Monday, April 4, 2016

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

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