Hi, Mom. So, as you guys can clearly see from my title for this week's entry, I had the one-of-a-kind opportunity to (once again, I guess you could say, because I got to do it in the Mexico MTC, too) shake hands and come face-to-face with a divine servant, prophet, seer, and revelator called by God. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Guayaquil last Saturday, and the Spirit that he brought with him is... I want to say pure, but at the same time, I can't seem to find the right spot-on description for it. For sure, I personally found it breath-taking, especially paired up with the talk he gave to us of the Guayaquil North Mission, in addition to the Guayaquil West Mission and the Guayaquil South Mission being present, as well. I absolutely loved how direct his teachings were, how sincere his voice was, and the doctrine he used to help us understand a little clearer was just mind-blowingly awesome. His wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, also shared a quick yet direct testimony about Missionary Work, and the unique kind of Spirit that it invites into each of our lives. It was a huge privilege to hear what Sister Rasband, Elder Montoya (Counselor of the Southamerica Northwest Area), and Elder Rasband all had to say about how we can truly, sincerely, and easily help those around us recognize us as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, and messengers called and sent by God. They instructed us that if we can help our brothers and sisters see the sparkle in our eyes and the happiness in our smiles, then they'll be able to recognize the love in our hearts that we have for them, and the desires we have for their salvation. In addition to that, Elder Rasband also answered some really interesting questions that some of the missionaries had for him about his past talk, "The Divine Call of a Missionary", as well as about Church Doctrine, in general. A sister missionary from the West Mission asked Elder Rasband about how we can more easily discern the promptings of the Spirit from our own personal thoughts and desires (as simple sons and daughters of God). In response, he quoted Moroni 7, which states that all good comes from God, and all bad comes from... Another source. If we can make the right decision and draw a firm enough conclusion based from what we can understand (thanks to the Light of Christ which we were all born on Earth with, and also the gift of the Holy Ghost which all of us Latter-Day Saints have been blessed with), then the answer ought to be simple, as opposed to unnecessarily difficult, at times. I just want to say how I learned a LOT from such a short yet extremely powerful time, being able to hear the words, the thoughts, and the feelings of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I pray that each of you guys can come to recognize each of the Twelve Apostles, and of course, the First Presidency (and the rest of the General Authorities called to edify this restored Gospel), as men (and women) with unbelievably strong testimonies about just how special, how important, and how great this Church and its teachings really are in our lives. Before I go, I just want to wish my dad a Happy Father's Day, and for being such a great example to me. I know that each of the decisions he made - and continues to make - to this day have been for the benefit and well-being of our loving family. Until next week, I love you guys, keep praying often, and remember to stay faithful and stay true to what you know to be true. Take care!!!
Con Sinceridad y Amor,
Elder Conner Duane "Poderoso" Parke
PS: I attached some pictures of this super weird fruit and plant that Elder Melzer and I found walking down the street last week.