Monday, January 25, 2016

Pictures Three Amigos

Sleep over at the Mission Home!

Girls night!

Our new friend at Jamba Juice...that happens if you visit 3x in one week!

Ahh Maddy! She did such a great job speaking at the fireside!

Love this girl!

Yummy breakfast ala Sister Woodbury! German pancakes ;)

Hanging with my sisters in the cold!


Three amigos companionship!


Love Sister Stringham and Sister Patterson!

Study time!

Guess who came to visit on pday?? Sister Plomgren Yay!

Three Amigos

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has been an adventure and a little on the crazy side. We
started it out spending the night in the mission home. The way things
worked out we ended up staying up really late talking with president
and sister Woodbury. It was a late night but fun with lots of ice
cream! We then received a new companion and we also gained the
responsibility of taking over another area... Which means another
ward! So covering three wards this week was quite humorous. Pretty
much we were running around like a chicken without a head. We attended
9 hours of church on Sunday. Yes, nine hours. Needless to say, we
survived it. Ha! It was also the most memorable week I have had on my
mission so far! I will most definitely never will forget it! Sister
stringham is absolutely hilarious. We definitely reflected upon the
scripture 2 nephi 11:3 many times this week. "Wherefore, by the words
of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God
sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words." The three
amigos sharing the gospel and going about the work!  It has been utter
mayhem all week. But so fun!

The work is sometimes overwhelming because we cover a whole stake and
trying to find the young single adults and also the older single
adults and get them to come to church is sometimes difficult because
the building (school building)  where we go to church is so far away.
Buuut we can do all things with the help of the Lord! After all, this
is his work! However, missionaries CANNOT do this alone! we are
focusing on unity within the ward and using the members help of
seeking out and fellowshipping those within the stake. I have really
gained a personal testimony of member missionary work. Missionary work
would not be possible without the support of the members and the ward.
The gospel was never meant to be lived alone. The life and ministry of
the savior is a testimony of that. Love for those around us truly
helps us serve those around us. We are encouraged to Seek out the one.
We are all gods children and we need to support one another through
this life.

I Have a firm belief Of the importance of establishing a sense of
oneness with the Lord. Aligning his will with mine. I know that
Heavenly Father understands the individual. However, that being said
something that has hit me like a ton of bricks on my mission is
that...The gospel of Jesus Christ is not meant to be lived
individually! The gospel, the church, are here and preparing ways to
reach out to those who may be lost. Lightbulb. Everything we do in the
church is focused upon bringing others closer to Christ. The purpose
of the gospel is to help draw the individual draw closer to God and it
is all made possible through his son Jesus Christ. YOU DONT HAVE TO BE

I must say though, being a missionary is one of the greatest
experiences! There is no better way to grow closer to the Savior than
to teach and testify to others about Him. This week we had a lesson
with Romeo on Saturday and taught the law of chastity as well as
reviewed the baptismal questions. He is so ready for baptism and
practically a member of the church already! He has become so involved
with the ward and is busy helping the members of the YSA ward have the
desire to share the gospel with their friends! It's great! Romeo is
waaaay awesome! We also had a lesson with Katie this week. Bless her
heart. She is really struggling right now with some health issues. She
is also trying to quit smoking. However, her faith in Jesus Christ is
so strong and she is pressing forward each day relying on the Lord for
strength and preparing for baptism on February 14th.

It is incredible to watch people change as their testimony grows and
they become closer to their Savior. Last night I caught a glimpse of
what a piece of heaven will like. Last night, president gave us
special permission to travel up north to buffalo grove and attend Book
of Mormon fireside put on by the stake. Maddy was asked to speak at a
fireside and to bear her testimony  of the gospel and how it has
changed her life. I didn't tell her I was coming because it was so
last minute that I received permission to go so I surprised her! When
she got up to speak the spirit instantly filled the room, and tears
instantly filled my eyes. It was by far one of the sweetest
experiences on my mission. We sat next to president and even he was
crying!! It was incredibly powerful and I know that many hearts were
touched and inspired to testify of the Book of Mormon to see how it is
able to change lives.

In the worldwide missionary broadcast Elder Dallin H. Oaks said "Being
a servant of the lord Jesus Christ, called to establish his gospel is
that this is true.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful
for his example of service and love for others. The Gospel of Jesus
Christ is here on the Earth to help men and women grow closer to God,
and it is all made possible through the Redeemer. I encourage all of
you to take part in this wonderful work! I promise you that the joy
you feel from sharing the gospel with others is one of the happiest

Thank you for your love and support! I love and miss each one of you!
Thanks for all the birthday wishes! Can't believe I turn the big 2-0!
No longer a teenager! Scary thought! Have a wonderful week!!

Sister Parke

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pictures Choose to Believe

Comforting note left on our apartment bldg door! :0



Crazy sisters!

Having Chinese takeout with our investigator Cynthia.


So yes its cold. Wind chill -18!

When your appointment falls through :(

Baptisms for the Dead with Gabe, a recent convert! Love the temple!

Romeo! Set for his Baptism on Feb 6th!

Loving my new comfy pday clothes from Christmas! 

Choose to Believe

Hello Everyone!

This week was full of miracles, and looking back it feels as if it
just flew by! The days are so long, yet the week feels like it came
and went! Ha just a humorous detailed bit of my busy schedule here in
the city and with all my new responsibilities. So here is a record of
my Craziest/longest Tuesday of the mission so far. Left the apartment
at 8 am to go pick up lake shore sisters to give them the car for an
appointment. Discover we are out of gas. Go to the gas station,
discover we have to fill up tires.... FREEZE to death while filling up
tires in -10 degree weather. Rush to pick up LS sisters, stuck in
traffic. Finally pick up sisters... Drop phone in water. Have to go to
the mission office to get new phone. Leave mission office and go help
north shore sisters in their area. Shovel driveways in a skirt. Forgot
my snow boots and gloves. Ouch the pain hurts so badly from the
FREEEZING cold. Since there was a lot of snow on the ground we decided
we would shovel some driveways... Not too smart of an idea in negative
degree weather... But nonetheless we felt like we needed to. So we get
done with the first driveway and my hands and feet feel as if they are
going to fall right off my body! Say a short pleading prayer.  Ha, so
we hop back in the car and drive down the street. We see an old man
out shoveling his driveway. We quickly all jump out of the car and
help him out. We start talking and get to know him better. His name is
Muhad, and he is from Armenia, he started telling us more about his
beliefs and then his cute wife canarick Invited us In for some hot
cocoa and Armenian date cookies! Turns out she had been questioning
what Mormons believed just a few days earlier. They asked about the
Book of Mormon and wanted to learn more. We taught them the
restoration and they were genuinely interested! We gave them a Book of
Mormon and they committed to read! Such a cool miracle moment.
Go back to mission office, pick up phone. Meet other LS sisters and
take them home. Quickly shove some type of food substance in my face.
Rush off to appointment. Shoot forgot that we have to fill out MCM
report. Fill out report. Send. Oops time for next appt downtown.
Freezing cold... Rush hour. Trying to find parking. Can't find
parking. Have to park at least a mile away. Oh no... Walk a mile in
-10 degree weather. SO COLD. Can't even feel my face. Finally make it
to appointment.
Meet our new investigator tommy. He ran into us at a train stop as we
were rushing to an appointment and said "sisters! My friend told me I
need to look for you and meet with you!" So he met with us and he said
he had been waiting for 4 years to find "the sisters" He is absolutely
amazing and solid. He agreed to meet and take lessons, and desires to
learn more about how he can develop a relationship with God since he
has no religious background. We have a meeting with him on Thursday
and can't wait to teach him!
Look at the clock. Sos. Time for missionary council meeting. Run back
to car--still freezing cold-- start driving to the meeting. Get stuck
in traffic. Ahhhh. finally make it to meeting. After meeting-- want to
go home and eat and take a breather... No oops. Finally check emails.
Oh no, reminder from APs we are teaching at zone training in the
Morning. Hurry and plan a lesson for Zone training Sos. Then plan
lessons for appointments next day. Sooooo tired. Eat half a jar of
peanut butter and some chocolate. Get in shower. Lay on my warm bed...
Here I am 11:03 pm. Time for bed. Let's do it all over again tomorrow.
The life of a missionary.
So that is about how this week went... Crazy busy but full of so many
miracles. On Wednesday we met with Katie one of our investigators. She
started meeting with missionaries a couple months ago and is on date
for baptism for the 31st of January.  She is Progressing well and the
gospel has helped her change her life. She has had a hard life and
deals with a lot of personal challenges. We are now teaching her about
the commandments and laws and ordinances.
We also met with Romeo this week. He is a golden investigator. He has
SO many questions and his only desire is to learn more about the
gospel! He has helped to strengthen my own testimony through his
faith. He is progressing very well and is planning on being baptized
on February 6th. Romeo has a very cool story about how God lead him to
the missionaries and when he asked to know what church to join he read
the Book of Mormon and knew it was true and that he needed to be
baptized. He is beginning to become very involved with the ward and
loves coming to church! Yay! He told us this week that since he has
joined the church his faith had grown so much and he feels like the
savior Jesus Christ helps him to overcome anything. He is so awesome!
We also had a lesson with Cynthia and discussed the Book of Mormon and
how it is centered on Jesus Christ. We Talked about why the world
needs a Savior and Christs role in our lives. Cynthia was very
receptive to the message and the spirit was very strong. She is
beginning to understand the purpose and atonement of Jesus Christ.
She has committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon to better
understand why it is written for our day! So many great and powerful
lessons this week! The Lord is truly blessing us with people to teach!

Street contacting miracle... Sister Patterson and I were walking down
the street and came across this young woman sitting on the curb. We
walked up to her and handed her a picture of Christ. He face lite up
and said "you know I just found this exact picture laying on the
ground the other day, it's funny that you two would come to me." We
introduced who we are, and then she told us she had been wondering who
God was? And what she was doing here? What is the purpose of life?
Sister Patterson and I just look at each other like is this for real?
We exchanged contact information with her and invited her to come to
church on Sunday. We haven't been able to get ahold of her yet, but we
are hoping she will call us sometime this week.

On Friday we had exchanges and I went to help sister Stringham in her
area! It was fun and very WET. For some weird random reason it decided
to be 45 degrees that day. Miracles. Because we walked ALL DAY. That
evening we received permission from president to go to the Temple to
do Baptisms for the dead with gabe our recent convert for his first
time going to the temple. It was such a neat experience and to see the
light in his eyes. I love going to the temple, the spirit there is so
strong and it truly is the Lords house.

So we had a lesson this week with a less active girl in our ward who
really struggles with her testimony about Joseph Smith. She has been
doing a lot of research about him outside of church sources... And
yeah, you can only imagine how that went. She was telling us how she
believed Joseph was a manipulator, a fraud, and a liar. Sitting there
in that lesson as she was telling how wrong our beliefs were and all
of the "philosophies" that are evidence.  I think for the first time
in my mission, I felt true sorrow for the hardness of her heart. I
felt the spirit burn within me and I knew I needed to testify to her.
I boldly spoke so that she could feel the power of the Holy Ghost. I
KNOW that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. The gospel of Jesus
Christ has been restored through the priesthood power of God. The Book
of Mormon is the WORD OF GOD and testifies of the Savior Jesus Christ.
Instantly the spirit came flooding back into the room and I cannot
deny the strong spirit. Although she will not admit it, I know she
felt something too. After that lesson, I pondered on the prophet
Joseph Smith and desired to strengthen my own testimony. I read 2
nephi chapter 3, this chapter talks all about the coming forth of the
Book of Mormon and that through Joseph Smith the gospel would be
brought forth in the Latter-Days. I don't know everything about the
restoration of the Church, and I have new questions each and everyday.
Having questions about the gospel aren't wrong! That is how we gain a
testimony. The prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon has told of of the
way to find answers to our prayers. The pattern of studying, inviting
the Holy Ghost, and seeking for knowledge through the power of God.

We all have doubts, that is of course why we are here on this Earth!
To learn and to grow by faith. Just as President Dieter F Uchtdorf
said, "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." Holding to our
testimonies while searching for answers to our questions will only
bring joy and happiness as the Holy Ghost manifests the truth in all
things.  I love the quote by Elder L. Whitney Clayton, "God does not
force us to believe. Instead He invites us to believe by sending
living prophets and apostles to teach us, by providing scriptures, and
by beckoning to us through His Spirit. We are the ones who must choose
to embrace those spiritual invitations, electing to see with inward
eyes the spiritual light with which He calls us. The decision to
believe is the most important choice we ever make.”  I have a
testimony that God answers prayers. He wants us to come to him with
all of our questions. He will always help us to understand and learn
of the knowledge through our faith. I am not perfect, and there are
many things I do not know or cannot comprehend, but I do know that as
I take my questions to the lord with a willing heart and mind full of
faith and desire to know the truth, the answers come through the power
of the Holy Ghost. Just as in the scriptures, those who struggled to
understand, but had faith and inquired of the Lord always received
answers and light and understanding. Whereas those who struggled with
their faith and chose to dwell on their doubts usually dwindled away
and hardened their hearts leading to unhappiness. Choose to believe.
Choose to be happy. God answers Prayers!!

I love all of you! Thank you so much for the prayers and support! I
couldn't do it without you! I pray for each of you and hope you are
doing well! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Parke

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pictures CHI TOWN

Here is where we have school!

Out on the streets!

It's raining in the big city!

My new companion Sister Patterson!

Enjoying walking the streets!

My coat came just in time! Thank you!

Sharing the message!

The Magnificent Mile!

View from my Apartment

All set up in my new place. Loving my electric blanket!


Hello from your favorite Chicagoan!!!

What a week! First off....I AM IN LOVE WITH CHICAGO. So much
diversity! I live right off of the Lake! It is magical. Except for its
frozen... But it will be magical. (; pretty much living in the city is
SO FUN. except for the sirens... 24/7. I'm not kidding... I think they
just keep them on as background sounds. (; Makes sleeping kind of
difficult.. But hey it's whatever. The city is so full of life! I LOVE
it so so much! Driving in the city is an experience, actually it's
terrifying. But it's okay, I'll get there.. Thankfully we use public
transit a lot. Oh my goodness I have to learn to PARALLEL PARK. If
anyone knows me and my driving ability? Please pray. Hah anyways, my
new companions name is Sister Patterson. She is from California and is
22 years old, she came out a transfer before me so we are both still
pretty new and figuring our way around Chicago! Our area is huuuuge.
We are over the YSA ward and the SA branch, so we have soooo much work
to do. Sister Patterson is absolutely AMAZING, and has been very
patient with me as I figure out how to be a city girl, it has been
confirmed to me various times that we are supposed to be serving
together in this area. Words cannot even begin to describe how much I
already love this area and I still don't even know my way around it!
Ha I just am soaking it all in, or should I say... Freezing my way in.
So much has happened this week! This area is full of new investigators
and we are teaching quite a bit! I am so excited! My very first day
here in Chicago we had a lesson scheduled with one of our
investigators. It fell through, and so we met with the member who had
scheduled to come with us. At first we were super bummed because our
appointment fell through but it actually turned into a huge tender
mercy! This member of our ward had really been struggling with her own
testimony and knowing that God was aware of her. She was also
struggling with some big life decisions she needed to make. We were
able to have a power spiritual lesson reminding her about gods plan
for each of us. She told us that we were an answer to her prayers and
that the answers she had been searching for were found. It was a
really cool experience. At that moment I recognized that the Lord
needs me in this area not only to seek out those individuals who are
ready to hear about the gospel, but also to strengthen the ward
members of the YSA and help them to recognize the importance of a
strong testimony especially during this critical time in their life.
So on Wednesday night we were walking to the train and a man stopped
me and got up close in my face and said, "look me in the eyes, I AM
Jesus!" He then continued to ask me what color his eyes were... And
was standing uncomfortably close. He then started yelling at me
telling me that I had the devil in my eyes!! It was kinda super
creepy. Sister Patterson and I just ran off to the more well lite area
of the street and hurried to the train. Ha I was then reading in
helaman 16:6 later that day, found it relatable to my life (; haha
On Thursday we went to millennial park to go contacting with some of
our sisters. Shortly afterwards a man called us and told us he had a
lot to talk to us about Jesus Christ. It was time to head home but we
scheduled an appointment with him the next day. We were suuuper
excited that someone contacted us and wanted to learn more about
Christ. After praying about it we had the strong impression to have
the APs meet with him instead. So they went over there and met with
him and had a good lesson. They said it was good that we didn't go
over there since the man dealt with some addictions not necessarily
appropriate for sisters. Always listen to the promptings of the
Friday, we met as mission council and had a powerful discussion about
how we can best help the mission increase its success. We are striving
going towards exact obedience. President Woodbury is such an inspired
man, and I love all of his insight and spiritual strength. Later That
night we had a lesson with a young woman named Cynthia. She recently
just moved here from China and is interested about learning more about
the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. She knows a lot about the stories
in the Book of Mormon but is unsure how they are supposed to relate to
life and why it is so important. It was a  great lesson and it was
very cool to help her understand the role of Jesus Christ and what he
has done for each of us. She came to church on Sunday and she loved
it! We have a follow up appointment with her this Saturday.
Saturday.... We had an extremely busy day packed with four lessons
with our investigators! So very cool experience! On Wednesday we went
to visit one of our less active members Arlene from Puerto Rico. She
is facing many trials and has been very sick lately because she was
just diagnosed with cancer. However, she does not let it bring her
down! Anyways so we were in the middle of a lesson with her and her
niece Agatha who recently just moved here from Puerto Rico (she only
speaks Spanish, but is learning English) came in and said she needed
to ask us a question. She pulled out a Book of Mormon and told us she
wanted to Learn more. Arlene was our translator, but I testify that
even though the language barrier was there.... The spirit was so
strong. We sang I am a child of God with her in Spanish and then
taught her how to pray and knelt down in prayer with her. She told us
that earlier that night she had passed by us while we were out walking
and she felt a strong impression that she needed to talk to us. We
went back on Saturday and had another lesson with her and taught her
about the Restoration. Agatha has very strong faith in God and is
seeking to know that truth. We invited her to be baptized and she said
as she comes to know it is true will prepare herself to be baptized!
So happy for her!
Sunday miracles. We had three investigators come to church! One of
them is named Romeo. He is absolutely amazing! A couple months ago he
was seeking God in his life and prayed to know what church to join.
After trying many different churches he found the LDS missionaries.
Sunday was his first time at church and he absolutely LOVED it! His
testimony is so strong and he is on date for baptism on February 6! We
are so excited to continue teaching him and preparing him for baptism!
The ward is wonderful and helps so much with missionary work it is
incredible. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in this
area! I love it and I am afraid the time is going to pass by so
I have started over the Book of Mormon this week and have been
studying the patterns within the stories. Something that has really
stuck out to me is the importance of being in tune with the Holy Ghost
to understand what it is that God would have you do, but also having
enough faith to follow the promptings and turn faith into action. Just
as in the Book of Mormon, lehi took his family and journeyed into the
wilderness, what great faith they had to leave all that they had and
be obedient to the commandments of the Lord. In chapter 16 of 1 nephi
it talks about the liahona, and how the Lord provided a way that he
could lead and guide Lehis family so long as they lived righteously.
The liahona can be compared to the Holy Ghost within our own lives.
Something that really stuck out to me as I read this chapter is...the
Holy Ghost cannot guide us if we are filled with doubt or unbelief.
Just as when both of the bows were broken nephis family began to
murmur and complain, feeling hopeless. Nephi however did not doubt, he
trusted in the lord and knew he would provide. He prepared the best
that he could and went forward with faith asking the lord where he
should go.
Sometimes we cannot understand the experiences that we must go through
in this life. However I do know that God gives us these trials and
hardships that increase growth, and understanding, to help us get from
who we are not, to where he wants us to be. This isn't possible
without stretching, and discomfort. Sister Plomgren would always say
to me "there is no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the
comfort zone." I have recognized this countless times on my mission,
especially now with the responsibility of the role of a mission
leader.  I know the lord is helping me to grow and to learn and he is
aware of my potential and is helping me become who he needs me to be
so that I may be a more effective instrument in his hands.
The Lord is willing to lead and guide all of his children. All that he
asks is for faithfulness and a willing and obedient heart. Just as
when nephi was commanded to build a ship, he was faithful and willing
and inquired of the Lord of what he would have him to do accomplish
the task that was required of him. Nephi's faith inspires me to
remember the power of God in all things and to never murmur nor doubt.
The scripture 1 nephi 17:3 really stuck out to me this week and
provided a lot of spiritual strength for me.
"And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And
if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he
doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they
can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he
did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the [mission field].
I am so grateful the lord loves me enough to support me and build me
up by strengthening me through these experiences. I have so much to
learn and I am so humbled each and everyday as the lord helps and
prepares me to become the missionary is needs me to become.

I love you all! Thank you for all of your support! I miss each one of
you and pray for you daily! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Parke

P.s. Chicago's Lou Malnatis deep dish cheese pizza will Change your life. 🍕🍕

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pictures City Girl

Celebrating New Year's with Scottish Clootie Pudding

My favorite treat...yes butternut squash!

A New Year's Kiss..thanks Sister Plomgren!

Matching Christmas PJ's!

Holding a Lizard...the things we do for a referral!

Ed Keller..Garrett's amazing Uncle!

Saying goodbye to the Kappelman's :(

Love this family!