Monday, August 31, 2015

Pictures Change Brings forth Growth!

Lunch with Garrett's Cousin Wendy 
First Transfer coming! :( Bye Sister Meili!

Best Zucchini Brownies Ever!

Lara, Maddy, Sister Meili and me!~

Sister Kappleman is such a wonderful homemaker and host to the missionaries!

The Big city!

So beautiful!

Change Brings forth Growth!

Dear Family and friends!! 

Hello!! Hope you all had a wonderful week! Getting back into school and into the swing of things! It's fall! I miss the beautiful mountains of Utah! Time is flying by! The end of my first transfer is drawing near! On Saturday night, we received transfer calls! My companion will be shipped down to Griffith Indiana.... And I will be TRAINING in Buffalo Grove! Sooo... I haven't even finished my training yet?! How does that work? I am feeling a little overwhelmed... Partly because I still feel pretty unfamiliar with the directions and my area.. Since its HUGE! I will be heading straight to Walmart and purchasing a GPS (; Needless to say, I will be relying ALOT on my Heavenly Father over the next transfer! Annnd my new companion and I will be learning together! I am truly humbled to know that the Lord has entrusted me with the responsibility of training a new missionary. I hope I will be able to help her and teach her what I have learned thus far! I pray for her, and I cannot wait to meet her tomorrow! Please keep the new missionaries in your prayers! The first few weeks are hard for every missionary! I am SO EXCITED to stay in Buffalo Grove wards 1&2! I have fallen in love with the ward and most definitely my investigators!! 

Quick update on my little part of the garden... 
It is very prevalent that satan is working extra hard on Maddy. This past week has been difficult because her parents and against her getting baptized, and she is struggling with the lack of support from her parents. Maddys mom and dad will not Let her be baptized until December. We fasted and prayed for her on Thursday for her parents hearts to be softened and that they would be accepting to Maddys decision to be baptized. Her testimony remains firm however it's hard when she feels her parents disagree with her decision.. And does not want to ruin her relationship with them. I had the opportunity to meet maddys parents on Wednesday and introduce myself to them.  In order to gain a greater understanding her parents have agreed to come to church and learning more about what Maddy is committing too. They seem to be facing some challenges... I am praying as they learn more about the church they will be open and receptive to the gospel.  Maddy is a wonderful an example to her family and because of her, her parents are willing to learn more about this gospel! ... Annnnnnd hopefully one day also be baptized. I am at peace with the situation and I know it is for a reason. God has a plan.. And also has a timetable for each of his children. I love Maddy with all of my heart... I know she is one of the people I was meant to find and teach on my mission. Helping Maddy grow closer to the Savior has brought so much joy and happiness! If you want to make someone happy, help them to grow closer to Jesus Christ. 

Last Monday we had the opportunity to contact a woman named Mary. We were at dinner at a country club with one of our members, and she was the woman who waited on us. It had been a long day and all of our appointments fell through and sitting there at dinner I really didn't want to talk to anyone else...  But the spirit kept telling me I needed to reach out and talk to this woman. After dinner was through and she came to get our dessert order... I started to ask her about her life, she opened right up to me and started telling me everything! I got her contact information and scheduled a follow up appointment for this Monday (23rd). We were so excited because we could see that the Lord had prepared her heart and she was willing to learn! We went over to her house and met her cute daughter Nicole and her mom. We got to know them and discussed a lot of their beliefs... They are inactive Catholics because they do not agree with everything that the Catholics believe or do. They strongly believe in Jesus and center their lives around him. As we were testifying to them about what we believe we read some scriptures from the Book of Mormon. She stopped me mid sentence and said pointing to the Book of Mormon, "can I have that book?"... Well yes! Of course! Mary has had such a hard life, but she relies on the Lord to help her through all things. She told us when she first met sister Meili and I that "I could just tell you were different... You Brought a feeling of peace, I knew you were good company." Little does she know... That was the Holy Ghost... (;  I left her house that night knowing without a doubt that the answers she had been searching for would all be answered. What a miraculous feeling that is when you open someone's eyes to the truth. There is one downside however... Mary is out of our area... Which means we can no longer teach her... :( when I first found out I was distraught.! But I know I met Mary for a reason.., and the missionaries that we turn her over to will do a wonderful job teaching her more about. The gospel. I am just grateful I had the opportunity to be an instrument in the lords hand in helping her become aware of the knowledge.  

There is so much more to share! But little time!! We are meeting with Jenkins this week! I am looking forward to seeing him again! We met with Victoria on Friday... We committed her to come to church, however she didn't come.... :( but we will keep working with her... She is really struggling with faith in God at this time in her life! The most frustrating thing about being a missionary is having people not keep commitments. On the bright side, Diane is becoming more involved and active in Church! She is now the one inviting us over to teach her and staying ALL three hours of church!! We are meeting with her tonight! Diane KNOWS this is the true gospel... she has a great faith in Christ, she always tells us she will be baptized... She is just figuring out when the time is right. Aside from working with investigators, The bishop has asked us to visit at least 3 active member families per day... (Which is really difficult because of work and school) however, I know this is very important because it helps us establish trust with the members and boost their confidence in their ability to participate in missionary work. It is difficult because It keeps us incredibly busy! Especially since I'm covering TWO wards. 

My favorite part about serving a full-time mission is waking up every morning with the knowledge that I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be and doing exactly the work He wants me to do.  This doesn't always mean that everyday is a magical experience and everyone is ready to hear about the gospel. I am constantly being rejected... And it is HARD. It is hard to remember why I am here... And what my purpose is. I ask my Heavenly Father... Why is missionary work so difficult? The answer is... Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Just as Jesus asked Heavenly Father in the garden of Gethsemane, "isn't there some other way?".. The atonement carries me in times of struggle, frustration, and rejection. It is the knowledge that as a missionary I am Standing shoulder to shoulder with Christ, and with him I have Every reason to stand tall. He knows about the sorrows and hardships... And as I reflect back on the rejection and hard times I have faced on my mission It is that moment I Slightly catch a glimpse of what the Savior sacrificed for me, and my heart is full of sincere gratitude and humility to my Lord Jesus Christ.  As I embark on my new journey of training... I remind myself that.... The gospel is not something to feel overwhelmed about, it is about strengthening, encouraging, and lifting people up. I have a testimony that as we serve in anyway we can, our Heavenly Father is grateful and is proud of us. We may feel we are insignificant... But our Heavenly Father is grateful for our small simple acts and we have the opportunity to participate in the marvelous work of God. 

I pray for each one of you, I hope you have a wonderful week!! Please keep sending pictures and emails and letters! Missionaries love mail!! (: --especially me--- thank you for all of your support and love. I love you!! Talk to you next week!!!

Sister Parke 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pictures CHICAGO!

An organic feast!!

A veggie lover's dream! I love visiting the Kappelman family!

P-day in Chicago with Sister Watts

Hello Chicago!

A little shopping!

Sharing the love!


Hello there everyone! 

I apologize, the letter this week is going to be rather brief! I am limited on time today because I am spending the day touring the Windy City of Chicago!! I am very excited! I hope everyone is doing well and that all is going well back at home!! This week was wonderful and is filled with many stories that I am afraid I will not have time to share, however I will write as much as time allows!! 

This week we had sisters conference, which was absolutely amazing!  We talked a lot about how as missionaries it can many times feel overwhelming with all that we have to do and all of the expectations.. And how pretty much we feel as if we have to be PERFECT... Which is.... Kinda a lot of pressure, since it's not possible! However, I have come to recognize that God does not expect me to be a perfect missionary... He expects me to put forth a perfect effort so that he may perfect the work. So the mentality of "do your best and God will do the rest!" Ohhkay, so that's great... Now how am I supposed to do my best?! Well... I suppose that Is to try a little harder to be a little better each day. Because by small and simple things, great things come to pass (alma 37). And that is exactly what missionary work is... A lot of small and 
Simple things that add up to be great things and wonderful miracles! Until a couple weeks ago, I don't feel as if I truly recognized the need for me to be on a mission...not just to help other people, but also for myself. Now that sounds really selfish.. "I am on the mission for myself" but I can honestly and truly say I have learned and changed so much and I can tell that it is by the small little details of things that I am changing in my life.. . And I am able to gain a greater insight about who I am, and what my purpose is. I am a daughter of God! How powerful is that statement? Now how do I live up to that truth? Striving each and every day to become more worthy to live with him again someday!  And SERVING HIM DILIGENTLY AS A MISSIONARY!! Now I desire to become not the missionary that I think I should become...but rather the missionary he NEEDS me to become. Annnd. We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. It's not just an overnight change... It requires constant effort each day... And in reality you become your thoughts! Our potential is great if we focus our thoughts and actions on following the Savior Jesus Christ.  

So quick update for Buffalo Grove! Maddy is now getting baptized on September 4th! Yay!! Very excited and looking forward to that! She is such a sweetheart and I love her so much!! I am so happy for her and her decision to be baptized!! (: We were unable to meet with Jenkins this week because he was out of town for business, however we are scheduled to meet next week! Hmmmm... What else? We met with a woman named Diane this week... She has been investigating the church for quite some time now, she knows the Book of Mormon is true, and she knows she wants to get baptized, the hard part is she isn't ready to pick a date yet. Frustrating.... But you can't drag people to baptism... All you can do is invite. We have an AWESOME contact we made last Monday that we are going to meet with tonight at 7! I am so excited! Her name is Mary Conley, she has definitely been prepared by the hand of the Lord. We have been working ALOT with recent converts and less actives and getting to know the ward! I am growing to LOVE the ward and feel as if they are family! 

So transfers are next week. Super nervous... But I know wherever the lord needs me to be. That's where I will be be. I truly have a testimony that the lords hand is very involved in missionary work! For this is his work and his glory!!! I hope you all have a wonderful week!! Wish my luck in my city adventure today!! CHICAGO HERE I COME!!!!! (: (: 

Thank you for all of your support!! 

Sister Parke 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pictures Hastening the Work!

Beautiful Gardens in Vernon Hills

Sister McKenna Watts

Splits with mini-missions

Lunch at the Obriens

Birthday celebration for Sister Meili

The Hammond Family

Ariel view of Vernon Hills

Celebrating Sister Meili's Birthday twice!

No make that 3x's! All the king crab we could eat! 

So spoiled! Yum!

Hastening the Work!!

Hello there family and friends!! 

Things are going great here in Buffalo Grove! The missionary life is finally starting to "set in" I can't believe I am almost done with my first transfer! Where has the time gone?? Well it's been a good week so I will just jump right in! We met with Maddy on Thursday...oh how I love her! It was such cool experience! Lately Maddy has been struggling with her parents lack of support in her decision to get baptized. Her parents think she is rushing things and want her to wait at least a year. She felt a lot of pressure and stress because of school and work and felt she needed to wait to be baptized. We addressed these concerns with her and taught a lesson about the importance of baptism, the spirit was so strong. Maddy is still going strong for the date of September 5!! She left for Utah Thursday afternoon!! Mom and dad I gave her our address! She is going to try stop by and say hello! (: crazy huh? Lara also is in Utah visiting her boyfriend down at BYU. Sooo the desire to be in Utah is REAL right now. We have been working with Lara and the importance of family history work. Speaking of family history work, I have learned so much! The members here are very involved. There is so many tools to help the work hasten! I encourage all of you to get involved in family history work! It is such an importance aspect in hastening the work! So many people are waiting on the other side to have their work done! It is our responsibility to help them receive the sacred ordinances! 

Jenkins!! Oh my goodness, can I just say that the Lord is preparing the hearts of many to receive the gospel? Jenkins is one of those people, and it is the most amazing experience teaching him about the gospel. It's like all the dots start to connect! We taught him about the restoration is like it all "clicked" for him. He has been hopping from church to church ever since he was young, he knew God was there but didn't know what church was right. He then found the church through family history work... And has been investigator ever since. He is a BRILLIANT man and has so many questions. At first they intimidated me... But now I just rely on the spirit and I know exactly what to say. Tonight We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and asked him to pray to know these things are true... He said yes. I then asked him, if you pray and KNOW these things are true... Will you be BAPTIZED? He said absolutely YES. (: he works every Sunday but said he is going to try and move around his schedule to come to church. What great faith he has. I am so excited for him and I am very happy to know the Lord has prepared him to receive this wonderful message and answers he has been searching for. 

After contacting or teaching people, I reflect on what I could have done better or improve upon. During this time of self evaluation it is common for me to feel as if I didn't do well enough and I get down on myself thinking, "if only I would have said this, or if I would have only taught about this principle.." My mind becomes consumed with my weaknesses and I tend to forget whose work this truly is. I found comfort in the scripture... 2 nephi 33:3-4  "3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.
And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal."  
Just like nephi, I KNOW the things in the Book of Mormon are of GREAT WORTH especially to those I am contacting and teaching.. I PRAY for them in faith that God with soften their hearts. I am grateful for the Lord and his patience and mercy towards me. How frustrating it must be to work with imperfect people to help bring forth a perfect work. I know that despite my weakness he makes them strong. So long as I speak and teach with the spirit, the Holy Ghost will carry the message into the hearts of the people. 

I am an imperfect missionary, and despite all of my efforts and righteous desires I will always be an imperfect missionary. It is through the atonement of Jesus Christ that I am able to be perfected, and my works are able to be made whole. The Lord perfects his missionaries and qualifies them for the work.  My many weaknesses have been and continue to be clearly made known unto me as a missionary. Being molded into who the Lord needs me to be is definitely difficult. I like to think of it as a refiners fire... Each day I learn more about my relationship with the Savior. It truly is a blessing. I love the scripture Moroni 10:32-33 "32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."  Amazing things happen when we acknowledge our faults and our need for Christ in our lives. WE CANT DO THIS ALONE. Ask God for help and he will strengthen you... In ALL things....... 
Even eating chicken..... (; so funny story... 
Dinner with the Hammonds (family who moved from Ghana) was on Saturday night! I absolutely LOVE THEM! Sister Hammond is having a baby at the end of September! So exciting! They are so very humble and I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know them and more about Ghana! Aside from the great conversation, Dinner was quite the experience.... Alright just a little insight to anyone reading this letter who does not know me very well.... I am a PICKY eater... And I do not like meat. But on the mission... You don't really have a choice. So Saturday night at dinner bro Hammond plopped the BIGGEST piece of chicken I have ever seen on my plate... Bones sticking out and all. I choked down the whole thing annnnd then he said "you're hungry and skinny! You must eat more!" So he plopped a whole other piece of chicken on my plate... With more mashed potatoes and gravy, my companion gave me the look of... "Youd better eat that.." Mom, don't worry I ate every last bite. These people are so humble and give everything they have to serve the Lord. Sister Hammonds brother died on a mission in Nigeria and so they feel a strong connection with the missionaries! I love them so much and I know the lord has put them in my path for a reason. I hope to travel to Africa with them one day and visit all their family! How cool would that be?

The people here are wonderful.... The better I get to know them... The more I love I feel for them! There isn't anything better than being a missionary, and there isn't anything harder than being a missionary. The most fulfilling work A person can ever do is to help others come unto Christ. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a laborer in the lords vineyard! There is a Savior who loves each and every one of his children. He has a plan... And it is our responsibility to share it! Remember missionary work is not only for the missionaries!! 

Thank you for the love and the support! Your prayers are definitely felt each and every day! I ask that you do not pray for me.... But you pray for the people of Chicago to open their hearts and minds to the gospel of Jesus Christ and that I will be able to find those who are seeking to know the truth. 

Have a wonderful week! I love each of you! 

Sister Parke 

P.s. I should be on Facebook within the next week... So watch for the posts! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pictures Hope of Israel!


Fishing P-day

Sophie Hammond

Hope of Israel!

Hello everyone! 

It feel crazy to say that I have already been gone one month. So much has changed in this short amount of time! I feel that I have already grown in ways I never even imagined... And I have so much more to learn! Missions truly are wonderful... I have learned to develop a stronger relationship with God and to rely on his spirit to lead and guide. I have also loved getting to know and love many of the people here in Chicago. It is amazing, as a missionary you are blessed to see all of Gods children through his eyes. The love he has for each individual is incomprehensible. Although all of Gods children may not be ready to receive the gospel... I know he is preparing the hearts of many, and it is my responsibility to go out and find them! 

So this week was full of MEETINGS. Missionaries love meetings.... (Kind of) but it is practically our lives. This week we had new missionary training meeting on Tuesday... And zone training on Wednesday. I learned ALOT. President Woodbury talked a lot about Jacob chapter 5 and how it is our responsibility to be laborers in the vineyard in these last days preparing for the Savior. What an exciting time to be a missionary! 

Many of you ask about my days and my companion.. So I shall share a little of my new life! I wake up at 5:45 AM every morning, I drag sister Meili along for a run... then come home and make green smoothies-thanks mom!. We shower and get ready and then study 8-11. We then usually have appointments scheduled for lessons. If not, we are visiting members, less actives, or new converts. We usually have dinner appointments 4/5 times a week. The members are very generous in welcoming us into their homes and providing a good dinner. We then spent our last few hours of the night trying to contact people and receive referrals. We come home, usually grab a snack and then plan for the next day.... Get ready for bed and start all over again! Its an adjustment... Going from thinking about myself with school and work all day long to only thinking of others... It takes time! But the more and more I get involved and lost in the work the happier I become and the less I miss my life back at home. 

Maddy is progressing very well... We have been focusing on the restoration and the importance of Joseph Smith this week. Her testimony is growing every day as we are helping her prepare for her baptism date of September 5th. This week Maddy told me that she knew God directed her to the church, "I was just looking for something that was true and would draw me closer to God." Working with Maddy not only helps me recognize the importance of sharing the gospel, but helps me to understand that God is preparing people to hear and receive the gospel. I know the Lord is involved in this work. He is right along beside me as I seek for people to share the gospel with. Of course there are those times where everyone I come in contact with rejects me, and that is hard... But I find comfort in knowing... The Lord will lead me to those who are ready to know the truth. The best way we are able to find people is through referrals from ward members. Missionaries cannot work alone! We strongly rely on members to help us find people to teach. 

Amazing experience this week. One of the families in our ward has a girl named Natalia visiting from Sweden, her parents both died last year and she needed a place to stay. Long story short we have had the opportunity to have many discussions with her about religion. She does not believe in God but seems to be fascinated with the church. She came to church on Sunday and that night we had a lesson with her and taught about gods love for all of his children. I bore my witness to her that I knew God loved her and that he knew her and was aware of her situation. She started crying the spirit was so incredibly strong. Ahh.... I wish she didn't have to go back to Sweden! We will most definitely keep in touch through Facebook! (Once I can get on, I am currently being trained for online proselyting) I pray for her! 

It is a miracle. VICTORIA HAS AGREED TO START TAKING THE LESSONS. We met with her this week and she wants to know more about the gospel. We are meeting with her Monday night. I am praying all goes well and she will be able to learn from the spirit. We tried to meet with Jenkins this week, but he is extremely busy working and going to school to obtain PHD in business management. We Scheduled to meet with him on Friday and we are hoping he will stay committed to coming to Church! I think one of the hardest parts of being a missionary is when the appointments fall through and people don't keep their commitments. That is when I have to remind myself... That everyone is doing the best that they can. I am definitely learning the Christlike attribute of patience out here in the field!! Speaking of patience, this week they installed "TIWI" systems into our cars so they know exactly how fast we are driving, accelerating, and where we are at. Dad, I have never missed the corvette so much. Driving the exact speed limit is KILLING ME. But i know is teaching me to be a safe driver.... Be grateful in all things right? 

 This past week I have been pondering a lot about family history and the importance of remembering our ancestors. Mostly because I firmly believe that my ancestors and the ancestors of my investigators are on the other side helping me to find those who are ready to know the truth. Sister Meili and I are learning how to do family history from a woman in our ward who works as a genealogist. Our goal is to help our investigators and potential investigators discover more about their family history. We also want to get the youth of our ward involved in this exciting work! As a missionary I have recognized the importance of ordinance work for the dead. What wonderful evidence that shows God knows and loves ALL of his children and desires not only there salvation, but also exaltation. Family history is something that each of us can work on and help those who are waiting for their ordinances to be preformed on the other side! I encourage you to get involved in the work!

President has challenged each missionary to read through the Book of Mormon with a study journal. This week I pondered and read about Ammon and what a great missionary he was in being an example of Christ by standing truth and righteousness. Because of his courage he was then blessed with opportunities to share the gospel. 
I have grown to develop a love for the scriptures, they seem to come to life as I read them with a desire to learn more. I truly believe that a higher level of comprehension is obtainable as you study the Book of Mormon with the spirit and pray to receive answers. Although I do not understand all of the doctrine in the Book of Mormon, I KNOW IT IS TRUE. There is so much for me to learn... And each day I continue to learn. I am grateful for God's patience with me! This applies not only to missionaries... But to all of us. When we are fully engaged with learning from the scriptures and we believe and know there is something to get out of it and apply to our lives to help us grow closer to our savior it all begins to come together. I have a testimony that the Lord provides answers and understanding to those who earnestly seek. 

Thank you so much for the support!! I love you all and can definitely feel your prayers!! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pictures Missionary Life 101

Service Project 

Cleaning out the "swamp" at the Obriens!

I'm in Heaven!

Missionary Life 101

Hello family and friends! 

I have officially survived week two in the mission field! I am starting to adapt to the missionary life and beginning to understand how things work here in Buffalo Grove!! I have some very exciting news. This week has been so great!!!! Sunday night around 11 pm we got a text from a girl named Maddy. She told us she wanted to meet with us and start taking lessons. Every missionary's dream right?? So of course we agreed and met with her for the first time on Monday night. The lesson went very well and the spirit was very strong. We talked about The Book of Mormon and committed her to coming to a Book of Mormon class on Tuesday night. She came and we had a wonderful discussion about a chapter in the Book of Mormon and how to apply the teachings within the Book of Mormon to her life.  This is the best part of the story..... On Sunday night we met with her again. We started out with a prayer... I then asked her, so do you have any questions for me about last time? She then responded... "When can I be BAPTIZED?" Ohhhh my goodness happiest moment of my whole mission right there. It's times like those that just remind me of why I am on a mission! We have her on date for September 5th... Just enough time to prepare her for baptism. I AM SO EXCITED FOR MADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!  Being a missionary is the best. 

Next great news!! So this 14 old girl named Katy we have been meeting with who has been waiting to be baptized for two years but was not allowed because her parents wouldn't let her.... We promised her that if she prayed and fasted with us that the lord would soften her parents hearts and would allow her to be baptized. Last week we prayed and fasted with her, it was a miracle. She told us yesterday that she is now allowed to be baptized after waiting so long!!! We now have her on date as well!! 
I could not be more ecstatic for these two girls who have made the decision to be baptized. Missionary work is really growing here in buffalo grove. I am so humbled to be part of this sacred work. 

It is incredible to see how the Lord is preparing the hearts of his children to receive this restored gospel. This week we contacted and met with a referral we received. His name is Jenkins Davis, he is about 50 years old and has an amazing story, he is from Africa. When he was a baby his mother orphaned him in a hospital. He grew up in the hospital until he was two and then moved into a foster home where he grew up until he was 17 when both his foster parents died then he was on his own. Although he was so young and alone he had a strong testimony of Jesus and faithfully attended many different churches seeking to know the truth. He wanted to know more about his birth mother and heard about the family research center for our church. Three months ago He flew to SLC  to learn more and through the church he was able to trace his lineage back to his great great grandfather who was a slave. Now very interested in the church he sought out the missionaries (my companion and I) and has so many questions. I have never seen someone so diligent and determined to learn!! He is very intellectual and I can just tell he is soaking it all up like a sponge. He has agreed to come to church and is going to read the Book of Mormon! Yay! I am looking forward to another lesson we have with him Next week. He is a wealthy business man who travels all over the world and so it is hard to schedule times to meet with him. However, it is amazing to me how dedicated he is to his faith and learning more about the gospel! I will make sure to keep you updated!! 

Chicago is very diverse! There are people here from ALL over the world, Indian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Russian, Bulgarian, Polish, Swedish, Africa.. Korean... ETC. you name it...  Just walking through the park we talked to an elderly couple from Bangladesh! Ha my companion and I laugh because we came to an English speaking mission and hardly anyone we try and contact speaks English! (; it is very neat though because I didn't need to go out into the world... The world came to me! So many different cultures! Which makes dinner appointments fun. Ha this week i had to eat pig stomach at an Chinese home... Chicken leg dumpling soup with polenta at a Romanian home... I'm not even sure what I ate at the Korean home (; Ha I went from hardly eating meat before the mission... To just eating whatever is placed in front of me and being grateful. 

On Saturday we were doing a service project and I got to know a man from Ghana Africa!! We talked for about an hour and then I got to know his cute family and kids! His wife is studying nutrition... (Crazy right?) its meant to be-- I told him all about my desire to go to Africa. He said that it was very cool because there are so many people from Africa who live here in Chicago to go to school. So even though I was unable to go to Africa this summer... I have the opportunity to build relationships with many people from Africa and learn so much about it! So when I am able to go someday I will have so many more connections. Guess what!?! I went to church on Sunday and there is a whole family that is from GHANA?!?! Oh my goodness, the Lord is in the details of our life.  I am absolutely in love with magdalens (African family) this little girl Sophie has my heart. We are going over next week to have dinner with them! So excited! 

There are so many things you learn from the spirit as a missionary. Reading from the scriptures, I am often able to receive direct revelation not only for myself, but for my investigators as well. This week I have been studying a lot about the plan of salvation and the importance maintaining an eternal perspective. Truly understanding Gods plan for each of his children helps us appreciate the true value of this life. I have noticed that when an individual learns about the plan of salvation, a new light and hope is brought into their life. What a marvelous message to share! Maintaining an eternal perspective helps people to have a greater insight of who they are and where they are going. 
I really love the talk by Elder Pino called "The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel." He gives the analogy of life as a jigsaw puzzle. 
Just like life, we are given piece by piece of the puzzle. Sometimes we many feel lost and confused and not know quite how to put the pieces together. The gospel, and gods plan of salvation provides the bigger picture for us. We are able to refer to this plan and receive guidance and direction as we maintain an eternal perspective. Rather then focusing on one piece at a time and trying to figure out how it connects with the next.... We can turn to the one who sees all the pieces put together. I testify that God knows all of his children and knows who they can become through him. He has a plan for each of us to return to him.  Understanding the Plan of Salvation is important in order to reach our divine potential. What a blessing and wonderful opportunity I have to share this beautiful message with God's children who have not yet had the heard of this plan of happiness. Isn't that what we are all seeking on this Earth? Happiness? I encourage all of you to share the joy of the gospel with those around you. Life is hard, challenges are difficult, trials seem overbearing... But the joy of this gospel helps to endure and overcome the hardships we face. It is all made possible through the Savior Jesus Christ. How grateful I am for his atoning sacrifice and for the strength I receive through him each day. I know that my Redeemer lives.

There are good days and bad days out here in the field... Just like in real life.  Sharing the gospel joyfully isn't always easy... I am growing, I am learning, I am making mistakes, but through Christ I am able to accomplish all things. This is what I find comfort in on those days I just feel like giving up. When living the gospel... Not always joyful in every moment. It is hard. But in the end.. When it all comes together and the joy is great and the blessings are many. 

I love you all, I appreciate your love and support... All the prayers are definitely felt. I encourage you to seek ways to share the gospel in your life!! What a blessing it is!! Have a wonderful week! I LOVE hearing from all of you!! You are all in my prayers! 

Sister Parke

Mission miracle: 
We have been trying to contact an investigator Victoria for quite some time. She is a college student and works a lot so it is very hard to visit her and teach her a lesson. We tried to call and go and visit her on Thursday.. No luck. My companion said that we should just move on and forget about it because they had been trying to contact her for months with no success and she just wasn't interested. However on Friday morning I felt strongly that we needed to call her and ask if we could come over. My companion told me it wasn't going to work and to not even try.... But I did anyways... And guess what? She answered!! She told us we could come over! We rushed over there and I got the chance to know her very well. She has been struggling lately with some personal issues and we felt prompted to talk with her about prayer and faith in God. The spirit was so strong and I could just feel gods love for her. I bore my testimony to her with tears in my eyes... I just wanted so badly for her to know that God was there and that he loved her!! I invited her to sincerely pray to Heavenly Father this week to know that he is there, she committed that she would. I can't wait to follow up with her and talk with her more about it!