacher. I love her. And I'm so grateful she's my companion.

We're hoping to have 5 more baptisms this transfer. I know that sounds crazy. But we're pretty sure we can make it happen because we're working with some really solid investigators right now. All 5 of them are children. Two of them are grand kids of a member couple and they've been coming to church since September. Both of them want to get baptized so we just need to finish teaching them the lessons. The hardest part is finding them at home. That's why they haven't gotten baptized sooner. But they came to Bethany's baptism and they loved it and they really want to get baptized so we think this will help us be able to meet with them more often. The other three are kids of another member we find knocking doors. She didn't know how to get in contact with the church when she moved here from the Dominican Republic so we're excited to help her get back to church and her kids are practically jumping up and down to go to church so we're really excited to work with them.

Today has been a relaxing p-day. I'm finally getting around to all of those letters I've been procrastinating. So if you've written me a letter in the past 2 months and I never responded, you should be getting one pretty soon...

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and remembered the importance of Christ in our lives. Have a great New Year!

I love you all!
Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!!

Hermana Parkin did not write a group email this week but she asked me to pass on a couple of things.

Bethany was baptized on Sunday and it went great! She is very excited and Hermana Parkin is excited for her.

Today was transfers. Hermana Parkin has a new companion, Hermana Alvarez. She's from the Dominican Republic and she is transferring to the Bronx from Connecticut.  Hermana Parkin is excited to have a new companion and even more excited that she know's Spanish so she's hoping she will help her where she is still lacking. Hermana Parkin  heard from other missionaries that Hermana Alvarez is super cool so she's excited to get to know her.

Hermana Parkin will be able to Skype us on Christmas day. We're all excited to get to talk to her and see her for a bit. The mission president asked the missionaries to either call or Skype but not to split the time. So Skype it will be!

Hermana Parkin asked me to wish you all a Merry Christimas and to tell everyone THANK YOU for the packages, letters and cards!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Ok just a quick email today because I'm running out of time!

Tianabelle's baptism was so awesome!! Sister Pipes and I couldn't find anyone to give the talk on baptism so we ended up doing that together and I was super nervous for that because it was my first talk ever in Spanish. But it went well. There were a lot of people from the ward there to support her. She is just so awesome! I wish I could explain how cool she is. On Sunday after her confirmation she told me that she feels like when you've had a really long hard day at work and then you come home and shower and you feel refreshed and relaxed. I thought that a really cool way to explain how she was feeling and it's obvious that she recognizes the difference now that she is baptized.

Bethany is getting baptized on Saturday!!! This isn't super ideal because she won't be able to get confirmed until the next Sunday but we feel really good about this decision and Bethany is SO excited. When we went to her house yesterday, she told us that she had read all of the little pamplets that go along with the lessons over and over again so that she knew them really good. She's so cute; I love her!

One of our investigators, Manuel, has been really hard to get a hold of the past 3 or so week so we sort of dropped him because he wasn't acting super interested. But then on Sunday, he showed up to church for the first time! It was crazy and awesome!

Missionary life is going great. We've seen so many miracles and it's the best! 

Love you all!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

She's Getting Baptized!!

Hey there!
Sooo it seems that I've forgotten to mention that we have continued to help out with the Hurricane Sandy relief. We have had the opportunity to go down every weekend. It's been a really great blessing, especially since it looks like the work will never be over. As far as we know, they are going to continue to let us go down as long as the stake has set something up. Sister Pipes and I have decided not to go this Saturday though because....
....Tianabelle is getting baptized!! Yay!! I mean that's assuming that the interview tonight goes well and there are no secret skeletons hidden in her closet that we've never heard about. But I'm 99.9% that everything is good to go and we're really excited. Tianabelle is really excited and lots of people in the ward are excited for her and it's just going to be so great! We have decided to hold off on Bethany's baptism because of some sort of outside circumstances. But she is also definitely going to get baptized soon, we're just not completely sure how soon yet.
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to come down to the chapel above the Manhattan temple and hear from President Morgan, Sister Morgan and Elder Paul V. Johnson of the first quorem of the 70. It was a really good conference and there were a lot of messages that I needed to hear so I am really grateful to have had that oppotunity. Elder Johnson is so awesome. You should look up some of his talks online and read them because he's great and you'll learn a lot. The only stinky part was that we basically sat in the hot chapel from 10-3 (minus an hour lunch break in the cultural hall) so it made for a kind of long day.
During the conference, President Morgan told us that by April, the mission will have increased the number of missionaries (counting all the ones leaving and coming in) by 46. So instead of 150ish, we'll have 200ish!  And the March transfer is going to have 40 missionaries coming in, which is insane! My transfer had 15 and that was considered pretty big. Also Elder Johnson said that the number of girls working on their papers/getting their calls right now is the same amount of sisters who are currently serving. So around the whole world the number of sister missionaries is going to double! That's so cool!!!
Those are basically the most exciting things going on right now. The work is still going really well and we're working with some really awesome investigators. I can't believe I already have my first baptism! Sorry to those of you who are still waiting for a letter back from me. There's not a lot of time for letter writing, especially when you live in a huge city with tons of things you can do each p-day....But know that I'll be thinking about how I should be writing you back as I'm standing in front of the Christmas Tree in Rockafeller this afternoon. =] Love you all!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Attacks and Accidents!


So I've decided that it's time I share some random thoughts I've been having about the Bronx and also some random stories. But first, the missionary work is still excellent and we are always working hard. Tianabelle and Bethany are still working towards their baptisms on Dec 8th, but we've considered pushing them a week or so later into December for a few different reasons. That's not totally confirmed yet though and we're still working towards and hoping for the 8th.

Ok so first. I ate chincharon. Do you know what that is? Pig skin. Yep, you read that right. Pig SKIN. Sounds disgusting, huh? Well, it pretty much is. Actually, ok so it's basically like eating a steak except for that the entire steak is actually fat so it's kind of a weird fatty texture. But the taste really wasn't bad. It was mostly the knowledge that I was eating pig skin that was grossing me out the most.

Second. I've started to sleep talk in Spanish, according to one of our roommates. How cool is that?!?!! I'm good enough at Spanish that I can talk to people when I'm asleep. I was pretty excited about that news.

Third. I found the most beautiful dog in all of planet earth while we were tracking the other day. It was an all white Siberian Huskey and I'm in love and want to go steal it. Too bad the owner wasn't super interested in our message. (I told you these thoughts were random)

Fourth. Two of my biggest life struggles living here in the Bronx are a) I'm afraid to get my hair cut because no one in the Bronx has white people hair so I don't know if they'll know how to cut white people hair. So I think I'll just never get my hair cut...and b) there are all these stupid bridge things we have to walk over all the time and they go right across the freeway and their pretty tall and I'm terrified of heights sooooo I basically want to die every time we walk across them. Lucky I have a great companion who just lets me be weird each time we walk on one.

Fifth. Last p-day on our way home, I was driving a Bronx cart, which I have no idea what that is called outside of the Bronx but it's one of those metal cart things you see people have in cities so that they have somewhere to put all their groceries so they don't have to carry everything home from the store. Hopefully you're catching onto what I'm talking about. So I'm driving it home and it's filled with two huge, heavy boxes of copies of the Book of Mormon that we ordered. But our Bronx cart is possessed by the devil or something and gets stuck all the time. One of those times it got stuck, the boxes got shoved forward and I basically ended up falling over the cart and everything in the cart came flying out, including a delicious half a pan of brownies. It was pretty funny until the next day when both of my legs had (and still have a week later) gross purple bruises on them. No fun.

Sixth. I was basically attacked on Monday. Sister Pipes and I usually go visit this pretty awesome recent convert Monday afternoons. So we're on the way to his house and this guy is hard core looking at our tags. But he looks kind of creepy so I don't want to talk to him and Sister Pipes in on the phone confirming an appointment we had later in the day. So when he stops right in front of me, I have no other option but to talk to him. He says something along the lines of "You're not an Elder." I think, "Oh, he knows something about the church." So I start talking to him about the church and asking him how he knows about us and all that jazz. He doesn't speak Spanish and we didn't have anything in English with us so I just gave him our card with our number. But I hadn't written our names on the card so he gave it back and asked me to write our names so I write "Sister Parkin and Sister Pipes," hand him the card back and shake his hand. But as we're shaking hands, he pulls me into him to give me a hug so I try to back away and just give him a little pat at which point he tries to kiss me and so I hurry and turn my head and he kisses me on the cheek and I push him away and grab Sister Pipes and run off. It was terrible!!!! I thought I was going to die from a disease or something! What sort of crazy person thinks it's okay to kiss random strangers?!?

Ok well that's all my thoughts for this week. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! 

Love you all!
Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hey all!

 So I feel like I'm at the point where things are pretty much the same from week to week. So this might be a shorter letter...

We have another baptism on December 8th with Bethany. Yay! She is 12 and her faith is amazing. She's read so much of the Book of Mormon and her prayers are so sweet. We have really enjoyed working with her. Her parents are both members but they have been inactive since moving to New York from the Dominican Republic. We're trying to help them come back to church so that Bethany has some support. Her mom comes pretty much every other week but her dad works on Sundays. But they all know how important the church is and know the blessings of being a member and we think that Bethany's decision to get baptized will help the whole family start being more active in church. We're planning on working with them for a while after the baptism too so that we can make sure that we have another strong active member in the ward and not just another baptism.

We had stake conference last week and it was SO good! I even understand basically everything that was being said, which was really great because I feel like church is when I struggle the most with my Spanish because there are so many distractions and what not. But at stake conference, they announced that the stake would continue to go down to Rockaway to help with the hurricane damage. They have trips set up for Friday and Saturday and the missionaries are allowed to go to both but since Sister Pipes and I have a lot of appointments already set up, we're only going to go on Friday. We've also heard rumors that we might have the chance to go to New Jersey and help out there, which would be also super fantastic. (Both because I would get to leave and go to yet another mission area and mostly because I love helping all the people.)

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for all of you and for the opportunity to serve the people in New York. It's the best and you should all serve missions. =] Don't forget to thank God for all the blessings he's given you! Love you all!!!

Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hurricane Relief

Hey all!

So as I mentioned last week, President Morgan said we might have the opportunity to go to the south mission and help out the people affected by hurricane Sandy. We ended up having that opportunity on Saturday. We were really lucky to have a stake that put together a trip down there and President approved the request for the missionaries to come with. We went down on buses Saturday morning and we went all the way down to Rockaway, which is basically a little island type thing off of Brooklyn and it's way far from the Bronx. It was so sad to see all the damage that was done there. I felt like I was walking through New York City when you see it in the movie "I am Legend." There was sand everywhere from the flooding. Everything had been flooded like 5 feet. Which means that all the cars that were there were destroyed, houses were destroyed, and everything was wet. It was an overcast day, which made everything feel even more gloomy. It's hard to express how sad I feel for those people. They are going through a really hard time right now.

The group that was organizing everything had a bunch of work orders from people that needed help, but they were all gone so we were told to just go out and start asking who needed help. We ended up helping this family basically tear apart their basement. It had been pretty recently redone and was super nice looking, but everything was ruined from the flood. Sister Pipes and I, along with 4 elders from our zone spent the day tearing apart their entire kitchen and then tearing down all the walls to the studs because it was all un-savable. They were really grateful for our help, but I was really grateful to be able to help them and serve those who were so badly affected by this event. I think it hit especially hard because those of us here in the Bronx were kind of complaining that we were stuck inside, bored for two days and while we were complaining, we had no idea that so many people were getting really hurt by what was happening. It was really sad to talk to the people and find out how badly the hurricane affected them. The man told us that he had stopped smoking two years ago and he started back up when he saw how badly everything was damaged. It's just really hard to see that not only did people loose a lot of material things, but it's really hurting their personal lives and emotions and all of that in ways that I don't think a lot of people really consider. It was a really great experience to go down and help out and we're all really hoping that we'll have more opportunities because they need help from anyone that is able to help out.

The rest of the week hasn't been super exciting. We're still working with some awesome investigators and are really excited about that. I don't think I've mentioned this yet but we put together a ward mission plan that is really super awesome. Since President Morgan wants us to focus on getting the members involved in missionary work, we've put together a plan that is definitely inspired by the Lord. To put it in a nutshell, we are going around asking for member referrals, but getting everyone really excited about referring their friends. One of the biggest problems about asking for referrals is that a lot of people don't trust you to take good care of their friends. So we're asking each member we visit to pray for help deciding who needs the gospel, because God knows better than we do. Then we make a plan with the member for each referral and how that person should be taught and how much the member wants to be involved. So if a referral needs to come to a bunch of ward activities before ever meeting with the missionaries for lessons, then we plan out activities for that referral. We haven't been working on it for very long but it's already been working really great.Plus, because converts usually stay more active when they have member friends first, it is really going to strengthen the ward as a whole because the members are going to come together and the new members are going to have better retention.  Sister Pipes and I met with a member the other day and she gave us 8 referrals. Which is basically a crazy number. It's usually really hard just to get one referral. So we're already seeing the blessings of this plan and are excited to keep working with the members.

Thanks for all the support and love! Love you all!
Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A few pics from New York

Time Square with Hermana Pipes
Barbie Dream House - Toys R Us, Time Square 
First Republic Office
(Dad's employer) 

The Damage of Sandy

Hello All!

So I just found out today how much damage Hurricane Sandy did. Because it basically did nothing to us here in the Bronx, I just assumed it really wasn't that bad anywhere. And I had no way of knowing for sure. So at transfer meeting today, President Morgan told us how bad things are in the South mission. I was so sad for all those people. There are entire neighbors that have been destroyed. So far there isn't an organization helping with all the clean up and they don't want anyone going out to help until there is more organization and people to direct what needs to be done. So the missionaries in the city areas (aka me) should be heading down to the South mission as some point in the near future to start helping out with everything.

As far as other news goes, we have a baptism!! Tianabelle is going to get baptized on December 8! We were hoping to do it a little bit earlier because she will definitely be ready earlier than that but there are some legitimate scheduling conflicts so we're happy with that date and we're excited to keep working towards then. She is just so awesome and she is going to be an amazing member.

One of the counselor's in the bishopric has a son that just moved back into our ward. I was talking to him and his family and found out that he serving in the Oakland mission. And even cooler, he served in Concord 1st ward and the Spanish branch. This was clear back in 2001 but he was totally in the Denkinger building all the time and he was living in apartments over by the church building across from Clayton Valley. It was way cool to make that connection!

I've been debating whether or not I should share this story, but I feel like it describes my typical life so well, so I just have to. Yesterday, I really had to go to the bathroom. So we stopped at the McDonald's bathroom but it was kind of a long process because I had my big jacket on and tights and a slip and it just took forever. So while I'm in there, I think I here a yell, but the music is really loud so I'm not really sure if I hear anything. I go about my business and think maybe there's another yell. So I think "Huh, maybe there's a food fight." (I know. The conclusion that come to my mind are crazy). And then I think "Huh, I really hope Sister Pipes is okay. But I'm sure she is." So I finish and walk out and there's a big group of people huddled on one side of the building. I still think maybe there was a food fight. Then I see Sister Pipes and she rushes over to me and tells me that this drunk guy was smoking in the building and they tried to kick him out but he wouldn't leave so this other man pulled a knife on the drunk guy and then drunk guy pulled out a razor and then they ran out of the building. It was crazy. Except that I don't actually know because I was oblivious in the bathroom the whole time. haha However, I am very grateful that we were safe while that crazyness was going on.

That's about it for this week. Love you all!!!

Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane...No Big Deal

Hey Mom!

So I'm probably not going to send a group email this week. The libraries are all closed so everyone has to use the computers at the church so we don't have a lot of time. I was really hoping to send you some pictures but I'll just have to do it next week. Also, if there are parts of this you want to put on my blog, that's cool.

As far as the hurricane, things were actually just fine. We were just really bored mostly. Sunday nothing happened. Monday there was a little bit of wind in the morning and by the early afternoon, it was crazy windy. There wasn't very much rain though. I think the Bronx got the best of the hurricane because we didn't seem to have as many problems as other people. We didn't have any power outages or anything. We just didn't want to be at home anymore because as a missionary, there's not a lot to do sitting at home all day. Plus, because we live way far from our area, when the all clear went out, public transportation was still down so we still couldn't leave our apartment. It was great today when we could finally leave the house. I did make cake pops and they were delicious and I wrote a bunch of letters and we bonded as an apartment and that's about all we did. haha

I do really like my companion and my roommates. They are all really fun and we all get along really well. A normal day for me goes like this: "exercise" from 6:30-7, get ready from 7-8, personal study from 8-9, companionship study from 9-10, 10-11 training (for the first 12 weeks), 11-12 spanish study and then from 12:30-8:30 we have appointments or go tracting. It takes us a half an hour to get from our apartment to our area so we have to be done 30 minutes early to make it home by 9. We usually have a lot more appointments at night because more people are at home but we do have some investigators that are home in the afternoon, which is nice. 

I'm glad President Morgan kept you guys updated on the storm so that you knew I wasn't dead or anything.

Also, great news! We have a baptismal date! Tianabelle is going to get baptized on Nov 10. We still need to teach the commandments to her though and with the hurricane, it kind of put us behind. So hopefully we can still get her ready for that date. She is definitely ready, she just has to know the commandments before she can have the baptismal interview. But we're really excited because even if she isn't ready for the 10th, it will definitely be soon. yay!

There so many other things I want to tell you but the elders are standing here waiting for me to finish. I'll just have to make next weeks email super long.

Love ya tons!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy Update...Accounted for and Safe

The following is the email we received from President Morgan this morning.

Dear Parents and Loved Ones,

After a long stormy night we are in one piece. Every missionary has reported in. Some have been without power during the early morning hours  - all are warm and dry. We will ask the missionaries to again stay in their apartments today while major clean up work is performed by cities and counties. As work groups are formed in communities we will join in the secondary clean up work.

I apologize for not communicating earlier. The mission home has been without power since 8:30 last night with two large trees down on power lines blocking our ability to leave. As soon as one of the trees was cut in half and moved, I was able to get out and find a place with power. 

At this time the sun is showing through the clouds and the winds and rain have calmed. There is a lot of debris on the roads and in yards .

Again - All the missionaries are accounted for and safe. They have sufficient food and water and will be able to resume activities by tomorrow which will include assisting in many clean up projects. If you have any questions, please call us or send emails. I will respond based on our power availability.

Tom Morgan

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Update

The following was sent to our family this morning from President Morgan. Many of you have asked about Hermana Parkin and how the hurricane is effecting her area and her safety. This is just a small part of the email we received. But it will give you a sense of what the mission has done to prepare the missionaries for the hurricane. It is also a relief to know the missionaries are safe.

From President Morgan....
We have asked our missionaries to hold tight in their apartments from 6:00 pm Sunday evening until the storm passes and we have issued an "all clear" announcement.

On Saturday October the 27th all missionaries were instructed to prepare for the storm by acquiring three days worth of food supplies - in addition to what they already had on hand, refresh all water storage in accordance with mission water storage policy, test flashlights and assure a prudent supply of fresh batteries, having some cash on hand incase ATMs are down due to power outages and keeping cell phones fully charged while power is available. All companionships reported back as ready and compliant with instructions. We will carry out a “call report” protocol during the event to assess the safety and condition of each of our missionaries. Depending on internet availability, we will periodically update you as to the current status of the mission. We feel very prepared and our missionaries are very obedient. Please continue to pray for safety and welfare of everyone in the storm affected area.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shaking an Apostles Hand

I've decided that I don't want to serve anywhere else in my entire mission except the Bronx. I just want to serve these people for the next 15 months (because as of tomorrow, I've been on my mission for three months. Crazy!). I don't think President Morgan would really be okay with that but a girl can dream right? I just love all the people here. Our investigators are awesome, even if sometimes they ignore us. But it's okay because even though our lives revolve around them, their lives don't revolve around us so sometimes it's just hard to set up appointments. The ward is also awesome. I actually know a lot of the ward so when I go to church, I don't feel really awkward because there are lots of people to talk to and say hi to and introduce investigators to.

This past Sunday was a huge miracle. We had been struggling to get a hold of basically all of our investigators so we were feeling pretty down. We didn't think any of them would come to church because they hadn't been calling us back. But when we got there, two of our investigators were there and a less active that we ran into a few weeks ago. It was so awesome!! I know the Lord was blessing us for all of the hard work we had been trying to do and I'm so grateful for that blessing.

Elder Christofferson came on Saturday so we all went to Scarsdale. He shook everyone's hand before the meeting started. We didn't really get to talk to him because there just isn't a lot of time for 150 missionaries to talk to one apostle. But it was still really special to even get to meet him for real because I didn't get to shake his hand when  we saw him at the Salt Lake Temple. He talked about how as missionaries we are supposed to teach repentance but what does that really mean? And how repentance means action and so everything we teach is basically teaching repentance because everything we teach is inviting them to change. He also talked about how we have to be converted to the doctrine of Christ ourselves and have to be willing to change ourselves if we really want to help others do the same thing. It something that seems so basic but it really made me think more about what aspects of my life I need to change and improve on. He also talked about the importance of the Sacrament and how we should be spending the whole week preparing to take the sacrament so that when Sunday comes, we know the things that we need to be repenting of and the things that we need to try to change for the coming week. It was fabulous and I just love that man.

We had interviews with President Morgan yesterday. It was so great to talk to him one on one. I feel so lucky to have such an amazing man as a mission president. He is just a great example of Christlike qualities. He also talked to us about what the new missionary age would mean for our mission and for missionaries in general. Since there has been so many applications since the announcement, the MTC had changed their program and if you serve in English, you go to the MTC for 10 days. If there isn't any room for you in the MTC, you just go strait to the field. If you serve Spanish, you are only there for 6 weeks. But about a year ago, the general authorities started a 12 week in-field training, which is basically everything I learned in the MTC. So that was clearly inspired because now those who come strait to the field still have training/ He also said that the domestic missions (the U.S. and Canada) will be receiving the initial surge of new missionaries. Which means that in the next three to nine months, our mission will be receiving about an extra 100 missionaries. Which therefore means that we will all be training, which means that I'm sort of freaking out because I don't even know anything and I might be training in January. But it's going to be so awesome to have so many new and excited new missionaries.

Everything else is going really well! I still love everything and I love all of you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No Longer a Picky Eater!

***In this post, Hermana Parkin makes a reference to Liz and Dev. For those who don't know, Liz and Dev are one of Hermana Parkins's aunt and uncle. They are super close so it didn't suprise me when she said she found a family that reminded her so much of them.***


I don't really have a ton of cool stories today but rather some random facts about life here in the Bronx.

For those of you who claim I'm a picky eater, you should see what I eat here. Not only have I eaten tuna many a times, something that I think is super gross, I've also eaten eggs, something I think is even grosser than tuna. I also ate at a pescaria the other day, which basically translates to fish store. You just go in and they have a bunch of raw fish, you tell them which fish you want and which vegetables and they throw it all together with some spices and steam it. I got shrimp so it wasn't too bad. But the weirdest thing I've eaten so far is cow stomach. It actually wasn't too bad though. Just a little too chewy for my taste.

I found out the other day that 35% of the Concourse ward is active. Yes, that's right, active. That means most of our ward is inactive. Which means there has been a lot of missionaries just baptizing the heck out of everyone out here and not making the effort of helping investigators find real conversion. As a zone, and really as a whole mission, we are focusing on members and getting members to help us with missionary work. If the members get involved, the convert has friends in the ward once they are baptized and then they already have a support system to help them through this transition. We're also focusing on member referrals, which is great because I don't really love street contacting or door knocking so much.

I bore my testimony at church this past Sunday. I debated about whether I would do it for a long time, but finally I decided that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't. I'm pretty sure I sounded like I five year old with my limited Spanish, but it's okay because luckily the ward thinks my Spanish abilities are cute. For those who've asked, I do not speak Spanish all the time. All of our district and zone meetings are in English and a lot of the members speak both. Sister Pipes and I try hard to speak Spanish whenever we can, but most of the time I end up speaking Spanglish and just saying half of my conversation in English and half in Spanish. We always teach in Spanish though and most of the members, even if they speak English, prefer speaking Spanish. So usually the only time I use English is when I'm talking with other missionaries.

We found out today that Elder Christofferson is coming to talk to us on Saturday morning so we're all pretty excited about that. We also have a big ward activity called Dia de Naciones (Day of Nations) on Saturday. Since we have so many different cultures in our ward, everyone from their native country is going to do a dance from that country and bring food from that country. They told the missionaries we had to be involved. Since we're missionaries though, we're going to try to do something spiritual so that it wasn't completely doing nothing towards missionary work.

Tianabel came to FHE at a members house on Monday. It was so awesome for her because the family are going to be great fellowshippers. The family actually reminds me a lot of Liz and Dev's family, except for their Dominican. They have a little boy who is four and a little one year old son. Ruth, the mom, decorated their apartment all cute and she's all cute and nice and Tommy, the dad, is all cool and funny. It was sort of weird how similar the two families are. But clearly, this means that they are one of my favorite families.

Things are still going really well. Some of our investigators are having some struggles and others we just struggle to find times  that we can all be available. But I know that if we have faith, everything will work out great.

Sorry if you've written me and I haven't gotten back to you yet! I'm trying hard to write back but it's also hard to find time.

Love you all!

Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Ate a Tuna Fish Sandwhich!

So aparently my health problems aren't over even though I'm out of the MTC. Last Sunday, I twisted my ankle going down a flight of stairs that had this weird triangle step where the stairs turned. It hurt SO bad. But I'm alive and still in commission even though sometimes it doesn't feel so good. I guess this just means that Satan really doesn't want me to do missionary work or something right? Either that, or I'm just one big continual clumsy health problem. haha
So the bronx has all these bodega's everywhere, which are little corner stores sort of like the stores at gas stations. Most of them sell food and the first time we went to one, I was pretty aprehensive because all I could think of was disgusting 7-11 hot dogs. But you get in there, and there's like a real kitchen with 4 domincan ladies cooking up a full on meal. It's crazy! But delicious. So if you ever decide to come visit the bronx, make sure you eat at one of the bodegas. In other food related new, I ate a tuna fish sandwhich (which you may not know makes me want to barf) and I didn't die. I just drank a lot of juice and ate a lot of toastadas in between bits. We get fed a lot of toastadas out here. It's a big dominican thing. They basically take platanos, which are these huge green banana things, and cute them up, fry them, smash them, and then fry them again. They're sort of like french fries, but domincan version. And maybe healthier because it's sort of a banana? Or maybe I just want to tell myself they're healthier.
I think I mentioned Tianabel last week. She is still super awesome! We were a little bit worried for a minute because she canceled an appointment we had on Friday and she told us she wouldn't be able to come to conference. But then she texted us on Sunday during the morning session and told us she was watching it at home and was really enjoying it. I guess she just hadn't been feeling good. So we met up with her for an appointment on Monday and it went super well. Her daughter and her mom sat in on the lesson and the spirit was so strong. We have another appointment with her tomorrow and we're going to try to set a real baptismal date. Her daughter told us that she wants to get baptized though, which was super cute, but we told her she would have to wait two years until she was 8. Tianabel also told me that my Spanish has improved a lot in a week, which made me feel super awesome even though I still have a ton to learn.
I did attempt to give my first baptismal commitment the other day though. We have another investigator, Eledino, who is the husband of a convert of one year. He is also really awesome but doesn't want to commit yet. So we're going to keep working with him and try to figure out what his concerns are. He's really quiet so it's been hard for us to fully know what he needs. We have an awesome member coming to our lessons with him though and I think that has helped us a lot.
Conference was awesome! I'm still in shock that they changed the mission ages! That's so cool though! I think it's really going to be a blessing for everyone. We went to the church for all the session of conference but unfortunatly the connection there wasn't super awesome. It worked all of Sunday, which was a blessing but on Saturday there were a few parts that cut out in the first session and I basically didn't see any of the second session. We got there about an hour late because the appointment we had in between the sessions went long and then once we got there, the connection broke for the other hour. So I only saw probably 5 minutes of that session. I'm excited to read the talks in the Ensign next month though.
I've discovered now that I'm friends with everyone that we have an awesome zone and an especially awesome district. We actually all see each other more than I thought because my whole district serves in the same ward (there are 8 of us total) a lot of members invite all eight of us over for dinner together. They are all really good missionaries and I'm really glad I have the opportunity to serve with them and learn from them.
Love you all a ton! Thanks for your support!!
Hermana Parkin

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I love being in the Bronx!

I LOVE being a missionary! This first week in New York has been so awesome. Everyone told me that the first week would be awful and I'd cry myself to sleep every night, but I totally don't feel like that at all. I love the Bronx, I love the people, I love my companion, I love the other missionaries, I love everything!!

So much has happened in the past seven day, but here are some memorable moments:

We actually have quite a few investigators right now. The real problem is seeing them as often as we like because a lot of the time, we set up appointments but then they aren't home when we get there. Even if we called that day to remind them. It's kind of stinky but we just have to be persistent. Anyways, one of our investigators, Tianabel is super awesome. She was a media reference and has a member friend back in the Dominican Republic. She's 22 years old and has a 6 year old daughter. H. Pipes had taught her once before I got here and we went back on Friday and it was the best. It was the first lesson (out of like two or three others that week) that I felt comfortable talking, so that was really good. Plus she is just so excited to learn about the gospel. I'm really excited to keep teaching her. She came to church on Sunday and H. Pipes had to talk in Sacrament and she plays the piano for the primary so I was in charge of being with Tianabel, which freaked me out at first because my Spanish still needs a lot of work but it went so well. At the end of Sunday School she asked for a Gospel Principles book so she could read that and then at the end of Relief Society she asked about how she could pay tithing. It was so cool! She is going to come to General Conference this weekend, which should be really great for her.

I guess 5th Sunday's out here are missionary Sundays. We have eight missionaries serving in our ward so we break up our ward boundaries into four areas, which means our area is kind of small. But since it's all apartments, there are still a ton of people. So this Sunday three missionaries talked, plus our ward mission leader. During correlation on Saturday, Fernando, the ward mission leader, who is also super awesome, told us that we needed to do a musical number too. Most of this conversation was in Spanish so I wasn't totally following all that was going on. All I know is that all of the sudden, I am being volunteered to participate in a musical number with four other elders. And then it goes from that to me singing the first verse as a solo, which I was not okay with. But then I gave in because it was the Christ like thing to do. So we sang "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" and I did the first verse as a solo, then the elders sang the second and we all sang the third. I actually wasn't super nervous, which is only because God probably knew how much I didn't want to do it because I was terrified but that I was doing it because that's what we do as missionaries. It went well though and apparently Latinos aren't always the best singers in the whole word because some of the hymns were pretty painful so even if I stunk, they probably wouldn't have cared.

I was a little surprised by how many Spanish speaking people live in the Bronx. I feel like everyone we talk to speaks Spanish, which is pretty cool. It's hard for me to tell everyone apart though. I'll see someone that I think is of African decent and then they start speaking Spanish so I think "Oh their from the DR" and then I find out their from Honduras. So I have a lot to learn about who's who because it really does matter. But everyone is super nice. When we contact or tract, almost everyone will talk to us and take our card. We've had very few people who flat out reject us or shut the door on us. Even though I know that most people will never meet with us, at least I don't feel completely rejected all the time. Our ward is pretty awesome too. People are always super willing to come to appointments with us. And everyone is super friendly, which is really great for the investigators we bring to church. Also, they feed us amazing food!! Everyone has been telling me that you usually gain wait up state and loose wait in the city but I don't know how true that is because I 'accidentally' eat a lot because the food they give us is so good. I guess it's good that we don't have dinner appointments every day. Plus it makes me feel a lot better that people are so nice about my broken Spanish. They really try to help me out and don't hate me when it takes me 3 times as long to say something.

We did some train contacting the other day and that was super fun actually. I was sort of nervous about it because I'm not usually someone who talks to other people on BART and stuff so I wasn't sure how it was going to go. But it was actually really fun. Hermana Pipes loves talking to people so she makes me feel more comfortable and we were able to get information from a few people. The thing that was hardest for me, because I was being selfish, was that pretty much everyone we talked to lived outside of our area. So we were basically just finding people for all the other missionaries and I was pretty bummed about this. But I tried to stay positive and just know that either way, I'm still doing good work and helping others come unto Christ even if I don't get to do the actual teaching. So yesterday we were able to be blessed in return for our efforts, because two other sets of missionaries called us and gave us info about people they had found. That was really cool and a good lesson for me to learn.

Today we're hanging out in Manhattan for a little bit. We're at the family history center at the Temple right now and earlier we went to the Metropolitan Museum with two of the elders in our district. It's been fun to be in the city for part of the day, but it's also sort of weird because it's so different from the Bronx. In the Bronx we stand out a lot in our skirts. Plus we're some of the only white people and I'm one of the only natural blondes so it feel like everyone notices us and knows that we don't really belong. Actually, at church, I am the only blonde one. So it's super different. In Manhattan, most people are dressed nice and what not. The only place people noticed us as being different was at the museum where Elder Anderson kept getting mistaken for a guide at the museum today, which was pretty entertaining. 

Things are going really well and I am loving everything! Miss you all and love you too!!


Hermana Parkin

Monday, October 1, 2012

A few MTC pics

                  Hermana Harris and Hermana Parkin
                  Where in the world are we serving?
               Hermana Parkin, Hermana Seely, Hermana Duchene

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I"m Definately Serving in the Best Mission Ever!!!

Man so much has happened the past few days, I don't even know where to begin. So the last few days at the MTC were pretty whatever. I actually had some really great spiritual experiences and it was sad to see everyone in my district leave. But that stuff really isn't near as entertaining as leaving the MTC.
On Tuesday morning, I had to be at the travel office at 4 so it was an early morning. When I got to the airport, I called my family and that was great. I didn't have much more time before we boarded after talking to them. At least that's what I thought until we sat on the tarmac for almost 2 hours. Apparently there were some problems with the breaks and after trying to fix them they finally decided to just replace them. So the flight was long but it ended up being ok. I was sitting next to another Elder serving in my mission so we talked a lot. And I talked to the other lady I was sitting next to and she told me about her whole life. It's really interesting being a missionary because all of the sudden people are telling you everything about their life, including the really hard things they've gone through. But it was good talking to her and she was super nice and helpful as we tried to figure out if we would make our connection. When we got to Detroit, that plane had been delayed for 30 minutes so it was still there, which was a miracle. But we literally had to walk from one end of the airport to the other so we had the desk people call our gate and tell them we were on our way. I was sort of sad we didn't have a real layover because I was going to call Grandma and Grandma Staheli and Grandma and Grandpa Parkin. So if you guys are reading this, I'm really sorry you didn't get to hear from me. But I still love you.
President and Sister Morgan and the AP's were waiting for us at the airport. I seriously love them so much already. They have kids around our ages so basically they are super cool and know what's up. They actually changed a lot of the rules from the other president, which is good with me. I guess we use to not be able to go into Time Square or any of lower Manhatten because it was 'bad' but President Morgan and his family went down there and decided that it's not as bad as any other part of the city and you really don't see anything horrible unless you're looking for it. So this is awesome news because there are a lot of cool things to see in that part of the city and as long as we're serving in the city, we can go anywhere in our zone on p-day. Which means I'll have some super cool p-days. President Morgan is super funny but also super in tune with the spirit. He's just great and I feel really lucky to have such an awesome president.
Today is p-day, clearly. So you'll hear from me every Wednesday. And you'll never guess where my first area is. THE BRONX!!!! I am literally SO FREAKING EXCITED!! I'm in the Conners area I think...I don't really know what it's called. They keep telling me and I don't understand. haha But my trainer is Hermana Pipes and she seems super awesome. And really everyone just seems super awesome. Everyone at the transfer meeting was so nice. I haven't even made it to my apartment yet because the library is across the street from the church building so I still have a lot of stuff to find out about but I'm just really excited. I mean I'm basically in the legit ghetto but I stinking love it! And I don't feel like anyone is going to shoot me down on the street or anything so that's good. But I've also never really felt like that in cities so maybe I should be more concerned. I figure the Lord is going to protect me, right? Also, we don't have bikes in the mission at all which I'm super excited about to! Since I'm in the city, we used public transportation a lot and walk which I'm way excited about.
I don't even know what else to tell you. So much has happened in so little time. But things are awesome. I'm excited to get settled in and start working and I'm really excited to have the companion that I do and to serve in this area. It sounds like we don't get transfered out of areas very often so hopefully I'll have the opportunity to serve here for a while.
You are all awesome!! Love you!
Hermana Parkin (a real life missionary in New York!!!)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I'm almost to New York!!!

Hey there!!

So just to clarify because I didn't actually know when I was leaving last week, I will be heading to New York on Tuesday morning. Yay! So please don't send anything else to the MTC because I probably won't get it. Also if you wrote me a letter this past week, I might not have a chance to write you back until I'm at the airport on Tuesday because we kind of have a weird p-day today with less time and I need to pack...

This week was fabulous. It went super fast. I can't believe that my MTC stay is almost over. I'm so excited to get to New York. Also, we get to watch the Brigham City temple dedication on Sunday, which I'm way excited about because I've never been to one. And because Grandma Staheli send me a handkerchief from Grandma Vera soooo that's pretty awesome.

A lot of cool things happen this week relating to New York. First, on Sunday there was a fireside and this guy talked about the Book of Mormon play and how the church reacted to it. I guess there are signs all over NYC now. They bought a megatron thing in Times Square for ads and they have ads on the Taxi's and the Subway and everywhere. It is going to be SO AWESOME to serve there where the church is being talked about so much. It made me so pumped up to get out there and get working.

Also, Hermana Seely had to go to the optomatrist this week because her glasses broke. So while we were waiting for her, we started talking to one of the secretaries and she just got back from serving in my same exact mission, Spanish speaking, like 4 months ago. So I got to talk to her all about it and she loved it and she loves the sisters who are serving there right now too and I'm so excited. She said there are like 6-8 Spanish areas for the sisters and she was able to serve in the Bronx and Harlem and some other part of Manhatten. I was practically peeing my pants I was so excited. I am literally going to have the best mission ever!

Love Hermana Parkin

Friday, September 14, 2012

Almost Out of the MTC

So update on my leg because I'm sure everyone is wondering. I had my follow up appointment on Tuesday and the doctor said that I have one of the best MRI's he's ever seen. Which means they have no idea what the problem is. I was having a lot of mixed feelings because even though I'm glad it's nothing serious and I don't need surgery or anything, I really wanted a real answer so that I could have a real solution. But he is sending me to a physical therapist and he thinks that if I can strengthen the muscles, everything should eventually get better. I went to the therapist on Wednesday and it was actually pretty fun and he gave me a bunch of stretches that I need to do everyday. Being at a physical therapist made me sort of want to change my major again and go back to my original plans of occupational therapy. But too bad I don't actually want to study that, I just want to magically be able to do that. Also, in case you were wondering about the pelivis abnormalites, I have a benign bone lesion. He said it won't affect anything and that I was born with it. So thanks, Mom and Dad. =]
Before I got in to see the doctor on Tuesday, Hermana Duchene and I had a conversation with this lady who only speak Spanish. It was so cool! I could understand most of everything she said and I was able to talk back to her. It was really interesting because we had only been talking to her for 2 minutes before she starts telling us her whole life story. In the 20 minutes we were talking to her, I just loved her and I loved talking to her and it made me that much more excited to get to New York.
Hermano Johnson got an intership in D.C. so we lost him as a teacher yesterday. We're pretty sad because he is the only teacher that has been with us from the very beginning. This also means that we don't get to teach Juan anymore and I'm super sad about that because I really felt like we were finally starting to go somewhere. I think I'm pretty much the only one that really cares though because I'm one of the only people in my district that tries to treat our investigators as real investigators and not just our teachers pretending to be investigators.

I've been thinking a lot about life and how compared to a lot of the other sisters here, I have had a really awesome life. I haven't struggled with anything life changing, like deaths or abuse or an unsuportive family. My life has been pretty easy and I'm so grateful for that. I've been wondering if maybe I am having weird health problems and what not on my mission because I need to have that struggle. I don't know, this is all probably sounding crazy. But I'm really grateful for the awesome family and friends that I have and the awesome life I've had so far. I'm not going to let the small things get me down or cause problems on my mission because that's not what I'm here to do. I'm here to work hard even if it's really difficult sometimes.
I hope you all are doing well!
Hermana Parkin

This was included in the email Hernana Parkin sent to us. I thought it might be of interest to some family memebers and friends....Thanks Janae

So first of all, because I don't know if the MTC called you, but you should probably know that I went to the hospital at 1:30 Tuesday night. Before you freak out, everything is fine. I was having some chest pain when I went to bed but I just ignored it becasue I didn't want something else to be wrong with me. But then I woke up at 1 and it was hurting really bad and my arm was all tingly. So I woke up H. Seely and we went to the front desk and called the on-call doctor and he sent me to the ER. We went and woke up H. Duchene and the MTC van drove us to the hospital (which was super weird to be at because the last time I was there was freshman year and Liz and Chalene were there with me) and they did a bunch of tests to rule out the big problems. I don't have a blood clot or anything seriously wrong. They think it is swelling around the lining of my lung which is then pushing against my ribs causing pain. They can't actually test for that but they gave me some motrin for the anti-inflamitory and it's been feeling a lot better. So I'm not worried. Just really embarrassed because I don't want to be the missionary that is always have dumb problems. Anyways, I thought you should probably know what was going on, but I'm fine.
I should have gotten my travel plans yesterday but we didn't. We think they will come today and we heard rumor that if you get them after you send your p-day email that you get to call home for 5 minutes. I don't know if that's true but I guess we'll see what happens. I hope they at least let us send a quick email or something so you know exactly when I'm leaving the MTC. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Firm a Foundation

Thank you so much for everyones concern and prayers about my leg issues! I really appreciate it! Update on the issue: Basically the shot of cortozon I got last Tuesday did nothing. So I went back to the health clinic and they were able to move up my follow up appointment with the specialist. I went in yesterday to take an MRI. I was pretty terrified of this experience because every time there is an MRI scene on Grey's Anatomy, someone has a heart attack or a seizure or something. So clearly I thought I was going to die. Plus the little tube thing they stick you in is pretty small. But since my appointment was early in the morning they took my right back and to the MRI room. I just decided to keep my eyes closed the whole time until they were taking my out so that I didn't get claustrophobic. And then when images of people dying in MRI's started popping into my head, I had to sing  How Firm a Foundation in my head. So they finally got done after I was in there for about 20-25 minutes and they had the tech guy come check out the pictures and he said that it looked like I had some pelvis abnormalities (too much info for a letter that is going to end up on my blog for the whole world to read? I don't know...) and so they gave my an IV of this dye stuff so that the pictures would come out clearer, stuck me back in the machine, I sang some more of How Firm a Foundation and then they let me loose. So now I have leg problems and I probably won't be able to have children because I have an abnormal pelvis. Great. I actually don't even really find out what's wrong with me until Tuesday when I meet with the doctor. So I'll keep you updated as best I can. If anyone in Provo (or anyone that comes up to Provo every Tuesday) is feeling really sorry for me, I'm pretty sure some cupcakes from Cocoa Bean would cheer me up a lot. Especially if it was Better than Whatever flavored. But I mean I'm just throwing that bit of info out there...haha
We are finally getting new sisters in our room this Wednesday. We've had three empty beds since Hermana Harris left. We're hoping that they are advanced Spanish sisters so that they can help us improve our Spanish.
We will also be getting our flight plans on Thursday so the next time you hear from me, I'll have an exact day of when I leave the MTC. Unless they make me stay because of my leg, which I'm thinking is pretty unlikely but I guess if it happens, there will be some reason for it.
I've started to cry when I bear my testimony in Spanish, so that's sort of a problem. I thought I would be able to hold it together since I only sort of know what I'm saying, but apparently I'm just going to be crying throughout my entire mission. Speaking of Spanish, I've been trying really hard to speak only Spanish each day. It's been going pretty well. Obviously there are times when I have to speak English because the people I'm talking to don't speak Spanish but overall I feel like I've been able to do a pretty good job. At first it was super hard because the Elders were always making fun of all my mistakes, which is sort of my fault because I don't really care when they make fun of anything else I do. But I think they've gotten the picture that Spanish is the one thing they should just leave me alone about.
We have two baptismal dates, one for Patric and one for Juan. We are really excited that we've finally gotten to the point with both of them that they don't have other issues getting in the way of their baptism. Too bad they aren't real investigators but it's still really exciting. And the other day, my companions and I were kind of struggling with some planning because we all had different ideas for a lesson and Hermano Johnson took us out to talk about it with us. He helped us figure out what we can start doing better in our lessons. But then at the end he said that he honestly feels like we are doing a really good job and he said he couldn't teach like we can until he was four months into the his mission. That was a huge confidence booster and makes me feel a lot more ready to be in N.Y.
Thanks for your letters and love! You are all the best!!
Hermana Parkin