Monday, August 29, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - enjoy every. single. last. moment.


It´s so strange to be here. My last week on the mission. It´s really hard to believe. So many feels. I´m very anxious. I think I´m losing weight. Ha…. whoops. No, I´m good. I´ll eat more. No, but I seriously will because I RECEIVED DAD´S PACKAGE!!!!! WOW! I loved it – thank you so much!!!! Cookies for days. Seriously though, I loved it! And I´m sharing it with everyone!

This week Daniel was finally baptized!!!!! I've known him for a long time! He´s best friends with Lucas and Gabriel who we baptized, too! He took a little more time but as of yesterday, he´s baptized!!! Man, so many things were going wrong that I almost thought it wouldn't happen – the water ran out in the church! Bathrooms, water fountains, and of course, the baptismal font. Our leaders tried everything but we finally went to the other chapel nearby and did the baptism there because the font there was already filled and ready to go! The sisters who are in the other ward and use our building too went with us and they had their baptism there too too haha. Nearly panicked BUT it all turned out okay :)

So, I´ll still be able to email next week so it´s not the last email just yet ;)
Today we had training to be self-sufficient today. We learned a lot about how to get a job and stuff like that haha we even did practices haha but I learned a lot! I'm still a little nervous for the future but now I have lots of tips and resources to use and put into practice. Next Monday I´ll head to the mission office around 5 pm and as y'all know... head out Tuesday.

But my mission isn't over yet! President Leite said to make the most out of our last week in the field. Be 100% exactly obedient, hit your goals every day, share my testimony with everyone, and work HARD. The guy who gave us the training said that maybe we won´t have a baptism but if we share our testimony with everyone, we´ll touch their hearts and other missionaries will baptize them because they were touched by OUR testimonies. Which is true. We have a lot of people that we´re teaching who I, unfortunately, won´t see be baptized. But that doesn't mean I can´t leave a memory with them. I can share my testimony, I can invite them to follow Christ, and they can remember how they felt when I taught or bore my testimony of the Savior. 

I can´t even put into words how much my mission has changed me. I may come back with my same smile and jokes and humor like I always had, but inside, I have changed 100%. I will be forever grateful for my mission. BUT AH I STILL HAVE ONE MORE P-DAY! I´ll stop now :)

Love you guys :) Thank you for EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Sister Parks

P.S. Oops I forgot! Rodrigo, Wellington (my recent converts from Messejana), Tamile, and Boneca (members) from Messejana all visited me yesterday! They surprised me in the gospel principles class which we teach. We had just started and I was really stressed that morning for some reason and when Rodrigo and Wellington both walked in smiling, I started to cry! Wellington designed the Mockingjay pin for me and my name underneath and I totally forgot to take of a picture of it! Gah! But y'all will see it shortly. Anyways, it was really special to see them again :,) they´re going to be there in the airport too to see me off :,) so yeah, I sent pics and some are with them :) The pic with the class was gospel principles. I feel so blessed. Almost everyone there was my recent converts and I don´t mean that in a prideful way! Wow I'm just so blessed to have met them!!!!!!!!! I love them all so much :) I am so proud of all them!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - Preparation Week

Seriously, this whole week has been preparing me for the next step in my future. I'm learning more and more every day for how I want to live the rest of my life and the things that I can and need to do to have a happy life and stay strong in the gospel :)

Sooo things that happened this week......

Good question. Drawing a blank here.

We´ve been working a lot with our investigator, Mauri. He still has a lot of doubts though. Too many to be baptized right now. He really frustrated me one night because he kept denying everything we were teaching so I was like, "OKAY, you can keep reading the things we've left with you but we aren't going to pass by anymore, okay??" Then he calmed down and I calmed down and we kneeled down in his house with him and a sister from our ward that we brought with us and he said the prayer and asked if everything we were teaching was true or not. After, the sister shared her testimony which was perfect because she had the same doubts as he did when she was investigating the church. 

This past week we met a woman, Lucia, who´s just the sweetest thing! We´ve been teaching her this week, and yesterday when we passed by to go to church together, she was sitting there waiting for our arrival! It´s my favorite thing to see investigators waiting for US Sunday morning to go to church :)) An older guy, Edilson, also went! He arrived a few minutes before us at the church and waited for us to arrive with Lucia. My heart was so happy!!!

We've also been working for MONTHS with this one young man. Not constantly because he never went to church but two weeks ago when he went for the first time, we started meeting with him again. He always got a little scared or nervous when we talked about baptism but yesterday he was like, "Next Sunday I'll be baptized." And we were like, "Seriously?! Will your grandma let you?" And he was like "yeah! do y´all have the form with you? let's go now and get her signature!" so we're like BORA! (lets go!) So we went over there and she signed the form and so we´re praying that it'll all go well!!!!!!! if it does, we'll be having a baptism this week! Hopefully 2 actually! We're going to finish teaching Lucia the lessons and if all goes right, she will be baptized this Sunday, too!

NOSSA! OMG! Soo a funny thing that happened this week was when Brazil was playing again Germany.... in SOCCER. Umm pretty sure every Brazilian knows where they were the day of the World Cup in 2014. It was a heart-wrenching day for them all. Sooo this week they had the chance to get their revenge at the Olympics. Now at the time the game was ending, when they were switching off shooting, trying to make goals to determine the winner, you know (idk anything about soccer but this is what the people told me) we were on the street, of course. With every shot, we heard a groan or a shout of glee. When Germany finally missed one and it was Brazil's turn, and the guy kicked, and SCORED, I KID YOU NOT I HEARD THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD SCREAM AND SHOUT AND CHEER!!! It was the COOLEST THING EVER!! A man who was close to me grabbed me and kissed me on my temple LOLOL I was like AH NO lolololol every house we passed by that night was partying and informing us, WE WON!!!! I too was shouting WOOOH BRAZIL!!! WE WON! lololol so yeah, I didn't watch any of it, but I was there and it was as if I was watching it! How I love Brazil :,) 

Well that's all I got this week, folks!

Oh, a little spiritual thing to end: The scriptures are SO important! I have been learning SO much from them and I'm so grateful for everything I can learn from the ancient prophets. Never forget to read your scriptures!! I love this gospel, I love my Savior. I truly know that He atoned for my sins and that He knows all my pains and sad times and because of His sacrifice, I can become more like Him every day. And for that, I am eternally grateful!


- Sister Parks

Monday, August 15, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - in the blink of an eye, another week has passed!

FAMÍLIA!!!!!!!!!!! Olá, como vocês estão? Estou ótima, foi uma semana boa e tudo e...

WHOOPS HEY FAMILY!!! How´s everybody doing? :) Seriously though, these weeks are flying by...... ah!!

I had a surprise last week from the one and only Denise Anderson!!!!!! I LOVE THE PACKAGE!! Thank you so much!!!!! My whole district is now begging for my peanut butter hahaha! And I had totally forgotten about rice crispy treats omgggg I died when I saw them, thank you SO much!!!
Dad, still waiting on the package from missionties! And my zone leaders go to the mission office every other week to pick up packages and letters and such because it’s a bit far and they went last week so they'll only be going next Monday. So even if it arrived, I won't until next week, but don't stress! It´ll come :)

Today a big busload of young women and adults from the stake headed on to Recife!!!! Yup, a temple trip! They'll be there until Saturday. Sister Costa and I were so jealous! It's tough being in a mission without a temple nearby! I´m super excited to go to the temple when I get back. If we don't have anything scheduled, can we go the weekend I get back? Friday or Saturday? Then have a get together with the fam in San Antonio? I'd love to see everyone there, too :)

I have officially learned how to make Brazilian tapioca and it's on my list of things to take home for y'all to experiment! It´s soooo good, I hope y'all love it, too! I even learned how to flip in a pan, like a pancake or pizza, ya know? ;)

We´ve been meeting some great people this week who we're super excited to start teaching!! Lots of youth which is good because our ward has only 5 active young women and 1 young man!! They're in desperate need for more! We're working a lot with Mauri still, our investigator who´s super intelligent and reads lots of book, mainly history books. He went to church again – 3 Sundays in a row! Wooh! He still has a lot of doubts and we keep reminding him to pray and ask God because we can talk and talk and talk and explain and share scriptures but it won't matter if he never prays! But he´s great in reading the Book of Mormon! Today we're going to have a FHE in a member's home and bring him to watch the Restoration movie :)

This week our ward switched the time it starts with the other ward so we now start at 8:30 and we start with Relief Society, then Sunday School, then Sacrament Meeting. It was super strange but gave me more time to finish my talk during Relief Society! Hahaha my talk went well, I hope. haha I was a bit nervous as usual but when I got up I relaxed. I talked about missionary work, of course, and how members can help us out! I shared the story from the July Liahona "thank you for sharing the gospel with me" or something like that which I really liked because it shows 2 things. He shared the gospel with 2 people. The first wasn't super interested in the beginning. For him, he planted the seed. The second person ended up getting baptized. I reminded them that we won't always see the results of our efforts immediately when sharing the gospel, but that isn't an excuse to not do it! God uses us more often than not to simply plant the seed to be cultivated later by someone else.

haha but yeah! this week was good! no baptism unfortunately...a young man, Daniel, was interviewed but he´s still nervous and has doubts, so we didn't pressure him. 

I really love this gospel. I love this happiness that I feel! I love Brazil and the people and my areas :) I am just so blessed beyond measure! 

I love you all :) That´s all I have to say!


- Sister Parks 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - Hey gang!

Awww thanks everyone for your emails!!! I´ve taken pics and look forward to reading them later!!

My zone leader called me today and said that they picked up my package that was in the mission office so I´ll be getting it tomorrow at our district meeting!! Thanks!!

Sooooo this week was super special! Friday we spent the day with the one and only... President Leite! Our mission president! Now you may ask, why? So the Fortaleza government celebrated 50 years of the Church being in Fortaleza and they invited a few Fortaleza pioneers, the mission president of Fortaleza, a few stake presidents, and our mission president! So President Leite is super musical and he thought it'd be a great idea to perform a little number! So he called Sister Kirkendall and asked her if she'd be willing to pick a piece to play and invite missionaries that she knew to perform. So she called and invited me! She said that it'd be a group of missionaries but when I arrived at the first practice, it was just me and another American sister that were going to sing! As we started to practice President got so excited that he decided to sing with us. So, just us 3! Soooo Friday! After lunch we were picked up with the other sisters and were taken to the President´s house. We hung out there for about 10 minutes, then he arrived with his family, the elder who would play the violin, and his companion. We practiced and practiced and got it as close to perfect as we could. Oh yeah, we sang Beautiful Savior in Portuguese. Then we ate a little dinner and had chocolate cake with ice cream as dessert then we all gathered into 3 cars and all went.... to the AIRPORT!!! Lol President's oldest son was flying in so we all went to pick him up lol I'm not gonna lie, it was a little weird to be there!! So we picked him up then all rushed to the Assembleia Legislativa which President said was the House of Reps in English. So we went there, sat down, and we were the only missionaries there! After a few people spoke and introduced everyone, we gave our musical number! Which I´m uploading to Dropbox as I type! So... enjoy :) it was a super special moment that I`ll remember forever! It was also aired on tv lol  but I doubt anyone was watching but President told us that we're now famous hahaha

Umm Bishop asked me to give a talk next week. Still nervous to speak up front lol but it'll be alright ;)

We started teaching this awesome guy, Mauri. He´s super smart and reads books like crazy. He loves history. The second time we passed by with him he asked, where´s my Book of Mormon? Haha ever since we gave it to him, he´s reading like crazy! He went to church last week and yesterday so we were super happy about that!! I´ll keep y'all updated!

As for me..... I´m doing great! :) I'm so glad everything's going so well back at home. I'm excited to see all the changes and hear all the good news! You all are just the best, have I ever told y'all that?

Oh yeah, in case I forget, this coming Sunday is Father´s Day in Brazil so happy early Brazilian Father´s Day, Dad!! Haha

Oh yeah the Olympics are going on too. Everyone´s watching them and it was so funny because one day we stopped by with a member and swimming was on and one was just ending and the places popped up and I saw that USA made 1st and I threw my hands up and yelled woooohh!!! And they all just looked at me like......... lolololol but I reassured them I'd root for Brazil too! lolol but oh man I want to watch the Olympics so bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who are the girls on our gymnastics team?? Is it the same girls or did one retire? lol okay I'm done :)

Until next week my beautiful family!!

- Sister Parks

Monday, August 1, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - grateful, blessed and anxious!!

HEYYYYYYYYYYY!!! How´s my favorite family doing?

I´m doing great! Last Tuesday, Renata was baptized!!!! It was beautiful! Irmão Oziel decorated the room and the entrance with a big painting of the São Paulo temple. Renata felt like a robot in the baptismal jumpsuit but she was very happy :) Friday was the wedding in the chapel which was beautiful, too!!! Once again, Irmao Oziel decorated (he was truly given the gift to decorate) and her family came and his family and members! Sister Costa and I borrowed heels from members haha it was super strange but we only used them for the ceremony. When we went home, we put on our normal proselyting shoes lol but I totally regretted using heels because the next day I was literally limping because of my right foot. By the end of Saturday I could barely walk. When we got home and I took off my shoes my big toe on my right foot was totally swollen. But, it's passed now! :) I'm all good. Let´s see what´ll happen when I go home.....may need bunion surgery ha....ha....

Weeeeellll I just read Dad´s email which said that y'all received info about my flight home soooooooooooooo I´ve now forgotten everything I was going to write. WOW! This is so strange!!!! 

Well, let me think... you need to concentrate (concentrate, concentrate...) lolol quick what movie?!
It's kinda nice to be going home because every day now I'm getting presents from members hahaha it's good and bad though because I´m gonna have to leave practically all of my clothes and just pack things that I've been given on the mission! Haha but seriously, I love this ward. They're so great :)

Saturday night we talked with this guy who was sitting outside his house reading a book and he asked a bunch of questions about things he'd heard about about the church and we were like calllllm we'll explain everything but for now, why not go to church with us tomorrow? He agreed and we told him we´d pass by in the morning. Well, when the morning came his house was all locked up, door closed, and we knocked and clapped and nothing :( so we headed to church and about 15 minutes after it started, who walks in???? HIM!!!! He came!!! It was a miracle! We literally met him Saturday night! We've been teaching other people for weeks and are still trying to bring them to church and in just one night, he decided to go! We were super happy!

All our recent converts are doing great! They're all going to church, making lots of friends in the ward, participating in FHE, preparing to receive the priesthood and everything! I couldn't be more proud!!!

I´m so happy and so blessed to be on a mission! 

I love you all and am excited and anxious to see y'all so soon! AH! Haha love love love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm glad my letters are arriving, too!

- Sister Parks

Monday, July 25, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - They're married!!

Yup, this morning Renata and Honorato got married!!! We woke up early, got ourselves ready then headed to their house, did her hair and makeup, then Bishop picked us up and we went to the registry and they were pronounced husband and wife!!!!!!
Tomorrow will be her baptism and Friday they'll receive blessings in the church :) 

Also, transfers happened.
Yesterday passed by and we hadn't gotten a call from our leaders or from the assistants so we were pretty sure we were staying. When our district leader called at night for our numbers he said that our zone leader had the transfers and was going to tell us in a little bit. My heart sank. The whole week there were SO many signs that said I´d be transferred. But I didn't want to believe them. So about 5 minutes leader our district leader calls us back and says, "I have the transfers. SIster Costa was transferred." She was "like what????" but OF COURSE HE WAS KIDDING! Ugh elders love to do this kind of stuff. Then he told us the good news,
I GET TO STAY HERE IN MARACANAU!!!!!! I'M GOING TO DIE HERE LIKE I WANTED (in mission terms lol)!!! I was literally jumping and squealing I was so happy!!!!! I am sooo so happy :) I was totally willing to leave if I needed to. In my prayers the whole week, I said, if I need to go, I`ll go, but You know my heart, You know what I want ;) and the Lord was so sweet in letting me stay!!!!!!! I´m so happy and so grateful!!!!!

This week Reginaldo was baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!! He had gone to church 2 weeks in a row and we´d been teaching him even longer than that but he always was scared to be baptized. He always felt like he needed to know more. Then one day we stopped by with him and Sister Costa told him that TOMORROW would be his baptism! We were determined to help this grown man get over his fear hahaa so he signed the baptismal form and we put together a baptism super fast! The next day we were all there in the chapel waiting for him to finish the interview with our district leader and when they finished SIster Costa looked at me and said, "the baptismal font...... WE FORGOT TO FILL UP THE FONT!!!!!" So the Elders pushed up their sleeves and grabbed buckets and they started helping it fill up faster while the members rushed to make and print the program wooooowowowowo it was super stressful but when it ended at 9:20 we shook his hand, congratulated him, and RAN HOME lololol but it all worked out in the end!!! He and Lucas were both confirmed this Sunday :)

I´ll end it there because I can't think of anything else but I'm so happy and so shocked that I'm starting my last transfer. Wow. I'm so grateful for my mission and for all the people I`ve met and for the opportunity I have to get to know my Savior more :) I love Him!!!!

And I love y'all too!!!! Thanks for all your love and support!!!!!!

- Sister Parks

P.S. - Does acai exist in the U.S.? It does, right? Anyways. Sister Costa is from Acre where acai is from and it's super good there obvi. She's been trying to find good acai places here and the first 2 we tried were horrible (according to her) so I ate them for her. Then the 3rd we tried was soooooo gooooood, even she liked it! So yeah. I now love acai.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Manacanau, Brazil - enjoy every moment!

^ is my new goal!

We had interviews with our new mission president this week and that was one of his questions to me - if i was enjoying every moment of the mission. The mission truly flies by so it´s my goal to make the most of it, to enjoy to every moment!!

SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED THIS WEEK! I´ll try to keep it short though with bullet points.

- We had a baptism!!!! Lucas! He turned 8 years old recently and his grandpa is a recent convert and he always go to church with him, so we were basically just waiting for him to turn 8 and then, baptism!! So that happened on Sunday :) it was a very happy day and truly a miracle!

- We helped a brother in our ward, Oziel, paint his house because the next day was his birthday and he´s was preparing the house for the party!! So you will see pics of me in JEANS! I was super happy lolol and Oziel reminds me a lot of dad hahahaha he´s hilarious

- The wedding plans are all coming together!! I did her hair one day with the wand in preparation for the actual wedding day and it turned out super pretty! The ward is planning everything and it's going to be so pretty and I'm so excited to finally see them get married and her be baptized!!!!! I love this family so much :)

- Next week we have transfers and I'm praying and pleading to stay here for my last transfer!!! I want to be here for the wedding and baptism and I really want to end here because I love this ward and area so much!! I literally can´t believe I have just one more transfer...... buuuuut let's not think about it, shall we?

Also for those asking, I'll be coming home the week of September 4th. Probably Sep 6th or 7th. I'm not sure and I don't know when my mission sends itinerary to the families. Y'all can email and ask, there are Americans that work in the mission office haha. 

Anyways, I'm super happy!! I love this area, I love this work, I love these people, I love everything!!!!!

I love you all a ton too :) Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, and support!!! I owe you all big time when I come home :) Do yáll accept hugs as payment? ;)


- Sister Parks