Friday, June 27, 2014

Week 17

Hi! Okay, so, it was a hard week! 4 of our investigators dropped us, so that was really really really hard! Sister Wade and I decided to fake cry for five minutes while drooped over our kitchen chairs to make us feel better...for some reason it worked, and we ended up laughing :) I know Heavenly Father has a plan for each of his precious children, so I know those individuals will be taken care of! How amazing is it to know that our Heavenly Father is tender, merciful, loving, and everything that the word "Father" stands for!? Oh man, I just love Him!
By the way...HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!! I am so grateful for all of the Father's that have influenced my life! Excuse the cliche phrases, but I know I would not be the person I am without my dad. He has taught me so much about how to become a true daughter of God. I am so grateful I was born into the family I was. Families are so important!!! If you haven't seen the Mormon Message "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father," WATCH IT!!! It beautifully shows the similarities between earthly fatherhood, and Heavenly Fatherhood! He loves us even more than our earthly fathers...if you can even imagine that!!
This week I have really noticed the unity between Sister Wade and I, and I KNOW that comes from the Spirit. We have been able to teach very well together, and it just flows! Before I was very anxious/nervous about teaching, and I didn't believe my mouth would be filled with words if I just opened my mouth and spoke! I know for a fact now that the Lord truly does give us the words to say. Another cool experience I had this week was in a lesson where nothing was going as we had planned, and a scripture came to my mind that I had read in my last area, but I had NO idea where it was. I decided to flip open my scriptures, and GUESS WHAT!? The scripture I thought of was right in front of my face. It was such a confirmation that this is the Lord's work, and He knows what His children need.
3 of our investigators are still set with baptismal dates, so we are very grateful to be teaching them and helping them progress toward making those sacred covenants with God! Some things our investigators' said that really touched me: 
1."When I took the sacrament, I felt like a new person. I just felt such a change within me. I know I need to be better at reading the Book of Mormon, and I'm going to do all it takes!" ....yeah. #nuffsaid
2."I enjoyed the way the speakers were able to share personal experiences! It was very cool!"
3."Yes, I enjoyed the talks. It's like I already know it's true, so it's not so important that people tell me." haaha I had to laugh at that one. So cute.
This week we took a tour of the green houses on campus, and it was SO COOL! There were hydroponic (probably didn't spell that right) that were just floatin' in the water. The roots weren't even connected to anything! I guess the plant is able to grow because of the minerals in the water. Guess where the minerals come from? Fish poop. That's poop. They had two huge tanks of fish, and they pump the waste into this other tank and then into the plants' water! I was so amazed! We fed the fish too :) 'Twas fun.
Well, this transfer was a short one because we're getting a new mission president on Friday! Sister Moss (in my district) is getting transferred. She's been in State College for 6 months! I absolutely love Sister Moss. I instantly got along with her. She knows who Miranda Sings is!!!! You bet your bottom dollar we talked like her 24/7! hahaha the best. This Chinese convert in our branch added me on Facebook and watched my Miranda Videos. At Institute he says, "Oh, hi, miranda!"
I am so sorry for the emails/letters to which I haven't been able to reply!! I wish I had more time! I'll probably only be emailing my family, but whoever wants to write me letters, I would love them!!! 10 Vairo Boulevard Apt. #32B State College, PA 16803.
I'll leave you with a spiritual thought: I hope I haven't shared this one already. I have recently been OBSESSED with this scripture: 3 Nephi 9:13-14, "O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." Come unto Christ. Be perfected in Him. Repent. He will receive you. I have learned so much about what Christ does for us! I have experienced life without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I have experienced my life with it...let me tell you somethin'...I'm never going back!!! I was burdened down my mistakes I made, and I can only tell you the happiness and joy that comes from repentance and forgiveness. Those feelings of guilt and shame have been replaced with peace and joy! We are infinitely more than our mistakes. We are sons and daughters of the Most High! All I can say is, come unto Christ! You will find eternal life!
Sister Sparks

. this is garret! he got baptized a couple weeks ago!

 doing ballet on p-day

brushing teeth

this is Chen Chen. She's getting baptized July 19!

 us cleaning the font before Garett's baptism

District meeting

feeding the fish

at cracker barrel

this is us fake crying after we got dropped by 4 people

me crying because agency is so beautiful!

 heel clicks with Loveday because her lesson went well 


The Franklin gang

hahahaha i love Linda

lookin' HECKA HAGGARD, but this is Richard :) He's the one who looked at my Miranda videos. I love him!!!!

nicole :)

i guess i'm not that fat

 our ward missionary Rachel. we love her!!!

rainy day pics

. us singing

my Stl Sis. Smith  I LOVE HER!

. garett again

. the crew before zone conference. the tall one knows Tyler!!!!!!!

HAHAHAH Rachel and John

nicole again

Sis. Moss clogs too! We have a video of us clogging and cleaning the font at the same time :)

. warshing the font 


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Week 16

Hello everyone! I'm so excited to report this week! I probably won't include all the details of each day, but I want to share a few highlights!

We met with one of our Chinese investigators who is just the sweetest guy ever. The language barrier is pretty big, so it's hard to communicate sometimes, but it is AWESOME because the Spirit is a universal language :) We asked how his Book of Mormon reading had been going, and he said, "I just finished the second chapter in Nephi." I thought Awesome! He read a chapter. We asked what he remembered in the chapter, and he said, "Well, it seems like Lehi is about to die." Wait, what!? Lehi doesn't die until 2 Nephi!!!!! HE HAD READ ALL THE WAY INTO 2 NEPHI!!! I was freakin' out! We all ran around the room doing heel clicks because we were so pumped! We watched a video of the Prophet and Apostles testifying of Jesus Christ, and afterward he said, "I think the Prophet and Apostles are saying that Christ is still alive. I am very happy to hear this news." Oh my goodness.....are you as excited as I am? The Spirit was very present in that lesson, and I'm so grateful! It's so amazing to see someone make changes in their lives to bring themselves in closer harmony with Christ's teachings! Heavenly Father loves all of his children, and it's such an amazing opportunity to help these precious Chinese souls come to know that God lives!!! 

By the way, I've been officially been out 4 months! #ahhyeah 

Another highlight: 

So I also went on exchanges this week, and I learned a valuable lesson! My Sister Training Leader wanted me to set a goal for the day that I could really focus on! I decided I wanted to figure out what things I've really been converted on, and share those experiences with others. This highlight isn't about the exchange, but on the exchange I realized one thing I wasn't completely converted on was fasting.
A couple days later Sister Wade and I were prompted to invite one of our investigators to fast. He has been feeling a little bit frustrated because he feels like Heavenly Father isn't answering his prayers. So, we prepared ourselves to fast on Sunday. I always knew fasting was important, but I never really saw results from it--as you could guess, my faith was a little lackin'. Sunday rolls around, and we call our investigator to make sure he's awake for stake conference. He says, "Well, I don't think I can go. I'm really busy...I have to write a paper and study for my test!" Our ward mission leader told him, "There is always going to be a paper to write or a test to study for. You just have to decide what's more important." He quickly agreed, and came to stake conference! After the services, we asked him how he was feeling. GUESS WHAT! It was a miracle! He really felt good about coming! He said, "Thank you for making me come. I feel really good right now. I feel like the Lord will help me with my homework." Such a neat experience! I know fasting, couple with prayer, is a way to show Heavenly Father we reallllllyyyy care about something. By fasting, we sacrifice something good to receive something even better. I am so grateful for that experience! 

So we have a BAPTISM on June 28July 5, and July 19. Heavenly Father is truly blessing us. He's helping us reach our goals! I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to help my brothers and sisters in this area come unto Christ!!! 

Sister Sparks

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Week 15 baptisms

I'm super limited on time this week! Sorry! Some of the members from my companion's last area showed up at our apartment today, so we've been showing them around State College!
This week was amazing as always!
Tuesday: We invited one of our Chinese investigators to be baptized, and she accepted :) July 5YAYA!!!!!!
Wednesday: We had a really cool experience in district meeting today. After we had our lesson, we split into different groups to roleplay. Our zone leader was our investigator, and we were roleplaying inviting him to pray everyday. While we were teaching, I didn't think much of it. I just thought it was a good roleplay. Afterward, when we were talking about it, our zone leader said, "Holy cow. That was a really cool experience! When I was confused, Sister Wade jumped in and gave a perfect explanation. When I didn't feel involved, Sister Sparks, you asked a question. Right when I thought you should insert a scripture, you turned to the perfect one!" I didn't say this to brag because TRUST ME...this is nothing I'm able to do on my own. I share this because it was so neat to see how Sister Wade and I really taught in unity BECAUSE the Spirit taught through us. ahhh!!! So cool.
Institute was amazing this week! We learned a lot about the First Vision of Joseph Smith. I am so grateful Heavenly Father calls prophets. He has always worked the same way! #blessed
Thursday: Okay, we had something AMAZING happen today. I don't want to use names, so I'll call this investigator Sarah. Sarah had come to a couple of church activities with her friends, so we had met her a couple times before. Tuesday, we saw Sarah on campus, and we actually started talking to her about her religious background, and it turned out she was really interested in talking to us! We set up an appointment for Thursday and parted ways. On Wednesday, our ward mission leader found out we had a meeting with Sarah, and he said, "No way!? I've been ignoring this prompting for a couple days now to ask her if she wanted to talk to the missionaries. Sisters, she has been prepared." CAN YOU IMAGINE OUR EXCITEMENT!? The next day, Thursday, we taught Sarah in the ward mission leader's home. It was a pretty short lesson, but it was PERFECT. We talked for a long time about how we have a Heavenly Father who is aware of us. He loves us so much! He has a perfect plan for us, and sometimes it's hard to see His plan, but we can rest assured He has everything under control :) Of course those weren't the exact words we used, but this information really touched her! The Spirit was so strong in that lesson! I embarrassed myself and was crying the whole time. Sarah was crying, our ward mission leader was crying, his wife was crying....yeah. Heavenly Father was trying to reach Sarah, and I'm pretty sure she recognized that! gahhh it was amazing.
Friday: We had a really cool lesson tonight. Sorry I don't have time to include much detail! We taught about the Plan of Salvation and watched the Because of Him video on WATCH IT! I'm sure most of you already have :) I am so grateful for Jesus Christ who offers us the opportunity to live with Heavenly Father again.
Saturday: BEST DAY EVER!!! The other sisters in our ward had an investigator baptized today!!! Let me tell you, this boy is amazing! He had never gone to church in his life, but the sisters invited him oneSunday, and he just showed up! Since then, he has made huge life changes, read the entire Book of Mormon and started in Doctrine and Covenants, and was, of course, baptized! He was BEAMING! A lot of our investigators were at this baptism, and it was an amazing experience for them! Our investigators said things like, "I felt very holy. There were literally tears in my eyes. I was so happy for him! I could see Jesus smiling down at us. It was like a new start." The Spirit was so strong!! Sarah, the investigator I told you about earlier, was also at the baptism. We sat down afterward and asked her how she felt. Guess what her response was!? "I realize that if I want to feel the Spirit all the time, I need to make a covenant with God." ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!????? She wants to read the Book of Mormon and meet with us everyday! WE ARE SO BLESSED! We will be preparing her for baptism soon!

We had another lesson with one of our investigators who has passed up two of his baptismal dates now. I am so sad for him! We have really been praying to know what will help him, and we were prompted to invite him to fast with us next Sunday. It was sort of a random thing which I have never invited someone to do before. Heavenly Father knows what's best though, right? The second part comes on Sunday!
We had another lesson tonight! We were planning on teaching the second half of the Plan of Salvation, but we felt prompted otherwise. We talked about the Atonement and watched the Because of Him video. This touched our investigator so much! At the end of the lesson she said, "I need to stop complaining and just do it. I need to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and come to church. I've made up my mind... I will do whatever it takes!" It was SO amazing to hear that!! If we just read, ponder, and pray, Heavenly Father will tell us what is true! It's amazing!
Sunday: We had a lesson before church where we talked to our investigator about baptism. He is preparing for June 28, but is worried because his final is the same day! We know baptism is so important, and HEY, what better way to prepare for taking a test than to be baptized!? It was so cute because in his prayer, he said, "Please help me be baptized as soon as possible." Yeah...I know. 
A lot of our investigators came to sacrament meeting to see the confirmation of the young man that was baptized. The Spirit was so strong! Okay now here's the second half of the fasting story from Saturday.Saturday evening, Sister Wade and I were second guessing our invitation for this boy to fast. Heavenly Father heard our prayers because the topic of Gospel Principles class was ........FASTING!!! It was perfect! Our investigator was engaged in the lesson, and we really think he understood the importance of fasting and what it can do for us!!!
This was such a good week! I am so excited!!!! I am so excited for the baptisms we have coming up! Not because I just want to have someone be baptized so I can feel good about myself, but because I know how necessary baptism by a worthy Priesthood holder is. Baptism is such a blessing. We can start our lives over as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is such a privilege to help my brothers and sisters enter into the waters of baptism and receive so many blessings!
Sister Sparks

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Week 14

Hello! How was everyone's week?
I had another amazing week!
Monday: We went to Boalsburg which is the birthplace of Memorial Day I guess! It was super fun! I think I sent a picture of Sister Wade and in front of an American flag there :)
Tuesday: I emailed on Tuesday because the libraries were closed. We started talking to this guy from India, and after we taught him a little bit, we invited him to say a prayer. He didn't really understand I guess because when we huddled in a circle thing and folded our arms, there was no sound. Sister Wade and I looked up, and his eyes popped open, and he smiled as if he had just said the best prayer ever. We looked at him, and he said, "OH! Okay yes I will say it out loud." hahaha it was sooo funny.
Wednesday: I went to my first district meeting in State College today! My district leader is so awesome. I actually played the opening and closing songs on the piano, and HOLY COW the Lord blessed me for trying because I honestly had no idea where my hands were going. It was pretty cool :) In the meeting we talked about baptism and practiced inviting people to be baptized. It really isn't a scary thing when we understand why baptism is so important! I love Alma 7: 14-15: "Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism." 
Sister Wade and I took what we learned and applied to our investigators! We now have three investigators set with a baptismal date! It's so amazing to observe people who truly want to follow Jesus Christ. Baptism is such an amazing opportunity :) I'm so excited to help these children of God prepare to make sacred covenants with Him!
Do you remember that referral story I told you about last week? Well, we contacted her and set a time to meet. We went over at the scheduled time...she didn't answer...BUT a miracle happened!!! Right as we were about to leave, her neighbor opened the door to get her FedEx notification, so we started talking to her. It turns out she has been searching for ways to come closer to Christ! We not have an appointment set with her :) Heavenly Father has his hands in everything we do! It's amazing! If nothing else comes from that referral, we met someone who was truly prepared to hear the Gospel.
Thursday: A member of the branch took us to Panera, and holy junk...I'm going to open a Panera in Idaho or something because it is SO GOOD!! Not good for you, but still good :) 
We did service at a community center that does a soup kitchen sort of thing, but with TONS of food. We helped prepare the salads. It was so fun! We had an appointment set for 7:45 with our ward mission leader as the member present, but the guy never showed up! It was so sad, but our ward mission leader and Sister Wade and I were able to talk about the missionary work in the branch, and I shared my testimony of why I'm out here. I am in Pennsylvania serving the Lord because the Gospel of Jesus Christ changed my life. I want to bring everyone the Gospel! I know Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all helping me do this. I can't even express how amazing this opportunity has been. It is a truly humbling experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!
Friday: The other sisters in our ward have a baptism this week!!!! Their investigator is getting baptized on Saturday, and I am so excited! It makes me so happy to see people who have read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and have come to know through the Holy Ghost that its words are true! I know this is Christ's original church restored on the earth day! I know we have a living prophet who continues to receive revelation! How blessed are we!?
Saturday: We pulled weeds for an older lady around the block, and we lost our phone under a pile of weeds. We went to a barbecue for a recent convert who was celebrating her one year mark of being a member!
Sunday: It was Fast Sunday today! We had three investigators come to church! We also had break the fast that same evening, and everyone had a great time! Our branch is so good at making new comers feel welcome! I love the branch! We had an awkward interaction on the bus...
us: "Hey, what's your name?"
lady: "Um, can we not talk? I know you're going to talk about God, and I'm not comfortable with that."
us: "Oh okay. That's totally fine, we can talk about something else :) Are you a student here?"
lady: "Um, can we still not talk because this is really awkward. I don't even know you, and you just sat down and started talking to me."
us: "Alright we're so sorry! We hope you're having a good day!"
I felt so bad we scared her!!! I had to chuckle though :)
Looking forward to another good week!!!

Sister Sparks