Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Week 22

Hello humans!
I'm excited to report this week! It has been a GREAT week! 
Monday: We had a couple of investigators come to FHE! We played human battleship, and it was super fun! One of our investigators asked US for a church, eh?
Tuesday: So today was probably one of my favorite days ever. We taught one of our investigators the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). We invited her to be baptized onAugust 30, and she accepted! We are so grateful for her sweet spirit and the desire she has to have a relationship with God! 
We had our first interviews with our new mission president, President Johnson! He and Sister Johnson are so tender! I love them! They both feel overwhelmed with the responsibility they've been given (I would too!), so in the interviews, President asked us to give him counsel hahah. While in the interview the Spirit touched me. Something that stuck out to me was, "You are so blessed to have Sister Wade as your companion. You will learn many things from her if you so choose." Oooooooh that word "choose!" It's great, isn't it? Heavenly Father gives us our agency as a gift although a lot of time it seems like a burden--at least to me it does! I just want you all to know I know I have been placed in State College for a reason. I may not know the reason, but it was wisdom in the Lord to send me here. I'm grateful to be here with Sister Wade, and she really has taught me SO much!!! 
Sister Wade and I and one of our investigators went over to a member's home for dinner AND we taught him just the first half of the Plan of Salvation. It was SUCH a cool experience because he has no religious background, and since Sunday, he has read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and 1 Nephi!!!! Are you kidding me!? He really has such a humble desire to know God, and he's putting for the effort to know Him! AHHH so cool!
Oh I almost forgot! A super cool miracle happened today! So last week we met a guy on the street who really wanted to meet with us, so we got his number and set up a time to meet. We called his number multiple times with no answer. We texted answer. Today, we were at a gas station waiting for one of our branch members to pick us up (the members that fed us dinner), and Sister Wade had to go in to blow her nose. Of course I followed her into the gas station, but I really felt like I needed to go outside. I rushed Sister Wade outside (she tripped and knocked a chair over in the process), and to our surprise, walking right past the gas station was THE GUY!!!!! We waved him down, and eventually found out he got a new phone! We were able to get his new number and set up a new time to meet with him :) MIRACLE!!! Heavenly Father knows His children--that's for sure!

Wednesday: We had some great lessons today! One of our investigators is taking off for a few weeks, so we're sad, but he has accepted baptism too! We're so excited for all of the people we are teaching! They really are taking huge steps of faith, and I really admire that! Sister Wade has been sick since last week, and she developed a fever today, so we rested a lot later today. OH by the way...I finished the Book of Mormon again today! I've read it for classes at BYU Idaho, but this was the first time I really really read it. I tried to apply the principles in it to my life, and let me tell ya somethin! That book is true! I really do feel like Heavenly Father speaks to me through the Book of Mormon. That book has fundamentally changed my life. If you haven't already read it, READ IT! Even if you have read it, READ IT AGAIN! Go into it with a specific question, and I KNOW you will receive a specific answer.  
Thursday: Today, Sister Wade was really sick, so we were inside all day. I was able to practice my motherly skills though and get her saltine crackers and 7 Up! :) Thank you, Mother, for teaching me that saltines and soda makes any sickness go away.
Friday: Sickie was still sick, so we were inside all day until around 7 when we filled the rest of the evening with appointments :) We had two great lessons, but both of those folks are going out of town :( one of them permanently! Nevertheless, it was a grand day!!
Saturday: Sister Wade is feeling much better, so we had some good appointments today! We taught someone from Thailand who doesn't have any religious background. It was really amazing to see the change in him from the beginning of the lesson to the end. We asked him if coming to know God by reading, praying, and coming to church was something he desired, and he responded with, "Yeah, it actually really is." So cool! He closed the meeting by saying his very first prayer. I love hearing people pray for the first time because they are just so sincere. Sometimes I forget when I'm praying I'm really just having a conversation with Heavenly Father, so that was a great reminder! 
Sunday: Today was literally amazing! 5 of our investigators came to church, and  they were each touched by the Spirit. They all expressed their appreciation for the speakers/teachers, and they shared with us what they enjoyed the most. Someone liked learning about the Atonement, another person liked learning about charity and love, another person liked learning about honesty, and everyone else liked something specific too, but I can't quite remember! It was just a really really cool church meeting. Sister Wade and I taught the Relief Society lesson. The lesson was based off of Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk, "Spiritual Whirlwinds," from this last General Conference. All I can say about that is GO READ THE TALK. It's amazing :) You can look it up on
One thing I really took from today was the importance of the Spirit. Our Branch Mission Leader and his wife are moving to Texas, so they spoke in Sacrament meeting. Their talks were phenomenal. One thing that stuck with me was, "There are greater ways of knowing then intellectually." Learning things intellectually is obviously good and important, but when you learn something from the Spirit, your HEART, MIND, and SPIRIT understand. It's hard to explain, but I know as I have learned from the Spirit, that knowledge becomes a part of me. 
This week, each morning, pray and ask Heavenly Father for an opportunity to love one of your brothers or sisters (which is literally everyone around you!). I promise if you ask Him and you seek it out, the opportunity will present itself, and you will find great joy from loving others. At night, thank Heavenly Father for that opportunity, and then ask for another one!
Heavenly Father is real. He knows and loves you perfectly. Jesus Christ lives and directs His church today. Those things are things I know to be true. Have a good week!

Sister Sparks
waiting at the library

  helping pick weeds to get ready for a wedding reception!

. our ward mission leader and his wife

. us in the car

us at Meyer Dairy!

pretending i'm a vampire at the bishops

laying in the grass

eating hot dogs bleh

. wovers

 hahahah i love autumn

Week 21

weekly update:
Hey everyone!! Super sorry I haven't been giving detailed updates! This past week was good!

Monday: Emailed and shopped and such and went to FHE. It was at our new institute building!! It was so cute because one of our investigators brought his mom with him, but his mom doesn't speak English, so one of our other investigators translated for her the whole time. It was soooo cute! 
Tuesday: So we were on exchanges today! I was with Sister Moore which just so happens to be Sister Wade's trainer! Crazy, huh!? We had a lesson today in which we planned to teach the Restoration, but we taught about how we have a loving Heavenly Father. It was actually a really neat experience! This person was having trouble with knowing her worth. She was comparing herself to others. I could PERFECTLY relate to her because I had a similar experience on my mission! I have been comparing myself to other missionaries telling myself, "Sister Sparks, you know you're not as outgoing as other missionaries. You don't have as good of relationships with the branch as other missionaries do. You're not a very good teacher. No one really thinks you're a good missionary." I KNOW Satan was tempting me to believe all of these things. I was able to talk to this investigator and tell her those feelings ARE NOT from Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father loves us dearly. Everything that an earthly father does, Heavenly Father does, and He does it PERFECTLY!! I know I have worth because I am a daughter of a King. We are all sons and daughters of an omniscient, omnipotent, PERFECT, exalted Being. He LOVES us PERFECTLY. He KNOWS us PERFECTLY. He UNDERSTANDS us PERFECTLY. Now, how does that make you feel? Pretty good, huh? Remember your worth. Remember that Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for each of His children to return to Him and become like Him! We have that divine nature in us!! 
Wednesday: We had district meeting, and it was SO good. We learned a lot about unity within a companionship. Sister Wade defined unity as, "the ability to have the Spirit work through us." I really liked that! I had never heard it defined like that, but it makes so much sense! This week Sister Wade and I have REALLY been focusing on our unity. Whenever something is wrong or off, we talk about it. It's funny because I've never been a great communicator, but Sister Wade literally forces me to talk hahah I love it. Since we've been doing that, our unity has honestly improved so much. It shows in the way we teach and testify together. We are able to have the Spirit with us, and people can feel that Spirit when we share our testimonies of the RESTORED GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! It's true :) Oh! And we pulled weeds at a member's house, and it reminded me of home...except for the fact that I didn't complain about doing yard work this time hahah
Thursday: We had a few amazing lessons today! One of them was AWESOME because we were able to read 3 Nephi 11. I really really love verses 14-15: "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the god of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come." Isn't that powerful? They went until they know of a SURETY. We can all do this! Jesus Christ invites us to come unto him one by one in order for each of us to know of a surety that He lives, He loves us, and His Atonement is available for all. How blessed are we? So, we have this divine nature AND the ability to overcome the natural man!? Man, I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty sweet setup!

Also, we taught our recent convert Li the Restoration again! This time, he pretty much taught us! It was REALLY REALLY cool to see how the Holy Ghost was active in his life. He was pulling out stuff we had never even mentioned!! He testified of the Restoration and knew the revelations given to Joseph Smith were true. Folks, moments like this is what makes being away from home SO WORTH IT!
ALSO, I cut my hair today hahah. I was literally just standing in front of the mirror, grabbed Sister Wade's craft scissors and chopped off my bangs hahah. I would send a picture, but my card reader isn't working! Next week!

Friday: Good day full of finding! We had dinner at a member from the family ward, and she showed us all her shoes! She literally had 75 pairs of high heels in her basement and about 50 more pair in her room...and that's JUST high heels. I was in heaven hahaha even though I have never been able to walk in heels. 
Saturday: We had a couple of amazing lessons today. We met with two young men who are honestly seeking for the truth. They have a sincere desire to know God is real and loves them. We were able to help them see and feel that they could come to know for themselves that He is there! One of them was able to come to church, and he felt the Spirit that was there. I'm so excited and grateful for the opportunities I have had so far to testify of the Restoration! I feel the Spirit bare witness to my spirit the truth of this church EVERY TIME I recite Joseph Smith's first vision. I'm so blessed! We had Chinese food for dinner. I'm surprisingly doing really well seeming how much Chinese food I've had to eat since I've been here (for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, I'm a picky eater). 
Sunday: What an awesome Sabbath day! We always joke that every day is Sunday when you're on a mission, but Sunday is special because we can partake of the Sacrament. How lucky are we to be able to basically be re-baptized every week as we partake of the Sacrament worthily? 
Today, Li received the Priesthood. It was such an amazing opportunity to be there listening to the blessing! I love it because he understands exactly what being a member of Christ's church means! He volunteered to help someone in the branch move this week. AH!! He understands how important serving others is! He always quotes the two most important commandments as, "Love God and love people." How sweet is that!? 
There were 5 total investigators at church! Oh man, this work is REAL! "The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say, 'The work is done.'" -Joseph Smith
Don't hate me if that quote wasn't exactly right ^^
It has been a great week, and I'm so excited to have another week to serve the Lord. Be happy, smile, and know God loves you!


Sister Sparks

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 20 BAPTISM!

Okay so since last week's update was SO LAME I will try to write more :)
So last week I didn't get to tell you about fourth of july!! It was so awesome!! We got to be in the parade that was downtown!! We held these HUGE balloons and walked around the town, so it was super fun! We had to be in pretty early, so we blew up these glow in the dark balloons and played "World Cup" (Sister Bradshaw and I made it up) in our apartment. Ethiopia won...hehe. One of the couples in the branch decorated our door for July 4th too! It was such an awesome day!
So this week my highlight was of course....LI GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness it was sooo awesome!!! I'm sure the pictures will be on my blog! One of our recent converts baptized him, so it was a neat experience for both of them! Us and the other sisters in the branch sang "I Need Thee Every Hour," before the actual baptism, and the Spirit settled in that room. It brought tears to my eyes thinking that Heavenly Father was smiling down on lil' Li :) The actual baptism was so tender too! Li went under the water symbolizing the death of his old life, and he came up anew as a follower of Jesus Christ. It was so cute when he came up out of the water because he had water in his eyes, so he was all squinty and twitchy, but his smile was SO HUGE!! Everyone just wanted to give him a big hug! Li was able to bear his testimony afterward, and he said he felt refreshed. He knew God was blessing him way before he met us. He was being prepared for a long time to be baptized. He knows God is real--He lives. AHG it was so sweet. I wish I could remember everything he said! Guess where he went after his baptism? He didn't go out to celebrate, he didn't go home and take a nap. He went to the new church building to help set up for church the next day! He obviously understands what it means to be baptized! The Lord has asked us to build up His kingdom. We need to serve others in any way we can. Li was able to do that and show Heavenly Father he understands what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ :)

By the way, we got a new building!! We've been meeting in a building on campus for the past 20 something years I think? The Institute building officially opened, and our first Sunday in the building was yesterday! Members of the branch have been praying for this building for over 20 years, and it was such an amazing experience to finally have this beautiful building for us to meet in! One of the members of the bishopric was crying in sacrament meeting because the building just meant so much to him! Heavenly Father has blessed this branch!! Have I ever mentioned our branch is AMAZING!? Oh my goodness...I love them!!! They really understand what it means to put the Lord first. It doesn't matter if they have homework or a test to study for--they will always come help us teach a lesson. It doesn't matter if they have a final on Monday--they choose to keep the Sabbath day holy and study on Saturday. The branch has seen direct blessings come from their service to the Lord. One of those blessings being our Institute building!
This past week was a bit challenging for me! How could it be challenging when all this amazing stuff happened!?Good question haha. Satan's a little booger! I am just so grateful for my companion Sister Wade. I know Heavenly Father needed me to be with her in State College at this point on my mission. Sister Wade has helped me through so much, and she also taught me so much. Her pure and righteous love for everyone is so inspiring. She has taught me about chairty, patience, kindness, hard work, joy, diligence, communication, fasting, faith, and soooo much more. How cool is she!? Well, you haven't met her, but she's SO AMAZING!! She also goes to BYU-I, so we'll see each other again! Oh, and we're going to visit our recent convert Richard in China when we get back!!

This is a new week, and I'm so excited to be able to be a servant of the Lord another week! THIS IS THE LIFE!! I hope you all have a great week!
Sister Sparks
Li and Olivia before the baptism 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week 19

Hey everyone! So I'm super sorry I'm so short on time this week! This week was awesome though! Our investigator will be baptized this Saturday, July 12, which just so happens to be my 5 month mark! :) I'm so excited!!! This week I have faced a TON of opposition, but it's just amazing to feel God's hand in it all. As I was studying this morning in Ether and in Matthew, I felt God speaking to me. I know I need to increase my faith. God has a perfect plan for all of His children. Trust me--it includes trials. I know we go through trials for a reason. The trials in my life are what helped me gain a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ! They taught me about the importance of families! I'm so grateful to go through hard things because that is the way we can become more like Heavenly Father! Again, I'm so sorry I'm out of time! I hope you all have a great week!

Sister Sparks

The branch fourth of July breakfast

. The church is true

Sister Anderson at meeting the new mission president!

President and Sister Johnson!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Week 18

Weekly Update:
Hello everyone! This week was awesome! It was pretty hard, but AWESOME! I feel like we grow the most in trying times :)
Again, I won't be able to share a bunch this week, but I will share some highlights!
Sister Wade and I were downtown waiting for the bus, so we started talking to a guy sitting nearby. I think he was a little weirded out, but it doesn't matter because EVERY DAY IS AWKWARD! << I live by that statement now! So it turned out this guy who I will call John was waiting for the same bus as us! As our bus pulled up and opened the doors, the other Sisters (Sisters Walborn and Bradshaw) walked off the bus and asked if we wanted to go to lunch with them. As we were standing there debating whether to eat lunch or get on the bus and keep talking to John, the bus drove away. We automatically said, "Sorry! We will go to lunch another day!" and sprinted off to catch the bus at the next stop. We were SO out of breathe as we came to the next stop just to find out that stop was CLOSED. You're kidding, right? As we looked so exasperated staring at the bus that we thought would pass us by, the bus driver opened the doors quickly and said, "Hop on! I can't leave the Sisters behind!" MIRACLE!!! We were able to continue or conversation with John, and invite him to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John accepted, and he attended church with us this week! He is loving learning about how through the Atonement, we can be forgiven of mistakes we've made and become better people! I am so grateful to know Heavenly Father is taking care of His children. I saw His hand in my life and Carl's life that day. 'Twas an amazing day :)
Another lesson that just blew my mind happened on Friday. We scheduled an appointment with someone we met who is a devout Seventh Day Adventist. We met with him a couple times before as he had tagged along with one of our original investigators. We decided we wanted to meet with him alone this time. I was sort of nervous for the lesson (yeah, I know...O one of little faith...), but I soon found out there was so reason to fear! The Spirit was sooo strong in that lesson. We found out that--I'll call him Tim-- Tim was going through a rough time because he couldn't quite figure out what the truth was. He had pronounced himself non-denominational because he hadn't found a church he completely agreed with yet. HOLY COW! Heavenly Father was preparing Tim! We read James 1:5 while talking about Joseph Smith, and I had a prompting to explain what "upbraideth" meant. I ignored the prompting because Tim is so fluent in the language of the Bible. The prompting came again, so I told him that the verse is basically  saying that if we have a question (lack wisdom), then we should ask God. God is going to answer us! God is also loving and "upbraideth not" means that God isn't going to judge or condemn us because we lack wisdom! As soon as I said this, Tim's eyes lit up! "WOW! Thank you so much for explaining that! I always skipped over that word, but this is like revelation!" I'm so glad I followed that prompting of the Spirit! We invited him to pray and ask God his questions because we figured out that it's okay to ask God questions because He wants to help us!!!
Well, that's all folks. I hope you all have a good week! I'm looking forward to this new week! Let's start with a smile on our faces AND a love of God and of all men! Love you!

Sister Sparks