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!

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