Monday, December 28, 2015

Unforgettable Christmas

Hello everyone!!!

I hope you Christmas was Merry and Bright! I can't believe this year
is nearly over! It is 2016! Where did all the time go? My first
Christmas away from home will most definitely never be forgotten! What
a special week it has been! Wednesday was Easily the BEST DAY of my
mission. Maddy was baptized and it was such an unforgettable
experience. We spent all afternoon decorating and making special for
her. The turnout was amazing...There were over 100+ people there to
support her-- the ward, the stake presidency, president Woodbury, and
so many of her friends! The whole chapel was full, it felt like
sacrament meeting! Sadly, her parents wouldn't come... But there were
so many people there to support. I have never seen Maddy so happy, the
spirit was so strong. I know that the Lord was so pleased and proud of
Maddys decision to be baptized, and the spirit was so strong. For all
that she sacrificed to choose the right and be brave, pressing forward
with faith. The program was wonderful, Connor gave a talk on baptism,
Connors mom and sister sang beautifully while I accompanied them to a
special comprised version of "I know that my redeemer lives." Then I
gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. Afterwards, Maddy got up in front of
EVERYONE and bore her testimony. I bawled like a baby the whole time.
That was one of the most tender sweet experiences I have ever had in
my whole life and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the whole world.
I am so grateful for Maddy, I am so thankful the Lord blessed me with
the opportunity to teach her and have her  forever become a part of my
life. The lord knows Maddys divine potential and I know he has a work
for her to do. She is such an incredible girl and I am so proud of
her. What an amazing gift to give the Savior for Christmas. And what a
wonderful gift to receive from God. Maddy was confirmed on Sunday by
brother O'Brien. Words cannot express how much I love Maddy and the
people in this ward! It's moments like these that make being a
missionary the most rewarding experience. I am grateful to be a
missionary, I testify that the greatest joy you can feel in this life
is helping others come closer to the Savior. This was definitely a
Christmas I will never forget.

This week I have been pondering and studying about the power of the
atonement. Sister Plomgren and I are studying Romans with one of our
recent converts and the apostle Paul teaches a lot about the doctrine
of Christ the the grace of the Saviors atonement. I don't think that
we can fully comprehend the power of the atonement. I have come to
gain a greater understanding of Jesus Christ's atonement since the
time I have been out of my mission. I rely on the healing and the
strengthening power of the atonement each day as I strive daily to
become a better follower of Jesus Christ. I have a testimony that the
Lord takes weak things and makes them strong. There is no way that we
could make it through this life without a savior. Jesus Christ gives
us the strength to endure whatever challenges that we have to face. We
are sent to this earth to be tested and tried, and challenges are part
of this life, and also part of gods plan. However, because God loved
us so much he sent he son Jesus Christ to be a savior, and I find
peace in knowing there is not any trial or hardship that the savior
cannot heal. EVERYONE can be strengthened through Christ's atonement.

There is a good quote in January's ensign about the Atonement by Elder
Gerrit W. Gong: "Fully accepting our Savior’s Atonement can increase
our faith and give us courage to let go of constraining expectations
that we are somehow required to be or to make things perfect. … We can
gratefully accept, as God’s sons and daughters, that we are His
greatest handiwork, even though we are still a work in progress.”

God has made it so simple, all we have to do is humble ourselves and
rely on is our responsibility to let him in. Sometimes what I
struggle with is.. that I am sort of a self willed person....  Take
things on myself thinking I can handle it and don't need any help. Of
course I am humbled each and every day and I am so grateful for the
gods patience with me and that he helps me realize I can't do this
myself! Missions are hard-- but LIFE is hard, and thankfully because
of the savior Jesus Christ we don't have to do it by ourselves. I know
that we are each given our own personal challenges and trials to help
us grow closer to the Lord. I testify that any time we overcome with
the strength of the lord our faith and testimony grows.

What a wonderful time of year to reflect upon what we can improve on
to increase our faith in the Savior. Every year my family individually
chooses a gift to give to the Savior throughout the new year. I
challenge each of you to do the same and ponder and pray about a gift
you can give the Savior this year to help draw closer to him.

My gift to the Savior 2016
- My gift to the Savior this year will be to serve him with all my
might, mind, and strength in helping to bring others unto him through
faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost.  Striving to
follow him with full purpose of heart. Understanding the importance of
serving others and helping them to strengthen their testimonies and
endure to the end.

I love each of you and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season!
Happy new year!!     Thank you for all of the love and support!!

Sister Parke

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