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, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013

This was an awesome week.

It was Liberia's Independence Day on Friday.  That was a wonderful day for missionaries, not because of how many lessons we taught, we taught very few people that day, but because of the amount of food we ate.  I had 4 different people invite us over for food.  i have never eaten so much rice in my entire life!!!  I also never felt like throwing us so bad either.  The food was amazing!!!!  Just WAY too much of it!!

We had a baptismal service on Saturday.  Saturday was a long day for all of us.  We woke up before 6 to start pumping water for the font that we have at our building, but the generator had no fuel.   So we went to the well and hauled it for about an hour and a half.  Hauling water really sucks when you have to fight away mosquitoes and you're half asleep.  (for some reason I was just sleep deprived this week.  Hopefully I will be able to catch up later today).  We eventually got enough water to baptize people.  We then had a normal Saturday.

I got a hair cut this week.  Since my clippers died a couple months ago I have to find a Liberian to cut my hair.  They are far and few between.  Not many can cut white man hair, but the way they cut hair here is by using a comb and razor.  It’s actually really interesting.  Every missionary has to have one bad hair cut on their mission.  I am bound to have several.  This one I have now is actually really good, not exactly what I wanted but it works. 

On Mondays after emailing, me and Elder Tolar go and play basketball.  Playing with Liberians gets rid of stress and frustration but they get way too physical.  For me, I like to be physical when playing, but so do Liberians.  It sometimes gets a little out of hand, but it’s always fun.  I wish I was better at shooting and dribbling and, well just better at basketball in general. 

Today we are celebrating my companion's one year mark by taking him to town and going to a BBQ restaurant.  It should be a lot of fun. 

This was a crazy one, but I still love being a missionary. 

I love you all and miss you all. 

Elder Park

The White African


I got lucky again and was online when he was.  Here are some notes from the short emails we sent back and forth:

Hauling water sucks, but sometimes we have to do it.  We had one baptism,  William Smith.
Independence Day (from America):  Liberia was colonized by freed slaves so they brought back American names.  They call people with American names the Congos.   Liberia has only had non Congo presidents in it’s history, since 1870 something.  Independence Day was very calm.  Just a lot of music and dancing and drinking.  We were inside when it really started to change to that.  No violence here.  No fireworks due to the war.   I asked him if people there like America, he said:  Some love America more than I do, and some want to send us home because they don’t. 

He said the tall Liberians play basketball and the short ones play soccer, but everyone can play soccer.  What they call baseball is just kickball, and only the women play it. 
I asked him what he was reading right now:  I’m trying to finish the Book of Mormon again by the end of this transfer.  I have about 20/21 days left.

A friend of Collin’s asked if Collin had been sick, and I told his friend that Collin probably wouldn’t tell me if he had been sick.  So I asked him about it.  He said he hadn’t been sick, and that I was probably right, he wouldn’t tell me.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013

This week was an interesting one, never had a completely normal day. 

Tuesday I had to give instruction at our district meeting, good thing I remembered about it.... Monday night... but missionary work makes me good at winging it, then we had to go to interviews for the other elders in my district that evening.  Wednesday we had interviews for ourselves and had to wait for the Zone Leaders to come for that.   Thursday, haha, funny story.  Since it’s the rainy season and someone wanted our boots more than us, we have gotten really good at long jumping.  Sometimes there is a bridge that we walk across like a tight rope.  Thus far I hadn’t fallen, but Thursday wasn’t my day... the 'bridge' moved while I was walking across and I went about thigh deep into NASTY!!!! water.  I spoiled a Book of Mormon that I was carrying.  We went back to the apartment for me to change and grab another Book of Mormon.  Other than that it was a normal day.  Friday my companion had leadership training so I got to sleep outside.  For some reason I was sleep deprived all week.  Oh well.  Saturday we woke up early, cleaned out the baptismal font and started filling it.  Albert Bondeo was baptized.  This man was hard to see but very interested in the gospel.  Sunday, Bondeo and Salven were confirmed.  It’s always good when people show up to church early.

Sunday was missionary Sunday.  I gave a talk on obedience to the Lord’s commandments.  Obedience to ALL of them ALL the time.  Hopefully it was good.  I was then asked to teach Adult Sunday School.  i taught on D+C 101-105, having about 2 minutes to prepare, and never reading those sections before, I can say without a doubt, the lesson sucked.  i couldn’t wing that one...

My week was an interesting one to say the least.  This one will be the same.  Friday is LIB's Independence Day.  No small celebration will be happening. 

To answer some questions:  people make money by buying things and then selling them for about 5 dollars more, by making things by hand.  Many people walk about selling things that they have in a bucket on their head or with a wheel barrow.  The way we buy our food is we all put in $20 USD and go buy a big bag of rice, canned goods, onions, pepe and oil.   We get most of it at the market, which crazier than anything that I have seen before.  i would take a picture but then people would definitely know that I have money.  I hate walking around with a lot of money.  There are shops that we can get lapas, fabric worn as skirts. Mom, don’t worry, I'll be bringing a lot home.  Nothing has an address or a name, you just walk around till you find what you're looking for.  That goes for the whole country of Liberia. 

School here is hard for most people.  Often times people don’t graduate high school till about 21 or so, mostly because they can’t afford the school fees.  I don’t know how much that is.  The schools are small, only about 100 students, but they are all over the place.  It’s so different.

They have a lot of American hip hop/rap music, but the actual West African music is mostly what they call 'Azonto'.  It’s actually really cool, and when they hear it and aren’t doing much they will dance azonto.  Really cool!!!!

I swear the kids here are born with a 'football' ball (soccer) with them.  They mostly play that, but some of the older guys play basketball but don’t know how to truly play because no one has taught them the rules.  It’s interesting to play against them.

Hopefully that answers a few questions.  I love you all!

Elder Park

The White African

I was online when his email came.  I was able to ask him a couple things, here are some of the answers.

Someone came and stole 4 pairs of our boots.  Another missionary apartment got broken into twice in a 3 day span while they were sleeping.  No one was hurt, no one found out until morning.  When I asked him more about this he said:  Remind me never to tell you about things like that again.  Hmmmm, that was not really an answer.

I asked him if he needed a western union sent.  He said:  I went to a western union with another Elder, holy cow it’s crazy.  People are trying to get your money.  Just send $20 with letters.  Letters are never opened but packages usually are.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

Wow this week went by too fast.  These weeks are going by so fast, I feel like I just emailed yesterday.
This week was really good.

Tuesday started the week off a little slow because we were only able to see 2 people for lessons, but it was good.  Margret who got baptized about a month ago was asking why do ladies always say they are glad they have the husband they do?  She was asking if that is boasting, I didn’t have an answer for her,  but my companion carefully explained why.  He used the story of Ammon not boasting of himself but boasting of his God after his mission and reuniting with the other Sons of Mosiah.  I am very thankful for my companion.
Wednesday we saw plenty people!  We had about 7 lessons.  We were working hard and walking a lot.  The day flew by!!!!!  We had one lesson and we were walking to our next appointment and a group of men, about 5, called us over.  One of them was a member who I have never seen before, we'll fix that.  He said the guys were giving him a hard time about the Book of Mormon,  then he saw us walking.  We sat and talked to them and explained what it was, who wrote it, how we have it, and helped them understand certain scriptures that made references to it from the Bible.  We were asked a question from Revelations about adding scriptures, and we answered that.  The man who asked the question was very quiet after that.  The spirit was strong with me and Elder Marondera.  We were both just feeding off of each other.  It was a great lesson. 

Thursday was the same thing.  Lots of walking and lots of lessons.  We almost never get to see everyone we plan for, but Thursday we saw everyone and then some more!  These two days were awesome. 

Friday I went on exchange with Elder Tolar.  For some reason whenever I go on exchanges, we always get bounced.   We spent a long time trying to figure out who to go and see.  We had plenty time to just sit and talk to each other.  We had a good little chat while we sat for lunch and are potato greens (my favorite).  We had some good lessons talking about the Book of Mormon, and answering questions about it.  The exchange was a lot of fun, and I met a lot of great people and had some good lessons.
Sunday was very quick.  we had a good sacrament meeting and church service.  I hope the talks were good, i didn’t hear them.  We need to move the speakers.  The other meetings were good.  Elder Marondera was asked to teach the youth Sunday School class. it was fun listening to that.  We then had a devotional by President Kirkham that was district wide, it was good, but I already heard it when he arrived in LIB.  Thus far not much has changed with our new mission.   A new zone was created and Elder Skouson (he was Collin’s first companion) was made the Zone Leader, he is back in our old area.  He has been there his whole mission, except 4 weeks, hahaha!!!  We got new missionaries on Friday and we will get more in August.  This mission is growing!!

My week was great.  I love you all and miss you all

I know the church is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Elder Park

The White African


I got lucky today, when Collin sent his letter this morning he said he had more time, so we got to send a couple emails back and forth, here are a couple of the questions and answers: 

What do potatoes greens taste like and who is cooking them for you at lunchtime?

Potato greens are similar to spinach, I think, at least by the looks.  There are people who have cook shops that we go to for food.  The one I went to was next to our apartment.  Sister T loves us!

Do they season the greens w something?   Still doesn't sound good to me.

They season potato greens with pepe (pepper/ spicy goodness)  idk how to make it or how it’s grown.  They have potatoes.   I can get potato salad for a lot more than I can pay. 
How do you deal w not having refrigeration?  Are you always buying stuff on your way home every night?   What do you eat for protein?

We have a small refrigerator that only gets cold at night when the generator is on.  We buy a lot of canned stuff, kidney beans, mixed veggies, sardines, mackerel, and corn beef, sometimes we add eggs.  For breakfast we buy bread.  I get some peanut butter, and I usually get bananas too.  Protein is mostly fish when people cook for us.  Fish is the cheapest around here



Monday, July 08, 2013

July 8, 2013
This was crazy!!!!

(In last weeks letter he wrote about building a house, I asked him for details)  So for those of you who don’t know what a matted house is, it’s pretty much just thin strips of wood weaved together.  Actually really strong!  I took (or had people take) a lot of pictures.  I need to go and print out a lot pictures soon.  Finishing that house took all of Tuesday.

But before we finished that, I had an interview with my new mission president!  It’s so good to have a Mission President in Liberia.  We talked for about 15 minutes, mostly getting to know each other.  He asked how I gained my testimony.  I explained how it was such a process!  It was a good conversation.

Wednesday we had an all Liberia zone conference.  That was a lot of fun.  I was wearing a whitish tie, it had light yellow and had a pattern to it, you just cant see it in the pictures.  We were instructed to find branch builders and to use our evening time more wisely.  We all need to get a little better at that. 

Thursday we celebrated the 4th of July by having some soft drinks and candy.  We wanted to do more but it was little too hard...  i hope everyone enjoyed theirs.  Friday was a normal day for us, just teaching a lot of people. A lot of them are really progressing, which makes me happy.   We are starting to get a lot of success!!! 

Saturday we had one young man get baptized.  Salven is a young man who we met through his friend who isn’t interested anymore.  He is so smart,  he knows his bible stories and is loving the church.  He had a relative pass away Saturday evening, so he wasn’t confirmed on Sunday, but he called to let us know ahead which was nice.  I can totally see him going on a mission. 

Sunday was good.  We had two members invite all 4 of us over for dinner which meant we didn’t cook!  Not cooking is sweet.   Potato greens and beans are some of my favorite Liberian dishes.  After that we waited for the phone call.

The phone call came with transfer news.  BIG NEWS!!!!!!
Ha, just kidding, no one in our district got transferred, we all stayed the exactly same.  So, another 6 weeks here in the village of thinkers!  I was a little upset when we received the news, but now I’m pretty happy about it.  We all get along really well.

Today was/is a day of firsts.  First time i took a hot shower, boiling my own water to mix with frigid rain water was really nice!  I’m also currently wearing a long sleep shirt.  We told the man who owns this internet cafe to turn off the A/C because 20 degrees celcius (68 degrees F) was a little cold.  I can’t imagine how cold I am going to be when I get home...  today isn’t a very warm day here in LIB.  But it’s a sweet day.
Until next week my friends!!!

I love you all and miss you!

Elder Park

This is Africa
( Got this picture from the new Liberia Monrovia Mission Blog!)

Monday, July 01, 2013

July 1, 2013

The Sierra Leone Freetown Mission was split this weekend and the new Liberia, Monrovia Mission was created.   Collin will be in the Liberia Monrovia Mission. 

Holy cow it's already July.... where did June go???

This week was a lot of fun and went way too fast!!!
Since my companion is a district leader, he goes on exchanges with the zone leaders every transfer, so I got to go to a different area with Elder Kouao again,  he's from Ivory Coast and trained my trainer, so he's my grandpapi.  Those two days went super fast!!!  I learned a couple things about how I can become a better teacher, how I can simplify some of the principals that we teach.  I went on Tuesday to his area and came back Thursday.  Nothing like sleeping in your own bed, if I can call it 'mine.' 
Thursday was a normal day back in my own area.  Friday we had to go to Redlight, which is probably the biggest market in Liberia, it's crazy.  We spent a lot of time there.  We did have a couple lessons when we got back which was good. 
Saturday was the best.  It started with a baptismal service for the other Elders in the branch.  it was really spiritual.  Most Liberians don't show emotion, it's a sign of weakness they say.  The man who was baptized teared up and was choked up.   To see that happen is no small thing, it never happens. 

We went and taught one lesson after the baptism.  During the lesson we got a call from Elder Tolar, he's in my district and apartment, saying come to Vicky Cooper's house now.   We finished the lesson and left right away.   We get to the house and there were the materials to finish her matted house.  so we got to work.  We missionaries, still in our white shirts, took our ties off,  and start to build a matted house.  No one showed us how, no one really helped us, but we did it.  I never thought I would build a house here, but I did.  Vicky helped when we needed her, but you call tell she was just so thankful.  When we finished with the materials, she said under her breath, 'what a testimony builder this was.'  I don't know if she knows that we all heard it but it makes me just smile.  This is true missionary work.  Teaching the people here the gospel is great, but there are times we need to go a step farther.  Saturday we did that for Vicky.  I'm a little disappointed with the branch for being super slow on getting involved but we are going back on Tuesday to finish the job so she can move in. 
President Kirkham flew in last night around 6pm.  Tomorrow I will have an interview with him.  My Zone Leader said to plan for a 30 minute interview with him.  Hmmm, this will be interesting.  I wonder what we'll talk about.  Wednesday will be an all Liberia Zone Conference.   That'll be sweet because they use up the whole day and we get really good food!!!!   This week will FLY BY!!!!!!   I hope we will have some time for lessons this week.  We also get transfer news either Wednesday or Sunday.  We'll see what happens!!!!   I have a feeling that I will be staying where I am and will receive a new companion.  We get new missionaries on the 9th.  This mission is growing fast! 
Liberia is sweet and the church is true.

I love you all and miss you.

Elder Park
The White African