Monday, July 25, 2016

His Grace is Sufficient

SPOILER ALERT: There are some emotionally hard days on the mission. And sometimes you blame yourself when things go wrong like the members aren´t accompanying us as much as past weeks, or investigators cancelled on us Sunday morning, or a ton of appointments fall through in a row and we end up walking the pioneer trek instead of teaching. BUT, you learn from these types of days. 

Like Thursday. We had had a lot of things fall through ... but we were teaching Ruth and David around 7 and had another good appointment set for 8 with a member to come with us. Then during our lesson with Ruth and David (David is a reference from the stake president and really receptive but is having difficulty keeping commitments and his wife is kind of really stubborn and insists that they don´t get married until January and that ¨God will understand¨ because they´re still praying and remembering God day to day....?) ANYWAYS, it was a tough lesson. I wanted so badly for them to realize the blessings they´re missing out on, while at the same time respecting their agency. While all this is going on, we get 2 texts in a row -- 1. our investigator family can´t do it at 8. and 2. the member who was going to accompany us had something come up. Everything was crashing down. We ended the night going to the only person who WAS available to receive us... the guy who sells hamburgers down the street. So we bought hamburgers and went home to eat away our stress :) 

But as I was laying on my bed, Hermana Dionicio thoughtfully asked me: ¨Hermana Parks, what did you learn today?¨ Well, I had to think for a while on that one.... but then I remembered the Spirit I had felt during the lesson with Ruth and David -- even though there was a little frustration, I marveled at the power and authority that God has given us. He has entrusted his power and authority to preach the gospel to two 20 year old girls -- authority to call people to repentance (people a lot older and wiser), to invite them to come unto Christ, and the power to bring the Spirit unto their lives. (Unto, because THEY decide if the Spirit goes INTO their lives.) And I felt so grateful in that moment. For my calling, for trials, for rock solid companions, and my Savior Jesus Christ. 

And there WERE a ton of miracles this week to compensate for the stressful moments. 

- Someone gave us a false address but God´s plan is perfect because Monica, the 20 year old girl living at the false address, had just been having doubts that week and we showed up when she needed it. She totally lighted up when we taught her about the Book of Mormon and we´re so excited to go back! 

- Sometimes you find those prepared RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE! Hermana Dionicio had the crazy idea to knock on our manzana this week (a manzana is a block of houses) ... I was thinking yeahhhh right, they see us walk by a million times a day, I´m sure that if they needed the gospel they would´ve flagged us down by now. WRONG. We found 2 awesome new investigators in 2 separate houses. A single mom and her 2 kids, and a 25 year old yoga instructor who doesn´t have a religion but great faith in God! I´m grateful for companions who have way more faith than I do :) 

- Lenin blessed the sacrament this week! And did it perfectly the first time. What a stud. He´s already got names ready for the temple! He´ll be going to Trujillo with the ward in August! (President can I pleeeeeease go too???) :)

- Maria de Poma has a baptismal date! Her daughter was baptized this year in Lima and had been calling her telling her to go to the church! Put that with running into Elders in the street, and us receiving the reference, and WA-LA! She has found what she´s been searching for and I´ve never seen an investigator so eager to LEARN -- she is like a sponge. 

This week Hna Dionicio and I studied Grace. Could you go a lifetime and perfectly understand Grace? No. It´ll be a lifetime pursuit. But this week our minds were blown reading Brad Wilcox´ BYU devo called His Grace is Sufficient and President´s recommendation -- the book Believing Christ. Both  are incredible. I encourage everyone to read Brad Wilcox´ talk especially. It will change how you think about and understand Grace and the Atonement. 

A quote that stood out to me: 
¨If we believe only IN Christ without believing Christ, then we are like people sitting in a cold, dark houses surrounded by unused lamps and heaters, people who believe in electricity but who never throw the switch to turn on the power. People like this often pretend to themselves and to others that merely BELIEVING in electricity makes them warm and gives them light, but they still shiver in the dark until they turn on the power. Though the appliances may all work and the wiring may be in good order, until we accept the power itself, beyond merely believing in the theory of power, we cannot enjoy the warmth and the light. This is why genuine faith in Christ - and active acceptance of his power and not just passive belief in his identity - is and must be the very first principle of the gospel.

I´m learning tons from studying the Christ-like attribute of FAITH for July. 

I love my Savior. I know He lives. I know that this is His church. I love being a personal representative of Him!
Hermana Parks
Matching ankle wraps! People in the streets were giving us some weird looks... both wraps were on our right ankles so they probably thought it was some religious symbol haha. But we´re improving! 

And the day we were gifted a life´s supply of oranges, bananas, yogurt, milk, gelatina, etc. (??) We were laughing so hard trying to get a pic of all of it with the selfie stick! 

purple wall on the way to church. HOLD IT. picture time. 

Consejo de lideres fotos

We love hermana luzby so so much! She made us aji de gallina on Sunday

Lunch with Lenin and his mom

2 weeks after. ... it looks so bad!! This is Hna Dionicio´s leg, but I promise she´s way better. 

Familia Viera! I love what I hear when we knock on their door...
Mamá, las hermanas!! Libros! Himnarios!
 Love teaching them all in a circle in their dirt floor house, the love and peace there is tangible! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Rainbow Soccer Club skills (U6 rec division 2002 Chapel Hill, NC) finally pay dividends

Well, Hermana Dionicio and I broke the ice pretty fast this week! On our FIRST day together we were playing soccer in the morning... long story short -- tiny little Hermana Dionicio playing defense, Hermana Parks maybe-slightly-too-aggressively trying to make a goal, goal-post inconveniently in the way, and next thing we know, Hermana D is on her back with her right leg throbbing. AHHHHH! Oh my goodness I felt so bad. She ended up just having this nasty nasty bruise on the outside of her right calf -- but couldn´t walk without pain for a day! So we did divisions and she rested and iced it ... we will not be playing soccer anytime in the near future, haha. Or at least I am not playing. 

Quote of the week:
Me: ¨ I don´t remember the missionaries in my home ward having many baptisms¨
Hermana Dionicio: ¨I WAS the baptism in my home ward.¨ 

hahaha seriously I am so grateful to be with her right now. Convert testimonies = at least 32x more powerful than normal testimonies. 

Our investigators are doing really well! Mark came to church and he is 100% set on his decision to be baptized. It´s crazy.... when we first met with him he told us straight-up he´s firmly Catholic -- in background and beliefs... and now he has totally changed. Some of these people never knew that they´ve been looking for the truth until they find it! 

Julianna, Amarilis, and Orlando didn´t make it to church -- I was heart. broken. They had committed earlier in the week after a powerful lesson on obedience.
OBEDIENCE -- that´s something you definitely gain a testimony of as a missionary. People tell us their problems a lot -- we listen about broken families, financial issues, and physical ailments. But in a good many of those cases, obedience is the answer. The faith to obey. To rely wholly and completely on the Savior, even when we don´t understand a commandment or we think we can get by on our own. 

Anyways, other notable events... leadership council! President asked me to speak on ¨how to have productive mornings¨. Previously, there was this mission attitude that ¨no pasa nada¨ en las mañanas. We decided to change that! I learned a lot from chapter 8 in PME about managing our time. I know that the expectation of our Heavenly Father is that we serve him with all we have, with ALL the time we have. There are people prepared for us, even in the mornings when it seems that all the women in Peru are cooking. It was honestly just a matter of getting more creative, so as a council we made a list of ideas of activities we can do in the mornings to influence our key indicators. 

And we found a new family to teach who are the cutest! We found them while on an assignment to look for references for HUANCABAMBA: Yes, there are 2 Elders there as we speak. (we´re taking the jungle of our mission where missionaries have never been) PRESIDENT I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE! haha, just kidding.

That´s all for this week! Love you guys!
Hermana Parks
the cutest little fam we started teaching this week! 

Andddd... we had an incident this week playing soccer -- tiny hermana dionicio .. hermana parks trying to score a goal .. goal post in the way .. anddd this is the product.

Hermana Dionicio: This is NOT a taco!! (We found the one and only mexican restaurant in piura....but not owned by mexicans?? yeah it was a downer, sorry hna dionicio!) 


Bed rest.... I swear we will never play sports again, haha. 

Hna Dionicio taking some action shots during leadership council... and Hna Martinez saying (during the practices we were doing): ¨Pretend you´re answering my question¨ 

leadership council with some of my favorite hermanas! 

hermana martinez and I had those dresses made from hermana carmelina here in tacalá! 

Happy Birthday Hermana Lang! This is post-zone meeting. I think she already knew the elders were gonna throw eggs from behind, haha. Long live peruvian traditions! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


 --- that´s what Hermana Rasmussen responded this week when I asked her: ¨Does the joy compensate for the stress of it all?¨ She answered absolutely before I even finished the question. That is missionary work! Maybe I don´t tell you guys in my letters about the stressful moments, rejection, and tough days but it´s because the JOY of the mission completely overrides all of that. Like I can´t even remember what went wrong this week because the blessed moments made up for it all x10000. 

Like BAPTISMS!!! Watching people act on the Savior´s invitation to enter through his door and be baptized is pure joy. Lenin, Sandro, and Jonathan were baptized on Saturday and confirmedSunday! I sent a bunch of pics. It´s so cool for Hermana Martinez and I to reflect on their progress from when we met them to now. And not just those 3 but all the other investigators progressing towards baptism! This transfer has been a dream - especially being companions with Hermana Martinez.
During interviews with President Wednesday he said he´s impressed with how well we´re working together and that he was still thinking/working out transfers...and asked if we wanted to stay together and I said ïf it was up to me, I´d say YES. But we´re willing to be wherever the Lord needs us.¨ -- but I secretly regret saying that last part because my sweet Martini was torn from me!!!!!!!! NOOOO. Transfers are the worst ;) but it´s all good because my new comp, Hermana Dionicio is the best! I already kind of know her from being around her in the mission. She´s from Hna Martine´zs group so she goes home in 2 transfers! AHHH! And she´s from REDDING! Crazy! And she´s a convert! And Spanish was her first language, her parents are from Mexico. She was baptized less than 3 years ago and she is STELLAR. So sweet, really obedient, really diligent. We´re gonna have a great transfer. 

This week I was marveling about the progress of our investigators and decided to play bragging-mom-writing-the-yearly-christmas-card. So here´s the highlights of my sweet ¨kids¨ this transfer: 

Lenin:  Newly baptized, and turned 30 yesterday! 
- Has attended church every week since we met him and has read a chapter from the Book of Mormon every day. 
- We´ve decided that SATAN HAS NO POWER over Lenin -- he has embraced every part of the gospel no questions asked. He wanted to change his life and he has felt that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the place to do it. 

Karolay (18):  In our second visit she had already read the entire Restoration pamphlet, the Introduction and all the testimonies in the BOM and had everything memorized -- even the date the priesthood was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. She´s diligently seeking an answer that this is true.

Sandro y Jonathan:  Got over their fear of drowning (don´t know how to swim) and were baptized!! They are in SECOND NEPHI CHAPTER 4. After teaching them for a month. I think we can all improve in our BOM study -- the 9 year olds are smokin´ us! 

Mark:  Has come to church twice and is eating up the BOM. 1 Nephi 15. He´s sincerely seeking an answer, and he´s gradually learning how the Spirit speaks to us. Previously, he said he´d never gotten an answer from God through prayer, but now he is feeling things he has never felt before!

Julianna y sus hijos:  THE SWEETEST. I´m running out of time, but they are some of my favorites.

As well as Maria de Poma, the CONTACT who came to church with a simple street invitation and took like 5 pages of notes over the Restoration pamphlet we gave her! 

And that concludes a wonderful year -- I mean, transfer -- of my kiddos teaching me about FAITH and exercising it to change their lives. 

Love love love my life right now.

Hermana Parks
lunch after interviews and area book checks, carrying our laundry to our room! Dad you said you wanted pictures of the day-to-day activities :)

Taking some model shots ;)

still stinkin´ swollen....but getting better. 

fav things of hna martinez....street dogs probably carrying diseases and yamboly ice cream :)

she likes vanilla. i like lúcuma. we´re a team.


noche de hogar with hna luzby, lenin, miram, julianna and her kids, and andres y marucsi!! 

just your casual garbage-burning at 6am

NOCHE DE KARAOKE. 60 members and investigators, empanadas, and some cheesy latin songs = success! 

waiting for the baptismal font to be done filling up....after having to clean it during our lunch hour (dead grasshoppers, dust, and all!) in white skirts. the mission life! 

BAPTISMS. Our buddies Lenin, Sandro, y Jonathan!! 

Happy Day!

finding out transfers en la casa de hermana luzby. which ended in a water fight and the elders soaked?? haha no idea. 


The district with Ricardo and Claudio, RM´s who help us out a lot! 


And oh my goodness....we were fed the most disgusting tallarines verdes yesterday...and given MORE to take home for dinner.... I gave mine to a dog. (tallarines verdes are like a really bad version of pesto...and they give you like a mountain of it.)

Julianna and her kids!!! (investigators) They were sooooo sad to hear that Hna Martinez is leaving. 


But on the bright side, I just got ANOTHER amazing companion. Yes, mom. It seems that I will never have stories with a psycho/difficult companion, haha. 

Presenting HERMANA DIONICIO from REDDING CA!!!!! State of Jefferson, unite! (You wouldn´t understand unless you´re from So Oregon or No Cal) 

The zone leaders had the idea that only FOUR pizzas would satisfy their hunger today....oh my goodness haha. Can we get like 6 to-go boxes??