Monday, January 18, 2016

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

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