Monday, October 26, 2015

Bananas and cooked carrots?

I was exhausted pretty much every night this week when we got back to our apartment; but it was that awesomely satisfying feeling when you know that you did all you could that day and the Lord is pleased with your efforts! On Monday last week we had a zone meeting disguised as a taco party because our zone leaders are tricky like that, haha. We set some super ambitious goals for contacting, nuevos investigadores, and lessons taught! Elder Riquelme should probably be a motivational speaker post-mission because we left that meeting SO PUMPED to work harder than ever this week. And we did! Hna Glunt and I -- and I should say, the members in Ignacio -- KILLED IT with lessons with members present. Hna Glunt and I were in trios all the time this week and even did divisions. Our ward is so fantastic. 

This week I learned that mindset is everything. I ponderized Moroni 7: 45, 47 on Charity and Hna Glunt and I decided we were going to increase our FAITH in this work; whether it¨s praying with an investigator for a miracle to happen in a difficult situation they¨re experiencing, or while knocking on doors looking for new, prepared investigators. As I concentrated my thoughts on charity and faith, each day FLEW by. Frustration --> Service = LOVE.

The people we are teaching here are all SO unique and wonderful. Here are some spotlights:
Alright so we were sitting in a lesson with MaryCarmen. We found her tocando puertas and this was her second lesson. I had forgotten what she does for work and so I asked her again and she said ¨manualidades¨... didn´t know what that meant so I asked what it was and she goes to another room and brings back this intricate elephant made out of BANANA LEAVES. So now I know what manualidades is!! Haha, no seriously it´s incredible. She makes house decor from the roots of trees, animals and notebooks from banana leaves, and she paints these AMAZING paintings that could be sold for a fortune in the US. Our jaws were dropping. We´re going to her house on one of these Pdays to make nativities out of banana leaves! So rad. Also, we discovered that MaryCarmen might actually be a of 40 years ago in Sullana...She attended church as a little girl and faintly remembers going to a river one day...for a baptism?? Haha, we´re going to find that out sowe know if we´re teaching an investigator or less active!

This week we were praying to be able to find German, a recent convert in our area. A few weeks ago he dropped off the face of the earth and his phone wasn´¨t working so there was basically nothing we could do...he needs a LOT of support because of his tough family and financial situation, and Word of Wisdom problems. We brought it up in consejo de barrio Thursday night, then went to walk out of the chapel AND GERMAN WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE IN THE DOORWAY. It was a complete miracle and we felt so much joy seeing him!!! Heavenly Father truly loves ALL of his children and it is so cool to be a part of finding his lost sheep! 

When we met with Italo this week (2nd lesson) he said he hadn¨t read much from the Book of we asked what chapter he was on...and he said 1 NEPHI SEVENTEEN. And he¨s almost done reading the book they gave him in Elders Quorum,...Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. So we´re thinking he´ll be baptized pretty soon here. We have the faith that he can gain a testimony of la Palabra de Sabiduria! He loves sharing his organic cheeses and breads from la cierra. 

Gina: This week she asked her employers for Sunday mornings off and they threatened to fire her. She was quite distressed telling us this on Friday. We went back on Sunday and shared scriptures in 1 Nephi of when the Lord prepared the way for Nephi to keep the commandments. We testified that we didn´t know HOW it was going to work out but that it WILL work out if she puts her trust in God. We taught about the power of the fast and she and her family committed to pray and fast with us this week. At the end of the lesson, she said ¨Ïm going to church this Sunday , regardless of the outcome.¨ She has SUCH great faith! Eduardo and Arturo came with us to the area conference on Sunday too. Elder Andersen spoke (broadcast) and it was super good! Elder A knows like 5 languages and isn´t perfect with spanish but he did a great job! 

Note from dad... this is Elder Riquelme.  I've sent a query to the Riquelme family of Lujan, Mendoza, Argentina to see if he is any relation to them.  My dad Cris Parks baptized a familia Riquelme in 1966 in Lujan.  I remember visiting one of the grown daughters of this family in Brea, CA when I was a teen.

Recent convert Victor

We found a new family this week that we´re pretty excited about. La Familia Valdiviezo Calle...yeah I had to ask them how to spell that! 

HAVE I MENTIONED OUR WARD IS THE BEST. We have no problem getting members with us at multiple a day. When we call half of them they always say ¨Hermanitas! How are you? How can I serve you?¨ 
Also the bishop pulled us aside on Thursday night at ward council and asked us if we were okay becasue he had a dream that we were in thoughtful is that? We assured him we´re good :) We did divisions yesterday because we had a lesson at 6 so I taught with Hna Miriam and Hna Glunt went out to knock on doors with Lesley, an RM who served in Mexico and she´s the sweetest! 

Some Randoms:
- Hna G and I discovered a fav breakfast dish this week-- bananas with cooked carrots. Like together. It´s seriously really good! The carrots are outrageously good here. 
- I wanted to take a cheese grater to my arms this week after getting attacked by mosquitoes one night. But all´s good because we´re buying more repellent this week.
- Dust storms are real here. Sometimes we leave after lunch, get back at 9pm, and our desk seriously has an inch of dust on it. AND WE LIVE ON THE 4TH FLOOR. I don´t know how it´s possible...but we are just kinda constantly dirty! 

And that´s all for this week! Recipe for going to bed happy and exhausted every night is: Put on a smile, get to work, pray for charity, and have FAITH in miracles. The mission life isn´t perfect but I´ve found that when I do those 4 things, I find the reasons we have to rejoice in this work, and there are SO MANY! 

Thanks for the emails and prayers! 
Hermana Parks 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ignacio Merino week 16

WOW it is hard to believe that I´ve been here for a whole 16 weeks! But I can honestly say I amloving this work. It´s still a barren desert that gets hotter every day, we still eat rice at every meal without fail, but we are busier than ever and I just love these people and helping them come unto Christ! 

I´m lacking creativity today so let´s just go through the highlight of every day this week:

Tuesday: Intercambios! With none other than....Hermana Orellana! Haha, yep she came back with me for the day and pleasantly surprised all our investigators :) Ximena was beyond stoked. Although I spent a whole 12 weeks with Hna O, I learned even more from her on Tuesday! She is way diligent, loving, and trusts in The Lord in all things. 

Wednesday: The Assistants put me in charge of a zone musical number approximately 15 minutes before we all met up to practice, haha. But it all worked out in the end! These past 2 weeks have been multi zone conferences all over the mission and apparently Hna Rasmussen wasn´t impressed with a few zone musical numbers because they didn´t prepare at all, so 2 days before our conference the assistants and the ZL´s decided to ditch our previous idea and do something totally different. We ended up doing a mini choir of 7 of us Elders and Sisters singing Come Unto Christ (in English) with Elder Cloninger on the guitar. (the guitar he bought the day before that, haha!) It actually turned out great! 

Thursday: Room Inspections with the President. We cleaned that place top to bottom but all they did was walked around seeing how many sand bags we´re going to need in preparation for the flooding during El Nino, haha. 
That day we taught Italo, the contact that came to church completely of his own accord without ever teaching him. He is GREAT. At church, he had written down all the questions that he had and we helped to answer them during the lesson. He was very receptive to the Restoration and very excited to read the Book of Mormon. His wife died 2 years ago of ovarian cancer and because of her sickness they never were able to have kids so he had a lot of questions about why we go through trials in this life. We found him (or really he found US) during ths perfect time in his life when he has soul-searching questions, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer! 
Also that night Hna Glunt and I went to this tiny park to sit down and eat our packed dinner for a few minutes but there weren´t any seats, just 2 swings next to a dude on a swing talking on the phone. I wasn´t about to go sit next to him but Hna Glunt wanted to so I thought, alright sure. We started talking to him after he got off the phone and turns out he´s a MEMBER who was baptized about 8 years ago but moved (he´s 25 right now) and when he moved back he didn´t know anyone, so never came to church. We talked with him and helped him out with his questions about the Spirit, also taught him how to pray again, and we´ll start visiting him this week! All while we were sitting on some swings in a random park in Ignacio Merino. The Lord works in mysterious ways :) 

Friday: Multizone conference! It was the best. Probably the thing that stuck with me the most was Hna Rasmussen´s talk. She largely quoted Elder Bednar´s talk about the apostles and ¨when you can´t do what you´ve always done, you only do what matters most.¨
Her quote that will be my mantra this week and possibly forever is ¨Put a smile on and get to work.¨ Honestly, that´s the recipe for happiness as a missonary. 
Pres. Rasmussen talked a lot about MIRACLES which went perfectly with my ponderizing scripture this week, 2 Nephi 27: 23, 26. I KNOW that God is a God of miracles. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But he only works according to our faith. 

Saturday: Well, Friday night I was vomiting probably more violently than I ever have in my life. And a fever Saturday morning. Not sure if it was the flu or food poisoning. But by Saturdayafternoon I was way bettter. 

Sunday: Hermana Gina (la familia Araujo) got a priesthood blessing for an ear problem she´s had and it was probably one of the most beautiful moments of this week. Hermano Sanchez testified of the power of the Priesthood and the Spirit just filled that room. I am SO grateful that the Priesthood power of God has been restored to the earth.

Welp, time´s up! I love you all and I want to hear about the spiritual experiences you´re all having! 
Hermana Parks 
 Saluting the Colombian flag.

 The water containers.  We use a lot of these.
 Intercambios with Hna O!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Buenas tardes a todos!

Great week here in Ignacio and today we headed to Paita to see the OCEAN with like 25% of our mission which was a BLAST. Refer to the 89 pics I am currently uploading :)

 This week I ponderized Alma 37: 6-7 (in Spanish so this probably isn´t exact)
¨By small and simple means are GREAT things brought to pass..and by small means in many instances the Lord doth confound the wise...and bringeth to pass the salvation of MANY souls.¨It completely reflected my personal progression this week and also the progression of our investigators. 

Let´s start with investigators: 
I have NEVER had such a strong testimony of the redundant ¨Sunday School answer¨-- Read your scriptures, pray, go to church. Each of these principles is aboslutely essential for those we teach (and ALL of us). If our investigators read The Book of Mormon, pray with real intent, and attend church, they develop a testimony for themselves that Christ´s church has been restored to the earth with the fulness of the gospel that can bless their lives SO much! La familia Araujo has been doing all 3 of these things perfectly and it has brought Hermana Glunt and I so much joy! They have a baptismal date for the 7th of November! They are reading their Books of Mormon, they loved church, Arturo went to a youth activity, Gina asked for a priesthood blessing for an ear problem she´s been having, Eduardo commented in the gospel principles class, and they are always asking us when we´re going to visit again! I love them so much it is UNREAL. 
Ximena is also progressing and is praying for a baptismal date. She wants to make the decision with a full and sincere heart and she is such a great example to me of spiritual maturity! 
Ana Troncos is progressing greatly. Her boyfriend was baptized a couple months ago and she has asked us so many questions about the temple. I am SO excited to see them sealed in the temple, hopefully before I finish my mission! (She has a baptismal date for the 31st). 
Oh and the most random event ocurred when one of the people we CONTACTED in the street came to church this week, Hermana Italo. He walked up to us after sacrament mtg and was like ¨do you remember me?¨and I was racking my brain trying to remember who in the world he was....turns out he just has a sincere desire to learn and even came to church last week but no one was there because of conference, whoops! Our bad for not specifying. 

My ponderizing scripture had a lot of personal significance to me as well this week. As I was reading it one day and, well, ponderizing, the thought came to me ¨One day you´re going to look back and KNOW why you were here in Ignacio Merino¨. Some days it may not seem like we do a lot, but I know that these small and simple things are bringing to pass great things in my life and the lives of the people here. When I got to my area, I was disappointed as we didn´t have a lot to work with. But as President Uchtdorf once said, ¨That´s the thing about work. If you just keep at it, steady and constant, things WILL get better.¨ Poco a poco. 
Heavenly Father answered our prayers this week big time because we FOUND Hermana Avanell!!! We are now teaching her in the house of a member.  We are so grateful that we ran into her this week and that she still has a desire to live and embrace the gospel! 

Also, my knowledge and understanding of the Atonement was expanded this week. I was reading in Alma 42 and cross referencing to 2 Nephi 9 as well as Elder Holland´s talk from last conference (in my opinion one of the best talks ever given, ever). Often I have focused on the Atonement as a means to comfort and console us in times of trial, when in reality, the Atonement is SO much more. It is much more than a kind gesture and Jesus Christ is much more than an empathizing friend. His sacrifice literally SAVED us from the inevitable abyss of spiritual death, and physical death. Because of Him, MERCY is at our reach if we repent and appeases the demands of justice that bind us because of the Fall. Because of Him, we can live again after this life with our families for the ETERNITY. 
My love for my Savior grew and my desire to serve him was enlarged as I understood/reviewed this doctrine more fully. 

You know you´re serving in Piura when-- your tan lines have gone from noticeable to UNREAL. Refer to the pic of my feet. Also Hermana Glunt and I went through four 20 liter things of water in less than 2 weeks. I´m pretty sure that´s a mission record. 

Love you all and hope you had a fantastic week! Hasta la proxima,
Hermana Parks

 P-day at Paita with the zone

 Crabs on the beach

Zone at Paita

 Dad wanted a photo of the milk
Israeli friend Erez and Eliana, investigator

 Peruvian security system at work - dog on roof
The chapel

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ignacio Merino week #14 - General Conference, lots of new contacts, happy to be a missionary

So this week we ate octopus, taught an Israeli Jew, and had so many investigators coming to general conf that we had to do divisions! 

Thursday - Sunday were a bit of a roller coaster.
On Thursday we had our weekly planning all morning and then I had to skip language study to catch up on registros. I was fairly stressed and feeling down, especially as we haven´t been able to contact Hna Avanell for a week or two (she went on vacation, got sick, and stopped answering phone calls the WEEK of her baptism. My heart has been breaking). We were about to leave the house and I told Hna Glunt that today was just not my day. And then without even thinking about it the tears came. I just sat down at our desk and struggled for a minute to find the words and calm myself. Being a missionary is H-A-R-D. I´ve had my heart broken twice now with investigators who dropped off the face of the earth the week of their baptism. People I care about a lot. I just felt so exhausted and kind of poured out my frustration to Hna Glunt and just said ´I don´t know what more I can do´. But Hna Glunt talked me through it and reminded me of the miracles we HAVE seen in our area and the investigators who ARE progressing. We talked about the goals we have and how we´re going to put them into action this week. Although I left the house with a headache and tear stained eyes, I felt so loved, guided, and blessed the rest of the day. We were led to a house that we had never visited and met a less active family, something we had been praying for because our list of less actives is really weak. As I opened my little hymn book to pick an opening song to sing with them, I turned to Count your Many Blessings and holy cow, it was exactly what I needed. We were able to teach about prophets and the opportunity we had coming up to listen to our living prophet and apostles. The Spirit was very strong in that room as Hna Glunt and I testified of personal revelation through conference and the reality and divinity of prophets and apostles. I left feeling rejuvenated and hopeful. 

Friday we had a lesson with Eliana, a 16 year old investigator we found tocando puertas a couple weeks ago. Her family friend, Eres, was in town who just happens to be a Jew straight from Israel! At the beginning of the lesson we said we wanted to sing a hymn and Eres asked if he could video us singing it, haha! He is hilarious. He listened in as we taught The Restoration and watched the video. He goes back to Israel next week but he had a ton of questions for us and we hope he´ll continue learning about the gospel! Also we gained trust with Eliana and her family as we stayed over for a while after the lesson. Eres shared his hummus and pita bread with us and taught us words in Hebrew. Hna Glunt lived with a Jewish family in New York for like a year so they hit it off fast. Then Eliana came to General Conference with us!! She is fantastic. Afterwards she asked us when we were going to visit her again. Yay for progressing investigators! 

That same night we found la familia Araujo tocando puertas. They live in more humble circumstances, a mother and her 3 children. They have NO religion whatsoever but have great faith in God. We couldn´t ask for a better situation for investigators, haha. The mom, Gina, had a ton of questions for us as we taught The Restoration like ´Are there prophets and apostles today?´and ´Where do we go after we die?´and I had to tell her that we´d talk about those subjects mas adelante, haha. I just wanted to teach her all the lessons right then and there! Unfortunately Gina went out of town with her little daughter Ana but Eduardo came to TWO sessions of conference, literally after only teaching them once. So pilas. He´s 18 and quiet but really enjoyed conference. We are so so so excited to continue teaching them! Gina asked when church normally is and their whole family is coming this week! Woot woot! As we walked home that night Hna Glunt and I just hugged each other and she said ¨STOKED TO BE A MISSIONARY AGAIN.¨ Ditto that.Thursday´s tears were consumed by Friday´s joy. I´m stoked to be a missionary again. 

General Conference was beyond amazing, per the usual. It was sliiiightly more stressful with picking up our 5 investigators who attended and trying to make sure they were comfortable and had a good experience, but I still received so much personal revelation! Specifically I loved Elder Lawrence´s talk on self evaluation and the Spirit. He talked about how the Spirit will tell us things and give us counsel that no one else can. When we accept and apply the whisperings of the Spirit, we receive MORE inspiration to guide us. I liked the questions he invited us to ask including ¨What´s preventing me from progressing?¨and ¨What do I lack?¨.. I have confidence in the promise that the Spirit will tell us the answers to those questions is we LISTEN in faith, with real intent to act. I never understood or appreciated the power of the Holy Ghost until I´ve been here on my mission when the Holy Ghost is not only a valuable tool, it is THE essential tool of this work. 
Also one of my fav scriptures was mentioned like 3 times in the conference. Alma 5:26. Speaking of scriptures, how cool was that talk on Ponderizing?? Hna Glunt picked our scriptures this morning and put them on the front of our agendas to read and ponder throughout the week! What a cool invitation. The words of Christ will really tell us ALL things that we should do and we will be blessed as we treasure up the words of life. 
Also, Elder Holland´s talk was SO powerful. And I got to listen to that session in English which was awesome. 

What hit me throughout many of the talks in conference is about submitting my will to the Father´s. Elder Bednar talked about how the greatest desire of the apostles of The Lord is to discern and do the will of the Father. How cool is that? I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary because every day I am tested emotionally and physically to give up my will (like wanting more sleep or personal time or wanting to talk to my family or hike mountains :) and I´m learning to submit my will to the Father´s. I´m still really imperfect with this principle, but it´s something I really want to improve, and I know that I can through the Atonement of Christ. As one of the speakers mentioned, self disciple is a muscle that we can condition and improve. It´s gradual, and my weaknesses are still glaringly apparent, but as I look back on these last 3 months, I see how The Lord is molding me into someone better than I was before. 

Overall, I love this work and I love my area. I love the bishop and his wife for making us the best papas a la huancaina on planet earth. I love Hermana Glunt for talking me through my doubts and struggles. I love the dusty windy streets and the cute kids on the street who ask us how to say words in English. I love the people we´re teaching, I love sharing the simple truths of The Restoration, and I love this calling I have. 

Con amor,
Hermana Parks
 Feliz cumpleanos Elder Campo
 P day photo
 Pancakes for conference!

 Hna Glunt's bishop in WA was Bro Russell, formerly of Medford 6th ward.  Small world
 las hermanas
 learning how to use the selfie stick.  dangerous.
 Life in the desert!
 Sweet investigator Eliana
 More pancake selfies
 Investigator Eduardo with presidente de los YM Hno Jairo
 La zona