Monday, August 3, 2015

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! 

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