They Saved My Life

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The cars were loaded. 

Our supplies was secured, the food was stored, and our equipment was packed.

The 24 of us college buddies climbed into the awaiting vans and started off on our 8 hour road trip to southern Utah for a weekend of canyoneering, rock climbing, camping, and spelunking.  After a night of roasting marshmallows and sleeping out under the stars, we took off the next morning, headed for a nearby canyon trail.

Our ascend up the mountain side was rigorous and required wading through stone troughs of flash flood run-off, army-crawling under rocky overhangs, and hoisting each other up over massive boulder formations.

By the time we'd reached the top, we were tired, but having the time of our lives!

We began our descent and soon reached a large boulder in the middle of our path. Since the trail was extremely narrow and walls of red rock towered on each side, the only way to go......was forward.

We clambered on top of the boulder, only to realize that the trail did continue on.......only it was 40 feet below us, with the jagged walls of stone on either side narrowing down into a 4 foot-wide mirky trough of reddish brown water.

Falling basically meant dying.

Our guide instructed us on how we'd descend down the crevice: we'd use a technique called chimneying, with our backs against one wall of rock, and our feet against the other. Using the divide of pressure, we'd shuffle down the two walls, descending slightly with each move.

And we'd do it with NO ropes, no harnesses, no anchors……. nothing.

A bit nervous, but not being one to back down, I swung my cinch sack onto my chest, and positioned myself against the two walls, following the rest of the group.

As I was about a third of the way down, I went to shuffle downwards, and felt the wall behind me carve father in than I'd expected.

I lost tension and felt my heart flop in my chest.

Panicked, I tried to return to my previous position, only to realize that the lip of the rocky indent was deeper than I thought, and posed an impossible maneuver to get out of. I looked ahead and my heart began pounding as I realized that the wall only carved in deeper and deeper the farther it went.

As the shortest member of the group, I was the only one who'd encountered this dilemma, and I realized I didn't have the height--and therefore, the tension--to continue on.......or to go back.

My heart began racing as I felt my feet losing grip.

My legs and arms began shaking with the muscle strain as the thought flashed through my mind,

"Anna, you're about to drop 40 feet to your death......"

The next thing I remember was Hunter, one of my friends who'd already successfully descended to the bottom, shouting to me,

 "Anna! BREATHE!  You need to breathe!!!!"

Without realizing it, I'd started hyperventilating, and was losing oxygen to my head and muscles quickly.

When he'd realized my predicament, Hunter had rushed through the freezing waist-deep water till he was directly under me. He kept calling to me,

"Anna! You're going to be fine....breathe! Just keep breathing! Hold on, you're going to be ok! We're gonna help you! Listen to me, listen to me......just hang in there....."

Meanwhile, Spencer, another of my friends, who was still at the top, could see that I was in danger, and could also see the whole span of the rock wall I was wedged between. I don't know how he did it, but he somehow managed to scale the wall and was at my side fast enough, just before my legs gave out. 

He put his arm behind my shoulders which created enough tension for my feet to find grip again and then told me the only  way I could get out of the crevice was to shuffle---not across--but directly down.

At first, that thought terrified me. But with his help and side-by-side coaching, I was able to descend little by little until we reached the water 40 feet below.

From Spencer's perspective atop the boulder, he was able to assess the situation and knew that the only way I'd get out of there alive, was to go down. Therefore, when he came to my aid, was able to guide me to safety.

When I reached the bottom, I nearly collapsed in the water. Hunter wrapped his arms around me and helped me wade through the trough till we reached dry ground.

Sitting there, my heart still racing and my body wet and shaking all over, I was overcome with appreciation for two friends who came to my rescue when I was sure I was about to die.

One had been there before, knew the terrain, and knew that I needed help. The other could see from above what I couldn't see from my perspective and in my state of mind. I needed both of them. They came, and they saved me.

Our guide later told me he'd never been more afraid for the life of one of his teammates before, and that it was inspiring to see two others come to the rescue when I was in peril. When I couldn't help myself, they were there, and with their help, I survived.

I learned a powerful lesson that day about the importance of good friends.......friends that would do all they could to save and protect me if they saw me in danger--whether that be physical, spiritual, or emotional danger.

Choose good friends. And be a good friend.

Choose those who you know will have your back (perhaps literally:) no matter what. Choose those who will influence you for good, who have a correct perspective and who can guide you along to safety. Choose those who stand up for what's right, and who encourage you to do the same.

Be the kind of friend that will be there for others when they need you. Be strong, helpful, and supportive. Be loyal and look out for others' well-being. And be willing to love, guide, and encourage others to make good decisions.

That day in the canyon--being that close to dying or being seriously injured--I learned the importance of good friends: 

They saved my life.

Going up the canyon

Starting our decent 


at the very bottom of the crevice.......
(sorry....i was a bit preoccupied at the top and didn't get a picture:P)

Firearm Friendship

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

As a missionary, all you ever want to do is make people's lives better.


Instead, you usually get skepticism, rejection, or outright rudeness. 

Sometimes, all I want to do is remind people that I actually am HUMAN and have feelings, and that I have interests, hobbies, dreams, and hopes too. 

Being a missionary has taught me that relationships are e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.!

This weekend affirmed that for me. 

We were over at a member's home, waiting for dinner to start, when we noticed that their neighbor was out on his porch, about to turn in. We quickly walked over and introduced ourselves, and began chatting with him.

Once we got talking, O-- (the neighbor) told us about his life, how he’d met missionaries before and that he’d attended church before, but he didn't seem interested. He was a bit hesitant to warm up to us, and began avoiding “churchy” conversation.

I went with it, with a desire to get to know him as a person.....

And then....... 

Our conversation then went somehow from the GOSPEL to GUNS

(He brought up that he used to live in Washington DC, and I told him I'd lived there for a summer and toured with the NRA in DC and Virginia) 


Aaaaaannnnnd….then we couldn’t be stopped:   The NRA….. Rugers ….. Sigs….. M1911’s…... trap and skeet ….. 45cal ….. M16s …… Remingtons …… and concealed carry permits.

It all happened.

He went on and on, and the two of us had a blast chatting about a topic that we were both passionate about. O-- came alive. We'd made a connection and that's when our friendship formed.
And honestly, it was crazy to see his willingness to come over for dinner with us and the members and he even stayed and welcomed a spiritual message.

Go figure.

I honestly believe that everyone needs to know you care, before they can care about what you know. (Yea…totally not my quote….and totally over-used…but hey, it is what it is;). Making connections with people is one of my favorite things to do. And I saw it work wonders with O--. When he finally saw us as more than just “textbook missionaries” and that we had an interest in his interests….he came around.

Really, you never know what it is you bring to the table. I believe you can find similarities and connections with just about any person. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel that there’s no way you can relate and love certain people. But, there’s always more to people than meets the eyes.

Get to know people. Learn about their interests. Find out what matters to them. Listen and love.

You never know what connections you’ll find and friendships you’ll forge until you TRY:)
And just in case ya don't believe me about the whole NRA touring thing......;)


Just Yield

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The flick of the whip on his chest was the only thing that would make Ruger's feet move.

I'd stood there for over a half hour.......first shaking his lead rope, then twitching the whip back and forth, then slapping it on the ground, and finally letting it lightly snap him. Only then would his large brown body respond, and he'd step back a foot or two.

I was frustrated.

In all my years of training horses and learning natural horsemanship, I'd never encountered a horse that was as unresponsive as Ruger was. He'd stand there, oblivious it seemed, to the motion and sound of the whip and lead line. It took the firm caress of the whip to move him, even slightly.

"Yield already!"  was all I could think.

My last horse, Elsie, had perked her ears up and let her feet prance at even the slightest sway of the rope. She knew. She knew that yielding to it's touch meant that the two of us would be working have fun, to learn, and to play.

Elsie learned to yield. Because of it, she progressed faster than any of the previous horses I'd trained. We went farther, grew closer, and accomplished more. She learned everything from the basics--bowing, dancing, and nodding "yes" and "no"--to more advanced moves--lead changes, the traverse, and leg-yield.

It was beautiful to see.

Eventually, Ruger learned to yield. It took more time, effort, and patience than I'd expected. We'd spend hours together in the arena.....trying and failing......trying and failing. But eventually, he learned. And only then were we able to accomplish SO much more.

I can be stubborn sometimes....not wanting to yield, thinking I know best, or being reluctant to change. However, the Lord is patient with me.

He knows best, and He also knows where we can go, what we can become, and what we can accomplish as we submit our will to His. It's up to us to chose to yield. 

When we put our will into His hands, He's able to show us our true potential, and together we work as a team to accomplish so much more than we could have on our own. Yielding allows Him to show us new heights, new opportunities, and new horizons we didn't see before.

Trust in His wisdom, His gentle hand. Let Him lead, and see where He can take you.

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)

Learn to YIELD.


It's Part of the Plan

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First 4th of July on the word: UNFORGETTABLE.

Friday morning, I wake up, roll over, turn off the alarm, crawl into a ball for prayer, get dressed for a workout, and start tearing it up in the living room doing sit-ups, push-ups, and Russian twists. I then stand up, still breathing hard..... and…..…..I PASS OUT.  

Sister Bishop eventually comes out of the bedroom, freaks out, and CALLS  9-1-1.  I’m starting to come around as she’s talking on the phone, and I soon realize she’s not talking to a mutual friend.she’s talking to a 911 operator.  


10 minutes later, we can hear loud footsteps outside, and “Hey! The apartment’s over here!” before hearing pounding on the front door.

I’m still lying on the floor, shaking and kinda confused, while six guys come rushing in, and started asking me all sorts of questions (including “were you out drinking last night?”  ummmmm……NO), taking vitals, asking my companion question after question (she actually remembered my entire birthdate…….SO proud;), and telling me I need to go to the ER.   


Soooooooo….off we go. Once in the ambulance, they get an IV in me( and a whole lotta blood on me in the process:), hook me up to monitors, and strike up conversation with “Yea, I have to work all day on the 4th……and usually we don’t get calls this early.”

Sorry, champ.

Rolling me into the ER, one of the EMT’s said, “Hey, I heard her (pointing to my companion) call you ‘Sister Parker.’ Can I call you that??”

Don’t mind if you do…….I  get that a lot:) So for the rest of their time with me, the EMT’s kept calling me Sister Parker which totally confused the ER nurses but…..oh well! Pg. 9…..White Handbook...that's where it's at:)  lol

 Once in the ER, I get asked three times again if I’d been out drinking the night beforeFor reals??  I guess a girl can’t be in the ER with her hair still curled at 7am in the morning, without being guilty of gracing the town the night before.


So they run all the tests they’ve run in the past…AGAIN. More blood tests, more x-rays, more EKG’s, more…more...more.

Meanwhile, the nurse who was taking care of me started asking me, why I was from out of state. Good story, actually:) So I start into our missionary shpeal. We talked about the Book of Mormon, believing in God as our creator, and how we can come closer to God by reading His word and praying to Him. She began asking questions about our beliefs, and eventually she took our card, and agreed to order a Book of Mormon online by saying, “I’m always looking for more spirituality in my life.”

 Ya got it.

2 hours later, the doctor comes in and tells me (AGAIN) that everything’s “normal” and I can go home.

Gees….I’m so glad I came to the ER this morning:)…….I’m NORMAL!


By the time we got home, I crashed on the couch, totally exhausted and miserable, BUT I thought a lot about that nurse who I got to talk to.Maybe the Lord needed her to hear that message that morning. IDK all the reasons for why stuff like this happens, but I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason (especially in the life of a missionary:). I kept thinking, how sometimes the Lord puts us in situations we don't enjoy or want, because someone else needs us more. 

My companion told me last night, "I'm convinced every trial can be a blessing as well."

I'll have to agree. He works in mysterious ways. It's all part of His Plan. And at the end of the day, gotta say.....I'm a fan;)

So maybe that morning wasn’t all a waste…….


Leave It All On The Field

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Ladder suicides!...........GO!"

We all knew it was coming.

The rain wasn't letting up anytime soon, and neither was coach. While twenty opponents went cheering onto their awaiting bus, we lined up on the try zone line as coach tossed bright orange cones down the field, farther and farther apart.

My heart just about sank into my stomach.


And then ten seconds later.....


Over and over again we ran, slimy mud splattered all over our legs, arms, and faces, yet coach's whistle still blew like clockwork.

By the time the last teammate crossed the line, we were exhausted. A brutal 90 minute rugby game was tiring enough--knowing that you lost 10 short minutes of overtime made it terrible. And more running and working couldn't get worse. 

"On the ground....LET'S GO!"


Starting at the milky-brown ground, coming close enough each time to lick it, and with my arms and abs screaming at me.....I was ready to call coach crazy.

What on earth??

Next it was duck crawls, burpees, plank jumps, and military carries. By the end we were soaked in sweat, tears, mud, and cold rain, and only then did coach's whistle stop blowing.

He walked to the center of our group, and said, "We don't go home, till we leave everything we have to give on the field."

He went on, "That doesn't mean we win every time. It doesn't mean that we don't make mistakes, or that we aren't tired. But it does mean that every time we leave a game, we KNOW we gave it our all.

"Now go home, rest up, and I'll see you at practice tomorrow morning at 6 a.m."

Then he walked off.

We walked off that field, still players on the team that didn't win the game that day, but we knew we'd given all we had. And we left it on the field. 

Coach knew we didn't give our all to the game that day, and he was determined to show us we had more to give. He made his point.

In the games that followed, we didn't always win. At times, we limped on the field, puked off the bench, and bled from the sidelines.......but we determined to give it our all. Everything to the game. Not to the game, and then some to the post-game workout we knew would come if we didn't give it our all.

We gave EVERYTHING we had to the game, right then, right there.

That cold and muddy day on the field has stuck with me ever since.

As a missionary, it's easy for me to apply what coach was trying to get across to us that day. Give it everything you have. Don't hold anything back. If you lose, you lose. But don't ever lose, without knowing that you did your VERY best. 

Whatever it is in life that you're fighting for--whatever game you're in--whether you're a missionary, an athlete, a parent, an employee, or a student.......give it your ALL.  Trust in your work, your effort, your practice, your passion, your determination, and your commitment. And then give it all to the field.

Walk off, knowing you did your best, and there's nothing else you could have done differently. Don't waste the time you have, the talents you possess, and the gifts you've been given, only to fall short of the mark and forfeit. Give it all you have. Time goes by all too fast.

Leave it all on the field.......

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