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, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013


This week was a pretty good week.  We had a zone conference on Wednesday, district conference (stake conference) on Sunday.  It was good, but it cost a lot of money for traveling...

Zone conference (this is just for the missionaries) was good, we talked a lot about things to help us as people, mostly after mission, but I can still apply some of the things now as a missionary.  A lot of things concerning money, we receive $140 USD for subsistence each month.  In Liberia, this is more than enough money to get by, but unfortunately a lot of missionaries aren’t living within their means.  We have a budget, we have to keep to it.  It’s not our money, it’s the Lords and we should not abuse the Lords money. 

We also talked about transforming ourselves.  This means to truly repent.  Truly repenting doesn’t mean just asking for forgiveness from God, it’s recognizing the sin, stopping the sin,  confessing the sin to God and to the person affected and/or to priesthood leaders,  making a restitution,  keeping the commandments,  and then acknowledging the Savior’s power of forgiveness.   This is true repentance.  Everyone must go through this process.  Once we do this we are changed.

District conference (for all the members of the church in that area) was good.  We had between 850 and 900 people there, one side (half?) of all the members in Liberia.  We had to sit in the back where the speakers weren’t working, so i couldn’t hear much.   We had about 7 nonmembers there.  One woman (29 years old) who has been struggling to come to church, struggling with some of the commitments we've extending, surprisingly showed up.   She sat in the back as well so I don’t know if she heard anything, but I saw her praying and reading the Book of Mormon.   It brought a huge smile to my face.  I can see the change in her.  She is a wonderful lady.  It’s always interesting to visit her. 

We got transfer news after the district conference.  As of right now Elder Marondera and I will be staying the same for the next transfer which starts on the 10th of June.  It’s only going to be 4 weeks instead of 6.  (The Sierra Leone Freetown mission will be split the first of July between the two countries and the new Liberia Monrovia mission will be formed, I’m sure this is affecting the transfer period)

Over all the week was good.  We taught more lessons than the past couple weeks, but still not as many as we wanted, but each week we are getting closer to our goals.  Busy weeks are good weeks.

I love you all and miss you.

Elder Park

The White African

I found some pictures on the Sierra Leone Blog and copied them here:

Paynesville Zone and Sinkor Zone with Elder and Sister Krumm

Friday, May 24, 2013

I found this picture on the new "unofficial soon to be official Liberia Monrovia Mission Blog"

I need to add the link to the new blog, but I will let them work the kinks out first.  It will be the official blog when the mission becomes official on July 1st.   The Sierra Leone, Freetown mission currently includes the countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia.  After July 1st it will be split along the county border line.   Collin will never see the country of Sierra Leone, he will remain in Liberia for all of his mission.   Gotta love a picture of my smiling kid!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 20, 2013
To start off, Happy belated birthday Dad!!!!  How's being 50?  My companion says happy birthday too.  I wished you happy birthday on Saturday, and I spent the day being frustrated because we kept getting bounced and then we had a PEC meeting that was boring. They are always boring.

This week was interesting.  We got bounced a lot... we always have at least 2 bounces every day.  One day a couple weeks ago we got bounced 5 times in one day.  It was great... but we still managed to teach some lessons.  We don’t have as many as we want or plan to, but most of the lessons we have are good ones which make it all worth it.   We had a lesson with a man by the name of Samson, at the end we started talking about baptism.  We extended a date for him but he says he's been looking for a church that he knows is true.  We talked about how we knew the church was true.  The only way one can know if the church is true is to pray.  I still remember the day that I prayed and asked my Father in Heaven if the church was true, and the feeling I got afterwards. I explained how I grew up in the church and still had to pray to know.  My companion who is a convert himself, talked about his confirmation feeling.  It was a powerful lesson. During the lesson it started to rain, so we stayed after for about 30 minutes till the rain stopped.

When it rains here, it pours and pours and pours!!!  Sometimes only for 20 minutes, sometimes for an hour, sometimes for the whole day. It’s a guessing game, but when it rains we have to wear our boots.  I'll take a picture next time a wear them.  I can’t begin to describe how much I hate boots, but it is fun to puddle jump sometimes.  Hopefully I won’t get too muddy when I do that.  I may be a missionary, but I’m still a kid at heart!

When we don’t teach a lot of lessons we don’t do our area book. My suggestion is not to procrastinate.  We spent about an hour updating and creating our teaching records for the people we teach.  It’s very helpful to have an updated area book.  Don’t procrastinate!!!!
We were on the road trying to get a car (taxi).  The way we get a car is to pretty much hitch hike.  It’s a lot of fun sometimes, but most of the time frustrating.  We waited for about 20 minutes to get a car when the couples drove past and stopped and drove us to our destination.  We rode in the BRAND NEW mission bus.  It had 27 kilometers on it when we got picked up.  The couples were on the way to the airport to get President Roggia.  It was really nice to have A/C for about 5 minutes.

This week will be filled with conferences.  Zone conference on Wednesday, and since we aren’t a stake yet, district conference this weekend.  It’s going to be good to hear President Roggia speak.  Second to last time with him, he will be released at the end of June.

The third Sunday was weird not teaching or speaking, but kind of nice to have a break. We'll see if it stays that way.  (In Collin’s first area the missionaries gave all the talks and taught the classes on the third Sunday of the month)
Until next time my friends, love and miss you!

Elder Park

The White African

Through the internet and a west africa missionary mom's email group I belong to,  I got connected to Elder Skousen's mom.  Elder Skousen was Collin's first companion.  I was surprised to see an email from her this morning.  She sent a couple of pictures of Collin which goes perfectly with his description of the rain in this email:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Elder Malondera and Elder Park
Collin's bed is by the window
the kitchen in his apartment
Many thanks to the Mission Presiden'ts wife for posting these pictures on the mission blog, so good to his face!
Things I learned from the Mother's Day phone call:
His schedule:
6:30am wake up, prayers,   start carrying buckets for your shower
7:30am shower (using a cup and a bucket of water), eat bread for breakfast, take malaria pill
8am personal scripture study
9am companion scripture study
10:30 first appointment
1pm lunch
6:30 head home (LOTS OF WALKING EVERY DAY - he thinks about 7 miles a day)
7pm planning and prep for next day
8pm eat dinner - usually rice with some kind of stew, a spice called pepe (sp? that burns going in and coming out, but he can't stop adding more), stew usually has some sort of fish for protein, sauteed onion, tomatoe paste, and kidney beans.
- He thinks there are about 60 missionaries serving in Liberia, they are in Monrovia, Liberia,  Currently Collin is in the farthest east part of Monrovia.
- Rainy season is just getting started there
- they have to have their water delivered to holding tanks outside the apartment, but there is a well nearby.  The water from the shower head is more like a drip - no water pressure there. The last shower head that he saw that actually worked was at the MTC.  They use buckets of water to "shower"
- his apartment now is in a compound with a wall around it.   The other rooms in the compound are rented out, more like a hotel.  They share a generator with the owner of the place who lives next door which they run for a few hours every night.
-with generators running and the noise coming through open windows, he has learned to sleep through a lot of noise.
- money isn't everything, the people there don't have any and they are the happiest
- some people live in "homes" with metal roofs and metal walls, dirt floors.  If you have money you can afford to have homes made out of cement blocks.
-FM's - free meals  - they are sometimes invited to eat at someone's house.  They are not allowed to eat dog, monkey or cat which are common food sources there.  However, they also do not ask about what they are eating.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...........
- he is excited for his friends, Megan and Heidi who just got their mission calls, Congrats!
- He loves getting letters  (I'll give anyone a stamped and addressed envelope if they will write to him!)
It was sooooo good to hear his voice, he had a funny accent at the very beginning, but then he started sounding more like himself. Can't wait for the next phone call at Christmas! only 224 days away.
Thanks to all of you who ask about him and keep him in your prayers. 
Dianna Park

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013

Mother’s Day was good but now I’m homesick.  I won’t lie about that at all.  I loved calling home and I am jealous of those missionaries who got to skype.

This week was really boring.  We got bounced a lot this week.  It was really frustrating actually, so not much to report on this week.  Except we did have a baptism on Saturday, Elijah Zayway, this man was more excited and eager to be baptized than I was to call home!  This man is great.  I loved going to him and teaching him, he was always excited to have us come.  He also asked a lot of good questions, I’m pretty sure he was in another church before, so he had a lot of good questions for us.  I was happy he was able to come to the baptismal service, he actually beat us to the church building for it.  I was shocked!  (In the phone call he said they lived about 50 yards from the church)

One way that this mission has changed me is by how humbled I have been.  This mission will humble you faster than you can say humble.  In the Book of Mormon, in Alma 26:12, it talks about the greatest missionary and how he was never boasting of himself.  He was only boasting in the Lord because he knows that without the Lord, we are nothing.  He is completely right.  Without our Father in Heaven, we are nothing.  For me, I need to become more humble and except  the fact that everything I have done thus far, is because the Lord wanted it to happen.  I am just an instrument in his hand.  The Lord is my strength, let Him be yours!

I love you all and miss you all.  I hope Mother’s Day was good for all.

I love my mom so much!!

Elder Park

The White African


Monday, May 06, 2013

May 6, 2013
Hello World!

This week was pretty boring but it went by super fast, which was nice.
(Twice a year we have what we call General Conference, there are 5 sessions, they are broadcast on cable tv and over the internet.  Where that isn’t possible, when it becomes available on dvd then it can be sent to those areas.  It is also available to read.  Each  session  different church leaders give talks on a variety of different gospel topics). Yesterday at church we watched the Sunday morning session of General Conference, at least I think it was Sunday morning, but since the speakers  talk "serious," meaning american english,   I’m sure a lot of the people that were there couldn’t understand a lot of it.  For me, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t till I came on mission that I loved conference, and I will admit, I wish I would have been awake for it in the years past, I mean I wish I  wasn’t listening with my eyes closed... :)  It’s always good to hear from the prophet.  Time to be more obedient!

During the week I find myself asking more and more questions that make me think "did I really just say that?"   More and more often I can feel the Holy Ghost  taking over and speaking through me.  I am becoming more bold with asking questions and teaching.  I hope that I won’t become too bold and offend some people later on.  But when I ask these questions I always seem to get harder and harder questions, sometimes in the same lesson and sometimes not.   This man, John, grew up Muslim, 5 years ago changed to become a Christian man, as he put it, and today, you would couldn’t even tell that he grew up Muslim.  We were teaching him about the Book of Mormon and we were reading the last paragraph of the introduction.  He read that it is "preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah" he then asked, "what is the purpose of having the Second Coming?"  For me, I didn’t know how to answer, but thankfully my companion did.  It’s to fulfill the prophecy of ancient prophets.  They have taught us that Christ will come again and reign on the earth.  We can also call this the Millennium.  Reading/learning from the Book of Mormon is another way we can prepare for Christ's coming.   I never really thought about it that way before.
We also sat down with another man named Gardea, (means new man in basa, his tribes language).  This man was/is a pastor/preacher/minister of another church, still Christian though.   He heard about the Book of Mormon in the 90's when it first came to Liberia.  He said he asked a lot of questions that the members couldn’t answer,  they were just members and not missionaries.  Since we passed by him he called us over and asked who we were.   He said to come back the next day.  So we did.  He asked us a lot of questions about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the about the church in general.   At the end of us talking he said he wanted to become a member of our church.   Talking with him, I could see that he is prepared to hear our message and that he will become a great member, it’s going to take some work on our part, but he'll get there.  This lesson went completely different than I thought it was going to go.  I thought that he was going to try and Bible bash, but it turned out exactly how I wanted it to.  This man is going to be a good, faithful member someday.

To answer some questions:  my apartment is really small and we have 4 missionaries total, two Africans and two Americans.   My companion, Elder Marondera from Zimbabwe, is great, he doesn’t talk too much,  but enough.   He was baptized in 2006 and is a couple years older than I am.  He may have years on me but I got height on him!!   He's been out for about 9 months I think, he reported late in July.  We have running water most of the time but there is a well about 50 feet outside the door.   So we always have water.   In Liberia there is a water shortage but for some reason none of the missionaries are having a problem with it.  The only times that I have had a problem with water is when we call the water man too late, thus far, I've never had a problem.  We have a generator that we start at about 7:30pm and let it run till it turns off on its own which is at about 1 am or around there, we never fill the tank though.   Where we live is close to the beach so we get a really nice ocean breeze at night, so it’s still pretty nice to sleep.  The area I am in now is about a 50 minute drive away from the last area I was in.  I’m on the opposite side of the city from where I was.  To travel there would cost a lot of money for me.   It’s alright, I’m sure I will be able to get back to Bushrod Island before my mission ends.
My interview with President Roggia (the mission president) was good but very short.  I didn’t have any questions for him and he didn’t have any for me.  He asked me about my area and my companion and that was pretty much it.  He's good though.  I like him a lot.

Anyway, I love you all and miss you all,
Elder Park

The White African

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

April 30, 2013
Hello Everybody,
Well Sunday night we got a phone call the ZL's (zone leaders), they told us that P day (Preparation Day – the day they get their laundry done, groceries, email home, …) has been moved to Tuesday.  We still don’t know why and we are supposed to get our subsistence (monthly allowance) on the 28th of each month.  So we were planning on getting it on Monday... we still don’t have that either... that’s life though!  It’s all fun and games out here in Africa.  (I found out that Saturday was a national holiday in Sierra Leone and so the banks, many internet cafĂ©’s and other businesses were closed on Monday, so I’m sure they decided to push Pday to Tuesday so that those who were in Sierra Leone could do what they needed to do on their Pday while businesses were open.  The mission home is in Sierra Leone, maybe they had problems with the bank closures that caused the delay on the subsistence thing.  Since Collin is in Liberia he didn’t see any reason for the Pday to be moved)
So transfer news came last week on Tuesday while we were moving into the new apartment.  It was a good time to pack because I got transferred.  I got transferred to a new area, and a new zone.  It’s totally different but still good.  My new companion is Elder Marondera from Zimbabwe, he has been out for about 9 months and is my district leader as well.  Very interesting to see how a DL works.  We get along great.  We teach a little differently but we will figure out a good teaching pattern that works for both of us. I got transferred to Thinkers Village, but when the people say it, it sounds like Tinkervillage.  It’s the closest area to the airport that missionaries are in right now.  It’s a good area, the people are good, and it seems like they have a lot more money on this side. Hard to explain when you can’t see it.  It’s something you have to see to understand completely.
My branch is relatively new and because of it, and how big the area is, we have 2 sets of missionaries.  We have a new meeting house, Sunday was the second time it was used.  The building is about 200 feet away from our apartment.  It’s kinda nice. I live with Elder Tolar (Texas) and Elder Udotim (Nigeria).  Our apartment is small but it’s really nice.  We don’t have power all night but I sleep next to the window and we get an ocean breeze all night so I sleep good.  Rainy season is starting soon so it will start to be cooler weather.

We had 9 people get baptized on Saturday and then confirmed on Sunday during church.  Church was very interesting.  When we woke up we got a call saying President Roggia was coming to our service... oh boy.. but it was great, a little stressful because he wanted the baptism records before he left so we had to hustle and get that done and get interviewed at the same time.  Nothing about missionary work is easy.  Saturday and Sundays are always stressful.
All missionaries have to have one bad hair cut right?  Well I got mine out of the way yesterday.  Good thing my hair grows fast.  Next time I'll cut it myself.  Lesson learned...

Not a whole lot to talk about this week because most of it was moving, packing, and cleaning.  I’m sure I'll have more to talk about next week.

I love you all and miss you all

Elder Park

The White African

I got this letter on Tuesday morning, and was actually online at the time.  I was able to shoot a couple short questions back and forth to him which was almost like talking to him!  I learned the he finally got two of the packages that I sent early February and he got a few letters too.  He must have gotten a package from Aunt Jennifer because he intends to be a professional juggler by the time he gets home (thanks to the juggling balls she sent him).  He said his subsistence is about $140 US.  I also got info about the phone call on Mother’s Day – can’t wait to talk to him!  I might have to go to church at a different time since he thinks he will be able to make his call at 7pm his time which is right in the middle of the regular time I go to church.  Can’t miss my phone call!