Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 35

Hello! I AM SO SORRY ! I have no time because we have to leave early to catch a bus. BUT I will try to send a few pictures to make up for it! It's been such a good week, I find out if I'm getting transferred on Saturday, so that's crazy! I've been here for 6 months now, so it feels like my home! Alas, what God needs to happen will happen! Do family history, love God, serve others, and be joyful! 

Love, Sister Sparks

Happy Halloween!!

sister kuo learned gang signs hahahaha

at the church waiting for dinner

turtles for dinner

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 34

Hi! Another awesome week, huh?? 

Monday: It was Canadian Thanksgiving last week, so some members in Altoona invited us over for a feast! It was really dark in their house, so I have no idea what I ate, but it was good! Sister Zaugg was havin' a hay day because she's from Canada. Her family has been living in Utah for the past few years, but she refuses to claim Utah ahah. I love her. 

Tuesday: We had an amazing lesson with one of our investigators. We talked a lot about baptism. We invited him to be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood of God. He said he had already been baptized, so we talked about the Restoration of the Priesthood. As we explained and bore testimony of the Restoration, he totally changed. He committed to finding out for himself of the truth by reading, praying, and hopefully coming to church! I'm so excited!! 

There is a new couple in the branch from Russia, so we went and visited the wife today too. She's a convert of a couple of years and served a mission in Russia! She's the sweetest!! She talked about the importance of scripture study. It really made me think about what kind of disciple of Christ I want to be after I return. Scripture study is so important, and we would be wise to do it every day! I've found it to be such a blessing on my mission!

Someone from the family ward met with us and helped us do family history. It was SO cool! I printed out 6 family names to take to the temple! As  we do family history, our relationships with our family strenghten, and our desire to be worthy to enter to the temple grows too! I'm so so so so grateful for Houses of the Lord on earth that allow us to perform sacred ordinances for ourselves and those who have passed away. AH! God's plan is so perfect!

I'll skip Wednesday because I'm running out of time! It was a good day though!

Thursday: The highlight of today is definitely meeting with one of our members. He is going through a hard time lately, so he asked us to just practice teach him, so he could have the Spirit in his life more. As we taught him, we found ourselves testifying of the importance of trials. 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 grave is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I think that's the same with our many trials in life. We go through certain things because Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need to be humble and follow Him and His Son. I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like I've been through some pretty hard things. Despite the difficulty of  these trials, I would NEVER want Heavenly Father to take them way or go back and redo life in a different way. I learned so much from my trials! I learned about the importance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I learned our the healing power of His sacrifice. I learned about the enabling power of the Atonement. I learned the importance of families. I gained a stronger relationship with God. Our lives are molded for US. How cool is that?? I love Heavenly Father and His perfect plan :) 

Friday: Funny thing about today. We went to a member's house from the family ward. We walked in and I said, "Oh, your daughter is excited to see us!" They said, "She's actually boy, sorry." hahahahah AWKWARD! 

Saturday was awesome! We got to pick up a highway! We were driving with our branch mission leader, and he peeled out on the gravel, and Sister Kuo from Taiwan yelled "FREE COUNTRY!" Hhahahah

Sunday: It was such a great Sabbath day! Church was awesome, and four of our investigators came to church! It was awesome! We went tracting after church until dinner, and it was SUCH an amazing experience. We said a prayer before we knocked, and we knew what we needed to testify of. It was really cool to see how the Spirit can help us know how to help all of God's children. He truly knows us! 

Okay, I wish I could share more, but we have to catch a bus! We're going to Plato's closet today WAHOO! One thing I do miss is shopping! kloveyou!


Sister Sparks

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 33

Hello! I'm a bit short on time, so i'll have to make this quick.
This week was good! I got my hair trimmed again. We had zone training and got to watch Meet the Mormons. It was SO incredible. For those who haven't seen it, go see it now!!! That's an order. It is so good I want to watch it over and over again. That's actually quite impressive because the only movie I can watch over and over is Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (just for the record, I haven't watched Cheaper by the Dozen 2 on my mission. Don't worry, I'm being obedient!). I dished turkey and potatoes for 2 hours straight, this week. We did service at a church downtown and helped them cook and serve food for the community. It was awesome! Today is Canadian Thanksgiving by the way, so Sister Zaugg is going nuts!! This week was also awesome because we were able to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and that was my favorite part! One of our investigators is trying to keep the Word of Wisdom, so to support her, I'm giving up popping my knuckles. For anyone who knows me, this is a HUGE sacrifice haha. We've been fasting and praying for her success in keeping the Word of Wisdom, so that's been a neat experience :)
Well, that's just a short note, sorry, but I hope everyone is doing well and is happy! 
Always remember to smile :) There are so many more reasons to be happy than sad!

Sister Sparks

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Week 32

Hello everyone! I've decided to do my weekly update first before everything else in order to have time to include all the details!
Monday: P-day was great like always. For FHE we played human foosball, and our assistant branch mission leader nailed me right in the gut SUPER hard hahaha. He felt so bad, but it turned out to just be a small welt, so I'm okay :) 
Tuesday: We met with one of our investigators that didn't seem at first like he was totally committed to finding out the truth for himself. Here's the good part: when we asked if he had read from the Book of Mormon, he had read ALL OF 1ST NEPHI and loved it!! Cool, huh!? The Book of Mormon is so awesome! We read parts of Alma 32 with him, and he said he would read and pray and ask God if it was true!
Something cool that happened today: 
At the end of the night, I was just feeling sort of down/frustrated/some other crazy emotions, and I couldn't really figure out why I was feeling that way. For fear of my emotions coming off negatively to others, I went into my closet with my scriptures. I knelt and said a prayer, and then opened up to where I left off in Matthew. I read chapters 27 and 28 which is when Jesus is arrested and condemned, crucified, and buried in the tomb but rose three days later. These are some of the most intense scriptures for me: "Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him." In the words of modern-day Apostles and Prophets, "He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great, vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth." 
This next verse comes into my head, "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Jesus Christ not only endured physical death by being crucified, but he also bore the burdens of the world.
In Alma 7:11-12 it says, "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 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." Jesus Christ felt each of our "physicalpains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets andremorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us." 
I pondered these things as I sat in my closet, and a great peace came over me. Even though I had no idea what emotions I was feeling, Jesus Christ did, and He sent me His peace.
We had interviews with President today! It was AWESOME! I seriously love President Johnson. He cares so much about each missionary out here, and he works so hard to help us with everyone he's able to! We worked on our family history a little bit today, and it was awesome! I love learning about my family's history! It's such an amazing feeling to be connected with your ancestors. If you haven't already, make an account onfamilysearch.org, and get to work!!!
We did service at the St. Andrews church downtown this morning. We cut up fruit and put the pies and cakes and plates. Yes, it was tempting. No, I didn't eat any. 
We taught someone about the Restoration today! Our views were a little bit different, but I received a witness during the lesson that God the Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are indeed three separate beings. They are one in purpose though--they all work "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." I am so grateful for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. The Heavens are not closed! They are far from closed! God continues to reach out to His children by calling prophets and apostles and guiding us though personal revelation.
We met with one of our investigators today and read 1 Nephi 10: 17-19. "And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God--and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come--I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. For he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore the course of the Lord is one eternal round." Okay, sorry I'm quoting a whole bunch of scriptures, but they're just so dang good! Nephi desired to know if his Father Lehi was preaching a load of junk or if he was really speaking what the Lord would have him speak. Nephi puts forth a really important principle--THE MYSTERIES OF GOD CAN BE REVEALED TO US BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST IF WE DILIGENTLY SEEK. Pretty simple, huh? God lives and loves us!! There is such thing as absolute truth!!! You can know truth! "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things." Whether you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true or if Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet or even an answer to a doctrinal question you have, the pattern is the same. Study it out, diligently seek and pray, and God will answer you by the power of the Holy Ghost. hahah I sound so passionate. It's true!!
I'm not even going to try to tell you what I learned at General Conference because that would just take way too long. All I know is that Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet on the earth today, and the twelve apostles are special witnesses of Christ. The messages they presented were inspired of God, and we should read them as we do the words of prophets of old. I have learned much about what I can do better in my life. I'm so grateful for the Spirit who communicates to each of us what specific things we should take away from each talk. I hope all of you received answers to questions, spiritual witnesses, and new things to work on. I sure did! We had four investigators come to conference!!! It was SO awesome!!! They too received answers to their questions and guidance from the Holy Ghost.
Something funny:
Sister Zaugg was explaining to one of our investigators the Word of Wisdom, and when the topic of caffeine was brought up, she talked about how caffeine isn't explicitly stated in the Word of Wisdom, but we should just steer clear of anything that can become addictive. As she illustrated her point with a story, she said, "Whether or not you drink caffeine is a personal decision. Take *this person* for example. He drinks Bud Light, and that's his choice..........WAIT!!! I meant Red Bull! He drinks Red Bull!" hahahaha I laughed SO hard!  
Awesome Sabbath day. I received some answers to my questions I was pondering. Awesome awesome awesome General Conference. Pretty much the same as Saturday! SUCH a good day!!!
Well, that's it for this week! God be with you 'till we meet again!
Sister Sparks

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Week 31

Hi! This week has been great!
Monday: So since we went to the Penn State game on Saturday, we only had a couple hours on Monday for P-day. We had a lesson with a fellow from China who wanted a Bible. We were able to bring one of our members from China who translated for us. It was AMAZING. It's just a cool experience to see their eyes light up when they learn about Jesus Christ in their own language. I know I've said this before, but I'm seriously obsessed with Chinese people. They are the sweetest! I've already arranged for two of my Chinese friends to come to my home for Christmas next year! Mom, you better start buying some chopsticks!

Tuesday: The highlight of my day is that we were able to do some family history work. As I created my tree on Family Search, the Spirit of Elijah really entered my heart. I felt an urge to find out as much information as I could about my family. How blessed are we to have temples on earth where we can perform sacred ordinances for ourselves and for those who have passed !? Oh my goodness...please do your family history work! I promise you will feel the Spirit more strong and abundant in your life!
Wednesday: We had district meeting which was good. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that a Temple Square sister from Taiwan is serving here now! Her and her companion live just two doors down, so we get to spend a lot of time withe them. She is so sweet, and I can tell she just loves talking to as many Chinese people as she can! By the way, she said my Chinese pronunciation is really good! Would ya look at that...I have the gift of tongues, and I didn't even leave the United States. I'm totally joking ps... but I do want to speak Chinese eventually!
ThursdayThursday was pretty hard for me! Two of our appointments cancelled :( 'Twas okay though! Things worked out how the Lord needed them too! We met with one of our investigators and taught her about temples and eternal marriage. She is from China as well, so it was an amazing experience to testify to her that families really can be together forever. I know for certain the sealing power has been restored to the earth, and inside Holy Temples of God, we can be sealed to our spouses and families for time and all eternity. We can live in the presence of God IN families. How neat is that!?
A cool thing that happened today was that I was super missing my dad, and my companion randomly asked me, "So, what do you love most about your father?" As you can imagine, my teared up, and my heart beat fast as I received a spiritual witness that God knows me. I know the Spirit prompted Sister Zaugg to ask me that question. Everyone, I hope you know God is aware of you! He knows who you are. He loves you and will always take care of you. Seek for Him, and you will find Him!
Friday: We do this thing called forums on Tuesdays and Fridays. I can't remember if I explained this before, but we can't proselyte on campus except for certain times and in certain places. On Friday, we were stationed in our place and began to talk with people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One particular young man came down the steps from the library with ear phones in his ear. His shirt had a couple of words on them--one of them being "truth." Something compelled me to read his shirt. As he was quickly walking past me, I ran after him and asked if I could read his shirt (yes, I'm so awkward). My reading of his shirt obviously started a conversation, and we talked to him about his religious beliefs. He was raised Muslim, but he said he didn't believe in that anymore--he was searching for a religion that was true! We testified to this young man that Christ's church that He set up when he was on the earth was lost for many centuries. We bore testimony to him that God called a prophet just like he has in the past to restore the original truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We continued to tell him of the Restored Gospel, and he said, "Wow. I actually want to go to this church!" He was touched by the Spirit. In fact, we were all touched by the Spirit. My testimony of this church grows each time I share it, and I'm overjoyed to have helped one of my brothers taste of God's truth.
Saturday: We watched the General Women's Meeting, and it was super good! I think they want us to attend the temple...did anyone else get that? I'm so so so super excited to attend the temple when I return home! That is one thing I miss most! As i stated before, the temple is where families are sealed for time and all eternity. I'm looking forward for the day I may be sealed to my spouse in the temple. Because I have eternity as my goal, my whole perspective on life changes. I no longer need worry about the little trials that happen in this life. Yes, they are difficult, but I know they are mean to teach my something that will prepare me for eternity. Our lives are molded for us each individually. In the midst of a trial, think, "What does Heavenly Father want me to learn from this?" or "How can this situation help me become more like the Savior?"
Sunday was awesome too! We went to church and partook of the Sacrament. We had Break the Fast and two lessons afterward. I'm almost out of time, so I have to go, but it was so good to virtually talk to everyone! I hope you all have a marvelous week! 
Sister Sparks