Hi, Mom. So, first of all, I'm sorry that I'm writing you guys a day late, but I'm just going to be direct and say that both my companion and I were stuck in bed ALL DAY yesterday with Food Poisoning. We suspect that it was this pizza that we bought to celebrate the 3 baptisms that we had last Saturday night, because the following Sunday, we were not feeling so well after we got out of Church. Before we knew it, we had to go home and stop proselyting early at 7 at night (as opposed to our usual 9 or 9:30). We were both taking turns waking up every hour that following night to use the bathroom, and we couldn't even leave our house at all yesterday. It BY FAR took the cake for the worst P-Day that both of us have ever had (so far, anyway) in our missions. Don't worry, we're feeling a lot better today, and we should be able to leave after lunch at 1 to proselyte and preach the Gospel. So, while stricken with Food Poisoning, it gave me some time to think about some of the smaller details (and by smaller details, I mean the trunky details, hahaha). Someone once said, "You never know how much you love something or someone until they're gone (literally or figuratively)." It hasn't been easy to be away from home for 16 months now, especially because it's been the longest that I've ever been away from my home and my family. It's almost scared me to both see and hear how much things have changed while I've been gone, but it always makes me glad to hear that a lot of it has been for the better. I can't lie when I say that I might cry when I come off the plane in September and see my family again after 2 whole years. Being down here has been beyond a humbling experience, and there's no doubt that I'm going to be able to apply the things that I've learned and experienced down here in my personal life afterwards. I never knew that I had such a passion and a desire within me to help people that I've never even met before achieve the salvation that not many of them are certain when it comes to where to find it. Before my mission, I was insecure, depressed, and admittedly very lost in my life. It never occurred to me just how significant a role this restored Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ played in my life. The other churches, I learned through a little bit of "research", have not quite grasped just how crucial the Repentance Process is in our lives, nor how if it weren't for the atoning sacrifice of the very loving, very merciful God of this world who gave His live for us all, we couldn't even fathom on returning to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We couldn't even fathom live after here on Earth, and we couldn't even be too sure if God even heard or answered our prayers and pleads for His help that we so obviously depend on. I've gained an extremely greater appreciation for what my Savior has done for me, and I'm even more grateful how I can better myself each and every day through His love, His mercy, and His grace. I love you guys so much, and I can't tell you guys how grateful I've been for the love and support that I've been given while I've been busy down here. Until next week, take care!!!
Con Sinceridad y Amor,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke
PS: Love you guys! Tell Chloe I love her!