Monday, February 22, 2016

Never Before

Hello everyone!!

Another week has passed already?! Springtime is just around the Corner
and I could not be happier! Yay for sunshine!! No more cold and
sickness. So on Friday night sister Patterson started getting sick. On
Saturday morning she woke up annnnd it was no Bueno. The poor girl had
golf balls for tonsils and a fever of 100.5. I looked in her throat
and it was covered in white patches. We went to the doctor and sure
enough it was strep. Thank goodness for modern day medicine! However
we have been quarantined to our apartment for a few days. She slept
all day long and all night.... So pretty much I was a loner stuck in
the apartment for three days. Ha it is a real struggle, but I have
enjoyed the time to do lots of personal study. Sister Patterson is
still really sick sooo kinda a bummer of a Pday. Just praying that I
don't get it... The doctor said the incubation period is a week for
strep. So yup, that sums my weekend! It was brutal because the weather
was soooooooo nice it got up to 65 degrees! I feel selfish saying
that.... I was way sad for sister Patterson. Thankfully we have ice
cream and a Jamba Juice near by to hold us through it! (;

Other than being sick we have had a couple of great lessons! Alright,
so remember the girl named Brianna that we contacted on the train last
week? Well, we had our follow up appointment with her on Tuesday and
it was awesome. Brianna is a freshman at DePaul and is absolutely
adorable! We met with her and got to know her better. She shared with
us her story about how she came to believe in and trust in God. She
attends a Christian church here in Chicago and is actively involved.
We discussed many of her beliefs and found out that they are extremely
similar to our church! We taught her about the restoration of the
gospel and it was extremely powerful. When I testified about Joseph
smiths first vision word for word I felt the spirit so strong! It was
really cool because sister Patterson and I had just been working on
memorizing it earlier this week. Brianna had so many questions and was
very interested in the Book of Mormon. We read through the
introduction page together and committed her to read and pray about
the Book of Mormon and Joseph smith. We taught her about modern day
prophets and testified that we were sent to her to share this
important message. The spirit was so incredibly strong I can't even
describe it. I felt so much love for her instantly, and I started
tearing up in the lesson. Being able to catch a glimpse for the love
God has for one of his children is one of the sweetest experiences. I
know this gospel is true. I cannot deny it, nor will I ever. There are
so many good people the Lord is preparing to hear the gospel. He will
lead and guide us to them as we follow the promptings of the spirit. I
am so grateful I listened to the prompting I had to open my mouth and
speak to Brianna on the train last week. We are meeting with her on
Tuesday to have a follow up appointment!

On Thursday we had an appointment with our new investigator Brie. She
is from Michigan is currently on the basketball and track team as a
sophomore at north park university. She dated a member of the church
and he is currently on a mission. Interested she referred herself to
the missionaries.., and YAAAAAAYY. Missionary dream come true. Brie is
super awesome. She grew up Lutheran, however since she has been at
school she hasn't really been attending church. She is looking for a
new church to join around this area and is becoming more interested in
the Lds faith. We were able to teach her about the restoration and the
Book of Mormon. It was a lot for her to take in at first... But the
spirit was so strong and it's almost as if the dots all started to
connect! Thankfully we were able to have an amazing member join us and
she was able to testify how the Book of Mormon has changed her life. I
think that really helped Brie understand and allowed the Holy Ghost to
testify to her. We committed her to pray and read to know if the Book
of Mormon was true.  She is coming to church on Sunday! I am very
excited for her to meet the ward!

So, kinda a funny story. I was having a rough day..and just needed to
take a little break. So sister Patterson and I decided we would take a
short walk to the lake. It really was quite beautiful although the
lake was frozen over! We thought it was so cool! Being the super
genius missionary that I am I said, "hey! I'm going to try walking on
it!" Sister Patterson just looked at me like I was crazy and said go
for it. So everything was great and the ice didn't break through ha
how could it? It was freezing. So we both were standing there on the
ice thinking hey this is great! Walking on water! Annnnd then... Of
course.. I slipped and fell. And the ice broke. Thankfully only my leg
fell in and we were able to hurry back to the shore. talk about scary
moment. I wasn't too hurt just wet a lot of scraped knees and hands.
But needless to say... I won't be walking on the ice anymore.

Friday we had an appointment schedules with one of our less active
members in the YSA. A few weeks ago while looking through our area
book I felt the strong prompting that we needed to contact her. So
last week we set up an appointment and we had the wrong address! So we
had to reschedule for this week and thankfully we were able to meet
today. This was our first time meeting with her and we for to know her
a little bit better. She didn't go to college but jumped right into
her career. Her family is active in the church however her testimony
has been struggling but we know that she knows it is true. We had a
great lesson with her about strengthening our testimony of Christ and
the power of his Atonement and the importance of the sacrament each
week. It was very spiritual and she really started to open up to us.
She started to cry and I could just feel heavenly fathers love for
her. We testified to her that she was a daughter of God and that he
loved her no matter what. It was in that moment I know that the lord
was using me as a mouth piece to comfort his child. We invited her to
receive a priesthood blessing of comfort and counsel. I will never
forget tonight, and the importance of heeding spiritual promptings.
The lord is ever so aware of his children.

So after all that has been said and done, This week was a particularly
more difficult for sister Patterson and I. We were feeling frustrated
and tired because it felt like anything we planned NEVER went the way
we planned it or it always falls through... Because of this I have
been doubting myself And have been feeling quite inadequate as a
missionary. As to, why did the Lord call me? It is so easy to feel
overwhelmed and because of the many expectations and almost feel as if
sometimes they are dragging me down instead of building me up. It
seems nearly impossible to reach and fulfill them all. Striving
towards perfection is something that is so hard for me because
naturally my desire is to be perfect and be the perfect example of
Jesus Christ. What I really struggle with is my own weaknesses that
keep me from attaining perfection and cause me to fall into a
bitterness of self-pity and despair. This past week I have been
pondering as to how to overcome this and increase my faith and desire
to keep going.

As we were driving on the way to an appointment, sister Patterson and
I had a really good discussion that helped to strengthen our faith.
"How are we supposed to know that we are doing this right? How can we
be a successful missionaries?" Thank heavens for my wonderful
companion who always seems to have a better perspective than me....
She Pulled out Preach my Gospel and started reading the behaviors of
successful missionaries. It was then that I realized that the only
part of success I control in the aspect of missionary work is the type
of missionary I choose to be. It was as if I lightbulb went off in my
head. I need to have more faith! The reason for my discouragement was
that I had been measuring my success in all of the wrong ways as a
missionary, which made me feel more bitter about the work and my
purpose. Instead of focusing on the miracles we witness each day I was
focusing on what I was lacking. This was a turning point for me as a
missionary. I need to be more grateful and acknowledge the ways we are
being blessed each day! What I really struggle with is being so
focused on a specific type of blessing that I forget to look around me
and notice the other miracles. I love the quote by President Hinckley,
"Do your best, your very very best. Say your prayers and work hard and
leave the harvest to the Lord."  I tend to get so caught up in what I
need to be doing and how I should be doing it.. And if I don't get it
done in that exact particular way then it will fail. It puts a lot of
pressure on myself and a lot of doubt in my mind. I am continually
striving to recognize that this work is so much greater than myself
and that God is ultimately in charge and at the end of the day it will
always be his will that will be done. This isn't only relatable to
missionary work, the same is true in life. I love the scripture 2
nephi 3:8 "And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do
none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will
make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work."  The Lord only
expects us to do our best... And he also didn't design us to fail...
As we work hard and place our trust in him we are able to succeed, and
he always makes up the difference.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Thank you for all of your love
and support! I sure love you!

Sister Rachel Parke

I found this article in this months new era, very similar emotions
about how I feel as my service as a missionary.
"Never before had I experienced the joy of helping someone attend
church. Never before had I felt the thrill of hearing someone say,
“Sure, come on in” so that they could hear the restored gospel. Never
before had I sensed the reality of the power that came as we declared
repentance. Never before had I prayed with such real intent. Never
before had an hour of scripture study gone by so fast. Never before
had I been brought to tears by the realization of my imperfections.
Never before had I experienced the devastation that comes with the
words, “Elders, please don’t come by my house anymore.” Never before
had I gotten a blister on my foot the size of my thumb. Never before
had I felt so protected. Never before had I felt so much
responsibility for my actions because I wore the name “Jesus Christ”
on my chest.
Never before had I been so close to my Heavenly Father as I came to be
during my full-time mission."

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