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, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

This week was great!!!  I love having great week!!  All our hard work paid off on Sunday too.  I was so happy at church!!  Also, I was laughing pretty much the whole week.  It was a fun week!!!!

I forgot what day it was but we had a lot of bounces in the morning so as we walked to another house we would pick up rocks and chuck them at lizards.  There is a crazy amount of lizards here, they are everywhere.   We got really close to hitting them, my baseball arm isn’t as it once was anymore....  but it’s okay.   We saw one on a tree and I try to hit but miss.  Then since it didn’t move, Elder Witehira tries,  nails it right in the head it was so funny!!!!   We were both all but on the ground laughing, it was great!  Then later that day we are at our Branch Presidents house eating, he cooks for us every single day, for him, he has a lot of chickens and then one small dog that we always play with.  I got a fish bone that had a lot of red oil on it and threw it at the chicken, and then the dog smells the red oil on the chicken and starts to chase it.  The dog didn’t quite catch it,  it chased it for a about 10 minutes too!  That day was full of laughing but we did manage to see some less active members and talk to them, it was a solid day.

This week we focused on finding less active members, we found a lot!  We probably found about 10 less active people.  We had at least one lesson with them and then tried to see them again during the week.  It’s always fun to talk with less active people, and having them come to church is almost as satisfying as a baptism but that’s just me.  Finding these people made a huge difference in the attendance of church! We probably had 4 times the amount of people in church as we did last week.  I was so happy.  Not all of the less active people we met with came, but some did.   It brought joy to my heart seeing them walk in.

On Thursday we had a little bit of rough lesson with Sister Hawa.   This woman is stubborn!  We had a little disagreement on a couple thing and I felt like I was a little pushy while I was there too, I walked away feeling like we had lost on investigator because of me.  I was devastated.   We invited her to pray about what we talked about and to come to church.   We extended the invitation even though we didn’t think she'd come.  To both Elder Witehira’s and my surprise, Sister Hawa walked into church.  I didn’t believe it, I had to do a double take, no joke!  This was the first time she had come to church too!

Sister Hawa wasn’t the only first timer to church either.  Sister Theresa came too!!  This woman is probably the nicest woman I've meet in LIB.   I love this woman, her story is heart breaking but she's just so happy about it.   She has to use crutches because her legs don’t function properly because of a medical mistake.  When she came into church I had a smile from ear to ear!  Sunday was a fantastic day! Definitely the highlight of the week.

There were a lot of great things that happened this week and can’t even name them all!!

I love you and miss you all!!!

Elder Park

The White African


Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014
I don’t have much time.   We went to town today to buy a few things. It took us forever to get into town and then it was just one of those days that EVERYONE wanted to talk to us.  But it’s okay, This is a letter that I sent to President Kirkham today:

This week was a challenging week.  First off, we had the zone conference (with Elder Curtis, the Africa West Area President came) which made it a little hard to go out and see a lot of people, but we did manage to see one less active afterwards which was good.  I really enjoyed the conference.  I learned a lot of new ways to help others learn how to recognize the spirit.  Even for me, I did that personal study on page 95 of PMG.  I did it before the conference and then again after.  I learned that a lot of my prayers are very vague and not too specific.

Church was a little rough for Upper Caldwell branch, I counted how many people were in the chapel during the sacramental hymn.  I counted only 20 minus a couple of the small primary children, and 4 of those were the Elders.  After church I talked with the branch president.  President Smith is very open to the opinions we give to him.  Even this week we are going to the Branch Council meeting on Sunday to talk about some things, mainly just about how people need to visit other members.  We will ask for help to find the less-actives.  Since the church is building the new chapel, we want to fill it.  Instead of increasing the membership, we are going to strengthen it.  Pres. Smith is totally on board with it.  I'm excited to see how this branch will grow in the next couple weeks.

On Thursday we had a service project at a part member home.  We cleared some land at the back of the house for the children to play football.  We probably are going to go play with them next P-day. They were very happy that we helped (that was so much fun!! it was super hot too, so the sun beat us bad way.   We got covered in dirt, but we are little kids at heart even though we wear the name Jesus Christ on our chest.)  (end of the letter to President Kirkham)

On Valentine’s day I wore a red tie, not much to show your holiday spirit as a missionary. dark trousers, white shirt, but I get to change the tie!!!  Around our compound there are a lot of small children, we play with them on the daily!!! It’s great.  One is named Henya (sp?) he looks so funny!  He's learning how to talk, so listening to him is hilarious.  Most of the time he just points at us and just says "You!" we do it back to him and he laughs.  It’s fun to play with the kids.

Random thought: most people, when they try to say my name, say Elda Paul.  So this is how I get them to say it correctly.  "Elder Park, like you are parking the car," it makes them laugh every time!!! Sister Helena always asks me if I've parked my car.  Upper Caldwell is a tough area for missionary work, but the people are great.  

I love my mission!!!

This isn’t the best letter but time is super small.  I promise next week will be better. I love you all!!!

Elder Park
The White African
I asked him about singing because I heard through the grapevine – his companion’s mom – that Collin liked to sing and sang a lot!   That made us all laugh!  He wrote:
The singing, there are times where I remember a song back at home so I just sing part of it while walking, it’s usually only a line or two.   Also, I sing at the beginning of companion study and at the close.   I sing all the time, mostly because I have to.  But yeah, I guess I sing. 

From an extra email I asked him why they call him Uncle Elder Park:  The Uncle Elder Park,  that was just one small girl that called me that.  But most of the time it’s just uncle.  It just shows respect to someone older than you.   Every woman I see, I call them ma.

Here is part of Elder Orton’s email this week, he also serves in the Liberia Mission:
"I wanted to share the numbers of the mission last week but I didn't have them with me but I do this week.  Worldwide last year, the church had 4.5 baptisms per missionary per year.  If you take out the U.S. numbers the average goes up to 5.7 per missionary per year. Within Africa it goes up to 10.5 per year. Then within West Africa it goes up to 12.7 per missionary per year. Within Liberia it goes up to 18.1 per year.  With these numbers the average missionary in Liberia would experience about 36.2 in one year and about 72.4 baptisms in the average mission.  Last year in Liberia we had 1201 baptisms and if you remember we didn’t really have that many missionaries here last year.  The mission wasn’t official until July.   It will be interesting to see how the numbers change. 
As of Christmas when I asked Collin, he was right on track with the Liberia number. 

Here is a picture he sent: 

Collin is top row, second from left

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I got actual mail from Collin and it came with pictures!  Nothing makes this Mom happier than to see her son smiling in pictures taken on the other side of the world.  The letter was dated January 13, 2014.  I'll add the pictures at the end.

He mentioned in the letter that he was teaching a district lesson on Chapter 1 from Preach My Gospel.  He said he ended up using one of his Dad's coaching things from years ago, the ABC's, he wasn't planning on using it, but he realized they make sense for being a successful missionary as well as a good ball player.  Attitude, Battle, Confidence, Desire, Effort, and Family, Fun, and Fundamentals. 

"This mission is so cool.  Once or Twice a week we'll be walking or doing something that makes me pause and just have this thought:  'Holy Cow!  I'm in Africa!'    It's crazy to think I have lived here for a year and still have another year to go!   This place is so cool.  The people here are so cool.   I've said it before, everyone is just family.  Everyone is 'Ma' or 'Papa!'  Most of the time the small children, once they learn my name, call me 'Uncle Elder Park.'  That's just the culture.  It's sweet."

"Every Sunday we sing a cappella because no one knows how to play the piano, so none of the branches have a piano, only the district centers.  I miss having the piano or organ playing.  How we do it here is the conductor sings the first line or how ever much she wants to, counts to 3 and everyone joins in.  It's kinda cool.  Also, none of the songs are on key because no one has ever heard them on key.  It makes me laugh at the hymns during church sometimes since it sometimes is so off!   No one can sing here."

"So you may notice that in most of my pictures that my shoes are  really dirty.   Ya, I don't really polish.  There has been a few times that I have someone on the street do it and I give them money, yes, that is the job they do.  The reason why I don't is because most Liberians complain about not having shoes to wear to church and can't believe it's okay to wear slippers (flip flops).  So, I show them my shoes and say "Look at my shoes.  They are dirty.  It's ok to wear slippers."  Plus, everyday I walk on dirt roads or on trash.  To me it makes no sense to polish if I'm just going to do that the next day.   So there's that. 
"Elder Park
The White African

and here are the pictures: 


This is Africa!
Don't know why I did my hands the same in both pictures"
Mom, here's your Santa picture!   This is Elder Lamont with a pillow!
We have taken pictures of the kids with Santa forever, and so I asked him if he could get one with Santa on mission, I told him he could be creative if he needed to.   This is what I got!  
What a smart alec.

This is Mama G, it's her yard name (nickname).  She is 6 or 7 and went around "bluffing" for Christmas with her new clothes.  Dated December 25, 2013
December 27, 2013.  We had a service project for the sumo family.  They are less active and we were hoping that this would help them come to church.
Sunrise in Gardnersville

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

By far one the best week I've of 2014!!!!
This week was fantastic!  Working alongside Elder Witehira is great.  He loves to work hard and so do I, so it’s perfect.   Even though we didn’t hit our weekly goals, we saw a lot of people. 

Our first lesson on Tuesday was with a very stubborn woman who 'has her church.'   We focused on the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.   Honestly I think she has her answer but just isn’t willing to admit it yet.  I think I ended up asking her one of my favorite questions to ask people who 'have their church,' "if Jesus Christ comes down right now and says my Son/Daughter ____, my church is the one over here, but you are going to the one over there.   What would you do?"   As missionaries, we are representatives of our Savior Jesus Christ.   We are telling people that Christ has his church. but since we aren’t Christ, we invite everyone to pray and ask for themselves.   It breaks my heart when people get their answer after praying and still refuse to accept it.  I pray that Sister Hawa doesn’t do that.
We had some younger girls call of over and wanted us to start teaching (or as they call it- preach to them).   we had a small lesson just kind of introducing ourselves and purpose to them.   It was really hard because they just wouldn’t listen.   During the lesson we saw that their pa walked by and after the lesson we went up to him as he was walking towards us.   Before we said a word, he starts talking to the girls about how we are men of God, and how they need not to waste our time.  It was really interesting to see the change in their faces, and nice to see that someone does recognize that we are here for a purpose and that we are representatives of Jesus Christ.    We said hello to the pa after he got done being vex with them.  Hopefully we will find a time that we can talk to the whole family and have a family investigator.

On Saturday we went to baptisms even though we didn’t have a candidate there.   At home I remember people saying that 'mormons' have a certain glow about us.  S aturday  I truly noticed it.   There was a sister who gave a talk and when she stood up to start talking, you could just tell that she had something about her.  It was even really cool to see the people who got baptized, to see the difference in their eyes from before they were baptized and after.   My whole life I never really noticed it.   This whole week, I've been noticing a lot more of just the small little things.   My conclusion, MY MISSION IS THE BEST!!!!!
The Upper Caldwell Branch needs help.  There are a lot of less active members.  I was shocked that when the sacrament was being passed, there were only about 15 people in the chapel.   The four Elders in my district/branch have a lot of work ahead of us. 

Our apartment is, well, not as bad as I thought it was going to be.   We have city water pumped to us so it’s nice.  But, we haven’t had a generator for the past 2 nights, we've lived in darkness.   We have no money to buy more gas so we go without power for a couple days.  (I asked him about this in an extra email, and he said:  I will go to the bank on Wednesday and get it.  District/apartment money is what pays for the gas, we get 100 USD for gas for a month.  It’s 350 LD so it’s almost 5 USD a gallon.   We have torches or flash lights,  i got myself a lantern looking thing.)    This mission is humbling.
I hope that you have a great week and I love you all and pray for you all.

Elder Park
The White African

Monday, February 03, 2014

February 3, 2014

GO SEAHAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
My email to him let him know that the Seahawks, who played the Broncos in the Superbowl the day before, had WON!!!!)

Wow this week was crazy!  So much happened! But at the same time, some days were boring.  It was interesting.
First off, I was thinking to myself the other day at how much I have changed on mission.  I eat boiled eggs almost every day, and I eat  fish every day.   At home, I would have never touched those things, now I eat them on a regular basis.  Mission changes people!

Wednesday I went on exchange with Elder Larsey (Ghana).  It was really good.   We focused a lot of the Book of Mormon, which was great.  A lot of people that we saw had questions about it.   We even helped a husband and wife learn what it is and what it talks about.  The guy is a Methodist, so he had a harder time understanding it.   It was a really good day.
Friday we had a service project in the morning.  It was so much fun.   We cut down these tree looking things that only grow in the swamp.    We then carried them a couple hundred feet to an investigators house for her to use them.   It was a lot of fun because we were walking around in a foot of water the whole time.  I took pictures.  I will try and print them out. 

After that we had to rush back to the apartment.  President Kirkham wanted to see Elder Myaka, myself, Elder Orton, Elder Baldwin and Elder Poulson.  It was a little scary going into town and seeing him.  There was a false report that was sent about us Americans and then President wanted to talk to me about my companion.  Everything was just a misunderstanding.  But, luckily, we weren’t the only ones in the office.   There was an outbreak of apostasy happening in the mission.  Just people being stupid.
Okay now for some news.  We got a call from the Assistants on Saturday.  TRANSFER NEWS!!!!!!!  I was totally expecting to stay in Gardnersville, but I was moved to Upper Caldwell to be a District Leader.  My companion is Elder Witehira, from Utah.   My companion is great, the AP's love this guy because he works.  He was born in New Zealand but moved to Utah about 10 years ago.   The guy seems like a stud.  I’m really excited to work with him!!!!   Elder Witehira has been in this area for 5 month or so, it's his first area.  My old area got white washed (they changed out all the missionaries there), it was probably the best thing for it to be completely honest.   I will miss it, but I’m needed somewhere different.

Once again!  GO SEAHAWKS!!!!

Elder Park

The White Africa