Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 15 - Happy Heat-filled Holidays

Dear Mom,

First of all, you have NO idea how relieving and a blessing it was to see you guys last Thursday. That was by far the greatest blessing that I have received so far on my mission was that one video call. I feel a little bad that my next video call won't be for another 150 days, but I still look forward to it, as well the opportunity that I get to write to you guys each week. This past week was literally like cashing in all of my trials and hardships that I have had so far, in exchange for the fantastic blessings that came with last week. ESPECIALLY the chance I got to actually see and talk to all of you guys since 3 months ago. :D

Happy Heat-filled Holidays from the center of the Earth itself, hahaha! This week literally blew by like a snowstorm (metaphorical of course, being in Ecuador), but here we are, the last blog entry of the year. This week's come with a TON of blessings that I couldn't have been happier to receive, including some FANTASTIC Christmas food, and a Video Call to my family. I know that it's only going to get tougher from now on, but I think I got what it takes to buckle down and enjoy the extremely bumpy ride.

So, this past week, I was able to Christmas Caroling with the other members of my zone (by the name of Kennedy) here in Guayaquil, and boy was it HOT! There is a really legitimate reason why normal people don't try to go knocking on people's doors, singing, in the middle of the blistering heat of Summer in the States, because WOW, was it baking down here! On top of that, I can't tell how far or how long we walked, but my dogs were barking after that (The Office quote... How I miss that show, hahaha). I guess it was worth it, to see the smiling faces of the people we sang to, in addition to the fantastically amazing Video Call that I was able to have with my family afterwards.

A couple days before Christmas, we had a Mission Field Reunion, which may I remind you consists of around 260 missionaries, all coming together from any and all parts of our Mission Field to our Stake Center here in Guayaquil. Surprisingly, they still had enough food for me to have 3 plates full of Mashed Potatoes, Turkey, Stuffing, and Peas&Carrots... Not to mention dessert!! I have to say, this mission may come with a long-haul truckload of trials and hardships, but in exchange for the opportunity to teach people about the Everlasting Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as experience fantastic occasions like this, it's more than worth it to be here, and to go through anything and everything that gets thrown in my way, and in my face. I believe that my personal testimony of this Gospel has grown TENFOLD since I first started my mission, and I owe it all to these very special past three months. I love all of you so much, and I can't wait to write to you all again in 2015! Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!!!

Con Sinceridad,
Elder Conner Duane Parke

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week 14 - Green Christmas (Get it? Because it's green here, not white... Nevermind

Merry 88-degrees-fahrenheit Christmas!!! Before I begin with the blog entry, I just wanted to say that I am BEYOND excited to be able to Skype home this week!!! Honestly, these past 7 weeks have felt more like 77... It's been slow as molasses, and as discouraging as dropping an ice cream cone. Despite both me and my new trainer's efforts to hasten the work in our new area, it's been excruciatingly tough this past week. So in other words, we could really use a break as grand and fantastic as a Skype call home to our families.

So just a brief recap of this past week, last Monday was my extremely sudden Transfer Day, so I'm not proselyting in Babahoyo with Elder Aguilar as my trainer anymore. I'm now proselyting in Guayaquil with my new trainer, Elder Pagoada (from Honduras, and has 14 months in his mission, just like my other trainer). Like I mentioned last week, he is also the Zone Leader, and shares that title with his "other companion", Elder Tingey (from Las Vegas, who has 11 months in his mission). According to Elder Tingey's new companion, Elder Martinez (who is from Puerto Rico and has 17 months in his mission, but is just a regular missionary like me),  it's this unique idea by Mission President Riggins to pair up a trainee (like me) or any other normal missionary with a Zone Leader, and have that Zone Leader still have a Co-Zone Leader, in addition to his companion or trainee. It's confusing, I know, and it barely makes sense to me too, even though I'm the one participating in it... My point is I'm in Guayaquil now, not Babahoyo, and have a new trainer, who is also our Zone Leader, even though I'm not a Zone Leader, and just a trainee (for now, haha).
Like I said, this week has been UNBELIEVABLY slow, in terms of the time going by, and in terms of our efforts to hasten the work. Yesterday was especially slow, because they had this gigantic futbol (soccer) game between the two biggest teams in Ecuador, Barcelona and Emelec. This made it nearly impossible for us to contact, or even visit any of our appointments. Then again, yesterday was a day that, in Ecuador, is almost more anticipated than Christmas. So basically, yesterday was like trying to go proselyting during the Super Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and the World Series combined into one, in terms of the United States. I just hope we can have a little more of a chance to teach in the future, especially because last week was both my trainer's and my first week in this sector (I came from Babahoyo, and my trainer came from another city in Ecuador, called Ventanas).

The people here aren't as nice and humble as the ones in Babahoyo, but at the same time, it's so much greener and the food is so much nicer (looking), especially because there are TONS of Cangrejals (Seafood Restaurants that specialize in cooking Cangrejos, or Crabs) here. However, I can't go to any of them, because Elder Pagoada is allergic to Shellfish, so that's a bummer for the both of us, especially here, haha. Even so, it's REALLY pretty here, and there are plenty of bright, new opportunities to find new people to teach, and have some awesome new adventures.

Because it's technically Christmas, I want to take this time to give some super specific shout-outs. Thanks SO much for the love and support from my family, especially my parents, that I'm privileged to have for my serving on a mission, and I can't wait to see and talk to them when I Skype Call home. I want to give a shout-out to Elder Steve Siddoway, my Young Men's Leader, and the boss of the boss of my old boss of my old job (try saying that 5 times fast), as well as his family, for the fantastic Christmas card that they sent me. I want to give a shout-out, yet again, to my old home teaching families, especially those cute kids of theirs that I was glad to be able to teach before I go. It's going to blow my mind the next time I see those kids, and how much they've grown (physically and spiritually).Thank you so much, again, for everyone, for the love and support that I am able to feel, even if I am here on my mission in Ecuador. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and can't wait to write again and hear about all the awesome news next week. May God be with you all!!!

Con Sinceridad,
Elder Conner Duane Parke

Monday, December 15, 2014

week 13!!!! IM IN GUAYAQUIL!!! 12/11/14

I think I am dreaming. Can someone pinch me and wake me up from this insane past week? No? Well, guess I should just go ahead and make an update on how things have been this past sluggish, hectic, instigating, mystifying week. What is goin' on, everyone? Week 6 is now underway, and let me just start with how I'm not in Kansas (I mean Babahoyo) anymore... I'm now in Guayaquil!!!

Effective this very morning, I got transferred from my zone in Babahoyo to one of the three (I think it's three. Or maybe four) zones here in the great big city of Guayaquil! I got a completely new trainer, new district, new zone, and all new possibilities for all new adventures! Also, I'm really not sure how this works right now, but I think I'm in a trio (or a quad. I don't know, it's kinda weird). Obviously, I was kinda sad to leave the friends that I made out of my old trainer, district, and zone, but the will of God works in very unique, and usually very fantastic ways. I'm really gonna miss the friends that I made out of the members, as well, and they said that they're gonna miss me a ton, too. But I get the feeling that my time in Babahoyo is only done for now, and I'll be back eventually.

Starting literally after I finished e-mailing last week on my P-Day, my trainer and I were told to swap houses with some other elders in our zone. After that, our appointments that we made started to fall through, so we had the toughest time finding anyone to teach and preach to. It really took a toll on our faith, especially because not even our Less Actives (which we had a lot of in our area) weren't even able to follow through with our appointments anymore. But, my trainer kept telling me that this is just a bump in the road, and we just have to remain faithful and true to why we were there, and why the Lord saw it fit that we be tested a little, before we have some greater success later on. And just when I thought I was beginning to make progress again with learning the Spanish and having the motivation to get out there and teach alongside my fantastic trainer, I got transferred. -_-*

In between today (my being transferred) and moving into our new house last Monday, we had even more training in Milagro, and so we had to take buses yet again in order to get there and back. On the first bus I rode on, I was so tired that I forgot to take my wallet and put it from my hand into my pocket. So I ended up falling asleep, dropping my wallet on the bus, and forgetting it as we got off. Which is absolutely fantastic, considering it had my mission debit card, my personal debit card, $20 in cash, and my Medical Insurance card that I was issued all in it. 

I love all of you, and I'm so very thankful for the love, the support, for the prayers, and for the presence of the Spirit that I have been able to have, thanks to everyone. I was able to receive the Christmas Card from the Siddoway family last Friday, and it really gave me something to smile about when I needed it most. May God and His Spirit be with each of you to help guide you, protect you, comfort you, and love you in this wonderful life he has blessed us with.

Con Amor (Love),
Elder Conner Duane Parke

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Week 12!!! "I debated with a Evangelical Pastor... I think I won" 12/8/14

Does anybody else feel like this week has gone by a LOT slower than the others? ... No? Just me? Huh, must be all the trials... Anyway, what is up, everyone?! Week 5 is now underway, and lemme just say that I could really use a nap right now, hahahahaha!

I learned that I'm no longer progressing as quickly and efficiently with my Spanish as I need to and should be, which is beyond infuriating. As one of the results, I made my District Leader, Elder Gomez (who's from Colombia), really irritated when I called in to report about how our day went one night. I honestly nearly cried myself to sleep that night from how mad and sad I was about my Spanish... Until my Trainer, Elder Aguilar (who's from Honduras and is on the 15th month of his mission) let me know that not only is feeling like that normal, but that he's there for me. Heh, it's funny, because a lot of my friends in the CCM/MTC either got Latinos Nuevos Compañeros (Newbie Latino Companions), or Gringo/a Entrenadores/as (English-Speaking Trainers). I feel really unfairly blessed that I have Elder Aguilar as my trainer, because he's Spanish-Speaking (being from Honduras and all), and he knows how to speak English pretty well already. He's helped me so much on my mission, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I can only hope that when you are given the opportunity to serve a mission that you are able to have a trainer as fantastic as the one that I have been blessed to have help me become a greater servant and representative of the Lord.

Last Tuesday, my companion and I got the chance to have an appointment with this pastor of the Evangelical church. He had a really good time teaching us how we can't get baptized until we have that true, sincere desire to do so in our hearts. He was such a good pastor that he even read AND STUDIED both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, covers to covers (according to his words). Yet, he had the nerves to inform us that we are deniers of the truth, when all we did was share with him how the TRUE Church, as told in the Bible (in Ephesians 4, Matthew 10, and Hebrews 1, to be exact) has a very specific structure (*cough* one prophet and twelve apostles *cough*). Finally, after an hour of conversing with this insightful elderly pastor, he let us know that we outstayed our welcome, and it was time that we leave his humble abode.

In Quevedo, we were able to sit in a chapel for training from a member of the Presidency of America Sur (South America), Región Norteoíste (Northwest Region). It was a TON of doctrine that we were only given the opportunity of 5 hours to be able to sit and listen to and take notes of (10:00 AM to 3:00 PM). It was, from what I was able to get out of it (thanks to my Spanish Skills), about the Word of God, and the voice of God is "silent", making it EXTREMELY crucial for us, as missionaries of this Church, as Representatives of Jesus Christ, and as Messengers of God, that we need to listen with all of our hearts and all of our might, and with all of our Faith, in order to interpret through the promptings of the Holy Ghost what we need to say, how we need to say it, and what exactly it is that we need to do, in order to help each of these people come unto Christ.

This mission has undeniably been the toughest moments of my entire life, but it's through these tough times that I've been able to learn so much, in order to be the worthy husband and father that I need to become for my future family, in addition to what I need to know to help others come closer to Christ. I testify that our missions are one of the hardest, most difficult, most wonderful things that we can ever choose to do in this life on Earth. My testimony in this Church and its teachings has grown SO much from the challenges and trials that I have had placed in my path. But I know that my Heavenly Father loves me, and He loves each of His children. That is why He has given me and approximately 80,000 other missionaries the opportunity to be called of God to help others return to live with Him, through the divine messages that we are able to share with others all around the world.

I'm so thankful for the love and support that all of you have given me the chance to feel as I continue to serve on my mission here in Ecuador, and I'm so thankful for the ways that my Heavenly Father has blessed me in exchange for serving Him for these 2 years. I can't wait to share more of what I learned and experienced next week, but until then, may God's love be with all of you, for we are all children of God.

Élder Conner Duane Parké

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Week Eleven! 12/1/14

Hola, familia y amigos! Two days from today marks my entire first month, down here in Ecuador! Woo, I haven't died yet! Only 21 more to go!

(1) The mail I get here will only take a minimum of two weeks, not three. But, it will still take longer to get here, if it's been addressed to Mexico City, seeing as I am not there anymore. (2) The Spanish here, despite it being a combination of fairly fast Spanish with an Italian accent twist to it, has been surprisingly easy for me to be picking up, so far. I mean, I still need plenty of work, but my Spanish here is not as extremely awful as I think it is, haha. (3) English is not as scarce and futile here as I initially thought. Granted, (Ecuadorian) Spanish is obviously the primary language used here, the kids and some of the people in my ward like to test my abilities to translate and teach them Inglés. Which I find extremely fun, and makes me glad that I know English, hahahaha. (4) The people here are SO humble, in my opinion, because they are willing to cook for us, do our laundry, and put up with my mediocre Spanish skills. Also, the strangers here are a lot more welcoming in the fact that they say "Good morning (Buenos Días)" back to us when we do it. Try doing that in the US, hahahaha! But jokes aside, these are people that live in Cement Floor, Tin Roofed, and non-air-conditioned houses, when it can get as hot as 115 degrees here, despite the rain coming in the future. I salute these people for their hospitality.

 I couldn't be more grateful for my companion/trainer, and for the love and support that he has shown me. 

 I love you all, and can't wait to report on what more this fantastic calling and opportunity has given me the chance to experience. Until then, God be with all of you!

Elder Conner Duane Parke

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week Ten - Happy Birthday To My Dad (he's yet again turning 38!!!) and Happy Thanksgiving!!! 11/24/14

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!

Before I get started with another fantastic weekly update to kick off my third week here in Ecuador, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my fantastic dad, whose birthday was on the 22nd. He's turning "38" (again... Hahahaha), so I just wanted to say love you, Dad, and don't get too old all at once! ;)

SO much more Spiritual moments that I've been able to have here, but the one that takes the cake this week was the opportunity that I had to travel once more back to Guayaquil for a trip to the Temple, and a Zones Conference. The devotional that our Mission President, Presidente Riggins, gave was one that literally shook me in a way that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland does each and every General Conference. During his devotional, he pulled up a poll that each of us had the opportunity of taking earlier during our missions here. The poll displayed how each of us, as missionaries and companionships, were not NEARLY taking enough time to study the Doctrine, studying from Preach My Gospel, or with our Companions. And his words for us were (he spoke this in Español, but I'll translate it): "If we're not studying the Doctrine, what are we doing? If we're not taking up our time, studying the material that we should be studying to teach to our investigators (and so many others in our missions), then what exactly is it that we are spending our time doing?!?" 

 I just recently received some mail from the Taylor family, and seeing all those kids wish me luck on my mission makes me feel really glad to have so many people supporting me.

My Spanish is getting better each and every day, the food here is AWESOME, and the culture is different in a humble, unique, amazing way. We have several investigators, but right now, only one has been truly progressing. Her name is Carmen Escobar, she's 47, she's a shopowner and a less-active Catholic, and is REALLY interested in the Gospel. But, she won't go to Church, because she feels that she can't. This feels so exciting and fantastic, having the opportunity to share the Gospel with people like Hermana Carmen.

I love all of you, and thank you again for all the love and support for my serving a mission!

Elder Conner Duane Parke

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Bueeeeeeeeenos Dias, Familia y Amigos, from the ever-amazing, extremely humbling, always-toasty Babahoyo, Ecuador!!! Today marks my second week here, and I couldn't be more grateful to have the opportunity to be doing the Lord's work in such a fantastic city. The people here are just the most humble, selfless, amazing people that I have ever had the privilege of meeting. I'm almost jealous from how nice the people here are, despite this place being so... Simplistic, I guess you could say.

Allow me to take this time to talk about the showers that they have here: The showers here (at least, the ones we have in our apartment) have two settings - Cold... And colder, hahahaha! However, I've realized this past week that a cold shower is much more a blessing than a burden to have. At first, it does send a good chill down your spine, but a guy like me has come to find out just how stress-relieving a cold shower can be, after waking up each day for my mission. So just remember, if you ever are feeling more stress than you can imagine (from, for example, serving a mission, hahaha), a cold shower every morning will surprisingly do you a TON of wonders.

This past week, I've had the privilege of being a part of a lot of really spiritual moments. I got to participate in a skit with the rest of my district for a Talent Show, I got to bear my testimony to this family about the role of Prayer (especially in my mission), and I got to give my first blessing in COMPLETE Spanish. Granted, I butchered the blessing (and felt kinda awful about it), but I still feel grateful that my Heavenly Father, my Savior, and my Trainer all have the confidence and trust in me to do fantastic things like that, in the Lord's name, even though I've only been here in the mission field for only just over a week.

May God be with all of you until I have the privilege of speaking again next week (on my next P-Day, hopefully), and thank you all so much for the love and support that I have easily been able to feel while serving here in Ecuador.

Elder Conner Duane Parke

Also, the package we had the chance to converse about last week "just so happened" to arrive in the haul the very next day. I'll have you know that I inhaled the Pringles (after sharing them with my trainer, of course), and I gave the Pez as a gift to this fantastic hermana in the ward we're assigned to, Hermana Geoconda. I told her to consider it as a gift from the United States, haha!

I feel like I'm going to forget to tell you guys this, so I'll just say it now: I ATE MY FIRST FRIED EGG IN YEARS!!! A Member Family invited us over to their home for Lunch, and they served us rice (of course, haha), beans, and a fried egg. Obviously I was going to feel horrible if I didn't eat it, and my trainer refused to let me slide it onto his plate, so I just said to heck with it, and bottoms up.

There isn't a single day - heck, there isn't a single hour - that goes by here, that I'm not thinking about each of you guys back at home. I miss all of you guys more than absolutely anything, but I know (and I'm pretty sure I've begun to grow a testimony about) that I'm supposed to be here. I've had times here, already, where when I look at your guys' picture, I've come on the verge of crying from hearing in my head of each of you guys, AND my Savior, and my Heavenly Father, all figuratively saying to me in my mind: "I'm proud of you." It's been tough, and I know that it'll only get more tough. But I'm gonna give it my all, and then keep going.

Monday, November 10, 2014

WEEK EIGHT!!! 11/10/14


Hola Familia y Amigos de mi distrito maravilloso en Ecuador! Específicamente, la ciudad de Babahoyo!

Today was my first P-Day in the wondrous, extremely humble city of Babahoyo! Even though the Spanish here is WAY different than in the Mexico CCM, I still enjoy each and every minute that I get teaching, and preaching, and learning here. Now, onto answering some questions.

My trainer, Elder Aguilar (shown in some pictures he took of us), is from Honduras, and he's AWESOME!!! I feel extremely lucky to have him, and not just because he already knows how to speak English (in addition to his native language of Español). He's taught me SO much already, and I'm so grateful for the amount that he gives me each and every day that he is my companion and trainer.

The food here is really interesting, but really delicious. Almost every dish (if it isn't a delicious soup, I've noticed), is served with LOTS of rice. The first time my trainer took me to eat at a member's house, I could hardly put a dent in the plate, because of how much amazing food they gave us, along with a TON of rice. For those that plan on visiting Ecuador, just know that almost EVERYTHING that you will get the chance to eat here comes with a hefty, yet delicious serving of white rice.

Any mail that gets sent to me will take AT LEAST 2 weeks to get here, I learned. I guess that's why they call it "Snail Mail" in the Mission, haha! Any mail that gets sent to the Mexico CCM with my name on it will have to be delivered here to my Mission President by missionaries preparing to serve here. The time for packages will vary, because they will have to be re-directed from Mexico to Ecuador. Also, concerning packages, if they weigh too much, then they will have to go through Customs before I can retrieve any of them. 

On my first week here, my trainer, Elder Aguilar, took me grocery shopping. There, I bought Frosted Flakes (for Breakfast), Orange Juice (Gotta have that Vitamin C), White Rice (a must-have in Ecuador), Tuna, and supplies for sandwiches - specifically, I bought bread, lunch meat, queso (Mozzarella), Mustard, and Mayonnaise. All in all, I spent a beautiful $20 on groceries for my first week.

There are quite a lot of mosquitoes and other little buggers around here, but thanks to my careful habit of applying Bug Repellent every day, I haven't been bitten yet! Good thing too, because the Enfermeras (the Hermanas in charge of the Medical Clinic for our Mission) let all of us Gringos know that the Mosquitoes here do carry the disease Dengue, which is beyond awful, and will leave you bed-ridden for a whole WEEK with some of the most pain that you will ever have the misfortune of.

If you plan on doing a lot of walking in the streets here in Ecuador, be sure to pack some REALLY comfortable, durable shoes, I learned. The streets here are nowhere near as smoothly paved and clean as the ones in the United States. Here in Babahoyo, especially, because this is one of the more poor cities in my mission, there's TONS of stores, vendors, and trash. 

The weather here is pretty consistent, humidity and all. I'm not gonna lie when I say that I sweat a TON through my shirts and clothes each day that I'm out proselyting. Despite my efforts to apply lots of deodorant, as well as other precautions that I've tried taking, but there's just no way to dodge the heat here, unless you're practically used to living in this humidity and heat without sweating as much as I do, haha!

For my first week here, I've literally had ZERO time to personally study my Spanish/Castellaño, because we've had LOTS of appointments with members and investigators. I've had a couple of chances to try out my Spanish through teaching and some practice with my trainer, but my Spanish here is NOWHERE NEAR as good as it was in the Mexico City CCM. I need a lot more practice, a lot more time, and to take the time to understand that, even though I am here to proselyte, I am also here to learn. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: "The first convert that you will ever have as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is yourself."

I love each and every one that has shown their love and support for my serving a mission, friends and family alike. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to serve here, and I pray each and every day for how grateful I am to be on this mission, and devote this time to my Lord and Savior.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

I'M IN ECUADOR!!!! 11/5/14

Nov. 5, 2014

Hi, Mom, Dad, and Everyone at home! I just wanted to write you a late-night e-mail letting you guys know that I'm in Ecuador!!! Specifically, Babahoyo (I think that's how it's spelt). My companion said it would be okay if I wrote to you guys tomorrow, but I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm safe, I'm here, and I'm ready to have the toughest, greatest time of my life! I love you all!!!!!!!
Elder Conner Duane Parke

Monday, November 3, 2014

Awesome Missionaries

FROM: Robert and Sue Jones

My Husband and I are Senior Missionaries at the Mexico MTC.
We have enjoyed getting to know and love your wonderful Missionaries.
We are going to miss them!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

WEEK 6 10/30/14

Hey Mom (and Dad), how are things??? 

It's my final P-Day here, and then I fly off to Ecuador (technically Colombia THEN Ecuador) on Monday night, at 9:30 here time. I'm so nervous, but I'm WAY more excited than absolutely ANYTHING!!! I'm really going to miss it here, with the food, beds, and education concerning the Spanish Language all pretty much handed to me (and every other missionary here) on some silver platters. However, I do believe that the time has come for my mission to TRULY begin...

I've been more busy than I have EVER been in my whole life, so I didn't really think about taking that many pictures this week (perdóname AKA forgive me >.<). BUT, I did get a haircut this morning, so I'll be sure to send a picture or two of that, and I've pretty much got that mindset that I'm ready to preach to the good people of Ecuador!!! Sure it's gonna be a WORLD of difference there than here, but I know in my heart that no matter how hard it gets, and no matter what or how many crazy trials get thrown my way, I know that I've been called of God to be out here, serving as a representative of my Savior Jesus Christ. Even after my mission, I still won't feel like I've shown my thanks enough for His atoning for my sins, in order to give me the exceptional life that I have today.

I haven't gotten the cards you guys sent me yet, but no worries, because I still feel totally psyched and ready to leave the high walls of the Mexico MTC and have a BLAST teaching and preaching in the Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission. Even though I've come to absolutely love it here, for all that it's had to offer me for these past six weeks, I still feel and understand that it's time for me to get out there, and try my hardest to convert others by converting myself in the process.

 I love all of you guys, and I'm not gonna lie, that this has been the most difficult 6 weeks of my entire life. I have no doubts that it'll only get trickier and more complicated from this point on... For me, and for those that I care most about AKA you guys. May the Spirit, God's Love, and all His blessings He has to offer be with each and every one of you, and I'll make sure to pray for you guys every day I'm gone. Give everyone in the ward my best from here in Mexico (and in a week, Ecuador), and let 'em know I can't wait to come home with some epic Mission Stories. Anyway, I love you guys, and I can't wait to e-mail you guys again real soon!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Almost outta here!!! (WEEK FIVE) 8/23/14

Week 5 of 6, and in about 11 days, I head off to the ever-wonderous Mission Field in Guayaquil, Guayas, Ecuador!!! I'm more excited than ANYTHING to be able to get out there, and preach to the wonderful people there - in the fantastic language of Spanish - about the Everlasting Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ!

I'm not gonna lie, it's been tough, being away from home, my family, my friends, and just about everything I have come to own and love. But, I know both in my heart and in my soul that what I'm doing is the absolute right thing to do, devoting 2 years of my life to show my Lord and my God just how much I love them, and how much I desire to bring more of God's children closer to Him. Now, on to answering some questions.

My favorite food at the Mexico MTC/CCM so far are the Chicken Strips. However, they have these AMAZING ice cream bars that they occasionally serve called "Paradise", and believe me when they say that they have that name for an exceptional reason.

It's been surprising easy for me to do my own laundry, and not just because the washers and dryers here are the exact same models that I have at my house back in Meridian. Best part is all I've needed to buy in terms of washing my clothes are some bottles of Liquid Detergent at the store they have here, and one bottle takes care of both my Whites and my Colors. So it's been surprising, extremely easily to wash and take care of my clothes.

Out of the discussions that we've had so far, I would have to say that my favorite would have to be concerning the very first time you get to talk with an investigator, because I learned that if you're able to combine your choice in words, with the Spirit that you have to be EXTREMELY careful when trying to invite into your conversations, then you can sometimes make a convert out of an investigator within even the first or second visit.

The most important things that I personally have learned so far as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are the Power of Prayer, and the Power of the Spirit.

This has unmistakably been one of the toughest 5 weeks that I have ever had to endure in all my 19 years of life on this Earth. But, I know with all my heart and with all my might, that so long as I have faith in my Savior, so long as I immerse myself in His work, that anything and everything is going to be alright. Before I know it, it'll be 1 year after I've left, and even 1 month before I come home. I'm so grateful for all the love and all of the support that everyone I know has been giving me since I've left on my mission, and I couldn't be happier to be out here doing what I know I've been called by my Heavenly Father himself to do.

Friday, October 17, 2014

SEMANA 4!!!! (WEEK 4) 8/16/14

Hi Mom (and everyone else, LOL)!!!

I am swell. I'm just chillin' with my companion, writing you guys. I'll let you in on a bit of a secret... The members of my district are kinda jealous of the four letters that I've got from you guys so far, haha! They're even jealous of the swag-filled picture of Auston that he sent me.
Today, my district and I get to go to THE TEMPLE!!!!!!!! ... Well, the Visitor's Center, anyway, because the temple here is under renovation :/ It was fantastic! I took some really great pictures that I'll be sending in some other emails. I kinda wish we were able to go into the actual temple, but it was still a ton of fun to go to the Visitor's Center.

I bought a couple gifts for Auston and Leilani. I was gonna find something for Nika, but I couldn't find anything "unique" enough, haha! But, I'll be sure to get her something that matches her sparkling personality, hahaha!

Here are the pictures I took of Auston's and Leilani's gifts. Auston's is a t-shirt that says he's an Aaronic Priesthood holder (in Espanol, haha), and Leilani's is a Future Missionary tag meant for girls (Hence, Misionera). Hope they'll like it when I'll get to find the time to send them back to you guys!!!


I absolutely love my calling as a Zone Leader. My district, as well as the newer district, think my companion and I are the bee's knees ( O_O I did not just say Bee's Knees... )

Yesterday, I got Auston's letter and school picture. My district says he looks NOTHING like me when I showed it to them, haha! I'll keep it in my wallet, along with any and all the other pics that you guys will send me. I cannot believe that it's Week 4 already! Time flies SO quick, it's RIDONK! 

I miss you guys. I've had more trials here, in these four weeks, than I've had in the 11 years that I've had with you guys.  It's been unmistakably hard being here, away from you guys. But, I took what mom told me to heart. All of this will be completely worth it. I pray about you guys each and every day that I've been gone. I pray at least 10 times EVERY DAY since I got here, so yeah!  I know in my heart that the Spirit and the Love of my God is with me as I take this fantastic journey. I love you all! Have a fantastic day!!!

Elder Conner Parke

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9 2014 (Week Three)

Dear Madre,

I am doing quite exceptional here. I am glad to hear that you guys are doing fantastic as well. It's still pretty warm here in Mexico City, other than a cold front yesterday which dropped the morning temperature to 50 degrees! It's still surprisingly green here at the CCM (MTC), palm trees and all, hahaha! I got called to be the Co - Zone Leader of Zone 10 last night, and if I can just say, it is a privilege to have this new calling :D If you can, tell Auston (and Nika)  that I'm giong to take a special picture that I'd like to send to you guys next week when I have more time to talk, as well as send tons more awesome pictures! I've already made a lot of great friends here made up of basically my entire District, especially my flippin' awesome companion, Elder Badham. Our District is infamous for our Ping Pong Prowess, and we've been both loved and feared for each of our skills and contributions on the good ol' tennis of tables. ;) Tell the kiddies (if they don't get my reply snail-mail letters) that I really appreciated their letters. It means more than they know, hearing from them while I'm away. I understand that it can only get more challenging from this moment on in my mission, and the only thing I ought to do is immerse myself in what I should be, which is the Lord's work. I have admittedly gotten homesick more times than I could count, but so long as I remember why I'm here and not there, the time will go by faster in no time, and I'll be home before I know it. I love you guys so much, and always remember that I mention you guys in the dozen prayers that I say each and every day. I love you and miss you all, and can't wait to hear from you guys again next week!

Elder Conner Parke

P.S.  Try to see if you can have some Scripture Study with Auston. I think it'll really help him out. In addition, I'll be sure to mention him specifically in my prayers. Even though he's gotten rough and chipped on the outside, he's still that sensitive, lil' white boy of a younger brother deep inside. What I personally think he needs to do is build up his Spirit and Testimony, and learn to be more humble and teachable. I understand that it can be hard where he is, growing up with all those kinds of changes and thoughts racing through his head, because I was in his exact same position.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October 2 2014  (Week Two)

Hola, mi familia y amigos en Idaho!!!

First off, I'm gonna answer the questions I've been asked.

1) My companion, Elder Tyler "Batman" Badham, is one the most AWESOME MTC companions (even though he's my only MTC companion) I have ever had the epic pleasure of being roommates with here. We even share the common trait of being half-Pinoy! Also, all the Native Speaking missionaries and other people here call him "Elder Batman", which I personally find to be the greatest thing ever to make me laugh here, in this first week (even though he prefers Superman any day, lol).  And, as a matter of fact, he's even the District Leader, which technically makes me his "assistant". But yeah, he's a really epic guy, and I couldn't feel more awesome to have him as my companion here. :)

2) The food here isn´t all that bad, but I'm not gonna lie, it could be better. By this, I mean that I've already got a couple of "indigestion issues" from it, and I heard that that's pretty normal for the food from around here to do to you, so I can't complain, unless I'd rather starve, hahaha!

3) I am doing FANTASTIC here. I've made a lot of friends, I've picked up the language surprisingly well for only my first week here, and I even got to be a part of two blessings (one for an Hermana in my district, and one for my sick teacher, who came to my companion and I of all people for a blessing). Even though I have admittedly felt homesick a good few times, I'm still glad that I'm here, doing the Lord's work :D

4) PLEASE do not touch ANYTHING in my room until I get home. I don't have anything AGAINST it, but I would really rather come home to my room looking exactly the way it was when I left it. The reason being that one of the first things I want to do when I get home is flop onto my bed, and take a well-earned nap, haha! I appreciate the selfless gesture in mind, but I'd honestly rather come home to my home-sweet-home-same-old-same-old looking room. ;)

I will gladly like to give a shout out to my family (my mom, my dad, and all my siblings), Brother Siddoway and his family, and the Taylor Family (especially those cute, awesome kids that I was so glad to have the chance to Home Teach before I left on my mission. I'm specifically calling out that awesome kid of theirs, Caleb Taylor, for being SO excited to have me come Home Teach him before I left). I can't wait to hear from everyone while I am out here serving! Even though I am still just training at the Mexico MTC until the beginning of November, I'm still having a blast here, and making every minute count! I love you all, and can't wait to come back with some fantastic stories!

¡Nos vemos! 

Elder Parké

P.S. I can only respond to both e-mail and "snail mail" on Thursdays, which is my P-Day here. So I have to apologize for not replying back sooner! Thank you so much, though, for writing to me, and for the love and the Spirit that I can easily feel here, coming from back home.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 24 2014 (Week One)

Dear Mom,

Mexico is HUGE! The MTC here is very beautiful, and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures for you all to see.

My mailing address is:
Elder Conner Duane Parke
04 Noviembre 2014 10 - A
Carretera Tenayuca-Chalmita #828
Colonia Zona Escolar, Gustavo A. Madero
07230 Mexico, Distrito Federal

The estimated departure date for your missionary is 04 Noviembre 2014. The use of the
above address on all correspondence will greatly faciliate delivery to your missionary
at the MTC. Please don't send packages to this address.

I can't wait to hear all of you soon! I love you all!

Hermano Conner Parke