Hello Family and Friends,
I don't even know where to begin. It has been such an incredible week full of so many spiritual experiences and unforgettable memories. One of the miracles was that one of the members in the ward has a non member wife who has been coming to church for the past while has decided that she wants to take the missionary lessons. So we went and taught her on Tuesday and she decided that the time has come and she is getting baptized on December 9th. (Yes, THIS Friday). We have been teaching her all of the lessons this week in preparation for her baptism. It is such a neat experience to be able to teach her the doctrines of the gospel and to feel of the spirit as it testifies and confirms of truth. What a blessing of being able to prepare families to unite together eternally. They are expecting their first baby and she is due in February. They want to be sealed together in the temple. It is amazing to me how the Lord changes and softens hearts. I cannot think of a better way to spend the last week of my mission than to help someone prepare to be baptized.
We also have the ward Christmas party this Saturday night. I LOVE Christmas time, especially as a missionary. The spirit of Christmas is definitely found in CHRIST and giving service to others. The new video #lighttheworld is the perfect way to have a joyful Christmas as we serve those around us who are in need. I am so grateful for the Savior, and for the opportunity we have each day to bear testimony of him in all that we do and say. This is by far my favorite time of year as a missionary. Everyone is so happy and has the desire to serve and love others. I feel so blessed for the opportunity that I have to serve others full time for the Lord. I look forward to continue serving his children as I return home. As I reflect back on the last year and a half, words cannot describe the joy I have felt as I have served the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. My heart is full of love. Love for my Father in Heaven, love for his son Jesus Christ, love of the gospel, love for the people God has blessed me to teach, love for the wonderful friends I will forever cherish. The Lord has been teaching me what it truly means to love. The love of God and those around me.. I have felt the most joy and love as I have shared this love with others. My mission has been and will forever be one of the greatest experiences in my life. I want to always to live worthy to feel of this spirit and love. Ephesians 3:17-19 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,.. And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
A piece of my heart will be left here in Chicago. The people here have taught me so much and I feel so much love for them. It has been a sacred privilege to labor and work in this part of the Lords vineyard. I can truly testify that God knows and loves everyone of his children. As a missionary I have been blessed with the opportunity to feel of that love as I have gone forth and shared the gospel here in Chicago. I have walked hundreds of miles, spent thousands of hours riding the L train, rode what feels like a million different buses, and knocked a countless number of doors all in hopes to bring Gods children close to him. The memories and experiences are indescribable. Words cannot express the feelings of my heart. Leaving this all behind is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I never want the spirit and the love I feel to end.
I want to continue to become like the Savior Jesus Christ.. I feel I have changed in so many ways... but more than anything I have learned so much about myself and about my loving brother Jesus Christ and his gospel. My understanding and love for him has deepened and my love and desire to share the gospel has increased. I have learned so much through the experiences I have had on my mission. Coming to know that I CAN DO HARD THINGS through the strength of Christ. My understanding of love is so much deeper and I desire to always be filled with charity. I want to become a woman of Christ. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have served a mission. I know God is eversosaware of his children. I testify that God hears and answers every prayer.
A quote that I found before my mission that has stuck with my throughout my mission is one by Ezra Taft Benson: "Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace." I can testify that the words of President Benson are true. My mission is the beginning of my commitment to God that I will "choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God.. Behold my spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy word will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me and I in you; therefore WALK WITH ME" (Moses 6:33-34) I have made a lifelong commitment to serve God. I desire to WALK with the Savior at all times, in all things, in all places. I will remain a loyal disciple of Jesus Christ.
I read this in an email from one of my friends, but I would just like to share it all well. It is applicable to the feelings I have as a missionary.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE UNASHAMED
I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. the dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line.The Decision has been made. I AM A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST.
I won't look back. let up, slow down. or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded . I now live by Faith, lean on HIS presence, walk with patience. I am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the advesary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And when He returnes for His Own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My Banner will be clear.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of GOD unto Salvation to every one that believeth... " Romans 1:16.
I know that as I progress through life with faith in Jesus Christ, my experiences will help me become the person Heavenly Father knows I can be. My life of faith, service, and sacrifice has only just begun. I know as I am obedient to Heavenly Father’s commandments and seek His will, I will be truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The plan that Heavenly Father has for me is so much greater than the plan I have for myself. I am looking forward with faith to the new part of my journey that lies ahead. I trust that God has a plan and his hand is leading and guiding my life.
I know that this gospel is true. I have a deep love for missionary work and I know it is ultimately Gods work. I testify of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Priesthood has been restored to the Earth, and the heavens are opened. God blesses his children according to their faith. I am a strong witness of the Saviors healing power and atonement. Repentance is made possible through Christ. Jesus Christ LIVES, and because he lives we will all be able to return to live with our Father again.
I love my Savior, I am eternally grateful for this gospel.
3 Nephi 5:13
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
Sister Rachel McKenzie Parke
I love you all. I am appreciate all of your love and support! See you all real soon!
My farewell will be on December 18th at 9am! Hope to see you there!
|Sister Sufia -love her!|
|Love all my sisters!|
|Setting up our "real" tree!|
|Visiting the Candy Factory for pday with Bro and Sister Johnson our Senior Missionary Couple. Love them too!|