Hi, Mom. So, to start things off, we had Transfers this morning, and I would just like to get it out of the way now that... I did not go anywhere, haha! However, my extremely awesome friend Elder Scribner was transferred. He is now a Zone Leader in Ventanas. Until the week after Christmas, we are officially a temporary trio here in El Empalme. In order to make sure that the Missionary Work doesn't completely plow itself into the ground like it will if we're not careful, we'll have to plan divisions between the three of us and some of the Priesthood Holders in our ward. Even though this is only going to be for two weeks, a lot can happen in two weeks, if there's anything that I've learned while out here in the field. On the other hand, I can be a very optimistic person, and a wise man once said: "If no one thinks your goals are crazy or impossible, then they're probably not high enough." Don't get me wrong. I know my limits. But at the same time, if we set our goals for as high as we can reach, then we'll never progress. In the words of President Riggins, "If you do what you've always done, then you'll get what you've always got." It's been a personal goal of mine to progress physically as well as spiritually while I serve my mission. I've lost weight, I've gained muscle, and I now honestly find it hard to bear my testimony without either crying (or freezing like a popsicle while standing at the Sacrament Meeting pulpit). I'm so grateful for the new-found testimony that God has given me about how essential this Gospel has been for my life. It gives me a little bit of shame that I'd be nothing without this Gospel, but it also gives me a much stronger desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Luckily, He's given me two years to have just a taste of the experience.
We've been preparing three guys for Baptism recently. Their names are Virgilio Cañarte, Simón Sain, and Alejandro Luna. All three of them are around 60, and their takes on the Gospel as well as our messages are so distinct and different that it just goes to show when they train us about the subject that is Teach People, Not Lessons. It's been quite the challenge to teach each of these guys, especially with the specific challenges and obstacles that each has. I've also learned that, even though it should be, the Gospel's just not for everyone. What I mean when I say this is one of the most heartbreaking facts that I have come to know as a missionary: We can't save everyone. If we're not careful, then we can go from doing everything that is in our power to help someone to wasting not only our time, but the Lord's time, in helping someone that doesn't want your help. I pray every morning and every night that God will prepare a way for us to find those whom He has prepared, and that in His time, we'll find these people and be recognized as missionaries sent from God. In addition, I thank him each and every occasion I get for giving me the blessing of simply being here in
messenger of God and a representive of Jesus Christ and His true Church. Ecuador
We'll be having our Christmas Party next week, when all of us in the
Mission (Ecuador Guayaquil
North Mission) will get together in
and have one of the most amazing banquets and talent shows that I personally
have seen. Last year was so awesome that I can't wait to see just what this
year has in store. We've been preparing a musical number as a zone (Zone
Quevedo Sur/South), which is the Spanish Version of Little Drummer Boy. Because
we weren't necessarily expecting Transfers, we'll be allowed to sing and
perform with the Elders and Sisters that were in our zone prior to Transfers
this morning. After that, when we'll be getting back here to El Empalme, Elder
Wilson and I will be looking for a way to Skype call. We might have to simply
call in a public cyber, but I'd like to see if, by any chance, we can find a
member whom will help us. Regardless, I'll be more than grateful to video call
again, and (spoiler alert) I might cry, to be perfectly honest. Guayaquil
More than anything, praying has been one of the most important and essential tools for me during my mission. I always knew deep in my heart that God hears and answers our prayers. I will admit that my faith has wavered, but I can now bearing living witness and testimony that God lives, He loves us, and He does indeed hear and answer our prayers. It gives me a great amount of relief to know that He knows us, and He especially knows that this is anything but easy, to be here, and to leave our friends, our families, and our possessions. People cuss at us, people even throw things at us (I kid you not, a kid passed us and really threw bread at me last week. I was speechless), and it can be one the most difficult, discouraging things to be here. But, I've survived over half, I can surely survive the rest. I can only wait in anticipation for what the future has in store. I'd just like you all to know that I've been praying like nuts about Chloe. I love that little boxer dog more than just about anything, and it's been killing me that I can't be at home right now. I know in my heart that what I'm doing is right, and there are blessings in store for the sacrifices we make in life. Until next week, I love you guys so much, keep praying often, and have a Happy Holidays!!!
Con Sinceridad y Amor,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke
PS: I got my Peanut Butter package last week, and I literally had to contain my happiness from making me uncontrollably scream of joy. Also, I got a huge kick out the AWESOME pink socks that I get the feeling Leilani sent me. Okay bye!