Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Wow I can't believe it is that time of year! I am
loving it here in Chicago and I am so GRATEFUL for the opportunity to
be serving a mission! So many things to be grateful for! I WILL NOT BE
GETTING TRANSFERRED!!!! Hallelujah! Staying in BG for thanksgiving and
Christmas!! Annnnnd most importantly.... MADDYS BAPTISM!!! This is
without a doubt going to be the best transfer yet!! We are beginning
to prepare little things for her baptism because we want it to be so
special! She asked me to speak at her baptism about the Holy Ghost..,
and brother obrien will be talking about baptism! Maddy is progressing
VERY well despite her parents lack on support. Ever since she told her
parents she is getting baptized on the 23rd of December things have
gotten better and she has been less concerned. I know this is because
Heavenly Father is strengthening her and providing peace and comfort
as she prepares to be baptized. We had a wonderful lesson with Maddy
on Monday night at the kappelmans about the commandments. We discussed
each of the commandments and went into further detail on each of them.
Maddy is absolutely amazing and agreed to all of them however she
struggled to understand the 5th commandment... "Honor thy father and
thy mother". Thankfully the missionaries aren't teachers... (; the
spirit is, and we were able to help Maddy understand that her Heavenly
Father loves her and wants her to have a good relationship with her
parents and will bless her for her righteousness. (My farewell talk
was conveniently on this topic! *thanks bishop Hancock!) We drew it
all back to the fact that this gospel is a gospel of love and how God
knows and understands each of us individually and desires our
commitment to follow him. Maddy's faith is so strong and she is such
an example to me for standing up for what she knows to be right! It
has been one of the most rewarding experiences to help her develop
greater faith and a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ.
Ahhh this week was a very busy one, we taught seminary... And had to
wake up at 4:30.. I have so much respect for the youth that have early
morning seminary!! Definitely took it for granted as a class period in
high school! We also were asked to teach Relief society last minute!
Which was... Not going to lie..a little stressful.. But sister
Plomgren and I prepared the best we could and allowed the spirit to
teach! It was wonderful!!  Alright. So remember Luis? the guy from
McDonald's a couple weeks ago? Can't remember if I mentioned him or
not. So when Sister Plomgren first met him, he was sitting alone in
McDonald's. She sat next to him, he sees her name tag and says "Tell
me something about Jesus". He tells her that he is from Guatemala and
that he ran into the missionaries 35 years ago down there. He says
that one of the missionaries that he talked to was from California and
she asked, "Who?" because what are the odds she would know him?. He
says, "Elder Gilliland" who is her uncle who served a mission in
Guatemala 35 years ago! She asked him, "Would you be interested in
learning more about our church?" He firmly responds "I was born a
Catholic, I will die a Catholic!" So didn't think much of it. Fast
forward to Friday, when we have an appointment with Ruth, one of our
new investigators, at that same McDonald's. We arrive a little early
and we are sitting in our booth. I get up to go to the bathroom, and I
come back and then I see a man sitting in the corner and have the
prompting to go talk to him. So follow every prompting right? I walked
up to him and asked if I could throw his garbage away. He says, "no,
no, I can do it". I go and sit back with sister Plomgren and this man
follows me and says, "Hello! Do you remember me?" It was Luis! So he
sits in on our lesson with Ruth on the Plan of Salvation. He was
really engaged and asking lots of questions and after Ruth left, Luis
says, "So what is that Book?"pointing to the Book of Mormon on the
table. So we teach the whole Restoration to him. We finish, and he
says "Can I have one of those books? And I want to discuss it with
you! When can we meet?" This is the man who said that he would die a
Catholic! God works in mysterious ways and softens people's hearts! We
are meeting with him again on Wednesday!
So we went to have our follow-up appointment with Jennifer, a woman
that we met while tracting. We knocked on her door and no one was
home. So we tried back with Ynellie, the other person that we had met
while tracting, since they lived in the same neighborhood. No one was
home at Ynellie's either. Cool. So we were walking back to Jennifer's
to try again, and I said to sister Plomgren, "Let's knock on that
door!" So we go and knock and the 90+ man, Bob, invites us inside. We
sit down and come to find out that he is Roman Catholic. And very
strong in his Roman Catholic faith. He's very strong about a lot of
his beliefs like divorce and homosexuality. We said, "We are members
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" and he said, "Well
the Mormons are close to Roman Catholic belief, but [this this and
this] are wrong" so we felt the spirit of contention and knew it was
time to leave. We were walking back and see Jennifer pull her car into
it's space and we go to see her. She's totally into the Book of
Mormon, however, she is very busy until after the holidays. When we
were talking to her, we see  Bob walking around. But, if it wasn't for
talking to him, we would have given up and gone to the next
One of the most important aspects of missionary work is building and
establishing trust with the members. This week we were over at a
members house eating dinner and pretty much everyone in the ward knows
that I LOOOVE vegetables, so there was a big bowl of broccoli at the
dinner table. As everyone dished their plates the nine year old boy
started complaining about how he really didn't want to eat it... After
this went on for quite some time I said, "hey Andrew..., I'll eat your
broccoli." He then smiled with a huge grin on his face.. "That's my
kind of sister!" My unique way of bonding and establishing trust with
the members. Eating their vegetables.
Well... As you can see from the pictures.. THE SNOW IS HERE!! On
Saturday we had one of the biggest snowstorms in the history of
Chicago! The sky decided to dump 18 inches inches of snow in one
night! Annnnd if you think I am exaggerating... I promise I'm not! We
had a missionary snow day! We decided we would be diligent so despite
the ICE AGE blizzard we went out and braved the storm and headed to
our first appointment! Scraping off the car was an adventure.. But so
much fun! This was sister plomgrens first experience with snow! So of
course I volunteered to drive... And probably a was a little too cocky
about my skills to drive in the snow. Anyways we pulled out... And
then got stuck in the parking lot.... Luckily we managed to get out
onto the road. By this time I started to feel the prompting not to
drive in these conditions.. I kinda brushed it off because I was being
stubborn and prideful because I wanted to make it to our appointment,
and I had just got done telling sister Plomgren I could drive in the
snow! As I drove on the feeling was stronger and stronger...the car
was sliding and we almost got stuck in the middle of the intersection.
Sister Plomgren and I were so scared, I was a little shook up... It is
almost as a voice so clear said to me. "GO HOME." Sister Plomgren and
I both recognized immediately the prompting and knew was NOT safe.
I've driven in bad driving conditions before... However this was the
worst it has ever been, especially without 4x4 drive. The roads were
TERRIBLE. People swerving off the road and getting stuck, SUVS sliding
all over the road. So we called our zone leaders and safely made it
back to the apartment. I felt guilty about ignoring the first
prompting to stay off the roads, but I learned an important lesson...
ALWAYS LISTEN to the spiritual promptings the FIRST time. I am
grateful that the Lord protected us and we were able to be safe! I
have no idea what would have happened if we had stayed out driving,
and I am so glad that we didn't have to find out. So,we went back, had
a cocoa party, defrosted our hands and feet, and did other productive
This time of year is such a wonderful time to reflect upon what we are
grateful for. Sister Plomgren and I have started reading Luke in the
bible and have decided to read a chapter a day! There is so much to be
grateful for... As a missionary I am able to see things from a
completely different perspective and it makes me appreciate the savior
and his atonement so much more! God loves each and every one of us so
much that he gave his only begotten son. How powerful that message to
the world is. A SAVIOR IS BORN. And because of him we are able to live
again and be with the people we love for eternity. <3 I love you all!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING from Chicago! Eat some turkey for me... Orr...
Butternut squash. (; Have a great week and fun time setting up
Christmas! If you need any snow... Chicago has a whoooole bunch.
Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

Sister Parke ❤️

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