Monday, July 27, 2015

WEEK 43!!!!

Hey, Mom. Let me just start off with how I finally got the package with the new socks and wallet! I was so freaking happy, and everyone in my zone can agree, hahahahaha. However, I still haven't gotten any of the other packages, letters, or stuff from Kelly and Sherri. But, according to my good friend (who is also the Materials Secretary) Elder Moreno, it should be coming any week now if it isn't waiting in Customs already. That being said, I'm still waiting with anticipation for it, and I'm going to share whatever it is that they sent me with everyone, if possible.

I'm really glad to hear that everyone's doing awesome. Tell Leilani for me that the best parts that she can look forward to after getting her wisdom teeth and tonsils out are endless bowls of ice cream and milkshakes, hahahahaha! Jokes aside, that's really cool to hear how she's doing everything she possibly can to get ready for her mission. Let me know how she's doing with the spiritual part about getting ready to serve, too. You know, reading and studying the Book of Mormon, Preach My Gospel, and when she gets her Patriarchal Blessing. By far, my favorite part when I was getting ready to serve was when I got my Patriarchal Blessing.

Normally, like a ton of other missionaries, I wasn't expecting time around me to be going by as smoothly and quickly as it's been. The kids are growing so much (both physically and spiritually), and I had to take a sec or two to re-read the super awesome news about dad and his new job. That's pretty mind-blowing, if you ask me, hahaha. As for me, I'm just cruising on by, trying to enjoy any and all the little miracles that are around me, which includes the blessing of writing and hearing from you guys each week. Even though the mission can sometimes be admittedly discouraging, I can't forget (especially because it holds a place in my heart) that I'm not just a missionary right now. I'm a representative of Jesus Christ. Alongside my companion, it's up to me to do anything and everything I can to help and invite those whom the Lord has prepared at this time to come unto Him. It's going to be hard, but it was hard even for Jesus. My companion helped me see that in the Scriptures that, even though we will be hated by man, we will be rewarded for our perseverance, diligence, and our efforts to Hasten The Work.

I don't think that I'll be able to write the Taylors a hand-written letter, because like I said, the mail system here is pretty klunky. If you guys can do me a gigantic favor, let them know that I miss them (especially those cute little kids) a lot, and I miss the blessing of visiting them with Brother Hunt. Let me know too how that cute lil girl Jordyn is doing too. I'm kinda surprised that I still remember how often that tiny little loved to smile, haha. Let Caleb and Cameron know that I miss talking about Football, Movies, The Office, and other crazy things with those boys. It was an absolute blast and a great privilege to get to know each of those guys before I left, so without a doubt they need to know how I'm doing here, too. Thanks a ton, and I'll talk to you guys next week! I love you guys so much, and don't forget to keep praying often, and look out for each and every one of the little miracles that God places in your life to lift you up :) Take care!!!

Con Sinceridad y Amor,

Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke

WEEK 42!!!!

Hey, guys. Let me just start off with how even though my mission's been going by in a flash, it feels as if I'm just running into a brick wall over and over again. I mean, I'm honestly not sure if this is meant to happen, or this is a demonstration of what I deserve, or something. We had 5 baptisms in our first 2 months as a companionship, but now... I'm really not sure what's going on...

Even though our companionship has never been better than it is right now, the baptisms... Stopped. We've prayed, we've fasted, we've offered service every single day, we've asked all of our members for references, we've asked all of the friends of our members for references, and most importantly, we've knocked on EVERY door in our sector... TWICE. I'm fairly certain that we've tried everything we could to find new investigators / new families to teach. But, nothing seems to work.

However, I'm not going to give up. Not now, and most certainly not for another 14 months. I've worked too long and (in my personal opinion) too hard to give up now. It may be slow now, but things can only get better, I believe. It's for this reason that I couldn't be more grateful for the love and support that I've been able to feel and receive through each of your guys' prayers. It may be painfully hard now, but I look extremely forward to the day, when I can look in the eyes of my Mission President literally (and when I can look in the eyes of my Heavenly Father figuratively), and give thanks for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and be able to bring people closer to Christ, and receive His restored Gospel. Until next time, take care everyone, and keep praying often! Oh, and I'm really sorry if I haven't received any of the mail that everyone's been sending to me. The mail system here is beyond sketchy, and I'm still looking forward to about 5 packages, hahaha!

Con Sinceridad y Amor,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke

PS: (To My Family) If you guys can, can you PLEASE send me a copy of my Patriarchal Blessing for me to read and study? I can't seem to find the copy that I took with me on the mission. Thanks!!! Love you guys!!!

WEEK 41!!!

Hey howdy hey! How's it going, family and friends? Elder Poderoso Parke, and let me just say right now that the weather here is just about as unpredictible as the weather in Idaho. The reason I say that is because the day that I told my companion that I'm not going to bring my rain jacket with me... IT RAINS! IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY! The even weirder part is that it's been cloudy all this past week, but the only time it truly rained was the day that I didn't have my jacket. Don't you guys just love the little trials that God places in our paths to try our patience such as that? I know I do, hahahahahaha!

So, I recently heard that the person that misses me most (aside from my cute dog Clark) is my younger brother, Auston. If anyone doesn't know yet, that tall, skinny white boy's a fireball both on and off the tennis court. It almost scared me when I saw how tall he's gotten when I video called my family for Mother's Day. When I left for my mission, he was as tall as my sister, Leilani. Now, he's taller than me! I miss that kid more than anything, because he's got a firecracker of a personality. I have faith that Auston can do just about anything that he puts his heart and mind into. One of those things being that he's going to become the next Pete Sampras AKA Tennis superstar. I miss you tons, little brother, but know that you got a special spot in my heart. Not even being down here in Ecuador can I forget finding Auston awake at 6 in the morning, playing Minecraft on the weekends, hahahahahaha!

The work's been a bit slow lately, so an idea that my companion and I got from our Mission President was to try going out in Proselyting Clothes ON P-DAY! It's a little crazy, but at this point, we're willing to do anything and everything we can to find those souls that Heavenly Father has prepared to received the Restored Gospel through us as tools in His hands, and representatives of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The success may not come right away, but both my companion and I know that if we keep giving it our all, the blessings and success that we truly deserve will come. Until next week, I love all you guys, keep praying often, and thanks for all the love, support, and especially the prayers! Take care!

Con Sinceridad y Amor,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke

Monday, July 6, 2015

WEEK 40!!!

Hey, Mom. It's been pretty slow down here, lately, but that's not going to stop my companion and I from continuing to give it all we got. We've been through quite a bit, especially these past couple of weeks. So, there's been a lot of talk lately about transfers and my possibly becoming a trainer. But, honestly, I don't think I can ever become a trainer as "effective" and "efficient" as my companion, Elder Alcantara. I don't think I will ever be able to be as direct about the mistakes that my future trainee will make as he was with me. I don't think I will ever be able to deal out machetes as easily as he was able to. I don't think I will ever be able to (most importantly), help any and all around me as well as he was able to. I honestly couldn't thank my companion enough for all that he's done to help me become the missionary and representative of Jesus Christ that I know so strongly now that I am. 

I'd like to know... Has Leilani read those Scripture Chains that I sent her. The reason I'm asking is because my companion showed me both of those chains. Both of them have really opened up my eyes as far as my capabilities and potential not only as a missionary, but simply as a child of God. But anyway, not too much has happened recently. Our sector and our work has been a bit slow, but we're still inviting as many people as we can to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him and His restored Gospel. Until next week, I love you guys, and keep praying often!

Con Sinceridad y Amor,

Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke

WEEK 39!!

Hey, Mom. I'm glad you guys got the photo that Sam took. He's actually not from our ward, haha. He's a really good friend of the Padillas, who are my recent converts, and also the family that helped me be able to Skype Call you guys for Mother's Day. Him and his family were visiting the Padillas for Father's Day yesterday, and decided to ask me if he could ask me if he could search me on Facebook. I said sure, why not, and before I knew it, Leilani had accepted his friend request, and he wanted to take a picture to send to you guys, hahahaha. But yeah, he's alright, and I'm not just saying that because his dad's a bishop, haha.

I couldn't be more grateful to say Happy Father's Day to my awesome, supportive dad. The reason I can't help but think about playing Call of Duty alongside him even though I'm down here in Ecuador serving a mission is because... I honestly wouldn't trade those memories for anything. I know I've gotten under his skin, and we've had our father-son fights before, but I can't help but love and miss my dad (and the rest of my family) more than ever. Especially during Father's Day, and seeing all these happy families spending time with each of their dads.

Before I go, I just want to say how stressful it can be down here as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The reason I say that is how much work it is. But, I know with a surety in my soul and in my heart that what I'm doing is right, even though it can be hard sometimes. If I didn't mention in my last e-mail, last week marked the 4 month-aversary of the companionship between my Peruvian companion, Elder Alcantara, and myself. That's the longest time that the two of us have ever had a companion in either of our missions. Even though we've argued a lot, we've also been there for each other through the good times, as well as the not-so-good. I just want to extend a quick message of gratitude for having such an awesome companion as mine that has helped me learn so much.
Take care, everyone, and thank you so much for the love, support, and prayers!!!

Con Sinceridad y Amor,

Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke