Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 18!!!

What is up, family and friends? Week 11 is now underway, and it's been CRAZY this past week! I finally got a "haircut" (I've got a TON to explain about that), I've had the chance now to walk in rainstorms, thunderstorms, and cricket-storms (yes, I said cricket-storms), and I've even got some more super exciting, crazy stories!

Let me first start with explaining how I "finally" got a "haircut". So, for the past 2 months, I haven't yet had the pleasure of asking for a haircut in Spanish, nor while I've been here in Ecuador. I've honestly felt a bit scared to, because I was afraid that I might end up with a bald head, or mohawk, or something, haha! In other words, this morning was the very first time that I got the chance to ask for a haircut here in Ecuador, and in Spanish. Normally, when I go to cut my hair, I ask for number 2 on the sides and back, and short enough for me to still be able to comb it on the top. Well, I kinda messed up my instructions for the hairdresser, and ended up still asking for number 2... For my entire HEAD. >.< According to my companion and fellow missionaries, it looks great, but to me, it's INSANELY short, especially after not getting a haircut for 2 months like I didn't mean to do, but did. For the record, it feels surprisingly cool, but at the same time, my head feels almost as naked as if I would've accidentally asked for my head to be COMPLETELY shaved, hahahahaha! I'm WAY too embarrassed to send any pictures (sorry!), but at least now I'm able to feel the breeze flow through my hair... Or at least, what's left of it, hahahahahahaha!

So, because this is the month of January/Enero, it's also rainy season here in Ecuador. Recently, in addition to getting adequately soaked in both sweat and rain, I've also had the wonderful opportunity of, at night, the streets and streetlamps SWARMING (literally, I kid you not) with Crickets. These little buggers, when they're up and about at night, swarm the streets in search of food (tiny insects), light (streetlamps, the fronts of pharmacies and stores), and even a dark, snug place to call either temporary or permanent home (cracks, holes, and yes, this does include the cracks and other spots in our home, especially because we have lights... Obviously). Last night, I had the opportunity to find easily a dozen crickets in our house, and even a few more the very next morning that have slipped through the cracks under our doors and window screens. Now, obviously these little guys don't bite or hurt anyone, but they're still insects, vermin, and are not welcome... Especially because they LOVE to hide in spots like your shoes and keep you company in bed at night. EW.

So, when we're not proselyting, or contacting, or looking for opportunities to serve others, the four of us (Elder Tingey, Elder Martinez, Elder Pagoada and Yours Truly) have some VERY unique ways of spending our free time with each other in the mornings and on our P-Days. We crack some jokes, mess with each other, and my personal favorite, locking each other in our bathrooms while we're either taking a shower, or anything else that has our bathroom doors closed. So, what we do is take some rope that we have lying around, tie that around the doorknob, tie the rest of it to a wooden rod that we also have lying around, and with a little know-how, they're locked in until they ask pretty please with a cherry on top if they can come out, hahahahaha! This was actually something we did a few days ago to both Elder Tingey and Elder Pagoada, because they were both taking far too long in the showers one morning. So Elder Martinez and I thought we'd have a little fun with them for about 20 minutes. Did I feel bad about it? A little, but I also ended up laughing hysterically until my chest hurt and I hasped for breath, haha! But in the end, we're all friends, and exchange man-hugs and share a good laugh afterwards.

Before I go, I would extremely like to give a shout-out to my family, and for the limitless love and support that they have for me and my serving on my mission. Without a doubt, if it wasn't for them and for how much they've helped me learn and grow, and with time, decide whether or not I truly wish to serve a mission, then I wouldn't be here, bringing others closer to Christ, and having the absolute toughest, hardworking, challenging, greatest time of my life for the next 20 months.

May the Spirit of God be with all of you to provide you with the comfort, strength, and love that some of you, if not, all of you might be in need of (more or less) at this time. Until next week, thank you all for the love and support and the presence of the Spirit that I'm able to feel while I'm serving, thanks to so many of you guys! I love you all, and take care!

Con Sinceridad,
Elder Conner Duane Parke

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Week 17!!!!!

Hola, mis miembros de mi familia y mis amigos! Elder "Poderoso" (that means powerful, by the way) Parke here, and we are now entering DEFCON aka Week 10. I'm extremely tired, but for all those returned missionaries out there, they know about that good kind of tired you feel after working back-to-back each day, and wanting to just come "home", get some sleep, and do it all again the very next day, hahaha! Despite some of the bumps along the way, I couldn't be happier to be here, serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

First things first, I'm kinda recovering from some stomach pains that I've had for a few days now, but no worries! I'm perfectly fine, according to the Enfermeras Misionales (Mission Medics), and as of yesterday, I've been feeling well enough to continue persevering in hastening the work :)  Obviously, I need to be careful with what it is I put in my body (which I already have, so no worries there), and make sure that I'm getting a 100% balanced diet, even though I'm here in Ecuador. In other words, I was sick, but I feel fine enough to continue working, and preaching the Gospel.

Things have been a bit slow recently (even before I got sick), but that's not going to stop my companion/trainer and me from getting out there and finding those that we know are here, and have been specially prepared to hear what we have to say to them, concerning the Restored and True Gospel of Jesus Christ. We've been having some slight issues recently, especially with our Investigators "wanting" to come to Church, but "can't." Not only that, but this has been an issue with the Less Active Members in our area, as well. However, I believe in my heart (and I am sure that my companion Elder Pagoada feels the same way about this) that we were transferred here and he became my 2nd trainer AKA my "stepfather" for the reason and fact that these people NEED us. They may not want us, sometimes, but that isn't going to stop us from helping those who are looking for the truth, but haven't had the pleasure of finding it yet.

Obviously, my trainer isn't the most perfect of trainers. Obviously, I'm not the most perfect of trainees, either. But, even though it can sometimes be difficult for the both of us to be here (more specifically, with each other), I feel that, overall, I'm blessed to be here, and blessed to have him as a companion and my trainer at this time. Trials and tribulations, I learned from my studying, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But if we can see past the fact that they're trials and tribulations and see how they're placed in our lives for our benefit (one way or another), then it can make overcoming those trials and tribulations ten times easier, and later on, having the wonderful chance to receive and enjoy the blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for each and every one of us. My calling as a missionary isn't the easiest of callings, but in my eyes, it's one of the greatest callings one can ever receive in this lifetime, and it's one of the greatest privileges to be able to share this Gospel with those who can benefit from its teachings at this time, and in this dispensation.
 I love you all, and have a fantastic week! May God's Love and His Spirit be with you!!!

Con Sinceridad,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Week 16

I'm so tired... Can someone send me a package that contains some extra time for me to sleep? I'd be more than grateful for it... However, I don't think it'll be small enough to send in any boxes, so I'll just have to settle for the usual hugs and kisses in the cards, letters, and packages that I'm more than grateful to receive from everyone. But anyway, what's going on? This is my first blog post of the fantastic year of 2015, filled with tons of new opportunities to have an  of new adventures here in blazing, beautiful Ecuador!

I testify that it is through the limitless amount of love that our Savior has for all of us that we can overcome each and every one of the trials and tribulations that are placed before us. I know that this Church is true, and we have the blessing of receiving indirect revelation from God through His living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. I know that this Everlasting Gospel is one that is meant to specifically bless families, because it is through our families that we can learn to understand why it is we are here, why the things in our lives happen, and best of all, just how much our Father in Heaven loves us. I love you all, and can’t wait to see what this fantastic year has in store that I’ll be able to share!

Con Sinceridad,
Elder Conner Duane