Monday, July 31, 2017

Episode 96: Baptismal Date Set!

Hey everybody,

Well, this week has been very eventful, especially yesterday. At the  beginning of the week Londar and Marylin told us that they are going to wait until the 12th of August to get married. When we were in the church we got a message from the cousin of Londar saying that now they aren't going to get married or baptized because they are still having problems. We are going to keep working with them to see if we can help them with these problems that they are having but as for now it looks like I won't be having any other baptisms before I go home.

Things are going very well with our other investigators. We have been working hard with Duvan and he is super excited. We were able to set a baptismal date for September 23 and he is happy because that is also his birthday.

Vicky is doing great also. She works out of town all week so the only day we can visit is Sunday, but every time we go she always has food for us, and the family has been really happy in the church. 

We are still working on finding new investigators as well. This week we found a great new investigator named Hilary. At first she didn't seem too interested, but the second visit we had was really great because she seemed to have changed a lot and was a lot more excited.

Well, I hope you all are doing well back at home.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

Monday, July 24, 2017

Episode 95: Finding New Investigators!

Hey everybody,

Things are going great here. This past week has been really great. We have been able to find several new investigators who have a lot of potential to progress. One of them is a sister named Vicky. We talked with her in a bakery next to our house and she told us that the missionaries had visited her a few years back and she invited us to her house. We went this past week and invited her and her two daughters to church, and she attended with the eldest daughter. It was amazing to see her there and yesterday in the afternoon we had another lesson with her and she is very excited about the church.

Well, all of our other investigators are doing great as well. This week Londar and Marylin are going to get married so we are really excited for that. Duvan, the brother of the YM president, is also progressing really well and is getting excited for his baptism.

I'm going to send a few photos as well from our activities this week.

Have a great week and talk to you guys soon.

Elder Parker

Monday, July 17, 2017

Episode 94: A Week Full of Miracles!

Hey everybody,

Well to start out, I want to thank everybody for their birthday messages. It means so much to me to have all your support.

Things are going insanely well here. This week has been full of miracles. First off, Marilyn was able to receive her and Londar's birth certificates and we were able to turn them in to the notary. They are going to be married on July 28th so we are super excited. Londar presented us with one of his cousins and he has been able to attend church as well and is enjoying it. Viviana has also been progressing a ton and she is bringing two of her nieces to the church activities as well. We also started working with the brother of the young men's president and now he is attending seminary and all the other ward activities. All in all we have a bunch of people who are progressing so we are thrilled out of our minds.

Well, about the progress on the temple. Here is the image that the office sent us.

Inline image 1
Barranquilla Colombia Temple in progress

Everything else is going great. We've got a lot to do so we have been keeping ourselves busy. 

Have a great week and I'll talk to you guys later.

Elder Parker

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Episode 93: Getting Baptized in the Future!

Hey everybody,

Well, I'm stuck writing again on Tuesday because yesterday we had a huge rainstorm and all the power went out in the town. 

But everything has been going great here. We have been working a lot with Viviana and she is progressing well. We invited her to a ward activity that we had and she loved it. She has been reading all of the assignments that we have been leaving for her as well. We challenged her to be baptized on September 30th and she was a little unsure of the date but says that she would like to be baptized in the future so we are happy with that.

We also have been able to start working with a few youth that came to church on Sunday. They are siblings of our branch's young men's president and we talked with the oldest who is 17 years old and he seems to be really enjoying the church as well.

As for the friends of Erick, we still haven't been able to do anything with him yet because the schedule for the students who are in their last year of schooling is terrible so he basically doesn't have any free time, but he has been able to help us in our visits with Viviana so we're still really thrilled with his support.

Healthwise I've been doing pretty well. I've had a cough this week but it hasn't been bothering me too much so I haven't paid too much attention. There are a lot of people right now who are sick with the flu so I've been carrying around a bottle of hand sanitizer with me wherever I go.

And well, that's about it. It's been pretty sunny here if you could imagine. But all is going great.

Have a great week and I'll be talking to you guys more in the future.

Elder Parker

Monday, July 10, 2017

Episode 92: Sharing the Gospel With the Youth!

Hey everybody,

Well yesterday we had transfers and me and my companion will continue together. Yesterday was also a holiday here in Colombia so there was no way for us to write. But things are going very well here. This past week we have been working like crazy visiting the members of the branch to try to activate a few of them and to keep the rest excited and motivated in the church. It has been great and the members have really been treating us with a little bit more respect because they see that we are working.

About our work with the youth, this past week we went to visit a youth named Erick and we told him about our goal to be able to help him to share the gospel with his friends and he told us that he already has a list of friends ready that he wants to introduce us to. We were just really excited and so this Friday he is going to help us to meet his list of friends. 

We were also able to find a new investigator on Saturday named Viviana and we invited her to church on Sunday and she got there on her own. We were so surprised when we saw her but also really happy.

Well, all in all we are very happy with everything that is going on right now and can't wait to see what happens in the future.

I hope everybody has a great week and we'll be talking again soon.

Elder Parker

Monday, June 26, 2017

Episode 91: Small Answer to Prayers!

Hey everybody,

Thank you so much for your letters! Things have been difficult this past week but we're going to keep on fighting! We had been working so much with a few of the investigators that we already have and throughout the week we had 8 or 9 that said they would attend church. But on Sunday when we were calling them and we even passed by the house of a few of them and they all cancelled except for Londar and Marilyn, who were able to attend. It was really tough but we tried our hardest.

About Londar and Marilyn, we have been trying to help them find their birth certificates but they seem to be lacking in their efforts to find everything. We have been trying to help them with a few of the commandments to get them even more prepared for baptism so we are hoping that all will go well.

And well, this week we also had a super great experience with a woman named Bertha. We contacted her daughter about 2 weeks ago and started to teach her last Sunday. She has been progressing a lot and we had a really spiritual lesson with her on Saturday. She was able to recognize a small answer to her prayers about our message and then we invited her to be baptized and she accepted. Unfortunately she couldn't attend church on Sunday either but we are going to keep working with her on that.

Everything else is going great here. Dad, I'm going to put in practice what you sent me about working with the youth and I'll let you know how things are going next week.

Elder Parker
with Elder Choez

Monday, June 19, 2017

Episode 90:Santo Tomas Poses Challenges!

Hey everybody,

Things have been going okay here in Santo Tomas. The work has been a little bit difficult here in the branch. We have been trying several different approaches to find investigators but up until now nothing has been able to lead to good results. We talked to a few of the youth but the problem is that we don't have much support from the Young Men's president so it makes it a little hard. But we're going to keep working and looking for anyone we can find.

As to Londar and Marilyn, we have been trying very hard to help them but the hard part is not to impede with their agency. We have talked to them many times about obedience and marriage, and they told us that they want to get married so we are leaving them in charge of getting their papers and everything filled so that the experience can be more genuine.

We were also able to have a open house on Saturday to show the new church building to the public. Unfortunately only 6 people came, but they seemed to enjoy our presentations, but none of them were able to attend church. But this week we are planning on visiting them to be able to follow up on the things that we talked about with them.

During the open house I was able to give a small presentation about The Family: A Proclamation to the World and it really impacted me about how important the gospel is in the family. I mean, it's possible that a family outside the church can find happiness, but it is a lot more difficult. And it is honestly impossible for a family to be together forever without the blessings of the temple. It's so amazing to have the gospel in our family.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

Monday, June 12, 2017

Episode 88: Time is Getting Short!

Hey everybody,

Things are going great here in Colombia. I was really surprised when I opened my email and found my flight information. It honestly shocked me a little bit because I hadn't realized how close the date is but I've still got a little more time to go so that's good.

This week we have been working a lot with Londar and Marilyn to help them with their wedding. The plan was for their wedding to take place on the 15th of June, but they are a little bit low on cash so the plan now is for the first weekend of July after Londar gets paid. They seem to be very excited with everything so we are going to try to continue supporting them in their efforts.

Unfortunately we are not doing very well by way of finding new investigators. I mean, every week we are finding more than 20 investigators, but until now none of the people we have contacted have attended church or accepted a baptismal date. I have been thinking about visiting the previous investigators in our area book to have a place to start looking. But I also liked dad's idea about working with the youth. Unfortunately there are only five or six youth in this branch, but we will try to work with them.

And well, I haven't been able to buy anything to remember Colombia but in a few weeks I'll start to have that in mind..

I hope you guys have a great week.

Elder Parker

Episode 89: Surprise Transfer!

Hey everybody,

Well, today we had a surprise transfer and so my companion left and now I am with a new companion. His name is Elder Choez and he has been in the mission for 9 weeks. He seems to be a great person and a very good missionary so I am looking forward to working with him for a few weeks.

As for our investigators, Londar and Marilyn are going to get married June 24th. Yesterday we had a very direct discussion with them and the branch president was with us too in order to help them decide to get married this month instead of waiting until the next. They still aren't sure about getting baptized yet but we are focusing more on their marriage and then we will work on their baptism.

Unfortunately the rest of our investigators are not doing so well. We have had to say goodbye to several because they haven't been completing their commitments but we have found several new investigators that we hope will progress here in the future. 

Unfortunately this week really hasn't been that interesting really. This week I am going to try to use family history to find new people to teach so we'll see how that goes.

Have a great week back at home,

Elder Parker

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Episode 87: The Power is Back On!

Hey everybody,

Things are going well here. We had a huge rain storm that just ended and caused the power to go out all over town. But it was great because now everything isn't as hot as before.

Well, things are going great with the members as well. The branch here only has about 100 members, and only 40 are active. But we are trying to work a little bit harder with them to encourage them and to be able to find people to teach. My companion has been in this area for 3 transfers already so he knows the members very well so that should help us to have their confidence. And we are going to try to offer service to the members so that they will be more likely to support us.

Currently we have a few investigators that we are working with. The closest that we have to baptism is a couple named Londar and Marilis. They are living together but have a goal to get married in June. They are really great, and our other investigators are too, but there is a big problem that we have. The people here rarely answer their cell phones so it makes it a little bit more difficult to do verification but we are working on that too.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

Monday, May 22, 2017

Episode 86: New Area; New Companion!

Hey everybody,

Well, as you can probably imagine, I got transferred. I am now in a branch called Santo Tomas, which is about 30 minutes from Barranquilla. My new companion is Elder Fernandez. He is from Peru and has been in the mission for about 9 months already. And well, this area is really big; the branch contains a lot of little towns, but we only work in 3 of them. And unfortunately this branch only has one companionship so it is going to be a lot of work but all will be well.

Before I left Castellana things were going very well. We have been trying to help Jhon because his mom told us that he is going through some hard times, but he seems very excited about the church and doesn't want to go to any other. Maria is still a little bit more skeptical but we had a great Stake Conference yesterday and the presiding Seventy gave a great talk directed to the investigators so hopefully that will help her to open her heart more.

All in all everything is going very well. I'm doing fine health wise and hopefully that will continue until I go home. I'll try to write a little more next week when I have a better idea on how everything is going.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

With Elder Fernandez

Monday, May 15, 2017

Episode 85: Testimony of the Priesthood!

Hey everybody,

It was so great to talk with you guys on Saturday. And again, Happy Mother's Day to mom, Mary, Sarah and Aubree.

Speaking of Mother's Day, there isn't much that happens here by way of celebration. From the worldly aspect the focus is more or less in taking a day to relax and spend time with the mothers. But one of the things that made me a little sad is that there was very little attention paid in the church. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the talks yesterday, but I always enjoyed the special messages that were shared about mothers back home in our ward, and would like to see that tradition carried on in other places.

Our investigators are doing well. Jhon and Maria are still progressing, but unfortunately Jhon changed his college schedule so this past week we haven't been able to visit them. And the other sister that we had found, Eli, was travelling so she wasn't able to attend church either. But we have been working a lot in our efforts to find new investigators, and this week we have found several who may be able to progress.

Well, this week we have been putting a focus in our studies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and with that the importance to invite every person to come to Christ and be baptized. In our efforts to make these invitations, I have been strengthened in my testimony of the Priesthood, because it is what makes our baptism valid and even necessary. I know that if this power was not on the earth, the Lord's atonement wouldn't have nearly the same impact as it has today; all because the church has been restored through Joseph Smith. What a great message to share!

I love you all so much and hope that you are well.

Elder Parker

Monday, May 8, 2017

Episode 84: Investigators With Potential!

Hey everybody,

Things are going well here in Colombia. We are still working with Jhon and Maria and all appears well for their baptismal date. This week we also started working with another woman named Eli and she also has a lot of potential. We met her on Saturday and she attended church the next day which was really great.

Things are going well with my companion as well. He's been able to help me out a little bit more now and I'm getting a little more patient as well so that's good.

I am going to try to make the call at 4pm my time so if you guys could make all of the arrangements for that time.

I'm in a little bit of a rush but I'll try to write a little bit more next week.

Elder Parker

Friday, May 5, 2017

Episode 83:Baptism Date Set!

Hey everybody,

Things have been going very well here in Colombia. This last week has been a little bit difficult because we have had several rainy days that didn't let us get out to work as much as I would have liked but aside from that all is well. Jhon and his mom are still progressing very well. They are attending church every week and have been able to know several people in the ward. They are currently preparing to be baptized on June 3rd.

Right now we don't have very many fixed investigators, but yesterday several of the members had invited friends or family to attend church so we will try to contact these people during the week to help them to learn more. 

On Saturday I had a really weird experience. We had been invited to the baptism of a girl who was being baptized in the ward, and we decided to attend and to invite investigators. But the weirdest part was that when they were doing the confirmation, they invited me to participate. It was really strange, because I'd never before participated in a convert confirmation, much less of a ward baptism. But it was a great experience and I really felt very grateful to these members.

About the phone call, I honestly haven't been thinking about a specific time to do it. We will probably be using the computer of the bishop so I will try to talk to him this week to arrange a time to call, but I imagine it will be in the afternoon.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker


Monday, April 24, 2017

Episode 82: Great Opportunity to Improve Teaching Skills!

Hey everybody,

Things have been going well this past week. We have been working like crazy to help the people to attend church. And well, even though the majority of the people we had visited didn't attend church, it was still awesome because Jhon Jairo, the kid I talked about last week, attended church with his mom. We were super excited to see them there and they have just been really excited with the church as well. 

Something really crazy happened yesterday. We had talked with the Ward Mission Leader about having the Mission Cordination Meeting in the morning before sacrament meeting, and so we got to the church about 45 minutes early to be able to talk with him. But just as we walked in to the chapel, a sister came up to me asking me to play the piano for a special musical number. But the problem was that I didn't know the song and it wasn't a hymn so I had to learn the song really fast. It went okay so I has happy with that.

Well, things have been a little difficult with my companion. He is really great and all, but he is very quiet and I have to do everything before he starts to do it. But I have been able to learn a lot of patience so that's good and it has been a great opportunity to improve my teaching skills.

Well, the week after general conference our mission president gave us the goal to read all of the book of mormon in 6 months, and because I don't have 6 months, I decided to do it before I go home from the mission. This time I decided to focus my attention in all of the ways that the prophets or other people recognized the spirit and how they were able to recognize it, because I feel that it would be something very important to be able to help the people we teach to recognize the many ways to feel the spirit. I am currently reading in 2 Nephi and it has been very interesting to see the many witnesses that Laman and Lemuel received and that they continued being wicked, when Nephi from the beginning had been willing to obey.

As to the call for Mother's day it will be on Saturday.

I hope you guys have a great week!

Elder Parker

Monday, April 17, 2017

Episode 81: Lots of Fish and Sweets!

Hey everybody,

Well, things have been going okay this past week. The work has definitely been a bit slower because of all of the vacations that people are taking for Easter break. And here unfortunately the parties began Thursday and didn't end until yesterday so the few people that were in their homes weren't very interested in listening to us.

Here the big tradition for Easter is that they eat lots of fish and different types of sweets. We only ate fish like 2 times in all the week, but it was still really good.

About the baptism, the girl's name is Geinis Yepez. We are still working with Keila but she has been out of town all week so she probably won't be ready to be baptized t
he end of this month but we are still trying to see how soon she will be ready.

Also this week we have been finding some great new people. We were able to visit a young man that the missionaries had visited one time before and we had a great talk with him and he accepted a baptismal date and was very excited to attend church. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to go so we will have to keep working there.

I hope you all have a great week and I'll talk to you soon.

Elder Parker

Geinis' baptism

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Episode 80:New Companion and a Baptism!

Hey everybody,

Things are going great here in Colombia. Today we had transfers and my companion left the area. I am still here but now with a new companion. His name is Elder Dávila and he is from Peru. He seems to be a great missionary so we'll see how everything goes.

Well, on Saturday we had a baptism. It was a young woman from the area of the other elders who left and so we ended up being responsible for everything. It was really great and even though we didn't do all of the teaching it was still a great experience. We have another investigator that we received from them named Keila who is preparing for baptism at the end of April. And the members who live in that sector are also very supportive and are frequently giving references so we have a lot of work to do.

Aside from that, everything has been very normal this past week. And word is that Elder Christofferson will be coming next week to talk to us so I am really excited for that. 

I'll keep you guys informed with everything that is going on with our investigators and everything else.

Have a great week and I'll try to send pictures this next week.
Elder Parker

Episode 79: Investigators Struggling!

Hey everybody,

Things are going well here in Colombia. The conference was so great and I loved all of the messages that were shared. But I have to say that I was not at all expecting the news that you gave me. It's really sad to know that Grandma passed away but it makes it so much better to know that we can see her again.

As to what is going on here, things aren't going too great with our investigators. We were talking with Ruggelis and he told us that he really has no interest in knowing if the Book of Mormon is true or not. We tried to explain its importance but he wouldn't listen. In the end we had to let him go because he didn't want to progress. Even though it was really hard for us, I can only imagine how much harder it was for his mom to hear him say that but she was very supportive even in sharing her own testimony of the Book of Mormon. I hope that in the future he will be able to change his mind.

Antonio is doing fine, but our struggle is that he works Sunday mornings. I really never imagined how much of a struggle it would be for some people to keep the Sabbath day holy but here it is one of the hardest commandments because it is such a large leap of faith stop working one day of the week when your family literally only eats if you work every day. It's something that we will have to keep working on with him.

Before seeing dad's letter, I had no idea that there were any problems here in Colombia but we just received a letter about a special fast Sunday this next Sunday for the victims of these struggles. Please let me know anything else that you are discovering.

Can I ask a favor? My companion would like a little information about studying in BYU. He is from Brazil and is interested in knowing about the options that exist to help students attend from other countries. If you could send me any information about that we would be very grateful.

Thank you so much for all that you do. I hope that all are well at home. Please send my love to Granddaddy and tell him that he is so special to me and that he will be in my prayers.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Episode 78: Questions Answered by the Book of Mormon!

Hey everybody,

Everything is going great here in Colombia. This week we have been looking for investigators like crazy and have been able to find a few people with a lot of potential to progress. One of them is a man named Antonio and he is just so great. We contacted him in front of his house and talked with him a little bit. He told us that his wife had passed away about 4 months ago. We were able to talk to him about the Plan of Salvation and the questions that are answered in the Book of Mormon about what happens after death and it was awesome. At the end he said "I'm not sure if you were sent here by God or not, but this has been so great to hear." 

We also have an investigator named Ruggelis that we have been working with and on Saturday we were talking with him and just trying to answer a ton of questions that he has and at the end of the lesson he accepted a baptismal date and even attended sacrament meeting for the first time. We are going to talk to him tonight to see how he felt with everything.

With Duvan's family we still haven't been able to make any progress but we are trying to talk a little better with his dad. We were working with his brother but he still hasn't made any efforts to change so we haven't been working with him as much. 

I'm not sure about the progress on the temple but the last time I saw it they had finished the basic structure and were starting to work on the roof. I'm not sure as to where they are now but I believe that the estimated date of completion is in 2018.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Episode 77: Señorita Colombia Lock Down!

Hey everybody,

Well, I am writing today because all of the internets in our area were closed yesterday because it was a holiday. But unfortunately I don't have much time because we have to start to work soon.

I'm glad to hear that everything is going well back home. This past week we had a bit of a surprise because Cartagena was the host of the Señorita Colombia beauty pageant this past weekend, and because of that we were closed in our house every night after 4pm. It was not a very productive week but one of the good things is that Nataly was able to be baptized. But because of the close-in we were not able to attend the baptismal service but everybody told us that all went well, but now we don't have a picture of the service. But with that baptism we now don't have anyone who is actively preparing for baptism. This week will be more-or-less pure contacting until we have more people to work with.

This week I read 2 Nephi 27 during my personal study and some things that really stood out to me are all of the prophesies about the restoration and Joseph Smith. It really is amazing to think of the extent of depth that was put into the prophesies, such as details about the education of Joseph Smith and the losing of the manuscript. And even more interesting is that many of the prophesies come directly from the book of Isaiah. It  really shows that the Bible and the Book of Mormon testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

Thank you so much for all of your support. I have been able to learn so much this week about the love that God has for me and it's more more than I can explain over an email but I really know that God is my Heavenly Father and he loves me more than anything. Even to the extent that he has entrusted me with his most precious harvest. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the church that he restored is the true church.

Have a great  week,

Elder Parker

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Episode 76: After Baptism Everything Changed!

Hey everybody,

Everything is going great here in Colombia. We just had a little bit of rain yesterday so things were a little bit cooler.

Also Nataly was interviewed and is all ready to be baptized on Saturday. We are really excited for her and the ward is too which is great because we are hoping that we have a good attendance at the baptism.

Also today I found out that Jhony's mom got baptized. I don't know if you guys remember, but Jhony is one of my converts from when I was in Las Moras. It's great because when I was there she didn't want anything to do with the church but when her son got baptized everything changed.

And well, here in Castellana there isn't very much going on right now. We don't have very many investigators so we have been trying to find new people to teach. More than anything we have been knocking doors but with very little success. We are trying to find some new strategies to find investigators this week. One of our ideas is to visit a family of members every day to try to excite them for mission work and to receive references. We are also using the area book to look for old investigators.

I hope you guys have a great week.

Elder Parker

Monday, March 6, 2017

Episode 75:Everything's Great in Cartagena!

Hey everybody,

I'm glad everything is going great back home. So we had transfers and I am still in the same area with the same companion. He is going to complete 6 months in this area this transfer so I imagine that he will be going before I do.

Everything is going great with Duvan and his family. We haven't been able to talk with his dad so nothing has changed there but we are trying to get Duvan ready to receive the priesthood. 

Nataly is doing well too. We are trying to get her ready for an interview this Saturday

This week we didn't have any luck finding new investigators almost all week. We were able to find a ton of new parts of our area that haven't been worked very much, but nobody wanted to receive us. But yesterday everything changed. All of the people that we contacted received us and a few were even really interested in the message and said that we could return to continue sharing. It was so great that all of our efforts during the week paid off in the end.

Everything was normal with the Carnavales because they only occurred in Barranquilla, not here in Cartagena. But I heard that we will be having another celebration in April when they have the beauty pageant for the Queen of Cartagena. I'm not sure if anything will happen for us or not.

Have a great week.

Elder Parker
Duvan's baptism

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Episode 74: Duvan was Baptized!

Hey everybody,

Things are going great here. This week we will be having transfers, but because of the Carnavales of Barranquilla the transfers will not happen until Thursday. Our mission president also sent us a letter saying that only 16 changes will be made so almost everyone will be staying in the same place this time. We won't be finding out about any changes until Wednesday so there is little to report on that subject.

Everything went great with Duvan's baptism. His mom was able to attend and also attended church on Sunday. His dad was not able to attend but we had a conversation with him that was really excellent. He told us how glad he was that his son would be baptized, and even told us that he would like for all of his family to have the chance to be baptized in the church. He says that he knows the church is true but his job does not give him the ability to attend church and he is not able to find work in any other place. It was so great to know this and now we have a determination much greater to help him and his family.

We have another investigator who is preparing for baptism. It is a young girl named Nataly. All of her family are members of the church, but she is 9 years old and still hasn't been baptized yet so we are trying to prepare her for that. We also have a few other investigators but as of right now none of them are progressing for baptism.

Have a great week and I will talk to you guys later. And sorry, I didn't bring my camera with me so I will have to send pictures next time.

Elder Parker

Monday, February 20, 2017

Episode 73: Duvan Ready for Baptism!

Hey everybody,

Everything is going well here. We were able to have the interview for Duvan and now he is all ready for his baptism this Saturday. He is really excited and his family is too. We are going to try to have all of his family attend the baptism but I don't know how difficult that will be. In his family there are 7 members, his parents, who both aren't members, his oldest brother is less active, the second brother is active and came home from his mission about 3 months ago, his third brother is an investigator that we are teaching, then his sister, and he is the youngest. We are teaching all of them with the exception of the dad who has a very difficult schedule.

Today was a good day. Our P-day activity was a grill in the church while playing volleyball. It was interesting because I was working with a missionary from Argentina to do the cooking but a bunch of people kept coming up to us and trying to do stuff and it was just a little bit stressful. But in the end everything went well and the food was good too.

So I haven't been able to buy a suit yet because I am waiting until I leave Cartagena because things here are a little bit more expensive. I had to buy some new shoes to play soccer and they are okay. I bought them in the center of Cartagena and they only were about 15 dollars so they aren't an official mark or anything but they should last until I go back home. Aside from that I haven't had much need to buy anything.

In this ward we don't have to teach Gospel Essentials and I don't even have to play piano as much as before. In this ward there are a few youth that are also able to play piano so I usually only play one or two songs a week. 

Have a great week and talk to you guys later.

Elder Parker

Monday, February 13, 2017

Episode 72: Romario got Baptized!

Hey everybody,

I am glad that everything is going well back at home. 

So Romario was baptized on Saturday. It was really great being there with him and the best part was that his little brother, who is 8 years old, came up to us at the end saying that he wants to be baptized too.

Duvan is also doing great. He is really excited to be baptized so we are trying to finish teaching him the lessons this week for his interview. And yesterday we had another miracle because the mom and the brother of Duvan were both able to attend church. The mom has attended in the past but we still haven't been able to talk to her about getting married so for now she is not getting ready for baptism. But the brother we have been able to teach a few times now and he is really great. He has had a few challenges in the past but has the desire to learn more and has a lot of great questions that we have helped him to answer.

This ward is really interesting. The bishop here is relatively new, he has about 4 months in this calling. But he is really hardworking but also very direct and really demands respect from the members, but in a good way. The family that prepares our lunch is really great too. The parents are more or less active in the church. They both work in a hotel about an hour from Cartagena so their time is a little tight, especially on Sunday. But they have attended church two times since I got here so that is great. They have 3 kids, a daughter who is preparing to go on a mission, a son who was baptized about a year ago, and a son who is waiting to be baptized ( he is 8 years old).  They are really great people and there are lots of other good families in this ward too.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker

Just hangin' with Elder Da Silva at Subway
Romario ready for baptism

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Episode 71: A Small Miracle!

Hey everybody,

I hope everyone is doing great back at home.

Romario is officially ready for baptism. He passed his interview and all is ready for his baptism on Saturday. We have another young man that we are preparing for baptism named Duvan, and he is such a rock star. My companion started teaching him the week before I got here and he has already attended church 4 times. He is really excited about the church and frequently asks us about when he will be baptized. We are trying to prepare him for February 25, which gives us about 2 weeks to finish the lessons with him.

I'll be honest with you guys, it's been a little bit difficult adapting to this new area. All of my previous areas have been in neighborhoods that weren't very economically successful, so there were always plenty of people to teach. This area is a lot better off, and the people aren't quite as humble or willing to listen to us, so it has been difficult to find new investigators to begin teaching. We have been knocking a lot of doors with little success, but on Friday we were able to see a small miracle. We were knocking doors all morning without success, and then we talked to a man watching tv in his house. When we started to talk, he went immediately to the door to let us in, so part of me thought that he was going to contend with us and so that was a little scary. But everything turned out great, we were able to talk to the man and his wife about the Restoration and they agreed to continue listening to us. And they even gave us a glass of soda!! And even if they don't progress, it was still a great experience to see that some people will give us the time of day sometimes.

Thanks for all of your help. Have a great week.

Elder Parker

Monday, January 30, 2017

Episode 70: Two Investigators!

Hey everybody,

Things are going great here in La Castellana. I am still getting to know the people here but have already been able to know some great people. We actually have two investigators that are getting very close to baptism. The first is named Romario. He is 11 years old and his grandma is a member of the church. He is set to have his interview this Saturday so hopefully everything goes well with that.

Our house here is great. We are living in an apartment above the bishop's dad, and the bishop lives in the apartment right next to us. The people here are really great, and we have a great family that prepares our meals. I am really enjoying this new area and so all is well.

Have a great week and I will talk to you later.

Elder Parker

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Episode 69: Transferred to La Castellana!

Hey everybody,

Things seem to be going great there at home. I honestly can't believe that the Green Belt flooded so much. I really do hope that the house doesn't flood.

Well, things are going great here. I did get transferred. I am now in an area called La Castellana here in Cartagena. I only moved about 40 minutes from Arjona, but it really is a whole new world here compared with the small town life.

My new companion is named Elder Da Silva. He is from Sao Paulo, Brazil and has about 8 months in the mission. He is really fun so we've been having a blast this week. 

This mission does have one senior couple serving here, but they are in charge of the self-sufficiency of the members. They usually travel to different parts of the mission, but usually stay in Barranquilla.

Well, I'll try to include a few more details next week. Have a great week!!

Elder Parker
With Elder Da Silva

Monday, January 16, 2017

Episode 68: Things are great in Arjona!

Hey everybody,

Well everything is going great here in Arjona. I am not sure yet but am about 99% positive that I will be leaving Arjona because my companion was assigned to be the new district leader here. It will be interesting to only pass 3 months in an area and I am a little sad but we'll see what happens.

So this week everything has been going great. On Thursday we had to go to Cartagena for a medical appt. for my companion and I was able to take out the money that day so everything is good there. I still haven't bought anything yet but will have to buy some new running shoes because the ones I brought from home broke while playing soccer.

Everything is going great with the piano too. I have been playing every week in sacrament meeting and the bishop even asked me to help arrange a choir for ward conference next month. It sure will be difficult if next month I am not here in Arjona, but I still don't know anything for sure.

About the new schedule, I really do appreciate the added time on Monday, especially because we are really far away from any type of malls or shops here in Arjona. Today we lost about 2 hours in bus going to and from Cartagena to eat lunch in McDonalds, so you can only imagine how little time there would have been with 3 hours of studying too. But things are going great and I am very excited for this next transfer.

Have a great week and I'll talk to you later.

Elder Parker

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Episode 67: Finally got his Christmas package!

Hey everybody,

I'm glad to hear that everything is going well back at home. This week has been great, especially because I finally received the package!! Thank you so much for all of the food, I'm about half-way done with it. 

So this week has been very interesting because we received the new mission schedule. There is a lot that has been changed. I'm not sure if you have already heard, but now the missionaries do their daily planning first thing in the morning, and after that personal study. At 10 we leave to start working and are responsible to find 20 minutes for companionship study and 30 minutes for language study during the day. It's really interesting because now there isn't as strict of a schedule and we can choose exactly how we are going to work. And on p-days now we only have to do personal study and the rest of the day is free. 

And well, as for my companion, he is a great missionary. His name is Elder Alpiri de Bolivia. He is the second- to-last brother in a family of 12 brothers and sisters. He and his younger sister are the only members in his family, but his sister is less active. He is in the same group as Elder Perez, the missionary that I trained.
Right now we don't have very many investigators that we are working with. Yesterday we found a woman that is super excited to hear about the church and she is married with her husband, something that is very hard to find here in Arjona. But she is willing to attend church on Sunday and wants to invite her husband too!

Well, that's a little bit of how our week has been. I'll try to send a few pictures next week.

Have a great week,

Elder Parker