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, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013

We tracked Santa to see that he visited Liberia, and he did!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and will have a good New Years!!!   I know that I had a great Christmas.  We had 3 FMs (free meals) in a row.   My gut was so full!!!  We had Cabbage, potato greens and then beans which sits heavy, so we suffered a little while and took most of it home so we could start calling home!

Calling home was great. It was fun to hear the reactions of everyone when they heard the way I speak. I will admit it, I speak funny!!! It was really good to hear from family. Katie and Adam, I hate you for not letting me know you moved to WA, and congrats to James and Danica about the new baby!  Happy birthday Sophie!!!!   It was really funny to hear Grandma and Grandpa react to getting a call from me, they weren’t expecting that one at all. It was so funny!!!

Saturday, we had two really good lessons with Moonah and James. Moonah told us that she believes that the Book of Mormon is true!!  That made our day!!!  James, I've known him since about June. This man has frustrated me beyond belief at times and then has made me a happy person also.

On Thursday, we got transfer news. Elder Lamont is going to Congo Town, Elder Seiya is going to Matadi, Elder Baldwin is going to New Jorgia and for me, I am going to Gardnersville and I’m going to be a Zone Leader. Here we go! We got moved late today so that’s why the email is short.
I love you all!

Elder Park
The White African

So me and Baldwin will still be in the same apartment!!!! Haha, I think that’s funny. He will be working in a different district though. Baldwin’s comp is Elder Estagoy, he's from the Philippians.

Elder Myaka's pic from the Christmas program

Gardnersville is about a 30 minute drive from Tinker Village. I don’t really know what lies in store for me. We moved today, my companion is Elder Myaka from South Africa. Elder Myaka only has 4 transfers left (a transfer period is 6 weeks). As zone leaders you and your companion are both zone leaders. It’s not like a district leader where you are on your own. There is just one district in my zone. It’s one of the smallest zones, just 8 people. Elder Myaka has been here for 2 transfers, so he knows the area pretty well.

I haven’t spent much time at the apartment so I will tell you more about it next week.I was so happy to move. I’m so happy I have new people to meet and new streets to walk!!!<

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013

Collin is on the top left side, holding the "M" in Merry

It’s a good thing we don’t focus on the numbers, because when you look at our numbers, you would laugh and ask if we even did anything.  That may be the case, but this week was SWEET!!!!!

Tuesday and Wednesday were just normal, although I was on exchanges with our Zone Leaders. This time I was with Elder Morrison (Ghana). I didn’t really understand the reason for the exchange, it’s because there wasn’t one... annoying. Those two days were really boring because either people were gone, or they were too busy to sit with us because they are finding money for Christmas. So those days kinda stunk, but I had a lot of fun with Morrison.

Thursday and Friday were sweet!   We had a 2 day Zone Conference.   Thursday was the fun day, we played a game, they made us sound out animal noises and then we had to find the other elders/sisters with the same animal and then got to know each other better, trying to get a mission unity type thing going on.   We all got Santa gifts (Santa knows best!!!) all the Elders got socks. So funny. Some of us really needed more. We also got Christmas cards from the Kirkham’s and their family. People from around the states sent us Christmas cards, it was so nice to receive those. I actually got one with a return address, the guy lives on Bainbridge Island!!! Hahaha, it was fun to get that one. Then we had a talent show. Elder Pentreath (England and our AP) played the violin. It was really good. We did sing the 12 days of Christmas with actions that went along,  watching Pres. Kirkham was HILAROUS!!!! Even though we are serving the Lord, we are still just small pekins.

Friday was the spiritual part of the conference. It was really good. I can’t remember all of what was said but I took a lot of notes. I did like Elder Skouson's instruction. He talked about how we need to change the word 'correction' to the word 'improvement'. It was really good. We also got more Christmas cards from people. I love those. We even got one from the First Presidency!!

Saturday we didn’t have a baptism, but we went to the service. Elder Kaiser got his first. He's a little excited. Since we had to travel back into town there wasn’t enough time to go teach people, kinda sucked. But the devotional that Pres. Kirkham gave was amazing. It was all about the birth of our Savior. I learned a lot. He went into the details of it too.   Wow, I learned so much.  Pres. Kirkham is the best. He came to church with us Sunday. He talked a lot about how missionary work goes. He talked about how we desperately need to have members come and see people with us and meet people. It will definitely help the retention rate that isn’t very good. If members would just say hello to new faces, more people will stay. They will feel welcomed. I invite all of you members, please, if you see someone new come to church, take a second and say hello. 

This week is going to be great. I get to call home on Wednesday. I have a lot of people who have invited us over for food. I have left over money too so we are going to have the Park Family tradition of a big Christmas Eve dinner.  Man, I’m excited!!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your friend in LIB!!!

Elder Park
The White African

I told him that our friend, Victoria Gallardo, got her mission call to Mexico, he said, "the Gallardos are so good. I love those guys!”

We emailed back and forth about when the phone call would be on Christmas day. I made sure he knew he was supposed to call me first (he called his sister Katie first on Mother’s Day, by the time I talked to him his funny accent was gone. I want to hear it this time!). He said, "haha, okay I'll call you first. It’s really hard to talk 'serious' or normal as you'd say."

I asked him what he was going to make for his Christmas dinner since he mentioned they were going to have a big Christmas Eve dinner (which is a Park family thing – it’s really so nobody has to spend time cooking on Christmas day – just warm up some leftovers, so far none of us are very fond of cooking).   He wrote: “go to the supermarket. buy two chickens, make our own dry rub and cook it!! We haven’t totally figured it all out, but there will be a lot of junk food eaten.

BTW, I got the package from Elder Robb and one from you that had oreo's and new underwear.

As we were emailing back and forth, James (Collin’s brother), his wife Danica, and little Sophia arrived after driving over night from Idaho.   I was able to take a picture of Sophia and send it to him  from my phone while he was still online - and he got it!  I love technology!  Sophia was just a couple weeks old when Collin last saw her, a week before he left for the MTC. He said: "I better get a lot of pictures!!!   I want to see Stinky!”(Sophia might have been a smelly baby!) and then when he saw her picture he said “holy cow, she is BIG!!!!! look at those champers!!!!!”

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Hahaha    This week...

This week was stupid fast.  We worked hard this week too.  Holy cow.  Last Monday I had a kick in the butt to myself.   We were better this week.   We still struggled with getting members to come with us but we are working towards that.

Tuesday - no district meeting which kind of messed us up since we found out that we should have had one late Monday, but we still managed to have a good day.   We had a great lesson with Sis Moonah about prayer.  We buy eggs from this lady, and one day she said, “come study with me.”  So we did!   She loves the things that we have to teach.  Talking to someone about the law of chastity is always a little scary because sometimes they don’t want us to come back.   We started our usual way and saw that the man was getting frustrated, so we changed it up and went and focused on marriage.   His whole countenance changed.  I am so thankful for how the Spirit will direct us in what to say.   When it comes, its powerful.

Wednesday- Exchange with Elder Kaiser.  I love this guy!  He is about to finish up with his training but teaches like he has been here for a while.  It was a really good day.  He even managed to get us food.
Cassava!  So good.

Thursday - we went to someone that we were planning on dropping, but found that she has a new interest in seeing us, which is good.  We had a good lesson later that day with a group of guys at a tire shop for the first time.  It was good to let them know who we were and what we did.  They had plenty questions!!   One of them actually showed up to church on Sunday!

Friday- we had a zone meeting.  President Kirkham came.  It was good, I actually needed to talk to him about some things that won’t be mentioned.   Sorryo!   After we got some food at a cobo shop.   I love going to auntie's!!!!   The ZL came back to our area to do some interviews for us. Richard was a success but Esau wasn’t found.  We went everywhere to find that guy.   Couldn’t find him!   A little frustrating since I called him the night before.

Saturday- was baptisms.   Richard wouldn’t answer his phone all morning so I had no idea if he was coming, but about 15 minutes before the service he came walking in.  Made my day!!!   The service went really well.   We only got two lessons that day but both of them were good.  Teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always fun, getting food is always good too.  Then having a lesson and talking about Joseph Smith at the end is great.   That lesson really showed me how much I've grown and learned on  mission.

Sunday was a little downer because Richard had to drive his brother to the airport and missed his confirmation, and only one investigator came to church.  Kinda sucks when people don’t show.  Oh well.  That’s mission life.

This transfer will be extended one week so people won’t be moving right before Christmas.   Which is good.   We don’t quite know what we are going to do that day but we'll probably go caroling.   Hahaha!

I hope you all had a great week.  Merry Christmas!!!

Elder Park
The White African

Extra emails:

I gave him little gifts for the 12 days of Christmas like I have done with all the kids that have moved out.  The first day is always $$ to go get Santa pictures.  Collin said,  “The twelve days are fun.  Day one is hard, still haven’t done that one yet.  no santas here....”  I told him he was going to have to get creative with that one!

I asked him what time he thought he might be calling on Christmas day, he said, “probably same time (he usually emails me about  8 or 9 am).  I don’t know,  last time (he called on Mother’s Day) my comp was African so I didn’t have to share the phone that night, this time, not so easy!”  His companion is from Idaho – pretty sure he doesn’t want to talk very long, right? asked him what made him laugh this week, he said, “this was a laughing week.  Lots of laughs this week.  Since we have 3 1/2 hours at night, we laugh a lot.  So it’s hard to pin point  one thing.

Monday, December 09, 2013

December 9, 2013

 Wow this week was another good week, even though it started terrible.

 Tuesday was good until we met our friend that should have been baptized already.  We were preparing him for baptism this last Saturday, but he told us on Tuesday that, well he didn’t get baptized.  It was really frustrating for us, we felt like everything was going really well, but, now we just have to keep working.

Wednesday I was on exchange with Elder Bell.   We saw a lot of people.   It was good.   We sat with Mama Wah (her son played for the LIB football team, and is a member), she has been struggling to know if the church is true.  Last week she went to her church from before.   We talked to her about how she felt there.  She said that she was more relaxed at our church than her old one.   We explained why that was, and obviously it was because of the Spirit.   We talked to her about how we felt it and how it speaks to us and everything, it was a powerful lesson.  She said at the end of the lesson that she knows that this church is true.  Hopefully she can be baptized on Saturday.

 Thursday was  leadership training.  It was good to really learn what my roles/ duties are as a District Leader.   The best part was when they gave us food,  free food is the best!

 Friday I was on exchange with Elder Sanders.  He has been out for about 4 weeks, very new and still figuring everything out.   We had a lot of good lessons.  I talked most of the day because he is still

 figuring out how to adapt his teaching skills to the understanding of the Liberians, which is super hard to do!!!  He also ate his first chicken foot on his mission.  It’s a rite of passage for us Americans.  We never forget our first time! Hahaha

 Saturday we had Olivia get baptized.  She grew up in the bush and doesn’t speak much English.  Her auntie and uncle are members, so they taught her most of the lessons in Gio.  It was really cool!   We also had a really good lesson with Richard who is planning on getting baptized this Saturday.  His friend was there, Terry, and Richard was bearing his own testimony to his friend, me and Elder Baldwin just smiled to each other.  It was such a good way to end the week.

 Sunday we had Moonah come to church for the first time.  She's 23 and was scared to death of the church.  So it took a lot for her to come.  It was good.

  The week started off sucky but ended sweet!  I hope your own week was good!

  I love you all!

  Elder Park

 The White African



 I asked him if he got the Christmas packages I sent:  “I got all three (? Interesting, I only sent two padded envelopes, one with decorations and candy, and another one to be opened Christmas day).  IT’S CHRISTMAS IN MY ROOM!!!   I HAD SO MUCH FUN SETTING IT UP!!!  Today we had a lazy day.  We had to wait at the apartment for a little while to get  a new pump for our water, and the internet was super slow.  Elder Lamont might not get to email today.  I’m lucky I did.  (I feel lucky EVERY time he finds an internet connection that is working!)

 I got the green taped one (I told him the one with green strapping tape was for Christmas day).  I was so tempted to open it but I want to have something for the actual Christmas day.  I love the candy count down, even though the chocolate is a little (a lotta) melted.  The tree is sweet!  Everything is awesome.  I have a snow flake above my desk!  hahaha

From a letter Collin sent:

This is Elder Baldwin and Elder Park
Pictures from the Mission Blog
 There was a conference in Monrovia, this was the greeting line.  Collin is 4th from the left
Members waiting for conference, an hour before the starting time
If you look hard enough you can see Collin just past the white haired guy in the middle
The Tinker Village Missionaries with President Kirkham

Monday, December 02, 2013

December 2, 2013
Very interesting week.

Wednesday I was on exchange with Elder Lamont.  It was so good!  We teach in similar ways so it was a lot of fun to have lessons.  We had a really good lesson on the priesthood with James this week.  He is getting really close to his baptism, hopefully this coming Saturday. 
We also had a good lesson with our branch president and a less active couple.  They haven’t legalized their marriage but they are married.  We talked to them about why marriage is important, and how they should have the goal of getting to the temple to be sealed to their family.  Elder Lamont and I shared how happy we are to be sealed to our families.  Oh what a blessing that is.

On Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving again! ( thanks mom for confusing me....).  We did it better this time though.  We bought a full chicken from the super market.   We lathered it up with garlic salt and teriyaki sauce, stuck it in the oven and waited.  It sounds bad but it was delicious!!!!!  Elder Bell made some mash potatoes.  We FEASTED!!!   I was playing the part of Griswald by getting to cut the chicken.  It was funny.

Friday was a Liberian holiday so all we did was eat.  No one was home for us to go and teach.  So it kind of sucks.   Saturday we learned how to play checkers the LIBerian way.   It’s actually a small different from how we play.  (yes, that’s how he wrote that, I remember him telling me that Liberians don’t have the word “little.”  I guess he doesn't have it now either)   They go super fast!  It was a lot of fun though.  We also played some on Sunday.

Sunday when we were walking back to the apartment, both Baldwin and I came to the same conclusion, which is this, our area has come to a stand still.   We feel like we are doing everything we can to help the people here but they just don’t understand that it is so important.  It’s their own salvation!!!!  We have a lot of people we see, but only about 4 are progressing anywhere.  I have never had this happen before.  I know that this is just part of mission, it’s now time to be on my knees even more seeking for guidance on what to do.  I know that my Father in Heaven will truly help us help our brothers and sisters progress in the Gospel.  That’s why we are here, that’s what I am here.

I love you all and pray daily for all of you.

Elder Park
The White African
Thanksgiving was awesome the second time around!

No package yet.  But I have to go to the mission office on Thursday for a training. (wish me luck on getting there, there is no more bikes in town, it’s the fastest way to get around)  so I might get it then.  Something happened in another part of Liberia that made the law makers pass a bill that says that bikes can’t run in town.  I won’t tell you what happened.

I asked him what they do to celebrate Christmas there, he said:  they celebrate the way they celebrate any other holiday, they drink.  Some families do gather together.  I don’t know  for sure, haven’t been here for one.