Friday, August 29, 2014

Week 26

I'm getting so bad at writing weekly updates!! I'm sorry! I am literally a week behind on journal writing, so that is definitely affecting it! So bad, huh!? Don't worry...I'll catch up on my journal today! 
Soooo I'm going to be lame again this week. 
Adrian is getting baptized on Saturday!!!!!!!!! HOLY COW SO EXCITING, RIGHT!? I'm sooooo excited for him!! It's been such a wonderful experience to see him really put his whole heart into getting to know Heavenly Father. As he has had a sincere heart and real intent, he has received a witness from the Spirit! I had a really cool experience the other day as I shared with him my testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We all mistakes. Sometimes we even make some really bad mistakes. Ya know what? That was part of God's plan. Of course we should strive to be like Christ, but when we fall short, we can ask for forgiveness and be strengthened through the tender mercies of the Lord. I have also come to really appreciate the Sacrament. If we really are striving to become better and have a repentant heart, Heavenly Father forgives our sins EACH week when we take the Sacrament--it's like getting rebaptized!! 
I'm so sorry I've gotta go! The work is moving forward because it's the Lord's work!! "The field is white already to harvest..." you better believe it!!! I hope yinz have a good week! 

Sister Sparks


Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission25 August 2014 Dear Parents,I an pleased to inform you that Sister Olivia Elaine Sparks has been called to the position of senior companion.  This calling reflects the trust we have in her.  We are confident she will be a powerful leader in directing the missionary work in her area.  She has proven herself worthy of this trust.Your missionary's knowledge and testimony of the gospel will continue to grow as she serves in this position.  She will also have many new challenges as well as rewarding experiences.  Your support and encouragement for your missionary as she serves here in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission is greatly appreciated.  May the Lord continue to bless you and your family.


Bradley K. Johnson, presidentcc stake president and bishop

drying off after a HUGE thunderstorm! It rains like every single day here!

Sister Duncan! She's soo cute! She's a newbie :) I hope I get to serve with her!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 25

Hello everyone!! 
I'm sending pictures of my Amish experience! They are such awesome people! We got to see their farms and meet their families and everything! It was sooo fun!!
This week I said goobye to Sister Wade, but I welcomed Sister Zaugg! She's from Canada, and she's been on her mission 4 1/2 months! She's such a sweetheart! So I'm really sorry I don't have much time! 
I just wanted to let you know our investigator Adrian is getting baptized August 30!! It's coming up so soon! His progression in the Gospel is literally amazing. He had no religious background, but he really wanted to have a relationship with God. He decided to not be complacent but to work hard! He started reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon every day and pray every day. He has expressed multiple times that Heavenly Father has answered his prayers! How amazing is that!? When we put forth effort and show sincerity of heart and real intent, Heavenly Father communicates with us and shows us He's there! We're so excited for him!! 
I'll quickly attach some pictures!

Hope this week is grand!
Sister Sparks

by the way,
I was standing next to a cow, and it suddenly start spraying poop, and I got it all over the bottom of my skirt and on my ankle....sick.
I'm so out of time!! I have one minute!! I saw Amish farms, and it was AWESOME Sister Wade left, and my new companion is Sister Zaugg. She's from Canada, and she's been on her mission 4 1/2 months. She's such a sweetheart!
Adrian's getting baptized August 30! And I'm happy and so excited for this week! love you all!!

Sister Sparks
lightning mcqueen finish

Amish buggy

. saying goodbye to Sister Wade :(

. the sistas

why do I have a mullet?

Bye Sister Wade :(

standing over an air blower lol

Amish country

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 24

Hello!!! I'VE BEEN OUT 6 MONTHS TOMORROW!!! How crazy is that!??? I seriously feel like I flew in last night. I feel so new 1. because there's soooooo much more I need to learn and 2. because it's still hard to wake up at 6:30 hahaha I don't get it! I woke up at like 5:00 in high school, but for some reason 6:30 is killer! 
Tuesday: We gave a church tour to one of our investigators. It was SOOOO cool! We watched "Finding Faith in Christ" in the chapel, and boy oh boy was it good. Every time I watch that video, I am reminded of the infinite virtue of Christ's atoning sacrifice as well as the reality of his matchless life. Christ truly is our older brother--not in a derogatory sense. I say "brother" because I know God the Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son because God the Father was his physical father, and the mortal Mary was his mother. Jesus Christ had divine power of a god, but he was also mortal in order to feel everything we would! He truly is our exemplar. Let us all be like Him!! Well, let's try the best we can :) Today we also met with another progressing investigator who had NO religious background at all, and has now read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1 Nephi, & 2 Nephi!!! WHAT THE HECK, right!? He is soooo cool! God requires us to have faith in him and ACT! That is exactly what this guy did! He's searching the scriptures diligently, coming to church, and communicating personally with Heavenly Father. He told us of multiple occasions when he has prayed and felt an immediate answer. AHHH God is real, and He loves His children! 
Wednesday: Okay so here's an INTENSE story for you...our ward mission leader and wife were dropping us off at a lesson, and we were parked on this narrow strip of pavement, so there was just barely 2 feet in between the car and the curb. I opened the door like a normal human being, and I hear this HUGE CRASH!!! I was sooo scared to look outside! I turned my head, and there was this random guy flying off his bike and over the door!!!! I LITERALLY OPENED MY CAR DOOR, AND THIS GUY RAN INTO THE DOOR AND FLEW OFF HIS BIKE!!!! It's so not funny, but it sooooo was. hahaha I felt so bad!!! The guy ended up being okay, so that's good! He just got up and rode off...poor guy!! ...oh my goodness...literally from the movies or something. 
Thursday: We have met a lot of people who are very religious. They are very knowledgeable about the Bible, and they go to church regularly, but it just seems like something is missing, ya know? I've noticed not many people really know the depth of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us. OF COURSE no one can really comprehend it, but we've been a few folks who have always been taught that he only suffered for sins, and he only suffered for those who believe Though both of those statements have some truth, that's not all Jesus Christ did for us. Yes, Christ suffered for our sins, but he also suffered for all the pains, afflictions, and infirmities we feel! We learn that in Alma 7: 11-13, "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sings of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." Christ has literally felt everything we have. Because he was mortal, he could physically feel the pain, anguish, guilt, sadness, depression, devastation, and shame we have ever experienced and will ever experience. He is our best friend. Christ did this for every single person who has ever existed, exists now, or will exist. His Atonement is available for EVERYONE. Of course, we cannot feel its effects unless we apply His Atonement in our lives and follow him. I really don't know how the Atonement actually works...all I know is I was burdened down my mistakes I made, and through repentance, forgiveness, and keeping the commandments, those burdens have been lifted. This is my testimony--that He lives! The saving and strengthening power of the Atonement is available for all. Partake of it! "And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my souls with exceedingly great joy; where I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit." I am in agreement with Lehi! I have tasted this sweet fruit, and I want it for all of my brothers and sisters! 'Tis why I am out here in PA!
Saturday: We met with another one of our brothers today. He is such a sweet person, and he is so devoted to Jesus Christ. It is so inspiring! We've met with him twice before, and each time he's been sort of skeptical and bringing up arguments. The next lesson up to teach was Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we both didn't feel like he was ready for that lesson. We planned to read from the Book of Mormon with him, adding our testimonies of the importance of daily reading. As we bore testimony to him, we both were directed to use certain scriptures, one of them being John 3:5, and he committed to be baptized on September 13 IF Heavenly Father answers his prayers. The thing is...we KNOW He will!!! We are encouraging Him to have a sincere heart and real intent. This is what missionary work is about--seeing hearts change. He even said the closing prayer, and instead of starting it off, "Dear Lord," he said, "Dear Heavenly Father." I'm not saying "Dear Lord" is unacceptable, but it was miracle to see his heart softened. His faith is building in the fact that prayer is a communication with God the Father. The Spirit is real, and I'm so grateful for that experience. 
We got transfer calls today, and sadly, Sister Wade is leaving :( I'm going to miss her so much! It really is crazy how close you become with your companions. We're sistas! I will be welcoming another companion on Tuesday! I'm stressin' out, but all is well. Whatever the Lord needs to happen will happen. 

Sunday: 5 of our investigators came to church, which was a real blessing for Sister Wade's last Sunday. We were able to take a picture of all of them which I will attach. I received a Priesthood blessing after church today, and I bear testimony of the reality of the Priesthood. In the blessing, I was told to continue to improve my personal prayers. Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you, but here's the cool part: I didn't tell the person giving me the blessing ANYTHING about my struggles. The past week I have really been trying to improve my personal prayers, and I have been struggling to see much improvement because my dang humanness gets in the way. I know Heavenly Father knows me, and through the Priesthood, He was able to communicate with me. I am happy happy happy! I hope all is well in Idaho!!! 
Love Yinz!
Sister Sparks

Ps. we're visiting an Amish family for P-day!!!! I'll send pictures next week :)

eating at waffle shop this morning!

all of our investigators at church!!!

the boyers. We love them!!

the best district ever!! our district leader is going home on tuesday!!

nittany lions!! 

eating hot pot with chen chen

the chinese spread...ya i didn't eat much hahaa

. more nittany lion. I miss cheerleading!

. napping during lunch

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week 23

Hey everyone!!!
I hope everyone's week was good! I had a fantastic week! Well, let's face it...every week is fantastic when you're a missionary for Christ!
I would like to share two stories with you!

This week, an investigator who we've been teaching for a couple of months dropped us. It was heartbreaking to see her so close and then choosing to not partake of this beautiful, pure fruit! It was pretty disheartening for a while, but I am now able to look at it from Heavenly Father's point of view. Sometimes Heavenly Father needs to let His children make mistakes so they can learn important lessons and gain a relationship with Him. Looking back, I am so grateful for the mistakes I've made because I gained a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the importance of families. I also gained a closer relationship with my Father. I'm happy to know He has molded our lives to fit each one of us!

We were downtown on the street watching one of our investigators perform for First Fridays, and as he was introducing us to his dance crew, one of his friends came up to us and said, "Hey, it was so nice to meet you! You should take down my phone number and talk to me about your church. My Bible study just got canceled, and I should probably get something like that going again." WHAT!? WE ARE SO BLESSED! We didn't even do anything, and someone was put in our path! This work is absolutely real. Experiences like that further testify to me that we are missionaries for the true Church of Jesus Christ. I love being a missionary!!
A cool experience I had this week:
I've really been wanting to improve my personal prayers. I don't like feeling like I'm just listing off things I need or want. I really want to communicate with Heavenly Father. I read some Ensign talks and searched the scriptures for guidance. My mind had been troubled that day, and I really did not know how to fix the situation I was in. I knew I needed Heavenly Father's help. I decided I was going to take a few minutes before I pray to sit, be reverent, and ponder. I decided to really invite the Holy Ghost to help me know what I can pray for. I visualized Heavenly Father as I closed me eyes, and asked Him a specific question and LISTENED for His response. Do you want to know what happened? A thought came to my head, "Write her a note." I automatically thought, "Sweet I just thought of a solution." I quickly was chastened and realized THAT WAS HEAVENLY HELP!! Heavenly Father immediately responded to me. I know He cared about my situation. He cares about us soooooo much. We are literally His children. He doesn't just care about our spiritual well being; He cares about every aspect of our lives! Turn to Him for guidance. :) Cool, huh?
Transfers are coming up, and I'm so nervous! I don't want Sister Wade to leave!! ALAS, I know whatever happens is God's will. I'm lovin life out here in PA! I hope everyone is well!
Sister Sparks