Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hello Everyone!!!

Hello everyone!!!

So for this week, I wanted to write about some fun facts about Northern California versus good 'ol Oklahoma. Everyone keeps asking me, so I tried to make a list!!!

Fun facts about the people here in Sacramento:

-Everyone says "hecka." For example..."that is hecka cool!"
-salads are never served without avocados
-everyone has a dog...and they are OBSESSED with it
-when you ear oranges, they are usually homegrown from the person's yard 
-most of the families here were born and raised and are still living here
-there are bike lanes on EVERY street. I do not even remember seeing bike lanes in Tulsa!
-Sacramento is a huge melting pot. When we talk to people, we do not even assume they speak English anymore. There are lots of people from Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East, etc.
-when people say the "bay area," I do not even know what they are referring to besides San Francisco. But everyone says it.

What you cannot find here that I miss from Oklahoma!
-QUESO. no one even knows what it is!!!!! Man, I miss chips and queso.
-Country music (they probs have it here, but we cannot listen to normal music as missionaries...just church music).
-I always look like such a prep in my clothes....I have tried to adapt to the style here.
-All the times we have been on the side of the road working on our bikes, no one has stopped, but I keep thinking how if we were in OK people totally would have stopped to help! 

That is about all I can think of. I love serving my mission here. We meet the most interesting people. It keeps life exciting. I miss Oklahoma lots, but I have loved being out here in this diverse area. My eyes have really opened to how a lot of people live. 

Things are going okay. Honestly, this week was probably the most homesick I have been on my mission. It helped that I got lots of mail each night to read from you all :) It made me happy. Sister Kandare and her comp are really struggling and want to go home. We are really close, so I think that has been hard on me. I don't want to go home at all, but I just really missed it all this week. I am just trying to make it through! 

Tim cannot find a job, so he may be moving next week. The baptism may not happen. That has been hard, but I have to remember our purpose. It is to "help others come unto Christ." not just to baptize. I know that I helped him build that relationship, so whatever happens is Heavenly Father's plan for him. 

Thanks for all your kind words and prayers :) The bike is still going well! I love it! I never ever want to go back to car. Have a great week!

Sister Hickman

**Disclaimer** I did not write this!! But let me tell you, this sister is speaking the truth. Here is an insight to my feelings that I do not always adequately describe!
The Honest Truth About Missions

"So are you getting paid to do this?"


"Are you getting some kind of school credit?"


"What about church promotion?"


"Well how about community recognition?"

"Definitely not"

"Then why would you EVER choose to do what you're doing??"

He had a point. I'd been talking to one of our investigators about missions and how we work as missionaries, and his final question wasn't foreign in my mind. I'd asked myself that question many times. 

You asked for honest. Here's honest.

I believe many--my pre-mission self included--have a warped opinion of what it's like to be a missionary. Before I put on the tag, I had only a vague idea of what it was really like to actually be in those shoes.

I thought they were perfect.
I thought they were always happy.
I thought they loved every minute of their service.
I thought they were invincible.
I thought they didn't have a care in the world.
I thought it was probably hard work, but easy to love.
I thought they were almost always successful.
I thought that it was easy for them to sacrifice.

It seems like a lifetime away since I lived life not as a missionary. In the time that's followed--now 14 months into my mission--I've come to see missionaries and missions in a completely different light.

"Sister Parker, missions are 98% hard work, struggle, disappointment, difficulty, sorrow, and even pain. 2%.......2% is pure joy," my mission president told me during one of our first interviews together. 

He was right. SO right.

Here's the honest truth:missionaries hide a lot. Sometimes it's behind a smile as someone slams the door in our face after cussing us out. Other times it's behind closed doors when we fall to our knees, sobbing and begging for the help of The Lord to carry us through. And at other times, it's only disclosed in a simple journal entry reading, "Why aren't we seeing more success?" or "Why is this so hard??" Investigators don't see the tears we cry the night they've told us they're no longer interested in meeting with us. The strangers on the street don't see our hearts sink when they refuse to listen and instead call us names. The family members back home don't see the long sleepless nightswhen we can't think of anything but the faces of those we miss. The members don't see our pain when ten minutes before church, an investigator calls to say he won't be able make it. And even our companions don't always see our exhaustion after a long and difficult day. 

Let's get raw:

I'm not perfect.
I'm not always happy.
I don't always love every minute of it.
I'm not invincible.
I struggle.
It's hard back-breaking work, and not always easy to love.
I'm not always successful.

And it is HARD to sacrifice.

I've missed the weddings of two siblings.
I’ve missed the farewell of a brother leaving to serve in Russia and
I’ll soon miss the farewell of another brother leaving to serve in Portland, Oregon.
I've had more medical problems on the mission than I have my entire life.
I've been called every name in the book, and been harassed for what I believe.
I've struggled with difficult companions, areas, and people.
I've spent long and lonely nights, aching for help and comfort.
I miss home and family every. single. day.
I’ve cried more tears in the last 14 months than I have in the last 14 years.
I question my ability to succeed often.
I feel completely inadequate to meet the needs of those around me.
I often feel weak, lonely, exhausted, frustrated, disappointed, and homesick.

And yet…….my mission president continued, “Sister Parker, missions are 98% hard work, struggle, disappointment, difficulty, sorrow, and even pain. 2%.......2% is pure joy…….  
And somehow that 2% makes it ALL WORTH IT.
I don’t even know how it’s possible. Serving as a missionary is THE hardest thing I have ever done. By far. It’s more demanding, challenging, and draining than anything I’ve ever experienced.
And somehow…..somehow……it is all worth it.
Yes…I struggle.
Yes…I fall.
Yes...I long for home and family.
Yes…I miss the comforts I gave up.
Yes…I often wish people understood how much we sacrifice just to bring them the gospel and make their lives better.
Yes…I’m FAR from perfect.
Yes…I’m weak and inadequate. 
And YES…..my mission has transformed me and others into people we wouldn’t have been without it. Therefore, YES…..it is worth it.
That pure joy—PURE JOY—that President told me about……I had no idea what that was like until I became a missionary and have seen the gospel change lives, including mine. Most of the time, the joy we experience as missionaries isn’t even our own. It’s the joy we feel seeing others experience the joy of the gospel……Yes, it doesn’t come often. It takes HARD work to get. But it is PURE. It’s a joy I’ve never felt before in my entire life. And I believe it is a type of joy that few will ever feel. And it comes only to those who are willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord in order to receive it.

So yes….. I’ve often thought and often been asked: "Why would I EVER choose to do what I do??"
It IS hard. It doesn’t even make since to the outside world why young missionaries like me would go out for 18-24 months, paying thousands of dollars to go, abide by such strict rules, live such a rigorous schedule, have such limited communication with family and friends, and all just to share a message about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.
I do it because IT’S TRUE. I would not be here….doing this, sacrificing like this….if I didn’t know with allmy heart that it is true. It has changed my life, and I continue to see it change others’ lives.

 That is undeniable.
I can’t even begin to describe to someone why, specifically, being a missionary is so incredibly difficult. 
It’s much harder than I’ll ever be able to express. But while, I don’t believe my mission will ever be easy…..nor that sacrifice or conversion will ever be easy…….I KNOW that with the help of God, it’s worth it.
Now go hug a missionary ……... they need it:)

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