Monday, April 25, 2016

Pictures In Humility

Zone Conference April 2016

Beaches are my favorite!

Beautiful Carleen's Baptism and I got to see Sister Patterson again!

Carleen with her Dad and sister

Tracking as a District sharing Family History outside the train station and there were 12 Books of Mormon handed out!

Ok we are in heaven. :)  Ice cream is my favorite!

Dinner out with the Sisters!

In Humility

Dear Family and Friends-

Hello! Things are going great here in lakeshore YSA! Sister Webber and
I are working hard and God is blessing us in so many ways. The time
just keeps going by faster and faster... I can't believe we are
already halfway through the transfer. Sister Webber is doing so good
and is catching on to things real quick. Our personalities are very
similar and we both have the desire to work hard and give the lord our
all. I am so grateful for her! Well. Just going to jump right into
this week!

A member referred his friend Jess and has been teaching her about the
gospel. She has been attending institute every week and LOVES it. She
is reading through the Book of Mormon. We had the opportunity to take
her on a church tour and answer many of her questions! We met with her
for the first actual "missionary lesson" on Tuesday evening. We taught
her about the restoration... Wow she has been soooo prepared to hear
about the gospel. She grew up non-religious but lately has felt like
there is something more. After looking into the church she says she
just feels so much happier and knows it's right. The spirit was
incredibly strong. We taught her how to pray for the first time. We
knelt in prayer with her as she spoke to her Heavenly Father... The
spirit flooded the room. It's moments like those that missionaries
just live for. Jess is amazing and has so much faith! I am so grateful
for the opportunity I have been blessed with to help teach her about
the gospel.

On Friday we contacted as a district! It was so much fun! We had a big
map right outside of a train station for people to write where their
ancestors are from. We were able to share a lot about family history
and the wonderful resources we have been blessed with. Family history
is something that I really take for granted. I have come to appreciate
the importance of learning of our ancestors and taking their names to
the temple! Missionary work is intertwined with family history! It is
all one great work! The contacting activity was a huge success and
many people were interested, we were even able to place 12 Books of
Mormon in one day!

On Saturday we attended a refugee training for a program that we are
going to start working with to serve within the community. World
Relief Chicago is one of ten national organizations contracted with
the US State Department to resettle refugees from around the world and
they do a lot of great work in the Chicago region! There are so many
young single adults there from all over and the WRC organization
ENCOURAGES us to share our religion with those around us! What a great
missionary opportunity!! Sister Webber and I are very excited to help
get the YSA more involved in service! There are so many opportunities
to help those in need. I am grateful for the recent I was a stranger
initiative that encourages us as members of the church to serve all
those we can.

So most definitely the highlight of my week was Carleens baptism. God
is so good, everything went perfectly! I don't even know how to
describe the feelings of happiness that come from watching someone you
have helped gain a testimony be baptized... It's incredible. Thinking
back to the first day I met Carleen, watching her learn and grow in
the gospel is one of the sweetest experiences. The ward was there to
support her and her dad and her sister came to the baptism. The spirit
was so powerful... Carleen had tears streaming down her face. The
gospel brings so much joy!! There is no greater happiness than helping
to bring others closer to Jesus Christ.

Sunday was amazing. President and sister Woodbury came to our ward
because President confirmed Carleen. Wow, the blessing was so
powerful... Carleen is such a special girl and the Lord has so many
good things in store for her. I know she is paving the way for her
family to join the church... Her dad is genuinely interested and asked
for a Book of Mormon and has so many questions! It is just a miracle
to see the lord be involved in the very details of this work. Speaking
of miracles.... So we had a random man named Aquila show up to
Carleens baptism... He wanted to start taking the missionary lessons
and coming to the SA Branch.. Which is a miracle, because the branch
has been fasting for more missionary opportunities. So that is pretty
legit. He just showed up to church and came to the branch. So it will
be interesting to see where this goes!
Ahhh. Back to Jess. She came to church on Sunday which was suuuuper
awesome because she was able to witness Carleens confirmation which
was an incredibly spiritual experience. She has so many questions and
truly is a remarkable girl with genuine intentions about learning more
about the gospel. She is soaking it all in like a sponge! We are
meeting with her Monday evening! So excited.. I already love this

Hmmm. What else... We had another lesson with Matt and Ariel Sunday
evening. We were able to have a very spiritual discussion about trials
and challenges and turning our hearts to God even when hard times
come. They are really starting to open up with us and trust us a lot
more. They are incredible people and I am learning so much from them.

Oh. Another miracle moment. Right before sacrament meeting for the SA
branch sister Webber and I came back out to get a drink of agua... And
a member from another ward  came up and started talking to us. He said
that he felt prompted that he needed to give us a referral for one of
his friends who he felt who benefit from the gospel. Here we are...
Standing there with some member we had never even met and he was
giving us a solid referral! #miracle. That's not even the best part.
We contacted the referral and she was so enthusiastic about learning
more about the gospel! We are meeting with her this week! God is so

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is Pride. A mission
truly is the MOST HUMBLING experience and it involves enough humility
to give everything to the lord. Annnnd that my friends is easier said
than done. I've been struggling with pride.. How often I
unintentionally find myself thinking that I know best of what work
needs to be done in this area. In essence I have a really hard time
accepting the fact that people have agency.. And that makes me
prideful. TRUST and HUMILITY go hand in hand... We have to be humble
enough to trust God and know that he is ultimately in charge and he
knows each one of his children. Submitting completely MY WILL to HIS
WILL. If we only understood what this truly means. Each day I fall
short.. And catch myself falling into my own selfish thoughts and
desires. But... I am TRYING each day! I desire to serve the lord with
all of my mind, might, and strength.. And that is what he asks of
us... Is the desire to go and to do. He has promised he will make up
for the rest... And he always does! That's why as a missionary I am
blessed to witness so many miracles.. Because each and everyday i
strive and pray for the desire to fulfill gods will.. And as I try to
serve him.. He makes up the difference! I pray that I will not hinder
gods work, rather help it move forward as I humble myself and trust in
him. There is a quote by president Benson that says "We can choose to
humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and
putting Him first in our lives." I love it. I know this gospel is true
with all of my heart. I am so grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ and
his patience and Love towards me. I am so thankful for the atonement
that gives me strength and forgiveness of my many shortcomings. I am
so blessed to have the knowledge of the gospel and I have such a
strong desire for others to partake of the happiness that comes from a
personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  It is a
remarkable privilege to be able to serve the Lord in his great work. I
encourage each of you to look for oppotunities to serve those around
you and share the light and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Have a great week!

Sister Rachel Parke

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pictures I love you!

Gotta love that skyline!

Love Sister Webber!

What a great P-day! Walk along the beach in the warm sand!

Who doesn't love sushi! yum!!

Cynthia's pondering the Plan of Salvation! :)

I love you!


Alright, well just going to apologize in advance... I don't really
have time this week to type up a weekly letter. But there is so much
that I need to update you on! Sister Webber and I have been enjoying
our Pday with a therapeutic walk along the beach! We took our shoes
off and walked barefoot in the sand it felt so good.. And time got
away from us! We had walked 5 miles along the lakeshore before we knew
it.. The weather here is beautiful. Okay so honestly and truly my
writing skills are just feeling lazy today. So bare with me this week
was a blur.

I have been working hard and witnessing miracles that God
loves his children. Heavenly Father has blessed us soooo much this
week... I don't even know where to begin with describing all of the
miracles. This upcoming week is going to be the greatest! CARLEEN IS
GETTING BAPTIZED! She is so incredible. I love her so much! I will be
playing the piano at her baptism as well! Ha. Apparently word gets
around. What have I gotten myself into? Hah just kidding. But it
should be very good... Sister Woodbury is speaking and president will
be confirming Carleen with the Holy Ghost! Is has been such a neat
experience to have taught Carleen in the mission home and have her
establish a great relationship with president and sister Woodbury! I
am looking forward to her baptism I know it will be the highlight of
the week!

Well, looks. Like you've had a fun time in California! Great job to
emi! That is so exciting! Mom, I'm sorry your purse was
stolen! That is a bummer! Did the get it back for you? That's a
blessing that you had your phone! I miss you and I love you so much! I
hope you are enjoying the springtime!
Please don't forget to send pictures! I promise I'll send a better
email next week!

Love you so much!
Have a great week!

Sister Parke

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pictures Armies of Helaman

Introducing new companion Sister Webber!!

Ahh Dad would like this!

Mission Council

Goodbye Hug Sister Patterson ;(

Got a Hello hug from Sister Plomgren! ;) 

Last night as comps together in the Mission home!

We are BFF's already :)

Yes my new comp has a great sense of humor!

Ice Cream out with Brie!

Armies of Helaman

Hello Family and Friends!
Wow. The past few days have been so busy! On Monday night we received a phone call from the APs saying that we needed to spend the night at the mission home with a new sister who just arrived to the mission! It was so fun to spend my last night with sister Patterson in the mission home and getting to know the new sister who is from Utah and attended weber state! Crazy right? Small world. Anyways... Tuesday was absolutely insane. Drove down to Indiana dropped off sister Patterson and then picked up my new companion sister Webber. Oh my goodness. What a day! I sure love my new companion! We are going to get along very well I just know it... It's meant to be because... 1. She was a swimmer and loves to run. (YAY RUNNING BUDDY) 2. She shares the same love for bananas. 3. She's just awesome. Sister Webber is from Rigby Idaho. She is an incredibly hard worker and I am very excited to work right along beside her as we go about doing the lords work in this area! 
So let's get down to the nitty gritty... This week has been full of miracles! The best feeling as a missionary is coming home at the end of the day completely EXHAUSTED. apologies in advance., this email is going to be all over the place! Pretty much the past few days in Chicago it's decided to be a Blizzard in April. Which makes contacting very fun. I don't think I have ever laughed or cried so hard in my life. Oh my goodness sister Webber is hilarious and absolutely incredible! I just love her. Plus she is theeee beeeest missionary contact-er ever literally... She takes talking to everyone to a whole new level. So yup. Talking to peeps in chi town lots of good stories.. And so many PNIs! I can just tell this is going to be such a good transfer! President interviewed sister Webber and I together after mission council tonight and promised that as we relied on the lord and worked hard and obedient the lord would bless us with the fruit of our Labors. Such a cool promise. 
Since sister Webber has gotten here we have just been witnessing miracles left and right. Randomly on Thursday we get this phone call from a man from Thailand who moved here to America and had been taking the lessons from missionaries back there. He has a Book of Mormon and has been reading it everyday. He told us that he knew it was true and that he wanted to be baptized!! Sister Webber and I just looked at each other like... What in the world??? So yes. He lord is preparing people and it is miraculous. Talking about baptism. We had an amazing lesson with Carleen with president and sister Woodbury on Thursday night. Carleen is so prepared for baptism... The whole lesson was on alma 24 and making covenants with God... We invited Carleen to be baptized... And she said "I just feel like I need to receive the Holy Ghost" And then out of the blue... President said. "There's a baptism tonight... Right now! We must go!" So we all hop in the car together... drive to the church down the street and witness the baptism. It was so comforting to Carleen and such an answer to prayers. We went back to the mission home and president made us crepes... And we talked more about baptism... And Carleen has made the decision to be BAPTIZED ON APRIL 23rd!!! Could not be more excited... 
Ahh what else... So funny story! We saw a woman giving money to a homeless lady.. And it melted our hearts. We thought, hey this woman really deserves the gospel! Sad part was... It took is about 10 seconds to finally recognize the prompting and the woman was already down the street. So we decided... We were going to run after her. Yes. We ran. She was generally interested and we swapped contact info hopefully meeting with her sometime this week! 
So remember the man that we met in the library last week? Well.. Our first lesson with carter was amazing! We taught him the restoration and all about the Book of Mormon! He was very receptive to the message and committed to read the Book of Mormon. We invited him to baptism on the first lesson.. Which was very powerful! He said he would continue to study... And that he felt the Holy Spirit while reading from it and meeting with us! Soooo cool. We have an appointment to meet up with him next week! Very excited about that! 
We had a lesson with a less active in our branch, and her niece was there. We have taught her lessons in the past. Anyways long story short, she has started coming to church. It was a very powerful lesson and she wants to be baptized! Sadly, she is heading back to Puerto Rico next we are going to set her up with the missionaries there! 
Sunday was such a blur. It was fast Sunday at we were in church from 9-4 and then we had to teach a fireside afterwards that didn't get done until 6 then we had a lesson downtown right after... Since we don't like to pay for parking on Sunday's... We walked 2 miles in the wet rain. Man, What a day. We worked hard and the Lord blessed us! An awesome part of our day and a miracle of fasting... We had a member from another ward come up to us during church telling us about a friend he has that has been interested about learning about the church and has been reading from the Book of Mormon. We are giving her a tour of the church this week and we are so very excited!! 
So...Sister Webber and I set a goal for the week to find five new investigators by Sunday. We knew it would be a challenge but we knew the lord would bless us for our diligence and would make our efforts whole. So we worked soooo hard this week. We were able to get two new investigators.. But by the time Sunday came we were a little unsure because all of our pnis weren't getting back to us. Buuuut miracle moments. Matt and Ariel (new investigators) has friends-who wanted to learn about the Book of Mormon- join us for a lesson! Instant four new investigators. The lord is so good, and I know he helps us reach our goals if we are willing to put forth the effort! 
I have been studying in the alma chapters about the 2,000 stripling warriors. What a wonderful example... Their strong faith and courage and trust inspires me to become a better missionary. As I have been studying the war chapters more in depth I have gained a deeper appreciation for these young men who left behind their families and put their trust in God and defended their faith. So, maybe it is just because I am a missionary... But I found so many similarities to missionary work as I read through chapters 56-58. A few things that really stood out to me were...
The courage these young men had.. I am sure they knew it would be hard and scary, but they had been taught by their mothers, and they put their trust in God and knew he would deliver them. I also love that they are upon the midst of war and how easy it would have been for them to let their guard down and become discouraged but they remembered their responsibility and duty to God at all times. 
What also stuck out to me was their firm and undaunted faith.. They were so faithful and obeyed with exactness! Even when things grew harder they did not doubt or murmur.. They knew God would protect them. Obviously this did not mean none of them weren't injured or hurt.. Or they didn't have challenges or trials... Or moments of doubt and fear.. For it says that many were wounded. However, despite these challenges they remained steadfast and faithful, and none of the young men lost their lives. There a many things I have taken away from the story of the armies of helaman. Especially as I have prayed and fasted to know how I can utilize the atonement of Jesus Christ to help me improve as a missionary. I am but an imperfect missionary trying to teach a perfect gospel! I am so humbled each and every day as I witness the Lords hand in this work. I LOVE the primary song, we'll bring the world his truth.
We are as the army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord’s missionaries
To bring the world his truth. 
I know his plan, and I will prepare,
Increase my knowledge through study and prayer.
Daily I'll learn, for I have been called
To take the gospel to all the world."

I know what we seek for Heavenly Father will help us find. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good. This is the light and hope of the world. I know that through Jesus Christ we are able to make it back to live with our Father in Heaven. I love this perfect gospel!
I hope you have a great week! I invite you to reread the conference talks! Thank you for your love and support! 
Sister Parke 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pictures April Showers

Abel and Sixto!

Ahh ... more pics from my Kappelman family visit!

Carleen and Tim!


General Conference at the Mission Home!


Missionary style lunch...on the run!

Look at the bottom left. 2 inches away from the curb! Sorry...another parallel parking picture! It's a mission miracle!

Getting my hair braided while waiting at the train station!

Did I mention I love being a missionary!?

Did I mention I love this city?!

April Shower

Hello Everyone!

The dreaded day has come, my dearest sister Patterson is leaving me!
She is going to Valparaiso Indiana... And I will be training a new
sister as an STL here in the city! I am very sad to see sister
Patterson go, but I am looking forward to getting to know my new
companion sister Webber! We will be driving to Valparaiso Indiana
tomorrow to pick her up! This week has of course been a very busy one,
and I am sure the upcoming weeks will be full of adventure as well...
Especially with helping sister Webber get to know the area! I'm a
little nervous, since our area is so big but it will be so good!
Ahh, where to start? Well. Our mission is launching a "just serve"
initiative to help missionaries get involved within the Community. We
are allotted 10 hours of serve time a week... Which seems like a
lot... But it is the best finding opportunity and everyone is always
so happy! It is my most favorite! So sister Patterson and I have been
scouting out our area for opportunities to serve. We were able to find
and volunteer at a small food pantry for those who don't have money
for food of groceries. It was such a humbling experience. There were
so many refugees from ALL over the world. I will never take for
granted the blessing of having money to by food and groceries. What a
blessing it was for these people to have food to eat and to take to
their families. It just really opened up my eyes to how many people
truly are in need, and the responsibility we have to help them. I love
that women's conference was all about service and reaching out and
serving those around us in our communities.

Thursday was an eventful day... It started out with a meeting with all
of the district leaders we had to attend as STLs. So that was a party.
We had the most amazing lesson with Brie! It was the first time seeing
her in a couple weeks because she had been gone for spring break and
Easter... And she came prepared and read from the Book of Mormon the
whole break! The lesson was AWESOME. Brie is progressing very well. We
discussed the importance of prayer and scripture study to receive
answers. It was very powerful. She said that she feels the Book of
Mormon is bringing peace in her life and giving her a sense of
direction. She described that ever since meeting with us she has been
much happier and feels as if she has a purpose in life. One of the
sweetest members Keryn, did a wonderful job at testifying and helping
her understand how to apply the scriptures to her life. We are praying
for Brie that as she comes to gain a greater understanding and
testimony of the Book of Mormon and its divine truthfulness that she
will press forward with her decision to be baptized! Highlight of the
day: successfully parallel parked three times. Also, became best
friends with the manager at Jamba Juice and got free smoothies. Pretty
much the greatest. Oh and got my hair braided at the train station.
Yup. That was intense.
Alright... So, remember Brianna? The girl we contacted on the train?
That we have been meeting with? Well we hadn't met with her in awhile
because she also was on spring break... But she texted us and invited
us over for dinner on Thursday night! We brought a member with us
around her same age and they got along great!  Dinner was great, and
then we had a lesson afterwards about the plan of salvation. Well, the
lesson didn't exactly go according to plans.. It started off with us
asking how her reading and understanding of the Book of Mormon has
been. She then told us that she sincerely prayed to know if the Book
of Mormon was true, and as she read from it she had feelings of anger
and resentment. She was confused and asked if those were feelings
coming from God letting her know the book wasn't true? Sister
Patterson and I  were both Unsure how to respond to her question.
Thankfully, we are not alone in these lessons and the spirit was able
to fill our mouths as we testified of the truthfulness of the Book of
Mormon. Brianna's heart seemed to soften.. Her heart is filled with
the desire to learn, it's just so hard because she has so many
difficult questions to be answered. She is such and adorable girl and
we have established a good relationship with her. We are helping her
to recognize the importance of the Book of Mormon and how it is
convincing evidence that all that we share with her is true.

We had the most amazing lesson with our new investigator Sixto on
Friday night. It all fell into place. One of the members in the SA
branch is from Cuba and has been a member of the church for three
years. He has been asking to retake the missionary lessons because
there is still a lot he doesn't understand. We scheduled am appoint
ment with him on Friday night. We have been trying to meet with Sixto
and the only night he could meet was Friday night. Since they are both
from Cuba., we thought hey why not schedule them together? It was
meant to be!! They clicked immedietely. Abel recently just brought his
mother and sister and her family to the US a little over a year ago.
Sixto explained how he has been through so many religions and
searching for the truth. He is looking to know and understand faith.
We introduced him to the Book of Mormon and testified of its
truthfulness. Wow, it was incredibly powerful, the spirit was so
strong. Abel was able to relate to all of sixtos questions and Lisa
(abels girlfriend) was there and she was also there to help answer
questions and testify! Sixto said what drew him into the church was
the pureness and the peace he felt. He used to own a bike shop years
ago and helped elders to fix their bikes. He said the young men would
always invite but never force their religion on him, and that really
had a positive impact.  Sixto asked about baptism, and abels mom,
listening from the kitchen came into the room and started testifying
about her baptism... In Spanish! Ahhh it was SO COOL. Definitely one
of my most favorite lessons on my mission. Sixto is willing to read
and learn more about the Book of Mormon!

So on Friday morning, sister Patterson and I were having a more
difficult time getting excited to get out the door and having the
desire to start contacting... Particularly because it was raining.
There may or may not have been a few words of murmuring...but we made
sure to pray and headed out for the day! We had to go to the library
for a moment to send off some emails. As we were leaving there I
noticed a man who was sitting alone in the corner reading the bible. I
felt a strong prompting to go and to talk to him... I was a little
skeptical because there is no proselyting in the library and we have
been asked to leave before... But decided to risk it! So i walked over
to him and asked if I could share a picture of Christ with him. His
eyes lite up! He said... "Latter day saint missionaries! I know you!
You believe in the prophet Joseph smith! Ya know, I noticed you when I
came in, I could just see the light of Christ in your eyes!" We had a
wonderful conversation and discovered that he had met with Lds
missionaries when he was 17 years old. He asked if we could meet this
Sunday. Unfortunately our schedule is full, but he gladly gave us his
information and we are going to set up a time to meet with him!!! It
was THE biggest miracle. I know the lord blesses us when we do what we
are supposed to do... Especially when we don't feel like doing it!
The greatest feeling when you know the lord is placing people who are
ready to receive the gospel in your path!

One of the most amazing weekends of my life! General conference was
absolutely incredible! Seriously, it is better than Christmas!
Saturday we were able to watch the morning session with one of our
recent converts Gabe, it was super great because he hasn't been to
church in a few months. Sunday was easily one of my favorite days of
my mission! We went over to a members house to watch the morning
session and make a southern style lunch consisting of Homemade mac and
cheese yum. Anyways it was super awesome because Cynthia was able to
come and join with us! Her boyfriend leaves back to China later this
month... Hallelujah! And then hopefully she can focus more of her
efforts on learning about the church. Sunday afternoon was perfect. We
went over to the mission home and met our investigator Tim there.
earlier that felt prompted to invite Carleen to watch general
conference and she was able to join with us! It was SUCH A COOL
EXPERIENCE to be able to watch conference with president and sister
Woodbury and our two investigators. Carleen started to cry during the
session because she felt her prayers were being answered. She is
progressing very well. Ahhh I love president Woodbury, after the
Sunday session he made us the BEST crepes in the world! He went to
Germany on his mission and mastered the way of the crepe! It was super
fancy and delicious.  It was so great to discuss with Tim and Carleen
what they thought of conference. Carleen ended up staying until late
that evening, and she shared with us the many ways in which her faith
has been growing and the differences she has seen in her life and how
much happier she feels. Just when I thought the night couldn't get any
better sister Patterson and I were able to have personal interviews
with President Woodbury. He is such an inspired man, and provided a
lot of comfort and counsel on how I can progress and draw closer to
the savior as a missionary.

I loved that so many of the conference talks were centered around
remembering. Remembering who we are and where we are
going...Remembering to keep the commandments... Remembering the
importance of ordinances and covenants... Remembering to keep the lord
first in all things! I was studying in helaman this morning as he too
was teaching the people to remember. One of my favorite verses of
scripture is helaman 5:12. I love the verse that follows in vs. 47.
"Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my well beloved,
who was from the foundation of the world." I love that. We receive the
peace and comfort of God... When we are faithful! Faith has been a
common theme in my studies. Faith is so simple yet so complex. We
exercise faith when we are humble and sanctify ourselves. I love the
scripture helaman 3:35 when the people are facing hardship and were
scared and confused... They prayed in humility until their faith grew
firmer and firmer. They sanctified themselves and yielded their hearts
to God. This week I am striving to completely yield my heart to the
lord and pray for his will in this area! I know that as we give our
best to the lord he always makes it into what he needs it to become. I
love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Sister Parke