Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015 - Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo!!

Happy christmas and happy new year to all! We had a very good christmas in house once again, doing exercise to work off all the food we ate that day! We were also able to have some quality study time. I know that Jesus Christ came to earth to save us all, and to give us peace and joy.

For christmas here, they normally eat turkey. And rice. always rice. So that is what we ate! twice. and a lot. so full. It was a blessing and a curse. But the members here are really generous and we really feel their love, even if it hurts and makes us sick. 

As we approach a new year I know that many of us will be making plans and have a lot of goals for this next year. Just remember, those goals only come to pass if we work at them always. If we apply, we can go far. All too often those goals get left in the journal, or in our tablets nowadays (I assume...) and don`t get looked at during the year. That is the secret to success. The application. I know that the constant steady effort is what allows us the possibility to improve and grow. 

Thank you all for all that you do! Happy new year! 

Elder Parker

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 21, 2015 - Christmas Party!

We had our branch Christmas party this weekend, and it was a doozy! haha We spent all saturday setting up and getting ready for it, but it turned out well. There were about 95-100 people there and a lot of investigators, and a lot of people that had not gone to church in a long time! It was a little tricky at times because there was a lot of people and a LOT of children, but it all turned out well. I had no idea how much it took to plan a big party or activity.. haha

We also had changes last week, I think I forgot to mention that. My companion left and went to Esmeraldas. I am now with Elder Veliz, a Peruano. He is really happy and likes to work, so things are going well so far. We are trying to take as much advantage of the time that we have in our sector. 

The Lord loves us. That is why He sent His Only Begotten Son to the world to save us. This week, I invite you all to think about Him. He who was perfect, and He who loves perfectly. Think of all the opportunities that we have because of Him. 

Merry Christmas!!!🎍🎁

Love, Elder Parker

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015 - Cena Navideña

This week we had our Christmas Dinner with President and Sister Richardson. She made homeade rolls, mashed potatoes, turkey (they eat turkey here for Christmas) salad, sweet potatoes, and rice! Can´t forget the rice. haha And to finish it off, we ate mint brownie with ice cream. Que rico!

We had a cool experience yesterday as well with a new investigator that we have. She was a reference from a colombian refugee that was baptized a few weeks ago here. We had been trying to find her for a week and a half, and yesterday we found her. When we talked to her, she said she had been waiting for 28 years to be able to talk to missionaries. It was an amazing blessing that we recieved to be the missionaries chosen to share the gospel with her after 28 years of her waiting for the opportunity. I know that the Lord prepares the way for us to find the people that are ready to accept this message. 

Thank you for all your support! 

Love, Elder Parker

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015 - Week of Blessings

In reality, "week of blessings" could be the title every week, but I have to change it up sometimes.

First, President Richardson took us for the mission council to "The Crater." It is an old volcano called pululahua. People live in the volcano. There are only 5 (I think) volcanos in the world that are "inhabited" by people, and this is one of them. That was a way cool experience, and it was also the last time I will see my first companion here in the mission. :( He leaves next week and is in the coast, about 13 hours away. haha 

Then this week, in the branch, for the first time since the branch began, there were 100 people exactly assisting! It was such a blessing. I have been thinking for a long time how to help more people come to advance and progress, because before there were 80-90 always going, but in the past few weeks, there have only been 60-70. I have been praying a lot to know what more to do, and the Lord responded this weekend in many different ways. I know that if we seek His guidance, He will provide. In His own time, and in His own way, but He will always provide. 

Thank you all for your prayers and support, and as we enter this Christmas season, may we all reflect on the light that we have recieved because of a Babe who was born in a manger. I know He lives, and I know He loves us. 

Love, Elder Parker

1. With the other zone leader in our zone, the one from Coca. 
2. With my first companion in the mission.
3 With President and his wife. 
4. The volcano Pululahua

Sunday, December 6, 2015

November 30, 2015 - Gospel in the Home

Another week has flown by in the jungle! It seems that every week goes by faster and faster.

They [members] do different things. But almost everything is based on the oil. Most of the members don´t actually work in the companies, but when the oil is doing well, lots of people come from all over the place, which generates other excellent and stable job opportunities in restaurants, teachers, taxis, and other things.

In the lists that I have there are 188 [people in branch]. But we only have about 90 going to church every week. I am in the mission of finding out who all those other people are, because I have heard that many are no longer here. There are about 10 active youth. And there are a lot of primary kids, but they don´t all come every week. Normally there are also about 10-15.

The problem is that people here are not consistent, and it is hard to rely on them. There is not much personal responsibility, so many times you get failed on. It is actually pretty normal. But we are working to change that and to make them feel more responsable. Even the leaders. It sometimes takes a good hard talking to to make them react and to fulfill.

Yesterday in the branch, I gave a training from some video excerpts that the area sent to share with the members about the Sabbath Day. They were segments from a training that the apostles gave for General Conference and it was powerful. Something interesting that was stressed a lot was the importance of preparing in the home. They testified a lot of the importance of teaching the gospel in the home. If we can always live the gospel in our home, we will be much safer from temptations, and we will always be progressing.

I know that we have families for a reason and that they are meant to help us and strengthen us. 

Love, Elder Parker

1. Our little branch activity to put up the tree :) (we did take the lights off after the pic)
2. A delicious fried fish with yuca that a member gave us this week. It was a lot of food. What you don´t see very well there is the altitude of the mountain of rice.. 

November 23, 2015 - The Week

Well, it was a pretty normal week. There was not too much excitement. It was really hot at the beginning of the week, but now it has been raining for the past few days and it feels really nice.

The work is interesting here. There are many many receptive people but something that is a problem is that many people work in companies of oil deeper in the jungle. They work 20 days, then have usually 8 or 10 days off. So it makes it really hard to find and be consitently working with them. 

We had an interesting lesson this week that taught me an important principle. An investigator had asked us why Joseph Smith does not show up in the Bible. And it was a very good question, at first we did not know what to say. But then the thought came to mind. "The Lord wants us to walk by faith, not by knowledge." The Lord asks us to have the faith to be able to find out for ourselves if Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. For that reason he is not talked about explicitly in the Bible. I know that he was a prophet of God and that he was the instrument in God`s hand to restore this church. 

Thank you all for your support and prayers. I love you!

Elder Parker

We were playing soccer this week and I got kicked and my leg swelled up.. But it is all good now. 

November 16, 2015 - cockroach + fridge = ¿?

Well, this week I went to Quito for the mission council, and it was an amazing experience. I know that our leaders are called of God. They are inspired and this month was no different. The trainings were excellent and just what the we as leaders needed to better guide our zones.

In the orient, things are a little bit different because there are 2 cities in our mission out here that are about 2 hours apart. So there are 6 missionaries in Coca (the other city) and 6 here in Lago Agrio. To be able to manage everything better the president split the zone leaders up as well. Normally there are 2 together, but here, I am in Lago and the other zone leader is in Coca. We also travel every other week to the other city to have zone/district meeting. This week we did it in Coca. So instead of going from Quito to Lago, then Coca super early the next morning, I just went to Coca with the other zone leader. And they have air conditioning in their house :) 

But today we had an interesting experience cleaning our house, and it has to do with cockroaches. In our fridge... Now before you start to judge us or start to think that we are just messy and dirty kids, let me explain. We were cleaning it all out, and I took the cover off of the water dispenser on the outside of the fridge to clean it out. I pull off the cover and there it is. A big fat cockroach. Unfortunately I don´t have a pic because, well, just because I forgot to take a pic.. I took the foto after of where it was. But it was there with all its baby cockroaches. But now: Problem solved. 👍

In this time that I have been in the orient, I have had the privilege to work very closely with many of God´s children, and it has strengthened the testimony of the divine potential that we all have as children of God to learn and grow and progress. I have also had the privilege to see the Lord´s hand work and move things in His church to hasten the work. I know that the Lord works through His servants that He has called. He moves the pieces. 

Thank you for all your support.      
I saw this video and it touched me a lot. The Lord has something for all of us to do. I know this church is true. 

Elder Parker

Those black specks on the floor are the eggs.. 😊 haha

November 9, 2015 - Military Checkpoint..

A week of many miracles has just passed. The most recent one: we came to Quito today for the mission council, and whenever you travel from Lago Agrio to Quito, there is a military checkpoint where they make everyone get off to check their passports and if you don´t have papers, they make you stay there I think, but I am not exactly sure. But today, I forgot mine.. So when they made us get off the bus, I was praying and thinking, What do I do? I thought about trying to sneak past, but that would have been a dumb idea.. haha. So I go up to the desk and tell them, I forgot my papers at home. And they ask me questions like if I knew my passport number, and I did not.. and then they asked me what I was doing in Ecuador and I told them I was a missionary. They sat there thinking about it for a sec and asked me a couple of other questions about why I was traveling, and then they let me through.. So that was a neat experience and testimony that God does take care of His servants.

Then this week the Lord also blessed us a lot to be able to find some awesome new people that could really use this message in their lives now. One of them is a girl named Katy. We contacted her one day and she told us to come back on Saturday. We almost didn´t go visit her because it was raining super hard, and she lives alone with her daughter and there was noone that could go with us to be able to go in to her house, but we made one more call and there was a brother who was able to go with us. She told us that she was really confused about all of the different churches and that she did want to know which was the true church. So I will be updating you more on her as the time goes. 

Things in the Orient are really fantastic. It has been raining recently, but that just makes everything feel super nice. I know that God lives and that He loves us.

Love, Elder Parker

November 2, 2015 - Changes...

Well, my companion is heading home tomorrow morning and I am about to recieve my new companion, Elder Pinto from Honduras! I have met him before and am super excited to start working with him. 

This week we ate worms. But not just any worm, we ate mayones. Big fat juicy worms. And what an experience it was. They were taken live, skewered and then basically barbecued. There is just something about big fat juicy worms that is not that appealing. There is a pic of the worms before we ate them, but the video is too big to send home. But it was an experience that I will not soon forget. 

We were also able to go and see an newborn baby of a sister in the branch. It was a very interesting visit for me, because it made me think of life, progress, and our nature as children of our Heavenly Father. It was weird to think that I was once as that little guy too, about 20 years ago.. Wow..  Our time on Earth is so special and valuable. 

We have been having continual success as a zone and as a branch. In our sector we are still looking for more people to teach. There are a few investigators that we have but we have had to shift the focus just a little bit to strengthen some members of the branch that are starting to weaken. But we have been able to have some amazing spiritual experiences with some members here. 
My testimony has grown of the power that family prayer and scripture study have. To all families, please make that a priority every day. Even 5 minutes can make all the difference. The Lord promises blessings in 3 Nefi 18:18-21, and I know that those blessings are true. The family is one of the most precious things that we can have in this life and we must protect it. I have seen the difference this small practice can have in our families, and I know that if we do it, we will blessed and strengthened to be able to live with our families forever. 

Thank you all for your wonderful examples. I love you all. 

Elder Parker

1. The new baby Moroni.
2. The mayones... 
3. We went looking around in Coca (another city) and found some cool things.. haha
4. The tire of the bus blew out while we were going from Coca back to Lago Agrio.


October 26, 2015 - The Week

It has been a good week. Today we went and did a barbecue with a family of members and we ate TONS of meat, chicken, chorizo, maduro, yuca, and fresh orange juice. And coco!! We got them out of the tree and opened them for the water and are going to take the meat home to eat or make coco juice. I also ate chicken neck. haha it was really good. You can see it in the pic, the long piece that sticks out.

This week we had a cool experience with some new investigators, Jason, Maria and Maria.  We had contacted Jason a couple days before, and we were walking to an appt, when he called us over because he wanted us to talk to his family too. He lives with his mom and grandma. So we went and talked to them. And it was a really interesting lesson. We were talking to them and the grandma said that she would not change her religion for anything, but we kept talking and near the end, we felt to invite them to be baptized and the ALL accepted.. We were shocked. But It strengthened my testimony of the power of the spirit and that the Lord really does prepare people. I will keep you updated on that family.

Love, Elder Parker

1. We pulled down some coconuts and opened them up for the water and meat :)
2. and 3. There was a turtle at the members house where we ate today. 

A couple fotos from the baptism!

October 19, 2015

Sorry, Dallin did not write a group letter this week, but he has been in the Orient for four weeks now and has been getting used to everything there.

October 12, 2015 - Week of Reunions

This week was a super busy week with reunions. We went to Quito on Monday morning and got back here to Lago Agrio Friday morning at about 1am. We had the mission council on Tuesday, and then after the meeting they told us that we were going to have to stay in Quito until Thursday for another leaders meeting that there was. So we stayed, and we ended up leaving Quito at about 5:45, and got home at about 1. It was fun, but it did kind of wipe us out. They were really good meetings and we learned a lot from them.

We had baptisms this weekend! We had two in our sector, and in the district there were 3 others. We baptize in a river, but the pics will come next week. It was a way cool experience. 

I hope all is well with all of you! Thank you for your support and prayers.

Elder Parker

October 5, 2015 - Fotos

I am sending this early because we are going to quito today and are going to be traveling all day. Enjoy!

September 28, 2015 - The Orient

I have been a week here in the orient, which is the north east of ecuador, basically the jungle. I am in a city called Lago Agrio. It is a really big sector, and this week we went and visited a family that lives days away. First we had to take a bus to another town called Dureno and then from there we had to walk. It is about 13-14 kilometers in. We were walking in for about 5 Kilometers and a guy picked us up in a truck and saved our lives. But then we had to walk all the way out, and it took us 2 and a half hours.  But it was a really good visit.  

I am out of time for the day, but things are going really good here. I am loving this time and I love where I am too. Heavenly Father loves us all. 

Love, Elder Parker

September 22, 2015 - Changes

All is well over here. I have changes and am going to the orient, and for that I have not been able to write much, but next week I will write! I love you all. Thank you for everything!

Elder Parker

September 14, 2015 - Pics.

here are some pics. 
1. The river esmeraldas.
2. The missionaries that arrived in Ecuador with me that are in the mission council.
3. Me with my trainer who is now the assistant 

September 7, 2015 - The Time Flies...

This week we went to Quito again for the mission council with President. We talked a lot about the planning. And it was really interesting to see and study and realize that planning is so important in all that we do. If we do not have goals or plans, we really are not going to be able to accomplish much.

We are having a good time in our sector. We have a few investigators, but we are just trying to help them to really progress. But we are super excited to keep looking. We have been working a lot more with the wards in our zone to work better with the members. 

Today, for our day of prepration, we cleaned our house and slept. And it was soooo nice :) We have been going, going, going and have not had a normal p-day all change, so it was nice to slow down a little bit and have some time for us. 

Today I read 2 Nephi 4:5. It gives a promise to the families. If our children are raised in righteousness, they will not fall away from the right path. Pretty cool. Thank you mom and dad for teaching me and guiding me!

Love, Elder Parker

August 31, 2015

Sorry, Dallin did not send a group e-mail this week. He is doing great and is still on the coast.

August 25, 2015 - Tachina

Well it has been a pretty busy week! Yesterday we had trainings with President so we were not able to have p-day, so that is why I am here today.

This week we went to a different part of the sector where we had never been before. It is called Tachina and it is on the other side of the river Esmeraldas. It was WAY good. In the 2 visits, and 6 hours that we have spent in that part, we have 4 new investigators, 2 of them are preparing to be baptized, and we found a less active as well. We are super excited to keep working over there and have tons of faith for Tachina. 

We also found another investigator 2 weeks ago that, when we knocked on her door, she told us that she had been waiting for us. Wow. And she went to church yesterday! :) Our sector is progressing and getting better every day. On saturday a member presented us to one of her friends, and he was super excited and just said, yes, I want to get baptized. Wow. But then on sunday, he fought with his mom and she kicked him out of the house (he has 20 years). So that was a bummer, but it was a testimony to us that there is someone that does not want him to be able to go to church, so we are even more determined now to help him. 

This week I tried for the first time caldo de pata de vaca (Soup of the hoof/lower leg of the cow) I don´t even know how to describe it, so you are just going to have to look it up. 

And that was our week. This week is going to be even better. Thank you all for your support and prayers. This work is true and I know it. 

Love, Elder Parker

My camara died, so I will send fotos next week

August 17, 2015 - Questions

I am doing really well. I am healthy, but it is not super hot. And I have gotten used to it. Like, sometimes it is hot and the thing is that you almost always sweat because of the humidity, but it is not that bad right now. Only to church we were our jackets.
My companion is way awesome. He is 26 aand from colombia.  We have  couple [investigators], and are in the process of finding more. Haha we didn´t eat today. There was no time, because we were doing analysis of the numbers of the zone. :P haha i have been eating oatmeal but with juice packets instead of sugar. haha because we have no sugar..and the members feed us lunch. So here that is normally rice and fish and verde.. haha. Haha more than a snack, a lot of times, we just need something to drink. but I would not mind some snacks right now. haha
Every week we get all of the numbers of the things that the missionaries did in the week, and we have to analize thta to see where we are struggling, where we can improve, who needs help. Stuff like that. 
Just a cyber. There are just little businesses that are cyber labs. So that is where we always write. 

Elder Parker

August 10, 2015 - Still on Coast

  I am doing really well! Things are going well here. It looks like I will be here in the coast for at least another 6 weeks :)

Elder Parker

August 3, 2015 - The Move

So this week we moved houses. And boy was it fun! haha I got back to esmeraldas from quito on tuesday, we went and just talked to some people in the street that night, then on Wednesday to Saturday we were running around, we moved some other elders on Wedensday, then we packed our house up on thursday, friday we moved, and saturday was spent doing informs of the zone and trying to organize everything.

We had a really cool zone council on Thursday. We talked about our month, things that we are going to do better, and then basically just had a testimony meeting with the elders. And it was really special, because even the ones that are more jokesters and are normally a little bit more wound up bore powerful testimonies. That was really special for me to see. And it strengthened my testimony of the truth of the work that we are doing. I have honestly never been happier in my life. I just want to stay here forever. haha

That was our week. Lots of stuff that just has to be done sometimes. But I learned a lot. And I felt that I have grown.  Thank you all for your prayers and support. Take a moment to look back at your past, and look for the ways that you have been able to change because of a loving Heavenly Father. And if you can`t say that you have changed much, it might be time to think about your purpose in this life. All of us can change, no matter who we are or where we have been. Trust in your Heavenly Father.

Love, Elder Parker