Monday, October 26, 2015

All Is Well!

Hello everybody! Hows it going?

This week was a mixed bag. Some good days and some bad. 

Lets start with the bad news. Lelley, the girl who got a priesthood blessing last week, dropped us. She said shes going to stick to her own beliefs for now. I really thought that she felt the spirit last week and that she had a lot of potential. So it was really hard on me when she dropped us. But although she is rejecting the gospel right now, you never know what can happen down the road. 

Now time for the good news! Rusty, the father of the family I mentioned last week, came to church! Mason was in the primary program (where kids age 3-11 sing and speak in our church meeting) and so Rusty came to watch him! I hope he had a good experience. We are planning on going and following up with him tonight. 

We were super busy this last week which was awesome. A busy missionary is a happy missionary. We barely did any knocking on doors. We mainly had set lessons and we also did some service. 

Transfers are in 2 weeks and we will be getting transfer calls this week. I'm really praying that I don't have to leave my area. I feel like a lot has started happening here and I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be right now. 

We have a TON of potential investigators right now and members are giving us referral after referral. Sister Latu and I have been really trying to work better with members and to help them to trust us and it seems to be working! Missionary work really picks up when we have members of the church are there to help us. 

We are hopefully going to be setting a baptismal date with a girl named Brittany this week. Last week was our first time meeting with her but she is super prepared and we feel like she is ready to start working towards a specific baptism date. She is 13 and has been coming to church with her friends for months now. Her parents are both less active members of the church but the ward has really been working with them to get them back to church. If Brittany decides to get baptized, we are hoping her dad will be the one to baptize her. 

When I first got here I hated teaching kids. I felt like they didn't fully understand what we were teaching and we weren't really watching them dramatically change their lives or anything. But I have since learned that teaching kids leads to big changes in whole families. It can bring less active families back to church and can soften the hearts of parents. Kids are the way to parent's hearts!! 

Well I gotta get going but I love y'all! Until next time,

Sister Park
 Idaho falls in fall is so pretty!
 Thanks for the package.  We decorated with spiders.

We raked some leaves for a widow in one of our wards. We tried to do it anonymously but she came outside and caught us in the act. She was nice enough to take our picture and then we had to take a selfie with her too :)

Wow. No words can describe this sunset. 

The second picture features the Reed's Dairy sign which is where I dented our car but it also has the most delicious ice cream known to man. 

Best Week So Far!!!

Hey everyone! How are y'all doing?? 

This week was great!! I love the area I'm in so much now and I love my companion. She will probably be getting transferred in a couple weeks and I'm terrified! I'll probably take over the area with a new companion which is going to be hard. But I'm up to the challenge :)

So this week we saw L... again. We had a lesson scheduled for Thursday but when we were on the way over she called and told us she was feeling really sick and was having some heart trouble. Sister Latu was talking to her and she was super bold. She asked L... if she would like a priesthood blessing. I looked at Sister Latu like, "What? Are you crazy?? We met this girl last week, we haven't even taught her about the priesthood. Shes gonna think we are being too pushy!"

To my surprise, L... accepted and we told her we'd be there in 15 minutes. So we got a couple priesthood holders to come with us and we quickly arrived at her apartment. We came in and told her a little bit about what a priesthood blessing is and how it is administered. The whole time we were talking, her son K... was running around yelling at the top of his lungs. He's kind of a handful :) 

Then the priesthood holders anointed her head with oil and gave her a blessing. K... stopped running and screaming, and the room was so peaceful and filled with the spirit. After we opened our eyes, K... was sitting in his mom's lap and he had brought her the Book of Mormon we gave her last week (Hmmm I wonder what that means :). It was a really spiritual experience for me and I hope L... felt it too. 

The next day we texted her and she told us that she was feeling way better and she went back to work. We are planning on seeing her sometime later this week. 

Then last night. It was the most rewarding night of my mission. So we have been visiting this family since the first week I've been here and have gotten really close with them. I've sent a couple pictures with the kids, M... and K.... They were the kids in the picture from last week. 

Anyways, their mom, LL , has a lot of issues with anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. She also had an eating disorder in high school and college. Shes a perfectionist and always feels like shes falling short. Needless to say, I've been able to offer her some advice through the gospel and also through things I've learned from my own eating disorder/anxiety experience. 

LL's boyfriend, R..., (father of K...) lives with them and he is not a member of the church. LL has been less active in church for like 10-15 years.

When we first went to their home about 2 months ago, we encouraged LL and the kids to come to church. R... wanted nothing to do with us and stayed in his room while we taught LL and the kids. 

So LL, M..., and K... started coming to church the week after we went there and now haven't missed church for over a month. 

It has been amazing to witness the change in them. Especially LL. She still struggles but she is doing so much better. 

Every time we go back, R...  gets a little more involved in the lesson. The next time we went, he stayed in the kitchen as we taught LL and kids in living room. The time after that he came and sat by us but stayed quiet. Then last night he actually participated in the lesson! We asked him about his beliefs in God and heaven and prayer and he opened up to us. He told us he believes in God but doesn't see why he should participate in organized religion. 

We basically just bore our testimonies to him about why religion is important to us and how it has blessed our lives. We challenged their family to pray together at least three times this week. Then we left. 

About an hour later we got a text from LL. She said, "We just said our first real family prayer. R... cried. Thank you so much for everything."

And its moments like those that make all the sucky, difficult, and frustrating moments worth it. 

I am actually helping people change their lives! I thought my whole mission would consist of me knocking on doors, teaching people one lesson, and getting no where. But now I have seen firsthand what the gospel can do for families. 

LL is talking about getting married and going to the temple. She wants R... to get baptized so bad, but it has to be him that makes that decision. He is definitely getting closer though.

I have such a strong testimony of the importance of keeping the commandments. I know that by doing the things Heavenly Father wants us to do, we will be blessed. However, I also know that if we slip up, it is never too late to start fresh. Repentance is such a powerful principle. It is never too late to start living the gospel. 

Man I love this work. I love the gospel. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father. I love all of you! I feel so grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve the Lord. 

Until next time,

Sister Park

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Losing and Finding Yourself

So these are like my two favorite kids in the world. The kid in the green costume is Mason. Hes the boy that made me that little minion thing with the rubber bands. The pink poodle is Kennedy. She was so shy when we first met her but shes finally warming up to us.  The other picture is of one of our dinner appointments this last week.

Hello friends and family! Hows everybody doing?

Well we are doing great here in Idaho Falls! We had a very productive week. I feel like I'm actually starting to get better at this mission thing. Took long enough, right? I still have a long way to go but I'm finally feeling like an OK missionary! 

So this week we found some new people who actually want to listen to us! The first is a family who moved here in June from Utah. We were talking to the Clark family (members) who live across the street from them and they told us that they were really nice and aren't members of the church. So we decided to go meet them! Julie (the mom) opened the door and smiled at us (yay!) and let us in (WHOO!). Yeah that almost never happens. So we talked with the parents, Julie and Brian. Turns out both of them actually did grow up in the church but haven't been in years. The two kids however are not baptized members. Julie and Brian both said they want to start coming back to church and that they want their kids to know about the gospel. So Sister Latu and I recovered from our shock and quickly volunteered to come back and start teaching their family. So we now have an appointment with them for Tuesday. 

Then last night were knocking on doors trying to find people to teach, which by the way, is my new favorite thing to do. Haha you never know what to expect when that door opens. It has become quite entertaining. Anyways... tracting is rarely ever successful BUT it is still a way to find people and something that we have to do. I didn't really believe that that was true until last night. It was getting really late and we had been tracting all night with no success. And then we met Lelley. 

Lelley is a young single mom- maybe a couple years older than me. She immediately let us in and we got to know her. She just moved here in March with her 2-year-old son after her husband left her. She has a very interesting belief system. She says she is Christian but she also believes in reincarnation. She says she doesn't believe any one religion but she's just a very spiritual person. I was immediately intrigued with her. I love hearing about what other people believe and why they believe it. So I asked her about reincarnation and what it is which she was able to explain very well. And then I asked her WHY she believed in it. She had a harder time with that question. She said it was because this lady she knew told her about it and it made sense to her. 

I didn't want to take anything away from what she shared with us, but I did ask her to reconsider her source of truth. Something I love about how missionaries teach is our emphasis on the importance of asking God for answers. Heavenly Father is the source of all truth, and we cannot rely on anyone else to tell us what is really true besides Him. If we listen to man as the source of truth we will end up very confused and frustrated. I told Lelley she MUST ask God her questions. We then taught her what we believe and have come to know is true through the Holy Ghost. We asked her to pray about the things we shared and asked if we could come back and share more later this week. She said yes!! 

So yeah! We have some new investigators! 

Gosh I am so grateful for the people I've met here. I have truly gained a testimony of the scripture in Matthew 10:39, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." As I continue to put my personal affairs aside and focus solely on serving my Savior and his lost sheep, I find myself. Its a weird paradox. The less I think about MY life and what MY goals are, the more I discover about myself and I naturally become the person I want to be.

I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. How merciful they are to us. I am grateful for the power of prayer and for the ability we have to communicate directly with the source of all truth.

Until next time,
Sister Park

Monday, October 5, 2015

General Conference

Was General Conference amazing or what??!! So for those of you that don't know, General Conference is a meeting where our prophet and apostles and other church leaders speak to us. Man I learned so much and was so uplifted! So some of my favorites:

1. Vern P. Stanfill: "Choose the Light" 
So this talk was about my favorite subject: faith! He told this story of him and his friends going on a bike ride through a dark tunnel. They had brought lights with them, but they under-estimated how dark the tunnel would be. One friend had a brighter light so everyone gathered around this person and used his light until they approached the end of the tunnel. When they could see the light emerging from the other side, they were able to move apart and pedal faster towards the growing light. He related this experience to being in the spiritual darkness of doubt. Sometimes we must rely on the testimonies and light of those we love. As we study, pray and receive light of our own we can move away from the the light of others as our own faith grows. 

I think as kids we generally rely on the light of our parents because we trust them and we know they have our best interest in mind. As we age, we realize that we can't rely on the testimonies of our parents and other trusted leaders forever. I think I realized this at some point in my high school career. I began searching for truth and praying. But I wasn't as diligent as I should have been. I prayed and then waited for God to tell me what was true. I didn't put much effort in. 

Then I went to college and had several experiences that confirmed truth to me. I read the Book of Mormon all the way through and really studied and prayed about it. I believed that God was my Heavenly Father and that Christ suffered for my sins. I believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was true. But I still had doubts.

Then I decided to serve a mission. I had a lot of doubts about that too. I wasn't finished with my quest to find my own spiritual light but something was pushing me to serve anyways. And thank goodness I did. In the short two months I've been here I have learned what truth is and where it comes from. I've learned to rely on the Lord as the ultimate source of truth, instead of "being influenced by every whim and change in the world's attitude" and I've realized that I "have the power to choose belief over doubt" (Stanfill's talk). 

2. Russell M. Nelson: "A Plea to my Sisters"
This talk was certainly an answer to a prayer. I have been really trying to figure out where women fit in within the church structure. The leadership in the mission field seemed unfair to me with most responsibility given to the elders (male missionaries) and few leadership roles available to sisters. Also, in the LDS church, only men are given the priesthood authority and I have always wondered why. I found myself asking if Heavenly Father loves His sons more than His daughters? Does He want women to play a submissive and silent role? If so, I don't think I want to be a part of His kingdom. 

President Nelson spoke about the important and essential role of women in the church. Not just as passive bystanders, but as contributing members with opinions and insights. He said, "my dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, insights, and inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils." He goes on to say that married women should be full and contributing partners with their husbands. I had to refrain myself from standing up on the bench and shouting "amen" when I heard this! Women can speak up and speak out! We are not silent members that must bow down to the men of the church. We may not hold the priesthood authority but that doesn't mean we are less than the men of the church. Being a priesthood holder is a responsibility and a selective calling reserved for the worthy and Christ-like men of the church, not something men are entitled to that elevates them above women. We, the women of the church, can contribute to the building of God's kingdom with the same amount of power and conviction as men. 

So yeah. I pretty much loved every other talk and could go on for hours about everything I learned BUT I'll spare you. I'll just invite you to read the talks yourself.

I'm so pumped for this next week. I have this new vigor and excitement about the work after conference. Conference couldn't have come at a better time. I was getting a little discouraged but all I needed was a little uplift from some incredible servants of the Lord.

I LOVE THIS WORK! I love the people of Idaho. Seriously these country-bumkin, potato-loving Idahoans are some of the best people I've ever met.

Keep praying and having faith! The Gospel of Christ is the way to true and lasting joy in this life.

Love you all. Until next time,

Sister Park

 Pictures:  Taysen's baptism, cupcakes for Laci, beautiful Idaho sunsets

God answers prayers‏

This week was another roller coaster week. I think it was the biggest growing experience I've had thus far on my mission. It always seems to take a lot of discouragement and struggle for me to experience growth. I guess its true that there must be opposition in all things. You have to sink to the depths of despair to experience utter joy. 

I hit rock bottom this week. On Thursday we went tracting for a couple hours and were rejected by every single person. Then we got to this house that I will never forget. We met a guy named Bob. We started getting to know him and before we knew it, he had started talking about Joseph Smith. He told us that Joseph was not a prophet. He has never made a prophecy that has come true and he was a complete fraud and was a false prophet. We tried to counter his claims but he was not having any of that. Then I just bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon and said that I knew it was true and therefore, that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

 Then he said, "That's what I hate about missionaries. They can't answer to any of the issues there are with Joseph Smith. They just tell me they "know" hes a prophet. Its pretty pathetic." 

I didn't know what the heck to say to that. My stomach was in knots and I felt my eyes filling with tears. We just thanked him for his time and dejectedly walked away. The rest of the day was the worst! I silently pleaded with Heavenly Father to help me know if Joseph Smith really was a false prophet. Of course with my worry-wart personality, I went through the "what ifs". What if Joseph Smith really was a fraud? Then everything I've believed my whole life isn't true! I shouldn't be out serving a mission. I won't be able to go back to BYU. I'll have to give up everything my entire life has been based on. What am I going to do? 

I really thought I would have to come home from my mission. I planned on calling my mission president and telling him I couldn't do this anymore. 

That night I prayed with all the energy I had. I asked Heavenly Father to tell me if Joseph was a prophet or not. I was expecting some miraculous feeling to wash over me. We hear all the time stories where this happens. People pray and then they are overcome with the spirit, but this did not happen. I didn't really feel anything besides worry. 

The next morning I was still feeling uneasy and unsure about my testimony. I decided that before I did anything irrational I needed to study it out a little bit. So I began studying about false prophets in the bible. My favorite passage is in Matthew. He talks about how you can know if someone is a false prophet. He says that "by their fruits ye shall know them". Basically he says no good person can harvest evil fruit and no evil person can harvest good fruit. When you look at the fruit of Joseph Smith's labor, you see a lot of good. By living the gospel that Joseph Smith restored, I have been extremely happy and have felt at peace. Its when doubts creep in that I feel uneasy. Either Joseph Smith was a complete fraud (evil) or was true prophet (good). What resulted from his labor is good fruit. How could he possibly be a false prophet?

After reading this, I felt much more at peace. Why would I abandon everything I've believed my whole life just because some random guy told me he didn't believe it?

However, I still wanted to increase my knowledge of Joseph Smith so I decided I would read the Doctrine and Covenants (a book of revelations and commandments given to Joseph Smith) all the way through throughout the next couple weeks. I started reading a couple days ago and I can say that my testimony of Joseph Smith has grown immeasurably since doing so. Although Joseph Smith was not a perfect man, (who is?) I know he was called of God to be His prophet and I know that we have living prophets and apostles today.

I know Heavenly Father gives us challenges and adversity for a reason. He doesn't test us above that which we can handle. I needed Bob to challenge my testimony so that I could grow stronger in my conviction of what I know to be true. 

I am finally learning how Heavenly Father answers my prayers! Before my mission, I often felt like my prayers would go unanswered. My problem was not that Heavenly Father wasn't answering but that I wasn't seeking for or recognizing those answers. I often expected a "warm fuzzy feeling" to wash over me. This is how the Holy Ghost is often described but I think a lot of times we forget how many other ways the Spirit can speak to us. Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself. He knows that I am more of a factual, logical person than a touchy-feely person. He knows that if I were to just get a warm feeling in response to a prayer, I would probably doubt that it really meant anything. The way that I receive revelation is through studying for my answers and having more of a "enlightening of the mind" experience than a "burning of the bosom experience. 

I am so thankful for the power of prayer. I'm so thankful to be here in Idaho learning these lessons that will benefit me for the rest of my life. 

Needless to say, I'm not coming home early :)

I love you all and I love my Heavenly Father. He is so patient with me and all my doubts and worries. 

Until next time,
Sister Park

P.S. More good news: We have a baptism tomorrow! Taysen (12 year old kid) is getting baptized and Sister Latu and I couldn't be happier. Taysen's parents are both less active members of the church so we are hoping that Taysen's decision will bring their whole family back to church.