Monday, April 25, 2016

Hi Y'all!

Hi y'all! 

We had the best week! I feel like every week just keeps getting better! 

This weekend was one big Spirit-filled adventure! First of all Reagan was baptized!! Her baptism went so well! Her dad came down from Lewiston, ID to support her. She had two of her best friends give talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost, and another friend baptized her. 

After her baptism as they were closing the doors, Reagan was walking up to her friend Lindsey who was holding her towel and from outside the font we heard both of them cheering and Reagan was crying/laughing because she was just so happy! She was really embarrassed after the baptism when we told her we could hear her haha. 

We also had Elder Richards of the Seventy there at the baptism and he gave her some really good advice and bore a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. 

We also had stake conference which is where a bunch of congregations in Pocatello get together and hear from church leaders. It was so awesome!! We also got a new stake presidency so that was exciting. 

We got to hear from the previous stake presidency and their wives and then the new stake presidency and their wives. We also had an area seventy there, Elder Driscoll, and then Elder Richards there of the Seventy who gave great talks as well. I didn't bring my notes with me today or else I would be able to share more of my insights, but really the most powerful part of the meeting for me was just the spirit I felt! I also went into the meeting with a question that I've been wondering about for a while and I was able to get an answer so that was pretty cool. 

I do remember one quote from conference that I loved!! Elder Richards said "Happiness is directly proportional to feeling the Spirit, which is directly proportional to knowing and understanding God's will and acting on it in faith." He explained that most people say that we feel the Spirit more in our lives when we are obedient, but how its not blind obedience that helps us feel the Spirit. We must KNOW and UNDERSTAND God's will and then follow His direction obediently. It is then that we feel the Spirit and are truly happy. It doesn't work like that if we don't understand why God's commandments are in place.

I can testify that being happy (and I mean truly, eternally happy) depends on how connected we are with God. When we know we are choosing the right and are experiencing things that God has planned for us, we will be content, and even joyous! 

I love you all so much and pray for you! Thank you for your support and love! Hope you have a great week! 

Until next time,
Sister Park
Pic 1: Elder Richards, Reagan's dad Jeff, Reagan, Sister Gilbert, Me! 
Pic 2: Reagan in her "gettup" (thats what she kept calling her jumpsuit) :)

 Paige's Dad went to elementary school here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

How Great Is My Joy

Hey fam & friends! 

Another amazing week here in Poky! I am so grateful for the experiences I have had so far on my mission. These past 8 months have changed me so much and I've learned that I am a much happier person when I am serving the Lord and forgetting about myself. 

Reagan is still on fire! She just passed me up in reading the Book of Mormon! She reads like 5 chapters a day! We also got to take her to the Visitor's Center in Idaho Falls and she loved it there. She is pumped for her baptism too! We get to have Elder Richards of the Seventy actually come to her baptism! He will be in town for the YSA stake conference and our Stake President invited him to the baptism. So that puts a little pressure on us to make the baptism awesome.. We can do it though! 

Sarah is struggling to tell her family still. She wants to be baptized but she is so afraid of her parents reaction that she just cannot move forward. Its a tough situation but I know that she will make the right choice eventually.

Transfers are coming up next week and Sister Gilbert and I are praying we get to stay together. We are seriously the dream team! We are both about in the middle of our missions so we are not brand new anymore and we aren't ready to go home either! We just love to work hard and we have seen miracles happen because of that hard work.

Oh! I almost forgot! We found a new investigator this week named Ryan! He is super prepared and ready to accept the gospel. We taught a really powerful Restoration lesson yesterday and invited him to be baptized and he accepted! 

I love teaching the message of the Restoration of the Gospel. We teach it a LOT so you would think that it would get old but it doesn't! I feel like every time I teach it my testimony of the Restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon grows. 

I am so grateful to be serving here. Pocatello is the best! 

I love y'all so much! 

Until next time,

Sister Park

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nate's Baptism!!


What a great (and slightly overwhelming) week! 

First of all, Nathan got baptized!! It was so amazing. He has such a strong testimony of the gospel and he is such a great example to me. He had our ward mission leader speak on baptism and then the girl who introduced him to the gospel spoke on the Holy Ghost. Then after he was baptized, he wanted to give a speech. He wrote up this 5 page paper on his conversion experience and then read it. Man it was powerful. Lets just say, there was not a dry eye in the house! 

We also set a baptism date with one of our other investigators, Reagan! Reagan is one of the sweetest girls I know and her testimony has grown so much since I got here. She has always been very hesitant about baptism because her family is very anti-Mormon. This is a very common concern for A LOT of the people we teach. They come off to college and they can finally have freedom to practice whatever religion they want to, which is often different than the religion they grew up with. 

So anyways.. Reagan decided that she wants to move forward with baptism, whether or not her family is supportive. She knows that this is the right choice and that the things we have taught her are true and she doesn't want to wait any longer! She plans to be baptized in 2 weeks on April 23. 

Sarah went home this weekend and planned to tell her family that she wants to get baptized but she couldn't get up the nerve to do it. We saw her last night and she was really disappointed in herself. She is so scared to tell her family and then have them ridicule the things she has come to know are true. She also doesn't want to ruin her relationship with her family.

These situations are so hard! As a church, we value family relationships so much and its difficult when investigator's families are not supportive or accepting of the gospel. As much as we value family relationships, we know that Sarah and Reagan's relationships with Christ are much more important. Please pray for Sarah and Reagan and their families as they prepare to tell their parents this week! 

I love this area so much and everyone that we get to teach! I love my mission, especially on weeks like this where we get to see the fruit of our labors. Seeing souls come unto Christ through baptism is the most rewarding thing I will probably ever be a part of. The work of salvation is real. The Lord is preparing people to hear and accept the gospel. 

I love my Savior. I love all of you.

Until next time,

Sister Park

This is Nathan's speech that he read at his baptism:

You two truly went above and beyond your calling as missionaries. I'm grateful for your assistance. I've heard it said that in any calling, that you must first love your subjects and let them know it and feel it. I have felt from you two a Christ like love. You've made me feel welcome and have helped me to find the happiness of the gospel. Thank you so much. 
Baptism Testimony
Thank you all very much for being here today on a day that is important to me.
I wanted to take this opportunity to say what I’ve experienced and then explain what these experiences have led me to believe.
 In this last year, I’ve experienced odd coincidences and the power of the Holy Spirit through strong emotion or peace.
 I no longer believe in coincidences, but now I see them as clues to let me know that I am supposed to understand something. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was spared from a devastating rocket attack in Afghanistan. A very large missile had hit my building. The shrapnel damaged almost everything. The lights were knocked down from their fixtures. The blue concrete walls were pocked throughout with grey craters, all except for in a circle around where I was standing. I was later approached by several people with the same message. “If you’re not a man who prays, you need to start, because there was an angel in there with you.”
            I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was to meet my friend Erin last October. See we met on a plane, one that the airline was trying to kick me off of. It was between my intermittent refusals to depart from the craft that Erin and I began to speak of the Gospel. If I hadn’t delayed that flight so dramatically, I’m not sure we would have become friends. And if we weren’t friends, we couldn’t later have lunch in Fort Collins where she would give me the Book of Mormon.
            I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I came to visit Idaho last September. I was struggling greatly with PTSD. I wasn’t sleeping for days on end. I had flashbacks, panic attacks, tormenting pains of depression periodically briefed by frightful worry for my life. I also don’t think it circumspect that my suffering began to ease upon a visit here in Idaho. It didn’t take me long at all to realize that I wanted this to be my home.
It was also oddly assuring that after starting the Book of Mormon, and praying intently, the pain I had endured for years left me completely.
            I personally believe wholeheartedly that the power of the Holy Spirit worked in me to help me and guide me. Earlier this year I still frequently had difficult days, where mental anguish from my experiences in Afghanistan stayed with me. I would read the book of Nephi, which gave me faith. It gave me enough faith to believe that when I prayed, I was praying to God. In these dark days I would pray that the Lord send the Holy Spirit to help me, because I needed it. Not immediately, but within 20 minutes my body would fill with a warm glowing feeling. I would then feel at peace, almost euphoric. After just a short time it felt as if the spirit left. I no longer felt radiance about me, but it did not take with it the comfortable sense of tranquility and rest. Sometimes this comforting peace would stay with me even into the next morning. Now I no longer need to pray for reprieve, but I pray in thankfulness.
            Not only has the Holy Spirit talked to me in weird coincidences, and the gift of relief, but it has also used strong emotion. Erin encouraged me to pray for a testimony to know the book of Mormon is true. I received an answer twice, both from Holy Ghost. The first was when attending a YSA face to face meeting with Elder Holland. In his closing speech he said “Wonderful wonderful things are in store for you. [That] if you could see your future, you would be more ecstatic than I would be able to describe or that you would be able to contain”. During this speech I felt what I understand to be the Holy Spirit come over me with a strong force. I cried for almost twenty minutes.
            At another time later, I was struggling with doubts about the church, the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith as a prophet. I prayed again. My struggle with these doubts caused me to feel horrible. I felt guilty and lost. Like before at earlier times in my life, I believed in God, but I was so confused about all the rest of it.
            In Institute class my teacher, brother Whitney asked if I had been struggling. I denied because I was shameful of my doubts and my struggle and I didn’t want to say it in front of the class. After class he explained to me that the adversary it going to make it hard for me just before my baptism. I asked him for a blessing. As he laid his hands on me and began to pray, I felt immediate relief from my worries and my doubts. I felt warmth pouring down from his hands as if oil was being poured over me. The tears streamed down my face as the pain dissipated.
            Testimony Here’s what I know now. I know that there is a God. I know because of the beauty our creation and this world. I know that Jesus Christ our savior and God are loving and merciful, because even after all the wrong I’ve done, after turning my back to them and having a dark heart, they went out of their way to help me. They sent an angel to save me in that explosion. They put me in that plane to start me on a path that led me here. They Holy Spirit healed me completely from my suffering. I know the Lord responds to my prayers and that he loves me. Through his actions to help me I know it, and in my heart I can feel it. The Holy Ghost gave me a testimony of the validity of the prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Holy Spirit told me that Elder Holland is a true Apostle of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I know that because he is a true Apostle, the church is true. I know the Priesthood has been restored because of the blessing I received from Brother Whitney. If Joseph Smith hadn’t been given the restored power of the priesthood and passed it down, the blessing I received would not have worked.
            From the bottom of my heart I thank you Jesus Christ for your love and kindness. I am undeserving of everything you have done for me. I will do anything you ever ask of me. I owe you my life, my sanity, my love and devotion. Thank you so much for your patience. Thank you for your mercy. You truly saved me.  I am forever grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Proposal (not the movie)

 What a wonderful weekend! Conference was awesome, as always! I hope you all enjoyed it! 

Also thanks to everyone who sent birthday cards and packages! That was so fun to be able to open some presents on my birthday. I love yall so much!

So uhhh... funny story from this week. I got proposed to by one of our new investigators, M. M is from Saudi Arabia and we met him on the street one day and talked to him about the Book of Mormon. He said we could come and teach him a lesson so we went back on Friday night. We taught most of first lesson and he was sort of listening (I think). And then out of nowhere he asked me about how long I had left on my mission and if I was allowed to get married to someone who wasn't Mormon. Yeah.... so things were going downhill very quickly. I told him I had 10 months left and he said "In 10 months, you be my wife?" 
I was like "Uhhhh... I don't think so". He asked me to pray about it and he called me his wife for the rest of the lesson. So I was ready to get out of there. We asked him to say the closing prayer. Bad idea. He literally said, "Dear God, let me and Park get married in 10 months. Let us have kids together and have happy family. Amen." 

So needless to say, we got out of there as fast as we could! He did say that he would become Mormon if I married him though! Nothing wrong with a little "flirt to convert" right? :)

Haha I am TOTALLY kidding! But we might have the Elders teach M from now on. ;)

So other than that experience, this week was full of good lessons and spiritual experiences. We are teaching a girl named S who is literally one of my favorite people in the world. We will definitely be friends for long after my mission. 

S has been meeting with the sisters since January and is getting close to finishing the Book of Mormon. Apparently S was on fire before I got here. She was progressing towards baptism and she was so happy and feeling the spirit all the time and then a couple weeks ago she went home for the weekend to tell her parents she wanted to get baptized and.... she didn't tell them and her faith was really shaken. She has been struggling with her faith since her family is all pretty anti-Mormon. Buuuuut, this week was way better! She started reading the Book of Mormon again and she is back on track for baptism! She came to conference yesterday and she really loved it. Good things to come for S for sure. 

N is also doing really well! He loved conference and is super excited for him baptism this coming weekend. 

Conference was awesome! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! My testimony of living prophets and apostles was once again strengthened. These men are called of God! 

I am so grateful for the messages they shared and the spirit I felt. I love the gospel so much! 

I love all of you too! 

Until next time,

Sister Park