Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014 - This Isn't the End, Just a New Beginning

The last week of my mission has been the craziest I'd have to say.I guess I was getting too comfortable when I had figured everything out with all of my exchanges because I got a new companion last Wednesday. Her name is Sister Russell and her companion, Sister Baldwin, had to go home on medical release to go get hip surgery. Sister Russell is great and I'm glad I got to be her companion. So this last week I finished Sister Russell's training, worked her area, and continued all of my previous duties with all of the sisters. I have maybe had 4 hours of proselyting time this whole week. I felt bad for Sister Russell's area because we weren't able to work in it very much. The Lord did provide for some teaching opportunities though! This is also the same area when I went on exchanges a couple of weeks ago, we found a new investigator, Michael. I have been able to teach him several times this week and we were also able to give him a church tour. He didn't come to church yesterday because of family coming into town, but he was a lot more willing to come to church. We addressed a lot of his concerns and invited him to baptism in this lesson, but he wouldn't commit to a date. I know Sister Russell will do great and continue to help him.

After sacrament meeting was when it was confirmed to me why I needed to be in this area again. The husband of this part member, less-active family we had been reactivating and trying to teach the wife, Rachel, came up to me. He said I needed to come by today to see his wife Rachel because she needed some upliftment and would be happy to see me. The spirit was so strong in this lesson. Rachel really opened up. I can't really remember what we said, but what I do know the Spirit was there and that everyone in the room felt it. I know Rachel will get baptized someday. The family has a lot of things to work through, but I know her heart has been softened. I know the entire family's heart has been softened. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. I think it was one of the most powerful lessons I've ever taught. I thank Heavenly Father for giving me this last teaching opportunity as His representative. I think the hardest thing about not going to be a missionary any more is that you no longer have the mantle when teaching people. I will miss it.

This transfer we were not able to go to the Gilbert Temple as a mission. So last week as a zone we went to the Mesa Temple. This week I was also able to go to the Gilbert Temple for the first time to do a session with Sister Baldwin before she left on Tuesday afternoon. The Spirit is always so strong in the Lord's house. I received a lot of comfort that I needed and it was one of the most powerful times I've gone to the Temple with the exception of the first time I went. I am so grateful to have been able to go to the Temple twice this transfer. I can't wait to be able to go to the Temple every week! I always feel motivated and uplifted as I go to the Temple.

Words can't really describe my feelings today.18 months has flown by way too fast. I wish I could remain a missionary here in the Arizona Gilbert Mission forever. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve a full-time mission. I wouldn't trade any of the experiences I've had for anything. Each experience has shaped me into the person I am today. I never want to go back to the old Lauren; I forever want to keep what I've learned and apply it for the rest of my life. Don't worry, I know I can't stay here and I will not miss the plane ride home tomorrow. I have to continue to progress in life and I'm ready for whatever the Lord wants me to do. I have said a lot of goodbyes in the past couple of days, but I will be saying a lot of hellos in the next couple of days. I know this isn't the end, just a new beginning.

I know Christ lives! My entire existence is possible because of Him. I know this is Christ's church because it has the fullness of the gospel. I love my Savior and I know He loves me. I am a Daughter of a Heavenly King and because I know this I know my potential. I love reading the Book of Mormon and I know it is the word of God. Every time I read it, I always learn something new. I know the power of Christ's infinite Atonement because I have applied it in my life. He knows exactly how we feel and helps us become new creatures unto God. I love my Heavenly Father and I know He answers our prayers. I am grateful for everything I have learned on my mission. The top three things I've learned and will continue to apply are 1. Always aligning my will with God's 2. The importance of repenting daily and 3. Always being exactly obedient to the Spirit.

Thank you for all of your support! I do look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow (or in the next couple of weeks).


Sister Collins

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014 - Because of Him

This past Saturday Kristi, Jacob, and Haley were baptized! The room was packed and the Spirit was so strong! They have changed so much since the missionaries have started meeting with them. Kristi's non-member mother came and felt the Spirit. I'm hoping her heart will continue to be softened and will want to listen to the missionaries in the near future. The fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes everyone who lets it into their hearts. I know I have been changed by applying the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. How marvelous it is to be a part of helping people come unto Christ. I love being a missionary!

I have been a part of many many miracles this past week. I have to say I love going on exchanges and helping the sisters have fun and do missionary work. I love meeting their investigators and being invited to their baptisms this 
next Saturday. On almost every exchange I've been on we've either found a new investigator or put their investigator on date. The tender mercies of the Lord! The Arizona Gilbert Mission IS the greatest mission in the world! I have come to love Arizona (dirt and all). I will forever treasure my mission and all of the people I have met along the way. I wouldn't take back anything in these past 18 months- the good and the bad. All of the good far outweighs the hard things I've been through on my mission. A mission is 100% worth it. It changes you in ways you never thought you needed to change. I have come to know my Savior more intimately than I had ever before. I have learned to trust in Heavenly Father 100% so that I can qualify for the miracles I know the people I meet deserve. The success I've had on my mission is all because of Him. He makes everything possible. I am grateful He has allowed me to be an instrument in His hands.

Happy Belated Easter! I hope you were all able to watch "Because of Him" on this past week. Every time I watch the video, the Spirit confirms to me Jesus is the Christ and how lucky we are that He loved us so much that He preformed the Atonement. "He lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives. I know that my Redeemer lives." When we repent daily, we will feel His Atonement working within us so that we can have peace and happiness throughout our day. I have gained a strong testimony of repenting daily because I am nowhere close to being perfect and I have so much I need to ask His forgiveness for. Exercise your faith by asking Him what His will is. He will tell us by the quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and the influence it's had in my life to comfort me, make decisions, and to know truth.

Continue to think about Christ and to share your testimony with others! He lives and He is always there!


Sister Collins

Kristi, Jacob, and Haley's baptism!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014 - The Absolutely Crazy Life of Sister Collins

WARNING: You thought the last letter was crazy. This letter will be even crazier.

Currently I have no companion. Sister Gardner needed to go home last Wednesday due to medical reasons- she just needs to work out some things. Currently I am sleeping at Sister Monson and Mireles' house with them and I go with them to church and on Mondays. They drop me off in the morning and pick me up at night. I still have all of my stuff at my last apartment so I'm living out of a suitcase and getting clothes every night. Luckily they live a stone's throw away from my apartment, I really do not want to pack up everything for a third time and move it when I just have to pack it right back up pretty soon.

What even happened this week? It's been a whirlwind. I know I went on exchanges... I exchange with 2 companionship's a day. This past week I exchanged with 7 companionship's. They're going good and everyone seems to like the training and then we go out a proselyte. I really crave going out and teaching. I really do not know how I worked in an office all day before my mission.

Here's some of the miracles that happened while I was on exchanges:
While I was with Sisters Baldwin and Russell (actually in one of my old areas. It was fun to eat with the people I knew before) we street contacted with man named Michael. I started talking with him and pretty soon he was bearing his soul to me and telling us his whole life's story. We taught and testified and gave him a Book of Mormon to read. The sisters have a return appointment with him tonight. He's been through so much in his life and is ready for the Gospel. I hope all goes well!

I got to go to the Easter Pageant on Friday because the sisters I went on exchanges with were going with their investigator. It was just as good as last year and I am so grateful I got to go this year. I was a little worried, but the Lord always provides. The Spirit is so powerful with the production. It testifies that indeed Jesus is the Christ and how much everything is possible because of Him. Oh! Watch this video that's only up for the week before Easter: (share this video with all of your friends!). My life is possible Because of Him. Because of Him I can live again with my family and with Heavenly Father. Because of Him I feel peace and comfort in my life. Because of Him I know who I am, why I am here, and where we're going. Because of Him I know He knows exactly what I have ever gone through, am going through, and will go through. Because of Him I try to do what He would have me do and be who He would want me to be. I am eternally grateful for His loving sacrifice especially this Easter week. Remember Him always!

This coming Saturday Kristie, Hailey, and Jacob are getting baptized. I've taught them 3 times now with Sister Monson and Mireles. They're a solid family and are so excited to be baptized. I'm so happy I am able to be a small part of teaching them the lessons.

Keep the Faith! Have a great week!


Sister Collins

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Saga Continues - Monday, April 7, 2014

You'll never guess what happened this week. A new sister came into our mission mid-transfer from the SLC Visitor's Center and went with Sister Anderson. So I have a new companion! Her name is Sister Gardner and she's on a trial mission from here in the Valley and going on her mission to Washington. Also I have no area, well actually the entire mission is my area- I'm fully a traveling STL and I'm training all of the sisters and going on exchanges with all of them for the last 3 weeks of my mission. I'm training Sister Gardner and we're together so I can be very flexible and drive across the mission to where I need to go. It's been an interesting adjustment and I spent the majority of my time in the Office getting my training together. Then I'd go out at night and do some proselyting with some of the sisters. Let's just say the mission is full of surprises! it's funny how everything works out how it's supposed to because in the beginning of the transfer President gave me this assignment, but he really didn't know how I was going to do it. Now since we have an even number of sisters in the mission, it's allowed me to be very flexible. I'm happy to take this assignment and do what the Lord wants me to do.

On Tuesday when I was still with Sister Anderson in my old area we found a new investigator in the YSA ward. His name is Tim and he's actually roommates with our other investigator, Kyle. Tim is very interested and we think we were led to Kyle for Tim. I can't wait to hear how's they're all doing. Also on Monday when we visited one of our investigator's in the Spanish Branch, Ester, her husband Ramon joined us and said he would like to take the lessons also. Another new investigator! They're such a cute couple and Ester has been taking the lessons since 2008. She said this time she would read the Book of Mormon, which she's never done. Also on Monday night we stopped by the YSA's FHE and it happened to be a date night. Awkward. The girls had brought dinner for two and then the boys had brought dessert. What gets even better though was when we showed up during the middle of it to see if Kyle was there, the Bishopric came up to us and said, "Too bad you're missionaries because we could really use you tonight. There's more boys then girls!" Since when has that ever happened in a Singles Ward? lol Needless to say, we did not join them and we quickly left before any of them could get any ideas. Oh, the life we live. We also taught one of our investigators, Javier on Tuesday. His lesson went a lot better than last week's and the sisters had a lesson with him on Thursday set up again to help him feel comfortable to pray. He has a lot of concerns and I hope we can help him resolve them and that his heart will continue to be softened.

Also this past Wednesday when I was still living with Sister Anderson, during companionship study, I looked out the window and there was a SWAT team outside in our apartment complex. This is the ghetto of Gilbert, seriously. There was 9, undercover vehicles that one minute they were all standing around outside and the next they were gone. It was like we were in a movie. We still have no idea why they were there, but it was entertaining to watch them.

I am so glad I was able to watch General Conference! What a blessing it is to be able to hear from our modern-day prophet. I loved each of the talks and the sessions just seem to fly by. I received a lot of personal revelation for myself and those I'm serving. I especially enjoyed Elder Holland's talk on the Saturday morning session. I don't think I've ever seen Elder Holland open up conference. He set the tone for the rest of the sessions. I do believe we need to stand tall and defend our faith with love. Poor Sister missionary who had that type of abuse. Here in Arizona it's more of the verbal abuse than physical. This conference I felt like each talk was for me. I know they are inspired men and women who listen to the quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost and say what we all need to hear. I know Heavenly Father loves each one of us and we must show our love for Him by keeping His commandments and having charity for all of those around us.

We'll see what this next week brings!

Sister Collins

Any letters or packages send to the mission office her last 3 weeks:

1001 N. Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ  85234

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 24, 2014 - Letter Home

This is part of a letter wrote home last week; thought you might enjoy reading it. 

. . . My new companion is great.  We're now the head Sister Training Leaders and she goes home the next transfer after me.  We are very similar and she's 24.  No more 19 year old comps, even though I do love them dearly!  We've already started strong this transfer and I know she can sprint with me.  I'm excited to be with someone who isn't so fresh out; it takes away some of the stress.  We get along great.  What a great last transfer!

It was a little bit of a shock to go Spanish!  I guess I do get to learn a language after all.  Spanish is more difficult that I thought.  Just like German, it's easier for me to read and write than to say it.  Oh well, its only been 5 days of it.

Let's see what else . . . it's completely (well, maybe not completely) different missionary work then English family wards - both Spanish and Young Single Adults (YSA).  Two new beasts.  But, I'm a fast learner so hopefully it will come very quickly.

You can all still write me for the next 5 weeks!  I'm still alive!  Oh, and we live like 2 minutes away from the mission office.


Sis. Collins

Monday, March 31, 2014 - Oh, the Life We Live

I know the gift of tongues is real. I have learned so much Spanish in one week. I now know how to pray in Spanish and how to read. I'm still working on understanding what the people are actually saying since my vocabulary is so limited with only what I've memorized. We'll see how much more I can learn in the next month. I hope I can at least understand some of what they're saying to me by the next month and actually carry on a conversation besides where I'm from and how long I've been out. I know Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways and He will help me!

This week we found another new investigator named, Fernando. He's a son of a less-active member in the Spanish Branch. He's in his 20's and when we met him, he just poured out his life story to us and everything he had gone through. Luckily he also speaks English so I was able to participate more than Hello, prayer, my testimony, and goodbye. I think I'll study Spanish after my mission. Maybe the gift of tongues will extend after the mission??

The Branch and the YSA are so cute! I love all of them already! We have more work in the Branch than the YSA. We're working on getting the YSA going even more. We still haven't been able to get into contact with Farrah which is really sad and Kyle canceled our appointments this week! Sad day. He did go to a baptism with his fellowship on Wednesday in the family ward and he loved it! He just is so busy and thinks he doesn't have time to meet with us. We visit a lot of the Recent Converts and less-actives in the Spanish Branch. This week we also had a lesson with our new investigator, Javier. It was kind of a disaster. The fellowship we brought just talked and talked. It was supposed to be a 15 minute lesson which is reminded the fellowship THREE times; it turned out to be 50 minutes full of what the entire gospel consists of when we were just trying to focus on who God is. Oh, members. Got to love em'. We did set up another appointment with Javier and I really pray he will keep the appointment tomorrow.

I loved the Woman's Broadcast on Saturday! How inspiring it is to hear from the woman of the church and to be edified other than General Conference. Speaking of General Conference, I can't wait for this Saturday and Sunday! What a blessing it is to receive revelation. President Nattress encourages us to look of the Apostolic Promises and to write down questions we want answered. Also I can't wait for the May Ensign to come so I can read and highlight the Conference Talks. I feel like sometimes I get more out of them reading them than listening. I get two different views. I am grateful for the living, modern day prophet and apostles who receive revelation for the church as a whole. I know they are men of God who are inspired to talk about what we each need to hear. I invite all of you to watch all of the sessions of General Conference this next weekend and to take notes and especially be prepared to receive revelation. Elder Bednar says there are two things we need to do in order to receive revelation: 1. Be willing to sacrifice and 2. Be willing to make covenants. We also have to sanctify ourselves so we can be an open vessel for the Holy Ghost.

Enjoy General Conference! I look forward to your insights and how your missionary work is going!


Sister Collins

Here are some photos from my last area in San Tan Valley:

Having fun with Easter glasses with Sis. Beach, my last companion!

Sis. Collins' posterity (minus Sis. Pooley & Camelletti)

My last zone, acting goofy

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014 - Say Whatttttt?​??? A New Adventure

The first week of my last transfer! Transfers were super interesting let me tell you. So I'm sure you want to know who my companion is and all of that jazz. My new companion is Hermana Anderson and she goes home the transfer in June. I'm back in Gilbert! I cover one of the YSA wards and....a Spanish Branch. Yes, you may now refer to me as Hermana Collins. I went Spanish speaking my last transfer. Let's just say I haven't studied a language since German class my Sophomore year of High School. It's been an interesting past couple of days let me tell you. Very humbling. I feel like I'm a newbie all over again not know what's going on. At least we have the YSA ward which saves me because I actually know all that they're saying (even if they might be a little weird. Oh the joys of a Singles Ward. I like looking in from the outside- it's a lot more entertaining). I can now say some of my testimony and I learned the vowel sounds. We haven't had a lot of time to really have Spanish study and I've been praying a lot for the Gift of Tongues. I really need it. At least I can understand some of the words because they sound and mean the same thing in English, gospel terms seem to be easier! Sometimes what I remember from German class pops out and it's embarrassing.
This transfer I also have another assignment to go on mini exchanges, along with our regular exchanges, with all of the sister companionship's and teach them how to effectively plan and how to organize their Area Books. Apparently President thinks I'm very good at both of these things. We'll see how it goes! I really have no idea where we're going to find the time or how I'm even going to train them! A lot of prayers and tender mercies from Heavenly Father! I know He is helping me and I wouldn't be in this area with Hermana Anderson for no reason unless it was divine inspiration, which I believe it is. I'm going out with a BANG. I'm going to be sprinting for the last 5 weeks and I'm totally up for it. Can't.Wait.
Let's see, what has happened the last couple of days...? The first night I get here in this area we go and have dinner with the Branch (we basically only eat with the Branch because no one in YSA signs up) and it was only in Espanol and we had our Branch weekly coordination with our Ward Mission Leader and the ward missionaries. It was all in Espanol so I had no idea what was going on. They like to give me a hard time because I don't understand what they're saying. Oh, well. This really made me wish I had actually taken Spanish in High School. The next day we had Interviews with President and had trainings from the Assistants (oh and now we have 3 of them and one of them is a Traveling Assistant who just goes on exchanges with all of the Elders every day) and the Zone Leaders. I always love Interviews with President. Later that night we went to the Visitor's Center (Can you believe Kelsey is going home tomorrow! Too bad I didn't get to see her this one last time where we're both missionaries) with our YSA investigator Kyle. We watched the Testaments with him because he wants to understand more where the Book of Mormon came from and the time frame with the Bible. He really started with no religious background at all, so we have to teach very simply. The night before I came he had learned how to pray. He comes from a very chaotic background and he's ready to change to have that peace in his life. Also while we were waiting for Kyle to get to the Visitor's Center his same fellowship brought another non-member friend, Farrah. She had taken the lessons when she was 14 (she's now 28) but stopped taking them because of the pressure to get baptized and the Elders told her she wouldn't see her animals in heaven (we have no idea the doctrine on that). She's very hesitant and she wouldn't set up a specific return appointment to meet with us, but she accepted a Book of Mormon and said she'd pray. She had gone to the Temple Open house and she felt the Spirit very strongly and she said she wanted to be baptized! She also said I was the one to introduce Temple video to her at the Temple Open House. She took this as a sign to maybe press forward. That was a cool experience to see why I needed to be in this area my second day here. We've been praying that she'll call us to say she's ready to take the lessons. We relieved some of her concerns about missionaries and the lessons. Hopefully soon!
The Branch has a lot of Recent Converts that we're teaching the new member lessons to and on Saturday we knocked on a less-active woman's door and her non-member boyfriend, Javier, answered. In short he's now our new investigator! We got to talking with him and he lost his oldest brother a while ago and he said he lost his faith and that it's a problem. We said we have the answers and that we can help him get his faith back. We have a lesson with him today at 3. We're also teaching a part-member family and the father is not the member and he won't commit to be baptized. Even though he's taken the lessons. He refuses to pray and even work towards a date. We're teaching the family the new member lessons and he's there. This past lesson we had with them the kids were like "Dad! You need to be baptized so we can be more united and a forever family!" The kids I guess have never called out their dad before in front of the missionaries. We'll see if his heart will be softened. We hope to continue to find new investigators this week! I know the Lord will bless us for our obedience and diligence! Church on Sunday was also interesting. We only went to the Branch's sacrament meeting and they all speak so fast I really didn't catch much. We went to the YSA Ward because Kyle came to church! That was great! He hasn't been to church yet! Also before we went to dinner we street contacted these two guys who right after they started talking we realized they were high as a kite and drunk. One of the guys said "Are you with Jesus?" I replied "Yes, we represent Jesus Christ." We invited them to the Easter Pageant and the same man asked "Oh, is Jesus at University and Stapley?" Oh the people we talk to. Also another couple we talked with were also on a little somethin' somethin' and the guy asked if he had to wear shoes and his wife said "he had to put on holy shoes like ours."
I'm so ready for the challenge that lay ahead and I know the Lord will/has blessed me so far (well, my entire mission). Someone in one of the talks on Sunday said "very little comfort happens in the growth zone. Very little growth happens in the comfort zone." I feel so blessed to be a missionary and to be serving the Lord. I know Heavenly Father will never give us things we can't handle without His help. I have seen the power of faithful prayers and diligent scripture study. We can be protected as we follow the commandments God has given us. Today I read in John 14:15. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." It's really that black and white. Either we keep all of God's commandments (even the little ones) showing to Him that we love Him or we don't follow His commandments which show Him that we don't love Him. I strive to in every action show how much I love my Father in Heaven by doing all that He asks me to do. I know He lives and will bless me as a try my best to do everything he's asked me to.

Sister Collins

Hermana Collins and Anderson

Beautiful Arizona sunset