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! 


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