Friday, May 30, 2014

Week 13 Penn State

 Hello Everyone!
TIS I, SISTER SPARKS! I am now at Penn State!!!! I LOVE IT!!! We are in a YSA branch, and it is so much fun! It's so cool to be with people who are around my age! It has given me such a determination to share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ because I know how much it has influenced my life and helped me with things all 20 year olds deal with! My new companion is Sister Wade, and she is SO AWESOME!!! We have become so close just within a week! We really have been able to support each other in ways I've never experienced! She is more than an answer to my prayers. Sister Wade has only been out 6 weeks longer than I have, so we're both still a light shade of green :) We're figuring this out together! 
State College is so different from my last area! There are people EVERYWHERE, and we take the bus everyday! Oh yeah, I forgot to say I'm in a walk area! It so awesome...especially because I get to walk off some weight! I haven't eaten sweets since Mother's Day though, so I'm doing well in that area! We do a lot of bus contacting. We get on the bus and sit next to our brothers and sisters we haven't met, and talk to them about the Gospel. A lot of people are very interested in learning about Heavenly Father. There is a large Chinese population here, and they have very little opportunity to learn about religion in China. It makes me so sad that they aren't taught that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them so much! It has been such a blessing and privilege to teach my brothers and sisters about the wonderful plan He has for us! 
P.s. Riding the bus is EXPENSIVE!! Get a bus pass if any of you happen to come to college here. 
We had the opportunity to listen to Jeffrey R. Holland as he spoke to the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Missionaries.  We talked a lot about the First Vision and words of the Savior when answering Joseph Smith's plea of which church he should join, "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." He then related this to missionaries personally. Sometimes we get caught up in the hum drum of things and start to think of missionary work as a list of tasks, but it's EVERYTHING BUT that! We can apply this to membership in the church as well! Do we look to mark of things on the "To do" list? Are we drawing near to Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him?  In Alma 5, Alma the younger is recounting the stories of his father, Alma, and how he converted very many souls to the Lord. In verse 12 it says, "And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God...." So Alma talks about conversion as being a "change or heart," right? Well, in verse 14, Alma then asks the people of the church if they have been truly converted, "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"
Have we been truly converted? Have we received His image in our countenances? Do our actions, words, and thoughts reflect the Savior? Are we treating the Gospel as a check list? If so, let's change that. What can we do to experience that mighty change in our hearts? I'll leave those questions with you, and I'd love to hear some experiences that you have had or things you do to continue your conversion! 
Elder Holland told us we are sitting on so much potential, and we need to let that potential out from under us! He used words like "explode, illuminate, pop, burst, expand." I love those words!!! My companion and I made up a handshake using those words, and we do it throughout the day. It's a fun reminder that we really do need to be expanding ourselves. We need to be constantly changing. <<that sounds a bit stressful, but really it such a blessing to know that we have weaknesses AND we have a way to overcome them. In Ether 12: 27 it says, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
I hope we can all continue to become better through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.
One amazing experience I have to share happened on Friday. We had set goals for the day, and we really wanted to get a referral. Sister Wade and I are both really bad at remembering to ask everyone if they know someone who would benefit from the message we have to share! That same night at 8:45, we were working on updating records, and I suddenly remembered we hadn't remembered to ask for a referral today. With 15 minutes left before the day was over, we said a prayer and booked it outside of our apartment and started searching for someone we could talk to. There was literally no sign of human life...just our luck. With 5 minutes left now, we starting sprinting to the other side of the apartment, and we saw a couple playing basketball. With very short, winded breaths, we asked them if they would be interested in hearing a message about building faith in Jesus Christ. They said no, but we responded with, "Do you know of anyone that would be interested in and benefit from our message?" WITHOUT EVEN GIVING IT A THOUGHT, this girl told us a name of a friend in the same apartment complex that we should visit. It was a miracle! I know Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers, people! In the Bible Dictionary under "Faith," it says, "Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ: in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith." I know we were blessed with this miracle because we prayed in faith. We knew Heavenly Father would help us receive a referral! I strongly believe our faith preceding the miracle was very important. All the miracles in the scriptures are wrought by faith, right? This miracle has definitely confirmed my faith that Heavenly Father really does listen to us. He loves us so much, and so willing to help us! His arms are outstretched toward us. Man, I'm so just happy right now! 
I hope everyone has a fantastic week! Love you all! 

Sister Sparks

Here is Sister Spark's new address

10 Vairo Boulevard Apt. #32 B State College, 
PA 16803

Me taking a selfie because I had the courage to eat an orange

Me saying goodbye to Sister Kramer

Me saying goodbye to Sister Stocking at transfers

 us at the birthplace of Memorial day!

some guy asleep on his porch

at the branch picnic! we played ultimate Frisbee, and I dominated!!

us traveling to see Elder Holland

sis. Wade

me trying on the Nittany Lion head!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


weekly update:

Hello! I'm out of time practically...I'm sorry! I'M GETTING TRANSFERRED! We're driving 4 hours to Pittsburgh to transfer meeting, and I'll find out there where I'm going! I'm excited! Don't send mail this week because I won't be there anymore! I'll send my new address next week. This week was pretty slow! We got booted out of a lot of appointments this week. Agency...gotta love it :) We helped a lady in our ward pack up her dorm, so that was fun! I'm officially not eating sweets, and I've been running a lot! It's hard to stay in shape! 

I would give details about the work this week, but I have to go! Just know this week was challenging, BUT I'm still happy because I've grown a lot this week. I understand more about the Atonement that I ever have before. When we sin, (well at least when I do) I feel tied down. I feel trapped. Through the Atonement, we can break that rope that is holding us down. Through perfecting our obedience, we become free. Of course we're not going to be perfect, but we can try our best to be like Jesus Christ. Smile this week! I'll let you know how I'm doing next week :) 

Sister Sparks

ps. one of the pictures is with my companion and an awesome lady in my ward who makes me call her mom!

believe it or not, this was someone else's request.

Some of the elders 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Week 11

Weekly update: Hello everyone! I'm on limited time this week, so this will be short :/

Monday: Super good P-day like usual. Our dinner appointment burnt the dinner hahahah so we had salad and bread. It was so funny!

Tuesday: We had some great lessons today! One of which reminded me of the importance of putting the Lord first. When we seek God's kingdom FIRST, everything else in our lives will fall into place. We will still have trials, but the Lord will help us when we put Him first :)

Wednesday: Really good day! We did some service (washing lawnchairs) and saw some great people! We talked a lot about sacrifice today, and it made me realize how important the Sabbath day is. When we keep the Sabbath day holy, we are showing Heavenly Father we are wiling to sacrifice things we love for something even better! The sacrament is a way we can show Heavenly Father we are committed to following Him and His Son. Keep the Sabbath day holy, and Heavenly Father will bless you! I've seen the blessings come as I've really asked myself what sacrifices I'm making to gain an eternal reward!

Thursday: We talked a lot about prayer today which was awesome! I know Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. Sometimes it's hard to recognize answers to prayers, and that's something I'm working on. Have confidence that Heavenly Father hears you!! Someone told me this today, "I wish I had an amish servant...when they stop working you just smack them with a shovel!" Terrible, huh!??? I couldn't help but laugh though...Pennsylvanians love to speak their mind!!!

Friday: Good day! Sorry no time!

Saturday: Good day! Service today :)

Sunday: Happy Mother's Day!! I got to talk to my family!!! It was soooo great :) Everyone seems so grown up even though I just saw them 3 months ago! By the way...I've officially been out 3 months!!!!! It's going by so quickly, and I still have so much I want to learn!! Ah! I'm so sorry I haven't been writing letters back right away! Just know I'm working on letters back to everyone who has sent one to me! Things are glorious in Greencastle! Go into this week with a big smile on your face because life is BEAUTIFUL, and we were intended to enjoy it :) Have a good week!

Sister Sparks

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 10 weekly rundown

Hello everyone! This was another great week! 

Monday: Last P-day was super fun...who am I kidding? P-day is always fun!! I LOVE playing basketball and volleyball with the other missionaries. AMERICA. We had some great lasagna, so that was good. Sister Stocking and I made a rap for our make-shift mother in our ward! HAHA she loved it

Tuesday: We visited some great people today :) I LOVE  the scriptures!! I love searching for scriptures to share with peeps! We drove out to Mercersburg today, and visited some people which was great! Sorry not much to say about today besides AWESOME DAY!

Wednesday: We went on exchanges today!! I was FREAKING out. I was going to be in my area with the Sister Training Leader from Gettysburg...which means I was put in charge! I was soooo nervous, but guess what?? I was fine. Lolz. It was a really neat experience. I was able to observe how other missionaries do the work, and I was able to build confidence in myself! I think I lean so much on my trainer, I forget the Lord gave me certain talents that I need to use to invite people to come unto Christ! 
The STL also fit into the washer and dryer....and the washer doesn't work now hahaha. AND she made me lock toes with her hahaha gross. 

Thursday: We exchanged back today, so I'm back with my wonderful companion! We had a great dinner once again! I've been really trying not to eat sweets, but then every family just has to whip up some delicious cake thing, and I give in EVERY TIME. Tonight my weakness was chocolate chip cookies. HAHA what would I do if I was serving a foreign mission? We learned a lot about family history work today from the family history specialist in our ward. Family Search is such a cool website! How amazing is it that we have the ability to help with the salvation of souls by performing saving ordinances for the dead? So cool! I miss going to the temple! 

Friday: We were able to see one of our favorite ladies today! She's leaving for the summer, so we will miss her, but before she leaves we've challenged her to read the Book of Mormon (start to at least) with a specific topic in mind. This is such a great activity to do! Everyone should do it! You can receive great insights as you focus on a certain topic. Pray for inspiration! 

Also, I ate another mushroom tonight. 

Saturday: Today was pretty lame honestly. NO ONE answered their door. It's Saturday...come on! It was a really long day of trying a lot of people and getting no answer. It was pretty discouraging, but it's okay! As long as we were trying our best, that's okay, right? I still feel like a successful missionary :) We drove to Timbuktu for our dinner appointment, and I knitted on the way there. I have a new love for knitting! 

Sunday: I love Sundays so much! Today was Fast Sunday. I love having the opportunity to fast. It increases our ability to feel the Spirit. When coupled with prayer, fasting can bring great miracles! Our investigators came to church again!!!! A couple of people who are less-active came to church as well! We were definitely blessed today. The testimonies that were shared were absolutely beautiful. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the church Christ set up when He was on the earth. It is run by Jesus Christ through a loving prophet and apostles. How did I come to know this? I read the Book of Mormon! When we receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, we also can know Joseph Smith was a prophet and Jesus Christ's church has been restored to the earth. 
Funny story: as I was walking into the little pew at church, I accidentally ripped off the little wood things that hold the Hymn books HAHAH. The wood hit the floor in a embarrassing! My ward thinks I'm a freak!

Just a few highlights for you! A lot of our appointments cancelled this week, so that was pretty hard, but that's okay :) I'm doing great! I wanted to leave you with a scripture! Alma 37:37 "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good..." I love this scripture! Our faith in Him grows when we pray, everyone. Remember to offer kneeling prayers when you arise and retire and often in between!  I promise the Lord will direct you!! I have felt direction come when I pray. Prayer changes things! ANNND that's all folks! Love you!

Sister Sparks