Monday, June 27, 2016

Tacalá Week 4

Heyy familia y amigos!

Cómo les va? Casi sería más facil escribir este correo en español, pero no voy a hacerlo :)

Not kidding, every single day this week Hna Martinez and I sat down at our desk after getting home and were like what just happened. Every day there was some mind-blowing miracle that brought us to our knees in gratitude and awe. Wish I could tell ALL the details, but here are a few:

We all know that noches de hogar are golden, but this one was miraculous. We invited a couple investigators to a member´s house (Andres y Marucsi -- they help us out a ton in la obra misional)on Monday and about an hour before, I remembered Melisa! (inv. who could possibly be baptized this week) We hadn´t invited her and I felt like we should pass by even though it was last minute and she said yes and asked if she could invite like 5 friends. Umm, YES. Unfortunately all her friends decided to show up consecutively every 2 minutes after we had started the hymn and prayer and introductions so we kept having to stop and re-start, but WORTH IT because we had an awesome discussion on service with scriptures in the BOM and then watched teh clip from Meet the Mormons of the cute old pilot man. Melisa´s boyfriend (who we had never met) and his friend (both around age 21 and studying at the university nearby) had a ton of questions about Mormons and what we believe -- one Catholic and the other a less-active Evangelist. They said they´d be willing to have missionaries come visit them so we passed the reference to the Elders in Miraflores since they don´t live in our area. The next day we got a call from the Elders saying THANKS for the ref´s, they met them and had an awesome lesson and now they both have baptismal dates! WHAT. We were like crying happy. We feel like this will really help Melisa in her progress as well. 

On Wednesday, we found ourselves walking through the blind-your-eyes sandy streets sweating at noon after all our plans had fallen through that morning. I had the thought -- actually the Spirit had the thought and planted it in my mind -- that we should do some daily contacting for investigators (this is a mission focus right now). So we found some shade (not as easy as it sounds :) and pulled out the phone to start making calls and sending texts. Hna Martinez was analyzing our list of recent contacts and a name stood out to her, Julianna, a woman who sells pollo near our house. She was a street contact. I sent her a message asking when we could visit her and said something along the lines of ¨Hermana, le prometemos que si usted escucha este mensaje, su familia será bendecida¨ We got an immediate reply and she said ¨Hermanas, I´ll wait for you today at 3 at my house. I´m going through a lot of problems right now and I know that you can help me.¨  We were shocked!  We went that day and had a powerful lesson with her  -- we asked inspired questions, listened to her, taught her the Restoration, and promised specific blessings. Her teenage children (Amarilis and Orlando, 14 and 12) came to church this week!!!  We´re so excited -- they are truly investigators with verdadera intencion -- real intent. 

And then there´s MARK. Mark is my favorite of them all. So we´re sitting at a member´s house 2 weeks ago scheduling an appt with them and one of the people who rent an apartment on the 2nd floor dropped in. When we asked Hna Santamaria who he was she said his name was Mark, he´s 26, from Mancora and studying Economics at the National and lives alone. 

Hna Santamaria: ¨I gave him a book of mormon once.¨
Us: Hermana, en serio?! Bacán!
Hna Santamaria: No it´s because one day he was telling me that he has trouble sleeping so I gave him one and told him to read it and it´ll put him to sleep!
HAHAHA. Oh my goodness...
Long story short, Mark is probably my favorite investigator I´ve ever had. He´s SO intelligent, we honestly feel like dust in his presence. He understands everything we teach perfectly, he´s reading and praying, came to church, and we´re for sure setting a bap date next visit. 
We were like overjoyed in church yesterday watching la JAS (ysa) fellowship him and accompany him to the classes, exchange numbers, etc. 

We fasted on Saturday -- partly to help our investigators attend and have a good experience at church and partly just in gratitude. I don´t know what we did to deserve all the blessings we´re´s really like 1% our own obedience and diligence and 99% a loving Heavenly Father who is showering down his tender mercies. Hna Martinez and I love to sing in English from our awesomely huge echo-ey room on the 4th floor and my fav hymn (Praise to the lord the almighty) was stuck in our heads this week:
¨Praise to the Lord,
Who doth prosper thy way and defend thee;
Surely His goodness
And mercy shall ever attend thee.
Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
Who with His love doth befriend thee.

Mandando mis saludos a todos!
Hermana Parks

Monday, June 20, 2016

La Copa Piura Vida was today! Unfortunately we have a deficiency of Latino missionaries in our we didn´t do so well, but today was just the pre-game, next week is the real thing! Lots of fun, and hot hot hot! 

We had an awesome service opportunity this week! 
Hope Alliance, an organization from Utah, came to give glasses to the pueblitos and poorer areas! We went up to La Matanza, it´s a pueblito even farther away than Chulucanas. We translated for the eye doctors and volunteers as they examined THREE HUNDRED people´s eyes! It was humbling watching little kids to 85 year olds smile as they put on their first pair of glasses and say clarito!!! (clear!) 

Then we got home and Hermana Luzby´s (member on the first floor, basically our momma) kitchen was COVERED in blood!! She had been cutting tons of meat for a ward activity when the butcher knife fell and cut her big toe!! Seriously so much blood, she had left to the emergency room with her daughter and we cleaned everything while she was gone. We are so glad she is okay!! She´s been on bed rest for a couple days. We love our mama luzby! 

I´m copying and pasting what I wrote to President about the MIRACLE we experienced yesterday..

Yesterday we had a very cool experience. We ate lunch with a member family and shared a spiritual thought, then asked for references. The 17 year old girl Collins told us about her friend who lives closeby and whose grandma has cancer. She committed to invite her to come over for lunch on Friday and we scheduled to come by and meet her! Later that day we were with our recent convert tracting and had lots of appointments fall through because of the Father´s Day celebrations. Unfortunately, the streets were filled with groups of people drinking, mostly men. Alcohol is definitely my least favorite part of Sundays and holidays in Peru. I felt like I was in the vapor de tinieblas -- mist of darkness, but suddenly an image came into my head of us in a house with a mom and children. It was like a sanctuary with evil outside. I know that that thought came from the Spirit. I thought ¨wow that would be cool if we could find a sober family who need to hear this message today.¨ We came upon a woman walking holding a child and I started to talk to her. We asked if we could share a message with her and her family and she said yes and showed us to her house! We met her aunt and other baby. When Hermana Martinez asked if there was anything she could pray for in the opening prayer, the aunt, Karla, began to tell us about their mom who was dying of cancer. This was the SAME family that we had received as a reference that day!! We had completely forgotten pamphlets of the Restoration (no idea how) but we had a great lesson on the ATonement, repentance, and baptism. They understood perfectly and want to be baptized in the way that Christ was baptized. As Karla said the closing prayer, she began to cry and thanked God for sending us to them in a moment of pain and uncertainty. 

I KNOW that God´s hand is real. He is guiding us with every step we take. I had this overwhelming feeling that we are not alone. That even amidst drunk people in the street and getting rejected, He loves us. He knows where His children are, he knows what they need, and he sends us to them in the moment they need it.¨

Hermana Parks

just to give everyone some perspective on the altitude of rice we are served each day :) 

translating for hope alliance´s service project! 

Sandro´s bday! Never seen a 9 year old so happy. 


Peru Piura mission´s #1 district :) 

Left to right Elders Cloninger, Poelman, Richards, and Orr. 

hna martinez loves to mess with ALL the cats in the streets

rooftop pick with our recent convert Diana! 

sometimes we are so tired on Sunday nights, haha

walking by the river on p day! 

La copa piura vida!! (piura mission cup!) We sisters offer more moral support than contribution on the field, haha. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

ONE YEAR. 365 days. 2/3 of my mission. Holy cow. 

I honestly can´t believe it. On the one hand it feels like I was getting on the plane yesterday. And on the other hand it´s like I´ve been a missionary my whole life. AH. Craziness. It scares me how fast time goes by.

This week I came up with 20 things I´ve learned in the past year as a missionary! Here goes:

1. Peruvians eat a lot of rice. (seriously so. much. every day.)

2. I´ve learned to tolerate and even like artic-cold showers every morning.

3. 50 SPF is not enough for the Ecuatorial sun...

4. And after putting on said sunscreen, my skin gets pelted by a centimeter-thick layer of dust and sand so I´m used to being dirty.

5. I´ve learned how to saludar a las personas (greet people) When pass someone in the street, you have to say Buenos dias o buenas tardes o buenas noches, according to the time of day and you ALWAYS have to do the cheek kiss for women and handshake for men when you enter and leave a room. It´s actually a cool, warm cultural thing that´s very different. 

6. Waking up at 6:30 am every day for 365 days with no naps. That´s an accomplishment! 

7. How to exercise to hymns....(we can only listen to hymns in our mission, and EFY music on Pdays)

8. How to pray on my knees, all the time, and because I NEED it, not just because that´s what we do as missionaries. 

9. How to negotiate with moto taxi drivers,.

10. PATIENCE. So much patience. In all aspects of my life and this work.

11. I´ve learned to love kids and youth...kind of a random one, but I have seriously developed a love for children and youth on the mission. I´ve learned to see their great potential and I´ve developed a desire to help them succeed, because I know where they´ve been and I know what choices will lead them to happiness! 

12. I´ve learned to form relationships with people who don´t speak my language! I´ve developed a Peruvian family.

13. I´ve learned that to be a leader is to be a follower. And it´s an opportunity to serve and be humble. 

14. Getting your weaknesses slapped in your face is a GOOD thing because it shows that Heavenly Father loves you and he knows who you can become.

15. Before I criticize my comp, I need to change myself. 

16. Discipline. Walk, teach, plan, open my mouth, find, walk some more, repeat. Keep going even when I´m exhausted or stressed.

17. How to listen to others and teach THEM according to their need, not just teach lessons.

18. Faith is everything. I knew what faith was before the mission, but I didn´t realize that I was a doubtful person until I came here. I´ve had to learn to trust in the Lord and trust that he is preparing people for us to find and teach, even when it seems like the odds are totally against us. 

19. God´s plan is perfect. I´ve learned to understand and appreciate and love The Restoration of the gospel, the Plan of Salvation, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Things I knew were true before, but now that I KNOW are true. 

20. And lastly, I´ve learned to get up, study, work, teach, and serve because I love my Savior and not just because that´s what I´m supposed to do. 

PHEW. That doesn´t even cover it all. How grateful I am for this opportunity to be a missionary. I feel like it´s a gift God has given ME, not one I´m giving Him. Personally, I couldn´t have grown in the ways I´ve grown this past year had I not served a mission. I feel so lucky to wear this nametag every day and be a personal representative of Him! 

Some quick details of this week...
- this entire week was either a bunch of crazy coincidences or straight-up miracles. I´m serious, we found more new investigators than we have time to teach, but we´re going to trust in the Lord, pray to know who to focus on, and do divisions with members to keep up with all of them! Lenin (30) who we found this week came to church!!!! Also Sandro from our partmember family. We had like 13 people cancel on us Sunday morning even though we had 5 members on board to help us pick people up and accompany them....dang Satan works hard. But we had some great lessonsSunday afternoon visiting people and we´ll have more attendance this coming week! 

- FAMILY HOME EVENING. I love them. They are so powerful. We get to watch families progress together. Familia Viera hasn´t been to church in a VERY long time--- super less actives. But we are reactivating them and cute little Sandro who is 9 is the brightest and most spiritual kid I´ve ever met! He has a baptismal date. We love them a lot and my testimony of the importance of RESCUING is being strengthened.

- I had an exchange with Hna Vera from Ecuador! This was her very first exchange in the mission field! I got to help her become more comfortable in teaching and contacting, feels like just yesterday I was in her spot! 

- And WOW. The Spirit of Elijah was REAL this week. We have the assignment of working in the family history center every thursday and saturday morning and it was the first time I´ve really gone back to look at my ancestor´s stories. I had tears well up in my eyes as I read about my great grandpa´s experience as a missionary in the Central States over a 100 years ago. God´s work is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still answers prayers and miracles never cease!! Grateful for my faithful and righteous ancestors who paved the way for me to have the gospel.

Heart is full, and I´m ready to enjoy every second of these last 6 months!
Thanks for all your letters, thoughts, and prayers,
Hermana Parks
Ashley -- the craziest 2 year old I´ve ever met who entertains us everyday at lunch

#survivalmode ice cream at 4pm with the comp! 

Fam Viera -- my favorites!!! (less actives and investigator Sandro -- 9 years old) We had an awesome noche de hogar with them this week with Diana recent convert. 

P day crossing the bridge to downtown...courtesty of Hna Martinez photography :)

so tired, crashing on the extra mattress. and some colorful laundry hanging outside! 


Monday, June 6, 2016

So sore. So tired, phsyically and emotionally. But SUCH A GOOD WEEK.
Where to start....well I guess I can start with reasons why I am sore and tired :) 

1. Our district wakes up at 5:45 AM every single day to play soccer. Since the chapel isn´t in our area, we run there and back. I was quite hesitant to sacrifice the sleep at first but it´s been worth it! We can´t keep score but every time the other team scores we have to do 5 push-ups, the next time 10, etc. Let´s just say that having ballerina Hna Parks on your team isn´t exactly a strong link, so my arms hurt big time, ha! 

2. So about every 4-6 weeks we have leadership council. Normally the Assistants present the main theme of the meeting, train us on the topic or skill, and lead us in practices. Buuuut this council President decided to change things up and asked HNA MARTINEZ AND HNA PARKS to give the training. WHAT. We got the call on Tuesday night for Thursday´s council and oh man we were a little stressed. But Matthew 10:19-20 is absolutely true:
 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

While praying about what we were going to do (the topic was Inspired Questions) I thought of a phrase I learned in the MTC ¨Go to where the investigator is spiritually before they come to you.¨ That was the start of a WAVE of revelation we received and in a couple hours, we had our whole plan down. We started out drawing out ¨where we are spiritually¨aka in the church of Jesus Christ, with testimonies of the truths of his gospel. We know where we´re going, we know what the door is, we know where the keys are. Hna Martinez drew a little example of that, then left a huge space to one side of the door indicating ¨where¨ all our investigators are. We drew different points, some close to the door and others far away, each person with a different situation or need. Then we asked ¨How do we go to where they are? How do we know where they are? What they´re thinking? What they feel?¨ WE ASK INSPIRED QUESTIONS! I don´t know if this is making any sense, but anyways, after that we basically led a group discussion on inspired questions with scriptures and PME, watched a short stellar video from The District, did a personal and comp evaluation, and practices! We felt really good about it at the end. I never ever thought I would have to stand up in front of President, 25 zone leaders and 12 sister leaders to ¨train¨ them. But honestly I learned way more than I ever could have taught them. It was a great experience. 

Other reasons why I am sore and tired this week--- :) 
We had a baptism! Diana is 18 years old and has changed a lot of things in her life to get to where she is right now. We love her so much! She brought a friend to our ward activity on Fridayand now her friend wants to be baptized too!! Woo hooo! Tacalá is on fire, we´ve been trying to keep it going by being super diligent and working with all the members we can.... which isn´t hard because 

MY COMP IS LITERALLY THE BEST. Honestly she could be my favorite. I´m tired because sometimes we can´t sleep because we´re laughing too hard to fall asleep! haha. I love her. We´re kind of the same person. 

Welp, time is up.
When I say sore and tired, I mean happy and fulfilled. 
This area is huge and sandy, the people are so awesome, and I´m LOVING it! 

Hasta luego!
Hermana Parks
Diana´s baptism! 

I look super tired in these pics....because I was....but here´s a cute family and tiny puppy / and our district when we were locked inside the church gates, woops! We´ve got elders from Wisconsin, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, then there´s me from Oregon and....Hna Martinez. haha.

close-up of adorable tiny puppy, 4 hermanas in a moto taxi, and the sunrise from our room!! 

ok one more of this pup.... and leadership council lunch with my BFF! 

some of my fav hermanas at leadership council! 

THIS IS HNA ORELLANA´S LAST TRANSFER!!!!! nooooo, I´m losing my mom!! 

walking to the chapel....through a desert. 

the chapel

and oh my goodness hna martinez cracks me up...we have too much fun.

a ferocious dog trying to eat me through the gate, haha. 

Hna Luzby (member who lives on the 1st floor) invited us over for pizza and pie today per the Elders´ request!