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