Monday, September 5, 2016

The Power of Love

Hello there!

This week started off with a great start. Getting to know the members
is starting to pay off! One of the members knew my favorite food in
the whole world is butternut squash and so she made me butternut
squash lasagna! It changed my life.... Then another woman in the ward
made me chicken noodle soup because I've been sick! I am sure feeling
the love.... Chicago Heights is growing on me.
Tuesday was a day full of miracles. We received a referral about a
week ago, but unfortunately had to cancel on him our first appointment
because of all the hoping back and forth across state borders. (; So
thankfully we were able set a return appointment with him! The lesson
was hands down one of my favorites on my mission. The spirit was so
strong, and this man has definitely been prepared by the hand of the
lord. His name is Albert and he originally ordered a bible.. But being
the sneaky missionaries that we are... we just happened to bring the
Book of Mormon. He asked what it was all about because he never heard
of it before. He invited us in and we sat down and taught him the
whole restoration and read part of the Book of Mormon with him. He was
VERY receptive and said that he could just feel that the Book of
Mormon was true and that he would read it.  We invited him to be
baptized on September 24th and he accepted!! I had to keep pinching
myself to remind myself that this was real. We went skipping out of
that lesson. God has answered prayers. Sister Quezada and I have been
specially and sincerely praying for someone who would be prepared to
receive the gospel. I know God hears and answers prayers... And it is
just proof that God has children who are prepared to receive the
truth... We just have to have enough faith to find them. I am so
excited to continue to teach Albert and prepare him to be baptized!
We were also able to meet with Josefina this week. Bless her heart.
The poor woman is going through so much and is fighting to make ends
meet. Her faith in Christ is incredibly powerful. She has been reading
from the Book of Mormon and says she feels the spirit and she tells us
that we have been sent to her by God to help her grow closer to him.
The spirit is always so powerful in her lessons. We were able to take
a member of the ward with us and she was able to testify perfectly to
josefina. We have invited josefina to be baptized.. The struggle is...
She works such long hours and getting to church is a struggle! We are
working with her and helping her to build her faith.
Sister Quezada and I have been working suuuuper hard. Wow, I am so
incredibly grateful for her and LOVE her so much. We are witnessing
many miracles. We have set a goal to have 10 "diligent contacts made"
per day in between appointments. It is helping us to grow and learn
how to work together has a companionship!  We are trying our best to
find new people to teach. She is absolutely amazing. It has only been
two weeks and she has grown so much. SISTER QUEZADA HAS MADE THE
DECISION TO SERVE A MISSION. after much fasting and prayer this week,
she has strongly felt prompted that this is what the lord would have
her do. This is such an exciting time in her life right now, her
family is being sealed THIS saturday!! We were both so happy! I made
coldstone milkshakes to celebrate.
Man, what else happened this week? We have been working closely with
the elders in our ward and also the relief society president. She is
also new to her calling and the ward and so she doesn't know too many
people... So we are figuring things out together! It is a slow but
wonderful process. On Saturday we organized a district finding
activity to go out and "blitz" to try and tackle the long list of less
actives that no one seems to know about. It was very successful, but
is going to be a continual work and effort. Best news of the whole
week! WE NOW HAVE A WARD MISSION LEADER. 🙌🏻 He is very humble and I
know the Lord is going to help and teach him in this calling. I am
just so grateful.. It will be a great help with connecting to the
ward. The ward is growin on me. One of our ward members has a wife who
is interested in taking the missionary lessons and wants to be
baptized. You could consider that a miracle! Day by day, things are
getting better here in Chicago Heights. I know the lord is ever so
aware of the people here in this area. They are all doing their best
and seeking to feel Gods love.
Speaking of love and feeling gods love, I came across a scripture this
week in Ephesians chapter 3 that really stood out to me.
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being
rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and
length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye
might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
I have been striving to strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ
by better understanding who he was and how he lived. As I have been
studying, what has stood out to me the most is that the Savior always
acted in LOVE.  I always feel the spirit when I have love towards
other people and I am serving them. Sometimes as a missionary I feel
like I miss the point... I tend to get so caught up in the little
details of things that I forget what it is truly all about. Love.
Inviting people to come closer to Jesus Christ and feel of his love!
That is what we are all wanting to feel right? The love of Jesus
Christ and Heavenly Father? To know they are there and they are
listening.. And are aware of us?? Well, if so, how do we attain that
love? How do we feel of the love of the savior? I've come to notice
that when I feel his love the strongest is when I am serving
others...whether that be physically or spiritually. The power and love
of God is incomprehensible. I don't think we can fathom Gods sincere
love for each one of his children. Sometimes I get overwhelmed.. And
think to myself... "Am I even making a difference?" Then Heavenly
Father reminds me that he knows and loves all his children and wants
all of them to make it back to him someday. So God created all of us
to go out and "do something" and serve those around us and help to
remind them of the love Heavenly Father has for them. I love this
quote by Gordon B. Hinkley:
"My satisfaction has come from the assurance that I did what the lord
wanted me to do and that I was and instrument in his hands for the
accomplishment of his purposes. In the course of that experience,
there became riveted into my very being a conviction and knowledge
that his is in very deed the true and living work of god, restored
through a prophet for the blessing of all who will accept it and live
its principles."
Heavenly Father has blessed me so much... All that I have.. All that I
am.. I owe to him. Choosing to serve a mission was a difficult
decision for me... But looking back, it should have been the easiest
decision to ever make. God has blessed me in countless ways..I am so
grateful for his love and patience for me. I am so grateful for this
sacred time I have to grow closer to the lord and strengthen my
relationship with him as I consecrate my time, talents, and strength
to share this powerful message to his children here in Chicago. I have
never relied so much upon the promptings of the spirit in my life. I
have felt the Lord lead and guiding me along. I can testify that this
is his work. I am merely an instrument in his hands. I found a quote
by Elder Ballard that I love. "The power of this work is when we get
to the point in our relationships with Heavenly Father that we know
the voice of the Spirit and we know it so well that we know exactly
what we should do. " I hope that not only now on my mission... But
also for the rest of my life, I can become like "leaves in a stream",
to obey His call.. wanting more than anything else to follow him.
I truly feel privileged to have been blessed with the opportunity to
serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. My
service as a missionary has eternally blessed my life.  Elder Ballard
also explains this "spiritual change" that can take place from the
service as a missionary. "A spiritual rebirth can be yours as you
serve the Lord in total service. Prayer will have a deeper dimension,
and the scriptures will be pondered and more deeply appreciated. The
Holy Ghost will become more evident; and your capacity to love will
increase."  I have felt my love for God, for his son, Jesus Christ,
and for his children grow immensely. This is Gods work. "Brethren,
shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward.
Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice,
and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing”(D&C
128:22). I invite each of you to come join with us! Share the gospel
with those around you and help them feel Gods love.

Have a wonderful week!! Thank you for your love and support!!!

Sister Rachel Parke

Putting all my hours at Cold Stone to good use. Homemade smoothies!

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