Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 1 in Peru: Lima MTC

Ay, one hour is going to FLY by! Sorry if I don't have time to reply to all your emails!
This week has been CRAZY! I feel like I've been here for a century, but in a good way!
First off, the first couple days were really hard, to be honest. I felt like a toddler thrown in a pool and expected to swim (or as Hermana Snyder said: More like a shark tank!). Everyone overestimated my Spanish ability and I was just overwhelmed with everything, especially the lack of sleep.  Getting to the MTC was seriously so weird -- no one to greet us, nothing. The guards opened the gates and we were handed packets and keys to our room and that was it. The first day and a half was mostly orientation stuff and trying to stay awake / communicate with people.  I felt pretty down the first couple days watching the American districts have so much fun together and speak English, etc. I was just struggling to keep my head above water, much less have fun with my district.  It kind of sounds dramatic but I had to figure out why I´m here.  The investigators (actors but they legit seem real) were very difficult. I felt like we barely had anything to work with because one of them just rejected everything we said. I was like GIVE THE GRINGO SOME SLACK HERE. But day 3 and every day since has been SO. MUCH. BETTER. I have prayed more than I have ever in my life and the gift of tongues is absolutely REAL.
MY DISTRICT: Okay first off my comp: (I´m gonna try to answer the questions Dad wrote as I go along). She´s from Nauquan, Argentina. She was super hard to understand for the first couple days and she had to learn to be patient with me :) For ex, she pronounces all her y´s or double l´s like SH. So capilla = KAPEESHA. And yo = SHO. I´m still not used to it, haha! A little more about her: she´s AMAZING. Super pilas (they use that word in Arg. and Josh -- Elder Cannon, used it a lot in his letters, there´s basically no translation in English, it just means super dedicated, on top of things, obedient, awesome, etc) I was called to be senior comp. (No idea what they were thinking, haha) but she has taught me way more than I could have ever hoped for. I´m so grateful for her example. She is also a great teacher as far as the lessons go. She´s a lot like me in that she´s independent and a go-getter and we work together super super well. It´s seriously natural in lessons to teach together.
She and all of our district (10 of us) are going to Piura!! It´s super awesome because I know I´ll for sure see them all again! All 6 of us girls live in the same room (3 bunk beds) There´s me and H. Garcia, then H. Sepulveda and H. Tiñini (Bolivia), and H. Huanca (Bolivia) and H. Atencio (convert as of a couple years - Lima). Elders: Ortiz (San Diego but he´s Mexican and fluent, zone leader), Bazan (Bolivia), Chambi (Bolivia, District leader - loves imagine dragons but knows basically no english, haha), and Chacara (Lima - he speaks SO fast. I told him that if all the Peruanos speak that fast, I should just go home, haha. It´s an inside joke in our district that if he´s gonna talk, he has to repeat everything he says becasue H. Sepulveda and I can´t keep up, haha).
H. Sepulveda is from spanish fork! We were instagram buddies for a few months before this. I LOVE HER SO MUCH. We are seriously soul hermanas. Her mom is from the DR but she grew up in Puerto Rico and her dad is from Chile so her Spanish is super super good (it was her first language) and we help each other a lot. We´ve already made plans to hang out all the time in UT once we´re back. I would LOVE to be her companion at some point in the mission. She´s the best.  (NOTE: H. Snyder isn´t in our district but she´s the third hermana that´s american on the 2 week track. She is SO awesome. So outgoing and just the best. She lived in the DR for 11 years but she´s definitely white, haha. From Orlanda FL. We three bonded especially in the first couple days when we were overwhelmed, haha)
SPANISH: Let me just say that the English Language is a beautiful thing. For reals. On the third day we watched an episode of The District with Spanish subtitles and I seriously almost started crying. From the moment we got here we have spoken, read, talked, prayed, taught, and thought in Spanish. It takes a lot of mental concentration to focus all the time at translating what other people say, especially the Peruanos who speak ridiculously fast. I was super jealous of all the American missionaries for the first couple days but now I am SO  grateful to be on the 2 week track. We are getting way more of an immersion experience, and although it´s a challenge and our brains are fried 100% of the time, WE DON´T HAVE TO BE HERE FOR 6 WEEKS. The CCM is great, really, but there´s no way I could last that long. There´s only so long you can be sitting in classes all day and stuck on this campus that isn{t super big. I want to be out in the field! My Spanish has improved exponentially! I feel really comfortable with it. Like I said, I´ve been teaching, praying, thinking, everything in Spanish. Somtimes at night I´ll start writing in my journal in English and after a while I´ll stop and realize that I switched to Spanish on accident, haha!
PIURA: Can you even believe that ONE WEEK FROM THIS MOMENT I will be in Piura!! Ahhhhh, so crazy. We leave I think at 6am on Tuesday morning. Stoked doesn´t even cover it. There are 3 more hermanas who have been here for 5 weeks (american) and 2 elders who will be traveling with our district to the field. Also, whenever we tell the teachers, people in the street, other Peruanos, etc that we´re going to Piura they say: "Ay, es tanto calor alli!" And we´re just like WE KNOW OKAY. Haha. I´ve basically resigned to my fate to just melt like a popsicle starting next week.
SUNDAY: we got to watch the Trujillo temple dedication!! It was absolutely AWESOME. Uchtdorf and Bednar were there. I felt the Spirit so strongly and it was such an exciting day for Peru!! Today we got up at 5 (AY!) to go to the temple, but it was totally worth it. So beautiful, so cool. We took a bunch of pictures that I´ll try to send.
OBEDIENCE: It´s important people. This week we got in trouble for leaving the classroom at 9:20 to go to our room (we´re not allowed to go back to our room once we leave it each morning at 7:15 until 9:30 after planificacion de compañerismo). But that night we had already planned earlier in the day during a break we had, so we were like "sweet, we´ll just start the bedtime routine earlier to take advantage of our time." Nope. As we were getting ready Huanca and Atencio ran in and said the DL wanted to talk to us downstairs. Apparently the prez had asked the DL why half his district was missing before 9:30. WHOOPS. So lesson learned. Sometimes we may not know why we have to follow a certain rule, or commandment, or piece of counsel, but the important thing is that we OBEY. This is the Lord´s work. It´s his timetable. Also funny story: we didn´t realize that we couldn´t play full court bball so when one of the American elders told us that he was like "but it´s okay we´ll just say sorry later" -- about 2 minutes later he got a bloody nose. Coincidence? NOPE. Obedience, people :)
My district really really wants to learn English so during a break this week I wrote our objective in English on the board and while I said each word aloud E. Bazan wrote the SPanish pronunciation as he heard it below. THis is some of what we came up with, it´s super hilarious to read with the Spanish pronunciatio¨n: "Invait oders tu cam ontu Craist bai helpin dem tu ruisiv da ristord gaspel dru feid en Yisus Craist..." etc. They´re gettin pretty good :)
So in the beginning of this week when I was having kind of a hard time, I was praying to know what to do to just feel the Spirit, to feel like I´m supposed to be here, and to know how to move forward. Immediately after I turned the page of the pamphlet I was reading -- Plan de Salvacion I think -- and say a picture of Christ with Mary Magdalene. SHe is sitting on the ground looking up at him with her hand outstretched and he is kneeling next to her and immediately it came to me: HUMILDAD. I needed to learn and apply humility. Since then I´ve been studying it in depth and it has blessed my life SO MUCH. I´ve become so much more grateful, I´ve been able to recognize HIS hand in all things, and I´ve been more teachable, less judgemental of others, and I´ve had a renewed faith to work and work and work. That was such a tender and special experience for me. I had been praying a ton, but it wasn´t enough. I needed to be humble.
Speaking of praying, I calculated it and we say LITERALLY 18 PRAYERS EVERY DAY. This isn´t counting the little prayers to be able to understand/speak Spanish well. Every meal, every class, every study and planning session, activity, devotional, etc. Pray, Pray, Pray, that ye may come off conqueror.
Some random notes: Tell Taylor Pulsipher that Hermana Arteaga says HI!! She´s from where Taylor served and apparently they are besties.
Also there´´s several BYU people here, which has been fun. Hermana Esser was in Ethan´s ward and Hermana Messina was in my BOM class.
Also I saw the Merrill´s niece, she´s super nice. Also one of the branch presidents knows the Davis´grandparents. Small, small world!
Answers to some of your questions: My teachers are super super awesome. Super pilas. This whole place is run very seriously, strictly, and with an amazing spirit. I love it.
Food: super delicious, athough they could lay off on the rice, haha. We had lomo saltado a couple days ago.
Sports: yep. Bball, soccer, ping pong (watch out, Ricky, I´m getting pretty good:), sand volleyball or regular, basically everything! H. Sepulveda and I run, do suicide sprints on the bball court, play soccer with the elders, it´s super super fun.
Weather: cloudy, enjoying the 75 degrees while we can!!!!
Can you get me Emily Lemons´email?
Also ANNA ALLIE AND ALL MY FRIENDS I LOVE YOU BUT I HAVE NO TIME TO WRITE YOU.
Also can you guys google how to get a clothing tag thing off from the store? Thanks to kohl´s they didn´t take it off so i have no idea what to do.
Also I THINK I FORGOT MY CAMERA CHARGER OR MAYBE IT DIDNT COME WITH MY CAMERA?? i´ll look harder and get back to you guys.
Tell Tanner Craft to bring snacks to the MTC. We have meals at 7, 12, and 6 but we get hungry in between.
´NO TIME LEFT. So sorry i didn´t get to read or reply to all the emails!
The missionary life is THE BEST. I´m beginning to feel the pure joy that everyone talks about! We just committed one of our investigators to be baptized and it was the greatest experience. The church is SO ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY TRUE. Sorry for the all caps, I´m just so happy and loving the mish life!
xoxo,
Hermana Parks

Monday, June 15, 2015

PERÚ BOUND


"Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children." 

Excited doesn't cover it!! 
My dad will take over the blog and post my weekly emails.

See you all in 18 <3

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Outfit Inventory

Several months back when I thought about my mission I was super excited to get adorable outfits --> professional yet fashionable & colorful.
Then I got called to one of the hottest locations in South America which includes a lot of sand and dust -- as well as an extremely poor area.
I knew that nice jewelry and expensive outfits definitely wouldn't be the best choice for Piura, so while shopping I focused on lightweight, comfortable, & easy to mix-n-match.
This turned out to be a struggle, especially finding modest-length skirts (shocker, I know).  
Long story short, I stalked a million blogs to see what other sister missionaries were wearing in South America, and ultimately I had success shopping!
So I thought that I'd share my outfit inventory :) 

note: this is 10 combinations but each top can go with 2+ other skirts


Dress: Fred Meyer's believe it or not! It was a high-low dress so I had the back hemmed to match the front.

Tops: Maurice's, Downeast, MikaRose, Ann Taylor Loft, Kohl's, REI, & Bohme.

Skirts: the patterned one and the white one are from DownEast; the other 7 were made by Sue Quackenbush! If you live in the Medford Oregon stake, CALL HER. She is a miracle worker. I just picked out the fabric at Joann's and then she created the perfect length and fit, complete with an adjustable waistband. And she did it all for free! She does all missionary clothes free of charge. I love that woman! 

Shoes: Cobb Hill brand. (I got them at a store called Johnson's Shoes in the mall) I have 3 other pairs not pictured that are Keens brand, Clarks, & another Cobb Hill. I focused on comfort and durability since I will be walking several miles a day on dirty streets.



And this is the proselyting bag I got from the Sister Missionary Mall in Orem, UT -- Mountainsmith brand. It was recommended to me by several people and I love it already! 

Obviously, I haven't been to Piura yet or on a mission in general, but I'm crossing my fingers that my clothing/accessory choices work out! 

Ultimately I've tried to remember that my spiritual preparation is so much more important than my packing list. Once I get to Perú (in 5 days!), I will be 100% focused on my calling, which is inviting others to come unto Christ. I can't wait! 




Sunday, June 7, 2015

Farewell talk - May 31

The Role of the Book of Mormon in Missionary Work

I’m going on my mission to Piura, Peru which, as it turns out, is the hottest location in Peru just below the equator. Among the normal clothing and other items we bring our mission president requires that all missionaries wear sunglasses and sunscreen each day to protect our eyes and skin from the sun, as well as wind and dust. These will be important items that I carry in my bag each day to be healthy and successful as a missionary. However, they aren’t the most important things I’ll take. There’s a book I’ll carry with me every day; my companion and I will study it each morning, we’ll share copies with those who may have never seen it before, and we will use its pages and verses to increase our personal faith as well as that of the Peruvian people.
It’s the Book of Mormon.
As our prophet Joseph Smith described, this book is “the keystone of our religion”, and I believe that it is also the keystone of missionary work.
A keystone is absolutely essential to a structure, even key to its stability. So why is The Book of Mormon this irreplaceable piece?  
President Ezra Taft Benson said that The Book of Mormon is the keystone in at least three ways: It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.”
I want to address these three points in the context of my own life as well as missionary work.
First, and perhaps most importantly: The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Christ.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said that “The central purpose of the Book of Mormon is its testament of Jesus Christ. Of more than 6,000 verses in the Book of Mormon, far more than half refer directly to Him.”
This is why the Book of Mormon is such an important resource for missionary work.  Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. With such an abundance of verses and chapters dedicated to the Savior, The Book of Mormon is the vehicle whereby we teach of Christ and invite others to come unto Him.  In general, when the Lord gives us a commandment or an invitation, like “come unto Christ” as found in Moroni Chapter 10, he prepares a way for us to accomplish that goal. Missionary work, I think, is about showing people what that way is through the scriptures.
One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is found in 2 Nephi 25:23, 26. The ancient prophet Nephi gives a reason for writing the records that he wrote which became part of The Book of Mormon we have today. He said: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”
What a blessing it is to have this book. It was written by prophets who labored diligently that we may know about our Redeemer.
Second, The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our doctrine.
We believe that The Book of Mormon contains a fullness of doctrine that cannot be found anywhere else. In a predominantly Catholic country, the Peruvian people will likely be familiar with The Bible and perhaps less inclined to seek out The Book of Mormon.  As missionaries we do teach from both books of scripture, but with regard to the difference between the two Elder Packer taught: “the Bible passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text while the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power.”
I can testify that I have felt this clarity and power from doctrine found in the Book of Mormon. An example is the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation. The word “plan” actually never appears in the Bible, but the Book of Mormon is filled with teachings about this great plan of our Heavenly Father that allows us to be with our families forever. It answers questions of the soul like: “Why am I here? Where did I come from? And where am I going?” The answers to these questions, many of which found in 2 Nephi chapter 2, offer peace and direction for my life.
Although I will use both the Book of Mormon and The Bible on my mission to teach, the Book of Mormon provides that fullness that is the keystone of our doctrine.
Lastly, The Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony.
In August of 2005 President Gordon B. Hinckley, our prophet at the time, issued a challenge in August to read the BoM before the end of the year. I decided to accept the invitation along with my parents and on December 29th I recorded this in my journal: “Today I finished the Book of Mormon! I am so proud because the prophet set a challenge earlier in the year for everyone to finish The Book of Mormon.  My mom is only on Moroni 7, so I beat her! I know the Book of Mormon is true and the people they talk about in the scriptures really did once live on the earth.”
At that point, 9 years old, the keystone of my testimony was just beginning to be shaped and molded. Over the past 10 years the Spirit of God, little by little, has witnessed to my mind and my heart that The Book of Mormon is true. This is the keystone of my testimony.
One example occurred this past semester while studying the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. In the past, the war chapters seemed like a drag. The battles and contention between the Nephite and Lamanite people seemed less important and less instructive than other parts of The Book of Mormon so I would usually skim those chapters. However, I’ve since learned that Mormon decided to include the war chapters in his abridgment of The Book of Mormon because they are a type and a spiritual prefiguration of what we go through today.
We have our own battles; there is right and wrong, an enemy and a defender.  As I’ve been preparing for a mission I’ve felt that in no other time of life have I needed to understand and defend against the adversary more than right now. Satan desires that all men be miserable like unto himself, so he doesn’t want us to have joy and he especially doesn’t want us to share our joy with others.
But when I read Alma Chapter 49 one day back in February, it laid out my counter-attack perfectly.
The Lamanites were advancing. 
And because they had destroyed this Nephite city before, the scriptures say that "they supposed that it would again become an easy prey for them." 
The adversary has won the victory over each of us before. Personally, there have been times when he made me feel bitterness, self-doubt, hopelessness, and inadequacy. 
He is advancing again. He's won before, so easy prey right? 
Going on to verse 4: "But behold, how great was their disappointment, for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was SO HIGH that the Lamanites could not come upon them." 
So the Nephites had built a defense. Not just any ridge but one so high that their enemies could not overtake it.
In verse 8 it describes that they were "prepared in a manner which never had been known." 
When I read this, I decided that my preparation would be just like the Nephites; a ridge built of strong stones, the highest I could make it.
My construction plan was: feasting on the scriptures + earnest prayer, going to church and the temple.
And then..."Thus The Nephites had all power over their enemies." Or we could paraphrase: “And thus [you and I] have all power over [our] enemies.”
But, it wasn’t and isn’t over yet.
This process turns out to be a lifetime endeavor as it says that “Moroni, (the Nephite captain) did not stop making preparations for war" 
The influence of the adversary, unfortunately, will always be there, but HE -- Jesus Christ -- will always be there too. I have found that as I build my ridge higher, I lengthen the distance between the adversary and I while coming closer to my Savior.

I want to close with a quote from one of our apostles Elder L. Tom Perry who passed away just yesterday. This is a solemn but also wonderful time to celebrate his life and teachings. He was truly an incredible man and witness of Jesus Christ. He said: “Why is the reading of the Book of Mormon so important to us today? It is because the major writers of the Book of Mormon fully understood that their writings were primarily for the people of a future generation rather than for the people of their own generation. Moroni wrote to our generation saying, “I speak unto you as if ye were present”.
I love that quote and that scripture because the prophets who wrote the Book of Mormon; Nephi, Mormon, and others, they saw us. They saw our day and they saw the challenging things we would face. They knew that in order for us to return to our Heavenly Father, we would need this book as our keystone.
And lastly, I want to share part of President Benson’s testimony: He said: “Moses never entered the promised land. Joseph Smith never saw Zion redeemed. Some of us may not live long enough to see the day when the Book of Mormon floods the earth (as promised in the Doctrine & Covenants).  But, God willing, I intend to spend all my remaining days in that glorious effort.”

I want to echo the testimony of President Benson. I don’t understand everything perfectly and there are still questions I have within the gospel but I intend to spend all of my remaining days in this glorious effort to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of that effort, I am going to carry this book with me every day for the next 18 months and seek out its truth for the rest of my life.