Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MTC Letter # 9


So it feels like the commencement of the end of this MTC experience.  You may ask me: why does it feel that way? And I would reply; because I got my flight plan yesterday!

At the end of yester day Elder Uttech, our district leader. gathered us all in.  We thought we were in trouble or something. But then he pulled out a stack of white and blue sheets that we recognized as travel plans! Needless to say, that was a very exciting moment. So details: I will be leaving Salt Lake City airport on the February 22nd and fly to Denver, where I will have about a 3 hour layover. Then it’s the start of what I can only assume to be an annoyingly long flight between Denver and Frankfurt, Germany. We will have a 3 hour layover there also, then we get on our last flight to Porto, Portugal! Total time: 21 hours.  We will arrive in the afternoon, which will be nice cause we won’t have so much to do before we can sleep. I know I'll be tired cause I can never sleep on planes.

But there is still more than 1 week left and there is still much to do. We have to get the progressing investigators in our class baptized, we need to keep improving our Portuguese, and we still have the Teaching Resource center and such.  So I am still excited about the coming week and then when I can finally head over to Portugal.

So there isn't much to say about me more- like I say every time. Things stay about the same here. One funny story is that we had an Australian elder in our hall and one of the elders decided that they should ask him "On a scale of 1-10, how realistic is Outback Steakhouse?"  Apparently he’s never even heard of it. 

I thought that something fun I could do is assign some scripture study materials that people reading this can take up-based on some of the things I’ve studied throughout the week.  So what I’d suggest for this week is reading in 3 Nefi in the Book of Mormon(Portuguese spelling) Chapter 11, and 2 Nefi 31. Pay attention to the doctrine of Christ in these sections.  It is these concepts that we are out teaching people about. Without understanding this doctrine and the things it entails, we cannot understand how we will be able to progress in the Plan of Salvation.  (Which is a surprisingly hard lesson to teach--there is so many concepts in the Plano de Salvação that makes it hard to fit into less than 30 minutes!) So go ahead and study this and be ready for my next suggestion next week.  Next week will be the chapter I spent an entire day studying.

And finally I'd like to add my own testimony of the messages that the first presidency has been giving for the past few months. If you haven't noticed, missionary work has been the main topic for the Message of the first presidency for the past 2 months.  In the last general conference, President Monson started the meeting talking about missionary work. So you can see how important it is to prepare and serve a mission.

So for the men: Don't slack off! I know I did a bad job of preparing before I came, and I can see that it is making me have to work even harder to prepare myself.  Get used to scripture study, read through the Preach my Gospel, and talk to your bishop frequently to make sure everything is going well. You do not want to get in a situation where something goes wrong and you have to wait or change your plans about going on a mission. This is a priesthood duty and it is one of the most important things that we can do.

For the women; I don't have much authority on this subject, being male and all, but from the experience with the sisters I work with at the MTC, and from all the teachers we have, I can already see that Sisters are extremely important out here. So one thing that I get annoyed with is when sisters say "If i don't get married by 21, I'll serve a mission." That kinda bugs me because it makes a mission a punishment for not getting married. So I'd say that decide now if you have the desire to serve-because in D&C 4:4 it says ‘If ye have a desire ye are called to the work.”  And if you have that desire, say to yourself, “I'll serve a mission unless I find the guy I'm meant to be with." It’s a pretty simple change, but I think it expresses it better. Serving a mission is a blessing and sisters are some of the best workers I've seen here.

So you may not feel that I have much authority saying that, being in the MTC still, but I can already see the positive changes it has made in me, and it has made me love this church and love the gospel and Christ and I strive to improve myself continually. So while I don't have much experience in this work, I'll testify that it will be one of the greatest things I will do.  I want to express how important it is to any young men and women who read this.

And if you want to hear someone having more authority than me, listen to the prophet; the "Mormon Message" about this is still on lds.org - front page!

Well I have like no time left!

Aconteça o que acontecer, Desfrute

Elder Jared Park

MTC Mailbox #277


2005 N 900 E

Provo, UT  84604-1793

Monday, July 12, 2010

Journey of 28 Years!

Richard and I were apart (again) for our anniversary. Unbeknownst to me, he dictated a tribute to his mother who had it typed up and waiting for me with a single rose when I woke up July 8th. When I thanked him and expressed my amazement at the thought and effort that he put into it, he humbly responded, "I have lots of time to think while I'm driving." I love that man! With his permission, I get to share it with all of you...

In our journey of the past 28 years, in one sense it seems like a blink of an eye but in another sense it has been an incredible journey of education, career, travel, family and friends; and to have an opportunity to raise four boys that exemplify the complete aspect of personality and interest that have been able to propagate parental pride and fulfillment.

I have had the fortunate blessing of sharing this journey of the past 28 years with someone who exemplifies aggressive optimism, pragmatism, epistemology, and tolerance that have made the journey almost entirely prositive and full of happiness and love.

I can only say that I am with somebody that makes my heart skip when I see her. I have just enjoyed beign with her and look forward to many, many more years of life and living.


Lucky, lucky me!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Abe the Builder

One of our traditions at our Christmas party (pre or post) is drawing names, then going to the Dollar Store and buying a present for that person. A fun, inexpensive activity. While in Idaho, Grandma had us do this with the rest of the Park family, and Abe ended up with a tool set, which he has put to use since returning to New Mexico. The tools came out when he saw the ladder we had used to take the tree down, along with a yellow hard hat that came with a tractor a few months ago. I may be a horrible mother to let him play on the ladder, but he would think I was more horrible for taking it down. He seems very stable and happy on it, so it's staying up for at least one more day (school tomorrow).

He tells me each morning that he's going to work, and to keep an eye out for all the worker men that will be in the house. Luckily I can't see or hear them, so I don't mind having them around.

Notice he's made signs using 'bendaroos' on each side of the divider between the kitchen and living room - labeling which room you are entering. (Apparently there has been confusion.) Kitchen is spelled, "KICHIN" and Living Room is spelled, "Livreang Room" - backwards. When I asked about it, he was very offended, so evidently it's for those people with X-Ray vision looking at it from the Living Room. If you look closely, you can see how he's twisted different colors of bendaroos to make the letters quite pretty.

On the kitchen side, you can see where he has started a new 'Searing' (ceiling) - because our old one is 'crappy'.

I did, however, turn down his offer to paint the kitchen walls a different color with his water colors. I told him I liked the color of the kitchen walls, and that when he grew up and had his own kitchen, he would be able to paint his walls whatever color he wanted.

He was disappointed, but didn't pursue the issue.

I am still going to hide the water colors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Birthday Party Aboard the Rail Runner

Abe turned 7 on October 14th, and what could be a better birthday party than a party aboard the NM Rail Runner (commuter train.) We met the kids (and some parents, thankfully) at the train station where I passed out engineer hats for everyone and Abe shared some train safety tips. Then we hopped on the train and enjoyed our ride to Belen. Once in Belen, we set up a table at the station and enjoyed the 30 minute layover eating cupcakes and opening presents. After taking pictures in front of the rail runner and with a cooperating north bound freight train, which then choo choo-ed south again to pick up more cars (it was as if they were trying to stay within site of our little train party!) We hopped back aboard the train for the ride to Los Lunas while looking for items in their individual folder games. The ticket agent announced to everyone that "It's a special day aboard the rail runner, because Abraham Park was celebrating his 7th birthday!" That was soooooo cool! The kids enjoyed their folder game I put together and it kept them quiet and entertained for the ride home when the newness and excitement of the train would have worn off. We gathered all our stuff and made our way to the doors when the train started slowing for the Los Lunas station. We de-boarded with the same amount of kids we started out with! After passing out their loot bags they all headed home. No house or yard to clean up! It was GREAT fun!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Edinburgh Mormons

Church on Sunday was an adventure. We were a bit late heading out the door with the stroller and everything. After a 15 minute walk, we had to wait for a later bus than we had planned which dropped us off at the aptly named ’Holy Corner’ because there are churches on three corners. Too bad ours wasn’t one of them. We had another 15 minute walk to get to our church. As we turned what we thought was the correct corner, it was confirmed by people getting out of their cars in dresses and suits. We asked one of them where the LDS church was and she exclaimed with her brogue ’that’s where we’re heading now, isn't’ it? Just follow us!” So we did. Actually, they let us pass because they were rather slow. We were in this gorgeous neighborhood of old prestigious houses and big beautiful trees just starting to turn fall colors. Then we turned into the church parking lot and, to put it in Catherine’s words, ‘Bleh’. The church is a rather old LDS building style—I think from the 60’s or something. Not very fitting for the neighborhood—but what it lacked in esthetics, it made up for in hustle and bustle! The parking lot was packed! We walked into the full foyer and asked one of the six elders standing there where the RS room was and he said that today was stake conference. I said, “You mean this is not your typical attendance at Sacrament Meeting?” He laughed and said he wished. So, instead of being late for church, our timing was perfect getting there 10 minutes before stake conference started. But we had to locate our own chairs and sit single file along the edge of the cultural hall because the gym and stage were packed, as were the chapel and overflow. Before you’re too amazed, the building is a smaller building—everything is about half the size of our building. But still, there were a lot of people!

And it was delightful to hear everything with a Scotish Brogue. There was this adorable prospective missionary that talked about preparing to serve a mission but included some of the things he was going to miss. He said, “Brother’s & sisters—I have to be honest with ya. I’m going to miss the girls.” If you could have heard it in his brogue—you would have laughed out loud.

I was able to attend the next Sunday with them, and we were there in plenty of time. They had a lot of chairs set up in the Relief Society Room and I thought perhaps Sunday School would be in there as well, but turns out they needed all those chairs for sisters! There were at least 3 that were new that day, including Catherine. I was visiting and they had at least 4 investigators. In fact, during Sacrament meeting, they confirmed 5 new members—not one of them was an 8 year old! They have 3 sets of elders in that ward, and man are they busy! I guess two Sundays ago, they had 8 new member confirmations! It seemed that many of them were Chinese—they must have some great contacts, don’t you think? I had looked forward to RS and SS lessons with the Scottish accent, but alas the RS lesson was taught by a Senior missionary from Utah (the mission home is adjacent to the church) and the SS lesson was taught by another sister from northern Utah. Sacrament meeting was fun though. Ben commented that the only thing different in his priesthood meeting is that the boring priesthood lesson was given in a Scottish accent.

Touring Edinburgh

We did take one day to go on a city bus tour—the upper level of a double decker bus. We got drizzled on a little bit, but it didn’t last long. Our tour guide looked like he gave the tour while half asleep. I don’t think he ever looked outside the bus once. He just lifted his hand and gestured vaguely towards the things he was talking about. We should have got off at one of the stops and got on the next bus, but we had some pretty good
seats and decided to endure him. He knew a lot, but just was not very animated or excited to be there. The main part of touristy Edinburgh is the Royal Mile, which is just a block and a half away from Ben’s apartment. One end of the Royal Mile has the Edinburgh Castle and the other end is the parliament and Royal gardens. Other than a few monuments a few blocks here and there away from the Royal Mile, everything worth seeing is clustered around the Royal Mile—walking distance for us! We did take another day to explore the castle. My favorite part is when you pass a lone bagpipe player all gussied up in his kilt.

Speaking of kilts - they only became popular as a tourist attraction and marketing ploy - along with the tartan fabric. In the old days, only the highlanders used to wear kilts and if they wore them into the cities they might get killed. Haha - maybe that's why they're called 'kilts!'

This School of Divinity is where Ben will attend all of his classes this semester. It is considered the ‘new campus’ - I guess the 1700’s is new. The ‘old’ campus is closer than Ben’s apartment. This campus is up the Royal Mile towards the castle—in fact the castle is just past this school to the left. Ben ‘pities’ those who have to attend a university that is not within a hundred yards of a castle. Silly boy.

This cafeteria is where we stopped a couple of times to log onto the internet using Ben’s school ID. Rather incongruous don’t you think? Internet in this old fashioned cafeteria straight out of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, except for the ceiling—which was rather cool in it’s own way. Baby Sara didn’t care for this place too much—or else she liked the sound of her cries echoing… We weren’t there for long. We could either exit through the big gate in front of the building, or walk up a few flights of stairs and exit a side street just feet away from the Royal Mile and yards way from the castle entrance.

It was so frustrating not having internet at the apartment. In order to get the internet at home, you have to have a checking account, which Ben applied for soon after arriving in Scotland. For an international student to get a checking account, there is a 3 week holding period for some reason or other. After I came home, they received confirmation for their checking account, so now they’re eligible to apply for the internet which will take another week or so. Grrr. I hope they get it soon, so we can ‘skype’ which is like a visual telephone call using the computer. It worked pretty good when Ben logged on at the school library and Catherine logged on while still at home. I can't wait, but I'm not nearly as anxious as Ben & Catherine - especially Catherine who doesn't have the opportunity to log on at school each day like Ben!

Everyday Shopping in Edinburgh

Ben bought a ‘pay as you go’ phone from a little shop and it didn’t take long to figure out we needed to get another phone so he and Catherine could communicate. So Catherine and I went to that same little shop to get another phone. We also stopped at a little grocery store that was owned by people from the middle east. We wondered if they eat eggs, because their store, and the other store close by that was also owned by middle easterners did not sell eggs. We did pick up some fresh produce. They have a couple of five and dime stores—called Pound Savers (remember pounds are like dollars) and Stretchers (I guess to stretch the pounds.) It’s hard to maneuver a stroller around those stores because they’re packed tight with every thing under the sun to cater to the students that live in this area. Those stores, and the grocery stores were SO BUSY because of the semester beginning. We had heard that it’s not wise to order produce online to have it delivered, because they tend to give you the fruit/vegetables that don’t look as fresh (although you can always refuse it). Anyway, I took an afternoon to go to the main grocery store and it was wall to wall people. The little ‘trolly’ was built differently and I had a difficult time steering it. And I remembered to think of the walk home—I did bring a little fold out pull cart that was in the apartment closet in which to roll the groceries home. So I kept that in mind as I was shopping. What an adventure. The check out line went all the way to the back of the store. But six checkout stations were pulling from that one line. I wish I could tell you what they yelled when calling for the next person in line (or should I say, ‘Queue’), but I never did make it out. It sounded like ‘next till, please.’ There were no conveyor belts to put the groceries on—they just pull it out of your hand basket or you hand it to them from the trolley, then you sack it up on the other side of the register. I just loaded the groceries into my little pull cart (trolley?) as well as into a cloth shoulder bag. I felt very ‘green’ and urban. Then I bounced and pulled my little cart over the cobblestones back to the apartment building where I lugged it up the three flights of stairs.

We took a day that Ben didn’t have classes to have him help us find our way out to Ikea. I had never been to an Ikea store, but your Aunt Jolene loves it and drags Uncle Greg there every time they’re in Utah. We saw it on the bus schedule while waiting for the bus that took us near the church. It’s a pretty fun store, but again, you need to be careful what you buy if you don’t have a car, so you can get it home. It was a pretty fun place and we bought some cool dishes and a few gadgets for their apartment. Catherine and I found a bookshelf, small desk, and rolling drawers that were very reasonable, but we decided that rather than haul them home on the bus, we’d have them delivered. Come to find out Ikea doesn’t deliver in Scotland. So I bought the bookshelf and a crib (cot) from the Wal-mart equivalent to have it delivered. Then Catherine and I took the folding cart and stroller and took off for Ikea on our own. We bought the desk and rolling drawers—both of which were in flat boxes and rather heavy, but we thought they were manageable so off we went. We were able to balance the drawers on the handles of the stroller and balance the desk on top of the rolling cart—which worked well except when getting on and off the bus. I bet we were a sight, trying to maneuver everything off the bus while everyone just stood back and watched. I had worked up a sweat by the time we got them up to their 3rd floor apartment. Catherine put them together without any problem. And they look great! I didn’t get to see the bookshelf & crib (cot) because they were delivered after I left.