Monday, December 21, 2015

Chinese Miracles

Hi everyone!! Merry Christmas! 

Thank you all SO MUCH for the packages and letters you have sent. I can't even express how much it means to me to have such a loving, supportive family. 

So this was the best freakin' week of my whole mission. Its weeks like these that make everything worth it. 

I decided last week that I wanted to become a more sanctified, purified, obedient missionary. President Hancock has really been stressing that the past couple of weeks. He always tells us that obedience brings blessings but EXACT obedience brings miracles. I discovered this week how true this really is. 

I tried to live and breathe the white handbook this week. I made sure I was up by 6:30 and in bed by 10:30, I got out of the car every time Sister Bueno had to back up, and I tried not waste any proselyting time. Then on Sunday, Sister Bueno and I decided to fast for miracles. And we saw them!!

Miracle #1: We had ten investigators come to church. TEN!! It was amazing.

Miracle #2: We found a new investigator who is super prepared to hear the gospel. K has met with missionaries before and has read a lot of the Book of Mormon. She says she loves the Book of Mormon but doesn't like how Mormons in the past have treated her because she is a single lady with no kids. We explained that our religion is very family-centered but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for single people in the church (duh... Sheri Dew!!). Anyways we can definitely help her overcome those little issues :)

Miracle #3: Okay brace yourself for this one. Its pretty incredible. So one of our bishops has a friend from China named C. Bishop Hansen owns this international wellness company that opened in China a couple years ago. C worked for him over in China and about 5 years ago Bishop went on a business trip there and C showed him around some Buddhist temples. While they were on the tour, Bishop talked a little bit about our religion and promised that if C ever came to the U.S. he would take her on a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake. A year passed and finally C and her mother, A, got to come here and go on the Temple Square tour. They felt the spirit so strongly and knew from that one experience that there was something special about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

A couple more years passed. C got married, moved to the U.S. and got pregnant with a little girl. She didn't have much interaction with the church during that time and said that she was in a dark place. Her husband didn't treat her very well and she ended up getting divorced and moving back to China where she gave birth to her daughter Victoria. 

About a year ago, a lady named Joyce Teng (also an employee of Bishop Hansen), had a very strong prompting that she should call C. She had met C a couple times through work but didn't know her very well at all. At first Joyce was tempted to ignore the prompting, but she ultimately acted on it and called. This phone call eventually lead to weekly discussions about the gospel via Skype between Joyce and C and her mom A. C and A immediately felt the truthfulness of the message and knew they needed to get baptized.

Unfortunately, people living in China are not allowed by the government to get baptized there. If they want to get baptized they must travel outside the country,which presented a big problem. Vicki, Coco's daughter, did not have Chinese citizenship because she was conceived in the U.S., so she couldn't get a passport to travel. C knew she wanted to have Vicki there for her baptism and her mother wanted to come and get baptized too so she couldn't stay and watch Vicki. C didn't know what to do. They had tried to get Vicki citizenship several times but they couldn't. 

Right after Joyce taught these two faithful women about fasting, they knew they had to fast for a miracle to happen. That same night Joyce, C, and A started their fast. The next day, after fasting, C and A felt prompted to try to get Vicki's citizenship one more time. Getting citizenship required a 5 day journey to C's birthplace at a very hectic time of year in China, when it is really hard to get train and plane tickets. Somehow everything fell into place and their trip went very smoothly. They asked once more for citizenship for little Vicki and they immediately were able to get it, because of some policy changes instituted by the new Chairman of China. It was that simple. She got her citizenship which meant she could get a passport and visa to travel outside the country. Moral of the story: fasting works!! 

So... You are probably wondering where Sister Bueno and I fit into this story. Well, C and A decided to come here to Idaho to get baptized by Bishop Hansen. Since they had never met with official missionaries before we had to teach them all of the missionary lessons before they could get baptized. A doesn't speak any English so we had an interpreter for her. They arrived in Idaho on Friday and we taught all the lessons in 2 days. They were baptized last night.

I will never forget the faith and dedication of these two women. Their love and gratitude for the restored gospel strengthened my testimony so much. Watching them finally enter the waters of baptism after years of yearning for more in their lives was incredible. It made me really think about how much I take my membership in the church for granted. I am so lucky to have grown up with the knowledge of the gospel. 

The most incredible moment of last night was the moments after A was baptized. She came up out of the water smiling from ear to ear and repeating something in Chinese. The translator turned to all of us and interpreted: "I am born again. I am born again." 

The spirit hit me so hard. That moment describes perfectly what missionary work (and life in general) is all about. 

I couldn't ask for a better Christmas present. This has been the best Christmas of my entire life. 

I can't even explain how happy I am. This scripture really says it best: D&C 18:15-16

I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know he lives and loves me.

Until next time,

Sister Park

P.S. Sorry my letter was so long. That story is too incredible to keep to myself!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The gospel blesses families

Merry Christmas everyone! Hopefully y'all aren't getting too stressed with Christmas shopping and all the hustle and bustle :)

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here! We got quite a bit of snow last night and this morning so we woke up to a white blanket outside. I really love the snow. Not so much the cold, but beggars can't be choosers, right?

We had a pretty good week considering its the holidays and a lot of people are super busy at this time of year. We had an awesome lesson with J (the 12 year old kid) on Wednesday. We took him to the temple visitors center and talked to him about being with his family forever and getting sealed to his future wife for eternity. They also have a really cool statue of Christ that has a recording that goes with it explaining what Christ has done for all of us. We all felt the spirit so much and Jason told us how much he wanted to get baptized. Its so frustrating! He knows what he needs to do but his mom won't let him do it! 

We also had a great lesson with C and K. We talked about the Plan of Salvation (or God's plan for His children) and we were able to address some of K's concerns. They are both doing a lot better with smoking which is awesome!! We are going to teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week and invite K to get baptized. 

We also met a new investigator this week! His name is S and he is awesome! He has had a lot of problems and has made a lot of really bad choices in his life, but he is at this place where he is just done with it all. He knows he needs to change something but he doesn't know how. So... this is perfect for us! We basically just talked about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can help him get out of the bad place he is in. We invited him to come to church (not really thinking he would) but he actually showed up! He really enjoyed it and wants us to come back soon and teach him again. Unfortunately he is going out of town for a few weeks so we are hoping Satan doesn't make his way back into S's life.  

Can I just say how grateful I am for the members of the church here. Especially our stake president. Man he is amazing. He is so missionary minded and motivating to the members. Its one thing for us to tell people they need to do missionary work, but when the stake president says it, people listen. We had stake conference this weekend and President Wilcox spoke. He grew up in a less active home and was actually an "over-age youth". Over-age youth are kids (9 and older) who have been blessed in the church but aren't baptized. Basically a majority of the investigators we have. He said he grew up in a super in-active home and if it weren't for the missionaries coming and teaching him, he wouldn't be where he is today. This gave me so much hope! I sometimes feel like the kids we teach aren't getting much out of the lessons we teach, but who knows? They could be a stake president someday! 

I am so grateful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is so interesting to see the contrast between people who have the gospel in their lives and those that don't. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part, those that apply gospel principles in their lives are much happier. They have the assurance of their Heavenly Father's love for them and they know why they are here. Those that don't seem to lack direction and purpose and aren't as happy. Part of the first lesson we teach is that the gospel blesses families. I am really starting to see how true this is. When families are built upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, they are stronger and better able to deal with trials that come. 

I love the gospel and the stability it brings to my life. I know my Savior lives and loves me. 

Until next time,

Sister Park

Pic 1: My awesome zone

Pic 2: The wind here is unreal!!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Love is Always the Answer

Hey family! I hope you guys are doing well this week (especially you Grandpa O!).
This week was a pretty good one for us! Of course there was highs and lows but I'm trying to focus on the highs :)

So the biggest frustration right now is parents interfering with their children's progression. We have two kids right now who really want to get baptized. One is J, the 12 year old I talked about last week, and the other is N, a 14 year old girl whose parents are both non-members. Their parents just don't think that they are ready to make a life-changing commitment at this stage in their lives. The hard part is I know where these parents are coming from. Baptism is a really big commitment! When we're baptized we promise our Heavenly Father that we will strive to keep His commandments for the rest of our lives. It is a really big deal BUT we are also taught that 8 years old is the age of accountability, where children are ready to make an informed decision about being baptized. 

Often, these parents think that their children are too impressionable and can be persuaded too easily and can't make this decision on their own. Something that I remember my mom telling me growing up was that she admired children because they are so faithful and willing to be taught. In Matthew, Christ teaches that we must "become as little children" and "humble [ourselves]". As I have taught children and teenagers on my mission, I have witnessed how true this really is. In my opinion, children are very close to God and are better able to recognize the Spirit. 

I have had so many great experiences with the kids I'm teaching but its frustrating because they want to progress and take the next step in their conversion process, but they can't. Its hard too when their parents are not in the lessons and don't know what we are teaching their kids. If we could get the parents involved, I think we would have a lot more success. 

So that was the low of the week. 

The high was yesterday :)

C and K and their four kids came to church! It was probably the best testimony meeting I've ever been in. Kate was really worried about being judged. She grew up in Idaho and dealt with judgey, fake Mormon kids her whole life. The ward that they attend is thankfully one of the most diverse wards in the stake, filled with members who are honest about the trials and shortcomings they have. There are people covered in tattoos, people working to overcome addictions, and women who wear pants to church. Every testimony borne yesterday was so perfect for K and C. They were all about how we shouldn't judge others and how the gospel can bless our lives whether we are the most righteous person or someone who struggles to keep commandments. 

One guy got up and talked about how we are all on a ladder, leading us back to our Heavenly Father. It doesn't matter how far up we are on the ladder, as long as we are climbing. This was great for K and C. Its hard for them because they feel like they are so far from being the kind of people they want to be. But all that matters is that they are progressing. They're moving up the ladder. 

I love their family so freakin' much. Being on a mission is just the coolest thing because you come to love people that you would normally never interact with. I have also learned from them that you really can't judge a book by its cover. Both of them are covered in tattoos and piercings and to be honest, when I first met them I didn't think they would ever be receptive to the gospel. I thought they were probably drug addicts who couldn't care less about anything spiritual. I can't believe how wrong I was. They are some of the best people I have ever met. 

This week I have been focusing on love. When it comes down to it love is all that really matters. Love should be the motive for everything we do and if it is, everything will work out and we will be a lot happier. 

Speaking of love, I love all of you and the support and letters I get from you. I have the best family and friends in the world!

Remember to LOVE this week :)

Until next time,
Sister Park

Pic included: Cutest dog on the planet (besides Ace of course) & cutest missionary :)
 Mother and Daughter Reunited!
 Three Generations!