Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Manner of Happiness

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has been a week full of miracles for sure! The lord is
blessing us with so many people to teach. Our investigators are
progressing well and it is such an exciting time! Our new mission
president arrives on Thursday. We will be taking his daughters on
splits that night! I am looking forward to meeting their family! We
have a busy next couple of weeks ahead of us especially with all of
the new change! HAPPY NEWS.
IM NOT GETTING TRANSFERRED!! When I found out it literally was the
Happiest moment of my whole life.  Sister Webber and I are stayin
together! Prayers are ANSWERED!! It is truly a gift from God that we
get to stay together! The APs were tellin me that I had been in the
area for a long time and that we had been together for a long time and
that it was obvious that we would be separated... I was SO SAD! I
didn't feel like I was done yet in this area and there was no way I
wanted to leave sister Webber. I may have had slight anxiety about the
fear of being transferred! Buuuut God answers prayers. I am so so so
grateful for the opportunity that I have to stay here and serve with
sister Webber!! God has so much work for us to do in this area! (:

Also... VERY HAPPY NEWS. Jess has made the decision to be baptized on
July 23rd!!! We had an amazing lesson with her all about the atonement
and the importance of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ. It was
very powerful, we also discussed baptism.. However Jess was still
feeling unsure about deciding a date. We urged her to continue to pray
and study the scriptures. She called us Tuesday night crying saying
that she had received her answer as she was studying from the Book of
Mormon and that she wanted to be baptized. She said "this is one of
the happiest moments I've ever felt! I am so filled with love and
joy."  sister Webber and I were jumping up and down... Laughing...
Crying... When you love someone so much, and they feel of the
happiness the gospel brings it truly is the BEST feeling in the whole
world. I wouldn't trade it for anything else.. I am so grateful that
God blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it!

On Saturday we participated in a huge service project called "Chicago
cares". It was the best experience! We went with members of our ward
and Jess also came with us! We traveled down to the south side of
Chicago and painted an elementary school. It was so much fun! Even
though we were insanely hot and sweaty we were very happy!

This week in my studies I have been pondering about happiness. Aren't
we all seeking happiness? God created us to be happy! But what is true
happiness... And how can we obtain it? The answer is simple. The
gospel of Jesus Christ provides joy and happiness through obeying and
keeping the commandments! I was studying this week in 2 nephi chapter
5. At this point in the Book of Mormon the people had centered their
lives upon gospel truths and "....[they] lived after the manner of
happiness” (2 Ne. 5:27). Even though these people lived so long ago,
the principles and simplicity of happiness still applies to us today.
Heavenly Father loves us so much, and he wants to bless us!! He has
promised that he will bless us as we live righteously and obey the
commandments. I have a testimony that true joy comes from living the
gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully and giving our will to him! I know
God hears and answers prayers. I am so grateful for the opportunity to
participate in this sacred work. The gospel changes lives.. By
teaching the pattern of peace.. We are blessed with true joy! I have
felt of this happiness, and desire to share it with others. When we
share the goodness of the gospel, the joy that we feel becomes even
greater! I invite you to pray for those around you who are searching
for happiness, and reach out to them in love, and share with them your
testimony of gods plan for his children! I promise that the Lord will
work through you to bless his children.

I LOVE being a missionary here in Chicago! Keep praying for the
missionaries all over the world to find those who are prepared to
receive the gospel. Have a wonderful week!

Sister Rachel Parke

Chicago cares project
Know that I have learned to knit, all of the elders are requesting
"knitted ties"
Investigator cara taking my vitals for EMT class!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pictures I'm All out of Lies...

It's been a rough week...saying goodbye to President Woodbury!

I guess Im more stressed than I thought. Boil # 3 for the Mission. Yikes I hate these things!

I'm all out of Lies...

Hello Family and Friends-

The letter that follows may be hard to believe.. Trust me when I say
I'm all out of lies... I've got nothin but the cold hard truth. Ive
nearly escaped my ways to say I've died this week. Barely avoided
being hit by a crappy purple scion downtown Chicago. Got a blessing
sent from above aka. I was pooped on by a bird. Yeah.. It was
DISGUSTING. Right after I got out of the car... It hit me... All over
my hair.. And dress! Sister Webber could not stop laughing.... It was
pretty much the worst! Looking back now though it's pretty hilarious.
Oh. And ps. I'm going to the doctor today because I have a boil on my
forehead. But hey, all is well that ends well.. And we had an amazing
lesson with Michael and he is on date for July 28th!

On Tuesday we went on exchanges... I went to sister Davis's area. We
saw many miracles! We didn't have any appointments scheduled so.. That
meant referrals and finding! It was Super great we WALKED a lot a lot,
the lord was literally placing people in our path. We prayed to know
what direction to go, and what referral to contact.. So we headed on
our merry way... As we got to the referral a saw a woman walking down
the street... And guess who it was... CARA!! Out of all the streets,
out of all the people... We bumped into cara! It was so great we were
then able to go to her house and have a lesson with her! It was the
coolest miracle ever.

We started a new institute class with Jess this week. She has so many
questions and such a strong desire to learn it inspires me! She helps
me to strengthen my own testimony! I love her so much! We had a great
lesson with her this week, one of our recent converts joined us and
shared her testimony a bout when she was baptized.. It was so
powerful! Jess is working towards finishing the Book of Mormon before
she is baptized.

On Saturday we drove down to Indiana for a baptism of someone that
sister Webber helped teach! It was so great to see my old companion
sister Patterson.. And also to get my experience of Indiana! It's a
whole lot different than Chicago! That night we had an appointment
downtown with one of our investigators. On our way back home we
witnessed a miracle! So.. We were waiting for the train... And the
line we needed just wasn't coming! Turns out the girl standing right
next to us was having the same problem! We started talking to her and
ended up hoping on another random train.. Anyways, long story short we
got to know her better throughout this confusion with the trains. Her
name is Bethany and she is studying world religion! She working
towards her doctorates and has heard about Mormons before but hasn't
studied it too in depth. She wants to meet up to learn more this next
week! She is the sweetest girl. God has definitely prepared her to
learn about this gospel and the truth it contains! The lord is
blessing us in so many ways!

I had an enlightening moment this week when everything just seemed to
"click" in my mind. I was sitting on the train thinking... How does
God know and understand all of these people?... And not only that! How
are we all children of God? I thought about this long and hard... Did
I truly believe that? This is something that I teach EVERYDAY, but I
had a slight moment of doubt and questioning. It then hit me... Like a
ton of bricks. Almost as if a voice in my head said..."I KNOW them and
I LOVE them." There is such a power that comes from knowing we are
literally children of God! We are his children and he loves us more
than we can comprehend. Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bone,
we (as spirit children) wanted to become like him, but we knew we
couldn't progress or receive a body unless we came to earth. God knew
this from the beginning and he presented a beautiful plan! We would
come to earth and receive a body to be tested and tried. THE WHOLE
PURPOSE OF THIS PLAN is ultimately so we can return to live with God
again. But... Things will be different! We will have our families and
resurrected bodies, and will be able to eternally progress. The power
and beauty of life is incredible. So back to my original question...
"How does God know and understand each and everyone of us?" Because we
are HIS. When this finally "clicked".. The knowledge I have been
taught my whole life... This spirit just hit me so strong. It was
almost as if I had an awakening moment that God was telling
me.."Rachel! You are to be an instrument in my hands in reminding my
children who are lost or who have gone astray of who they truly are."
The plan of salvation is so simple, yet it can never be fully
understood. How great and wondrous are the works of God. This life is
so short. We can't comprehend the happiness we will feel of when we
are reunited with our loving parents in heaven! I have testimony of
Gods merciful plan. I bear witness that he knows and loves each and
everyone of his children and wants them to turn to him.

Well. As you can see it has been an eventful week. I can't believe
this transfer is almost over! Thank you for all of your support!! Love
and miss you! Have a great week!

Sister Parke

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pictures Tenacity

A view of Chicago from the SkyDeck!

A nice cold drink of water makes the heat tolerable!

Homemade cookies after a long day! yum!

Meet Jess!! I really did eat most of the bag of chips..seriously. 

Last Zone Conference with Pres. and Sister Woodbury! :(

Such a beautiful Amazing city!

My email zone...the Harold Washington Library! So Huge! I love it!

SkyDeck for P-day! Perfect!


Hello Family and Friends! 

This week has been a test of faith but the Lord has been blessing us in so many ways. Sister Webber and I worked very hard and did a whole bunch of contacting good ole missionary work! It's officially summer here in Chicago!! Suuuuper HOT AND HUMID. But it means that so many more people are outside which makes missionary work fun! We have been spending quite a bit of time on the "EL TRAIN" this week, which is Spanish for "THE TRAIN" here in Chi town. (; Haha Chicago is such a beautiful place, I love it with all of my heart!! 
Nothing too exciting to report on this week, we had zone conference with President Woodbury. It was so bittersweet! It was his last zone conference with us so we all got a little teary eyed! However, the mission is ready for some change and we are very excited for president Bingham and his family to join us! Things will be a little different since he has 16 yr old twin daughters coming to stay at the mission home and also his son who just got off a mission from El Salvador. I'm looking forward to getting to know them, I already know they are amazing!! 
Update on investigators this week! Jess is progressing as well as ever. We had a great lesson with her on Monday evening about tithing which then morphed into a discussion all about personal testimony and developing a testimony. After fasting on Sunday she received an answer to one of her personal questions that made her feel more prepared to be baptized. She told us that she wants to make sure she is ready and prepared for baptism and wants to complete the Book of Mormon (which won't be hard because she reads about 5 chapters a day) before she gets baptized. She did say that since her question has been answered she feels closer to being baptized and that she wants it to be before Brandt (member) moves to Utah. So we are thinking more towards the end of the summer! President. Jess is SO incredible. Every time I get out of a lesson with her I just say a prayer of gratitude to God for allowing me to just have the opportunity to see her grow her testimony of the gospel. She is very powerful and I know she will do many great and wonderful things. 
Couple other miracles to add in this week! We had a new member recently move here from Nigeria a few weeks ago. We spent some time last week helping her move, and she introduced is to her roommate. Turns out, her roommate (Amina) is sincerely interested about learning about the Book of Mormon! we met with her this week and had a great lesson on the restoration! She has definitely been prepared by God to receive the gospel! I already love her so much! 
New investigator Cara, I mentioned her last letter. She is also absolutely incredible. She came to a BBQ we had with the branch this week and LOVED it. She bonded very well with a lot of the members, and it was so good to get to know her better. The more she shared with us about her life the more I can just feel that the gospel is just what she is seeking!! She came to church this Sunday and loved it. She asked questions about the sacrament. We have an appointment with her this week at one of our members homes. We are looking forward to it! 
We also met with Diamond this week. We finished up teaching her the restoration, and she was very receptive to the message. She has been reading from the Book of Mormon, and is praying to know if it is true. Her heart has truly been softened by the Lord. When we introduced her to the doctrine of modern prophets she said "I don't know if that is true right now, but I'm going to pray about it!" What more could you ask for? She is wonderful! 
Michael has also been so prepared by God. We met again with him last night and read through some of the Book of Mormon with him. We are getting to know him better and how he gained faith in Jesus Christ. He is from Mumbai and left his country a couple years ago for religious freedom to believe in Christ. Ever since then he has been searching for the truth! How cool is that? We invited him to be baptized and he said he wanted to read the Book of Mormon first to know if it is true, and also come to church! I know God has definitely led us to him at this time of his life. 

I have been studying about enduring to the end and came across the talk "continually Holding Fast" by Kevin Hamilton and this particular passage stood out to me and I would like to share...

"As a lesson to those of our day who might be tempted to choose a different path, the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi shared a vision with his family where he “saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which [he] stood.

"And … they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
“And … there arose a mist of darkness; … insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.”

Lehi then saw a second group that was “pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” Unfortunately, “after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed” because of those in “a great and spacious building” that “were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come … and were partaking of the fruit.” These people then “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” They were unable, or perhaps unwilling, to endure to the end.

There was, however, a third group that was not only successful in reaching the tree of life, but they afterward did not fall away. Of these, the scriptures say that they pressed “forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” The rod of iron represented for this group of people the only safety and security that they could find, and they held fast continually; they refused to let go."

After studying this article, I read through the talk in june 2016 ensign all about Tenacity and I have been pondering on the correlation between the two. In this story, the third group that did not fall away.., and endured to the end! The people were very "tenacious". Tenacity means to have persistence, perseverance, and stubborn determination. It also states, “Tenacity is the quality displayed by someone who just won’t quit--who keeps trying until they reach their goal.” Something that I am continually learning on my mission is the attribute of patience... Which requires tenacity. I have learned that patience is not just enduring, but enduring it well! All of us are faced at some point of our lives with a challenge or a trial. We have to have persistence. We have to understand that God is expecting us not to give up! He is there to help us along the way. So my family and friends, let us be TENACIOUS about the gospel. Keep on trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. And NEVER GIVE UP and HOLD FAST TO THE ROD. I know this gospel is true with all of my heart. I know that the priesthood power and authority has been restored to the Earth today. I am so grateful for the power and strength that I receive through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that God knows and loves each of his children! 

Well, we have a nice HOT exciting week coming up! So crazy to think that we are two weeks away from the end of the transfer.. The month of June is just flying right past! 
I hope you have a wonderful week! Thank you for your love and support!

Sister Rachel Parke 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pictures Catch the Vision

Last Mission Council with President and Sister Woodbury

Annette- she just moved here from Nigeria

Flowers delivered from "Grandma"

Catch the Vision

Hello Everyone!

It's JUNE!! I can't believe it. This has been the week of meeting
after meeting after meeting! Sister Webber and I have been witnessing
so many miracles! Highlights this week... God blessed us with some
solid new investigators that we are very excited about. My grandma has
been with me the whole week and has sent so many angels to watch out
for me. I even unexpectedly received a beautiful flower arrangement
that was delivered late to our apartment one evening. I know my
grandma is watching out for me. I have never felt so much peace fill
my heart! Needless to say, I have had a great week!

We attended institute with Jess on Thursday evening and it was so
incredible! It was all about standing as a witness of the Savior Jesus
Christ and what it means to bear testimony of him. The best part of my
whole week, is when the whole class (all five of us) bore our
testimonies to one another. Jess was last to bear her testimony... And
it was SO POWERFUL. The spirit was very strong. Jess has made so many
changes in her life and is so much happier!! She has righteous
desires... And strives to do good and to be good. I love her so much!
It is so crazy to think that I only met her less than two months ago
and she has learned and progressed so much! The gospel truly does
change lives.

On Friday, We had our Last mission council with president Woodbury. I
am going to miss him so much! The whole mission leadership was Tearing
up as we talked about turning our hearts over to the new mission
president! It is so bittersweet! Change is so hard! I feel as if I am
going to be separated from my parents all over again! Despite the
sadness, I am looking forward to president Bingham and all the
excitement and new perspective he will bring!

We met with our new investigator Hannah this week. She is the most
sweetest girl! We contacted her a couple weeks ago on our way to one
of our appointments. We finally were able to meet up with her and give
her a church tour! We were also able teach her about the restoration
and the Book of Mormon! She loved it! She is so prepared and I know
the lord has placed her in our path for a reason. I love sharing the
light and the knowledge of the Book of Mormon! It provides so much
clarity to the life of Jesus Christ!

Sunday was a day full of many miracles!! As a mission, and as a stake,
we prayed and fasted for member and missionaries to work together..
And that the missionaries would find people to teach. I have the a
strong testimony of fasting and I know when we exercise faith and take
it to the Lord he blesses us! Our prayers were immediately answered.
During our first session of church we received a text from a random
number saying that he was in town visiting and had run into a woman
who was interested in the gospel. So, he looked up the nearest church
building and brought her to church! We were able to teach her (cara)
the restoration and introduce her to the book or Mormon. She is
genuinely interested and said that this is exactly what she needs at
this time! So happy! The Lord has people who are prepared to receive
the gospel... We just have to have faith enough to find them!

If that didn't make Sunday the best day ever... We had dinner and a
lesson at the bishops house with one of my favorite people ever...
Jess! I feel like all of my emails are explaining how incredible she
is... But it's just so true! She amazes me! She is progressing SO Well
and the transformation and change I have seen in her is so inspiring.
We also fasted with her this Sunday to help her strengthen her
testimony. We had two less actives that we have been working with come
to church! Not to mention, they both bore their testimonies! It was
the best feeling to witness them feeling the spirit once again in
their lives and how much happier it makes them! Also on Sunday, the
Branch presidents wife gave us a solid referral for YSA branch. I am
telling you, God answers prayers!!

So, remember the guy named Michael who we contacted last Sunday
evening? This is pretty cool story, we met with him again tonight and
he has been reading from the Book of Mormon. We asked him why he
wanted to learn more.. And he said.. Because I have seen you before...
YOU-pointing to me- gave me a card about Jesus on Easter. He then
pulled out of his backpack the passalong card he was given on
Easter... Sure enough with my handwriting on it! So, he said when we
contacted him a second time, he knew he needed to learn more. Awesome!
So we taught him the restoration and he was pretty receptive to the
things we were teaching him. He is seeking truth and is very devoted
to God.

I am so grateful for he opportunity I have to be a missionary. The
Lord teaches me so much each and every day! I know the gospel is true!
I hope you have a wonderful week! Thank you for your love and support.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Sister Parke

My favorite quote this week:

"Don't think you are just minding the shop waiting for the Saviour to
come...the spirit of this work is urgency, and we must imbue our
missionaries with the spirit of now. N-O-W. We are not just waiting
for natural slow growth. We must move more rapidly. We must take
things up a notch. If we have to call down miracles or angels, then
call them down. The drama is unfolding and we must do whatever it
takes to ratchet up the work...I feel an incredible sense of urgency.
I feel such a sense of urgency in my chest that I can hardly breathe.
Every dispensation begins with a vision. We must have a vision. We are
the church that dreams dreams. We are the church that has visions. We
must believe in miracles. We are going to putter along, be
average-until we wind up to the level when our heart is up in our
throat and if we opened our eyes, we would expect to see angels...if
this is God's work, and if He still lives, then miracles and angels
are still there. We must live up to our potential. God will bless us
with whatever we need. God wants us to see just what He sees and know
what He knows. He wants us to ratchet up the vision. God is easy to
please and hard to satisfy... This is not convenient, easy work. We
have got to take things to the edge. We have to move into the realm of
the miraculous. We have to live in such a way that we cannot do it
alone anymore-where we will resort to the Lord-where we will cry,
"without thy help, I will fall," "help me fly." Go to the edge where
miracles happen. Move in to the realm of the miraculous. Have full
faith. Believe in angels. With the power of the priesthood, push the
envelope. Welcome to the apostalic work." -Elder Holland