Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Heavenly Father's Hand is Here in this Area

Hello from Culbertson/ Bainville/Fort Kipp, Montana... That's right.. not Sidney!  I know that last week I told you I was staying in Sidney and Sisters Miles and I would split the area in half-- and I was so excited to stay and still work with some of our investigators because we had so many progressing.  But it didn't feel right to me to be staying in Sidney.  I really felt like I should open up some nearby areas.  I guess I like punishment or something because these areas will be very hard and Sister Miles and my zone leaders looked at me like I was crazy.  The spirit, however, was strong when I voiced the idea. I knew it was right.  And then.... I got the call.  I would definitely be opening a couple of brand new areas.  This is a little different than pink washing because these areas have never had the missionaries.  One of the areas is Fort Kipp and it is an Indian reservation.  Ojibwe and a few Sioux and Assiniboine live there.  I am excited to work with the Ojibwe people again.  We will still be in the Sidney ward because the boundaries up here are huge and we will still live in Fairview and also cover that community.  Culbertson and Bainville are both very spread out, tiny towns.  Needless to say, we will be doing a lot of driving and even more walking. 

From the moment it was decided I was extremely stressed out and part of me wished I could just go be with a companion who is already in an established area, but I know that this is right and it's what Heavenly Father wants me to do. Yesterday at church we learned about obedience to the things Heavenly Father has commanded us to do. Sometimes, these things are hard and we don't really want to obey but if we do we will see blessings.  Blessings will and already have come from this. 

Yesterday in relief society we learned about going through trials. It was a trial seeing Sister Miles and her new companion in the ward with my old investigators there at church, progressing and getting ready for baptism while Sister House and I are back to square one with no investigators. It's just like when we first got to Sidney and had nothing.  Not to be a downer but I sort of felt like I was being abandoned.  Then in Relief Society during our lesson on trials I remembered that when we compare our situations to others we rob ourselves of happiness-  "comparison is the thief of joy."  That is a concept I rarely think about but it is so true!  After church I received an amazing priesthood blessing and even though I still felt a little sad, I had a great sense of hope and urgency for the new area we are opening.  There is a reason we were called to do this and I can't wait to find out what that reason is!

Later that afternoon, we went to Culbertson because that town in particular is one that I have felt prompted to visit.  While in that area we met a less active family from Utah. They were so sweet and let us in. The two older boys, C and R, are ten and eight and we found out that neither of them have been baptized. The parents have been talking about going to church again and said they have reached a point where they want the spirit in their home again. We were so blessed to find this family and honestly, if we never split the area the way we did, we wouldn't have gone all the way to Culbertson looking for them.  Seeing a miracle come from the split so quickly was such a blessing.

It is still a trial to open up another area. I have done it my whole mission and I have started to ask Heavenly Father, why do I always have to do it this way?  One time I would love to know what it is like to walk into an established area and just teach.  Sidney was a trial at first and now this area seems even harder.  Then in my personal studies I read Jacob chapter 5.  In verses 21-23 it says:

21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

 22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.
 23 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Look hither; behold I have planted another branch of the tree also; and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree. I have nourished it this long time, and it hath brought forth much fruit; therefore, gather it, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self.
These verses remind me exactly of Sidney and this new area.  When we got to Sidney, there was nothing but the Lord performed miracles and now the work there is booming.  I know that He will also pour out miracles on this new area if Sister House and I are faithful.  He has a plan that I don't really know of yet.  I do know that it is a perfect plan and I am learning how to have complete trust in Him.

These verses can also be applied to ourselves.  No matter how far gone you think you are or how much you have messed up or if you think you have "missed the boat", that is not true.  Heavenly Father has a plan for every one of us and through the atonement of Jesus Christ He can change the hardest of hearts and mend everything that seems hopeless and unfair.  He can and He will.

Sister House is a wonderful companion. She is quiet and shy and I am loud and never stop talking so I am trying to balance it out to where she can say more during lessons. I am excited to serve with her in my calling as STL.  She is a hard worker for sure which is just what this area needs!

I have been thinking a lot about honesty lately. How do I be completely honest in my teaching, street contacts, and tracting approaches? I feel like older missionaries become so routined in the way we do things. We figure out what tracting approach works best for us and we hardly stray away from it but I am working on changing that. I want to be more honest in my approach with people. I want to be able to say, "Hi, I am Sister Park and I left my family for eighteen months to come and teach people about this book. If it's true, it will change your life. If it isn't true, it is a fantastic read." I am trying to find my confidence in being honest with people. I just want to be myself. In reality, I am no salesman. I am not eloquent in my words and I don't have any clever lines. In fact, I am very simple, straight forward, and to the point and even a little bossy, unfortunately, but people probably wouldn't know that about me if I just used the same old approach I have been using my whole mission. I am coming up with tracting approaches that allow me to teach, testify, invite, promise, and follow up while being myself and like no other misisonary. I haven't quite found it yet though.

One thing we really need are finding ideas.  If you have any advice or ideas, please let me know.  I feel a sense of urgency for the work here at this time and I don't want to have any regrets. I am on the down slope of my mission and I don't like it. I just hit my 13 month mark and I want these next five months to be spent doing nothing but working hard and working smart.
I can't get the pictures to upload right now but our investigator "R" was baptized on Wednesday!  I am so happy for him because he is so happy. 
Heavenly Father's hand is definitely here in this area!  It just goes to show that He has not forgotten anyone, no matter where you are at, even in the most remote run down places.  You know what will help me right now?  Letters!  We are in the middle of lots of man camps and very poor reservation area so letters from people who actually want to talk to me would be so awesome!  Thank you everyone for the letters and packages recently.  They help more than you know!
Sister Park

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