Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013 - MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

What a crazy week it's been! My new companion is Sister Beach. She's from Washington State, 19, never stayed away from home, and just arrived here from the MTC. We get along great and she's excited to be on the mission! I am also one of the new Sister Training Leaders and I'm over 3 other companionship's. I'm excited since I love the sisters I have stewardship over and it's going to be an awesome transfer! There were only 4 sisters that came in this transfer because all of the foreigner's visas didn't come in. We have about 4 Elders who came in this transfer who are foreign, they're sending a lot of them to our mission in the next couple of months! Also a Spanish sister companionship moved in with us in our house this transfer. The more the merrier I guess!

Wednesday was transfers and we had a lot of appointments that night. I felt bad for Sister Beach because we were running from one appointment to another and I didn't have really time to explain anything. But I'm glad the night was packed so Sister Beach jumped right into missionary work. The next day we had our Mission Christmas Party! It was a lot of fun. We started off the Party with going to the Mesa Temple. It was neat to see everyone in white and to do a session with President and Sister Nattress. We had lunch and did Minute-To-Win-It games. Then we presented all of our 5 minute Christmas Skits to the mission. We did a twist of "It's a Wonderful Life" with missionaries instead. It was a great time to be together with the whole mission and have some fun. We had a mini devotional at the end where we talked about how the imagery of light is associated with Christ. One of my favorite scriptures related to Christ and light is D&C 88:50, "Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound." I know Christ is our Savior and the Light and Life of the World. Light will always conquer darkness; with Him there can be no darkness. I know He lives what a wonderful gift that is to each one of us. They then had balloons for each of us with a light attached to each one. We sang Silent Night and after the first verse we let go of all of the balloons into the night sky. It was so beautiful to see all of the  blue, red, and green lights twinkling in the night sky. What a neat symbolism!

This week we had a lesson with our investigator, Sierra. Her baptism is going to be on Jan 22ndbecause of the holidays and we want to everyone possible there instead of Jan 4th. They downloaded the Gospel Library App and they're reading it together as a family. We're hoping Sierra's dad will come around soon so we can start teaching him as well! We're trying to find new investigators and the other day we were driving and we saw a sign that said, "Heaven Help Us Please!" So naturally we turned around and went up to knock on the owner's door. It was a little old man that opened the door. We said, "We saw your sign outside and here we are to help!" He just laughed and said it was for political reasons (sigh). We ended up having a very good conversation with him about the Plan of Salvation (his grandson had died a couple of years ago from cancer at the age of 16) and the Gilbert Open House. We're going to go back and show him and his wife the Temple Video Presentation. Unique finding activities! We've been seeing a lot of tender mercies from Heavenly Father! We were also able to go see the Christmas lights again! It was Sister Beach's first time. One of our Recent Converts had all of her non-member family come so we were able to go. It was a great night and the Christmas are always magical! I'm glad I was able to go again! This past Sunday all of Sacrament Meeting was music and it was very touching. The choir did amazing and you could feel the spirit very strongly. Til the Christmas Season! I'm so grateful to be serving the Lord and even though I'm away from home, I am being very well taken care of. We're going to be Christmas Caroling tomorrow night and we have a lot planned for Christmas- I get to talk with my family and I'm excited for that! I feel so blessed to be here in Arizona at this time! The Lord is watching out for each one of us.

Merry Christmas!!!!


Sister Collins

 Heaven Help Us Sign

Sis. Collins and Sis. Beach

 Mesa Temple Visitor's Center Christmas Lights

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 16th, 2013 - The CHRISTmas Season

First off, Camden is entering the MTC on Wednesday! I can't believe he's leaving for his mission in 2 days. It's crazy how much time has flown by, it seems like yesterday I was departing for the MTC. Transfers are this Wednesday as well. I am staying in the area and Sister Wallace is leaving. I'm excited to stay here because Sierra is on date to be baptized on January 4th! The family came to church on Sunday and they enjoyed being back. The ward really reached out to all of them and helped them to feel welcomed. It was really a great Sabbath day. We also showed the Temple Presentation to two non-members who were invited by their friends to watch it. Neither of the families wanted to meet with us again to learn about the Restoration, but at least they're excited for the Temple and now they know more about it before the Open House. I can't believe the Open House starts in less than a month. We've just been building up to this for a long time and it's finally almost here!

This week we were able to go to the Mesa Temple Lights with Sierra and her family. It was beautiful and we all had a lot of fun. I'm glad we were able to go with them to experience the Visitor's Center and to see the lights all around. The light display was smaller this year than last year and there weren't as many people there when we went- which was a blessing. We were able to actually see all of the nativities from around the world. I was also able to see Sister Hamstead! Fun times to catch up with her for a few minutes!

Our Relief Society had a Christmas Party and the theme was "Women of Christmas." I really liked it since I had never seen it. It's all about the different women in the Christmas Story- Mary the mother of Jesus, Christ's grandmother, Elisabeth, Joseph's mother, the inn keeper's wife, and a Shepard's wife. I know they're not all in the Bible, but the author kept it has historically possible. It was very touching. I would recommend to look it up. I love this season of Christmas! I just wish there was snow to make it even more magical looking outside, but what really matters is what's in our hearts.

This week we had Zone Conference and I really learned a lot- I always do when the Assistants and President train us. We role played a lot and we also focused on exchanges and developing Christlike attributes. We then had a Sister's Conference later in the week where all of the 30 sisters got together. It's crazy how many sisters we have in the mission now! There are going to be 52 sisters coming in the next 4 months. CRAZY! We talked about building Zion Companionships and lifting where you stand. It was inspiring and I had a great time being with the other sisters. We had a clothing exchange, but I really don't need any more clothes! I have way too much!!

This week we did a lot of service for someone the less-actives in our ward and other members. It feels great to be serving other people in different ways than just spiritually. Some times people need to first be helped temporally before we can help them spiritually. Serving other people is the key to having them feel good and also you feel good in return. This is what life is all about! Make the most of what you have! I know looking outward will help you be happier than just looking inward all of the time. Serve those around you and you'll see the difference.

Merry Almost Christmas!

Sister Collins

Sierra and her family at the Mesa Temple Lights

Seeing Sister Hamstead at the Visitor's Center!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, December 9th - What a Wonderful Gift to the Savior

This week we were able to attend the Temple! What a glorious morning it was to be able to spend a couple of hours in the House of the Lord. I always feel comforted and peaceful whenever I go, I receive answers to questions I have, and I better understand God's plan specifically for me. I am grateful I am able to go to the Temple every six weeks and that the Gilbert Temple is being built in our mission. I'm also excited for the Open House coming up in January! We don't have any details as of what we're going to be doing at the Open House, but I'm sure we will soon. *Hopefully!!*
We've been having some great member visits this week! We have been encouraging members to take Elder Ballard's challenge from Christmas seriously. "We are not asking everyone to do everything. We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just "one" between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior." I love this Christmas Season! I love seeing all of the Christmas decorations and I am especially grateful for the Spirit of Christ that is all around us. May we all give this wonderful gift to the Savior by reaching out to those around us by turning outward. When we lose ourselves, we find ourselves. I have seen this while I have been on my mission. When I truly forget myself and get to work, I am happier. I feel God's love He has for me. We were able to watch the First Presidency Christmas Message yesterday night and we were uplifted and strengthened. They talked about putting into focus the true meaning of Christmas and to have the Spirit of Christ in our lives. We not only focus on the Savior's birth, but we focus on His life and what He has done for us.
This week we were able to teach Sierra the message of the Restoration. Her entire family sat in the lesson and we had a good discussion. We soft committed her to baptism and she said yes. Denise (the mother) said they would come to church on Sunday since they really do want to come back to church. I love the family already and I've only met them twice so far! We're so happy they didn't cancel the lesson on us like I guess they had previous missionaries. They unfortunately did not come to church on Sunday because Sierra was sick. It was a sad day to not see them there! We have an appointment this week to teach them the message of the Plan of Salvation.
This past Saturday we were able to help out a recent convert, Robert, with the ward to paint his house. I wish I had the before and after pictures (I'll get them next week)! It was fun and it was truly humbling to see the circumstances of some people. Having come into this new area a month ago has really opened my eyes to how some people live. I am glad we were able to serve him and his mother (she's not a member) by helping with their temporal needs. We also had the Ward Christmas Party on Saturday. The ward had an ornament exchange and I got a pink ornament with a mustache on it. We were also able to see Santa Claus! (don't worry we didn't sit on his lap and we have picture to prove it) :] What a glorious day and what a fantastic time to be a missionary on the Lord's errand!
This week I found out I have Mono, but not to worry! I haven't been kissing anyone! The Lord is lifting me and helping me to not be so tired. I know this is His work and glory and that I am in His service and am entitled to His help. I have seen His hand everyday even if we weren't able to get out as much as I would have liked to this week. The members are great and are taking good care of us! I am so grateful!!!
I have been reading this past General Conference talks these past couple of days. President Monson quotes in his talk, "I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee," a poem by Douglas Malloch:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

I know Heavenly Father never forgets us. He gives us trials, afflictions, and sorrows to make us stronger. He is the Gardner of our Lives. We need to align our will to His so that we can be truly happy. I am grateful for this Gospel and the strength it gives me to "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope" (2 Nephi 31:20).

Sister Collins

Santa and the Sisters!

The Ornament Exchange

Service - painting the house

Sis. Wallace and Sis. Collinis

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013 - Off Roading Miracles

I am so grateful for all of the members who had us over on Thanksgiving. What a wonderful day it was, we were well fed! Maybe a little too well fed... We started the day off with breakfast with a family who had her parents over, Gramma and Pajo. Gramma gave us both pearl bracelets with a cowboy boat charm, a southwest culture keepsake. After breakfast we were trying to find a family who lived out in the middle of the desert. Our map wasn't very detailed and we drove around for quite some time because hardly any of the dirt roads or houses are marked. While we were driving out in the middle of nowhere our car got stuck in the mud again! Luckily, we could see some houses near by so we went and knocked on their doors. Only one family was home and they kindly helped us get our car unstuck. We are so grateful the Lord was looking out for us that we were able to find someone home! We never found the family's house that day, I guess it wasn't the right time! For lunch we were invited to the Mayor of Queen Creek's home for Thanksgiving lunch (they are also in our ward). There again we had delicious food and good company. We were able to show the Temple Presentation to some of their non-member family who were curious about the Gilbert Temple. We had only an hour in between lunch and dinner. #missionaryprobs. Dinner was also great and so was the company. We are so blessed to have so many thoughtful members who take care of us!

We have seen so many miracles this week! The day before Thanksgiving we were going by come less-active and part-member families that the sisters before had been trying to get in for awhile. One family in particular, no one had been able to get in for a long time because they have a gate to get onto their property. We had tried to find this family before (again, out in the middle of nowhere) and on this day we had found it! We pulled up to the gate and wondered how we were going to get past the gate. I said a quick little prayer to myself that someone would come out of the house and open the gate. Seconds after I had said Amen, someone came out of the house! I quickly jumped out of the car and yelled, "Is this the ___ Residence?" The old man said nothing, but went back into the house. A second later, the gate started to open! We walked inside the gate and started talking to the man. He really wouldn't talk to us, but to confirm this was the family's residence and then got in his car and left. We stood there very confused, but decided since we were inside the gate to go knock on the door! At the door were two of the little girls. We asked if their parents were there and the said no. We really didn't believe them and kept on talking with them. As we were talking another car drove through the gate. It was their dad, who's not a member, and oldest sister. He said, "you must be looking for my wife" and let us in the house. We started talking with the family, they're super nice and cute! We shared the Temple Presentation with them and we found out some of her concerns why she hadn't been to church in years and that her youngest daughter hadn't been baptized yet. We asked if she wanted to prepare for baptism and they said yes! So now we're teaching Sierra, a nine year-old. We have dinner with them on Wednesday to teach the first lesson. We're super excited because this is my first investigator in this area. The blessings of faithful prayers. I know Heavenly Father answers each of our prayers- mine and all of the members of the ward who I'm sure have been praying. It's also all in God's timing- we happened to be in the right place and the right time listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Later that same day we were also able to contact another less-active part-member family who people haven't been able to contact in quite some time. At the beginning of our meeting with the man, he told us he was no longer a member and that he wasn't interested. We got him to start talking with us more and we were able to testify and find out some of his concerns why he stopped going to church. We got him to commit to read the Book of Mormon again and to pray about it. At the end of our meeting he asked where the church building was and what time church was at. We didn't see him on Sunday, but we're going to go back again and see how his reading of the Book of Mormon is going.

Also in that same day we were going to go contact a former investigator. As soon as we pulled up, a boy came out of the house directly across the street. He was at the end of the street by the time we had the car parked. I got out of the car and started walking towards him. He saw me and then he turned around and came back without me even saying anything to him. It turns out it was Pabel, the boy we had gotten as a referral 2 weeks ago and we had contacted his parents who were not interested. We were able to have a lesson with him right on the street and gave him a Book of Mormon. He said he'd have to think about meeting with us again, he'd have to get permission from his parents first. It was a miracle he came back and wanted to talk with us. I know something will come of it, in the Lord's time and in His own way.

We were driving by our Bishop's house one afternoon and saw they were putting up Christmas decorations outside so we stopped and helped them. After we had helped them we asked the Bishop if he wanted us to go by anyone. He said he had been thinking of his neighbor's across the street and that we should stop by them. So we went and contacted them. We knocked on the door and a woman answered the door. She spoke no English and invited us in, calling to someone in the house. She sat us down in the living room and then 2 teenage girls came into the room. It turns out the woman had thought we were their friends coming to visit! We talked with the girls and they were actually interested in going to the Gilbert Open House and watching the Temple Presentation. We were in the middle of setting up a time when their parents would be home when in walks the parents! We started talking with them and they seem confused as to why we were sitting in their house. We tried to watch the Temple Presentation then, but they were "busy". So we tried to set up an appointment, but the mother said "she would call us." Too bad, but at least we got in the door! Who knows what will come of it, but I know the girls felt something and they seemed very open to it. There are so many other miracles, I wish I had time to write them.

Thank you Mom for sending me Advent! We had a great time putting the presents under the Christmas tree the members we live with gave us! Ah, the Christmas Spirit is a wonderful thing. I'm so glad we now have decorations so our apartment isn't completely bare.
I was reading yesterday in Doctrine and Covenants 50:41. This verse really struck me yesterday, "aFear not, little bchildren, for you are mine, and I have covercome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath dgiven me." I know that Christ has performed the Atonement for each one of us and because of that act, He has overcome the world for each one of us. We need not to be fearful because He is right there beside us. I know He is my Savior and Redeemer and I am so grateful for this Christmas Season to remember Him and that He does live. May we keep the true meaning of Christmas at the forefront of our minds. I know that He lives! And what comfort this great sentence gives!

Sister Collins

The Christmas Spirit

Happy Advent!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013 - And Then There Were Two

I now only have one companion- another sister who had actually just came out a week ago, just went home on Saturday, so President Nattress called us Friday night and said Sister Camilletti had been reassigned. Bummer! She was to leave Saturday morning to her new area. I had actually started to get used to being in a trio. Sister Camilletti and I are so alike- kindred spirits. I guess we just needed to meet each other for 9 days so that we could be friends after the mission! We're both probably going to be at BYU! So it's now Sister Wallace and I at the house with all of the farm animals.
It was a great week- we saw a lot of miracles. Doors were opening that I guess haven't been opened since Sister Wallace got here 6 weeks ago with potential investigators. Wednesday was a fantastic day. We had a lesson with a less active laurel and we invited her to church and actually her step-mom came to church, but not the rest of the family. Maybe next week. What was also neat was having a less-active/part member family open the door for us. Her active RM sister had made her promise to always let the missionaries have water because when she was on her mission, no one gave her water. So she let us in! She told us some of her concerns and we were able to testify powerfully we knew this was the Restored Gospel. She actually agreed to have us teach her children. Her husband had taken the lessons years ago, but they got offended at church again so they stopped. We have really been the first missionaries to get in with the family again since the husband had taken the lessons. We're excited about that! It's too bad they're going out of town for the Holidays.

This week we also were given the chance to show Temple Presentation to two nonmembers. We have been showing them to the families in the ward and encouraging to invite their friends over who they have invited to go to the Gilbert Temple Open House to know a little bit more about the Temple before they go through. The first presentation was on Saturday and the member's friend said yes she would like to meet with us again to hear more. She doesn't live in our area though, but we're still going to teach her the first lesson then pass her off to the missionaries in her area. Then on Sunday at our dinner, the member had invited over her neighbor. We showed the video and she also said she would be willing to meet with us again! She said she won't be able to meet until after the Holiday's though. We're still going to stop by and say hello in a couple of weeks to see if we can do anything for her.
On Friday it really started to rain and it wouldn't let up like it usually does here in Arizona. It rained all day Saturday as well. We have an area in our ward boundaries that is called the "Proving Grounds" which is basically out in the middle of nowhere. Most of the area is dirt roads. We had to go there on Saturday and the roads didn't seem that bad so we continued on. While we were looking for a house (and some of the roads aren't even marked along with some of the houses!) our car got stuck in the mud! Luckily a members house was close by and we went there and they were able to get our car unstuck. At least it wasn't like Sister Allred earlier in my mission! I actually had good reason with wet roads and out in the middle of nowhere! lol
Speaking of the Holidays, Thanksgiving is this week. We have been invited to breakfast, lunch, and dinner so far. All of our appointments have people the members want us to be introduced to. It's so nice of them to invite us over. I can't believe last year I had Thanksgiving in the MTC. Also in 2 days it will have been a year since I came to Arizona! Crazy. I'm so grateful for this time of year and to remember Christ, our Savior. Everyone seems to be just a little nicer to us and a little more likely to listen to us. I am grateful for all of you and especially my family who supports me and loves me. I am grateful for the members here in Arizona who open their mouths and share the Gospel. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon and I know it is another witness of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for God's beautiful creations and I'm thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who loves each one of us and listens to our prayers. I am thankful for my Savior and the Atoning sacrifice He made for each one of us to make our burdens light when we come to Him. I am grateful for this opportunity to come on a mission and to help others come unto Christ. I love this Gospel and this precious time I have to be here in Arizona.
Sister Collins

From left to right - Sis. Wallace, Sis. Collins and Sis. Camilletti

Car stuck in mud!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013 - "We're Not in Gilbert Any More"

Wow, where to start? I'll start with earlier this week in my old area. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone and to pack up. We had a lot of appointments and the last one I had in the area was at a member's house where they had invited less actives to have us teach them the lessons. We had actually had our first lesson last Tuesday and we were just going to make it a set appointment every week. The last week went great and this week one of the men brought his son with him. His son, Colton, wants to be baptized, but his mom won't let him. He's been coming to church and he even goes to seminary. We taught the Restoration again and we asked Colton if he'd like to take the lessons since his mom wants to know why he wants to get baptized (and I'm assuming she wants a "good" reason, which is understandable). Colton's parents have been divorced and his dad just started coming back to church. What a neat experience to have a new investigator on my last night in the area!
Transfers were on Wednesday morning since Sister Huefner and I had to be there early for the trainers meeting. While we're sitting in the meeting with the Assistants training us, President Nattress came in and said he needed to talk to me. My heart started racing and I had no idea what he was going to say. So we stepped outside into the hall and he said I was going to be also training a sister who just got out of the MTC. So not only was a second half training, but also training a new missionary. SURPRISE! Plus he said the area was not doing so well (surprise, surprise. I wasn't expecting anything different since all of the areas I've been, I've had clean up duty) and he's putting me in there to get the area going. He said the stake president of the wards I just left wasn't very happy with him for moving me. He also said he might be pulling me out soon and that he usually doesn't tell anyone what his thought process is with transfers. So basically he was telling me to get the area going quick because he wants to put me somewhere else.

My new companion's are Sister Wallace, from Austin Texas, and Sister Camilletti, from Denver Colorado. They're both 21. Sister Wallace went to BYU-ID and Sister Camilletti went to BYU. Sister Wallace has been here in Arizona for 4 weeks since she's a visa waiter, so I'm second half training her. She's going to Brazil and she's speaking Portuguese. Sister Camilletti just got here from the MTC and she's also a visa waiter and she's going to New Zealand and she's speaking Samoan. It's definitely been interesting!!

I actually moved out of Gilbert! I'm now in Queen Creek which is south of Gilbert. It's the farm country. I live on the property of members in an annex house. They have a minature farm! They have turkey's, chickens, the whole shabang. We even have goats. They are penned in on the side of our house where our bedroom is. Every morning we get a good morning for the goats at 5AM... yep, I'm definitely not in Gilbert. It's been an interesting adjustment. We cover one ward and the ward boundaries are huge compared to what I'm used to. The ward goes all the way up in these mountains to what the call the "proving grounds." We even have to go off roading up there to get to a recent convert's house. It takes us about 20 minutes to just get there. CRAZY!

We currently have no investigators. The sisters have been working with the members with the temple video presentation and they've been trying to visit all of the members. We have 2 recent converts in the ward. I'm not used to just having one ward; church on Sunday was very short- only 3 hours! The ward members seem nice which is good! They do try hard to reach out which is good. I know we'll be seeing miracles this week! I know we will find investigators.
I am excited to be in this area. I know I'm supposed to be here for a reason and I'm making the best of it! The Lord knows me better than I know myself. Again, I love this Gospel- it's makes me so happy!

Sister Collins

Living with animals!

The House

The goats!

The 3 Amigas!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11th, 2013 - #oldtimerstatus

Happy Year Mark to Me! Crazy to think I was in the MTC this time last year. Time has gone by so fast; too fast. And what an interesting day it was for my Year Mark. #oldtimerstatus. We had contracted strep throat along the way of going about doing missionary work. I spent the morning first going to the doctor that day and then being quarantined for the next four days, where we did puzzles, colored in our coloring books, played monopoly deal, slept, read the scriptures, and generally went crazy with having to be inside. #compbondingtime. The members have been so kind! The news we were sick spread like wildfire. We received at least one bowl of soup and rolls every day. Also we went to Zupas (My new favorite restaurant- sorry Panera) and there was a whole table to woman. They paid for our lunch and expressed that most of them at missionaries out. So cute! 

This Sunday we had transfer calls! I am leaving and second half training. In President Nattress' own words, "It's going to be a new adventure for you, Sister Collins, and we will talk more at interviews." Nothing like that phrase to keep me awake at night wondering what it could possibly be. So on Wednesday it should be interesting to see what my "new adventure" entails. I will miss everyone here and serving here. I know this is what the Lord wants me to do and I will "go and do." Whatever is my new adventure, I know the Lord will be " on [my] right hand and on [my] left, and [His] Spirit shall be in [my] heart, and [His] angels round about [me] to bear [me] up" (D&C 84:88). Sister Huefner is training! I'm excited for her and for the area. Things are in the uphill and it's been exciting to be part of it. I have full confidence in Sister Huefner's abilities. 

Sorry there's not much this week, but I do know how much our Savior loves each one of us! I love the the Book of Mormon and the comfort and counsel it gives me. Read it!

Sister Collins

P.S. Remember that AIRBOX picture? That's how our mailbox has looked this week, which has been sad. If you write me, I'll always write you back! :) Plus you get to have a more personalized letter, and who wouldn't want that? Thanks much! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013 - We Are Dictionaries

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Such a great week, let me tell you! Not only was it Halloween (kind of a buzz kill on the mish with the whole "not allowed to dress up because you're a missionary" thing), but we had an Expanded Zone Conference AND a Mission Conference all in the same week! Plus we had miracles upon miracles (even though we had hardly any proselyting time this week)! So buckle up and read on!

First, the Expanded Zone Conference. This included 6 stakes with one representative from each of the Auxilaries and all of the missionaries in those stakes. It was pretty big because we're all trying to work together to make the most of the Temple Open House. "Any man can do the work of 10 men, but it takes a great man to get 10 men to work;" that is what we're trying to accomplish as missionaries. President Nattress trained all of the members on how to approach people to ask them to go to the Open House and then to hear the 15 minute video presentation from the missionaries. The APs role played our 15 minute presentation and then the audience role played asking their friends. It was fantastic, it was just like the Zone Conferences we have with just missionaries, but only two hours instead of six. I loved what President Nattress did at the end. He has Sister Nattress stand with him and asked a series of questions: "Are we perfect? Do we repent daily? Do we have a testimony of Jesus Christ? Do we have a testimony of Joseph Smith? Do we have a testimony of President Monson as the prophet? Do you know what the prophet has called you to do? Then go and do it." Then they both went a chose someone from the audience and brought them up to the stand (Sister Nattress actually came and picked Sister Huefner). Then he repeated the questions again and then Sister Huefner came and picked me, and then he repeated it again. He did this until the entire room was standing. The Gospel is for everyone, President Monson has asked each of us to reach out to those around us. We don't know who's ready and we shouldn't make that decision for them. We need to let them make the decision. I thought it was very powerful. Everyone we talked to in our wards who went was very energized about what we were all going to do. At the end a random lady asked us if we would talk to some of the young woman who had came with her. It turns out all they wanted to do was take a picture with us #celebstatus.

We had gotten some sidewalk chalk and wrote the announcement for the Gilbert Temple Open House with our number for people to call us if they had questions. We hope it generates some curiosity and hopefully everyone will know they can walk through the Temple before it's dedicated.

So, Halloween Day. President Nattress wanted us all inside Halloween Day because I guess people in the past have dressed up like missionaries and done crazy things. We had a lesson set up Ivonne in the morning before our Mission Conference, but when we got there she wasn't there! She later called us and said she had been in the Urgent Care because of some back problems she had been having. It was sad we weren't able to teach her that morning. Our day didn't start out as we had hoped. At the Mission Conference we role played the 15 Temple Video Presentation from11-4pm. It was kind of a long day, but it was great to see everyone from the Mission. The Mission even gave us all little Halloween goodie bags- presh. We then were able to eat dinner with a member who took us to Zupas- kind of like Panera for the East Coast. So that was fantastic we were allowed to do that. We had thought we were going to stay inside our apartment all by ourselves for Halloween night, but the Zone Leaders got permission from President for all of us to go to the High Concilman's house for Halloween night. He picked us all up in a 15 passenger van (because they didn't want us driving) and we had a fun night at their house. She made us chilie and we were allowed to watch Ephraim's Rescue. It was weird to be watching TV and all I could think about how much a waste of time it was to be sitting in front of it. Oh, how times have changed. I guess that's what a mission does to you? Wow. I'm for sure going to be the awkward RM in 6 months #can'twait. I'm so glad they were so willing to have us all over at their house for the night! It was totally better than sitting at home coloring in the  Princess coloring book we got because we wanted something out of the ordinary to do.

During weekly planning on Friday we called Montana (who had recently come back to church) and asked her if her son was baptized and her two sisters. Her two little sisters aren't and their dad gave them permission to take the lessons! That was great to hear since we had been waiting to see if their dad would let them! Two new investigators this week! We also had a lesson with a less-active family and the dad asked the boys who they thought we were. One of the boys said, "Dictionaries?" You know you haven't been to church in a while when your kids think the missionaries are dictionaries! Also this week we had received a referral from a member for their neighbors down the street, who's son just joined scouts. We knocked on the door and the dad let us in right away. It turns out his aunt had joined the church and he had grown up going to our church. They said they have been looking for a church and were actually talking about going to ours. They were super nice, they're a family of six! The father, Nick, said he'd have to talk with his wife (since she was in the back taking a test) and then they would get back to us. We were able to share a short message with them and the spirit was very present. We walked out of there knowing they were golden. We really can't wait to start teaching them. We're praying hard! So many more things happened this week, but I'm out of time!

I've started reading the Book of Mormon over again this time focusing on prayer. It's been a neat experience to see the power of prayer in Nephi's life in the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon. I know the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. I feel the Holy Ghost as I read from it's pages.

Sister Collins

Sad missionaries looking at an "air mailbox"!

Halloween Carnage at one house in Gilbert

Halloween Fun with the Sisters!

More Halloween Fun!

More Halloween Carnage in Gilbert

Happy Halloween Zone!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28th, 2013 - Can Mormons Wear Make-Up and Eat Chocolate?

This week we were able to have dinner and Family Home Evening at one of the part-member families house in one of our wards. The non-member husband comes to church every Sunday and has taken the missionary lessons twice. In the past years during football season he wouldn't come to church because he would be watching all of the games. This year it's amazing to see him at church during the season. We are not currently teaching him right now since we are waiting to see if he wants to take the lessons again. They are an amazing family and we love them so much! We can tell his heart has been softening and we hope for the best in the near future! The ward he's in has been catching the missionary spirit more and more which is really exciting to hear.

We were also able to teach Brad three times this week. One of the lessons was at our Ward Mission Leader's house for a BBQ. We were late to it because right after we had gotten done with our dinner with the Stake President we saw his next door neighbor across the street. We went over to go talk with him. As we were talking with him, he started to tell us about his daughter who put herself in drug rehab just the other day and his struggles with her. We were able to have a powerful lesson right there on his driveway. Carlos accepted a Book of Mormon, a Finding Faith in Christ DVD, and our pass-a-long card with our number on it. He said he would read the Book of Mormon and that we could check up on him. We weren't able to set up an exact return appointment there, but we told our Stake President and he's going to continue fellowshipping Carlos.

So back to Brad. It was really nice to talk with Brad in a more casual setting and he seemed a lot more comfortable talking with us. He's starting to really like coming to church and developing friendships with the ward members. Two days later we were able to meet with him again. They only had 15 minutes to give us so we talked about prophets and Jesus Christ's ministry (because we had to start over at the very beginning a week ago because our teaching record from the Elder's before was very misleading...). At the end we invited him to be baptized. He said he wanted to, but he is living with his fiance (who was just recently less-active and is coming back to church). They have their wedding date set for next June and they're planning on being married in Hawaii. He can't be baptized until either he moves out or they get married. So at this time they are not ready to make either decision. We knew this was a problem, but it was nice to hear it from him. We invited them to pray about their decision and assured them we would still be there for them and would continue teaching Brad. He has progressed so much since we started teaching him. He has started to pray and is recognizing the answers to his prayers. It's going to be a slow process teaching him because he doesn't really have any religious background, which is fine. At least we're getting them to come to church every week now instead of every other week! By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. We love teaching them.

We went over to one of our potential investigator's homes we had never tried to go by before. When we got there she was outside! We started to talk with her and she wanted us to come in right away. Nikki's very friendly and it turns out her dad is Mormon, but he hasn't been actively going to church since he got married to his wife, who is Catholic. Her brother, who she was really close to, had died earlier this year when he was only 19. She has had a really hard time with his passing. Nikki and her husband are Agnostic and just had their first child. We had a very good conversation about the Plan of Salvation. She's open to an extent and she believes a lot what we believe. She's a very spiritual person. While we were in the lesson, I kept on praying to know what she needed to hear. At the end of our conversation I had the impression we needed to give her a Book of Mormon. I didn't have a Book of Mormon in my purse though at the moment. At this point, Sister Huefner was giving her President Monson's General Conference talk to look up on from this past conference. She was very receptive to looking this talk up and said maybe this was the reason why we needed to stop by her house that day. She said before we came she had actually been pondering about our religion and missing her brother. I was trying to figure out how I could weave in asking her if she wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon in our conversation while we gravitated towards the door. The chance to ask her never came. As we were walking to the car, I had the distinct impression again we needed to give her the Book of Mormon. We got to the car and I said to Sister Huefner, I feel like we need to give her the Book of Mormon. She said she had been feeling the same way. I got the Book of Mormon out and we prayed about what we should mark for her to read. I kept on flipping to Moroni 7 and 8, we both felt good about it and we marked Moroni 7. I wrote a short testimony about the Book of Mormon on a card and we went back to her house. We knocked on the door and she seemed a little surprised to see us again so quickly. I simply handed her the Book of Mormon and said we had both felt impressed we needed to give her this book. This is the source of true peace and comfort because it is the word of God. She said thank you and was really excited to read it since she hadn't received a Book of Mormon before. We don't know if she's read it yet, but I just hope it's given her peace and comfort and has helped her at this time.

This week we had two Fall Festivals to go to. One of them we were only able to stay for 10 minutes because we had appointments. Also it wasn't put on by the ward, but the community. So it was really big and we hardly saw anyone we recognized in the short time we were there. The other ward's Fall Festival was a lot of fun. We were able to meet a lot of people in the ward and also their friends they had brought. This one lady, Julie, came to the activity because a girl in the ward cut her hair and mentioned the Fall Festival. It turns out she just moved here from Nebraska (Sister Huefner's neighborhood) two weeks ago. She's been Internet dating one of the members in our ward who's just recently started to come back to church. We were able to meet her and she was so sweet. She started by asking us if Mormons ate chocolate and wore make-up. We assured her we can do both and she felt more comfortable. She then asked us some more questions about what we believe in and we were able to teach her a little bit right there under the pavilion while the circuit breaker kept on shutting off. She was so excited to talk with us because she said she has been searching for a church. She had told the lady who cut her hair she wanted to join our church and how does she go about doing it? Miracles! She trying to find a house in our area and a job since she's living with her daughter out of our area. Also the family who has been coming back to church, Montana and Mike, were the D.J.s at the party and their entire family came. It was great to see some of the less-actives at the party feel comfortable. We had someone ask us if being missionaries was our costume or if we were really missionaries. Fun times, fun times.

Yesterday a member brought one of her friends to church, Jill. She had given us Jill as a referral two weeks ago and we hadn't been able to catch her at home. It was amazing that she came to church. She really seemed to love it and felt the Spirit. We had to run out of Relief Society early since we had an appointment with Brad so we weren't able to see when she wanted to set up an appointment since she had expressed to her friend she would be interested. We're hoping we can contact her tonight.

I'm so excited for the Gilbert Open House. We're having a training this Tuesday with members about how we are going to work together to bring people to Christ through the Open House. We're going to be presenting a 15 minute video presentation to the member's friends who want to learn about the Temple. The mission has made a DVD with four, four minute, videos on it about Temples. They are great videos and I can't wait to start sharing them with everyone! It will be a great tool for finding people who want something more. Having the Gilbert Open House in January just doesn't seem real yet. Excitement on excitement! I know how much the Temple has blessed my life. I feel God's love in His Holy House. I feel closer to Him and I receive answers to prayers more often in the Temple. I know my family is sealed together for eternity and how much comfort this knowledge brings me. The Gospel gives me answers to the questions of my soul. I know God answers my prayers every day. I see the miracles which are happening around me. I feel His love and I am grateful for the knowledge I have.

Sister Collins

We found a random fridge outside one night. We couldn't resist taking a picture by it. :)

Montana and Mike

We were able to go to the Temple this week!

Recent Converts in one of our ward- We love them!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013 - Good News & Celebrity Status

We received great news this past Saturday afternoon. The Gilbert Temple Open House and Dedication have been announced!! The open house will be January 18-February 15. The Cultural Celebration will be March 1st and the Dedication will be March 2nd. I'm so excited to be able to participate in the Open House and Cultural Celebration. The Gilbert Temple will be even more so a catalyst for missionary work. Everyone has been waiting to take people to the Open House. It's such a great time to be a missionary in the Arizona Gilbert Mission. I'm so happy that I'll still be here when this is all going on!

This past Monday was an eventful night. Three out of the four appointments we had scheduled fell through so we commenced with following our back-up plans. We were able to follow-up with a potential investigator we had met on the street a couple of weeks ago. Her name is Connie and her husband is Ed. They are an older couple and very devote Catholic. Ed has been recovering from brain surgery these past few months. We went over there to offer service and see if we could help them in any way. We get there and they welcome us in and Ed starts singing "Love at Home." We were very confused. He then said, "Come over on Sunday mornings and we can watch Music and the Spoken Word together!" Yes, he's Catholic and he watches the Music and the Spoken Word every Sunday. They were very nice and they didn't need any service, but we were able to leave them with a short spiritual thought.

We were then able to meet a referral we received from a member, Jill. She wasn't feeling very well, so she didn't let us in, but she said to come by on Monday's since she has the day off. Tonight we're going to go back and hopefully she's feeling better! When then stopped by a less-active, part members house. We were able to share a short message and to set up an appointment forWednesday to meet with them. Miracle after miracle was happening. And these people so far I've mentioned were only in the first hour after our P-Day. We went to our one appointment that hadn't canceled on us, a member family in one of our wards. We had a great visit and committed them to pray to know with whom to speak with Elder Andersen's promise. We succeed when we all work together.

We were then able to visit another potential investigator we had met on the street, Anthony, and we were following up on our commitment we left with him. We were able to share a message with him on the doorstep where the spirit was powerful in that short 10 minute interaction. The words just came to both of us and my entire body was tingling with the Holy Ghost. He said he needs to talk with his wife, since she wasn't there, about when we could come back and share more of what we teach about. We were then able to go again last night and again his wife was not there and we shared another power message about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. It was not a coincidence we ran into him outside twice these past couple of weeks. We're praying his wife will want to take the lessons as well. It was a night full of miracles. Our appointments were supposed to fall through because the Lord had a much better plan for our night.

The next night we were able to talk with Ivonne again. We love her so much! She's an incredible woman who has gone through so much in her life. She loves us coming by and talking with her and she said she wanted us to come back! We had a powerful lesson about the power of prayer in our lives so we can develop that relationship with Heavenly Father. We were able to set up another appointment for tonight and we're excited for that lesson! We are now going to be teaching her! Miracles after miracles! It turns out several missionaries have approached her about taking the lessons and she has always said no she wasn't interested. It's always in the Lord's time and in His own way.

Later in the week we were going by some potential investigators and we had put Irene in our plans. We knock on the door and her husband, Rico, answers and welcomes us in. He doesn't even let us say who we are or even talk. We walk in the house and we go into the kitchen where Irene is. We said hello and she said, "You're here to pick some pomegranates?" Sister Huefner started to say no and I said yes at the same time. During this short exchange she had produced plastic bags seemingly out of nowhere. Irene told us to follow Rico out into the back yard to pick the fruit. Before we went outside we said, "We're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Irene just said, "Of course we know that. We have one Mormon son who went on a mission years ago." So we picked pomegranates and limes and we went back inside. They started to tell us about their "Mormon son" (who we never got the name of because they just referred to him as "The Mormon") and we found out they are Lutheran and are Dutch Filipinos. She's white and he's Filipino and they immigrated here years ago. They were very nice, but they said they were not interested. We were able to share a short message with them (to which Irene said "the Mormons don't know who to do brief") and they invited us over for lunch party there were having with all of their Dutch Filipino friends. We went there on Saturday and the food was...questionable, but we were able to develop more the a relationship and they were very kind to us. We were also able to meet The Mormon son, Ernst at the lunch-in.

This past Sunday the less-active family came and the husband actually stayed for all three meetings. It was great to see them there! We also had a family home evening with them last night and their kids are just soaking it up.

We had also been asked to come visit the primary in one ward and also teach Elders Quorum in the same ward. We were running back and forth. When we went to primary that kids were all excited and waving at us. It was like we were celebrities to the little kids. I have to say it was a first for me to teach Elders Quorum. I can now say I have witnessed the scene in the RM about the stark difference between Elders Quorum and Relief Society. It was almost comical, but the lesson went great and we hopefully got them excited to participate in missionary work (the lesson was on missionary work). Good things are happening in the area where I'm serving. There is power in the members inviting and sharing the Gospel. Missionaries can not work alone. There is hardly any success when the missionaries are doing everything themselves. In the Brother Christensen's book, The Power of the Everyday Missionary, he talks about what successful missionary work is. It's when we invite. We can't base success on someone else's agency, it's only what we personally can do. I thought that was great. There is true lasting joy in sharing the Good News with those around us. All we need to invite. They're not saying no to the gospel, just the invitation. I know the true lasting happiness that participation in this gospel gives me. It changes lives. Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. We can do all things through Him.


Sister Collins