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, 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

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Collin has been reassigned to the Salt Lake City Central Mission.  He was able to call on Tuesday night from the airport for just a minute.  He had been traveling for a couple of days from Liberia to Belgium, to London, to Seatac, and then to Salt Lake.  Yes, I really wish I had known he was at Seatac, so close!

I'm sure he is trying to adjust to his new surroundings and has many mixed emotions about all that he has been through.  Keep him in your prayers.  I will post more when I know more.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

This is a copy of the official statement put out by the church on Friday afternoon, August 1, 2014.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT —  1 AUGUST 2014

Missionaries Serving in Two African Nations are Reassigned

SALT LAKE CITY —
Due to the outbreak of illness related to the Ebola virus, as a precautionary measure, all missionaries serving in the African nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia are in the process of being transferred out of these countries and reassigned to other missions. Ensuring the health and safety of our missionaries is our top priority. In recent weeks measures have been taken to reduce risk to missionaries, including asking them to remain in their apartments. To date, there are no reports of illness among the missionaries. Families are being notified as the missionaries arrive in their new assignments. This is a very challenging situation for the missionaries, members and citizens of these countries, and like other organizations, we are taking every practical step to reduce risk.

On Saturday night, August 2nd, I talked with my local church leader and he said that he had received an email that said Collin was ok and safe, staying isolated, and waiting for transportation to his new location. We don't know where that new location is, but that the missionaries leaving Liberia should be traveling in the next 3 to 7 days.  I probably won't get an email on Monday, but Collin will be able to let us know more as soon as he is settled. I will update this blog with any information I get, when I get it.

Please keep him, the other missionaries of Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the people of both countries in your prayers.  Thank you.  - Dianna 

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

No letter from Collin today.   I kept refreshing my email, but nothing came.   Later that day I received a note from Sister Berrett.   The Berrett's are a "senior couple" serving as missionaries in the Liberian Mission.   They take care of the missionaries, make sure they have what they need, and it's wonderful to know that they are watching out for our boys.  I love that Collin thought I might worry and wanted me to know that he was ok.  

Sister Berrett's note:

Sister Park - just got a call from Elder Park asking if I would let you know that when they went to the internet cafe, there was no internet so his whole apartment was unable to email today.  He knew you'd be worried.  He wanted me to be sure and tell you that 'HE LOVES YOU!'  (I'll bet you already know that!)  and not to worry.  I know this is not as good as getting an email from your missionary today, but hope it helps.   Sister Berrett

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Well the week was dry until about 3AM this morning and it hasn’t stopped raining since..

Last Monday we went to Matadi to have to football (soccer?) game with all the dying missionaries (missionaries that are at the end of their missions and going home).  It’s somewhat of a tradition now, on the last P-day, you go have a big football game against one of the branches.  It was a lot fun seeing those guys, I will miss them.   I saw two of my former companions, Marondera and Myaka.   I also saw some missionaries that were the first ones that I ever met in LIB.  I will miss them so much.

We got a free ride from a Member who lives in Ghana but was here for work.  After talking with him for a while, we came to learn that he was the first missionary so start proselyting in West Africa.  Issac Dadzie is want sweet guy.  He had so many cool stories, along with some very crazy stories!  He said there have been articles in the Liahona and Ensigns about him since the early 80’s.  I want to say 1983, but I hope that you will go and check it out!!  (I couldn’t find anything about him, maybe his name is spelled differently?  If anyone can find out about him, please let me know).

Okay, what happened this week… oh yeah…  SO MANY LESSONS!!!

Elder Jemba and I are on a role!  Wednesday and Friday were our best days with about 6 lessons a day.  We were just constantly moving and working.  I am exhausted!!! Thank goodness for P-Day.

We had a group of guy’s call us over one day and wanted to ask many questions.  So we sat under a plum tree (did he mean palm tree?) close to the ocean, in a circle, teaching them of the Restoration and answering many questions.  It was so much fun and I am so thankful that Spirit was there to help us answer and resolve the concerns that were brought up.

We have a woman that we are teaching that schooled in Guinea and can speak both English and French, but can only read French.  So we were scrambling to find the French pamphlets so we could help her.  We also got a French Book of Mormon for her and when we brought it her, her face lit up and she was so happy.  As we went over the book, we had her read some passages.  She totally understood everything that we were saying because she now could read it.  I am so thankful for power that the Book of Mormon has, and the effect on people it has.  It truly is the best book in the world.

This Saturday is LIB’s Independence Day, so not a whole lot of teaching will happen that day, so, we have to work very hard during the week.  But it will be fun!  I hope that all of you had a great week.

Elder Park
The White African
T.I.A.

In an extra email:
My whole area is along the beach.   We oftentimes go down and just realize how powerful and merciful our Father is.

I wrote:  David asked how you were doing.   Actually a lot of people asked how you were doing since I saw friends from all over the stake.   What do you want me to tell them?  His answer:   “You  tell them that I am sweaty!!   But I’m doing great.”

I wrote:  I asked David what the weirdest or hardest thing about being home was, and he said being around so many white people, it’s kind of scary.   Didn't you say the same thing when we talked at Mother’s Day?  He said:    “Every time I see a white person, it’s like I forget how to speak.  It’s so awkward seeing them.”