Monday, September 7, 2015

Molded as Potter's Clay

Hello there everyone! 

So I survived transfers! My greenies name is Sister Plomgren, and she is AWESOME. She is from San Francisco, but has gone to school the past year at BYU HAWAII!!! How cool is that? Guess what she was studying? Nutrition! It's like a match made in heaven! Ha! So if you didn't notice from the pictures.... She is super tall! It's great! I have a model as a companion. (: She hates running... But it's okay because her walking pace is just about my running pace with how tall she is. Haha! Sister Plomgren is such a hard worker and we are hittin the ground running... Greenie fire! Since we are both practically brand new. But it's okay though, because we are figuring this out together for with the help of the spirit! We are excited to set high goals and work hard to achieve them! I am so grateful to the Lord for blessing me with such a wonderful companion, I am so excited to learn and grow with her. 

Alrighty... So I just made it seem like this whole thing has been rainbows and butterflies. Let me be completely honest. Training a new missionary.. as new missionary is a lot of responsibility and is incredibly stressful. I began to feel overwhelmed with all of the expectations, and constantly felt as if I was falling short in everything. I began to feel anxious and didn't know if I was going to be able to train and fulfill all of the responsibilities of not only a missionary, but a trainer as well. I humbly fell to my knees and asked the Lord for strength. I felt at peace knowing, I am not doing this alone.  Later that evening I met with brother Obrien (ward mission leader) I was still having some uneasy feelings and felt prompted to ask him for a priesthood blessing. Brother Obrien, a worthy priesthood holder of the Lord, laid his hands upon my head and gave me a blessing from my Loving father in heaven. The strength I received from the blessing was so comforting, all of my nervousness seemed to disappear. Tears filled my eyes as I felt the immense love of my Father in Heaven. I don't know how to describe the peaceful feeling other than I felt a physical load of burden lifted off my shoulders. Although my responsibly remains the same, the Lord provides strength to do his will, I have a testimony that the Lord qualifies whom he calls. It truly is a miracle. This work is impossible without the help of God. I love Matthew chapter 11.  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The Lord calls people not for who they are, but who he knows they can become. What a humbling experience it is to be shaped in the Lords hands. I know that as I give my best effort to the Lord in dedication to this work... He will take that imperfect effort and make it whole. 
Although I have only been out on my mission a few short months, I have learned so much. Through times of overwhelming feelings of struggle and frustration, the Lord has picked me right back up when I fall down. He provides the power to overcome, and through these experiences, my faith in then Savior is strengthened. Sure, at times I miss the life I use to live, but then I wake up and realize.... This work I am a part of is so much more important than anything I could be doing for the next 18 months. Missionary work is not my work, it is the Lords. It also requires everything I can give, and I know I will never regret giving my whole heart to missionary work. When in these situations of stress I wonder.... Is there any more left of me to give? God knows my capacity, my ability, and of course he will not let me fail.

Sister Plomgren and I had a great week full of hard work and countless blessings. If you only knew how prevalent the Lords hand is in missionary work... The little miracles I witness each day remind me of whose work this is and what my purpose is as a missionary. We were able to meet with Victoria this week and have a wonderful lesson on faith in Jesus Christ. She struggles to know that there is a God and her self worth. We testified to her that she is a daughter of God... And that he knows and loves her and that he wants her to come unto him. I felt prompted to share with her the song "child of light". The song was perfect and touched her heart, The spirit was very strong and she testified of the peace that she felt. We emphasized that desire to find peace comes through Jesus Christ. Victoria committed to learning more about this gospel and I could not be happier for her. She committed to come to church this Sunday!

On Friday we met with Jenkins. Wow, can I just say that he is the coolest? We had a great discussion with him about the Book of Mormon and how it relates with the bible. He is extremely fascinated with church history and the Book of Mormon and is soaking up all of the doctrine and teachings like a sponge. It is as if he just can't get enough information. He is the most curious investigator with such an intense desire to learn more! His willingness to learn intrigues me and as I study and ponder his questions I am learning and strengthening my testimony as well! Although his intellectual level is far beyond mine... It is amazing how the spirit fills my mouth with answers to his questions and guides me to scriptures to share within the Book of Mormon. He assigns himself "book of Mormon homework assignments" each time after we meet. He is very driven and self motivated. GUESS WHAT!? He came to church!!! So happy that he was finally able to come. He is a very busy man and making the effort to come to church definitely is a great step in the right direction! He wants to meet next week and so we are looking forward to teaching him more!! 

Spent quite a few days this week working with Maddy. Bless her heart, she is going through a rough time right now because all of her friends just headed off to school and her boyfriend is leaving next week to BYU-I. She is staying home and going to a community college to save money for generals and get started in and occupational therapy program. Sound familiar? Yup. Sounds exactly like my life a year ago. It is extremely easy to relate to her and hopefully I am able to offer some words of advice and comfort. It is critical that we keep helping her to strengthen her testimony and turn to God in this time of need. Especially helping her prepare for baptism. We talked with her mom for about a half hour and she is definitely starting to warm up to us! We are working with Maddy to pick out a date that her parents agree with to work towards for baptism. Thankfully her parents are coming to church on Sunday! 

So..... We are seeking out the "lost sheep" so to speak in the ward. A lot of contacting to less or inactive members. I really struggled at first to understand the purpose of this... Because I thought to myself... "They already have the knowledge of the truth.. And they are choosing not to follow. We should be spending our efforts on finding and teaching new people!" But of course, Heavenly Father kindly reminded me..  And I was lead to the talk in last general conference titled "waiting for the Prodigal." I would encourage each of you to study and to read it.  Elder Nielson shares the parable of the prodigal son, one I am sure many of you are familiar with. However, he took this parable and analyzed it from a different perspective. He shared a story of how his sister fell away from her church for many many years, and how she became active once again in the church. His sister describes her experience of "letting go of the iron rod and finding herself in a mist of darkness." Isn't this analogy so true? Are we not all trying to find out way back to God? My eyes were then opened. OUR purpose as members and missionaries is to INVITE. Invite those who are struggling, inviting those who may be lost in the darkness and seeking to find the iron rod to hold fast. We are all in Need of the Saviors direction in our life. My goal on my mission is to help others find it whether they be members, non-members, less actives or just the stranger on the street. We all have the opportunity to share.,. What are we waiting for? 

That being said... So on Saturday my companion and I decided we would give it a go at tracting. The only issue was it was 95 degrees outside and there wasn't a cloud in the sky... It was HOT. After about half an hour of closed doors... I began to question the purpose. Here I am feeling frustrated with the people who reject and refuse the gospel... Struggling to see beyond my imperfect efforts, and feeling as if it will never be enough. It is natural to turn inward and feel sorry for myself, and I wish I could say that never happens. I wish I could say that when faced with rejection I always love and accept the person for being a child of God. Instead sometimes I find myself thinking... Why am I even here? These people don't even care. I'm wasting my time... And then I am reminded whose work this truly is. Ohhhh boy, is the Lord teaching me.  It finally clicked.., like a light switch. This isn't my time. This is the Lords time. Why I am I wasting the Lords time feeling sorry for myself? Get over yourself, and get to work. If I am sad that the people won't heed to the message... Imagine how God feels. He loves his children, and wants them to draw nearer to him. All he asks of me is to be an instrument in his hands in sharing the message. Each day I am humbly reminded... Why I am here... And what my purpose is as a missionary. What greater call could I have than representing the Savior Jesus Christ and proclaiming his message? 

So yes, I love the hard weeks. I love when I am pushed to my limit. Because just when I think that I can't go or give any further, the Lord picks me right back up... Gives me strength, and says try again. Without these difficult weeks, there would be no strengthening nor growth. In ward conference last week President Eyre shared a profound quote, "Living the gospel should inspire, not feel guilty, cause us to be excited... Not overwhelmed." I know the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on this Earth today. I know that through the power of God Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and because it is true... The church of Jesus Christ is the living gospel today. What an exciting time to be a part of this work. 

I love you all!! Thank you for your support your prayers, they are most definitely felt. Have a great week and I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend! sending love your way!!!

Sister Parke 

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