Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Natal!

Dear kin, Kilarney clan, manger mates, and all ya'll,


Wow, you can tell that Christmas is having its effect on me. It's really pathetic when I start laughing at my computer. The other elders think that I'm reading something funny, but I'm under the false impression that I'm writing something funny. Our mission is also being visited on the tenth of January by Elder S. Gifford Nielson, so I'm getting ready with lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (that was 18, Sarah, just for you) Oh boy, time to cool down my overactive Christmas joy jets and talk about the spiritual things that happened this last week.

We got hit with a lot of food this last week. The ward members decided that it was time to chub up the missionaries, so we got some huge boxes of food. We have also gotten many, many plates of cookies. This is great if I choose to never look in a mirror again. :D But seriously, it is wonderful to feel so much love from the members. I am glad that I come from a family that loves the missionaries in the ward, because I am definitely grateful for those in the ward that show love for the Lord's servants.

There were several highlights from this last week. One Tuesday I went on exchange with Elder Markowski who is serving in Belpre (he and his companion, Elder Kieran, live in the same house as we). <-- (good grammar, no?) Anyway, it is so much fun living with another set of elders. We live the law of consecration among all four of us. None of the support money given to us on our cards is really "our own", we've chosen to share it all among the four of us, and it works out great. There's a lot of great love in our house! Anyway, Tuesday was a great adventure with Elder Markowski. Elder Gadberry's been dying to serve in a place with a car, so he went to Belpre, OH with Elder Kieran.

Wednesday night we had the great joy of caroling as a district. We had picked out a few homes that we wanted to go visit. Some elders in Ravenswood, WV also told us of a man, Brother Stauers, from their ward who is in the local hospital, Camden Clark. We went to go sing to him. We've visited him before in the hospital, so I knew a little bit about him. Elder Kieran served in Ravenswood before, so he had a conversation with Brother Stauers and then Brother Stauers volunteered to sing for us. Here Brother Stauers was in very humble circumstances. He just had the lower half of his right leg amputated, he had a tube in his throat, and he was very hoarse. He sang "The Little Drummer Boy" to us. It was the purest and most sincere song I have ever heard. As you will recall, the boy in the song lays before the Christ child his song as a gift. Here Brother Stauers lay, broken and low, and he gave us the gift of his song. I don't think that I will ever hear that song sung the same way again. I was so deeply touched. I want to be able to give my whole self as an offering and a gift to the Christ.

On Thursday we had specialized training which was taught by President Pitt. It was wonderful. For several hours we were taught about and discussed the importance of covenants. Covenants really are so important. Every blessing we receive is based on our obedience to covenants we made with Heavenly Father before this life or during this life. At the end of the training, Sister Pitt led a special Christmas program. Several groups from the mission sang songs. I was the very last performer and I sang "O Holy Night" as a solo. The whole time, I thought about Brother Stauers and how I hoped I could present the same kind of gift that he had given me. People said they liked it, but I wished that I had had my family there to sing with me. :D

We had another very exciting addition to our companionship this week. A senior missionary couple is moving into the Spencer Branch in WV, and so the elders are moving out. Elder Ramirez, who was serving in Spencer, is now serving with Elder Gadberry and me in Vienna! He also brought with him the truck that they were using in Spencer! How wonderful! We now have transportation to do the Lord's work more effectively!

I love you all so much. I know that Jesus was "born to give us second birth". Through HIm, we can receive joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come. I will talk to you on Christmas. By the way, the time has been changed to 11:00 AM. I will see you then! I love you dearly and miss you truly. Merry Christmas!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Dearest family,

Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Something, something, something, children call the greatest time of year. If I could insert some little musical notes, I would, but I can't. As Christmas gets nearer, all sorts of emotions are increasing. I feel so glad to be a missionary. There is so much joy that all people feel during this season. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the source of all this joy, and it's what I get to talk, sing, and think about all day! I also start thinking about all of our Christmas traditions. This makes me happy and a little homesick, but mostly just happy. I got to watch Mr. Kreuguer's Christmas the other day, and it made so happy. I think it mostly reminds me of the fun, happy, musical atmosphere of our home. I've been so happy to have the advent calendar to remind me of you all every night. I am so glad to hear about all of your many Christmas joys including snow, snow, SNOW! We've had many cool experiences this last week to be joyful about.

Elder Gadberry and I were out knocking doors the other night when we ran accross a gem of a home. The home is completely decked out in Christmas lights. What's greatest about it is that every night, from 7 to 8 pm, the family puts on an automated music and lights show. Some electrical engineer must live there because the lights are completely coordinated with the music. It was the coolest thing every, just tucked away into a neighborhood. Since then, we've been able to walk past the house to go knock other doors, and each time it is so fun to see. We were so excited when we discovered it. Each night there are a few cars parked outside watching.

This last week, under the authorization of our mission president, all of the missionaries in our ward set up a free hot chocolate stand. There wasn't too much preparation that went into it, so we were caught off guard a little when we were told that we would have to get permission to set up anywhere near a business. As the son of a town employee, I should have known better. We probably also needed some vender permit, but who actually does that? :D Anyway, we went to the mall, to Walmart, to Little Ceasar's (we thought we had a pretty good relationship with them), to anywhere wwe could think of trying to set up a free hot chocolate stand where we could hand out some cocoa and cards. Well, we finally were accepted by some random shoe store to set up outside. We set up our stand, posted a big sign, sang some carols with no luck. The few people who walked into the store weren't really too interested in getting free hot chocolate. It was the wierdest thing. One lady who accepted hot chocolate insisted that we take her 3 dollars. What's the deal? Why won't people accept a little toasty token of love? Well, we packed up our stand and drove over to the house with the light show in Vienna. We passed out cocoa to all of the cars parked around the house. Then we proceeded to carol to all of the surrounding houses and pass out hot chocolate to them. It was a little bit of a role reversal having carols give hot chocolate to the warm people in their houses, but it was a lot of fun and was so spiritually uplifting. Our voices weren't quite as melodic as the Stephenson clan's, but it was great nonetheless.

This last week we had been trying to contact one of our investigators. Do you remember me talking about Samantha, who had been found under divine circumstances and who had apparently read through a quarter of the Book of Mormon? Well, we tried calling and texting her this whole week and she never responded once. We were scared. She had cancelled a lesson with us before, also. We were worried that she had decided to close herself off to the truth. Well, we decided to go over yesterday to see her. We knocked on her door, hoping for the best but ready for the worst. She inched the door open and peeked at us. After seeing who it was, she opened the door wide and smiled. We asked how she was doing, and she said she was great. We relieved to find out that her phone was broken. After chatting for a little bit, we asked how her Book of Mormon reading has been coming. Guess what? In the past two weeks, she has already read half of the Book of Mormon! We were stunned. This is a woman who has difficulty reading, and she has been able to read the same amount in 2 weeks as I was able to read in the MTC in 2 weeks. That is amazing. The Book of Mormon is so important. I know that it is true. I have studied it, been blessed by it, and have gained a divine and sure witness that it is true.

Also this week I got to go on exchange with the Elders in Parkersburg. We see each other all of the time, but it was good to be able to be in Parkersburg again. Elder Stechnij worked with Elder Gadberry in Vienna, and I worked with Elder Colligan in P-Burg. It was so great. All three of them are missionaries that I love and respect greatly.

The greatest miracle this week happened with Amy. Do you remember Amy? She is the woman that I talked about last week that we met in Dairy Queen and then saw later at Taco Bell. Well, we had an appointment to meet with her on Tuesday, but that didn't work out. We went to see her again on Wednesday, but that didn't work out either. Then we arranged for an appointment on Thrusday. Thrusday we were able to meet with her and her daughter at the Dairy Queen next to her house. The only other person there was the man behind the counter. It was a surprisingly great setting; I don't even think the music was playing. We had a great discussion. We could feel the Spirit so strongly. When I retold the First Vision account, she began to cry. She told us that just before I told the story, the Spirit had reminded her of an experience she had when she prayed as a young adult. She also told us that she had had a complete change of heart during the lesson. She had anticipated coming in there and telling us that she wasn't interested, but the Spirit had born testimony to her during the lesson. Before we had even invited her to read the Book of Mormon, she told us that she was excited to read it. It was such a wonderful and uplifting experience. I could feel the Spirit whispering in our hearts of the truthfulness of what we spoke. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees because he humbly sought the question of his soul in prayer. God answers prayers. If each of us seek out to have our own sacred grove experience, we will be blessed from on high with manifestations of God's power and moving answers to our questions.

Well, I love you all so much. Thanks for the well wishes of halfy birthday. I'll try to whoop it up. :D There is so much joy to be had this Christmas season, don't be afraid to spread it around a little bit. There is no reason to be ashamed of inviting someone to partake of the bounteous blessings that we have in the gospel. Just because they don't know how they will be blessed doesn't mean that we shouldn't invite them to learn and know what we know. There may be friends of mine who will read this email and think that it is nice for Parker to have something that he believes so much in. It is nice, but it is more than nice, too. I know with absolute surety that God lives and is our loving Heavenly Father. I know that through the sacrificial, atoning power of Christ we may be forgiven of our sins and perfected. I know that through the covenant of baptism, and its preparatory steps, we can come to receive the blessings of Christ's atonement. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon contains the words of Christ and His true gospel, and it will lead us to Christ in a way that no other book can because it leads us to a witness of the restoration of God's true church. There is so much joy to be had in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all. This Christmas, find one way to help bring yourself and another person closer to Jesus Christ. Therein lies happiness.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. A couple weeks ago, President Pitt received an update on my visa status. Church travel only included two words on my report: "not close". hahaha

P.P.S. I don't know if I will be able to call in the morning on Christmas. We have to go to a member's house in order to skype you. I don't know if any of the members in the ward will want us in their house right in the think of their festivities.

P.P.P.S. You can't send me any sound bytes this year of "Christmas in Killarney" or "Dominique the Donkey", but know that I'm singing them in my heart. :D

Monday, December 9, 2013

Back on the Stage

Hello dearest family!

Yes, we have gotten snow. It hit mostly yesterday. It was really just a baby snowfall. We don't have too many hilly roads around where we live, so it really didn't make driving to Church too dangerous. I am staying warm. I really don't need any other winter clothes. I will probably buy some gloves. It might be nice to have some boots with more traction as well. If you could put money on my card, that would be wunderbar.

I am loving being a missionary! Each week I grow in the absolute love I have for being here. While it might be nice to have some more moments just to sit down and relax, I am adjusting to working all of the time, and it feels great! I absolutely love the missionaries in my district. I love the people that Elder Gadberry and I are teaching. That's why I get so disappointed when they choose not to keep commitments. We really only keep ourselves from the blessings of heaven. We experienced a lot of teaching appointment cancellations this week, but we continue to persevere.

One of the things that took center stage this week was a skit that we performed at our ward Christmas party. It's a funny story, actually. When they were talking about the ward Christmas party in ward council, they were discussing which groups they would ask to prepare and perform skits and musical numbers. Well, I raised my hand and volunteered all eight of the missionaries in the ward to put something on. The other missionaries were a little frustrated that they had been thrown under the bus, but they were willing to do it. Once we started planning and rehearsing for it, everyone became very excited. We told the story of two missionaries who are knocking on doors one cold, wintery night when they decide to go visit a member of the ward. They visit the member, are told about some friends to go visit, teach the family's friend, and they accept the restored gospel and are baptized on Christmas. We wanted to give a good Christmas message that related to missionary work. There was plenty of fun and spiritual moments. Elder Colligan and I played the part of the missionaries. It was my big break. Our part as missionaries was interspersed with some really lame impromptu LesMis-type talk-singing. It was the most ridiculous fun thing ever. It felt good to be back on the stage, but I'm not quite sure if I gave the ward an accurate representation of several years of theatre instruction. It was a great laugh. What was most important, though, was that we rehearsed Joseph Smith's personal account of the First Vision. The Spirit could really be felt in the room. We did an encore presentation on Sunday for some members of the ward that missed it on Friday. I think they are going to put it online. When I get the URL, I'll send it to you!

Elder Gadberry and I saw many many blessings on Saturday. It was a balmy 32 degrees. We tracted for 6 hours and then had one appointment at night. I think the Lord could clearly see the dedication that we were putting into our efforts. Missionary work is interesting. I don't think that daily success is a reward from God for keeping the rules, but I think that we are more accepting of God's guiding direction when we are humbly and diligently doing His work. When we submit ourselves to Him, He can more easily guide us to those people who have been prepared to accept and live the gospel. This is what we saw on Saturday. No, not every single door we knocked was opened by someone perfectly prepared for baptism, but we definitely saw God's hand in our labors. One door we knocked on was opened by a woman who had just moved in. When we told her we were missionaries, she became excited and asked if she could have a pamphlet about our Church. She told us that she and her husband would read the pamphlet and then call us. Later, Elder Gadberry had to use the bathroom. The nearest public restroom was at Dairy Queen. For some reason, I suggested that we use a random Dairy Queen gift card I had to buy some ice cream. Why I suggested this, I have no idea. We were freezing cold. For some reason, both of us agreed to get ice cream. After he used the bathroom, Elder Gadberry and I got our ice cream. While we were sitting there eating ice cream, a woman named Amy walked in who lived next door. We talked to her about the restored gospel and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. At seven o'clock that night, we had a dinner/teaching appointment with one of our investigators at Taco Bell. We were tracting just behind Taco Bell. We were both ready to go in and warm up. Elder Gadberry had to use the bathroom again. I wanted to get warm, but we still had ten minutes before 7. I suggested that we knock on two more doors. At the second door, a woman answered in her footy pajamas. After we said the name of the Church, she said that her husband had grown up in the Church and they were considering going back. She also asked for a pamphlet and said that she would call us back. When we got to Taco Bell, lots of craziness happened. Right after we walked in, Amy, the woman we had met earlier, walked in. This was accross town from Dairy Queen. It was no coincedence that we had this second meeting. She told us that the outlook of her day had completely changed for the better after meeting us. We set up an appointment to meet with her next week. At Taco Bell, we also saw one of our other investigators who hasn't been coming to Church. We set up a time for him to be picked up for Church. We also saw a Priest from the ward. Then we had our lesson in Taco Bell. It went great. The heart of our investigator was touched. She had a fresh perspective. Elder Gadberry and I felt like our words were guided by heaven. In the bitterly cold and fruitless moments of that day, it was really hard. Looking back, there is so much to be grateful for. The Lord's hand was truly directing our actions and others'.

Is life hard? Yes. Does this mean that it shouldn't be joyful? No. There may be bitter moments, but a fullness of joy can be found in applying and appreciating the power of Christ. One quote that has been in my head for a while now is from President Hinckley. He said, "stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight". When we enjoy the sunlight, our lives will be filled with light and joy. We can obtain a greater measure of that light and joy when we make and keep sacred covenants like baptism. Keeping and preparing to make these covenants includes things like reading the scriptures, praying, and going to Church. When we do these things, we will come closer to God and all of our concerns and cares will melt away as we submit our hearts to His.

Thank you for your support, family. I love you all so much! You are always in my prayers. I don't know when I will call you during the day on Christmas, but I can't wait. I will probably be able to skype you. Don't quote me on that. We'll see if the ipads come before then. You're the best!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. We went to Texas Roudhouse this week and I thought of all of you!

P.P.S. I was making backwards footprint tracks in the snow this week and I thought of you, Sarah. Stay cool!

P.P.P.S. Elder Gadberry and my district are teaching me about football. I have a long way to go.

P.P.P.P.S. It's the holiday season. So whoop-do-do and dickory-dock and don't forget to hung up your sock. (Or something like that) :D

Monday, December 2, 2013

Uma semana de MILAGRES (A week of MIRACLES)

Oi familia!

I love you all so much. Last week you might have been a little scared getting my email. I think I might have sounded a little down in the dumps, especially when I shared that scripture about being depressed. Well, I was a little down in the dumps. I was trying my best to stay positive, and I have been clearly able to see the hand of the Lord in this week. As the Book of Mormon says, the Lord will give us mercies and success after we bear with patience those afflictions that we are called to bear. Well, the miracles have been pouring in this week.

I'll start at Monday. Or in Maria's words, I'll start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Monday was a little strange because it was my first P-day in Vienna. It just wasn't quite the same. That night we knocked on doors for a long while. It was cold, frustrating, and tiring. The Lord had great blessings in store for us because of our diligence. We were determined to work the night out despite the cold. We knocked on one door and talked to a man for about 10-15 minutes about his grandchildren who are Mormon and have served missions. That was pretty cool and I thought that that was the end of our cool experiences for the night. That's when Elder Gadberry suggested that we knock the door of the neighboring house. I thought, "why not?" We knocked on the door of a very nice looking home. An older man came to the door. Before I could rely introduce ourselves, the man said something about the cold weather and asked us to come in. I thought that he was going to just let us in long enough to explain what we wanted and then get out. Nope, not at all. We told him about our purpose as missionaries. He asked us to sit down and said that he would wake up his wife who was asleep on the couch in another room. We were shocked, but we sat. We taught him and her about the Book of Mormon and about latter-day prophets. They were very kind and attentive. They discussed the gospel with us. Then they asked us if we would like some homemade pumpkin pie. Elder Gadberry and I looked at each other dumbfounded. Surely, these were the nicest people ever to be found on the face of the earth. After having a warm conversation, we sat down to enjoy a healthy slice of the most heavenly pumpkin pie I have ever tasted. We talked to them until it was time for us to head back home. They invited us back anytime. I don't think that they were necessarily interested in changing their lives for the restored gospel, but they were definitely good Christians who had definitely been a blessings to God's servants.

That was just the beginning of the week's miracles. Tuesday we met with a former investigator who we haven't been able to get into contact with for a month. Wednesday we were inspired to talk to a woman on the street who invited us back to talk to her. We also met a woman tracting who is a member of the Church from Uruguay who understands Portuguese better than English. I got to talk to her in Portuguese. What a blessing! Thursday we had 3 different dinner appointments with members of the ward and had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Friday I got a wonderful advent calendar in the mail from a family that I love more than anything else. We also had a district meeting that touched the hearts of the missionaries there and brought us together in a feeling of unity and love. Yesterday we met with that woman we met with on Wednesday and her boyfriend. She has already begun to read the Book of Mormon, and she loves it. We have seen so great miracles! 2 Nephi 4:26 "O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?" Nephi couldn't have said it better. I have been privy to some great blessings this week. They stem from diligence and faith.

I know that Christ is my Savior and king. He has redeemed me. My Heavenly Father knows me and loves me. In Him I can find all happiness and joy. By reading the Book of Mormon, we can come unto Him and partake of the richest blessings known to man. I love you all. Merry Christmas! You are in my prayers always.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Out in Vienna they wander, hungry and helpless and cold..."

Dear family,

I love you all so much. There is nothing greater than family. Families are a support system of love and comfort. I have sharply felt the the effects of not being able to always call on my family for help. One thing I am coming to learn is that Heavenly Father takes away comfort sometimes so that we will rely more fully on Him. I thought I knew how to do this before, but Heavenly Father is proving my ignorance through experience. I also never imagined how hard a mission could be. I was told by my missionary prep teacher that a mission will probably be the most physically, psychologically, mentally, and emotionally draining experience we will ever go through. I thought that was a bit of an exaggeration. Back then I thought that I would be able to do it. That is where my ignorance was. In life, it is never us who can do it alone. We have to humble ourselves and say that only through Christ can we perform the labor that He has called us to do.

With that somewhat dreary beginning, let me tell you how my week went. :D Well, it's been great. It's been challenging, but great.

Thursday morning I moved into the Vienna house with Elder Gadberry. The new place is not an apartment, but a house. It is pretty spacious, which is why they decided to stick another set of missionaries in the same house with us. They got there a little bit later in the day. They will be taking over the Belpre, OH area from the zone leaders (my old companions). Their names are Elder Kieran and Elder Markowski. Elder Kieran has been on a mission for 21 months now, and Elder Markowski is a brand new missionary. After talking to Elder Markowski for a little bit, I found out that he went to BYU and was in Will's ward. In fact, we would see Will a couple times a week. In fact, Will was his Sunday School teacher! Isn't that great?! His name is Colby Markowski. That was pretty fun to find out.

Friday was a long day of weekly planning. After studying for a good four hours (training and language study included) we planned out our week and kind of our plan for this transfer for another three hours. It was a long time to be inside. One bright spot on the day was that we got to go visit a man named Todd. He is golden. Elder Gadberry was on exchange a couple weeks ago when he felt prompted to knock on Todd's door. They weren't able to set up a time to meet with Todd until this week, but Todd is ready to hear the gospel. He is a 34-year-old Master Mason who believes in the Bible but doesn't belong to any Church. He used to have an addiction to alcohol, but has now been a month sober. When he was talking to us, he said that he's been wanting a spiritual awakening and he feels like it's about to happen. He's already read some of the Book of Mormon and said that he's willing to believe that it's true. It was so exciting to be there. It is interesting to see how God prepares His children to receive His messengers and His gospel. Another thing that happened today was that while we were biking somewhere, Elder Gadberry's handlebars got loosened somehow so that he wasn't able to control the bike. That means that we will be walking. That's right we have no car. If we want to get anywhere, we bicycle, walk, or bum rides from members. It's not that bad, but it has made the days exciting.

I feel like we celebrated Pioneer Day on Saturday. We walked and walked and walked. There was no reaching the Salt Lake Valley, we just walked and walked and walked. We had a couple appointments set up with people during the day. The people live pretty far away for walking, so we were calling everyone in the ward to see if someone could come with us to a lesson and drive us. No one was able to come. Well, that meant we were walking. Luckily there were quick visits that we could make with less active members on the way, so the walking wasn't a complete waste of our time. For our first appointment in the day, we walked 45 blocks to a man's house. We had scheduled an appointment with him before, but he hadn't answered his phone when we called to confirm earlier. We were still pretty sure that he would be there. It took us well over an hour to walk all the way to his house. We arrived perfectly on time, and knocked on his door. After knocking, I could hear someone inside say, "they're here". The man came to the door and opened it barely wide enough to fit his head through to talk to us. That was a bad sign. Then he told us that he had some people over, so now wasn't a good time. He didn't take any pity on us standing out there in the cold. He essentially told us that we should have known it wouldn't be a good time for him because he didn't answer his phone earlier when we called. We told him to have a nice day and that we'd try to stop by next week. I was pretty frustrated. Here we had walked all of this way so that we could come to him. We had frozen our butts off and worked our calves to get to his home and bring him the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ which is the only way to feel God's fullest joy in this and the next life, and he waved us off. I was ready to sit down and fume a little bit. Elder Gadberry, thankfully, kept me sane. We didn't stop a bit. We got back on the road and started walking to another home with another family. We walked for the rest of the day. As we were walking back that night, snow started falling and I could feel blisters forming on my feet. These were the challenges and trials that the Lord had called me to endure with patience. This was the experience that He wanted me to grow from. I was determined to be cheerful and positive. Elder Gadberry and I began singing the hymn, "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd". I love the chorus because it reminds me of nights back at home when we might get a little crazy and start singing opera style. Elder Gadberry and I changed the lyrics so that it would fit our situation. "Out in Vienna they wander, hungry and helpless and cold." We thougth it was pretty funny. Usually this part of the hymn refers to Christ's lost sheep who and wandering, but I felt like that it perfectly applied to my situation as a missionary. That's when I realized that as missionaries, we have to go rescue the sheep from the situation that they are in. If they are hungry, helpless, and cold, we have to go find them where there is no path and where the environment is uncomfortable. This is what Christ did for us. He descended below all things. His Atonement is the perfect example of the Shepherd gathering His sheep from the places they wander. He experienced every sin, temptation, pain, sorrow, or sickness that we have or will ever feel. He lets us become partners with Him in His work when we help others to come unto Him and accept the gift of the Atonement. It is a wonderful opportunity that we have to serve Him, albeit difficult and uncomfortable.

Sunday is always a blessing. This Sunday was no different. There is such a Spirit when we get to partake of the sacrament. We basically do the same things on each day of the week, as missionaries, but Sunday feels especially joyous. We had our first district meeting of the transfer on Sunday as well. It went great. The district includes the Parkersburg, Belpre, and Vienna elders. Along with these missionaries, the ward has a set of sister missionaries. That means four sets in one ward alone! It's pretty amazing, and we're hoping to see some good things happen.

Well, in my studies today I got to read Alma 26. This chapter is so wonderful and tells us some great things about how to do missionary work. The verse that really hit me today was verse 27. It is kind of strange to think that the Sons of Mosiah were ever depressed in their missionary work, but they were. They had times of sadness, but they always turned to the Lord for support. When they did, they were strengthened by His voice and were commanded to bear their afflictions with patience. This is my hope and my prayer. Missionary work is super hard, but I'm trying my best to stay positive and put my whole self into loving the people here.

I love you all. I hope you know that. I had some thoughts come into my head about what I might want for Christmas, but I can't think of anything. I do need some clothes to stay warm (long johns, gloves, hat), but I'll probably get those on my own before too long because the weather is getting bitter. I would love to be home with a nice cup of spiced cider listening to some old Christmas albums, but I know that I need to be here. Be happy. Try to make those around you happy. Invite them to Church. Invite them to learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Invite them to read the Book of Mormon and come to know Christ this Christmas in a way they've never known. These things will bless them now and for eternity. It will also bless you. You're in my prayers.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. I saw a super flattened squirrel on the road and thought about Sarah's picture with a super flattened dog. Que grande! :D

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Dear family!

This week is transfers. In this mission, P-day is on a Wednesday the week of transfers. Thus, I am emailing today. This week has been packed with craziness. It was the last week of transfers, and it couldn't have flown by faster.

Wednesday night we saw a great miracle. Elder Colligan, Elder Stechnij, and I were walking around North Parkersburg. We do something called "selective knocking". This is when we walk down the street and we only knock on doors that we feel impressed to knock on. This cuts down on wasting time. It also helps us fine tune our spiritual sensitivity. We knocked on a few doors, but nothing really came of it. As we continued to walk down the street, we saw a home that was covered in Christmas decorations. It looked like a nice, cheery home with nice, cheery people inside. We obviously knocked on the door. After the first knock, we stood around for a little bit talking. We decided to knock a second time. We were about to walk away when the door was opened by a half-naked woman in a scanty nightgown, curlers in her hair, and tears streaming down her face. I was expecting her to tell us to go away. She was in hysterics. Instead, she invited us in. There were dogs jumping all around her and she was trying to pull herself together. We all came in and sat down. We soon found out that she had just gotten off the phone and had been told that her beloved niece (or cousin) would be taken off of life support. She was devastated. She was still holding the phone, and it seemed as though she had literally hung up seconds before opening the door. We were so glad to be there to support her in her time of grief. What impressed me most of all was how Heavenly Father had orchestrated this moment. He is an expert in arranging perfect times and perfect places. As the Lord's official representatives, we were able to bring the comfort of the Spirit immediately into her heart at a time of extreme need. We were able to listen to her. We were able to share our testimonies and the testimonies of Book of Mormon prophets. In this moment, I felt nothing but extreme love and concern for this daughter of God. I wanted to impress upon her mind, more than anything, that we were here to show God's love. I told her that we were not there to take advantage of her situation, force a Book of Mormon upon her, and baptize her that very night. For some reason, people have this conception of us as missionaries. What I wanted to share with her more than anything at that moment was the peace that the Book of Mormon has brought into my life. Heavenly Father also knew that the Book of Mormon was the thing that would bring her the most comfort and peace to calm her troubled heart. That is why He sent His servants. I am so grateful for the Spirit. I am so grateful for the guidance he can give us. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father trusts me enough to direct me to someone who is in real need. It was an amazing experience.

Thursday and Friday were both dedicated to Zone Meeting. Thursday I helped Elder Colligan and Elder Stechnij get everything in order for the meeting. We were planning to have a jeopardy game about Zion with a White Christmas theme. Thus, I was in charge of putting together questions about Zion and cutting out snowflakes. The other Elders kept asking me how I knew to make snowflakes so well. Thank you, Mom, for this important and very underappreciated skill. It came in very handy. Another skill that came in handy was being able to play the recorder. I don't think that I ever told you, but I found a cheap plastic recorder in my apartment. I have been playing it a few times a week and it makes me think of Sarah every time. Well, for Zone Meeting, I was in charge with making and reading the questions about hymns of Zion. Since the clues were pretty hard, I decided to also play the tune of each hymn on the recorder as an extra hint. I'm not sure if it actually helped. I haven't quite figured out how to play sharps and flats perfectly on the recorder. Everyone loved it though. The room was decked out in snowflakes and everyone got a chuckle when I pulled out the recorder. One of the blessings of being with the Zone Leaders is that I've gotten to know all of the missionaries in our zone. It has been very fun to get to know so many other missionaries. President and Sister Pitt also came to our zone meeting so that President Pitt could conduct interviews. He gave me some updates on visa stuff. First, the Church is having a very hard time getting visas because other countries are scared we are taking over the world with all of the missionaries we are sending out. Second, the Church will no longer be transferring visa waiters immediately to their foreign missions when they get their visas. If my visa comes in the middle of this transfer, I will wait until the end of the transfer to go to Brazil, which means that I will definitely be here for Christmas! President Pitt also said that I will now be serving with Elder Gadberry (another visa waiter who came out with me) in the Vienna area in the Parkersburg Ward. It is kind of crazy, but we'll be co-training each other. I am very happy to be in the Parkersburg Ward still, and I will still be able to see Elder Colligan and Elder Stechnij. I can absolutely say that I love President Pitt. He is such a loving a wonderful man. After talking to him, I felt such love and excitement to do the work.

Saturday was Elder Stechnij's 21st birthday! Thank you so much for the crepe recipe, it was great. My crepes didn't turn out very well, but they tasted good. I haven't quite gotten down the form for spreading the batter around on the pan. After crepes and studying, we went to go help set up a football banquet being held at the Church. One of the stake counselors is in our ward and is the head of the boosters for his son's football team. We were more than happy to do it because his family does so much to support us in our missionary efforts. It was also a great opportunity to expose others to the Church. What I have realized since being in WV is that I know nothing about football. That is all that my companions talk about, all that anyone else talks about, and I am clueless. I know that it's going to be even worse when I get down to Brazil because futebol is really the ONLY thing that people will talk about. Oh well, I'm learning. That night we had a mini party for Elder Stechnij. I made a cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. I didn't even use a recipe! Luckily sugar tastes good no matter what you do to it. :D

The past few days have been a blur. Everything went by so fast I can hardly remember it all. One thing has added to the craze of it all. I got a call from President Pitt asking me to serve as the new district leader of the Vienna district. I don't know what to make of it. I am happy to serve, albeit bewildered. I really do hope that the Lord qualifies those He calls! I look forward to the new transfer. I love you all so much. I think about you and pray for you. Christian, I loved your fun newspaper photo. you are awesome. Mom, Dad, Will, and Sarah are awesome, too. You're all awesome and I am so glad that we are an eternal family.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. I don't know what I want for Christmas. Yes I do. Invite at least one friend to Church. Love you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A week of learning

Oi familia! Tudo bem?

I sure hope that tudo is bem. All is well. I know that the scriptures warn the Saints not to get complacent and say that all is well in Zion, but "Come, Come Ye Saints" would say otherwise. There is definitely a different connotation in the hymn and the scripture. In the scripture, it talks about people becoming stagnant before God and regressing instead of progressing. The hymn is quite different as it talks about a group of people who were anything but complacent: the Mormon pioneers. They fought through so much, they gave up so much, they gained so much in coming to know God. They found solace in the words "all is well". All is well when we look towards Christ and rely on him in our affliction. He is the embodiment of the knowledge that all will be well. His gospel of reprentance and forgiveness brings us peace for today and hope for tomorrow. This idea has been on my mind for a while now. We always listen to hymns in the car, and this hymn has come up often. Please go back and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this hymn. The tenors have a great harmony at the end when they "their rest obtain". I tried to explain this to my companions, but they don't understand. Luckily, they do appreciate good music even if they can't articulate why it's so good. :D Well, that was a long introduction, but let's get down to the nitty gritty.

Monday: We tried to take P-day easy. That was the plan at least. After getting all of our preparation stuff done, we were just going to take an hour long nap before a dinner appointment when they called us and let us know that we would actually being eating an hour earlier. Well, we didn't get the long nap, but we did get fed. I was especially grateful for the pumpkin pie. Afterwards, we went with one of the members of the family (Brother Warren Walker who is a great member missionary and dresses up like a cowboy all the time) to go visit his friend. We met with his friend and taught him about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The friend was really in to hunting, and I had a really great metaphor come in to my mind that could help him understand the Book of Mormon better. This happens often. I don't even know what I'm saying and then something profound comes out of my mouth. Well, I compared the Book of Mormon to a lens on a scope. The Bible is the other lens of the scope. The lenses work together to focus our lives on Jesus Christ. I'm not sure if the metaphor impacted him too much, but we are going to meet with him again, which is always good. When we got to the apartment that night, we had several phone calls and a prayer that led us to decide that I would go on an exchange to Marietta for a few days by myself while the district leader there went to go help another area. Let's just say that I was a little anxious, especially because Elder Steed, who I would be with, is just as new as I am and I was going to be appointed as temporary senior companion. Yikes!

Tuesday: I was dropped off with the Vienna elders in our district while Elders Colligan and Stechnij went down to a Missionry Leadership Council meeting in Charleston. I went with the Vienna elders to help a family in our ward move some furniture out of their house. There were several pieces of furniture including a piano. However, the piano wasn't even the heaviest piece of furniture. We also had to be very tedious and slow since all of the furniture was bulky, Amish-made furniture that could easily ding walls or be dinged. We also got to go see their new house in Williamstown. It is a hundred-year-old house that house some beautiful architecture. However, the inside was a nightmare. Wallpaper. Wallpaper everywhere. Hideous, gawdy, flowery patterns covering every wall and ceiling. It was incredible. Each room had a horrendous design that contrasted with the room next to it. What was even better was that each wallpaper was textured. I was a little freaked out when I reached out and felt felt. Ahhh, it was so funny. They are doing some major remodeling and will likely not be done for five months. After helping them move, I was picked up by the Marietta elders. We drove up and did some more service for some ward members there. Then we dropped off Elder Greenwood with the Williamstown elders. This is when the reality of my situation fell on me. I was in charge of an entire area of missionary work. I was in the driver's seat...literally. I got to drive again! It felt nice to drive a car. That night we went to go visit some people. Two of the people we stopped by lived on the same street. After setting up a return appointment with one of them, we had nothing else planned for the night. We still had an hour before we needed to be back to our apartment. We said a prayer to figure out what we should. I felt like we should go down a nearby street and knock some doors. Elder Steed felt like we should go visit a woman they had met before who lived down the same street. If we tracted, we would walk down the street. If we visited the woman, we would get her address from the car and drive to her home. We both felt very strongly about what we should do. We decided to make a compromise. We would knock a few doors on the street and then keep on walking until we walked by her house. We knocked a few doors. We walked, and walked, and walked. We never passed the house that Elder Steed thought he would recognize. Well, we got to what looked like the end of the street and were about to turn and walk back when Elder Steed thought we should knock on just one more door before returning. I agreed. At the end of the street there was a house with a very cool jack-o-lantern that we decided to go to. The door was answered. I was expecting to see someone slightly ghetto in this slightly ghetto neiborhood. I was very surprised when the door was answered by a young man wearing clean clothes, a full set of teeth, and no slurred speech. He was super nice. Elder Steed was just so excited that someone answered the door; he started talking really fast. In about thirty seconds Elder Steed had invited the man (Jason) to learn more, had given him a pass-along card, and had given him a Restoration pamphlet. I topped the collection off with a good ol' Book of Mormon. We're going to go back and see him tomorrow same bat time same bat place.

Wednesday: This might have been the longest day of my entire life. In the morning, I decided that I wanted to have a special fast for our exchange. Elder Steed decided to join me. We spent the day contacting people, walking up and down streets tracting, and trying to ward off the hunger pains in our stomachs. We didn't see any success the entire day. This was frustrating, but I learned a great lesson. The elders in the area hadn't really been using the members. The investigators they had were all pretty flaky. It seemed like the only interaction the members in the ward had was to deliver meals. This is not effective. A ward is full of members who have several friends and acquaintances that have been specifically prepared to receive the gospel through them. I am only one person. It is impossible for me to have an effect on anyone in an area that can equal the impact of a member friend. Members have already established relationships with others in which their friends have already been exposed to the influence of the Spirit several times. This is so critical. Each person that we know has been prepared by God to know us. Each person. Why does it matter who we invite when everyone around us is being guided by God in small and simple ways to the everlasting truth found in Christ's restored Church? Anyway, dinner eventually came. Then we got to meet with Jason. I guess I had assumed that Elder Steed would be able to teach a simple lesson about the Restoration. I hadn't realized that Elder Steed and Elder Greenwood had really not been able to teach anyone in their area during the transfer. This was Elder Steed's first real teaching opportunity, and we hadn't planned much at all. We got in the lesson, and what we said was all over the place. We were not teaching in unison. We were not sticking to the basic principles. Oh, it was terrible! When the end of the lesson came around, we didn't even finish with prayer because we were disrupted by Jason's girlfriend coming home. When we got out of their apartment, I was ready to bang my head against a wall. Elder Steed was jumping for joy and trying to fist bump me. He had just taught his first lesson! He was on an emotionally charged missionary high. That's when I had to turn my attitude around and change my perspective. It was great. The message of the Restoration is always great. Yes, there was room for improvement, but we had been able to tell one more beloved child of God the truth of Christ's restored gospel. And it was successful because Jason was still interested and wanted to learn more. Luckily, this gospel is also a gospel of second chances. :D

Thursday: We finished up our exchange today with little to no success. Oh well. I'm just glad that we worked hard and did what the Lord expecte dof us. At night, I was picked up by Elder Colligan and Elder Stechnij. It was so good to see them again and return to Parkersburg.

Friday: We had mission conference today. Our conference was graced by none other than Elder Joseph W Sitati of Kenya. It was a spirutally filling meeting. We discussed for 5 hours the meaning of our purpose as missionaries and how we can improve. After all of the spiritual instruction, I felt like I had been fasting all day. I was about to burst with the Spirit! If I typed out everything I learned, this email would be three times longer.

Saturday: We had the adult session of our stake conference this night. We were told that we are expected to go to this meeting now. It was so great! It sounds like all future adult stake conference sessions will focus on hastening the work of salvation. One thing that was most instructive about the meeting was when President Poe (stake president) said that we succeed in missionary work when we invite. That is so true. If we do our part, we cannot be disappointed. OUr duty is simply to invite our friends to hear the message of the restored gospel.

Sunday: Today was stake conference. Another filling day of spiritual enlightenement. Tongiht we watched 17 Miracles. I obviously cried as I saw the example of all those faithful pioneers.

Monday: We played football with a young man in our ward and some of his football friends. I felt pretty silly and useless. Luckily you don't have to have much skill to block people. I even caught the ball once. It was great.

I love you all so much. Know that. I love you more than the world.

Love, Elder Ayer

P.S. Amanda Smith, I hope you are okay in the Phillipines!

P.P.S. I taught my companions the difference between melody and harmony.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Friends, Mormons, countrymen,

Lend me your ear. This is an auspicious day. This is a heralded day. This is a day of pomp. Christian *Ayer, the son, rises* from a state of childhood to a state of manhood. For on this day of joy and gladness, he begins his seventeenth year, which is to say that upon this noble day he has attained to the amount of sixteen years. Yea, verily, yea. Let the earth break forth into song. Let the women cheer. On this day he presents himself as an available single, which is to say that he will allow himself to honor young ladies of untarnished reputation to partake in dating events with him. HAPPY SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY CHRISTIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, that took me ten minutes to write. I hope that fulfills all of your wildest birthday wishes. I have been thinking about you a lot. I love you and I hope that you enjoy your sweet 16.

I also love all the rest of you. There is not a day that goes by that i don't thank Heavenly Father for my loved ones. Just the other day, Elder Colligan was playing some sacred music before we went to bed. He said something about being so grateful for the music of the Church and how it helps him so much to connect to the Spirit. I immediately thought of our family. I imagined us gathering around the piano, Sarah at the keys. I thought of us singing our all time favorite hymns and then venturing out into strange waters with some unknown hymns. I imagined not being able to hear the melody because we love the harmony parts so much. I imagined us singing opera style when the hymn got a little intense and very zealous. I remembered these inspiring, instructional moments. Thank you for the love of the gospel that was developed in our home. Thank you for the Spirit that we felt through music. Thank you for these experiences that have developed a love of family, but also a love of God. I do not think that we could ever be as close as we are if we hadn't pursued a closeness with Heavenly Father. Through the power of Jesus Christ, we bind our hearts together as we rely upon each other for strength in overcoming challenges and pursuing righteousness. I have seen many kinds of families on my mission. Usually, we don't get to visit the families that make me feel warm and fuzzy. It always makes me feel great when I do get to visit these families, but that is not what I have been called to do. I have been called to go among families that are in disrepair and need the repairing power of the Savior. It is heartbreaking to see homes where children are considered a nuisance. It is heartbreaking to see homes where the Church is present, but the gospel is not. It is heartbreaking to see homes where there is no care for self, situation, or sanctity. It is heartbreaking, but we follow the example of the Savior. He came not to go among the righteous, but to go among sinners. It is such a blessing when we get to cheer up troubled children and bring the Spirit into hollow homes.

I do not have enough time to retrace each day, but know that I love you. Know that I think about you. Know that I wonder what my parents would do in the situations I am in. I often think how my mother would react in the midst of challenging days and disheartening times. Would she give up? Would she put in the towel? No, she would pick herself up, see her duty and do it. She would finish a job despite weary hands, and she would make it a masterpiece. I often think of my father's continuing conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I use this great heritage of conversion to help guide others and myself in learning and living the principles of the gospel. I am everlastingly grateful for my parents. Thank you. I love you all. Continue to improve and come unto Christ. Help others improve and come unto Christ. When we surrender ourselves to God's work, we are given guidance to do His work in His way.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. Biscuits and gravy are big here. I have had them multiple times from breakfast and dinner. For example, someone in the ward dropped off dinner for us last night. Between the three of us, we ate 15 biscuits and a bucket of gravy. Yum!

P.P.S. rabbit rabbit

P.P.P.S. A guy named Will Long, from the ward here, just got called to the Santa Rosa California Mission speaking Spanish. I'm going to show him a picture of Elder Stephenson.

P.P.P.P.S. I heard the Red Sox won the World Series. Hurrah for Israel! :D

Monday, October 28, 2013


Dear family,

First of all, thank you for the packaged love that you sent the other day. I love you! I don't just love you because you sent me a package, but it certainly was a great reminder of all the reasons why I love you. I loved getting the notes and the old pictures. I also love the coat. it is perfect! It is coming in very handy with these cold days. So far, I've just been wearing the liner. I'm sure i'll add the other layer in a few more weeks. And yes, I am planning on being here for a few more weeks. If you're praying that I get my visa, please stop. I love it here! Please pray that everything will happen according to the established timeline of the Lord. (I'm hoping that timeline allows me to taste some Thanksgiving pie before I head south.)

This week has been kind of a roller coaster between having our area doubled in size and going on exchanges. Remember, Elder Stechnij and Elder Colligan are zone leaders, so I get to experience all of the fun things (and tedious things) of that assignment. Our area originally included South Parkersburg and Belpre, OH. On Monday we found out that the sister missionaries in North Parkersburg would be transferred to Charleston until the end of November for health reasons. That means that we were assigned to take over the northern part of the ward as well. That's a lot of ground to cover!

On Tuesday, we went to go visit one of the investigators that the North Parkersburg sisters were teaching previously. It seems that he has been trying to avoid us. I really don't know why. He was planning on getting baptized, but seems afraid of talking to us for some reason. Anyway, we knocked on his door and no one answered. As we were going back to our car, we stopped and talked to his neighbor. She is an older woman who has been going to the Baptist church all of her life. We talked to her for a while about our church and her beliefs. We asked if we could come back and share a message about Jesus Christ. She refused and said that she didn't think that we could teach her anything else about Jesus that she hasn't already heard from her preachers. We ended our conversation with her, got in our car, and drove off. As I was sitting there thinking about the experience, I got really frustrated with myself. I let her tell me that I had nothing else to bless her with. This was totally false. Over the next several days, I thought of all of the wonderful things that we know about the Savior in our Church. We have the Book of Mormon. That alone is marvelous. The Book of Mormon is not offensive, antagonistic, or harmful to anyone's faith. It upholds, exalts, and enriches the Bible. It speaks in harmony with the Bible's teachings. it speaks in correspondence with the Bible to support the testimony of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer. It further develops the understanding that we have of the love of God. He loves all people everywhere. He seeks to lead all people to the pure and only source of joy in this life, Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon helps us to understand the plan for our salvation made possible through Jesus Christ. He is the only way or means whereby salvation cometh. The Book of Mormon is powerful as it invites the Spirit into our hearts. Any person who can call himself a Christian should be overjoyed and desirous to read the Book of Mormon so that they can add to their testimony of the Savior and their faith in His power.

Later on Tuesday, Elder Colligan and I traveled to Marietta, OH to exchange with the elders there. It was a long evening. They haven't been able to find any people who want to listen to their message, but it is probably because they haven't been doing it very effectively. We spent the evening calling and contacting people who had been interested in talking to the missionaries. It was tedious, but we did teach one woman who has clearly been prepared to receive the gospel message. She was asking questions about life and Christ that are clearly answered by the Book of Mormon and modern revelation. One interesting thing that she said is that some different churches frown on people having an experience where they feel the presence of God. They also tell people that some questions cannot be answered. We teach the exact opposite. We tell all people to seek out a spiritual experience through prayer so that they can receive answers to their questions. Prayer is a communication tool to be used between God and man. We declare that every man and woman has the divine right, as a child of Almighty God, to receive a spiritual witness of the truth as a guide in this life. We invite all people to ponder about our message and then to ask Heavenly Father in faith, in the name of Jesus Christ, if what we teach is true. We do so with confidence because we know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and God has a prophet on the earth today to lead and direct His people.

Wednesday morning, we woke up in Marietta and got a call from Elder Stechnij saying that we would switch back to our normal areas earlier than planned. That meant that we had to choose one name from a list of several people who we would go visit. I suggested that we pray together and ask Heavenly Father who we should visit. After the prayer, all of us had the same name on our minds. When we looked at her information, we found that she was 20 miles away in Waterford, OH. That seemed a long way to go to try to track down one person. Still, we decided that we would follow the inspiration that we had received. We drove for quite a while through some winding (and pretty) country roads in order to get there. Once we got there, we knocked on her door. No answer. We knocked on her neighbors' doors. No answers. We knocked on her door again. No one. Nada. Zilch. Why had we been directed to this place? It was confusing and a little concerning. We loaded back into the car and drove back to Parkersburg. After talking with Elder Colligan and thinking about it for a while, I decided that God had his reasons. Was he testing us. Had we avoided a major accident on the road. Was it a tender mercy just to drive past scenic and picturesque Ohio? Was it a combination of all of these? I am not really sure. What I have determined, though, is that I know in whom I have put my trust. I know the power of prayer and receiving answers. I will not be shaken. We were all guided in our thoughts to go to Waterford. If anything, I hope that I have shown to God that I will do whatever He commands me. It may seem illogical and unreasonable, but i trust Him. I hope that He can trust me.

Thrusday, I went with Elder Stechnij to Ravenswood on exchange. What a fun experience! This was a small town in which everyone knew the missionaries. Those that actually like he missionary refer to them as "the boys". Fun trivia for you, Dad, Ravenswood has the highest number of churches per capita of any town in the US. We got to visit several kind and sincere people while we were there. We went to go visit a man recovering in a nursing home. When we walked out, we walked past an old guy who said, "Hey, you've never come to visit me before." He was not a member of the Church; He was just a kind old man who felt slightly left out that "the boys" had never stopped by to talk to him before. What a great place!

Friday, we finished the exchange with Ravenswood, but we had to go down to Winfield/Teays Valley so that Elder Stechnij could do a baptismal interview for someone down there. It was a long drive. I was in the back seat and Elder Colligan and Elder Stechnij were in the front talking to each other. I don't know why, but I was feeling kind of low. I was feeling bad for myself. I tried to read the scriptures to cheer me up, but I wasn't really paying attention to them. On the the long ride back, I tried to sleep, but I was mostly just consumed with feeling sorry for myself. That's when I started blaming others in my head and thinking that everyone else should be trying to cheer me up. Then the Spirit came into my head and chastened me. I was being the natural man. The natural man is when we feel entitled to people serving us. In contrast, Christ's character is to turn outward despite opposition. Well, I tried to be cheerful. It wasn't coming. That night, I felt impressed to pray out loud. I went into our study area and prayed out loud. I cannot describe the peace that I felt. The Spirit helped me see the ways that I could change in order to serve those around me better. I feel such gratitude for prayer. It is a real and vital source of strength and connection with God. He is real. He is there for us, ever watchful and ever mindful.

Saturday was baptism day. We went to go visit Tina early in the day because she said that she was kind of nervous on Friday. When we got there, she was happy as could be. She said that she had been listening to John Denver's "Sunshine on my Shoulder" when the sunlight had come through her window and she knew that she had to be baptized. She is so sincere and sweet. She was baptized that night by Elder Colligan. On Sunday, Elder Stechnij confirmed her. It was a wonderful experience, and she was clearly delighted. She was also very happy because the Primary Presentation was on Sunday. She loved listening to the children sing. So did I.

Life is great. Life is beautiful. My life is a gift, my life has a plan. My life has a purpose, in heaven it began. THere is so much joy in the gospel. I feel that joy every day, and I hope that you do, too. I love you!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, October 21, 2013

One Week in the Mission Field

Querido familia,

I love you all so much! Lots of events that I missed. Happy Columbus Day and 25 October Lane Day! There are so many wonderful things that come from being in the mission field. There are so many wonderful reminders of what is most important in life. I think about you all often, and I pray for you. I will also join with Sarah in saying that all I want are some handwritten messages. Right now, it is starting to get really cold. I wear my long sleeve shirts and sweater almost every day. We've had to scrape ice off of our windshields the past couple mornings. Still, I think that I would rather get a note before you send me a coat. :D Thank you so much for your encouraging emails and for all of the love and concern that I can feel from your prayers. I feel so much strength every day, and I'm sure it comes mostly from the prayers of those who love me. I have had lots of other reminders throughout the week that have helped me be strengthened. Heavenly Father has been so kind to me to bless me with tender mercies that comfort me and lift me up.

Sorry about last Monday. I really meant to say more, but I had to finish up and send my email before the computer booted me off. After emailing last week, we played some basketball with other elders in our zone. Now, I usually don't look forward to playing basketball that much. I'm really not that good. Also, the only time that I ever played basketball was in 6th grade and the only basket I ever made was for the other team. I would like to report, however, that I have redeemed my reputation. i am proud to say that I enjoyed basketball very much, I was contributing to my team, and I made a basket (for my team)! This is sounding more and more pathetic as I write it. However, it is the small and simple things that really make the mission field so wonderful.

On Tuesday, we got to meet with a great couple. The wife is a member, but the husband is not. He has been talking to the missionaries and reading the Book of Mormon because he wants to better understand what his wife believes and to make their relationship stronger. When we got there, we discussed what he had been reading in the Book of Mormon. It was so great to be able to talk about and bear testimony of this special book. There is such power in the Book of Mormon. There is such strength that can be obtained from reading its pages. However, when we asked Beth (the wife) to share testimony about the Book of Mormon, she didn't really say much. She said that she has grown up with it and that she likes it. It was a little frustrating because she didn't really bear testimony about it. I don't know if she doesn't really have a testimony, or she is just worried about saying her true feelings to her husband. In any case, liking the Book of Mormon is not good enough. After all, I really like the Harry Potter series. Does that mean that I'm going to go out looking for Hogwarts and basilisks to slay? No. The Book of Mormon will not become a catalyst for change until we understand and know that it is true. It is a sacred record that speaks of prophetic warnings and divine visitations. Either it is what it claims to be, the very word of God, or it is the work of the devil. I know for certain that it is the word of God. It has been prepared since the beginning of time to come forth and save the people of our time. The people in the Book of Mormon were visited by the Savior. They were privileged to feel the engraven prints of the nails in the Savior's hands and feet. We have the privilege today to read the testimony of the Savior, translated from words engraven on plates of metal. We will come to know Him, and we will have a mighty change of heart as we read the Book of Mormon and gain a divine witness of it. We must study it every day. Later Tuesday night, we taught Tina Palmer. I don't remember whether I mentioned this, but we taught her about the Word of Wisdom last weekend. On Tuesday, we went to see her, and the first thing she said was, "I drank tea. I drank tea all day." It was so funny. I couldn't help but laugh a little bit. You're probably wondering why it was so funny, but that's because you don't know Tina. She is very simple. When she told us, it was almost like she was giddily nervous to tell us that she had had tea. She is so sweet. After discussing why she drank tea, she recommitted not to drink tea. Since then, she has been doing great, and she will be baptized this Saturday.

On Wednesday, I prayed that our companionship could be more unified. It has been a little hard to come into a companionship to become a tri-panionship. Elder Colligan and Elder Stechnij are great, but they spent the last transfer together and had already become best friends. I'm just trying to find where I can be of the best service. In Preach My Gospel, it says that missionaries should always ask themselves if they are being a blessing or a burden to their bishop. I've been applying this same principle to our companionship. I feel like I've really been strengthening and blessing the other elders, but I really just wanted to strengthen our friendship more. My prayer is definitely being answered. In so many ways, I can see us coming closer together in how we work and interact with each other. For example, Wednesday morning we had a somewhat silly but fun activity together where we discussed who our apostles would be if we were called as president of the Church. It was totally meaningless, but it did bring us closer together. Later, that day, we had a great experience teaching a woman who requested to see us on She had a rough childhood and never believed in God, but after a year of trials, she was searching out a church because she thinks that God will bring peace into her life. I was so amazed by her faith. Here is a woman who does not know that God exists, knows her, or loves her, but she is seeking Him out. During the lesson, she told us that she was feeling more peace than she has in a long time. It was such a great experience.

Thursday was awesome, marking one week in the mission field. An entire week! I have loved being here so much. Also, I got to go over to Brother Cordell's house for dinner. If you remember from last week, Brother Cordell is the man who approached me after sacrament meeting to tell me that he knew Grandma Ayer. Well, we got to go over to his house, and I was able to ask him some more questions. He was apparently going to school at UNH from '72 to '74 on army assignment. He described Grandma Ayer as being one of the happiest people that he knew. He didn't pay much attention to the two children that she brought to church with her, but he did say that the boy (that's you, Daddy John Bob) was very quiet. That made me laugh. One of the things that I think is interesting is that Brother Cordell mostly remembers Grandma 40 years later because of one act of kindness that she did. He called the house to ask if Grandma could pick up his wife and children and bring them to church. Grandma did it without complaining. Only later did Brother Cordell find out that she was already planning on picking up someone else very far away and that this act of kindness had been at great expense to Grandma. Grandma was so willing to serve and to love. I have been amazed as I have continued to think about this experience. Did Grandma know 40 years ago that this one act of service would become a tender mercy for her grandson in the mission field? Was it accident that Brother Cordell went to UNH, moved to West Virginia, and I was then temporarily reassigned to his exact ward in West Virginia? Do you think that it is coincidence that Brother Cordell had been less active for several years and only started coming back to church in May? Do you think it coincidence that we lived in NH, and Brother Cordell was thus able to make the connection between me and Grandma Ayer? I do not think so. There are so many factors and so many variables. I have been amazed on my mission to see how much the Lord has blessed me. He has prepared a way for us to feel His love. He has provided means whereby we realize his reality and bless others in the process. Of this I am certain. Of this I can powerfully testify. God is working a marvelous work and a wonder.

Friday was another great day.

Saturday there was a baptism for a girl named Kristen. The other elders had been teaching her for a while. I will try to include pictures.

Sunday was another wonderful day.

Know that I love you. Know that God loves you. I feel like I include this same simple testimony each time, but I have felt this more now than at any other time in my life. He lives. He loves. He guides. Let Him be your guide. Let Him be your Father. Accept the love offered to you through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Here is a message that Sarah sent to Parker after she received his letter.

GOD LOVES ME!!!!!! He gave me this tender mercy today, so I thought I´d pass it on. I love you, Parker! You inspire me to be a better missionary! Can you believe we´re missionaries??? The two of us!!! At the same time! We always talked about it when we were younger, and now it´s real!!!!!!!

TE AMO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :]

Hermana Ayer

Monday, October 14, 2013

A week of blessings: receiving and giving

Hey ya'll!

I have been loving my time here in West Virginia. I hope that I can quickly bundle up all of the awesome experiences that I have been having here as a missionary!

Tuesday: I know I got to call you from the airport, which was great! Unfortunately, half of my talk time was apparently taken off when I called you that first time, so there was no time left for me to call you when I got to the Dallas airport. However, know that I love you!!! Flying into West Virginia was such a great feeling. The airport is on top of a hill, and it was such a weird sensation having the ground come up to meet us as we descended to it. Anyway, the leaves haven't turned color here yet, so I am so excited to get to see them change. There are so many things here that remind me about New Hampshire. I love it so much! The things that are different are very apparent. I'm loving the accent they have down here. Tuesday night we went to the mission home and had a devotional with President and Sister Pitt. We were the largest group that they've received so far: 19 elders and 11 sisters. The elders stayed the night at their home, and the sisters stayed at a hotel.

Wednesday: All of Wednesday was spent in training at the stake center nearest us. It was somewhat of a long day, especially because I feel like I just done with 6 weeks of 24/7 training and I was ready to get to the field. One of the really great things that we talked about is our "White Christmas". It goes right along with Elder Ballard's talk from conference. Elder Ballard asked that each and every member (not family, member) of the Church work on helping one person come closer to Christ by talking to the missionaries before Christmas. I would ask that each one of you do that. Missionary work is so vital. How can the people of the earth be blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ if they aren't introduced to it? Our responsibility is to help others come unto the throne of grace so that they can decide for themselves whether or not they will work to qualify for that grace. Please follow the direction of an apostle of the Lord and focus on one person that you can help during the next few months come closer to Christ. There are great blessings in store. After training, we spent the night at the Pitt's home again.

Thursday: Blessed transfer day! We went to the stake center again to finally find out where and with whom we would be serving. Before this, I had been trying to guess where I would be serving. In the MTC, I had been able to look at a map of the mission. I was immediately drawn to the city of Parkersburg (for obvious reasons). I kind of gave up on the chance that I would be sent there. However, when trainers and areas were announced, I found out that I was going to the Parkersburg South area!!! I couldn't believe it. It is so awesome. I am being trained by the two zone leaders for the Parkersburg Zone. That's right, we're in a tri-panionship, but it's been great. My companions' names are Elder Colligan (from Sandy, UT) and Elder Stechnij (from Gilbert, AZ). They are awesome! Both of them having been serving for less than a year, making them some of the youngest Zone Leaders in the mission. I have been so blessed to be with such great leaders and good examples. It does get difficult once in a while because they have a lot of things that they have to do as zone leaders that makes me feel like we're not doing anything. Also, we don't actually start doing missionary work until noon because I have language study and new missionary training as well as all the other study that we do in the morning. Anyway, Parkersburg is a great place. It's probably one of the wealthiest parts of West Virginia. There are three sets of missionaries in our ward boundaries. There are some other really cool things about this area. Before coming here, I had only ever met one person that was from West Virginia. Her name is Rachel Newell, and I was her home teacher at BYU. Well, Thrusday night we went over to a family's house in the ward, the Walkers. At the dinner table, they were talking about the ward, and I heard them mention the name Newell. It's the same Newell family! They moved to Texas a couple months ago, but everyone in the ward (and stake) knows the family. Brother Newell was the stake president here before they moved. Well, it felt great to be in a family's home again. After that, we were called by the sister missionaries in the ward and asked to give a priesthood blessing to one of the ward members from their area. When we got there, I was asked to give that blessing. I felt so blessed to be the means whereby God could bless his children. As I spoke, I could tell that the Spirit was guiding me in what I was saying. At the end of the blessing, Sister Fletcher (who was receiving the blessing) thanked me and said that she could feel the Spirit very strongly at the end of the blessing give her the comfort and peace that she needed. It felt so wonderful to serve in that way.

Friday: The beginning of Friday was somewhat slow. We had studying all morning and the Elders Colligan and Stechnij had to call all of the districts in the zone and discuss what each districts goals are for this week. I was a little disheartened just because I was ready to go out and start knocking on doors. Eventually, we went out for lunch at 2 o'clock to Bob Evans where we got biscuits and gravy and all-you-can-eat hotcakes. Wow, that was a lot of food. I was stuffed. After that, I was so relieved when we finally got to go out doing some tracting. It felt good to knock on doors and walk around. We didn't see any results from our labors, but I do want to be able to show Heavenly Father that I am trying and working and am anxiously engaged in doing his marvelous work. On Friday, we also got to teach Tina, an investigator who has a baptismal date set for the 26th. She lives in an apartment right next to the church building. She is hard to describe. She is somewhat of a slow learner, but she is so sweet and sincere in her desires to understand the gospel and everything that we have to teach. She also says some of the funniest things. That night, we had a miraculous experience. Without planning to, we decided to go visit a sister from the ward, Sister Allen, to see how she was doing. She met us on her front porch and I think she only wanted to talk to us outside, but then I saw a family history fan chart hanging up in her house. When I asked her about it, she answered me and then decided to let us in to talk. Once we were inside, Elder Colligan went immediately to play the piano. After sitting and talking for a little bit, Elder Colligan volunteered me to play something on the piano for them. I went to the piano, assuring them that I really couldn't play that well, and decided to play one of the only things that I know how to play, "Be Still My Soul" from the hymnbook. After playing this powerful and poignant hymn, Sister Allen opened up to us. She said that that was exactly what she needed to hear. She told us about how she had been having some very confusing thoughts recently, and she couldn't tell if they were from God as a warning or from some other source. I then told her about a similar experience that I had had in which I asked Dad to give me a blessing to help me feel better. I then asked her if she would like us to give her a blessing. After thinking it over, she accepted the offer and asked if I would give her that blessing. I did, and I could feel that similar and wonderful power again as the Spirit directed my words according to our faith. After the blessing, she told me that she had received some understanding from the Spirit during that time. As I thought about the experience more, I was amazed. A seemingly simple chain of events unfolded that evening that led us in the right to direction to allow God to be able to comfort His child. As I have been here, I keep looking for those ways that God has prepared me to serve here. It has been wonderful.

Saturday: This day was a lot more eventful than the past days. We got to go teach several lessons. At the end of the day, I was once again asked to give a priesthood blessing to one or the sister missionaries. This whole series of experiences has baffled me. There are things that Heavenly Father is trying to show us if we will but look.

Sunday: Sunday was so great. In our ward here, this Sunday was fast Sunday. I bore my testimony and told everyone in the congregation that I was from New Hampshire. Afterwards, a brother Bob Codrell came up to me and asked if I was related to Alice Ayer from Durham. I couldn't have been more surprised. Apparently, Brother Codrell worked at UNH in the 70's and went to the Portsmouth Ward. At first I wondered why he didn't ask about Grandpa. That's when I realized that he probably never knew Grandpa because Grandpa wasn't baptized yet. I don't think you were baptized yet either, Dad. Could you please send me a full account of that whole experience with dates and such? That would be great to know. Well, there's a lot to say, but the computer's counting down the second now. I love you!!!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

p.s. we have a ping pong table

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hut one, Hut two, I've got a Charleston Chew (just in case you didn't understand my subject reference last time)

Howdy family!

There have been a lot of crazy things going on in the last few days. I'm allowed to email you today because today is kind of like a P-day for me for packing reasons. I want to tell you all that has happened in the last few days because I know that I'll forget about it by the time I get to the field.

First, I would like to talk about General Conference. Wasn't it great? One of my favorite talks was by Elder Bednar. I know he was really focusing on tithing, but I got so much else out of it! The biggest thing is that God does not always bless us by handing over solutions to our problems. When we are faithful and diligent, Heavenly Father blesses us with increased ability to do His will. He blesses us with more determination to read the scriptures, serve others, and seek for the things that he commanded us to do. This helps us to grow. God provides a way for us to become agents unto ourselves by empowering us. He directs us, sustains us, and rewards us. If we are faithful and diligent, we can accomplish those things that he has commanded.

One thing that I have been thinking a lot from the past week is that Lehi was commanded to depart into the wilderness. That must have been just as scary as the other option, staying in Jerusalem and being taken captive into Babylon. Lehi chose to obey either way. He and his son Nephi knew that God had inspired and commanded them to depart Jerusalem. For them, there wasn't any question about what they were supposed to do. They left all comfort and safety to follow the directions of their God. They were rewarded for their faith. They were led to a land of promise. They saw the mighty hand of God in their deliverance. They were also all made strong so that they could bear the challenges put on them in the wilderness. In the end, though, they had to work. They had to exercise their faith with toil. The Lord would bless them, but they had to trust in Him through action.

There is a lot else that I would love to say to you all. I will try to tell you everything else when I talk to you on the phone tomorrow. :D I love you all so so so so much! I've got to go.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hut one, Hut two...

Querido, amado, bondado, maldade ótimo família,

I love you, I love you, I love you!!! In the scriptures, the Lord says "wo, wo, wo" to the wicked people so that they really listen to Him. I'm using the same pattern to tell you that I really, really, really love you!!!

So, I'm going to try to make my summary of this week quick because there is a lot I want to say.

Friday was a great day as usual: laundry, temple, seeing Uncle Scott.

Saturday was very awesome. In the morning, Elder Findley and I got to have a skype session with a Brazilian girl, Stefany, from Sao Paulo. It was really cool because I was able to understand a lot of what she said, and I was able to communicate everything that I wanted to. However, the thing that I did misunderstand her on was kind of critical. She had a little girl with her during the skype session. I was pretty sure that she said the little girl, Susan, was her daughter. Then she proceeded to tell us that she was 17 years old and in high school. Well, I tried to ignore for the most part that she had a child in high school. Instead I asked her how she can be a influence for good on her friends at school. She said that she invites her friends to Church, which I thought was great. At the end of a our meeting together, I finished by saying that reading the Book of Mormon will herlp her be a good support to ther friends and to her daughter. As soon as I said it, everything was a little awkward and quiet. We finished up the meeting quickly with an strained "tchau" and then hung up. As soon as I finished, Elder Findley told me that the little girl wasn't her daughter, but her sister. I felt so embarrassed, but I just laughed it off. It was pretty funny. I also finished reading through the Book of Mormon again on Saturday. This book is such a blessed and wonderful book. It is not just literature; it is not just history. It is a sacred record of a people who looked forward to the coming of Christ, came to know Him, and saw Him in the flesh. Everything in it testifies of the glory and divinity of Jesus Christ. I know that it is true. I invite all people everywhere to set apart time in their lives. The people in this record gave their lives for the cause of Christ and the preservation of this record. Give half an hour every day to studying its pages, and you will be blessed with spiritual stamina and strength. The Holy Ghost will testify in your heart of the truth of the record.

Sunday was the best day by far of this whole week. Better than any other Sunday, which means that it was better than any other day in my mission so far. After Sunday, I can testify with even greater clarity and confidence that Heavenly Father knows us perfectly. He is preparing us to receive his tender mercies. His guiding and directing hand will lead us through the wilderness of life so that we can be brought triumphantly to stand on mountains of strength. Sunday was fast Sunday, and I was fasting to receive strength in my life. I never knew that Heavenly Father would answer my fast so privately, powerfully, and distinctly. Many of these witnesses are too personal and sublime to describe, but I will say that Heavenly Father gives us tender mercies so that we have strength to overcome our struggles. 1 Nephi 1:20 says that "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I know that this is true. Another thing that I have realized is why heavenly Father gives us weaknesses. In the Book of Mormon, the people that follow Alma are taken captive and made into slaves. Their backs are laden with heavy loads that they cannot bear. They sincerely pray daily to Heavenly Father in their hearts. They learn to rely upon God. Eventually, Heavenly Father creates a miracle to allow them to escape. In Mosiah 24:21 it says that they knew that it was only the Lord that could have delivered them. When we have trials, we come to know God if we will turn to Him. He hopes that we will humble ourselves so that we will come closer to Him in prayer, and so that He may demonstrate the glorifying and wondrous power of His grace in our lives. Later, when the people have settled in liberty, Alma Jr. asks the people if they have properly remembered the deliverance of their fathers (Alma 5:6). This is what we must always do. Once we have received grace, we must not forget it. God will test us to see if we can remember Him after He has so kindly remembered to deliver us. The maintaining and sustaining of this memory will help us live from day to day and endure to the end. One of the greatest tender mercies from Sunday was being able to see President's mission president. At Mission Conference on Sunday, President Lindahl was sustained as a counselor in one of the district presidencies. After the meeting, I went and gave him a hug. It made him so happy, and it made me so happy. Will, President Lindahl sends his love! Sunday night I also was asked to sing "My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee" for the departure devotional. It went great, and Sister Nally (wife of the MTC President) cried. I was just glad that I could sing after having a sore throat and fasting all day.

The next really cool day was Wednesday. Elder Findley went into Provo (o mundo real!) to get his knee checked out by a specialist. It's been hurting him, and hasn't been getting better. While we were there, we got to talk to a Catholic woman. She was married to an LDS man, but he died recently. I shared with her the scripture Mosiah 16:7-9 about the sting of death being swallowed up in Jesus Christ. It felt so great to be able to help someone with a problem in their life. She seemed really appreciative of the message and the kindness. It felt so good!!! The other really great part about Wednesday is that Elder Findley and I got to teach Patricia (our teacher Sister Connell acting in place of a pesquisador). Last time, we invited her to read portions from the Restoration pamphlet, including the First Vision. This time we reviewed with her what she learned from the reading. The Spirit was so strong in the room as I recited the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith about his experience. I could tell that the Spirit was testifying to her. She said that she knew the Prophet Joseph was an important man. It was amazing to see how the Spirit guided me as I responded to her. At the end of the lesson, we invited her to be baptized and she accepted. Even though I know that she is just our teacher, it felt so good. We have prayed and thought about Patricia and her needs. We have desired to help her come unto Christ. The thing is that it isn't our success. In fact, I think that success as a missionary doesn't even exist. Nothing is OUR success. Nothing we do comes about because we are good teachers or because we are good persuaders. This is His, Jesus Christ's, work. He guides and directs it. Heavenly Father gives man his will to choose, Christ saves man from death and hell, and the Spirit testifies in the hearts of the people. This work is divine. It is ennobling. It is peaceful. Baptism is not a means to rope people into our Church, but the means by which Christ gathers His children. Jesus knows that by baptizing people into His Church, he can administer grace unto them. He can strengthen them and administer the fullness of his gospel. He is the way, the truth, the light.

So, Thursday was really long and somewhat grueling. It was In-field Orientation. Basically, a 9 hour training session about how to be a better missionary. A lot of it was very instructive and helpful. I think what might have been distracting me is that I thought I was going to get my reassignment on Thursday. It was driving me crazy! The one bright spot about Saturday was having Derek (Asay, my cousin) teach one of the classes. Other than that, I was enduring to the end with a smile on my face.

Okay, so this is the paragraph that I have been building up to. Actually, the paragraph about Sunday was the most important one, but this is the one that has been on my mind for the past hour. I have received my reassignment!!! That's right, I do not have my Brazilian visa yet, so I have been reassigned to serve in a mission in the US. Drum roll, please... I have been assigned to temporarily labor in the CHARLESTON WEST VIRGINIA MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Craziness!!! I am so excited and I am looking forward to serving there. Here are my travel plans. I leave on this Tuesday. I fly from Salt Lake Airport at 6:25 AM and arrive in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport at10:05 AM. I then fly from Texas at 12:45 and arrive in Charleston at 3:55 PM. I will be able to call you from the airport. I am thinking that I will call during my layover in Dallas. I am going to call the home first. I will then call Mom's cellphone, then Dad's if I do not receive an answer. I love you all so much and I know that Heavenly Father has plans for me that I cannot understand.

I love you all so much. Be strong. AKA Be humble and rely on God so that you can be made strong. God lives. God loves. God knows. Turn to Him in prayer. Turn to Him in study. Turn to Him with full purpose of heart.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. I am so excited for you to be able to see the Holmes(es) in Boston!

P.P.S. I am so excited for General Conference this weekend! I am so excited that you get to watch it on the lake. Have fun!

P.P.P.S. I am so excited to possibly see some real Fall colors in WV! YAYAYAYAY!

P.P.P.P.S. I will probably need a jacket sent to me in WV.

P.P.P.P.P.S. I know that I'm not answering all of your questions, but I can't remember them all and my time is up. Tell Brother Varney that I love him and tell Bishop Payne that I love him. I love you all!!!