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, March 26, 2013

March 25, 2013

So I woke up today and looked at the date and noticed it was my 2 month anniversary.  I had no idea.  The time is seriously flying by!  It’s crazy!

So we got about 10 or so new missionaries in our zone( before it was split), a lot of Americans!  We got one in our apartment Elder Erikson from Utah.   I also met Elder Zaugg who is friends with James Stubbs, that’s pretty cool.  With these missionaries coming, President Roggia came, and so did mail!  The letters sent through “dearelder” are printed in Freetown since that’s where the mission headquarters is.  So I got “dearelder” letters from Feb 3 to March 10.  Once Liberia becomes it’s own mission I will be able to get those a lot faster! (I still would like some hand written letters though :)  )  Thank you all for the letters.  I will have responses out this week hopefully!

This week was a rough one.  We didn’t spend as much time in our area because before Elder Erikson came Elder Elliott was with us and we spent a day in his area.  Also Elder Skousen (Collin’s companion) wasn’t feeling 100% so we didn’t see many people.  Hopefully this week will be better.  It needs to be better!  If everything goes right, we will teach a lot of people and have about 3 or 4 baptisms.  It should be a good week.

This week I started to read the Book of Mormon with a study guide that I found when we super cleaned our apartment.  I have already learned so much!  It’s so sweet!!  Why didn’t I do this before?????

We have a man who is waiting to be baptized because he isn’t married yet.  About 2 months before we met him, he was in a serious accident, he probably should be paralyzed.  We met him and he couldn’t really use his right side.  We gave him a blessing.  Yesterday we helped him to church.  He was walking so well!!  His handshakes have been getting so much better!  The priesthood power and the power from fasting is real.  It’s so evident out here that if you rely on faith and use the priesthood, the rest will fall into place.  I know this without a doubt in my heart.  This church seriously is the true church, and I am so happy that I am a missionary in the best mission in the world, it may be a tough mission, but it’s by far the best.

I am staying healthy, I’m drinking a lot of water, I’m safe most of the time.  I love the gospel.  This mission is sweet.

I love you all and miss all of you

Elder Park

He says he's "safe most of the time."  What exactly does that mean?????  -- says Collin's not worried Mom - most of the time.   :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is a letter we got through the regular mail today, so about 3 weeks old

February 25, 2013
Can you believe that I’ve been gone a month?  A month ago I reported to the MTC.  It honestly doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  The time really does fly out here.
Life out here is getting better and easier.  I’m getting more used to living here, and you were right, my living standards will be completely different when I get home.   They are already different.  You’d be stunned at how we live, and it’s not even that bad when you look around.
Even though I love being here it’s pretty tough.  Only mentally though, mostly because of the things that I see every day.  I’m not going to tell you, but we are blessed. 
Like I said in my email, I got to baptize Joseph Garwolo Ndorbor.  When he wanted me to baptize him I was amazed.  I didn’t teach him that much, most of the teaching was done before I got here.  He had walked into church on a random day and said he wanted to get baptized, a couple weeks later  I baptized him.  That’s a lot of how we get investigators.  It’s not that hard to get people to come to church.  Like I said so many times, teaching people here is so easy.
We have two people we are teaching, Milton Kupla and Daniel Toe.  They are super old.  They are little cute old men.  I love going to their house.  They are always happy to see us and so eager to listen to us.  It brightens my day.
At Sunday dinner talk about D & C 4 with Derek.  Make sure he actually listens.  Have Dad study it.  You study it.  Have Derek read it.  Then have a family home evening lesson about it.  Have Derek memorize it.  As a missionary, everything you see and learn from it totally applies out here.  We’ve asked a lot of people to start doing family home evenings.  At your FHE’s will you go through Preach My Gospel with Derek?  Learn the lessons that are in there, it is such a great tool for us and for me.  Reading it before I came out here was such a great idea.  It’s helped me so much during lessons already.  Have Derek read it and when he is older have him study it.  You can do this as a family at dinner on Sunday’s.  I’m not going to lie, I miss Sunday dinners a lot.  It’s really bad on Sundays, but it’s ok.  I’m here, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I love it.  I’m having such a great time.  No need to worry about me!  I know you are, but I’m doing really good.  Heavenly Father is taking care of me. 
I love you guys so much.   I love you so much.  Tell everyone “How da day?” for me  J   Give some hugs out on my behalf. 
Love you lots!  Miss you tons!
Elder Park   - the white African
T.I.A.!   This is Africa!

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

Hello friends and family!

This week was good but somewhat long.

We had 3 people get baptized on Saturday!  Clarence Chea, Clinton Chea, and Linda Bengamin.  It was sweet!!   Clarence and Linda asked me to baptize them.  It always stuns me when they ask me to baptize them but I always graciously accept.  Saturday mornings are my favorite because of the baptisms.  The Spirit is always so strong there!   Then on Sunday, man was that a long day, we had 5 people get confirmed.  Two people weren’t able to come to church after their baptisms (last week?).  I was able to confirm 2 of the 5 people and give them the gift of the Holy Ghost.   Once again the Spirit was so strong.   It was so sweet.  All these people are going to be strong members and I think Clarence wants to go on a mission when he is old enough, he is 12.

On the 3rd Sunday of every month it’s Missionary Sunday.  The full time missionaries give talks in sacrament meeting, and all the lessons are based around missionary work.  I talked about the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit.  It was good because of how many people received the gift of the Holy Ghost right before.  The Holy Ghost does so many things for us.  He testifies of truth to us, comforts us in times of need, lets us know that the ordinances that we complete are done in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.  He's so sweet.  As a missionary, he helps me more than I can even understand. He helps me with things that I need to say.  He puts words into my mouth and speaks to people through me.  It’s sweet.

I was also able to teach the young men’s class.  We talked about how we can prepare to be a missionary, quite simply, read your scriptures!   But don’t just read, study the scriptures.  Pray with real intent.  Pray for the Holy Ghost to be with you.  Pray to know when the Spirit is prompting you.  Go to all the church meetings, seminary, Sunday meetings, conferences, anything that you can go to. But, all in all, one can never really be ready for a mission.  There is always something more for you to learn or to become better at.

Transfers were announced late last Monday and happened today.  For me and Elder Skouson, we stayed the same.  Elder Elliot is now training Elder Erickson from America who will be coming later this week. Elders Humpfreys and Zolo both left, they were supposed to open a new area in the bush (not the city, not developed) but there was som (????  he didn’t finish the sentence)

Liberia is so sweet. the sun is plenty and I’m not getting burnt anymore when I forget to put sunscreen on.  I’m doing good and I love being a missionary!

Love you and miss you

Elder Park

Sunday, March 17, 2013

This is from a letter we received last week dated: 
February 18, 2013

I’m not going to lie, living here is tough.  Even though I have one of the nicest apartments in Liberia, it’s all tough.  Nothing eve compares to something back home.  Physically it’s fine, I can deal with it.  But it’s mentally hard.  Everything here is mentally tough. It’s mentally draining for me, I just have to look at the positives.  I have to have a good attitude about everything.  It’s all about the attitude out here.

One of the best things out here is teaching.  Teaching is awesome.  I’m teaching people and I’m learning as I go.  The Spirit is so strong out here.  It’s what is keeping me going.  I get home sick sometimes since we have to be in by 7pm.  We have a lot of free time at night.  That is when I get home sick.  I miss the family, I miss my bed, I miss the good food, and I miss the rain.  Surprising I know.  It’s not that I miss the luxuries we have, I just miss home.  I miss feeling clean, I haven’t felt clean since I got here.  I miss the small little things.  I have to have a good attitude out here or I won’t make it.  I have to trust Heavenly Father that He’ll take care of me.  I know that if I do that I’ll be just fine. 
The work here is great.  Being a missionary here is awesome.  It’s really easy to talk to people here.  It’s really easy to talk to people here.  It’s hard to understand, so easy to start talking.  Everything about being a missionary is easy.  It’s when you stop and aren’t proselyting anymore, that’ when it’s hard.
Something that I’ve noticed since I got here is everyone is super nice.  Everyone greets everyone with a “hello.”  In the states no one does that.  That’s one thing I’ll bring back with me.  I’m going to greet everyone with a “hello.”
Whenever we are out walking, the little kids always run up to us and say “white man white man hello.”  It’s so cute.  Every day I have a smile on my face because of it.  Sometimes they ask me to take them to America.  It breaks my heart to say no, or I can’t.  Even though they don’t understand me, it breaks my heart.  I love the kids so much!!!  The kids make everything better.
Like I said in my email for my favorite scripture, Alma 37:36-37 is the best scripture for me right now.  It teaches me to pray always, pray all the time.  Pray in my heart throughout the day, and trust me, that’s what I am doing.  Also, I’m trying to obey every commandment or counsel or assignment.  I believe with exactness like it says in Alma 57:21, you taught me to do my best in everything I did, and to try to do the assignment perfectly.  That scripture helps me also.
Thank you for everything you’ve taught me.  Thank you for everything you ever did for me.  Thank you for being a strong member of the church.  Thank you for making me do all the church activities. 
I love you so much.  I miss you so much.  I couldn’t have asked for a better mother, teacher or a best friend. 

From the white African.  This is Africa!

Elder Park

These are the scriptures he referenced in the letter: 

 “Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support;  yea let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord;  yea, let all they thoughts be directed unto the Lord;   yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all they doings, and he will direct the for good;   yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep;   and when thou risest in the morning let they heart be full of thanks unto God;  and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”    Alma 37: 36-37

“Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness;  yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them;  and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.”  Alma 57: 21

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013


So not too much happened this week.  We watched a lighting storm that was huge and to the north of us.  We watched it for like 20 minutes.  Lake Powell thunder storms got nothing on these storms! holy crap! Rainy season starts in April or May so pretty soon, I’ll be getting boots here in the near future, I hope!

My first transfer is over, but we still haven’t found out who is leaving and who is going.  As far as me and my companion go, we'll both stay in Doe Community for this transfer.  We should know transfer news sometime tonight and then people will come/go tomorrow. We're not sure what’s going on.

The man that we gave a blessing to to be able to walk isn’t baptized yet because he isn’t married and he’s living with his woman or wife or whatever you think that would be.  Once he gets married he will be baptized.  We had a similar situation to this with a 65 year old man, but we didn’t find out that he wasn’t married until he was interviewed for baptism. That was last Sunday and we came on Tuesday to follow up and explain why he wasn’t able to be baptized. We were talking and he said his brother left earlier that morning with the dowry (men have to pay the girls family to be able to marry her. about $50 US which is a ton of money here, this is the traditional marriage).  He was baptized on Saturday.  After the baptisms were done, we had a few of the converts bear their testimonies.  Daniel got up and bore his testimony.  He talked about how we started teaching him.  We were walking to another appointment and he just called us over and wanted to be baptized. We talked small and saw that he was serious about it.  We came back plenty times over the next couple weeks and taught him.  It also seemed like every time he came he had some other person there for us to talk to.  He is bringing his 3 small kids to church with him, they are probably going to be baptized on March 30th.  He is an amazing old man.

Elder Finau (District Leader) taught us about something that he made up.  It’s called F.I.V.E., I don’t think I talked about this over email.  It stands for Finding Inspirational Verses for Enjoyment. You randomly open the scriptures and the first verse you look at, you read it and think. There have been plenty of times where I have found verses that go along with a lesson I will be teaching either that day or the next day. I have found such good verses, verses that I have read before but haven’t had an impact.  Being a missionary makes me have a different mindset.  It’s been fun to read the scriptures.  I still don’t like reading though.

Prayer.  I was asked the question at a district meeting about this. How do we teach prayer?  Do we just say it’s how we talk to Heavenly Father?  No, we should take more time with this.  One way that I have started to teach people about prayer, and how God answers our prayers, when we have a question, is this, it’s like a phone call.  You don’t just talk talk talk talk and hang up. You talk and then listen. When you are listening, you recognize the feelings of your heart, the thoughts of your mind, it’s during this small time that we get personal revelation, we get answers to our prayers.  It’s something that I do after every personal prayer.  I offer the prayer and when I am done, I wait.  I focus on these feelings and thoughts.  Sometimes I get answers, sometimes I don’t. Heavenly Father acts on his own time but he will answer the questions we ask Him.  Something to think about.

Everything in Liberia is sweet!!  The work is awesome!

I love everyone back home!  I miss everyone too!

Elder Park
The White African

Sunday, March 10, 2013

This is a letter we got this week through the mail from Collin,  it’s almost a month old and so some of what he has written are things we have already heard about from his emails, but it’s still good to hear from him.
FYI:  since the announcement that his mission would be split and he told us he would remain in Liberia, I have updated the address for sending letters and packages to him so they will go directly to Liberia.  Please write!   He would love to hear from you.  Postage on a regular envelope is $1.10 and if you see me (his Mom) I will gladly give you stamps if you promise to write!  So far he has not recieved any letters since he got to Liberia a month ago.  This is not because nobody is writing, it's because it takes awhile to get to him and he will probably get a bunch all at once.   I would love to see him get a tall stack of letters when they finally do reach him.  Feel free to pile it on!

February 11, 2013
Living here isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  We have power all night starting at 7:30 pm and going to about 6:35 am.  It’s so nice!  I get to sleep under a fan all night so, not swimming all night sweating.  I am in one of the nicest apartments in all of Liberia.  The area I’m in is huge!  Probably walk about 3-4 miles a day.  I actually walk a lot more than that.  When we come in I’m dead.  We aren’t allowed out after 7pm (dark) because it can be dangerous.  So we’re really good at getting in.
I’m in what they call Doe community.  The people are great!  All so nice, but they don’t always come to church.  Retention is hard here.  Everyone gets baptized but only about half stay active.  It’s a lot of fun going around talking to people.  They really like us white guys.  My companion/trainer is from Vegas and is a ginger.  By the time you get this you’ll already know probably.  You’ll know almost all of this actually, but I said I would write every week.
All day we are teaching.  All day and it’s a lot of fun.  It’s hard to understand the people, and it’s hard for them to understand me so the lessons are long and there is a lot of ‘can you repeat the?” “Say again?”  It’s sometimes are that way.  It’s funny when they say my name.  They can’t say it very well.  It’s so funny.  We gave a man a blessing so he can walk and use his hand, he’s not a member but he has a date of March 9th to get baptized.  We baptize like crazy our here, we average about 2 a week.  It’s crazy awesome. 
I am living with 4 Americans and one from Ivory Coast.  So wild.  There is 5 white guys:  one from Arizona, my companion from Vegas, a black guy from Missouri, and a Samoan from LA.  It’s so funny.  We talk about movies and music all the time.  It’s cool.
I’m having a good time here.  I’m trying really hard to stay focused and work hard, but seeing the way the people live, it’s really distracting.  They live in garbage.  The kids hardly have to do anything.  It’s really interesting.  I don’t know how to describe it but it’s …… WOW!  You can’t understand it until you see it.  I’ll try to take a picture , it’s really amazing to see all this, and see how happy the people are.  It’s crazy.  I think of how I am and say I don’t have this, this, and this.  It’s really humbling.

Well I’m doing really good.  I’m sleeping in a “princess” bed which sucks  (the netting over the bed to help prevent insect bites which hopefully will keep him from getting Malaria).  My bed is terrible.  It’s sunken in the middle.  I’m taking my malaria pill. I’m staying healthy and smart.  I love you all and miss everyone. Yes, even Dad and…. Derek.

Love you all,
Elder Park

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

March 4,
Hello world!

Okay for the questions you asked: Elder Zolois learning English because he is from the Ivory Coast so he spoke French, he's been here since October and keeps learning new words.  It’s really funny when he says a new one.  As far as animals go:  I've seen a ton of lizards, I've seen a couple monkeys, but besides that, nothing really.  For church: yes we have all 3 hours like back home.  For conference, we can’t see it live, we get sent CD copies about a month later. One American Elder said that people don’t watch them very often, that’s a bummer.   Later in March or April President Monson will have a special broadcast to West Africa.

I haven’t gotten any letters except the one I told you about last week. but it’s nice to know I'll have some.

So, this week was as exciting as last week.  On Thursday we had a zone service project, it was good but not enough work for the whole zone.  We did a lot though.  After we got back to the apartment and showered we waited small (yes, he said small, which from last week’s letter means little.  His English is starting to get messed up!) and then it just opened up!  It was raining so hard, it was nuts.  The dusty road we live on was flooded in 3 minutes.  Yes, we actually timed it.  It was raining so hard for so long that we didn’t go out that day which sucked because we had a lot of people we wanted/needed to see. Since I don’t have rain boats, it’s kind of a problem. The area I work in is part swamp so when it rains, it’s impossible to do anything.  It also sucked because the day went by so slow!  It was terrible.

On Friday I went on exchanges with my district leader, Elder Finau (from California/Tonga), it was so awesome.  I wrote you a letter about it (well it’s in a letter to the mission prep class but you should read it, also put it on the blog). it was such an amazing experience, I felt the spirit so strongly when we were teaching this one lady for the first time.  So cool.

On Saturday we had two people get baptized, a 12 year old girl and an 87 year old man.  It was awesome.  I don’t think we will have baptisms this week, me and Elder Skouson just have to work harder this week.  The work never ends.  We need to find more people to teach, the ones we have are all good but we need to see more people.

Today we had a 'super p-day' so all the missionaries in the zone got together.  We had a talent show, played a game called signs, and watched Megamind.  It was awesome. My district/apartment, we did a Hawaiian-made up dance with our lapa's on. It was so funny.  I have a video of it.   Oh man, it’s sweet!

So for the people thinking that being in West Africa is all fun in games, it’s not.  Living here is hard.  In Liberia we have to be in the apartment at 7:00, planning takes about 15 minutes, then it’s a lot of dead time.  I've said that it’s mentally tough being here and that time at the end of the day doesn’t make it any easier.  That’s when I get home sick.  It’s all good though.  I love being here.  Nothing against missionaries in the states, but we have a tougher mission than you guys, no matter what you say.

I knew i was staying in Liberia for the rest of my mission when I was in the car after the airport, so even though I was called to the Sierra Leone Freetown mission, I'll never see Sierra Leone. The new mission is probably going to be called the Monrovia Liberia mission. (The Sierra Leone mission will be split, probably in July, and the new mission will be called the Liberia Monrovia Mission - see below)

That’s about it for the week, nothing to crazy or exciting, just another week. I’m almost done with my first transfer, this transfer ends on Sunday, and in a 2 year mission, you have about 17 to 18 transfers. 1 done 16 to go!

Love you!  Miss you!

Elder Park
The White African
This was copied from the Sierra Leone Mission Blog, dated March 2, 2013.  (I guess this answers our questions, Collin will be in Liberia for the next 2 years):
Liberia Monrovia Mission! July 1, 2013, the Liberia Monrovia Mission will begin with Roger Kirkham as Mission President. If you haven't seen it in the Church News or online, here is the online address:

All missionaries that are now in Sierra Leone will stay in Sierra Leone. All missionaries that are now in Liberia will stay in Liberia. As missionaries arrive prior to July 1st, they will be assigned to either country by President Roggia. They will know which country they are assigned as they arrive at the Ghana MTC. As we publish this post, we don't know who our replacement is. We'll let you know as soon as we know