Monday, March 28, 2016

Pictures Home away from Home

Too many floors..we get motion sick!:(

It's raining, it's pouring!

Dinner with Munah!

Cynthia made us authentic Chinese food dinner!

Wonderful session at the temple!

Happy Easter everyone! proactive..right!?

Easter selfie!

Home away from Home

Hello Family and Friends!

Happy Easter!! I sure miss you! My Easter was really good. We were
spoiled at church with three easter baskets, and two investigators,
and 6 less actives! This week has been a real crazy one... we ate real
authentic Chinese/Taiwan food, got hit on by a Jewish/Christian girl,
handed out 150 Easter eggs with Jesus Christ cards, ate two falafel
sandwiches on the same day, went to the temple, got bit by a parrot,
caught downtown in the worst rain storm, participated in a church
auction, preformed in sacrament meeting and got kicked out of the
train station for talking to people about Jesus...needless to say I
don't even really know where to start.

My most favorite part of the week is when we were able to attend the
temple with one of our members in the SA branch. We went Saturday
morning and it was the last session before Easter Sunday. I LOVE THE
TEMPLE, it is literally my home away from home. It is all centered
around Jesus Christ. The temple is such a holy place. A refuge from
the world... A place to go and to feel peace and close to the savior.
My love for the house of the lord has gown as I come to understand the
blessings we receive from righteous temple attendance. I testify that
the temple is a place to go to receive answers. I am so grateful that
I am able to learn and understand how to receive personal revelation
and seek guidance from the lord. The temple is a place of
learning...the spirit is there to teach and guide us. It was confirmed
to me once again that I am exactly where the lord needs me to be,
doing exactly what he needs me to be doing. There is no better feeling
than that. During this particular endowment session the spirit was
able to teach me so much and I gained an even greater understanding
and appreciation for the savior and what he did for me. I know without
a doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ lives. I love the savior with all
my heart and I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity to serve
and represent him.

This week, as I studied the Saviors final week, I just felt so much
gratitude for all that he's done. It really is incomprehensible how he
was able to take upon himself all of my sins, and my afflictions, my
inadequacies, and my infirmities, but yet somehow he did! I know it in
my heart! Sometimes as a missionary it gets hard because you feel like
you're doing everything you can to be obedient and to work hard, and
yet you still are rejected over and over again, and people get angry
at you, and your investigators will drop you, but I find comfort
knowing that the savior did everything he could to follow the will of
the father, and yet he still asked " my God my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?" sometimes it's after all we can do, and when we feel
utterly alone, we are given the opportunity to prove that we will
still choose God and be obedient even when it makes no sense. "Oh
sweet the joy this sentence gives, I KNOW that my Redeemer lives!"

The message of Easter... Is that all the separation is temporary.. We
can live in heavenly fathers presence and be reunited with our loved
ones. We go to the temple to prepare to return home. There are great
blessings that the lord has to give us. The atonement is the single
most important event in the history of this world. Because of the love
of the savior we have the opportunity to return home with those that
we love. The speaker in sacrament meeting yesterday quoted a general
authority and it really stood out to me.  "The temple is our home away
from home, it is also our way home, back to our Heavenly Father." We
are here to not only return home as individuals, but also has
families. Great blessings are waiting for us in the temple! The lord
is waiting for us to come unto him!

I love each and everyone of you! Thank you for your love and support!
Have a great week!

Sister Parke

Monday, March 21, 2016


Mom's favorite chocolate chip cookies!

Easter treats! Wishing I could get some to you!

Splits with Sister Meili! Yay!

I love the sunshine and love this city!

Bolorturya from Mongolia made us buuz! So nice and yummy!

All ready for St. Patty's day here in Chicago! They turn the river GREEN!!


Hello Everyone!

Happy Easter Week!! This is most definitely my FAVORITE time of year!!
I don't even know where this past week has went, the time went by so
fast! Sister Patterson and I have been striving to work hard and to
accomplish the work in this little part of the vineyard!

On Monday evening we had a great lesson with one of our investigators
Alexia. Alexia was excommunicated from the church for some decisions
that she has made.. but her testimony is so incredibly strong and
powerful. We have been working with her, and were able to have a good
lesson with our relief society president. We shared the Easter video
about finding "new life" in Jesus Christ, and alexia was in tears..
The spirit was so so strong. She bore her testimony about how she
KNOWS that God loves her despite her mistakes and that she is a
DAUGHTER of God no matter what. Wow. It was powerful. Her testimony of
the atonement is SO strong and I could just feel gods love for her. I
know that God cares a whole lot more about the person we are becoming
rather than the person that we are now. It's all about the direction
that we are taking. It's kinda like climbing a ladder... Someone can
be at the bottom of the ladder and looking up, climbing higher... And
I believe that is more important than someone who is at the top of the
ladder and looking down. I keep this perspective in mind when working
with less actives and those who may be struggling.

Tuesday was such great day. We had about two hours to spend
contacting... And the weather was beautiful. Sister Patterson and I
felt the prompting to stop in a local bakery.. Pretty sure it was 90%
the spirit and 10% craving a fresh homemade cookie. (; anyways... We
decide to go in and check it out... And as we are scoping out the
cookies an old man walks in the door.. "Sisters! Where are you from?!"
Sister Patterson look around like... Is he talking to us? Ha kinda
caught us off guard... Usually we are the first ones to approach
people. His name is Sixto, he is from Cuba and he has definitely been
prepared by the hand of the lord. we spent about 45 minutes with him
teaching and talking to him about the church. He said to us that he is
"looking for the right faith, and felt many of the churches were
teaching the wrong truths... However his faith in God and Jesus Christ
remained strong." A set of elders tried to contact him in 2003 and he
was able to point us out today from the name tags, and recognize us as
missionaries for the same church. He told us that he knew we were true
messengers of God to help him come to know the truth. SO COOL. sadly
he is not YSA age but we are hoping to meet up with him sometime this
week and then we will be able to refer him to a different set of
missionaries. I have a strong testimony that as we are doing the lords
work with the righteous desire to serve and bring others to christ, he
will place those individuals in our path who are prepared to receive
the message of the gospel.

Hmmm. What else happened this week? We met with a new member in our
ward who just recently moved to America from South Africa.. She is the
COOLEST. It was so great to meet with her and getting to know her
better. She had been less active for the past five years and recently
committed to coming back to church. I love pippa! She makes me so
happy, helping her strengthen her testimony is one of my favorite
parts of being a missionary. How easy it is to forget when we stop
doing the small and simple things. I LOVE working with the young
single adults. So many are struggling to find their way... Not because
of lack of testimony..l but merely because a lack of faith and trust.
It is so easy for me to relate to them because I have and often time
do feel the same way. I have been thinking about the difference
between going through the motions and believing. Being a member of the
church it is simply not enough to just go through the motions, and
vice versa it is not enough to just only believe. Belief and action go
hand and hand. It's easy to show up to church every Sunday and partake
of the sacrament... But if not the right mindset and desire there is
no connection between belief and action. The gospel of Jesus Christ is
founded on belief in doctrine, yet is fulfilled through acting on
faith. I have come to realize that much of the work I will do within
this area is helping to strengthen and uplift the ward members. There
are so many who outwardly are going through the motions, yet are
struggling with their own testimony. The time is critical to
strengthen and uplift one another. In order to hasten the work of
salvation we must come together.

We had a lesson with Carleen at the bishops home on Thursday evening.
We taught her about the word of wisdom and the importance of daily
personal prayer and scripture study. We testified of how it truly it
is the small and simple things that matter the most. It was really
cool to have it with bishop because he was able to relate and connect
to Carleen and her situation very well. He converted to the church
when he was 24 and was also raised Catholic. Carleen had many good
questions and she is learning so much! She told us she feels her
prayers are getting answered and that God truly is softening her
parents hearts. She is so great.

So on Friday Zone conference... It was awesome! Sister Patterson and I
taught about finding and how to contact people... Teach, testify, and
invite in less than a minute. It went very well! I also had the
opportunity to play a special music number on the piano. It was
powerful. Such a good long day. We were sitting in the chapel from
9-5. If you think church is long.... Wait til you're a missionary. (;
So the law of compensation is REAL, I was feeling a little sad because
I'm missin a trip with my family to Mexico... And I was just prayin to
Heavenly Father for the desire to want to be there. So at zone
conference we always have lunch.. And guess what? Spanish members from
Mexico came and made a huge lunch for us.. HOMEMADE guacamole, pico de
gallo... Chips, horchata.. A little taste of Mexico. It truly was a
little answer to prayers. I know it sounds silly.. But God is aware of
the little details of our lives!

On Saturday I went on exchanges with sister Meili! It was so much fun
to be back with my trainer! We did a TON of contacting.. It was
reeeeal fun! Chicago is a good place to talk to lots of interesting
people! (; Sunday was theeee BEST.  First of all, Carleen came... Ahh
she is awesome. Okay now for the best part. We had SIX less actives
come to church this week. #miracle we have been trying to focus in on
less active members over the past two transfers and it's finally
starting to pay off! So Missy (less active) came to church
unexpectedly... She just showed up! Sister Patterson and I were
smiling from head to toe! It was so Inspired. We had just met with her
earlier in that week and she is really struggling to know what
direction to take in her life right now and is looking for answers.
Well.. Guess what the whole sacrament meeting was centered around?
PERSONAL REVELATION and receiving answers. Man, it was so awesome, she
stayed for all three hours. Also, our less active Arleen came to
church again and brought her mom who hasn't been to church in years!
Another miracle... We haven't met with Tim (investigator) for awhile,
and he also came to church on Sunday and then came to the branch
activity afterwards! He is a pretty cool guy, but has lots of
interesting questions about the church.

I have been studying in the chapters of alma about how these
missionaries go forth and find great joy preaching and declaring the
word... Despite the many hardships that they face. So This week I have
been pondering What it means to find "Joy" in the work and how I can
find "Joy" and happiness, even when it gets hard! Sometimes I get
caught up in the mindset of.... My joy will be full when.... My
investigators get baptized... Or my joy will be full when I find a new
investigator... Or my joy will be full when this area is filled with
great success. When have those thoughts... I loose the "Joy" in today
and I find myself easily becoming a missionary who is ungrateful and
tends to murmur. It is amazing how studies always line up to answer
prayers. While pondering how to find joy in this work, I read chapters
29 and 31 of alma. Wow. It was an immediate answer to my prayers. In
vs. 3 of chapter 29 it says "for I ought to be content with the things
which the lord hath alotted me." Finding joy in what the Lord has
already blessed me with! In vs. 10 alma is reflecting on and
remembering what the lord has done. I know that when i take a step
back to acknowledge and remember what the lord has done for me and the
many tender mercies that I witness each day... I am able to see his
hand in this work and find true "Joy". In vs 13 alma rejoices in his
calling as a missionary and instead of wishing for more success he
thanks the lord for the success he has been given and his "Joy is
full". He then rejoices because of the success of his brethren. In vs.
14 I thought.. How often to I rejoice because of another's success?
Big awakening for me. I tend to get caught up in comparing my success
to others instead of being happy for them. Comparison destroys joy. I
believe the secret to finding joy is GRATITUDE. When we are
remembering and acknowledging the lord hand...  How great is our joy.
He is always there and it is up to us to seek and remember him! I find
comfort and strength in the scripture alma 31:31-35, I know the lord
is there.. And he is a part of this great work!!

It has been a great week, I am looking forward to this upcoming week
as well! The week leading up to Easter is one of the most important
weeks of all time! Thank you for all of your many prayers! I am so
grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve as a full time
representative of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for his sacrifice and
that because of him we have the opportunity to live with those we love
forever. HAPPY EASTER!! #hallelujah

Sister Parke

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pictures Homeless.

My package came!

A little stretching..or are those lunges?

Oh Happy day! Baptisms with Romeo at the temple!

Just realizing we are locked out of our apartment. Sad day. 

Good thing we have lots of Sisters to stay with!

Yay for sleepovers!

Bed buddies :)

Monday, March 14, 2016


Hello friends and family!

Happy St. Patrick's Say! Apparently here in Chicago they take it very
seriously... And by seriously I mean they celebrate for the whole
week... Beginning with dying the river green on Saturday... A parade..
And everyone's excuse to get wasted at 8 am in the morning. So pretty
much we were cautioned to stay away from downtown over the weekend.
Buuut hey happy celebrations for the Irish right? (: I like st.
Patrick's day because it is the day I opened my mission call to
Illinois Chicago mission! Wow, how much changes I'm a year. I am so
happy I am here! So many wonderful experiences!

I'll just jump right into the week! Well the parts of it I can
remember... It was such a blur! We had a lesson with Carleen on
Tuesday night in the mission home! President and sister Woodbury ended
up having us over for dinner! It was awesome. We had a member named
Sarah join us who was just baptized less than two years ago, and she
has a situation that is very similar to what carleen is going through.
What was so cool is that she had been praying for a missionary
opportunity and then we felt inspired to call her the same day for
Carleens lesson. It was so great to have her there and she most
definitely inspired Carleen. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ
and focused on baptism and the role of the Holy Ghost. During the
middle of the lesson Carleen said, "I know I want to be baptized, I'm
just concerned about my family and what they may think." Carleen is
exercising so much faith as she is preparing herself to be baptized. I
have never met someone with so much desire to grow and increase their
testimony. She reads and rereads and listens to the scriptures and is
gaining a great understanding. I am so grateful that the lord has
blessed me with the opportunity to teach Carleen about the gospel.

Ahh. What even happened to this week? Sister Patterson and I had a
great lesson with Brie on Thursday and taught her about the gospel of
Jesus Christ. Wow it was a powerful lesson and one of my favorite
parts of being a missionary is being able to watch her testimony grow
and the desires of her heart change. We have only been teaching Brie
for about four weeks and their is  already such a difference in her.
We talked a lot about baptism today, she said as she continues to
learn and read from the Book of Mormon to know if it is true she will
be baptized! Which is a complete change of heart from the first time
we met.. When she was "ONLY interested in learning about what Mormons
believe." So cool, to be able to witness the complete change of heart.
Yup. She's pretty great!

Alright so Thursday I was definitely having one of the harder days of
being a missionary... We were contacting on the trains all morning..
And really I just wasn't feeling like talking to anyone. But I told
myself I was going to do it... So we spent about two hours trying to
talk to people... And at the end... Nothin. So, yeah it was quite
discouraging.... But ya know sometimes it's life so we picked our
spirits up.. (Ate some chocolate-thanks mom) and went along the way!..
As we went throughout the day I was still struggling with just loving
the work... I felt like trying to contact people was pointless and no
one wanted to listen anyway. Yes...every missionary has these thoughts
cross his/her mind at some point or another. So anyways after along
day sister Patterson and I were feeling quite discouraged. A long day
of contacting with what felt like zero success. Minutes later the
phone rings... a random number was calling! We pick up the phone and
it was a man named Eli whom I had sat next to on the train earlier
that Morning and taught him a little about what we believed and the
Book of Mormon-earlier that day he had expressed no interest in
learning about religion so I handed him a card with our number on it
and went along our merry little way. Turns out... He felt like he
needed to learn more about the Book of Mormon and sought further
clarification as to what it was all about. Eli then asked how he could
get a copy.... (Missionary dream come true) and we are meeting with
him sometime next week to give him a Book of Mormon and teach him more
about it. SO COOL. After we hung up the phone sister Patterson and I
just looked at each other thinking... Did that just happen?! Heavenly
Father is ever so aware of his missionaries and his children! He has
so many hearts that are being prepared to receive the gospel as
missionaries go forward with faith the Lord blesses them for their
efforts even if it seems in vain. The lord definitely answered my
prayers tonight. I am so grateful for the tender mercies I witness
each day.

Friday was awesome. Sister Patterson and I had the amazing opportunity
to attend the temple with Romeo and preform baptisms for the dead. It
was his first time in the temple and it was such a great experience.
Helping people to grow and progress in the gospel is an indescribable
experience. When if first came into this area Romeo was interested in
learning about the gospel.., and now he is attending the temple! Which
is soooo exciting because the whole purpose of missionary work it to
have everyone return back to live with Heavenly Father through making
sacred covenants with him. Anyways, I'm super grateful for the people
God is placing in my path and allowing me to be am instrument on his
hands to help teach them.

I can't believe transfers are in three weeks. I DONT want sister
Patterson to leave! I love her so much, she helps me and brings me up
when I am down. I feel so blessed to have her as a companion. I am
praying we will get to stay together! We had quite the adventure
together this weekend!

Sunday was probably one of the longest days of my whole life. We had a
stake meeting with the ward councils, president Woodbury, and the
stake presidency discussing ways to help members and missionaries work
together. The meeting was at 7 am but with daylight savings it really
was at 6 am. Sooo we had to wake up super early.. Anyways everything
was going great until we left the apartment to drive to the meeting
and.... NO KEYS. we left them in the apartment AGAIN. We both
panicked.... We could not miss this meeting! The only option was to
train to the meeting... So we walked-ran- to the train in the pouring
rain, thankfully we made it to the meeting..but arrived SOAKING wet.
Ah it was quite the adventure. Buuuut that was not all... We couldn't
get back into our apartment or car until This morning so we ended up
staying at another sisters apartment. It was a long day of walkin in
the rain, and I definitely felt empathy for the homeless. But on the
bright side... Carleen came to church and stayed the whole time! The
people in the ward really made her feel welcome. She is such a darling
girl. It was so cool the relief society lesson was all about the
restoration. It was perfect! She texted us after church and told us
she talked with her parents and her dad was totally okay with it and
he actually wanted to come to church and learn more!! Answer to
prayers?! Um. YES.

I love this Easter season... The new church Easter initiative video
came out, it is called "hallelujah" I encourage each of you to watch
it. I have found new life in Jesus Christ! It is because of him that
we are able to be forgiven of our sins and become better each and
every day. I know this church is true without a doubt in my mind.
Jesus Christ is my light and my strength. I testify of the small and
simple things thAt strengthen a testimony. If you desire for your
testimony to be strengthened.. Bear witness of the plain and simple
truths you know. The spirit will always bear witness of the truth.
Thank you for all of your love and support! I sure love all of you!
You are in my prayers!

Sister Parke

Figured I'd share a list we've come up with of funny things to expect
when in Chicago.
-There is always an ambulance and a fire truck with every police
officer, even if they're pulling someone over
-If you miss a one-way turn, you have to take like 5 turns to make it up
-Hazard lights are your official park-anywhere-lights, and you can
seriously park anywhere you want to, including the middle of the road
-The freeways are all 55mph but everyone still drives 70-80mph
-In Chicago the breakdown lane is actually an additional lane everyone
feels comfortable using it.
-There is a Dunkin' Donuts, star bucks, and McDonald's at least every half mile
-Gas is always about $1.75, and never goes over $2
-There are little graveyards and cemeteries (there is a difference)
everywhere you go with old creepy headstones like in movies
-sirens sounds at least every five minutes during the night.
-st Patrick's day really just means national " excuse to get
absolutely wasted at 9 am" day. Kids, stay inside
-wind definitely can and will push you if you dare to venture out
-if you get lost and walk two blocks, you will be in a completely
different neighborhood,  which can either be really good or bad
-if someone is going too slow, it's acceptable to pull up next to them
at a stop sign or stop light and then speed around them
-you get honked at least 3 times daily, sometimes even if you're just walking
-It's totally normal to meet people from at least 5 countries on any given day
-if you don't lock your apartment building, it's very likely to find a
homeless man inside
-Chicago has a whole road dedicated to lgbt aka "rainbow road"
-sometimes it rains ice shards and they hurt your face.
-it's fashionable to wear a coat that goes down to your knees or lower
-never never never say you don't like deep dish pizza. The whole city
will be personally offended.