Monday, May 30, 2016

Cambios: Hna Parks leaves Talara, now in Piura - Tacala area

Yes I have left the promised land and I´ve been transferred to..... TACALA! Piura, I´m back for ya. Except we are on like the outskirts of Piura and it is a for reals desert. First observation: All the roads are SAND. After day 1 there is sand in my shoes, sand in my eyes, and sand all over our stuff even though we live on the 4th floor, haha. Gonna be an adventure! 

And introducing fabulous-companion-I-don´t-deserve numero #6 ... Hermana Martinez! She´s from Ica, Peru -- the southern part of Peru (I asked her if Inca Kola was created there but she clarified that it´s ICA not INCA, ha!) She is literally....amazing. 20 years old, 14 months in the mission, she plans to study music at BYU after finishing her mission, plays piano, SPEAKS ENGLISH FLUENTLY SAY WHAT!, and is overall super organized, wise, and dedicated. We are sister leaders here in la zona Miraflores! We have 3 companionships of hermanas -- Tambo Grande (waaaay far away, super green, mango central), Miraflores (in the middle of the city), and Chulucanas (pueblito also far away -- about an hour). So it looks like we´ll be doing some traveling this transfer! 

I´m seriously so excited to get to work here -- from what I hear the ward is really strong so we´re going to take advantage of that and start Operation Get Member Referrals! 

I´m SO grateful to have served 3 awesome transfers in Talara because it has helped me to better understand the role of members and leaders in this work. I have ¨let loose¨ so to speak in loving, serving and teaching the members, something that I definitely wasn´t very good at the beginning of my mission. I hope to put all I learned into practice here in Tacala!

It was an incredible last week in Talara!! Sweet Marcia was baptized!!! It was kind of a miracle that it all worked out considering that her evangelist boyfriend tried to convince her out of it last minute. She doubted herself and her testimony overnight and we were super worried. But I prayed and decided to trust in the revelation of our district leader to see if she was ready- While she was in her 2 HOUR interview I was honestly doubting that she would pass, but afterwards she came out glowing! Elder Cruz said that she has had some tough trials in her life (things she hasn´t opened up to us about yet) but that her testimony is strong and she is prepared for baptism. So yesterday she was baptized!!! It was so so beautiful. 

Then the members held a going-away thing afterwards in the chapel -- my heart was SO full saying goodbye to these Christlike people and reflecting on all that they have taught me. As I bore my testimony in sacrament mtg (tearfully non-intentionally), I recognized how much my testimony has grown these past months. Broke my heart to leave but stoked for this new experience in Tacala with Hna Martinez!!! 

Hermana Parks 

Last moments in Talara.... gonna miss my sweet Hna Ruiz along with Mama Eda and hermano Joel!

last homeade arroz con leche with hna ruiz and the recuerdo I made for familia roman for their wall! 


my favorite family on planet earth!!

Marcia´s baptism! 

Transfers are the worst. My cute Marcia and Kathy´s family! 

the recuerdo la fam eche gave to me!! The branch held a despedida (going away thing) in the chapel last night, seriously overwhelmed by the love from these wonderful people!! 

NEW COMP!!! Hermana Martinez - my first Peruvian comp and she´s fluent in English, say what?!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Apparently birthdays are a big deal in Talara

I think I still have egg in my hair....seriously. Alright here`s the story:

Thursday (day before my bday): I honestly wasn`t expecting anything but given that we were headed to district meeting with a bunch of borderline-immature elders, I should`ve known. After our meeting Hna Richan and Hna Valdez brought out a -- cake? Nope. About 30 eggs painted with Happy Birthday Hna Parks! I knew those were all going on my head....sure enough after the zone picture, I was attacked. SO MUCH EGG in my hair, on my shirt, everywhere oh my goodness. I can still smell it, haha. AND they brought a cake. I was spoiled! 

The next day I woke up to a feliz cumpleanos sign made by my sweet comp, chocolate, a pic of us, a handwritten note from her in ENGLISH -- go hna ruiz!, and an accordion-type sticky note thing signed by 40 members and missionaries! Seriously! She went way overboard. I have the most thoughtful companion. Feelin` the love! It was a normal proselyting day until the night when ¨we had an appointment with Eda and Joel¨ (yeah right. I knew they were planning something, haha) Sure enough, all my favorite people were there waiting for me with a beautiful cake! Martin, Celina, la familia Rosales, hna liliana, Eda, Joel, leslye, richardson, rosemery, and mercedes! Seriously I am surrounded by the greatest family here in Talara. 


Stinker. I was so mad, haha. In all, I`ve used a whole bottle of shampoo in a single week and I think my clothes are forever ruined, but honestly it was the best birthday. I just felt so grateful this week -- for the people God has put in my life especially my family and 20 awesome years. So grateful I`ve spent almost 1 of those 20 as a missionary. 

And oh my goodness this better not be my last email from Talara....but it probably is :( 
Here`s what I wrote to President today:

¨Honestly it has been a miracle for me watching Villa Talara progress from when I arrived in January. Weekly planning brought me to tears more than once during my transfer with Hna Shumway -- tears of frustration as we didn`t see anyone progress, difficulty finding those prepared, lack of member support, etc. But the past couple weeks of weekly planning has been SO drastically different. It`s filled with exciting plans as we work with our several progressing investigators, we`ve been able to baptize every other week this transfer, we`re finding new people who are willing to come to church, the members are more supportive, and our branch council has improved a ton. The Lord has truly blessed us. It is a testimony to me that we must do ALL that we can within our abilities, and then we can ¨permanecer tranquilos¨ (DyC 123) knowing that God will send his tender mercies.

I also feel like I`ve changed a lot here in Talara too. I`ve learned about selflessness. Whenever I`m stressed or down, I pull out a piece of paper and make 3 columns. Person / What do they need? / and plan. Then I write down anyone on my mind -- investigator, less active, convert, member, etc and I think of what they need or what they lack in their progression and what we can do to help them come unto Christ. It calms me every time; it helps me to love these people and forget about myself. 

I`m willing to go wherever The Lord needs me and with whomever He needs me this upcoming transfer.¨ 

Here`s to likely my last week here in wonderful Talara! Marcia`s baptism is this Sunday, we are so very excited for her. Her parents, Martin and Celina, are making headway on their documents to get married.

Hermana Parks
32 eggs.  Happy Birthday from Peru.

How cute is Hna Ruiz??? Seriously. She totally spoiled me. 

Hna Ruiz getting stuck in the door...ok that was pretty funny. And Hna Susana made me one of my fav dishes for lunch on my bday! 

the Elders are behind me getting the OTHER eggs they had brought ready. 

Hna Juana`s CUTEST grandbaby 


a few pics from my surprise get-together hosted by sweet Hna Eda! 


Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016

 Woo hoo! Joel has (almost) become a member of Christ`s church! (He`ll be confirmed next week in sacrament meeting since he was baptized after church yesterday) Man, it`s been such a blessing to be a part of his conversion. He said that in his baptismal interview he got really emotional opening up to Elder Cruz about his life before the gospel and the changes he has made... I mentioned that Elder Cruz could baptize him (even though he had just met him) if he wanted and he was like YES! So 90-pound Elder Cruz baptized Joel, and almost went down in the water with him haha. Seriously, it was an awesome baptismal service. The room was full. Now we`ll be focusing on helping Eda (his mom) progress towards baptism, she wants to be baptized in June but she`s SO prepared .. I think it will be sooner. And if any of my fellow Peruvians know of a single girl between 25-35 looking to go to the temple, we`re looking for references for Joel, haha. 

Other notable events this week:
I had an exchange with Hermana Arce from Lima in our area. She`s got 3 weeks in the field but ready to work! It`s always great having exchanges with newbies, they are ready to jump in headfirst -- contact everyone, teach everyone, and be obedient! It`s a great example for us viejitos of the mission (I TURNED 11 MONTHS OLD TODAY WHAT IS LIFE) Also I like intercambios in a way because I don`t have my companion to consult about plans, so I consult more earnestly with the Lord. While planning that night with Hna Arce, I was trying to decide which Futuros we should visit the next day to find new investigators .. and a name stood out to me distinctly. It`s like I was pulled to this name..Blanca Alicia. When Hna Ruiz and I passed by the next day, we didn`t find Blanca but we found her nephew Leo who listened to missionaries in Lima last year and wants to learn more and go to church! Woo hoo! I know that The Lord guides us to where we need to be, when we need to be there. We just have to have ears to hear and a heart to feel the revelation he has in store for us. 

Multi-zone conf was great -- our musical number was awesome, just saying. I found an arrangement of I`ll go where you want me to go and we have some good voices in our zone. President loved it! 

Now that I look back, there were a ton of miracles and answered prayers this week. We`ve been trying to find new investigators through members and accidentally -- mejor dicho, by the Spirit -- knocked on a member`s door not knowing a member lived there and found 2 family members who aren`t members but willing to go to church and want to be baptized, especially Jonathan who`s 19. We`re excited to go back.

AND, we were finally able to contact one of the sisters` investigators that they were teaching a couple months ago (right at the moment when I was about to give up trying to contact her). Her name is Tania, she`s 22 and attending church in Negritos where her boyfriend lives!! She expressed to us how she has felt in church -- a desire to be good, stop drinking, learn more, and go every week for the rest of her life! She is wonderful, seriously. After teaching The Restoration she said she wants to be baptized in June -- the only tough part is meeting with her given her crazy work and study schedule. 

Phew! So many blessings. So many tender mercies. The mission life is the best. I often feel emotionally and spiritually exhausted along with my sore feet at the end of the week on Sunday night, but the next day my spiritual and physical battery gets re-charged automatically because I have been set apart with power and authority to proclaim this message! It`s the best.

Hermana Parks 
 Family history with Francisco (recent convert) and his fam! Also featuring Hermanita Arce from Lima -- this is her first transfer in the field, her area is in Sullana, super nice! 
 decorated my wall .. and pic before leaving the apartment -- sunscreen check, water check, BOM`s, vamos! 

pics with palm trees, por que no?


Hermana Liliana -- the most kind, patient, faithful, and supportive member. I love her!!!! 

Pic of the zone at multi-zone conf and with our new Austrailian friend Hermana Raeside! Her and her husband are the mental health doctors for 32 missions in south america and came to teach us how to control stress. super helpful! 

Noche de hogar with sweet Hna Juana and her family! (with Eda, Joel, and Juana`s less-active kids and nonmember cousin)

Joel`s family and Elder Cruz who baptized him! 

Joel`s baptism!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day post!

Christine's pops here, the daddy blogger.  Hijacking the blog this week.  Hna Parks sent an email, see below.  Knowing that future missionaries and their families might find this blog and read about her experiences, I am including one post from her family after speaking with her yesterday.

Here is the update, sports fans...

She is a happy misionera.  We spoke with her via Skype, with a good connection so were able to see and hear much better than our Christmas conversation.  She apparently researched broadband options and was in the home of investigators (Joel y Eda) where the connection was perfect.  Her face is sun-drenched with permasmile, and her long brown hair is as cute as ever.  Hna Ruiz was awesome!  She speaks like a typical Bonaerense (she's from Buenos Aires) with beautiful intonation and rhythm.  These girls could be sisters.  At the moment, Christine's greatest fear is being transferred from Talara.

We also spoke briefly with Joel.  I never imagined that I would speak with one of my daughter's current investigators just a few days before his baptism from thousands of miles away.  We live in a fun time in the history of the gospel.

Here is our (wife Tracey and my) take on having our offspring on a mission.  We grossly underestimated the happiness we would feel and overestimated the longing to have her home.  Sure, I'd love to give her a hug, see her hold an Arabesque, or enjoy hearing her play Claire de Lune on a Sunday evening with her graceful yet lightning quick movements on the keys.  Yet I find myself wanting nothing more than to watch her thrive as a missionary in Peru.

Many blessings for the family of the missionary.

--Hno. Parks the daddy blogger

A few photos for this week:

 FHE with Presidente Aguilar and his fam and the sister leaders at consejo de lideres! 

 With President and his wife!...not sure why I´m awkwardly to the side, ha. And sweet Hna Howell! 

 Mother´s Day fest in Talara! With mama Celina and mama Eda :) 

 Mother´s day lunch with familia eche -- and us with mama eda for our skype! 

 us hiking the ¨mountain¨! 

 Me and cute Hna was a little windy, haha. And Hna Ruiz and I made mother´s day cards for our mamas de villa talara! 

when I get tired of holding it, the BOM goes on my head, ha. 

example A of the virgin statues all over the place, ha 


and yes in fact you can fit 4 hermanas in a moto taxi

Family!!! So awesome seeing your cute faces yesterday. It was honestly weird speaking in English, and I ran out of things to say, haha. But I love you all so so so much! I didn´t even recognize Seth´s voice -- so low, haha and Rach looks like a full-on teenager! Crazy how time flies. 
It was half depressing knowing that that was the last time I´ll see you guys before it´s in person. The mission is way too fast -- it´s not fair. 

Anyways, not much to say this week. Walked a lot, ate a lot of rice, and went to Piura for leadership council! This council´s topic was about the power of prayer (for us personally, our companionships, and our investigators) and teaching the role of the Spirit in the first lesson. A survey the mission did said that most missionaries have forgotten to pray on their knees with investigators, inviting the head of the family to say the prayer, in the first lesson. So we repented, and we´re going to be implementing that from now on. 

Hna Ruiz and I presented on this topic for zone meeting. We started out talking about what brought us here on the mission -- or better said, what brought about the Restoration of the gospel. If you think about it, this all came about because a young boy knelt in prayer in a forest and asked God a question. He did it humbly, and on his knees. What kind of miracles could we see in our missions (and our lives) if we kneel humbly and often in prayer seeking the will of God? Lots and lots. 
Then we knelt in prayer as a zone seeking revelation for the questions we had brought to the meeting. 
It was so cool.

Love you all,
Hermana Parks