Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter friends and fam! When people asked me what our traditions are for Semana Santa (Holy week) in the USA, I told them about easter egg hunts and they looked at me like I was crazy, ha! 

There were so many random events and experiences this week, I´ll just give a play-by-play:

Tuesday we had interviews with President! They are always great opportunities of counsel and learning. President and Sister Rasmussen are my heroes! Probably not many people know, and President would never tell you, but he was at the height of his career when he accepted the call to come here -- the people at his law firm were dumbfounded when he told them he was leaving everything to come to Peru for 3 years and serve...He told me he had a friend ask him Why baptism? Why is it so important and why does baptizing people seem like the central purpose of a mission? He asked me my thoughts and we had a good conversation about the symbolic and eternal significance of baptism and the over-arching purpose of why we´re serving -- which is to be the Lord´s instruments in bringing to pass 1. the inmortality and 2. the ETERNAL LIFE of man! It was a great edifying interview -- love the Rasmussens! 

Wednesday we did service for Hna Selma! We helped her clean and organize her little kitchen and cook arroz chaufa! I hope people don´t have big expéctations when I come home, because I definitely couldn´t replicate the Peruvian cuisine´s too complicated! haha. People spend hours in their kitchens..Also microwaved food is non-existent here. From the pan to the plate. And the taste proves it! 

Thursday we had intercambios! I was with Hna Valdez from Puno, Peru -- she´s got a whole 3 weeks in the field and such a tranquila, pacient, and capable missionary. We had a lot of fun together. 

Friday was our branch´s noche misional put on by the missionaries! We did a fun get to know you activity, shared messages about Christ´s life, Atonement and Resurrection in different classrooms, then watched the Easter video and had empanadas! So far the main result of our noches misionales is strengthening the members and less actives -- we´re trying to get the members to bring their non-member friends so it can be a true missionary activity..

Saturday was the women´s conference!! Well, kind we get there at 7 with Abigail (convincing a 14 year old teenager to come to a satellite conference on a Saturday night isn´t the easiest so we were stoked!) and the proyector (how do you say that in English?) wasn´t working....everyone was just in the chapel waiting and we left to ask the district secretary what was going on...he said that the satellite signal hadn´t we were like okayyyy what do we do then?? And he said all we could do was wait...we were SO DISAPPOINTED: But we asked him to show us the room where the tech stuff is...and he showed us how it works. He said there´s a number you call when there are problems but that the line isn´t opén on saturdays or sundays....I was finding that hard to believe since conferences are on saturdays and I called the number and picked the English option and they answered! Long story short, I was on the phone with Salt Lake trying to get the problem fixed, and in the end there was a small button that was on Off instead of Satellite. oh we got to watch at least the last 45 mins of conference! Woo hoo! I loved Elder Eyring´s talk at the end about service. So that was our miracle for Saturday

We had 3 noches de hogar this week with member families. Hna Ruiz called me to repentance since I was lacking faith in the members in our branch....and I´m grateful she did because I´ll admit I was doubting. We decided it´s not very effective to get our branch on the missionary band-wagon on a large scale, so we have started working family by family to get references. We shared the Easter video, gave them the pass along cards, had them chose one person to share with, and did practices! It seemed to be really effective, now we´ll be following up to see if we get results! 

And I loved sharing the Easter video this week -- it was a chance to reflect on the Resurrection and the hope that Christ gives us -- to be with our families FOREVER through the ordinances of the gospel. I have gained a testimony that the missionary work on the ground and missionary work on the other side of the veil is the same redeeming work -- family history is so important and it´s been a joy sharing it with our investigators and menos activos. (Katy has already filled her My Family book with dates and pictures!!) 

My journal entry last night was titled ¨Stressful but worth it.¨ I´ll admit Sundays are a whirlwind and sometimes I´m the most stressed on the sabbath day...but after feeling like I was at my breaking point, we found a family of five in the afternoon who are super receptive and coming to conference this weekend! I felt so grateful and blessed. I felt that Nephi´s promise is being fulfilled that ¨the tender mercies of the Lord are over ALL those whom he hath chosen.¨ I know my Savior lives. I´m infinitely grateful to know that he conquered death & temptation & every stress and pain I´ve experienced. I´m grateful that He LIVES, and can play an active role in each one of our lives. I´m grateful that He is the great Mediator to interceder (forgot what that is in English) and allow an imperfect person like me to become perfect and clean, like Him. 

It was a good Semana Santa here in Peru.
Hermana Parks 

Zona Talara on the beach

Noche de hogar (FHE) with la familia Chira Lopez

brand-new plaza vea (basically walmart) next to cardboard houses...we thought it was quite the paradox

Noche misional sharing Easter messages

Towards the top of our area with the ocean in sight

with the wonderful familia Ortega!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Update from Talara

There´s definitely never a dull moment over here in Talara! This week it was the 7 plagues... but Hna Ruiz and I have had a lot of laughs out of the recent events...Not just us but ALL of Talara went through a plague of the flies this week. They were EVERYWHERE. I don´t know if there´s a single reason why...maybe the heat or the rain last week, or someone had a theory connected with the fishing industry, anyways, it was nuts. The fruit in the market was nearly black from flies swarming around. So nasty! 
And this morning we had a cockroach massacre -- we found their little kingdom in this small drawer of a table we have and spent the morning getting rid of them! There´s a 4 year old boy who lives next door and I think this morning was the best day of his life as he got to watch us take the table out of the room,open the drawer, and kill about 50 huge ones that crawled out. haha. 

So this week again we didn´t have water....I had an intercambio with Hna Ortiz on Tuesday (she´s super sweet - from Lima!) and during a lesson the owner of our house called us and said that water was leaking through the ceiling of the 2nd floor....OH NO. We ran home and sure enough -- our room was flooded! So the water had come on but our sink has problems with the water going down so it ended up flooding! Never a dull moment :) Hna Liliana is seriously an angel, she helped us take out the water and clean up the mess for about an hour -- honestly she is one of the most christ-like people I know! Always accompanying us and helping us out. she´s a convert of a year! 

This week I was in my journal about HOW GRATEFUL I am for the wonderful people here. There are too many to name but here are a few spotlights-- Hna Juana is about 55 years old but treks up the hill with us to visit investigators and then invited us over for papaya juice! Hna Selma makes chifles to support her niece´s college education and invented the machine to make them all by herself! She takes 3 small grandkids to church by herself every week since Maggi (investigator) hasn´t been able to get Sundays off yet. Such a great example to me of love and sacrifice. Then there´s Hna Rebeca who was baptized last year and cooked for ALL 6 of us missionaries plus her whole family yesterday...her husband is a fisherman and I know she doesn´t have a lot but she´s always willing to make the trip over to our area to accompany us! 
The members here are teaching me so much! 

But as far as our branch goes...little Talara is struggling a bit. It´s hard to ask the leaders to support us in la obra misional when there´s already dishonesty and gossip happening, and bad feelings between members. But we carry on without a branch mission leader and like Alma 4 says, there´s nothing better to help them than giving testimony and continuing on - just as Alma did! 

Katy and her family are doing well -- except her husband. This is the second week in a row that he hasn´t let Katy and her sons go to church ... we are praying really hard for them and trying to encourage katy to move forward with faith. I´m confident she would have a baptismal date right now if it wasn´t for him..

Eda and Joel came to church!! It´s cool to see how the Lord has prepared them to accept the gospel....Eda has a sister in Lima who´s a member and she´s been asking her questions, Joel has listened to the Elders in Talara Alta, and it brought me so much joy seeing them walk into church with their Books of Mormon in hand! Yay for progressing investigators! 

Our investigators with bap. dates didn´t make it to church, but we´re going to do everything possible to help them attend this week! 

This week I learned a lot about finding the un-planned opportunities to serve and teach. The Lord has entrusted us with this area in Villa Talara - and that includes EVERY soul, not just members and investigators! So we´ve been trying to listen to the Spirit as we walk instead of rushing to appointments so that we can recognize those un-planned opportunities! 

Though cockroaches and flies and floods may arise, the work moves forward!! Love my life here in Talara.
Hermana Parks

The market where we shop on Pdays

A typical mototaxi

Bus ride!

Hna Ortiz!

A rare patch of green

Branch council by phone light

How Hipster is Hna Ortiz with the instacam?

District meeting with cake for St. Patrick's day
Don't leave the house without the essentials

Beautiful sunsets

Monday, March 14, 2016


Literally don´t even know how to feel right now... I ONLY HAVE 9 MONTHS LEFT TO BE A MISSIONARY! Ahhhh, let´s just not talk about it :) 

First off, P-days in Talara are officially the best in the whole mission! Today we hit up Punto Balcones, a beach that happens to be the point FURTHEST WEST in all of South America! It was beautiful & wonderful, as are all the beaches here :)

This week was a week of miracles!! Not having water for 5 days can´t stop us! (We showered in the other hermanas´ room) On Monday we found 3 part-member families in the little bit of proselyting time we had! Here´s the scoop on each:

Hna Ruiz had forgotten to drop off some of her dirty laundry so we went back to Hna Gisela´s house to drop it off and asked Hna Gisela if she has any friends or neighbors that we can visit....she mentioned that her neighbor was a less active but (in a whisper) told us that she doesn´t receive missionaries. We tried anyways, and it turns out that Paola left the church a couple years ago but has since recognized that she´s missing something and wants her children to have the gospel in their lives! We´re teaching Elisabeth (14), Gerson (11) and her other son age 9. We hope to rescue Hna Paola and help her kids to have their own testimonies of the gospel. 

Another is Abigail (14) who´s mom is less active but she has started to come to church with her grandma! She told us that she´s gone to several churches but she notices that it´s different in our meetings and she feels most comfortable there. With the new youth we´re teaching, I´ve realized the HUGE importance of our is a critical time in our lives when our small seeds of testimony need to be nourished! It´s cool to be a part of helping these youth build their foundation--through the simple things like helping them read, pray, go to church, and keep the commandments! Alma 37:35.

And lastly, Maggi! She is about 35 years old, 3 kids, and the niece of a member (Hna Selma) who we found a couple weeks ago when I felt prompted to knock on Hna Selma´s door. She has a challenge on her hands with going to church because of her job but we´ve talked a lot about faith and she is going to ask her boss for Sundays off. She is super sincere & has a genuine desire to feel the truthfulness of the gospel, I love teaching her! 

Those were just a few of the miracles we saw this week. Hna Ruiz and I put a goal to ask for more references, so last night as we were knocking on doors an older woman flat out rejected us so we asked her if she knew anyone that we could teach and she said that she thought her neighbor 2 doors up the street was a we went, and met Mirtha, who´s a member (inactive) but didn´t want to receive us, so we asked her for references. -- and she gave us the name of a friend down the street -- so we went, and met Eda, non member. Eda told us that she´s been trying to find the missionaries because they were teaching her a couple months ago up in Talara Alta and she´s been to church before! WHAT. We have an appt with her today :) If we follow the Spirit, the Lord guides us to who we need to visit! 

Other highlights this week:
Leadership council in Piura! The negative of leadership council would be waking up at 4:30, but the positive is that it´s always a super edifying experience! This transfer´s council was focused on how to help our investigators attend church and understand the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy...On Saturday, Hna Ruiz and I taught on this subject for zone meeting and then I was asked to give a talk in sacrament and did the same topic because our branch really needs it. MY testimony of the Sabbath Day was strengthened so much while preparing to teach about it -- I realized that I personally need to change as well by focusing more on the meetings during church, preparing before church to take the sacrament even if it´s a stressful morning, and keeping a spirit of reverence throughout the day. It really is a sacred day, and the promise that we will keep ourselves UNSPOTTED from the world if we keep it sacred, is real! I know it. 

And Hna Ruiz is the greatest! She loves to cook & we had a fun moment this week making papaya juice and talking Disney movies. Before the mission, I don´t think I envisioned making a lifelong friendship with a Latina from another country, but I learned that we have more in common than I think! She´s super hard working and walks fast, so our companionship is doing great :) 

Like I said, we didn´t have water for 5 days but we had tender mercies all over the place so it made up for it :)

Hermana Parks 

Leadership council

Talara Alta

A couple proselyting photos

Climbing up the hill to drop off our laundry

La playa

Punto Balcones


Monday, March 7, 2016

Nueva compañera: Hna Ruiz

Announcing the Hermanita Ruiz! She´s from Buenos Aires, Argentina and has the same time in the mission (she served in Chiclayo 3 months, went home for health issues, then got reassigned to Piura the same time I got here...)

Oh man, it was a rollercoaster week, I don´t really know where to start! 

First off, there was a rain storm Wednesday night -- when I say rain storm I mean the equivalent of your usual heavy rain in Oregon, but here that means the power goes out, the streets flood, and the poorer areas flood badly. So Thursday morning our district mtg got cancelled and we left to do service in San Pedro! We first helped Hna Liliana and her fam take the water out of the house in buckets and try to repair the dirt flooring by shoveling in dry earth... then we went to an even poorer area and helped random people get their houses in order! They were super grateful, and it felt good to help! 

Last week I was praying about what Christ-like attribute I should study for the month of March and I was impressed to choose patience. -- and WOW was that inspired because my patience was tried this week... 
Event numero uno: We got locked out of our apartment. Long story short, the owner was in LIMA with the only copy of the keys, members didn´t know what to do, we called the firefighters, THEY DIDN¨T ANSWER, (can you imagine 911 not answering in the states?), so we went to the station casually hinting that they could help us with their ladder since our window was open and we live on the 3rd floor, they said no but referred us to a serenasco (SWAT guy), but we didn´t have time to find him, so a couple members helped us try to break in for an hour -- we finally were able to break the glass above the door, slide a broom stick through and mess with it until we were able to open the we finally got in our room at about 11:30pm! Woo hoo! I was frustrated because of the loss of time...In general  I was feeling like we didn´t have enough proselyting time last week and this week with the various activities and meetings that were going on, but I learned a ton about patience, doing our best, and believing in good things to come. 

One of the hardest things for me on the mission is just not seeing the fruits of our labors when I want to see them. We did planificacion semanal and realized we don´t have any more progressing investigators than we did at the beginning of the transfer. And that was really hard to come to terms with...but as I was praying about it this week, I received an answer through the story of Abinadi...

If I think my area is hard, let´s talk about ABINADI´S mission. He was given hands down one of the hardest areas in the history of the BoM -- to the point where he was cast out and then commanded to go back. He was tied up, persecuted, reviled, and yet as they rejected him, he continued preaching -- diligently and patiently. He bore one of the most powerful testimonies of Christ that I have ever read (Mosiah 14-16) and they STILL didn´t believe him and ended up burning him to the stake. Abinadi NEVER saw the fruits of his labors -- no more than one of the priests getting kicked out for standing up for him... yet the fruits of his labors were endless. The young priest Alma converted hundreds, and later thousands of individuals to the truth. Would we say Abinadi was a bad missionary because he had nothing to show for his work at the moment of his death? Of course not. He was one of the best missionaries of the scriptures -- he magnified his calling -- inviting all to come unto Christ. And his fruits were many. 

That scriptural passage strengthened me so much. And it turns out that we have a few awesome miracles on the horizon with part-member families we have found!! I´ll tell about it next week once we visit them. 

And I got to see Cynthia be baptized in Piura!!!! Remember me telling about her? She is one of Jefferson´s aunts -- who we found my last week in Piura Central as she expressed the need to change her life... I was able to be there as JEFFERSON baptized her!!! That young man has progressed so much since I left! It´s incredible to see how far he has come -- I have so much love for him! He´s preparing to leave on a mission next year!! 

Missionary work is the best. It was such a good week, rollercoaster and all.

Hermana Parks 
MY NEW COMP! Hna Ruiz from Buenos Aires! 
Typical lunch example
Playing ¨monopoly¨ with our money...we got bored while figuring out our rent and pension, haha
sweet dialine who accompanied us! and our street after it rained! 
service in san pedro after the storm! 
some of the kids of san pedro and getting my hair and nails done while waiting for lunch, haha!
Sweet Cynthia´s baptism!! 
more street pics and richardson helping us clean up the glass shards after we broke into our room
sunset and a view of the upper part of our area -- statue of Jesus in the background! 
there was definitely not a lake there back when I was in ignacio....this is the remnants of teh storm in piura! And running into one of my favorite members from Ignacio...Hna Huaman! 
a marriage in the ward (elders' investigators -- marriage, baptism, confirmation, and baby due!) and trip to piura with maryorit so that hna shumway could say goodbye to 2 of her areas and so that i could go to the baptism! 
 saying goodbye to elder rojas, hna mamani, and hna shum!  and spending p-day morning with hna glunt after hna shum left .... and our muddy muddy street...
some of the neighborhood soccer boys!