Life is great! We had some super cool experiences this week, but first...the most embarrassing experience of my LIFE.
You ready for this?
Okay so it´s Thursday night. We got back to the room at 830 sandy and sweaty and tired, like usual :), and did our planning session. Afterwards I seriously could not keep my eyes open so I told Hna O that I was going to bed.... Apparently she followed suit directly after. Then, in what felt like the middle of the night, we hear banging and keys trying to get in our front door...we were definitely a little frightened. We walked out of our room to the front door and heard a group of voices outside the door including girls so we thought it must be people we know...I checked my watch and it was actually . We hesitantly opened the door and there in our entryway is THE BISHOP, THE ELDERS INCLUDING OUR DISTRICT LEADER, the Hermanas that live below us, the Gomez family (our pensionista), and the Gomez´ exchange students. We were literally so confused and then they told us that they´ve been looking for us for 2 hours!!!! Apparently the Hermanas that live below us had seen our lights off in our window at 945 and assumed that we hadn´t returned yet...so they called our DL because it´s a strict rule that we have to be inside by 9 at the latest and that´s if we´re teaching a lesson that goes past 830. Our DL called our phone several times (which was in the other room and I seriously have no idea how we didn´t hear it!) and told the hermanas to knock on our door and yell our names. WE DIDN-T WAKE UP: So our DL called the President and let him know that we hadn´t returned. The President told him to call the Bishop and all the leadership in the ward to start searching for us and gave the Elders permission to leave and look as well! The Bishop stopped his interviews and the young adults stopped their activity at the chapel to start looking for us! ´Apparently there were about 4 cars and 3 moto taxis filled with people scouring our area looking for us. They stopped at members homes and our investigators houses to ask if they´d seen us during the day! It scared everyone!! They were praying and Hna Guardia, who lives below us was crying. They were imagining the worst. Finally the bishop decided to break into our room to see if there was any more information or if by chance we were sleeping before they called the police. Then we open the door in our pajamas and they were so relieved, mad, exasperated, etc. OH MAN. Hna O and I died of embarrassment. We spent the next 2 days apologizing to everyone!! Literally the entire ward knew about it and was asking us for days, haha. Talk about making a first impression!
Lessons learned. ALWAYS sleep with the phone in the room and a LOT of people love us! So that was our crazy story for the week!
Cool experience this week that I´m going to kind of quote from my journal: Hermano A. But first some context that has nothing to do with Hno A.
I realized this week that I take comfort in numbers. For example, these 2 weeks in the field I´ve loved zone conferences and seeing our district and other people. It gives me confidence and comfort that there are so many other missionaries in this with us, even though it´s hard sometimes. I draw strength from their examples, also thinking about all my friends in the field around the world! But then this week the thought came to me (and I´m sure it was the Spirit): Hna Parks, if you were the only one, would you still do it?
That question was on my mind all day but I didn´t have time to address it because we were so busy out teaching lessons. Then, Hermano A came along. He´s a less active member who was baptized in 2013. We visited him my first day in the field and he expressed his lack of faith in the BoM. We shared Alma 32:21 and Moroni 10:4,5 and had him commit to pray with a sincere heart, etc. Next lesson, (we brought Junior, a 23 year old RM, convert as of 5 years) with us, Hno A expressed even more doubt. He DID read the BoM but he had literally written pages of notes of things he doubted. Details like cities, the characters, things that he didn´t believe were realistic, etc. He basically started throwing out his doubts from the moment we stepped in the door. It got semi contentious for sure. He was expecting us to deliver a counter response to all his doubts. Junior did a really good job at reasoning with him. Basically Hno A was trying to tear apart the book that we teach from every single day. The one we carry in our hands at all times, per mission rule! You´d expect that I´d feel despondent and unsure how to respond, but I felt the Spirit SO strongly during that lesson. Since there was nothing else we could do, Hna O and I testified of the BoM. I testified that it´s not just part of the gospel, it´s the keystone of our religion. I testified, as I felt a burning inside me, that if I was the ONLY member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I would still know it´s true and I would still be here on a mission. I don´t know if I´ve ever been more sure in my entire life. When we left that night, my testimony was stronger than it had been when we walked in. I don´t know if Hno A will ever decide to return to the gospel, but I´m so thankful for that experience because it fortified my faith, and my testimony of the calling I have. I LOVE the Book of Mormon. It is the BEST as missionaries to be able to study it each morning personally and as a companionship. I know beyond any doubt that it contains the fullness of the gospel and the Plan our Father in Heaven has designed for His children. I will never, ever, ever deny of its reality and the truthfulness it contains. So to answer the question that the Spirit posed to me: If I was the only one, YES I would still be here. I´m here because this happiness and testimony inside me is bigger than myself! I encourage all my dear friends and family at home to read from the BoM every. single. day!
Gerardo: He has a baptismal date forand he came to church this week and loved it! Hna Roper first started teaching him last year! She´s the one I was talking to on facebook before I came out here! SO COOL. Such a small world! My first area was her last area! You guys should message her via my facebook and tell her that Gerardo is progressing so well and really excited for his baptism!
Yolanda: I attached a picture on another email. She is this hilarious Chinese-Peruvian lady who´s less active! She LOVES the sister missionaries. We went over to her home this week to do some service. We painted a few of her walls this distasteful lime color that she picked out, haha! She´s hilarious. She lives with her 3 sons. It was super fun to do some service to change things up!
We taught a recent convert (as of June 27) this week about temples and family history. It was one of my favorite lessons of the week! Victor´s mom died when he was 8 so it was super cool to teach about the ordinances we can do in the temple to grow closer to our families on the other side of the veil! I love and miss the temple! It´s such a bummer to have to wait another 17 months to go again! The temple is one of my favorite parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I wish we could teach every investigator about the temple right off the bat!! But we have to take it poco a poco :)
Some random cultural notes: EVERYONE here says Ya. The most common phrase I hear every day is Ya. Ya, hermanita, ya. It´s so funny how every culture has their idiosyncrasies!
I think I´ve already reached a billion grains of rice in these 2 weeks. Every meal, peeps!
Tons of stray, sick dogs. It´s really sad. Reminds me of Gmala.
Every day we ride in moto taxis! Itr´s this 3 wheeled motorcycle taxi thing that´s open. The drivers always try to charge us too much since I´m american but I´ve gotten pretty good at negotiation, haha.
This week we were teaching a lesson in the park to a 14 year old investigator, Alonso, and suddenly a random lady walks up and asks us to help her find her kimono dragon-lizard thing. It had crawled through the church gates and wouldn´t come out! Seriously huge!! Who in the world would have that as a pet??? There wasn´t really anything we could do because we don´t have the keys to the gates, so she just sat out there waiting for it to come out, haha. Seriously creepy. I wasn´t getting anywhere near that thing.
GUYS IT RAINED THIS WEEK. Craaazy! Everyone here was scared because when it rains the ground can´t absorb it so their houses will flood! Luckily it was just a little bit. Kind of a little taste of home :)
Overall, life is really, really good. Emotionally I wouldn´t say I´m 100% yet, but way better than last week. When I´m busy, I´m happy! Every day I get more and more excited being a part of this work. When I´m walking these streets, I feel the love of my Heavenly Father and I feel your love and prayers! Thank you thank you thank you all for writing me! I´m sorry that I never have time to reply but I LOVE reading the letters throughout the week! Keep em´coming!
Someone tell Kirstie CONGRATS on her mission call for me!! So So So excited for her! Which MTC?
Also, can you guys send me a talk by Elder Holland? iT´s called Teach teh Atonement from an MTC devotional in 2000. I read it in the MTC and it´s seriously possibly the greatest talk given about missioanry work ever. I wanna read it again!
Love you all, have a great week!!!!