Monday, September 14, 2015

Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy!

Hello family and friends!! 

Wow what a week it has been! It is the middle of September already?? I can't believe time is passing so quickly!! General Conference is right around the corner and I am SO EXCITED. It's like Christmas for missionaries. (: The fall season has definitely hit in Chicago and things are starting to cool off! I am a little nervous for the winter... But everyone is saying it will be mild because of the El Niño effect...whatever that means? Haha I don't really care, just as long as it is warmer! (; well I've lost count of how long I've been out here in the field... It feels like I'm in some weird time zone..l but it's the best!! (:

We have a baptism this week for a little 8 year old girl named Genevieve! When I came into the ward her family was struggling with getting to church. Over the past few weeks they have been extremely diligent with coming to church and Genevieve is SO excited to be baptized! She is the cutest little girl! Her mom, Vivian, is so sweet and cares about her children so much! I know that she knows how important it is that her daughter is baptized!! I am looking forward to Saturday!! 

So one of the recent converts in our ward became inactive right before I got into the mission field. Sister Meili and I tried contacting him at Least every other day and always tried stopping by his house... And of course no answer. After multiple times of trying without success we just gave up. It had been eight weeks since anyone had seen or heard from him. For some reason I felt the need to stop by his house today.  So while out to our appointments I told sister Plomgren.. "We need to stop by this house... I guarantee he won't be home and he won't answer... But I feel like we need to try one more time." So.. Here we are, standing at the door... I rang the doorbell. Nothing. I knocked on the door. Nothing. I looked at my companion and shrugged snd we started to walk away, "well, it was worth a shot, see I told you, as usual... No one answers."  Just then... The door opened! And it was him!!! I think my jaw dropped to the ground. Not only did he answer the door.... But he invited us in--his mom was even home so we were allowed (miracle)-- So we went inside and talked with him for awhile and got to know him better. Turns out that it was his BIRTHDAY. He told us how he has been struggling lately with some medical issues and hadn't been able to interact with others on medication. We shared some scriptures with him and he said, "I always knew during the hard times God was there for me." We invited him to come to church on Sunday and he committed to be there, sadly he didn't come.... But nevertheless...Heeding spiritual promptings as a missionary brings forth miracles!

On Thursday we met with Maddy, she was able to come over with us to sister kappelmans home for dinner--butternut squash bisque soup with grilled cheese on homemade bread (I just about died)-- aside from the paradisiacal food it was an amazing experience. Sister kappelman is a convert to the church and brother kappelman joined recently two years ago. She was able to share her similar experience with Maddy and really connect with her. We had a good discussion about baptism and testimonies! Maddy is so strong, even though she is facing hardships in her life right now she turns to the scriptures and prayer to receive comfort. She told us of an experience she had where she came home crying and feeling overwhelmed.., she felt prompted to read the scriptures and she turned to mosiah 7:18-19; 33. She said she felt a peace wash over her and she knew it would be okay. Maddy is such an example to me. I love her so much! I never fully understood the love a missionary feels for an investigator until I met Maddy!  I testify that I know Maddy is one of the people I was supposed to teach and help bring to the light the gospel, it is one of the best feelings in the world... Knowing you helped someone grow closer to the Savior!  We are working with her parents and I have faith they will be receptive to the gospel!  Maddys mom is really starting to warm up to me, and always invites me over to come help her in the garden and sends me home with lots of veggies. So I'd say I'm a pretty happy missionary with all these organic vegetables. (; Although there are hard days, it's always days like these when all the pieces come together and you feel the greatest joy in the world. It's indescribable. I'm a missionary, I love the work I am a part of mostly because I love my Savior Jesus Christ. If you want to be happy, and help others find happiness... Share the gospel!! It's as simple as that. 

Sunday we met with Victoria in her home. It was wonderful to meet with her and her less active mother was there so it was great to have her warm up to the missionaries again. Victoria has really been struggling with knowing if there is a God, she doesn't believe in life after death because she doesn't want life to continue beyond the grave. She didn't understand the importance of Jesus Christ and so we had the opportunity to testify and teach about the Savior. She really opened up to us and started crying about her life and said she felt so lost and alone and overwhelmed. I testified of the atonement and how Christ knows and understands those feelings and her burdens can be made light through Jesus Christ. The spirit was so strong... And I cannot deny the power of God and his hand in missionary work. We testified to Victoria about how faith requires action... And in order to know God is there she must act on her faith by studying, pondering, and praying. She still seemed unsure, however we are praying for her heart to be softened. We have seen great progress with her over the past few weeks and hope she is willing to act on the desire to learn more. 

So we went on exchanges this Friday and Saturday and I was able to spend two days in downtown Chicago!! I absolutely love the city!! So many people from all over the world!! We rode the L for quite a bit talking to people, handing out pictures of Christ and placing book of Mormons! We also sang hymns in the train station for about an hour and caught some attention handing out cards. A man came up to us and told us we sounded like angels! Another man came up and asked if I was single or "available"! Ha not quite. 😝 Ahhh I am in love with Chicago! The people, the smells, the music, the LAKE, the buildings and the FOOD. Yuuum. Anyways. We had a great lesson with a man named Gabe on exchanges, and we committed him to be baptized next month! Yay! They do say miracles happen on exchanges!! 😀  

Zone Conference was AMAZING. So many answers to questions and prayers. Learned a lot about a change of heart and teaching in the Saviors way. It truly is incredible to me how the lord entrusts 18-19 year olds to do his work. It is powerful to know that I am the Saviors hands outstretched to others and as I give God my weaknesses he will strengthen them to help me to become an effective instrument in his hands! As I missionary I see SO many weaknesses that I have, but it is through those weaknesses that I am able to draw closer to God. I have gained a greater knowledge and understanding about repentance and the atonement. Often I view repentance from a negative aspect.... But really... Repenting... Each and EVERY Day is how I become more like Christ! Repentance and being forgiven of my sins is not the only aspect of the gospel. It is about the change of heart and having the desire to do good continually! Striving to constantly become better and the missionary God needs me to become!  Over the past... Almost three months... On my mission I have experienced the opportunity to realign my will to Gods will and pray for a softened heart so that I can acknowledge the Lords hand in all things. One of the elders in my district said, "in order to change, we need to take it to God, then serve God." How true that is. I have a testimony of Christlike service. I know that missionary work is important. God does hear his children. God does know each child individually. He loves and cares for each one of us. I know this gospel is true. I am grateful to be a representative for my Loving Savior in proclaiming this gospel!! 

Have a wonderful week!! I sure love you!!

Sister Parke 

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