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, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013

Wow this week was too fast!

Me and my companion have been working really hard the past couple weeks and Saturday was the pay off!  We had 4 people get baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday.  Margret Harris was a very stubborn woman who grew up Baptist.  Every time we would come to the house she would leave.  One day we asked her why she did this.   We asked if we could talk to her and answer the questions that she has, from there we started teaching her.  Her husband was a recent convert and he helped with the teaching.  We would go to her house probably 3 times a week to teach her and answer her questions.  Her first concern about baptism was very quickly answered, then it lead to the priesthood, then it lead to temples, and by this time,  she had a date for baptism.  She was baptized Saturday, along with her 2 daughters, by her husband.   Next step is going to the temple!

 Eve Reeves is a 29 year old woman who loved to go joly joly (party), she loved her alcohol.  We started teaching her and she loved the lessons, but once she was taught about the word of wisdom it was hard to see her for a week or so.  Finally we started up again with her.  She came to district conference in May.  from that, her question was, "when can I be baptized?" she hasn't missed a Sunday is over a month (that's hard to do even if you're a member).  She always calls me and Elder Marondera her sons.  She always makes us laugh when we see her.

 Saturday was a very special day for me and my companion.
When new missionaries come to Liberia, especially from the US, it takes about a month to adjust.  The way we live here is totally different.  I haven't had a working shower head since the MTC.  I haven't had a sweatless night since Jan. 23.  but I love it here.  It truly is amazing.  it takes awhile because it is so different, and living like a missionary is sometimes hard, you can't forget about anyone.   Once you have few weeks of being here, you get used to it, and you get used to the sweating.  But Liberia is too sweet!
 This week is the last week under President Roggia.  I have heard rumor that President Kirkham is already here but I have no idea.. The mission becomes official on Sunday, June 30th at about 6 pm.  We'll probably have a zone conference next to say hello.  We hold that at the district center (stake center), there are only 2 buildings like that in Liberia. 
We get transfer news on the 7th and new missionaries on the 9th of July.  It'll be interesting!

That's pretty much it for the week.  I love you all and miss you all!

Elder Park
The White African

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last week Collin mentioned the last conference with President Roggia.  The Sierra Leone Mission blog posted some pictures, I am reposting the ones with Collin in it here:

This is a picture of the 72 missionaries that will make up the new Liberia Monrovia Mission with President and Sister Roggia.   Collin is on the top row, 5th from the left

 Of course there is always a silly picture of the group too.

 Collin always seems to get his picture taken at lunch. :)

Collin is on the left

 It looks like Collin talking with President Roggia.

Might be Collin with his back to the camera putting a chair away

Collin barely made it into this picture on the left

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18, 2013

To start, I said goodbye to President Roggia for the last time yesterday.  (At the end of the month the Sierra Leone Freetown mission will be split, the new Liberia Monrovia mission will be created.  President Roggia and his wife will be going home after serving three years.  Both missions will be getting new presidents.  I'm sure Collin will tell us all about President Kirkham.) That's why pday (preparation day – kind of a day off, they do laundry, clean, shop, relax, send emails home…   Usually Pday is Monday, that is when I get my emails from him, but this week it came today, Tuesday) is today.  We had all the missionaries gather up, there were 66 of us plus senior couples so about 72 in total.  Even though I never really got to get to know him well, I was sad to see him go.  He gave us a lot of encouragement yesterday.  He talked a lot about enduring to the end, in life, and on mission.  He also talked about David and Goliath and how David may not have had armor on, but he had the armor of God on.  Then he talked about how the stripling warriors put on the armor of God.  After, he tied it together for us currently.  I forgot the reference but it’s in the Doctrine and Covenants, about how we as missionaries, as members, and as people need to face our foes, face our Goliath, wearing the armor of God.

He also showed videos of people bearing their testimonies from Liberia and Sierra Leone.  The people that were on it, I know and have talked to, they were members before the war and have the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard.  It made me think of how I took this gospel for granted.  The only thought I have after this is "I need to do more."  I almost cried while watching the videos.  It has ‘recharged my battery.'   Missionary work is draining, but totally worth it (idk if the videos are online yet) (I really hope they share these on the mission blog, I will post a link if they do)
He shared some stats of the mission while he's been president 2010-2013.  A new mission created (mission splitting, creating the Liberia Monrovia mission), over 6000 baptisms,  250 missionaries served in 2 countries, leads West Africa with people with baptism dates, with people who attend church, leads the WORLD in baptisms per missionary per month. created the 3000 stake, 2 new districts, 15 new branches, over 150 temple ordinances done.  Elder Holland said, "this seems to be Africa's moment"  this is so true!

As far as going to kakata (the bush or interior), we go with the humanitarian couple.  We were only there for a couple hours.  We met the branch president and he takes us to the people he wants us to meet and to teach.  We don’t have set appointments when we go there.  I brought my camera but fell asleep while going there, the A/C was really nice!
(I asked him how he was able to print the pictures I got last week) The way I was able to print pictures was I found a guy that has a system that allows me to plug my cord into his printer and then i take control through my camera.  This is the only place that I’ve heard of that’s like this.  It’s cheap and quick.

This week we had a struggle with meeting people because we had to go to another area with Elder Tolar ( from Texas – Elder Tolar didn’t have a companion for the first part of the week, so he was with Collin and his companion – missionaries never work alone).  It was really hard to balance the amount of time we spent in each other’s area, but we made it work.  He received his new companion on Saturday, Elder Bell (from Utah), straight from the MTC.  He needs a couple days to adjust to mission life and to Liberia.  It takes about a month.
Who asked how we contact people (I asked in the email I sent to him)?  Ha, we don’t look for people, people look for us.  We always have 1 or 2 people come up to us and tell us they want to join our church.  We take the name and number (75% of the people have phones, but only 15% have electricity...)  out of 10 people who do this, maybe we'll find 2 people who are serious.  Meeting people is easy, finding the serious ones is a little more difficult.

The time is flying by.  No joke!  It’s going too fast!  I love my mission.  This is the best!
I love and miss you all

Elder Park
The White African

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This week we got an envelope from Collin.   Dad and Derek got letters, I didn't, I got pictures and I thought I would share them with you.  Under each picture I will type what Collin wrote on the back of the picture.

April 13, 2013 - (This first one is one I was sent to me by the mom of Collin's first companion).   Elder Skousen and I.  It rained all day after baptisms.  We went straight to a Zone (a zone is an area) FM (free meal) and the only way back to our apartment was through the corn which had water half way up my leg.  It was a lot of fun.


 April 13, 2013  - This was a typical Saturday morning in my first area.  Every Saturday the whole zone would have baptisms.  This was when I was able to baptize Richard and Victorea MagBee.  Remember me talking about them?  Great family.  I will never forget them.

February 22, 2013 - I was on an exchange with Elder Zolo.  We had some extra time between lessons.  It was awesome.  First time on mission I got to go to the ocean.  Now I can go all the time. One boundary of my area is the ocean. 

April 8, 2013 - My first trip into town.  Didn't feel like I was in Liberia.  Totally different.....

(OK - this might be my favorite picture so far!)  April 24. 2013 - I loved coming to this house.  Dad, you'd like Sister Annie.  She's not in the picture, she wasn't there.  But these kids were my favorite.  One girl wouldn't believe me when I said I was moving.

May 6, 2013 - My new zone.   Yes, that's all of us.  It's brand new.  Every Monday we would play soccer against each other.  I wish I played longer back when I was still hungry.
Don't look at the hair.  Every missionary has to have at least one bad haircut.  (FYI - my clippers broke)

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10, 2013
Hello everyone!

Okay so there has been some rumors going around about our church (He mentioned this last week, so I asked him to clarify), stuff like we have blood sacrifices, and that we do some crazy things in church.  The rumors about us missionaries is that we are breaking the law of chastity.  Obviously they are not true.  I personally haven’t heard them, but the other missionaries in the apartment have been dealing with it for a while now. 
We had a baptism on Saturday for Patience Kollie.  We've been working hard with her and she finally got baptized on Saturday and then confirmed on Sunday.  Her face was huge the entire day, you can really see the difference with the people here when they get baptized.  It’s amazing. 
A month ago Elijah Zayway was baptized and confirmed.  Sunday he was able to pass the sacrament for the first time.  He passed it with a huge smile on his face and I was smiling along with him.  Like I said before, the people completely change after baptism!  He has totally embraced the gospel.  About once a week he tells us he has someone new for us to meet.  He's only about 24 years old so we've been talking to him about going on a mission.  I think he wants too!  He'd be a great missionary because he already is a missionary.  Every member a missionary. 
The members in the Tinkervillage Branch have really stepped up, and really have started helping new members grow.  This branch is better than most wards back home with welcoming new members.  Our branch is only about 90 to 100 people strong and everyone knows everyone!
Every Wednesday me and my companion are supposed to go to Kakata, which is in the bush.  It’s about an hour and 10 minute drive to get there.  They don’t have missionaries there yet but it’s very close to having a set.  We only spend about an hour or two up there but it’s a nice drive, very beautiful, completely different from Monrovia.  Very quiet and very green!  I wish I had taken pictures.  We went and only taught one lesson there, but that lesson was great.  We talked about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, t totally made sense to her on why we see so many different churches today.  She'll be baptized soon. 
No matter where I go, I meet people ready for the gospel, I just have to find them.  The spirit will direct us.  It is a wonderful thing to have the spirit with us. 

An Elder in our apartment got transferred today, and the one replacing him is still in the MTC so we get to be in a companionship of 3..., this week isn’t going to be fun, but it'll probably go by quickly which is always nice!
I love you all and pray for you all

Elder Park

The White African

Monday, June 03, 2013

June 3, 2013

This week was so fast!!!!!!   

But to start, I missed another family member’s birthday,  Love you Katie!!

Since my companion is also our district leader, once every transfer he has to go on exchanges with the zone leaders.  So I go to spend 2 days with Elder Kouao from Ivory Coast.  It turns out that he is my mission “grandfather.”  (he trained my trainer who is my “father”).   This guy is crazy!  Let’s just say, before he met with the missionaries, he had a really good plan for becoming president...  but he awesome.   He had a lot of cool stories.  He served 9 months in my last area, so we talked a lot about the people there.  A lot of the people he was able to baptize are still active, to have people stay active here is hard, sometimes they become converted to the missionary and then when he leaves, we don’t see them anymore...

For some reason no matter where you go in the world, rumors of the church start flying!  There are many flying about us missionaries in Thinker Village (4 of us).  They aren’t true.  It’s probably happening because we've had a lot of success recently.  the adversary is working hard against us.  The rumors are starting, probably do to our success, because yesterday (Sunday) we had 15 nonmembers come to church.  Some even said that they weren’t going to be able to go, but they came anyways.  It was a good Sunday, plenty people at service.  We had a lady get interviewed for baptism on Saturday, got food from the branch president.  It was a good day. 

We teach people that our Heavenly Father answers their prayers.  He has truly answered mine recently.  The past couple weeks we have been struggling to find people to teach, and when we go to teach them they wouldn’t be there.  So, as Alma states to his son in Alma 38:5, trust Heavenly Father and He will help you overcome your afflictions and trials,  that’s what I did.  I went to my knees and prayed like I never had before on mission.  The first 3 months it was easy to teach, easy to have people get baptized.  But this past month has been a struggle.  So I prayed to know what we could do better, why we weren’t having success.  The next thing I thought of was to study better and plan better, and that’s what we did.  We started to have better planning sessions at the end of the day, better companion studies in the morning and now, it’s paying off.   We aren’t getting bounced, we're finding people left and right.   We have a lot of people come to church.   Like I said, this week has flown by.  A busy and tired missionary is a happy one, especially when he doesn’t know where the day went or how he is going to see so many people in one day. 
Busy missionary = Happy missionary. 
This week was good!  This week was fast!

Love you all miss you all. 

Elder Park

The White African