Thursday, December 31, 2015

This entire week was a Christmas miracle! Although we didn`t have a ton of ¨Christmas¨ things going on, we saw so many tender mercies and felt super blessed!

Tuesday: Leadership council and surprise, the topic was Como Fijar Metas! Inspiration is real because that was the topic of District mtg last week where Elder Beltran nearly blew our minds and then also our topic for companionship study Monday, and then what do ya know! Apparently we need to remember this. Elder Ballard says it better than I can: 
“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”

Wednesday: Interviews with President where he told me that he was prompted strongly to put Hna Christianson and I together and to assign us 3 zones of hermanas instead of just our own zone. We have an important work to fulfill in our area and with the other hermanas. I left humbled and motivated to do my best this transfer! 
We had a CRAZY experience that day and it all goes back to goal setting! 
On Monday Hna Christianson and I decided that we were going to start contacting more families and adult men (Elder Godoy had made an off-hand comment about the importance of finding and teaching the heads of the families). Normally we wouldn`t contact adult men in the street because they`re the ones that cat-call at us and we`ve become hesitant to even try. But, we decided to start doing it anyway. The next day we were knocking on doors and came across a shirtless man sweeping his sidewalk (someone we wouldn`t have normally talked to). His name is Norman. We contacted him and he seemed interested so we scheduled an appt to come back the next day and visit his family. We stopped by the next day and his family wasn`t there!! Ahhh.  We were standing at the doorway and I was getting eaten ALIVE by mosquitoes but Hna Christianson kept talking to him and shared a Restoration pamphlet/explained its content briefly. We left flying and I honestly didn`t think much of it. That night at literally 9:59pm (the last possible minute we can answer our phone) we got a call. IT WAS NORMAN. 

¨Hermanas, I read the pamphlet and I was really interested in the message. Where can I get a Book of Mormon?¨ 


We were able to catch him the next day just before he left to go out of town to give him a Book of Mormon. We called him on Saturday to check in and he`s already well into 1 Nephi and praying to know if it`s true! Without EVER teaching this guy, he is already gaining his own testimony and progressing. 
There was not a single coincidence in all of that! I am confident that when we as missionaries listen to our leaders, study Preach My Gospel, and prayerfully make plans, Heavenly Father blesses us the SECOND we walk out the door to work. 

Thursday:  we saw a ton of tender mercies! a moto taxista gave us a free ride, IT RAINED (which means drizzled for 5 minutes...but hey, only second time in my mission when it`s done that!), we made PB banana sandwiches because Hna Christianson`s fam sent her PB, and learned how to make Peruvian hot chocolate for la Noche Buena con la familia Chizan!  

Friday:  Talking to the fam which was THE BEST THING EVER. I`ve had a smile on my face ever since :)  

Saturday: Zone meeting where the zone leaders gave Hna Christianson and I 45 minutes to talk about Como Fijar Metas. (I think I`m prepared to give a talk in general conf on this topic now, haha) 

Sunday: Magali Abad and her 4 kids (Angeles age 18, Angel Fabian age 11, Anderson age 8, and Jonathan age 6) came to church!! We found Magali while she was walking home in La Legua last week and helped her carry her heavy bags. Now they are totally progressing and we love them so much! 

So this week I may not have been able to walk the Christmas light streets with my fam or go skiing but I felt the spirit of Christmas which is focusing on Christ and the gospel that he has personally left us to learn about and live and share. For that reason, it was a blessed and memorable week!

Hermana Parks 
La familia Chizan Lunes

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas package!

Christmas day photos

Zone meeting

Hna Cecilia

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 1 in 2nd area: Piura Central

So I was expecting that my first week in a new area would be a lot like starting my mission (i.e. emotionally unstable, super LONG, missing my past ¨life¨) but it was the complete opposite this week! I`m loving Piura Central and I`ve been blessed to have this fire to work hard and get to know everyone and love these people! 

In one of Bro. Minor`s letters he said that the mission is a half circle tunnel divided into 3 parts. The first 6 months you`re getting used to the tunnel and looking back at the light, comparing your life to what it was before....The 2nd 6 months you`re totally immersed in the work and loving it, and the 3rd 6 months you`re recognizing that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. This could be the most true analogy I have ever heard, haha. I hit my 6 month mark this past week -- I`ve gotten to the point where I rarely think of home and I am totally focused on and settled in to this work. I have a looong ways to go with personal weakness, but I love how the mission is helping me to become better every day! 

Alright, enough with the sappy reflection moment. 
Here`s why I`m loving Piura Central! 

- La Legua is EXACTLY what I pictured my mission to be like. We`re talking sandy kids climbing all over me, houses with dirt floors and mothers who don`t know how to read. It`s crazy. We have been spending all our mornings out there since it`s too dangerous in the evening. The first person we visited there now has a baptismal date (Hno Jefferson). The people are way more receptive over there. Seriously, La Legua has SO MUCH POTENTIAL. It`s just ginormous and a map of it doesn`t exist so we`re trying to get organized..

- Okay I thought I walked a ton in my last area but forget that because Piura Central is no joke! I had a Charlie`s Horse in my calf last night and I`m blaming it on the 2 miles we speed walked to get home on time. But I love it! Every day is a crazy adventure. 

- Our ward is SO great! We had a super successful Cena Navidena on Friday and a TON of people came! The members here are super supportive in la obra misional. 

- My list of Hna Christianson quotes in my agenda is getting pretty lengthy! She is seriously the greatest example to me and I am learning so much!! I`m also her first gringa comp so when we`ve tried to speak in English she just automatically reverts back to Spanish, haha. It`s great. 

Overall, so happy to be here and we`ve set some great goals for our area.
I almost forgot it`s Christmas this week! Christmas is WAY different here and some people don`t even celebrate it! Mostly it`s just a family dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve, but it`s been tough feeling like it`s truly the holiday season! So we`ve been making our own holiday spirit :) I`ve asked myself the question this week: Que es lo que a Cristo le quiero dar? What can I give to my Savior this Christmas? I decided that I want to give him my broken heart and contrite spirit, which, as I learned from my study this week, is humility, repentance, and obedience. 
The verse that sums up my love for missionary work is Alma 29:10:

And behod, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy. then do I remmber what the Lord has done for me, yea even that he hath heard my prayer. yea, then do I remember his merciful arm he extended towards me.

My heart is FULL for the blessings I have received in my life because Christ lives. 
I hope we can remember His love and divinity this season and always! 

Con amor, 
Hermana Parks 
To the rear is La Legua

Our investigator Jefferson with one of his drawings

Our primary Christmas program

La Legua

Las hermanas de Los Ficus!  We did a musical number for the cena navidena.  Hna Mitchell plays violin.

My missionary wall minus photo of papa which I still need to print.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cambios: from Ignacio Merino to Piura Central (just next door)

Preface: As transfers were on our minds this week, I was truly expecting to go to Tumbes, Talara, or Paita. I don`t know, I just felt like I was headed to serve on the beach or in some crazy area. Either way, I was super excited to hear about it....Saturday night came and we got the call. 

Elder Nunez: Hermana Parks you`re headed to PIURA CENTRAL. 


Haha, so here we are! There`s a part of my new area where you can literally see my old area from across the`s great :) But  this was Hermana Glunt`s old area and I soon found that it is actually huge. It`s like 3 areas in one area, including city, suburb, and La Legua, which is like a like a village of cardboard houses about 15 minutes away on a bus.  STOKED. I`m thrilled to be here.

Also Heavenly Father sure knows how to humble me because I`ve been called as a sister leader! I feel pretty inadequate as I`ll be a leader over hermanas with a lot more time in the field....but I also know that this is an opportunity to rely on the Spirit and develop Christlike attributes. And I know I`m going to learn a TON from my new comp! Gringa companera round 2! Hermana Christianson is from Provo UT and WAS IN MY SAME WARD AND LIVED IN THE SAME BUILDING AT BYU, just a year before me! She is seriously the sweetest and I am pumped to work with her! She has 14 months in the field and one transfer in this area. 

SO many great things happened my last week in Ignacio Merino! 
Gina was baptized on Saturday as part of a White Christmas put on by the stake. 25 other individuals were baptized as part of a really cool program! It was so special seeing these children of God make such an important covenant with Heavenly Father.  Baptism is more than just a commandment, it is the way to follow our Savior Jesus Christ and start on our journey to receive all the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us. 

My heart has been so full as I reflect on la famila Araujo`s journey. Just 2 months ago we knocked on a cardboard door and met one of my favorite families on planet earth! They had their first noche de hogar this week as a family and it`s been so cool seeing the sacrifices Gina is making to keep the commandments, especially the Sabbath Day and Tithing, under her difficult circumstances. That was one of the hardest goodbyes from this weekend. I`m so excited to visit them next year!

Also had the Christmas party at the mission house which was so so fun. 

Overall, it`s CRAZY how much I learned from Ignacio Merino these past 6 months. 
When I first got there, I cried the whole week because I was homesick and felt completely alone and didn`t know anyone and couldn`t picture myself loving the area. Now it has become my homeand I am so grateful for the experiences I had and the amazing people I met. But so excited to be in a new area and continue serving the Lord as a missionary! Time is going by WAY too fast and I hate it, so I`m trying to enjoy every day! 

Hermana Parks

La familia Araujo

Navidad blanca

Hna Glunt in the middle, new companion Hna Christianson 2nd from right

ward mission leader family

Christmas party

do not get Dengue, please Christine.  Dad wishes he had not taken virology right about now.

Three amigas

We are interpreting this to mean Christine misses her dog Jimmer.  She has no control over this blog until December 2016, so this caption will prevail until then.  Jimmer certainly misses Christine's smelly ballet shoes!  They taste so good...

Leaving Hna Glunt for transfers; a sad moment but friends forever.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Service, mission conference with Elder and Sister Godoy, and playing the piano

Well, I´m a little distracted today hearing about my brother Seth´s accident. It scared me to death, but I will say that I know Heavenly Father is protecting my family while I´m gone. I´m so grateful that he is alright and I´m SO grateful for the power of the priesthood and prayer.

So we had a conference with Elder Godoy on Thursday! Half of our mission was there and the other half had a separate conference on Friday. I learned a ton from him and his wife but don´t have time to recap. Our zone was in charge of the musical number but the NIGHT BEFORE they said we needed to change our original plan (Come Unto Christ, the song we did for multizone) and do a hymn since Elder Godoy is a general authority....great. I got permission to use a computer and look up an arrangement of Yo Se que Vive mi Senor. We met up the morning of with 10 missionaries from our zone and with 95% the Spirit 5% us, it turned out to be so beautiful! Hermana Godoy said she was almost in tears and that it´s hard to make her cry :) 
At the close of the conference I accompanied everyone singing A Vencer, our mission hymn, and that was up there as one of the coolest moments of the mission. Everyone was spiritually filled from the counsel we had received and sang with some serious enthusiasm and power. I love getting to just play piano and listen :) Afterwards President said that Elder Godoy wanted to interview the following missionaries..(out of more than a hundred of us): Elder Valverde, Elder Gamino, and...
I was super nervous but it turned out to be such a cool experience! What stood out to me most was the last question he asked me. Äre you happy?¨ I thought about that for a long time afterwards. My life as a missionary isn´t perfect -- there are stressful Sunday mornings, golden investigators who end up not progressing, long days, and feeling inadequate -- but I´ve learned that happiness is a choice and that I need to learn to be happy where I´m at. 

I can say that I truly am happy right now. I´m happy because I get to share the fulness of the gospel that has been restored through a prophet. I know that my Savior lives and that he was born, and lived, and died for me and each and every one of us. His Atonement heals all wounds and stresses and trials and is the way to become better than we were yesterday. 

Some jovenes we contacted in the park

time for service

Relief Society cena navidena - mesa de la selva

Con el Elder y la Hna Godoy

the district

the bishop's family

some of our favorite primary girls

with Deisy and her cute kids

helping to decorate for la Navidad

how we feel about Sunday mornings

No time left! Lots of service this week -- cleaning toilets, cooking, and decorating for Christmas for a few investigators! I´m excited for transfers on Saturday although I´ll miss Ignacio Merino A TON!!! 

Hermana Parks 

Note from dad:
Christine's brother Seth (14) is doing well.  He had a wrestling injury this weekend that landed him overnight in the hospital (concussion, loss of consciousness).  Wrestling career over, but he is recovering.