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.
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