Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Week 39

Hello! My mind is like a flurry of crazy right now, so I can't even remember what we did this week honestly! 

Well, I'll tell you about this crazy cool experience we had this week. We were visiting a member of the ward who had a stroke. He lives in a Health Care Center, and not a lot of people visit him, so we decided to go pay him a visit. We talked and read about the Plan of Salvation with him. He's seriously one of the sweetest people ever! He has a picture of the First Vision above his bed. Anyway, his nurse heard as we were talking with him, and before we left, she stopped us and said, "I just loved the way you girls were talking to that man. I want you to come teach me like that!" This woman was from Africa and just so happens to live in the same apartment complex as another member from Africa :) We're teaching her tonight! I'm so excited!

Two night ago there was a "light up" in my area with a big Christmas tree and what not. I LOVE Christmas, so it was super fun, but it was also a great opportunity to talk to people! It was super sad because we talked to these teenagers about Jesus Christ, and they made a lot of inappropriate comments, so it made us pretty angry! After that, we cooled down by taking a picture by the Christmas tree. We were prompted to talk with this family that took our picture, but we both ignored it. We thought, "Well, we're super mad about what happened, and it's getting late. They have a bunch of kids running around anyway." As we were almost out of the area, the prompting was so strong we couldn't ignore it. We ran back and talked to this family, and their reaction was SO AWESOME. They had huge smiles and said, "Yeah! We're always looking into going to church!" I'm so excited to share with them God's plan for families!

Another cool thing happened yesterday. We got a media referral a while ago for a family who lives in the projects. We've tried to contact them a couple of times, but they were never home. Yesterday, we visited again, and again, they weren't home. On our way out of the apartment complex, we saw this woman watching her children play. We were able to talk to her about temples and how families can be sealed together. We're going to meet with her family next week! I'm so grateful we received that media referral. Even if they never answer their door, I know it was a miracle that we met that lady. 

We're going hiking today, so I'll hopefully send pictures next week! I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be a missionary for 9 more months. These are the best months EVER!!! Love you!

Sister Sparks

Monday, November 17, 2014

week 38


Holy awesome week!!!! The Lord is SO good. Our goal for this transfer is to really get the ward pumped for the Work of Salvation which isn't "baptizing peeps" but
1. member missionary work
2. retention of new converts
3. reactivation of less active members
4. family history and temple history work
5. teaching the Gospel
Cool, huh?? In our Zone Training this week, we talked about how as members of Christ's Church, we have to be united! If we're not "one" we're "not His." That's a pretty powerful statement! That means we must work together (missionaries and members) to forward the Work of Salvation wherever we are! We met with our bishop to talk about his vision for the ward. He really wants to focus getting people to the temple. That's a PERFECT goal. A quote I really like from Elder Nelson is, "Missionary work should begin and end with our eyes on the blessings of the Holy Temple." That's probably not 100% correct, but you get the picture. Instead of just picturing people being baptized, we should focus on helping them make and keep sacred covenants with God inside His temples. I know I am sooooo grateful for the knowledge that my family (because we've been sealed in the temple) is eternal. Guess What! That is God's plan for ALL of His children. He desires all of His children to be sealed to their families. That has been his plan since the beginning of time. Heavenly Father is just so amazing. His is perfectly righteous. It's good to know we can trust Him :)

So our finding binder was lost before Sister Williams and I were here, so it was a little bit stressful not having ANY information about the area. We didn't have any former and potential records, so we didn't have any clue who to visit. We've come to understand that was what God needed to happen. I believe God needed a fresh start in this area. We wasted no time then! We've been doing everything we can to find those who the Lord has prepared! We have witnessed sooooo many miracles! Multiple times this week (once at a car shop and once at Chipotle), people have asked US about the Church. We've been able to share information with them invite them to learn about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. AHHH so cool!!!!

Yesterday we were walking around in the Projects, and I was honestly a little bit scared. I was letting my fear get the better of me. I was saying "Hi" to people but not inviting them to learn about this important message. We decided to just go for it with the next person we saw. Well, the next person we saw sort of scared us...BUT we just put our faith in the Lord, and we talked to this man about the Book of Mormon and how it's "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." His face just lit up! He was interested in reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church eventually (he hasn't been to church in a long time) and us sharing more information with him! SO COOL!!!! Goodness, it was such an amazing experience. 

This morning Sister Williams and I did an activity in Preach My Gospel where we studied about the Sons of Mosiah. They were such awesome people! They faced a TON of persecution, but they suffered their afflictions with patience. Because they were patient, the Lord not only blessed them with success in teaching the Gospel, but He also blessed them with stronger testimonies of Jesus Christ and His teachings. I feel like that's exactly what is happening right now. Though things are sometimes difficult, we're trying our  best to be patient and face adversity with hope, and we've been blessed with success and stronger testimonies! 

That is what is on my heart right now! Be grateful for your families! Love them :) I love all of you! Hope you have a fantastic week!

Sister Sparks

btw I forgot to tell you this! My companion goes home in 4 weeks, so I'm the designated driver. Driving in Pittsburgh is scary...I have almost hit a deer, ran two stop signs, and ran a red light...all in 1 week HAHAHAH. It was an accident!!! kloveyoubye

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 37

Oh my goodness HELLO!!!! I'm so excited to talk to you all today!! I'm in Pittsburgh now!! I thought I was going to get called to the Pittsburgh mission and never actually get to serve in Pittsburgh! It's so different than State College! I'm so used to approaching college age students about the Gospel, so this has definitely thrown me for a bit of a loop, but the Lord is helping me :) 
My companion is Sister Williams. She is literally THE sweetest person in the world!! She actually goes home in 5 weeks, so I'm so sad!! She is hardest worker I have EVER met, and I am learning so much from you! GUESS WHAT!??? We thought we looked familiar to each other, and we figured out why....WE TOOK BEGINNING CLOGGING TOGETHER AT BYUI!!! How crazy is that!?? crazy. I'm addicted to clogging wherever I go, so that's how we figured it out hahaa. This week on Wednesday I will hit my 9 month mark!! I have mixed feelings about it. It's cool to think I've been a missionary for 9 months, but it also makes me sad because these 18 months are so special. I want to be a set apart servant of Christ my whole life! Alas, my time will come to return home, but we don't have to think of that right now :)

I've been reflecting on my past 9 months, and I've decided that I've like a TON. I'm also trying to stop saying "like," so I will be doing 10 pushups for that later. My understanding of the Gospel has increased so much. Because I know more about the Gospel, I've been able to apply it in my life better. As I exercise faith in Christ, repent of my mistakes, renew baptismal covenants by taking the sacrament each week, I seriously feel so good. I used to think happiness was something else, but I've just never felt more joyful. I can actually sleep at night now WHOOHOO! I've adopted the practice of putting wax in my ears when I sleep, so when I lose the wax or forget it somewhere, I go nuts. Sorry that was random. 

So I'm an STL (Sister Training Leader) now. I think I mentioned this in my last weekly letter, but it basically means that I get to learn like crazy from other missionaries! I'm so excited!!! We had our first MLC (missionary leadership counsel) where we talked about how we can improve the mission. We talked a lot about keeping an eye single to the glory of God. Sister Williams literally lives that statement. Right when I arrived, we got to work. We walked the streets and knocked on doors talking to everyone we could. We try to always keep our minds focused on the work. Sister Williams has greatly blessed my life already. In D&C 4 it says, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of god, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work." I'm learning much about what it means to be a servant of the Lord. being a dedicated servant means we constantly strive to develop Christ-like attributes. This transfer I've decided to work on patience--patience with myself and others. I have a tendency to require perfection. I set these crazy standards for myself that I can never reach. I often think with a "black and white" mentality-- you're either perfect or hopelessly flawed. I never leave room for improvement! Because I hold myself to this standard, I hold others to this standard. I've seen this make companionship relationships struggle. 
The Lord is so loving. He's not a harsh, God, but he's not a "comfortable God"either as Elder Holland says. He expects us to work hard and follow Him. He's merciful too. Always remember His love for you and His love for everyone else on this earth. I've come to know we cannot be perfect as Him, but we sure can be perfect in trying! We fall short, but His Atoning sacrifice allows us to be forgiven and try try again. His grace is sufficient for all those who have faith unto repentance (Ether 12:27). He gives us the strength to become better. 

This week has been a week of miracles!! We decided to tract a certain road one day. We thought of some people we thought we would meet. Sister Williams pictured a guy in a red shirt, and I pictured a guy with a beard in a blue shirt. As we knocked on doors, a guy in a red shirt answered the door, and we taught him about the Restored Gospel. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon, and he accepted a return appointment. SO COOL, HUH!?? The Lord is preparing people! We also talked to a guy in a blue jacket! We saw a girl walking down the street as we were about to knock on a door. Sister Williams thought she recognized her, so she waved. It turned out not to be the person she thought it was, but that wave gave us an opportunity to approach her. It turns out her and her boyfriend have been looking for a church! We're so excited to meet with them!!

Guess who is in my district...the Assistants to the President!!! I WAS FREAKING OUT WHEN I FOUND OUT! I was soooo nervous to roleplay with them and junk. The Lord gave me courage though, and we get along with them well. I realize now they're also just young adults wanting to serve the Lord. We all went out to dinner after MLC, and the dinner was taking longer than an hour. To show Heavenly Father we cared about using His time wisely, we went into the bathroom and prayed for help to find people who were prepared. We sat down next to a couple who was waiting to be seated and talked to them for a long time about their families. It turned out they lived in our area. We weren't able to exchange phone numbers to meet, but I know they'll be put in our paths again :) Now here's the cool part: our waitress was super nice, and she was wearing a cross around her neck, so we assumed she was Christian. SHE actually approached us about the Church, and we talked to her a little bit about what we do. She would walk way to take care of other guests, but the Spirit prompted her to come back and ask more questions. We ended up inviting her to church and are going to meet with her this week! Seriously.....????? Heavenly Father is SO awesome. When we show Him we want to help His children, He gives us opportunities :)

Okay, I must go, but I'm so very excited for this week! I've made some awesome goals to work toward, and I'm excited to learn! I hope everyone is having a great Monday!! 

Sister Sparks

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week 36

To everyone who reads my updates!

HELLO!!!! Today is just so good! I have never enjoyed daylight savings time so much in my entire life. SO GOOD. This morning we woke up to go to the gymn, and it was actually light outside! I won't be able to enjoy the gym for too much longer though because....

I'M GETTING TRANSFERRED. WHAT THE!??? Yeah! I've been in State College for 6 months, so I definitely expected to leave though. Sister Zaugg will be staying here and taking over the area. I'm so excited for her! Ohhhh let me tell ya something--I'm in love with this place. I want to move out here and come to Penn State and be in the branch here! Seriously...
I'm so so so sad to leave, but I'm excited to go where the Lord needs me. I will be going to a new area on Tuesday (tomorrow). I don't know where yet, but I do know I'm becoming a Sister Training Leader. That basically just means that I get to exchange areas with other missionaries every so often and learn from them :) I'm so excited! It's a little bit scary because I feel very under qualified, ya know? Alas! I do know the Lord qualifies us to hold certain positions as we pray, study, work hard, etc. 

Something I know for sure is that Heavenly Father love all of His children. No matter what religion, origin, ethnicity, family life, or whatever...He loves us! He has a perfect plan for all of us to return to live with Him and receive eternal blessings. I know through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, this eternal life can be achieved. ALSO, not only must be obey, but God asks us to change our very nature. We can't just obey the commandments grudgingly. God asks us to love Him. If we love Him, we willingly and joyfully obey and serve Him. Now, I'm not saying He expects us to perfectly do these things because we're definitely human, but even if we have the slightest desire to love Him, He will help that desire grow as we put in effort. Did that make sens? Well, either way, I know it's true. I've seen Heavenly Father change me in so many ways through the Atonement of Christ. The Gospel of Jesus 
Christ is not supposed to hinder us make us feel like we're in bondage. It's designed to help us become more like Christ. It's designed to help us be free. I have literally never felt as free as I do now. As we please God, things change in our lives. AH. I'm just so darn happy. 

I don't know what my address will be in my new area, but I'll send it next week! I hope everything is well wherever you all are! Just know that I love you all so much! The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, and if I have ever done anything to hurt or offend you in ANY way, I ask for your forgiveness. I'm so excited to see everyone again! 


Sister Sparks

generations pic

the gibby's and me. they might be the favorite people in the world

Rebecca and me a jess

me and adrian and our christmas socks YES.

love this asian chick. she's SO sassy. i taught her slang. yay. she tells me to stop learning mandarin because i'm not good at it hhahaha

She's my puppet

President and shelby and me being so asian like sis. kuo

President and his wife

Me and Adrian

muh girls!

me and jess and josh. branch mission leader and wife. seriously love them so much.

me and sarah

me and Emily

hhahaaah sis. kuo is so asian

happy halloween

we were "Christmas-- the essence of the gospel”

me and carlie (the hot pirate)

last district meeting

holding me because i'm leaving

this is a woman from the Episcopal church where we do service. I love her!!!!

me and emily