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