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