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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25. 2013


I have a TON to write about.  This was a good week!

So the weeks are flying by!  It’s hard to think that I’ve been here for almost 3 weeks and have been in West Africa for a month already.  It’s crazy! time flies when you’re having a good time I guess, haha.

So you asked about goals that we have for missionaries out here.  For this week starting today and ending Sunday the 3rd, we have the goal of 2 baptisms and 3 confirmations (one girl was late on Sunday so we couldn’t do that), 20 investigators with a baptism date, 17 member present lessons and 5 other lessons w/o members.  For the month of march we have about 12 baptisms (or conversions as President Roggia calls them) planned but we think that we will have about 3 more than that.  The church is growing so fast out here it’s crazy.  We teach all day long.

I walk a ton! and so far my shoes are fine.  I switch every Thursday to the other pair of shoes, so they are still really good.

OH!!!!  it rained on Thursday!!!   It was so much fun.  I have a video of it but I can’t send pictures on email.  I'll try to print some.  It was raining so hard.  We got lucky though, we hadn’t left the apartment yet.  We were about to leave and then it started POURING!!  So we changed into shorts and played on our balcony.  It was so much fun! Then the next day (Friday) I went on exchanges with Elder Zolo (from the Ivory Coast learning English) and we got caught in another rain storm.  We hid under some old Ma's porch with about 5 little kids (or small small pikens as the Africans say).  It was a blast!! Neither of the rain storms lasted very long but it was a nice break from the heat.  It cooled the temperature for a little while and the exchange was a lot of fun.  No matter where you go here, you're teaching all day long.

So we are very lucky in my apartment.  We have running water that runs through a filtering system.  So whenever the power is on, we have water.  It is so nice.  We also have a small fridge so we have cold water. It’s more like a freezer when the power is on and a fridge when it's off.  Cold water feels so good when you come inside from a long day.

Church is sweet! (something the africans say A LOT!!! everything here is sweet!)  It makes me so tired though.  Whenever a teacher doesn’t show up, we teach.  Whenever the people have a question about something in the gospel, they ask us. The branch president is there but no one goes to him, they always come to us.  We have a small little building in our area, no A/C, but we have a generator that makes it possible to have fans that don’t do much and a microphone that’s not loud enough because of the generator, but it’s sweet.  We have a recent convert that always cooks for us after church.  I usually don't know what it is and it’s usually really spicy and it makes my nose run and makes me sweat even more but it’s alright.  The Liberians love the spicy stuff or pe pe. It's the stuff that makes it super spicy!  Nothing like anything back home.

So a man got baptized on Saturday. Joseph Garwolo Ndorbor.  We asked him Saturday night who he wanted to baptize him, he wanted me to do it for him.  Baptizing someone like that is nothing like baptizing you friend back home in the temple.  You feel the spirit so much stronger.  It was an amazing experience.  I am so grateful that he wanted me to do that for him.

The other day me and my companion talked to a someone of another faith.  He wanted to help us understand the bible, he doesn't understand the Bible.  I know I don't know it that well but he had us look up scriptures, then he explained them, it made no sense with what he was saying. The entire time I was thinking to myself "this is a waste of time."  This is pointless.  He doesn't understand anything he is talking about."  It reaffirmed to me that this church is the true church. The Book of Mormon is a true book and it really does help us understand the Bible.  This church is amazing.

Elder Kirkham and his wife are the senior couple already here.  They are leaving at the end of march for a couple months.  In July they are coming back.  He'll be the mission president (of Liberia) for the next 3 years. They have already been here for about 20 months.  He's the only one that makes sense to be the mission president out here.  He picked me up from the airport.   He keeps us in line.  He's pretty much been the acting president here since President Roggia spends all his time in Sierra Leone.

Since pday (preparation day – the day they use to do laundry, email home, and stuff) is a day off for us, we got up early and went to play basketball. Then we walked to the beach and had our personal study right there on the beach, about 30 feet from the ocean.  It was so much fun.  It was nice.  We usually hear cars and people talking really loud when we are in our apartment during that time, but today, all we heard was the waves crashing, it was awesome.  After the hour of study time we have "companion study" which consisted of us playing football on the beach with the water coming half way into our field. Haha, it was a blast!  This morning was sweet!

So I got my first letter today. It was actually 2 in one. It was a DearElder from Lauren Briggs and Breanna Davis. Thank you! I wrote a letter back, I have no idea when I'll be able to send it, but it is written and in the envelope.  I think I was supposed to get it in the MTC since the date said January 25th and the mission was Ghana MTC but it was printed in Salt Lake and then sent through pouch over here. I haven’t gotten anything from home but it’s okay. It takes a while for mail to get here.  It was a pleasant surprise to add to a really good day!

Some of the funny sayings here and also part of the 'english' they speak here:
My pikens-- my little ones
one one time-- every once in a while
see you ya-- goodbye or see you later
sorry ya--
bluffing/ bluff/ bluff-o-- it means you can show off, like wear nice clothes and 'be all that'
how da day?—how’s the day
how da body?-- how are you
small small-- little
they also like to add 'o' at the end of words like:
good morning-o

They also call everyone brother or sister if they live remotely close.  All the old ladies are called “Ma” and the old guys are “Pa.”   A random guy on the street is “uncle.”  A lady is “auntie.”  I can understand them for the most part when the talk slow, but when they talk fast/yell/normal for them, i have no idea what they are saying.

I love everyone!!  I miss everyone!

Elder Park
The White African
This Is Africa!

Monday, February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

I pay 75 LD for an hour of computer. so about a $1 US.

The mission pres is awesome, that conference (last weekend) couldn’t have happened at a better time for me. We got really good food there too! A lot better than what I eat every day.

So now to tell you more about what I’ve been up to this past week. To start, we walk about 7 miles a day. We teach about 5 to 7 lessons a day. It’s sometimes hard to teach because they can’t always understand what I’m saying, it’s frustrating sometimes. But then there are the really good people we are teaching. We have a man named Augustine. We gave him a blessing last Sunday so he'll be able to use his hand and leg again, and he's getting a lot better! The priesthood power here is amazing!! We've given a couple blessings this week, everyone could use a blessing but we do it sparingly. If we do them too often people with think that we are doing magic and freak out, or people will flock to us and ask for blessings and not understand what they do. But for Augustine, he is really progressing in the gospel. He understands us really well and is getting baptized on the 9th of March.

The reason we ask people to get baptized the first meeting is to show to them that this is the goal we have for them and to make them understand that we aren’t here to just talk about scriptures. Besides, you can walk up to anyone here and ask if they'll get baptized with you and they will most likely say yes. This mission is the highest baptizing mission in the world. If you ask the people to sit and talk with you about the gospel they will. They are totally excepting of the gospel. Most everyone will get baptized but not everyone understands the "endure to the end" part, retention is difficult. Overall, the mission, the people, are great! The little kids make me laugh and smile every day. Last Monday i played with kids for about an hour straight. I love it. We have a little girl in our area that will come running up to us and give us both huge hugs every time we see her. She's adorable.

Yesterday we had missionary Sunday. Every third Sunday of the month the missionaries give talks and assign people to teach. I gave a talk about prayer. I talked about how we need to pray always, morning and night, personal and family prayer. I told them that we missionaries don’t do anything without a prayer first. We don’t even leave the apartment w/o prayer. I told them that if they can do this, they will be blessed. i taught them how when we have a question about the gospel, we must study it out in our minds first. (D & C 19:8) it was a good talk but i felt like I was all over the place with it and I kept repeating myself. Hopefully next week will be better. I also taught the investigator class. We talked about the 5 parts of the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. They asked questions about enduring so I talked about Lehi's dream. chapter 8 of 1 Nephi. I also taught them how dad described it with the Shepherds rod. Elder Skouson hadn’t thought of it that way. Finally I taught him something!!! Church is exhausting, I took a 2 hour nap after we got home. It felt great.

We got 2 FMs yesterday. (Free Meals) they were both the same: potato greens. It was actually good, but like dad said while camping, just don’t look at it. I didn’t look good at all but it tasted pretty good. It was this leafy stuff with seasonings and pepe, (really hot and spicy stuff), it was throat searing. It was good but not quite qualifying as goodness.

Overall the mission is amazing. I'm having a blast out here. Yes the heat and humidity sucks, but you just deal with it. You just accept the fact that you are going to be hot and sweaty ALL day. Once you accept that, it’s alright. I’m in the middle of that process right now.

Washing (laundry) by hand is a pain in the butt and it hurts. I rubbed 3 knuckles raw, and it takes forever. Nothing gets super clean either, but that’s life over here in AFRICA. I sometimes still think to myself, "HOLY CRAP!! I'M IN AFRICA!!!"

Being here is awesome, greatest mission in the world. Always working, always teaching. They work is sweet (as the Africans say). I’m picking up how they talk small. (small, as they also say.,they don’t understand what little is).

There are some days where I get really homesick and some when I don’t even think about home. Sundays I think about home. i miss Sunday dinners. I miss those a lot.

Anyways, I love you so much. I love everyone!

Mom, I love you!

I love everyone so much and I miss all of you!

The time is flying by and it's awesome! T.I.A - This Is Africa!!!!

Elder Park

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The following is from a letter he mailed home and it is written over a couple of days, so it is a bit random as he was trying to answer some questions I had sent him.  The days include his last days in the Ghana MTC.  The PICTURES BELOW THE LETTER were originally posted on the mission blog (there is a link to that in the right hand column if you are interested).

January 31, 2013

I hope I will answer all your questions.
The Food.  It’s mostly rice and a chicken leg and sauce stuff.  It’s actually pretty good.  The amount of food that they give is a ton of food!  You know I can eat a lot.  I have only cleaned my plate once.  Sometimes it’s gross or not appetizing or I’m not hungry and I won’t eat much, but I’ve tried every meal so far.  I look forward to having rice.  So far I really only haven’t tried or eaten the tuna, I ate around it, but I had a bite or two.  The rice I like the most is really similar to Spanish rice. 

I’m inside a lot.  I spend about 22.5 hours inside, not a whole lot of outside, but when I do get outside, man is it cool.  It’s actually cooler than inside.  It just gets stuffy inside.  The wind is amazing, feels so good.  Watching the African’s play “football” is fun.  They take it so seriously.  I played the first day but quickly learned, I need to adjust to the heat first.  I’ll play it again though.  I’m so out of shape and really bad at soccer.  I wish I played a little more with friends.

 February 1, 2013
Teaching is so much fun.  I love it.  I really do notice the Spirit taking over all the time.  I also draw onto some of the things that we talk about on Sundays.  I refer to some of those more spiritual/churchy conversations.  I love Sunday dinners, I miss them.  It’s weird not having those 2+ hour talks.  It’s hard not being able to talk to all of you.  I think of home every day.  During the day it’s easy not to think of home, but when I lay in bed, that’s the hardest.  Alma 37:36-37 helps me a lot.

The heat here isn’t what gets me, it’s the humidity because it’s like 1000% humidity here, way more than  Katie’s place (Wisconsin) or everywhere over there.  Nothing like I have ever experienced.  If it wasn’t for the humidity I’d probably sleep a little better and not wake up so much.  But for some reason, today (Feb 2­) was really nice, not humid. 

Getting used to the time change took about 4-5 days to get used to, but there are still some days when it is tiring.  Most of the teachers understand though, long days, completely different time zones, they give us a break, they just tell us to stand, that always wakes us up.

February 2, 2013
Being here is by far the best thing I’ve done ever.  I’m so happy I came out here.  I know it’s going to be hard but I’m already forming bonds that won’t be broken.  Elder Gherkins and Elder Losee, they are my brothers here.  We’re all going through the same thing, but everything is good here.  Everything is good.  As each day goes by I feel the Spirit so much.  I love it here.  It’s church all day.

Thank you so much for all that you have done for me.  I fall back on all your teachings, I miss you so much.  D & C 31:5-6 helps me know that you guys will be okay without me and tells me that even though I’m not perfect, even though I’ve made mistakes, it’s okay and my Heavenly Father wants me here.  It’s going to be hard but I can do it.  I’m so ready to be out there and doing the Lord’s work.
You need to hear about the testimony meeting today.  The people here have a different concept about missionaries.  At home we are honored when we leave and honored when we come home.  Here, the people try to talk them out of it.  They are told that they are wasting 2 years of their life. 
(Here are some examples of the missionaries from Africa:)
An Elder from Sierra Leone will have a hard time getting a job because he left.   His dad died 12 years ago and he is the only member in his family, he came none the less. 
An Elder from Liberia,  his mom died 2 months ago, he still came.  I wouldn’t be here if Mom died 2 months ago, I don’t think.

A Sister from the Ivory Coast was shot, the next day she went to her Bishop to start her paperwork to come on a mission.
It makes me feel like I took everything for granted and I know I did.  Just amazing, I wish I was as humble as they are.  But it’s just amazing, I wish I was as humble as they are but still have everything.  I wish you guys could see this place.  WOW!

Elder Parkoday (Feb 2­-­ced.  If it was and not wake up so much.  But for some reasonnced.  If it wassn'also draw into some of the thin
First meeting with President Roggia and his wife
His first companion is Elder Skousen on the far right
First meal at a zone conference.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the 3,000th worldwide stake of the Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in December 2012. The stake is the first in the West African nation and consists of eight congregations (around 3,000 members).

In the video below, Elder Holland reflects on the organization of the new stake, the role of the Church in Sierra Leone and the resilience of the members there.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013


My companion is from Vegas, he’s a ginger, Elder Skouson, he's taller than me, and is a great missionary.  He has taught me a lot without even trying.  The people here are wonderful.  So nice!!!  Whenever we meet new people, they are always accepting our message.  One thing that we do here is set a date for baptism the first time we meet them, baptizing them is really easy but retention is the hard part. From what I have heard, we average 2 a week but about half will fall away within the first couple months.  That's a bummer.  We teach all the time, from about 11:30 to 6:30 since we have a curfew at 7.  We aren’t allowed out of the apartment after 7.  The apartment is one of the best in Liberia.  We have power from about 7:20 all night till 6;35. and then it turns on again at 7:30 and is on till we leave at about 11, so I have a fan on me all night!! Living large!!!

My area is huge!  but we only really stay in one area.  I’m in Doe Community.  It’s a great branch, small but good. I’m just across the river that runs in the middle of Monrovia.  The people live in... well ... you won’t be able to understand unless you see it.  It’s crazy what they live in and how they are still so happy!  The little kids are so cute.  I wanna take them home with me, holy cow, I love them.  They always say "white man hello!" and run up to us and shake our hands.  They love my watch for some reason.  It’s so cute.  By the time I get back to the apartment, my hands are disgustingly dirty.  The kids play in the dirt and make things out of garbage, it’s interesting to see what they can make.

You have to be careful about all the germs and stuff, but there is almost no way to get around it. You just can’t put your hands in your mouth and you have to wash them before you eat. It’s tough. I wish i could send a picture of my shirt that I’ve worn the past couple of days, it’s caked in dirt but that’s just what you do here.  You don’t rotate shirts that often because it’s so hard to wash.  I haven’t washed yet but I’m doing that tonight.  It’s going to be interesting.

The food is boring, rice and this weird mix of things, it’s alright, that’s for dinner.  For breakfast we have rice porridge, it’s basically rice that has a lot of liquid in it, we add sugar to that.  We also get a 65 from a lady outside our apartment, it’s bread with egg and onions with this yummy sauce, it’s super good!!!  We've gotten a couple FMs (free meals).  It’s rice and this stew stuff. You don’t ask questions about what it is because you probably don’t wanna know. Also the FMs are super spicy!  My mouth was on fire the other day when we ate at the branch president’s house.

We can get a lot of American stuff here.  Liberia has a lot of UN people here and so there is a lot of American influence, so that’s nice.  They even use American money.  If you have American money you are living large!  Most of the people use Liberian dollars or LDs. there is about 74 LDs to 1 US dollar. I I exchange 5 American dollars and I look like a rich man.  I got a hair cut today by an African that cuts outside of our apartment.  It cost 50 LD, cheapest hair cut  I’ve ever paid for, not gonna lie, it looks pretty good.

I’ve been here since Thursday and yes, I’m already sunburnt, only slightly though.  I caught it pretty early and put some aloe on it, I’ve been putting on sunscreen ever since.  Don’t worry mom, I’m taking care of myself.  No, I’m not used to the heat.  It never cools down, and the humidity here puts Wisconsin humidity to shame!!!!  That trip (to Wisconsin) did nothing to prepare me for this heat and humidity. Try and look up Liberia motor bikes while driving, you see my mode of transportation, me and companion both fit on there, it’s dangerous and we're not supposed to do it, but it’s the cheapest and fastest way to get anywhere. It’s fun! look it up.

Oh tell Katie and Adam i saw a packers jersey out here on my first day!! I took a picture but we aren’t allowed to put anything in to the computers here, the owner won’t let us. Oh well.

Tell Derek good job on his grades. (Derek got a 3.5 last semester)
to send letters.
Elder Park
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Hortons Ave & Capital Bye-Pass
P.O. Box 1905
1000 Monrovia 10
Liberia, West Africa

It'll be about 3 or 4 stamps (it takes $1.10 in postage to mail a letter to him), and it takes just as long as the pouch.  You can send that in an envelope.  To send packages it’s the same address, just a flat rate box from the post office, send some American food: jerky, Ritz crackers, and soap (bar). envelopes. and shampoo in a ziplock. and then whatever else you can fit.  I've seen a lot of boxes so it might not cost as much as you think, not sure.
I love all you!  I pray for everyone back home all the time, especially you mom.  I know it’s hard on you because I’m gone but know that this is where I need to be right now.  Heavenly father wants/ needs me here. i love everyone and miss everyone so much.

Elder Park

I have a printout I got at the post office with shipping prices – for the flat rate boxes the rates are: small 23.95, medium 59.95 and large is 77.95.   The sizes for these boxes are approximately:  small 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5;  medium 11 x 8.5 x 5.5;  large 12 x 12 x 5.5.   I guess you really have to love him to send him anything, and then be really picky about what you put in the box! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This was a letter that Collin sent by regular mail, it took two weeks for delivery and was dated Sunday, January 27, 2013 – so just a couple days after he entered the MTC in Ghana.

Dear Mom (and family)
Leaving was hard but I’m having a lot of fun.  The African Elders are amazing, so humble.  They say the best prayers, I wish I could pray like them.  I wish I could be as humble as them.  My companion, Elder Gyewu-Appiah, is the best.  He was baptized about 12 years ago.  I’m not sure but I think he is 20.   He was made district leader, it’s not a huge deal because we are only here for 2 weeks, well, really 12 days total, but it’s still pretty awesome.  The other missionaries are awesome.  The African ones are hard to understand, but as days go by its easier and easier.  They also know that us Americans, or white’s as they call us, know that we have a hard time understanding them so they are patient and talk a little slower than normal for us.  They also greet you saying “good morning, how are you” or something like that.  They are just so nice!  I wish people back home were more like that. 
My instructors are all African and all really good at teaching us.  Me and Elder Gherkins (from Arizona) are in the same district and are both going to the Sierra Leone mission.  We are best friends.  We laugh at some of the things the other missionaries do like the African’s never say “Elder” when they talk to you, it’s always “companion.”  It’s so funny.  It’s funny, we joke about being in the Lord’s prison since there is an electric fence around the whole MTC and stake meeting house.  We aren’t allowed in the stake building either.  I haven’t been outside since I got here on Friday.  It’s Sunday now and it doesn’t look like we are going out anytime soon.  They keep us pretty busy.  I think I have every minute from 6am to 10:30pm mapped out.  It’s  tiring.  It’s hard to sleep at night because it is so hot and humid but exhaustion sets in and I can sleep for a while. I’m having fun, missing you guys, and I love you all so much.

-Elder Park

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

This picture was taken from the Sierra Leone Mission Blog (see link in the column on the right)

Collin left the MTC and flew to Liberia.  This picture shows Elder Kamara, Sister Addo, Elder Park, Elder LaMont and Elder Dahlin as they arrived at the Roberts International Airport this afternoon. The mission blog said they are in their apartments for the evening and will receive orientation from the Assistants in Liberia and from the Senior Couples.  The mission president and his wife will arrive in Liberia on Saturday. President Roggia will interview each and welcome them to the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission.   Hopefully more pictures will be posted to the mission blog this weekend.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A bunch of missionaries left this morning to go to their mission fields.  My good friends Elder Losee and Gherkins (serving in Sierra Leone) left.  I feel like I just said good bye to brothers.  It’s weird, I hardly know these guys but we're almost brothers.  I'll see them again.  More missionaries leave this afternoon, leaving 5 of us going tomorrow morning to Liberia.  It’s weird to think that I have been gone for 12 days.  It seems like way longer actually.  The days are long.  Hopefully they'll go faster in the coming weeks/months. I can’t wait to get letters when i finally get out there.

I arrive in Monrovia, Liberia at 3:10 tomorrow.

I love you all
Elder Park

You can send mail to Collin at:
Elder Collin Park
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Horton Ave. & Capital Bye-Pass
P.O. Box 1905, 1000 Monrovia
10 Liberia, West Africa
For a 2 page letter in an envelope put $1.10 for postage
You can also log on to and send a letter to him for free - very easy to use.  All you need to know is Collin's name and that he is serving in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission

Monday, February 04, 2013

This morning instead of a letter I got several emails, each containing a picture or two and a little note. (He did say there were 2 letters in the regular mail for me, I wonder how long it will take for me to get those?)  This post will be all of the pictures and the notes he sent with them.  He's going to Liberia!

T.I.A - This Is Africa!!!!
I will be going to Liberia on Wednesday.   There are 4 or 5 of us going to Liberia and 4 or 5 of us going to Sierra Leone.   Two of the missionaries here are from Sierra Leone.

He is really there!

Thumbs up!
With Elder Gherkins
The Lord's prison.   Every building either has this or barbed wire on top of the fence or wall


 These are typical of what the buildings look like.
That's called 'hawking,' everyone walks in the middle of the road and comes up to the cars and tries to sell you stuff,  a little scary at first,  now it's just funny.

This is a 10 year old boy from Ghana that shows up when they play football (yes, he said they were playing "football").I didn't do well at soccer... I played once, the heat is way too hot to play soccer, so I just sit with Elder Losee from Utah

FRENCH FRIES!!! with no salt
I haven't had to do my own laundry just yet. They take good care of us here, but some of the africans still wash their stuff by hand. it's crazy.

My room

Me and my comp Elder Gyuwe-Appiah
He joined the church when he was 12, he is 20 now and will be going to Sierra Leone on Wednesday.

The Ghana Temple
I got back from the temple about an hour ago. 13 of us were already endowed. I got to go in two sessions. I was an escort for one of them. it was beautiful, tiny but beautiful! Since most of the Africans were not endowed the american companions were the escorts, it was cool. I was an escort for |Elder Smart from Sierra Leone, not my companion, since he was already endowed. It was awesome. I was in the celestrial room for like 30 minutes. The smiles on these kids are amazing.
My District
We have 23 missionaries here, 3 are sisters. We are actually the smallest group to be in the MTC. The most they have had here is in the 90's.

The Americans and one French