Monday, April 25, 2016

How in the world is April almost over??? Holy moly... Life is good here in Talara! The climate is changing! It´s slightly cooler -- and by that I mean that now at 5am I have to pull my sheet on (which I haven´t had to do for a good 6 months) But then the sun comes out and it´s hot hot hot by 10am :) This week we discovered a new flavor of chalacas -- guanabana con leche! Guanabana is this giant green fruit that is white and slimy inside -- despite the description it´s really good! 

As far as our investigators, there´s good news and bad news.
Good news; Ellie will be baptized on Saturday, Joel chose Mother´s Day for a baptismal date, and la familia Roman decided on the 21st of May

Bad news; Joel couldn´t make it to church (we´ll have to move his date back) and la familia Roman isn´t married....nooooooooo! 

But it´s all good. We had a miracle improv lesson with la fam. Roman with Hna Liliana. Liliana was baptized last year and chose to separate from her husband in order to get baptized because he didn´t want to get married...and a few months later he had a change of heart and they were married and he was baptized! Now they´re going to be sealed in the temple. Anyways, Hna Liliana SAVED us in that lesson. Hna Celina went from saying she definitely wasn´t going to get married yet because her family lives in la selva (Iquitos mas o menos) and she wants them to be there -- to saying YES WE¨RE DOING IT and planning an activity to raise the money. Seriously that would not have happened without Hna Liliana. I have no idea how to marry a couple here in Peru but Liliana is an expert -- she´s helping them get documents together and we´ll be doing at least 2 activities where Hna Celina is going to cook food from la selva and sell it. I´ll admit it´s gotten me a little stressed this week wondering if it´s all going to work out or not, but I´ve felt peace knowing that The Lord loves this family SO MUCH and he´s going to help them get married so that they can be baptized. 

And Eda and Joel have become our family! They invited us over for lunch today for one of their son´s birthdays and he requested ¨that dish hermana parks likes¨ aka papas a la huancaina because he knows it´s my favorite, haha. Joel has a picture of us and his family as his phone background so you could say we´re pretty close, ha! Eda hasn´t decided on a baptismal date yet because she´s going through a divorce but I think it will be in May, a couple weeks after Joel. 

Wow -- it´s stressful, but so wonderful helping our investigators repent and prepare for baptism. Really, we´re ALL on the covenant path...some are just beginning and others are well on their way. Speaking of covenants, this week marked a year since I went through the temple. I decided to study more about temples in my personal study this week along with Virtue -- my Christlike attribute for April. I received some treasured pieces of revelation that increased my understanding and testimony of temple work.  Elder Packer said; ¨No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people.¨
 I love (and miss) the temple! Temples themselves are symbols of purity, virtue, and godliness --  all the things we are trying to be become. 

So grateful for this week, Talara, my wonderful companion, this gospel, my family, temples, and being a missionary!!

I love you all and I pray for you,
Hermana Parks
The Talara district:
Elder Cruz is from Washington and Elder Williams from Oregon -- so we have like 50% of the mission´s northwesterners in our district! 

Ellie´s family! She will be baptized! Isn´t her little brother the cutest??

 Missionary life in the desert! 

 divisions last week with alexandra and maryorit and last monday pday with alexandra and las hermanas!

 La familia Roman

Dropping off our laundry

Monday, April 18, 2016

Earthquake in Ecuador brings Tsunami warning to Talara, muchos investigadores en la capilla, and the Widow of Zarephath

So I was on an exchange with Hermana Tinini (she`s from my CCM group! From Cochabamba Bolivia) on Tuesday and their convert family asked if I had ever tried higado .. I didn`t know what that was and it looked like some kind of regular meat... anddd then I tried and GROSS. Hermana Tinini was over there finishing her plate and I just couldn`t. Nope. Looked up higado in the dictionary that night and it`s liver -- good to know, haha! 

I don`t know if you guys heard about the earthquake in Ecuador but apparently people felt it here too -- we didn`t because we were outside walking when it happened but afterwards a tsunami warning went out for Talara - we weren`t worried but we had a couple appointments fall through because people were leaving to higher ground in Talara Alta, haha. In the end nothing happened of course. But oh man if a tsunami DID happen in Talara, we`d be toast because they produce gas here and if those gigantic tanks exploded... 

This week we did service for our branch president`s family! Mostly for his wife -- we organized one of her old shelves and helped cook lunch. I can testify that service is an important way to soften hearts and improve relationships.  We developed more love for her and confidence in our relationship -- she gave us names of a few less active youth to visit from her seminary roll and is now more willing to help us in la obra misional. 

Yesterday church was so good -- and so stressful. We woke up, made calls, sent texts, and left to pick up a couple investigators (Elisabeth and Abigail). When we got to church I couldn`t believe my eyes -- la familia Roman was sitting there like papa ducklings with their little ones all in a row! Hermano Martin, Celina, and their 3 youngest kids came of their own accord and EARLY what? Oh man, their family really struggles economically. Their dad is a certified engineer but hasn`t been able to find work for a long time and they live in a small dirt-floor house. They called us 2 Saturdays ago because they didn`t have enough money to buy food .. of course we can`t offer economic support but we were able to visit them and share the story from the Bible of the woman who didn`t have enough to eat but fed a prophet and later had more than enough! They understood the lesson on faith, and have been receiving blessings here and there to get by. It warmed my heart seeing them ready to go in sacrament meeting. I gave a talk (on super short notice, basically winged it) and then after sacrament meeting Hna Ruiz left me to go to Piura for a baptism in her old area! AH. I was with Alexandra (member who lives in Talara Alta who has her mission call to Ecuador!) on divisions and had to get la familia Roman, Eda, Joel, and Elisabeth to Primary and classes without too many casualties. It was quite stressful -- but we survived! It ended up being a great Sunday

And did I metion that Hna Ruiz and I are STAYING in Talara and staying together this transfer!!! Woo hoo!!!! Such a relief -- we were freaking out the day of transfers but all is well!! Oh and our area just got a WHOLE lot bigger! They closed Hna Tinini`s area so we`ll be splitting it with the zone leaders -- and it looks like we`ll be receiving even more parques! Los Parques is an area with several circles of houses that have a park in the middle and a giant statue of the virgin in the center -- the people there are SOOO Catholic. I`m not kidding -- every door has a sign that says ^Somos Catolicos. Dios lo sabe y nos ama. Translation would be We`re Catholic. God knows it and loves us. HA. Nonetheless, we`re picking up some good menos activos and a part member family! 

The work moves forward in Talara :)
Hermana Parks 

Monday, April 11, 2016

An unlucky day for Joel on the beach

Oh man, not our best P day....we invited our investigator Joel (25) to come with us to the beach with our zone today. We had a lot of fun playing sand soccer for a couple hours -- Joel had worn his swim suit so he jumped in at the end -- and came back with a bloody foot! A stingray had gotten him pretty bad. We helped him limp back to the string of houses on the coastline. A 15 year old beach boy came out of his house and had Joel sit down then SUCKED THE VENOM out of his foot -- actually I don´t know if that´s a myth or not with getting the venom out, but he was sucking and spitting out the blood while Joel bit onto a shirt in extreme pain. Literally so crazy. AHHH poor Joel!! He doesn´t have a lot of friends and was really excited to come with us, and then that happened. But I´m sure we can relate this experience to some gospel principle in our next lesson :) 

Speaking of Eda y Joel, they are progressing SO WELL! Joel told us earlier in the week that he´d like us to teach them every day if we can. They are reading, praying, and we´ve challenged them to pray about a baptismal date. I read in Alma 34:30 this week that says we should come forth and bring FRUIT unto repentance...I was thinking about that a lot. Repentance is manifested through righteous actions over a period of time. It´s easy to see that Eda and Joel are bringing forth that fruit -- not necessarily transforming their lifestyle, but incorporating faith-building habits that are blessing them spiritually and temporally. 

Sooooo we didn´t have church yesterday. Like the 101 stakes in Peru and I´m sure a few hundred chapels didn´t hold meetings per the law! It´s the first time I´ve actually experienced Article of Faith 12 -- There were elections in Peru and apparently you can´t hold any religious gatherings. Such a bummer! But by chance I was reading in Alma 33 this week and verse 2 says that it doesn´t matter if we don´t have a place to worship - we should study the scrips! So that´s what we did considering we had to be in our room at 4pm. FOUR pm!! We did our weekly planning and studied. Super weird! (President wanted us in early because it gets dangerous once the voting results come out)

Oh man, my time is running out -- really quickly, we experienced a MAJOR miracle with Katy this week! She had been suffering from severe pain in her head for days -- nausea, vomiting, couldn´t do anything basically. Presidente Alguilar and his son came to give her a blessing. 
Katy was emotional during and after the blessing and said she felt overwhelming relief. But the biggest miracle of this whole story is that HER HUSBAND WAS PRESENT. This is the first time in my 2 months teaching Katy that her husband has sat down with us in the same room. I couldn´t believe my eyes. Then on Sunday we came back to teach them and HE JOINED US!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had a lesson on faith and The Book of Mormon and challenged him to begin reading. Hna Ruiz and I walked out of the house and were so. shocked. We had been fasting that day over Katy and her family -- and then that miracle happened!! Ahhhh, we are so happy!! Katy told us this week that she has no doubt in her heart that this is the only true church. We challenged her to pray about May 7th as a baptismal date and we´ll be verifying how that went. She and her family are so special to us -- it´s been a long road -- a few weeks ago her husband wouldn´t let her go to church. Now he´s witnessed her receive a blessing by the power of the priesthood (and the power was honestly tangible in that room), has started listening to us, and is down to go to church. MIRACLES ARE SO REAL in this work. I am honestly so humbled and grateful to be a part of it. 

So it was a miracle-packed week -- filled with revelation from leadership council, personal study, and our companionship fast. I feel like the windows of heaven are quite literally opening and pouring out blessings and guidance on us. I love being a missionary!!

Hermana Parks 
Sister Leaders selfie
Twinners with Hna Ruiz
New fruit
The pensionista in Sullana lives on the river
And a selfie with Hna Flores and Carlos -- the investigator turned convert that I visited back in July with Hna Shill! He´s preparing for a mission! 
sunset in Sullana (thank goodness - it was so hot that day!)
nighttime planning sesh with Hna FLores! (from Santa Cruz Bolivia, newbie in the mission!)
Zone meeting selfie
Heading out with our 20 Libros de Mormon
took these shots on the hill when we climbed over it to drop off our laundry!
comp selfies - lots of selfies this week
B of M matches my new dress
The stuffed animal selfie is from last night when the light went out in Talara - pitch black since 7pm .. we were using my little flashlight! 
beach pics! Elder Iglesias is our district leader - from Chile, and his comp Elder Villalba is from Ecuador. Super funny elders

Monday, April 4, 2016

Conference is better than Christmas...

....but really. My month-long countdown finally came to a close with the most golden weekend ever! You really don´t understand the value of conference until you´re a missionary. It was fantastic, and us gringos got to watch most of the sessions in English!! Woo hoo! (It just wouldn´t be the same listening to a Holland talk without his own voice...)

I LOVE watching conference from a missionary perspective - I guess it´s a perspective that´s a little less ¨selfish¨ than before the mish. We get to receive revelation not just for ourselves, but our whole area! Elder Anderson´s talk on the youth made me think of the youth we are teaching and Elder Arnold´s talk on rescuing gave me some ideas on how to get the members involved with the less-actives we´re working with. We had a cool experience last night with our recent convert, Maribel. We had a lesson on family history but I could tell the whole time that something else was on her the end she tearfully asked us what she can do to forgive someone and be able to forget what they did to her. I immediately thought of Elder Duncan´s talk from Sat. morning session, and was able to share my thoughts and give her the link to the talk. Heavenly Father knows us SO well, and I know that he inspires our leaders to share what we need to hear. I am so grateful to belong to this church! Literally I just cry every time MoTab sings....especially Praise to The Lord, the Almighty -- that was powerful. 

LA FAMILIA ROMAN CAHUAZA CAME TO CHURCH! They are the ones we found last Sunday - mom, dad, and 4 kids. On Sunday morning, everyone came minus their Dad who had to back-out last minute for something. Unfortunately I barely took notes that session because I was busy handing out 799 stickers to keep their 10, 9, and 3 year old happy. They are tyrant children...but I hope that Marcia and Celina were able to feel the Spirit....we have a noche de hogar with themtonight with la familia Rosales! Member lessons with Susana are golden -- she invited them to her home, of course knows someone that Martin works with, and offered to share some medicine she has for their daughter. I love seeing members befriend our investigators. 

Speaking of hermanamiento (seriously I am forgetting English..) Katy and her sons came to the Rosales´house last monday for a noche de hogar! It was SO GOOD. We talked about stories in the scriptures of courage and shared Pres Monson´s video Dare to Stand Alone -- it was really powerful and we hope that it helped Katy with her situation right now with opposing family members. 

Oh and emergency transfers happened this week in Talara! Hna Glunt was shipped off to Tumbes with only a few hours notice....nooooo! It was pretty sad, we were at the bus terminal at 5am to say goodbye and Hna Tinini came with us for the day until her new companion got here. Because of the transfers there are no longer sister leaders in guess who´s taking over those 2 zones? Yeah...we are now in charge of 4 zones of hermanas. We won´t be traveling up to Tumbes unless there´s a reason to because it´s so far, and hopefully things will change for the upcoming transfer because I don´t think we could logistically be in charge of 7 companionships! But we´re also grateful at the same time to serve more wonderful hermanas!

During our day as a three-some with Hna Tinini (which was kind of complicated with contacting and teaching, haha) we studied together the section Andar Haciendo Bienes in PME. (I think it would be ¨going about doing good¨in english..) and had a great conversation on the importance of service. It changed our whole attitude for the week! We tried to find un-planned opportunities to serve the people here and found 3! We cleaned Hna Selma´s house, carried buckets of sand up 3 flights of stairs for Hna Petronila (it looked easier when we offered to help, ha!), and helped this beastly elderly woman nail metal sheets together to make an outside bathroom. I felt the Spirit each time we served - knowing that Christ would be doing the same if He were beside us. 

SUCH A GOOD WEEK. Hearing that Lima is getting ANOTHER TEMPLE made this weekend even better than Christmas. I feel so blessed to be serving in this wonderful country. God loves these people so. much. and I´m striving to love them as infinitely as He does. 

Hermana Parks 
My love for Max and his little sister is unreal...they are so cute!! 

Lukas with his baby bunnies that he always loves to show us and a random street pic. Doesn´t lukas look like Ricky?? He reminds me of him at least :)

Lunches with Luisaac Rosales (returned missinoary - served in columbia) and service project with the mighty Hnas Ruiz y Parks! 

sunset and re-living our childhoods thanks to elder hanvey, haha

 Conference in English! 

Example A of the demon dogs on the roofs who freak out when we knock on doors....and a sweet family from the branch! 

 the hermanas of zona talara and a street pic with hna ruiz

chalacas tradition going strong...our shadows.....and desperate times call for desperate measures, cleaning the sand off after last pday in the plaza vea bathroom!