What a week it has been! I made it to Chicago on Monday morning and I was met by the mission president and his wife and we jumped right into proselyting after putting our bags in the car. We took the train into downtown Chicago and I placed three book of Mormons just by talking to random people! It was so neat! Downtown Chicago is BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely fell in love with the city from Day 1. I feel as though I am in a completely different world! There are so many people from all over the world! Let's just say I have my work cut out for me as a missionary! My first area I have been assigned to is Buffalo Grove. My companion and I cover two wards so it is a little crazy at times... And means 6 hours of church on sunday.. But it keeps us busy! Buffalo grove is about 30 minutes away from the city and there are ALOT of wealthy people who live here. The houses are absolutely beautiful. The humidity isn't too bad and thankfully it hasn't been to hot outside! Everyone keeps warning me about the winter... But thankfully I'm from Utah and I'm not too afraid of the snow.
We had our first baptism on Saturday. Our sweet investigator Lara was baptized. Lara is only one month older than me. And is absolutely adorable. She is such an amazing example to me... Her spirit is incredibly strong. The baptism was beautiful... The light in Lara's eyes just radiated and you could just feel the happiness spreading to everyone in the room.
I love my companion Sister Meili, she is a sweetheart and we get along very well together. She is from Alaska and has only been out for three months! The best part is that she will actually run with me in the mornings which is so wonderful because I have sure missed it!! She is teaching me so much, even though at times she feels overwhelmed and unqualified to be a trainer so early in her mission. Each day we are able to come closer and work together in sharing our testimonies with our investigators and ward members. The ward members make me feel right at home, however lately I have been struggling a lot with homesickness because the buffalo grove area reminds me so much of home.
As a new missionary it is common to have overwhelming feelings of anxiety, homesickness, stress.... Etc. As I was facing some of these challenges I turned to my Father in Heaven. I really missed my family, and I felt like I was drowning in all I needed to do. I really needed some COMFORT. I felt prompted to open the ensign and I turned right to the Talk by President eyring in the May 2015 ensign "The comforter" . It is amazing how the lord answers prayers. After reading this article, I felt peace to know that God was there to lift me up. I also found greater peace in discovering one of my purposes as a missionary; to help others recognize this peace and joy that comes from the strength of the lord. I encourage you all to read this talk and to pray to know how you can best be an instrument in the Lords hands to help bear one another's burdens. The lord works through us (especially missionaries) to lighten the loads of his people. What a great calling I have as a servant of the lord.
There are long days, challenging days, and days I just feel like giving up.. Packing my bags... Heading home. I become swallowed up in my own discouragement... Turning inward and feeling bad for myself. Let's face it, This is hard work. It is the hardest work I will ever do and have ever done. BUT it is the most important work I will ever do, and each day it doesn't get easier.... it gets BETTER. When I have people reject my message, I think of the savior and the prophet Joseph smith and all that they sacrificed and how often they were hated and rejected. But they knew the importance of Gods work and they persevered, giving everything they had. Sure there are days that I struggle out here in the field, it's normal... We all do. However, I know that on those days when I am struggling to find my purpose out here as a missionary I need to reach/focus outward. There are so many of Gods children out there seeking to know the truth and I am not going to give up trying to find them. I take comfort in knowing I am never alone. This is Gods work. I am learning more and more about myself and my relationship with my Savior everyday. I am grateful for the knowledge of this gospel and for the opportunity to be an instrument in the Lords hands in bringing to pass his sacred work.
I sure love you all. I am so grateful for your support. I think about you often and I love getting emails from you. I am able to read emails every night... But I am unable to respond until Monday. Send emails because it is sure nice to hear from you! I love pictures too! I hope all is going well at home. I miss and love all of you!
Have a wonderful week! I look forward to hearing from you! (:
Love sister Parke
(ONE of the many) Mission miracle this week:
Sister Meili and I set a goal to visit every less active woman in the ward. Well... Turns out people who are inactive here in Chicago don't really want to be active. They were so RUDE and unkind... Many of the women wouldn't even acknowledge we were there. Feeling frustrated, confused, and disappointed... I began to cry. We worked so hard to find these women. How could they be so heartless! I began to feel angry rather than hurt. I began to question my purpose as a missionary. I thought to myself... I am wasting my time. These people don't even care. I prayed to my Heavenly Father... I am weak.. I needed help! Feeling discouraged my companion and I went to a park to try and contact some people and work on some training. At first I had no desire to talk to anyone. But as I walked around I felt this overwhelming peace. I knew that God was there and that HE CARED. It didnt matter if the people had accepted my message or not. It was only my responsibility to share it. Sister Meili and I then met a 70 year old man who was the most kind and considerate. He came up to us and said "what a beautiful night huh?" (Wow. Someone talked to us.) we then started talking and got to know him. His name is mike. I cannot recall all that he said... But the words which he spoke where the exact words that offered encouragement to me and sister Meili. I know without a doubt God answered our prayers through mike. We walked way that night knowing without a doubt in our minds that God is aware. He will be there to bear us up when e feel we can't continue on. I bear witness the lord answers prayers. In The name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
This email is to let you know that your missionary arrived in the Illinois Chicago Mission on Monday, July 20th and will be a blessing to this mission. When missionaries arrive, their luggage is transported to the Mission Home, and the missionaries are taken to the train to travel to and from downtown Chicago. They are given the opportunity to contact people and place a Book of Mormon in this process. It is an exciting introduction to missionary work.
When the missionaries arrive back at the mission home, there is a dinner of Chicago Pizza for them. After dinner they are trained by President Woodbury, Sister Woodbury, and the office staff. They receive their IPads and get them set up. They sleep at the mission home that night.
On Tuesday morning, the new missionaries all travel to the nearby Willmette Stake Center where transfers take place. After brief messages from our President, the trainers are asked to sit on the stand, then come up one by one and describe their area of service. Then President Woodbury introduces the missionary they will be training. Some hugging and handshaking takes place as they return to the congregation to be seated together.
After this, the missionaries travel to their area of service and your missionary will begin actual missionary service.
The new missionaries are always excited and full of energy, and bring that delightful spirit with them to the mission where we all enjoy their enthusiasm.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at the Mission Office – 847-904-2940. Sister Christensen, Mission Secretary.
Also, it is possible you might see a picture of your missionary on the Christensen’s personal mission blog – vonandcarolynchristensen.blogspot.com
Wow first week at the MTC. What an adventure!! wow. it went by like a whirlwind. Saying goodbye to you was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is crazy how emotionally draining it is here. One moment you are so happy and they next you are crying your eyes out. Here is a little summary of my week!!
Wednesday: I love teaching the investigators and answering their questions. My companion is sister Gallegos and she is from Oregon. Even though we are complete opposites... we get along fantastic! she helps me remember to relax (; The food is ok.. and thankfully they have a salad/wrap bar at ever meal... so you can imagine where I spend most of my meals! (; Anyways the spirit here at the MTC is amazing... so strong. being surrounded by other missionaries is the greatest feeling. I had a hard time today... but I can already tell this is the best thing I will ever do. I can't wait to get out into the field.
Thursday: Today we woke up early and jumped right into district study. The MTC is literally like 16 hours of church! A mission is the best. you get to study the scriptures ALL DAY. I am pretty much in a classroom the size of emilys room with 9 other missionaries (my district) all day. I get a little stir crazy. but thankfully we have lessons to break it up a little bit! Days in the MTC feel so long, ut the spirits is so powerful. Today we started teaching our first investigator. It is so wonderful to be an instrument in the hands of the lord in teaching others. My responsibility is not to teach but to testify. I feel confident when talking to the investigators... mostly because I love them. It is amazing how as a missionary you feel a strong love for all his children.
Tonight we had a 3 hour meeting iwth the Branch Presidency. it was wonderful I was crying my eyes out the whole time. Anyways we had interviews with the Branch President, and I have been called as sister training leader over the sisters in my district. Which is kinda crazy... because I have no idea whats going on! But I know through the strength of Christ I can do all things.
Saturday: Pretty much I am running on lack of sleep. I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. my spirit is soaking it all in but lately Im dealing with information overload. Tonight I felt like giving up... I wanted to go home... the work is harder than I ever imagined... but at the same time is so rewarding! the MTC can best be described as an emotional roller coaster! I have a testimony that the Lord qualifies whom he calls. I love the gospel!
Sunday: On sunday evening we had the opportunity as a district to listen to a talk by Elder Bednar. The talk was all about turning outward instead of inward. I have never realized how selfish and self centeerd I wasuntil I became a missionary. what this message helped me realize is that the mission is NOT about me and I truly need to give all that I am to serving others. Serving a mission is an experience that is unforgettable. It is the one moment in my life when I just know that I am in the right place at the right time, doing the right work and I am exactly where the Lord needs me to be. It is easy to get discouraged by the work of missionaries, however, I know that as I put all my faith in the Lord, my mouth shall be filled. the key to helping others come unto christ is not so much the content of the doctrine, it is how the spirit makes the person feel in their heart.
Monday: Today I taught a real investigator with Sis. Gallegos. One of the best experiences of my mission so far. It helped me realize the importance of my purpose of a missionary. the spirit was incredibly strong. Teaching is hard but is so worth it! I promise my savior that I will not only have a tesimony of this gospel but I will also be fully converted. It is not enough to have a testimony these days, you must be FULLY CONVERTED.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Class. Teaching. Eat. Class. Teaching. Eat (;
I have loved my first and last week at the MTC! Unforgettable experience. I head out to Chicago on Monday morning at 3:30 AM. My flight leaves at 8:45. Be expecting a call sometime Monday morning!! I am so very ready for the mission field!!
Family I love you so much. "When there is love, there is sadness and parting." Remember that this is only temporary. My service is not only blessing the lives of others... but it is also blessing yours. It is blessing myself in ways I can not even understand. Although being apart is hard, the joy of the gospel brings peace. It is all made possible through the Savior of Jesus Christ!! He understands my joy. my pain. my happiness. and my sorrow. He is my light. I have no need to fear!
The gospel is true. I am so blessed to be part of this sacred miracle of missionary work!!
I miss you. I love you. I think about you everyday. But I know this is where I need to be!!! I am glad to hear that Kole's wedding went well. I hope Emily is having fun in Idaho!! Abbie! write me and tell me about girls camp!! Ethan... Keep up the hard work at Football. Mom and Dad. I am so blessed to have such wonderful parents. Thank you for everything!!!!
PLEASE WRITE LETTERS (: Missionaries LOVE mail. (; I apologize that time is so short! I wish I could respond to everyone!!! I dont know when my next P day will be... but until then. know that I love you alot alot!! I'll talk to you on Monday!!!
The day finally arrived. We had packed and repacked and it was time to go. Dad gave me a father's blessing before we left. The spirit was strong and I knew all would be well. We get father's blessings each year before starting school and this was my new schooling..the mission life. We loaded the bags and hit the road. It was a quiet ride down and rained a bit. As soon as we got to Provo we went to Red Lobster for lunch and had a good time. After we came out the sun was shining brightly and we headed to the temple grounds. We went there to take some pictures and say our goodbyes. Mom said she had been praying that someone would help us take a few family pictures of us all together. We hadn't even all got out of the car before a sweet lady and her daughter asked if they could take a pictures for us. Mom started the tears going right then! We all hugged and laughed and got lots of great pictures. We took one of me with Ethan since we will go the longest without seeing each other. We did our final sibling hugs and then crossed the street for the drop off.
It was not without tears either, but I got out and instantly noticed the tag on the sister missionary that was helping me with my bags. It said she was in the Korea mission. I started talking to her about Emily Gordon and if she knew her and she did! It was a good distraction but the tears were still there. I gave that last hug to mom and dad and it hurt. I was scared. They were scared. But we did it. As I walked away I blew them a kiss goodbye and had so many thoughts running through my mind! This was it...i was doing this. And then my mission began.