Blog Description

This is a blog for the family and friends of Collin Park. He will be serving a two year mission in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he left on January 24, 2013. While Collin is on his mission his Mom will be posting pictures and letters as she gets them, the content will be straight from Collin (unless otherwise noted) - spelling and punctuation will be corrected of course! Commentary and clarification may be added by his Mom as needed.
UPDATE: Collin's mission was split in half! The Sierra Leone Mission included the country of Liberia when Collin first left. As of July 1, 2013, the mission was split along the border and the new mission created: the Liberia, Monrovia Mission. Collin will never see the country of Sierra Leone. He has been in Monrovia Liberia since he left the MTC in Ghana.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Because of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone Missions were evacuated on August 4, 2014 and missionaries were reassigned to different missions. Collin was reassigned to the Salt Lake City Central Mission.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 3014

Well this week was pretty crazy.

Tuesday i moved to my new apartment.  I live in the basement of a very old widow.  She is turning 94 in December…  she makes us say goodnight to her every day, and she makes us call her Granny.   She is so funny, she is still totally there, remembering everything that happens.  I was laughing the other day, she was watching a show on FDR and she told us that the year she got married was the year FDR passed away.  She remembers everything!!!  Also, she is a champ!  She still manages a garden, every day at about 9, we hear her walking around and she is weeding the garden.   She is so cool!!

Tuesday was pretty much just a cleaning day for us…  The Elder that I replaced went home, so he left a lot of stuff...  I mean a lot!!!  Most of it was food, and it was killing me to be throwing food away.  After living in LIB, I have a new sense of 'if I’m not gonna eat it, I don’t buy it.'  The previous Elder didn’t have that...  he was a great missionary, but just left a lot of wasted food.

It’s taking me a little while to figure out the area, only because it is so big!!   I cover 3 wards in the YSA stake.  so my area is pretty much the city of Murray and then some.   So I was lost most of the week.  Thank goodness Elder Hale knows quite a bit of the area.   Being on bikes does save some time, yesterday we went from 900 east and 4800 south to State and 6100 south in about 8 minutes going through a construction site...  i'd say we made pretty good time!

On Sunday church was canceled,  but that was because of the Ogden Temple Re-dedication.  (They broadcasted the meeting to the Stake Center buildings in the Salt Lake area)   It was so cool be around to do that.  There were three different sessions of it, and I went to the one at 1pm.  I missed out on hearing President Monson speak, but I got to hear Holland and Eyring, it was so cool!!!!!!!  i love listening to them speak.  Holland said something that really stood out to me.  It was about when he was in the area presidency in England, his son went through the temple for the first time, but he wasn’t able to go,  his wife got to go.   He said I really didn’t do much to prepare him, i just taught a couple FHE's and that was about it.  That’s usually how the fathers are with preparing sons for temple covenants and missions.  Mothers are the ones that prepare them.  That stood out to me so much.   Thank you mom for everything, and dad, thank you too buddy :)

On my mission i have met many people from around the world.  On Monday I was on exchange with an Elder from Brasil.  This guy is so funny.   I learned a lot from him.   It was somewhat of a long day but  that’s just because we were in my area and I really didn’t know anyone, and where anything was, so that was a little tough.   It was a good day though

My week was good.  It went by really fast too.

Elder Park
The White African... in Utah

I asked him more about his apartment and his new companion who is from Ephrata, Washington.  He said: 
"I really do like my new apartment, the carpet is a little weird, it also makes it a lot warmer, so that’s nice.  My comp has been out about 7 weeks so he's green.  I’m still working with him on things.  My comp is really funny and has a little bit of short man syndrome, so it’s great!  hahaha

I got a couple of texts from Utah phone numbers with pictures, taken by people who were feeding them, I think.   Big Thank you to those who feed my son!


This came on Sunday, September 15th
His companion was still Elder Franco

This came on Sunday, September 21st
This is his new companion, Elder Hale

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

Well this week was a busy one.

Wednesday we, as a mission, went to Ensign Peak.  It was really cool, the view is great too.  President Moffat also shared with us how the Saints did things when they first got to the valley and how Ensign Peak came about, it was actually really cool.  On the way there, I also saw the first Temple on my mission, besides the Ghana Accra Temple that I went to while still in the MTC.  I was so happy to finally see one!!

After going to Ensign Peak, we went to "This is the Place" State Park.  I remembered going to it a long time ago, but it was still really fun.   We had the whole park pretty much to ourselves.  The couple that is running the park is my mission president's wife's sister, hopefully that made sense.  The park brought in extra people to come and open some shops and things so that we could have a good time.  We also had some Native Americans come an do some dances for us.  It was really fun and really cool, but the entire time I was there, I was just thinking to myself, I never thought I would be doing this on my mission.  Of course I never thought I was going to be in Utah so I guess it comes with it.  It was a really fun day to kind of get a break from normal missionary work.

I had a couple lessons spread out during the week. so that was fun, not a whole of them though, so it was a little boring.  We had someone bounce us 3 different times so that was frustrating, but it was okay, we talked to her mother for about 30 minutes each time.  She's great!!

Saturday was the adult session of stake conference.  First stake conference of my mission!! Hahaha   It was great.  We watched Elder Ballards talk from Oct 2013 and then the stake presidency just started up a conversation about it.  It was really cool, great conversation too.  I encourage all to read that talk and reflect on it.  (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/put-your-trust-in-the-lord?lang=eng)   I think one of the best comments that was made was "it starts with us being prepared before the conversation happens.  We need to know enough about the church doctrine and beliefs to start a conversation with friends and teach them just a little to get them interested.  Then we can invite them to listen to the missionaries."  It was awesome!!!

The sunday session was also good.  Great talks about how to be a missionary with social media, and many other things.  We were supposed to get transfer news Sunday night, but for some reason they said wait... so we had a Zone Work out this morning, like we usually do throughout the week, but this is where we got the transfer news.

So ..... Elder Franco is going to the Taylorsville South Stake and will finish his mission there.  for me...

I will be going to the Murray YSA ward serving with Elder Hale who is from Ephrata Washington! i already know him and joke around with him all the time.  He is still in his training so I will finish it up.  I’m really bummed to leave my area, completely based on the members, the members in the 3rd, 8th, and 25th wards are amazing. I’m really excited to leave my apartment.  I won’t be so cold anymore!!!  hahaha

I hope everyone had a good week.  This week I am looking forward to see the Ogden Temple Re-Dedication on Sunday. it will be my first time doing this!!

Elder Park

The White African... In Utah

 Ensign Peak
(The side of Collin's head is almost visible, he was wearing sun glasses and he is standing  just at the base of the tower, on the right side, behind a blond girl, there is a sliver of his face showing

This is the Place State Park
Collin is standing in the middle of the balcony at the top of the stairs.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

September 9. 2014

Well another week down.   This wasn’t a great week, but there were a few good things happen.

We had a couple lessons on Wednesday.  Esther is a woman who we met a long time ago and gave her a Book of Mormon, but never could catch her at home so it was really tough.   Tuesday and Wednesday we had lessons with her and they were great.   Tuesday we talked all about the book of Mormon with her and then gave her a Restoration pamphlet to read, we also gave her some places in the Book of Mormon to read.   Wednesday we show up, she had read all of it and there were no questions, she totally understood everything.   We didn’t really know what else to teach, so we basically just reviewed it with her to make sure she truly understood it, and she did.   It was great.
Thursday we had a lot of appointments cancel on us, so it made for a long day...  but we did see Sir Williams and read with him.   We also met with Aiden who is a recent convert of a couple months.   He’s a super smart 9 year old.   We had a great lesson with him on being obedient to the commandments, praying every day, and studying his scriptures.   He then asked us about Cain and Abel in Genesis... how smart is this kid???   That family is really fun too.

On Friday we had the Elders Quorum President help us out a little with a lesson with Sir Williams.   We wanted him to be able to feel and recognize the Spirit more, so we took him to the Vine Street Building to have the lesson.   It was a great lesson, the Spirit was really, really strong.   That night we had a lesson with Gina and when we got there she was angry with something or someone, but we decided to go on with the lesson and by the end of the lesson she was fine and happy.   It’s amazing what the Spirit can do during lessons.   We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a whole, it was good.

Saturday we went to a baptism with Sir.   Baptisms are very different here than back in LIB.   Here it was just for one person, in LIB, it could be for 5 or more people, but it was great.  the Spirit was there and im pretty sure Sir felt it.   The rest of the day was kind of boring, but our 'dinner appointment' or FM was with a native Mexican and we had homemade flour tortilla's that are AMAZING!!!!    We need to go and ask her to cook some more for us, hahaha.

Fast Sunday was really good, the testimonies that were born were great, not a whole lot of stories or “thankamonies.”  (On the first Sunday of every month we have “Fast Sunday.”   That means that you fast for 2 meals and then make an offering/donation that goes toward helping those who may need assistance.   In our Sunday meeting on that Sunday we also have the chance to bear testimony of our beliefs.  Sometimes people get a little sidetracked and give a “thankamony” thanking those who may have helped them lately.)   Every  Sunday I go to 2 wards for sacrament and all the testimonies were great.   In the 3rd ward, after the sacrament, we had a special musical number performed by the ... ward!!  Hahaha, the primary children sang two songs then the RS and EQ sang "As sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman" it was way good.  Some how, some one came up with blending two primary songs and that combined song together and it turned out great.  It was definitely the highlight of the week.

Monday was tough, but it was okay, good days will come.

I hope that everyone had a great week. GO HAWKS and COUGS!!!!  (Seattle Seahawks and BYU Cougars - just to be clear!)

Elder Park
The White African... in Utah

Extra:   I asked him if they got that storm that did so much damage with flooding that had hit Arizona.  He said “CRAZY STORM!!!  LIB is worse though.  It was fun to watch a little bit though.”

I also updated him on some ebola news coming out of Liberia, he said, ”makes me cry.”


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

September 2, 2014

So when did it hit September???   This is weird.


My week was a fair one, we had a lot of appointments cancel, which is no fun, and then you have to somewhat scramble to figure out who to see.   It’s not like LIB where I can just look around and say 'lets talk to them.'  I didn’t get any doors slammed in my face this week, so that’s nice.  


Sir Williams (have i talked about him?)  is doing good.  He didn’t come to church though, he was with some people from California who are helping him find a job.  That was a little downer.   Then we had to fly on our bikes (not a big fan of these while in a suit...) to the Vine Street building to get to the 25th Ward Sacrament meetng.   It was a good meeting about Missionary Work.  It was also someone’s farewell so there was a lot of people there.   When we went to the 3rd ward, we had Gina and her Boyfriend come, both nonmembers.   It was really good to see them come.  


We talked to a lot of people this week and I lost track of the days…  so I don’t know how much I will write. 


Oh i went on exchange with Elder Hale, he's from Ephrata WA  and has been out about 4 weeks, hahaha, so green!   It was good.   It was nice to be around someone who is still fresh, they have a little different something to them. 

In LIB I got to know Elder Guyman, who lives in Taylorsville(?), his parents came and found us on Friday as we were going back to our apartment, they gave me so really good homemade bread and some butter.  We talked for about 10 minutes and they got to hear the whole story about us leaving.   They are very nice people.  They make great bread!

Well, that’s pretty much it for me on this week.   Let’s hope that this week will be even better!!!


Elder Park

The White African...in Utah


Extras:
I told him that I met the Guyman’s at a “families of Liberian missionaries” party I went to when I was in Utah.   She told me she was going to try and find the LIB missionaries.  He added: "That bread is so good!!!   I can't stop eating it!!"   then said:  "I bought a watermelon today.   I'm so excited for it!!"  I guess they don’t have watermelon’s in Africa?

Collin sent a couple of pictures that he took as he flew over London, he wondered if I could identify them.   Of course I could, Big Ben and the Tower of London are icons!   I got to visit London once, loved it.  I was surprised he recognized these and took pictures of them.   While we were in London we were surprised at how many planes few right over the city, but they do.



I wonder if this was the first American flag he had seen in awhile?

Right before I got Collin’s email I got an email from someone I didn’t know, but Collin had met her when he was buying a tie at her store and she took the picture and sent it to me:


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014

Well this week was better than last week, I will have to admit that. We are teaching a little more too so I guess that’s what is making the difference.

 On Wednesday my district went to President Moffat’s house for lunch and we got STEAK!!!! Holy cow, I miss steak, it was so good!! Weird part was that there was no bones... strange. We then had our district meeting there, it was pretty good. We role played solving people’s concerns. After the meeting we weren’t able to get a hold of many people, and most of our lessons bounced, so we struggled a little bit. We ended up running into Tanya, who is a Former Investigator, who is somewhat becoming a new investigator. We talked about a lot of things, and then it turned into talking about her coming to church. She was very scared coming to church, so we said, “well, we have a key, there is no one there, let’s go inside so you can see it.” It was a great experience. It’s really fun seeing someone who isn’t a member feel the Spirit. We are still working hard with her.

Thursday was a struggle, but we met a guy who just moved from California 2 weeks ago and he agreed to be baptized. He came to church on Sunday and it was great. There is still a lot we’ve got to work on with him, but he is totally willing and excepting everything we are saying. So I am pretty excited for working with him.

 On Friday we had a lot of appointments lined up so I was so excited to teach! I got my hopes up and most of them fell through. So that was a little downer. Saturday was a 'non LDS' neighborhood party and BBQ. It was a lot of fun helping out with that. There was a mini triathlon and we helped supervise the biking and running parts of that. We got a lot of goodies because of that. We did sneak away for dinner and got RIBS!!!! There's the bone I was looking for! Haha, I thought about eating the bone, but I thought twice about that. We got really good left overs. :)

 Sunday was full of church and meetings... I swear church starts at 7 and ends at 4... this whole thing of being over 3 wards is not so fun... but by the time church and meetings are over it’s almost dinner time!!! Bishop Brinton gave us dinner and it was great!!! Chicken with no bones is really nice too. We got a 1/2 gallon of probably the best vanilla ice cream I have ever tested, it’s so good!!

 It’s still really weird to me teaching on Mondays... but we got 2 lessons in. Very interesting lessons, but nonetheless, effective! Today we got invited over to the Wood’s house, they are the Senior Couples that serve my stake and district, we had a great lunch with them. Then we went ice skating as a zone. I never thought I would be ice skating on my mission. That never came across my mind. Very cold in there too. Thank goodness you brought me a sweatshirt mom!! love you! 

Well that was my week, how was yours?? (I think that is a hint, he would like some letters!) 

 Elder Park The White African... in Utah


Is he homesick?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014

Well this was in interesting week.

I feel like a greenie all over again.  The way we work is so different than in LIB.  It’s still getting a little while to get used to the work over here.  Elder Franco and I are working hard to try and get new investigators, trying to get investigators here is probably one of the most hardest things I have done.  Everyone here who is not an active member is either LA (less active) and has something against the church, or they are anti and have already listened to the missionaries.  It’s really tough to find people here.  But, nonetheless, I will succeed at being a Utah Missionary, because I have done tough before.

Most of the morning hours we just ride our bikes contacting people on the street. I talked to one guy who gave me the low down on fishing.  I think we talked for about 15 minutes just about fish, well he talked, I know nothing about them.  It was really funny to me. 

In the evening hours we have a little more success.  More people are home and will open the door, but sometimes they close very quickly…  I don’t get it.   Why are Americans so rude???   I’m just joking, we are just so caught up with technology, it’s gross.  We did talk to a LA woman last night for about 10 minutes.  She really likes roller coasters!!  She said the reason why she doesn’t go often to church is because she travels so much for work, and is usually traveling on Sunday which is a bummer, she wants to come back but work is forcing her not to go. 

Every night we get fed from members so I hardly ever cook.  Yesterday we ate with the Gilmore's who actually served a couple mission in Nigeria.   It was so fun to talk with them.  They know the toughness of a West Africa mission!!!

I know these emails aren’t as long as they normally are, but not much happened this week. 
Well I love you all and hope you had a great week.

Elder Park
The White African… in Utah

We had already planned a trip to Utah, so we were able to drop his other suit off, a quilt I had made for him, some warm clothes, and some goodies.  In an extra email he said:  Thank you for the underwear and the goodies.  Are trying to make me fat??  Hahaha   The quilt was AWESOME!!!!!!!! I love it and have been warm every night since!!   (I gave him some Sprecher Rootbeer) 

Did you like the things I left for you?? I beg!!  Don’t throw the white shirts away!!!!  (He didn’t leave Africa with much, but he did bring home some very tattered white shirts, the collars were really just falling apart.   He also brought an amazing wood carved Nativity set.  I’ll be using it this Christmas, but it will be his after that).

Collin is wearing suit and a blue tie, 4th row, behind and to the left of a lady with a light pink sweater


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014  (PICTURES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST!)

What a roller coaster of a few weeks.  I’m sure by now most of you have heard that both the Liberia Monrovia Mission and the Sierra Leone Mission have been evacuated and all the missionaries have been reassigned to new missions.   I have been reassigned to the Salt Lake City Central Mission.   What a difference!

This morning as I was cleaning up the apartment, which has A/C and is under a doctor’s office, I just thought to myself, how did I get here??   Why am I still uncomfortable even though I am in my native country?   I got so used to sleeping under a net, sweating all night, sweating all day, talking funny, living with 2+ other Elders.   Now I just ride a bike, I hardly sweat, and I am freezing after about 5 minutes in the apartment.   It is totally different.   I did laundry in a washer and dryer, since when can my clothes be washed and dried in about 2 hours??   That’s just crazy.   I also was looking at 4 of the 7 shirts I brought with me from LIB.  I can’t wear them because the collar is just ripped up, if I had realized that before, I would have left them or given them away.   As I was folding them and putting them into my suit case, I had a little moment to myself and just remembered the LIBerian people.  I miss them so much.   They had such great and simple faith.  I really hope and pray every day that Ebola will leave that country and missionaries will be able to go back to that beautiful country.

Okay, so how did I get to Salt Lake?  Friday morning we were told to pack our bags, no more than 23 KG (50ish pounds).  Saturday we got picked and went to the mission home for a couple hours then took a long bus ride to Harbel where the airport is.  As we got there, the private plane that the church rented out through Delta wasn't there, and Ghana didn't want us to come there.   So, we had to go back to the apartments.  Sunday no church, no leaving the compound.  All West Africans were able to leave.  Monday all the Americans got picked in the morning and went to the mission home, and the we traveled to the airport.  East Africans flew out on Tuesday.  Americans went to Brussels (Belgium) and started to split away after that.   I went to London next, waited around for a couple hours, met missionaries returning home... then flew to Seatac for about 4 hours.  Then landed in salt lake at about 11:10.   Very long Monday and Tuesday for me.




President Moffat is my new Mission President, he met us by baggage claim, he was just shocked at the way we looked.  Exhausted, red eyed, scruffy (no shaving), no money, the money we did have was in euros and pounds or LD, our shirts were stained brown, collars were all ripped up.  He asked if we were hungry, we asked for rice.   Since it was midnight at this point, everything was closed and we just went to the hotel for the night.

The next day there was a transfer meeting and President Moffat introduced us and explained why we were there.   It was funny, before we were introduced, many elders were asking us who our trainers were, thinking that we just came from the MTC.   We laughed and just said wait a little while, the looks on their faces when we said we were from LIB was hilarious.  I was given bedding from Sister Moffat since I left mine, she gave me a couple new white shirts, a pillow, and a hand-me-down bike and helmet.

Teaching here is very different, i am still getting used to it.   I have had a couple people ask me where I am from so I say Seattle, then they have a very puzzled look on their face.  So, I have to explain that I was in LIB for 18 months and that’s why I talk funny.  I didn’t really notice it, but I guess I do have accent.

My new companion is Elder Franco from Anaheim, California and has just about 2 months left.  It’s been interesting adjusting back to a 1st world country so quickly.  Everyone reading this:  we have a very blessed life style.

I love you all and please pray for the Liberians.

Elder Park
Still the White African  (I love this line!)

In extra emails:

I asked him what was different here: 
This is actually a blessing I think.   If I would have gone straight home, I would have been bored and even more confused about the change, but here I’m still busy so I really don’t have time to worry about it.  It is very different, but I’m doing good.

How is the missionary work?   I’m just tired of not teaching people.  I maybe taught 8 lessons last week...  i was doing that in less than 2 days...

He did get a package his aunt Jennifer sent and a package that I sent before he left Liberia.  Thank you for the Oreo's, but I didn’t have much.  I had to get about 12 kgs out of my suitcase and wasn’t watching closely and they were eaten.

How is the American food treating you:   The only food that is giving me a hard time is candy and dairy,  but I have a little milk every day to help,  and cheese on a sandwich for lunch.   We have dinner almost every night with members.

I am in the Murray Utah Stake, covering the 3rd,  8th and 25th wards... yes I’m over 3 wards...  Church for me starts at about 7am with meetings, and ends at about 3.   Then it’s time to go find people to teach.   We have two buildings, two wards meet at the same time so we switch off every week.  Most companionships have 2 to 3 wards to cover.

How are Elder LaMont and Elder Elliott doing?  (There were 4 missionaries from West Africa that were reassigned to the Salt Lake City Central Mission.   Elder Elliott and Elder LaMont traveled with Collin from Liberia, another one came from the Sierra Leone Misson).  Did you meet the one that came from Sierra Leone?   I will meet all the West African elders tomorrow and again on Thursday for a special training for us.

When people ask about you, what do you want me to tell them now?  Tell people I’m trying to adjust but I’m happy and staying busy.

This is their last picture together at the Mission home.  Collin is standing just to the right of center, wearing a blue tie.





Removing weight and repacking, they needed to stay under 50 pounds



Collin is kind of in the middle of the picture, he wasn't looking to happy.  They were waiting for instructons.

Elder Elliott, Sister Kirkham, and Collin

Elder LaMont, Elder Park, and Elder Elliott
All three were assigned to the Salt Lake City Central Mission



Saying goodbye

Sister Kirkham and Sister Berrett
So many thanks to these wonderful ladies who have watched over the missionaries and provided some of the pictures I have posted on this blog.
Elder Berrett and President Kirkham

President Kirkham
Packed and ready to go

loading up the vans, the second attempt.
Sign at Roberts International Airport in Liberia