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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Heading Home

Well family and friends....

This is it–my last time emailing as a missionary. This past week we were able to have three baptisms and I think that we are going to be having two more baptisms during my last week as a missionary. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Elder Veresoni here in Ambo. In the short three weeks that I have been here, I have seen countless reasons why the Lord has sent me here despite the high cost of airfare and other things to get me off of Fanning Island and back to Tarawa less than a month ago. I'm so so so grateful for how the last six months of my mission have gone and I'm so grateful for the past two years. I've worked hard until the end and I'm so excited to see everyone next week.

To be honest, it doesn't feel like I'm going home.  I feel like I should be sad and I feel like the fact that I'm going home should be hitting me, but it really hasn't. I have had this little thought in the back of my head for the past week that hasn't left me, which is that this won't be the last time that I'm going to be in Kiribati.  The next time I might be back here with my family and I think that's the only thing that is keeping me from going crazy.

I love this gospel.  I love the Lord and I love you all!  See you next week!

Elder Parrish 

Photos from the airport in Tarawa and from the Farewell dinner for the Elders from the July 29, 2017 MTC Intake.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Beginning of the End

June 25, 2017

Hey family and friends,

I just wanted to hit you guys with a quick update. I am currently serving in Ambo,Tarawa with Elder Veresoni (from Fiji) who is a convert to the church of only two years. His entire family is Catholic and didn't support him coming on a mission. He is the man and it's been awesome to work with him-- he works so hard and it was just the way that I wanted to finish my mission.

We have been here for about one and a half weeks and it's crazy what we have been able to do in such a short amount of time. I have decided that I want to just go as hard as I can until I finish my mission two weeks from today. Yesterday, we had seven investigators at church and we had tons of less active members come to church and it was so sick. This past week we had 10+ new investigators.  I have just been talking to EVERYONE and we have found some awesome investigators. I won't be here to see them get baptized, but just starting with them is good enough for me.

I have only been here for a short time, but I have seen so many reasons already why the Lord sent me here. I was able to catch up with a recent convert family who I baptized back on Maiana and it was so awesome to see them at church here on Tarawa doing well. I have been so blessed to see many of my friends and families from past areas where I have served. I have recent converts now who are serving as the Young Men’s president in Buota, as well as one who is serving as the Elder's quorum president in Buota and a lady who is the second counselor in the district primary presidency. Obviously not every one is strong, but it makes me so happy to see some families staying strong long after their baptisms.

The best way that I can describe the work on Tarawa is EASY. There are SO many people to visit and so many are prepared for the gospel. Sometimes it drives you crazy because you could lesson until midnight with investigators and you always believe that there are more people prepared for the gospel. It's so refreshing to work here after being on outer islands for so long and having not had an area like this my whole mission. The people here in Kiribati are so prepared for the gospel and the church will continue to grow long after I'm gone. It's a scary thought to me what I could have done if I would have been on Tarawa longer.

I just want to share with you guys that the church is true. Since the day that I opened my call, my heart has been full of gratitude for the opportunity that I have had to serve in Kiribati. These past two years, I have grown and learned so much and I have seen the Lord's hand in this work.  He has answered my prayers in times where things got rough. I'm so grateful for all of the people whom I have gotten to meet and for the ways that my testimony has grown. It's so crazy to think that I'm going to be home in two weeks, but I know that the Lord has other plans for me after this experience is over.  I am especially grateful for the foundation that I have built. Before my mission, I had such a weak testimony (how was I going to get one without doing anything?!?) I'm so grateful at this time for the testimony that I have gained. I have a long way to go, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to have a clean slate and to continue to serve the Lord and try to follow the Savior after I get home. This has been not just the best two years for my life, but the best two years OF my life.

The experiences that I have had will stay with me forever and a piece of my heart will stay on these islands and more importantly with the people whom I have met. Sometimes as a missionary, you wonder how much good you are really doing, but I know that I'm the true convert from my mission. You will always wonder if you could have worked harder and if you could have been more obedient and if there were things that you didn't do, but I feel and pray that my offering was acceptable to the Lord.

I love you guys and I'm so grateful for the support that I have had these past two years. I'll see you guys before you know it. I'm gonna go hard these last two weeks!

Elder Parrish

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 18, 2017

Dear Family and Friends:

    All is going well here on Tarawa. It's actually super nice to be back to the main island. To be honest, for the first few hours when I got to Tarawa, I was in a little bit of shock-- I didn't realize that I had been COMPLETELY out of things for five months and I had no clue what was going on. The mission seemed like it had changed so much since I had left and it was just weird to come back to Tarawa and to feel like I didn't know what was going on.

    The day I got back, I wasn't able to go see anyone in Buota because I was taken straight to my new area, which is Ambo, where I'm working with Elder Veresoni. Elder Veresoni is from Fiji but speaks perfect English.  He is honestly so awesome. He was a recent convert of a year before leaving on his mission--his entire family is hardcore Catholic. He has been out about a year. He is a super humble guy and a really hard worker and I'm having a great time working with him.

    I got adjusted to our area so fast. I prayed to the Lord and I have been happy ever since. My only regret is that I don't have more time in this area. I'm sure it would be way awesome if I were here longer and could get to know people more. There are six missionaries in the ward where we are working, but we have our own area.  Our ward has 200 active members who are all way cool and there is awesome leadership. This is the first time in my mission that I am having this type of experience. I've been in Kiribati for almost two years and I am finally working in an area with a paved main road.  I am working in an area that is highly populated and I’m actually seeing lots of cars. It's been way great. I am enjoying working in this area and I am happy to be finishing my time here. We should have four or so baptisms before I leave, which will be a good way to go out. 

   Kiribati is such a small place and it's so awesome to be able to see the people that I've grown so close to here. I really hope that I will be able to get back to Buota once to be able to say goodbye to the people there, but I have been able to run into and to communicate with some people from Maiana and Buota and that's been really good.  I was SO HAPPY to be able to meet yesterday with my recent convert family from Maiana who now lives in my area, which is way awesome. There have been a bunch of little things and it's just fun to work in an area that is so different than any of the other areas where I have served.

    I haven’t been able to talk much with President Larkin yet, but I think that I will have a short interview with him tomorrow. I love you and I'm doing well. I can't believe how soon that I will be home. It still doesn't feel real and it definitely hasn't hit me. I'm going to enjoy the mission experience while it lasts because I feel like the time has just really gotten away from me. 

    Have a great week!

    Elder Parrish

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Back to Tarawa

Elder Parrish and two of the other Elders from his MTC intake who were serving on Kiritimati returned to Tarawa today where they will spend the last three weeks of their missions.  They are pictured here with their Mission President.

Dear Family and Friends;

Thanks for the email.  I am happy and healthy here on my layover in Fiji where we just got back from McDonalds.  I just had a huge grease bomb so we will see how my stomach takes it.

I will be heading to Tarawa tomorrow morning. Everything with flights has been going well. We just barely got in and we have only had a few hours here—not nearly as much time as when we came. 

Saying goodbye to Fanning Island yesterday was hard, but for some reason it wasn't nearly as hard as when I had to say goodbye to the outer island of  Maiana. I left Maiana without much notice, but this time I knew my time was up. The way that I left was honestly perfect and I was so happy with the timing of it.  It is crazy to think that I just said goodbye to outer islands.

I am really grateful to have had the chance to serve on Fanning Island and to have had the perfect amount of time there and to have been able to leave when I did having accomplished the things we accomplished.  We had some amazing farewells and the members SHOWERED me with gifts....  All of the members cried and I was so overwhelmed!!! I took so many pictures and videos and I'm way excited to show them to you and tell you guys about everything when I get home.  It will be worth a hundred times more than trying to explain it in an email.

I am not entirely sure where I will be serving back on the main island, but the rumor is that I will be serving on south Tarawa in a place called Ambo with a Fijian companion named Elder Veresoni. If you remember, that was where I worked with Elder Buhler for a week before I was transferred to Tabituea North and it was also where I was supposed to work before I got emergency transferred to Maiana.  Maybe there's a reason that this area keeps coming up.  I’m a bit sad because I will be far away from my former area of Buota and I had hoped to be able to reconnect with some of the members and recent converts there.  But I've prayed about it and I feel peace so it’s all good.  And I will definitely go to Buota on P-days and do what I can to strengthen my converts.

I hope that all is well at home.  It still hasn't hit me that I'll be home in a few short weeks. I love you and hope you have a good week! 

Elder Parrish

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Last week on Fanning Island


June 4, 2017

Hey family...

                Sorry that I haven't emailed for a while. I guess the fact that I'll be seeing you guys in a month makes everything seem alright.  Right? If I'm being 100% honest, the internet was working last week but we went fishing--hahaha. I'll be with you guys for the rest of my life, but I only have a month left for fishing so that's taking precedence a little.

                A lot has happened since I have last sent you guys an email! Today I found out that I will be leaving to Tarawa a week from this Thursday. I will be leaving Fanning Island one week from tomorrow and I will have one day on Kiritimati Island before flying to Fiji and then to Tarawa. To be honest, my mission literally seems like it is over as I finish things up this week... I can't really explain how I feel. I guess it just definitely doesn't feel real. I am so so blessed and happy to be able to go back to Tarawa and to be able to spend one more month with the guys from my intake and with some of my awesome recent converts in Tarawa.

                During this last transfer on Fanning Island we have been able to accomplish so much and I'm so grateful to the Lord that he was able to keep me out here and to let me work hard until now. Everything has literally worked out perfectly this transfer and I'm going back with the perfect amount of time and leaving at the perfect time. I truly feel after this last week that the work that I was sent here to do on Fanning Island is finished. The Lord has seriously answered every single one of my prayers.

                I'm even more grateful to the Lord for the past five months that I have spent here on Fanning Island. In the past three months, Elder Rowsell and I have been able to complete five marriages, baptize four full families and bring a total of 20 people to the waters of baptism. This last week we were able to top things off by baptizing two people and the week before we were also able to baptize two. It was such a cool experience to see the blind member baptize his father and sister. I love our recent converts and I love these people here in Kiribati. This week there is going to be an awesome farewell with all of the members of the branch, which should be an awesome way to go out. I've made many friends here and it's going to be hard to say goodbye but I feel ready and I know that my time is up. I'm going to make the most of my last week on an outer island of Kiribati.

                I really am trying to work hard until the end and I love you guys so much! I hope that all is well at home and I will see you guys in no time!

Elder Parrish

Monday, June 5, 2017

May 21, 2017

Holy cow what's up!

I'm sorry that I haven't emailed for a couple of weeks.  We have been trying, but the internet has been down  We have spent hours each week trying to get on but it just hasn't loaded. It's been a test of patience but it's good that I got it to work for a second right now. I honestly have no clue if it's going to keep working the next few weeks or if it's going to be down. I guess if I don't email, then you guys will know that it's not working but that all is well out here. I only have a few more weeks left out here anyway and only a little over a month before I get to see you guys again!

Things are going well out here on Fanning Island. Last week we were able to have one baptism for a 30 year old man and it went great. Yesterday he was able to be given the Aaronic Priesthood, which was way cool to see. I think that this week we will be baptizing a family of three.  They have been to church like 12 times, but have been waiting on the Word of Wisdom. They are the family who is going to be baptized by their blind son, so it should be pretty cool to see.. 

I think that the following week, we will have one baptism and the week following we will have one as well. After that, I have no clue whether or not I will still be here. It's crazy how fast the time is going. This week was kind of bittersweet because we found some awesome new investigators but I know that I won't be able to see them baptized... I could be home for several months and find out that they just got baptized. It's crazy to think how fast the time is going. It still doesn't feel real. I'm sure that it will feel more real once I get off of this outer island, but the world still seems so far away and I'm enjoying every last bucket shower and every last night in the mosquito net.

I love you guys and I hope that you all have a good week!

Elder Parrish

May 8, 2017

Dear Family and Friends:

This is a way quick email... The internet was broken yesterday so I didn't get to send you guys an email. We will see how this next Monday goes but don't worry if you guys maybe don't get anything.

This past week was an awesome week! It was definitely one of the most rewarding weeks that I've had as a missionary. We had the privilege of seeing two full families get married on Tuesday (my 5th marriages on Fanning).  On Saturday, both families (a total of eight people) were baptized. Both families have made a 180 degree flip and it was so cool to see.  They have the type of convert stories you could tell at your homecoming :) After their baptisms and during Fast Sunday at church, they bore some of the coolest testimonies. It's so true that the gospel is best when taught to families. I think that they are both going to be staying strong in the gospel for a long time.

This week I think that we should be having one baptism for the 30 year-old husband of a part-member family. His wife is a member and he is the man and has a solid testimony so it should make for a good week. The week following we should have another family of three getting married, but they have had minor problems with the Word of Wisdom so hopefully they should be ready. They have also changed so much and it would be awesome to see them get baptized by their blind son.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary... I get so scared thinking about coming home in two months. It doesn't even feel real. I love you guys and thanks for all the prayers. See you guys in two!

Elder Parrish