Thursday, August 29, 2013

Monday, August 26th, 2013 - Living in a Third World Country

What an adventure this week has been. First off- I got transfered. President called us last Monday around 9pm with transfer updates and said, "Sister Collins you are being transfered and training and Sister Pooley you are second half training." PHYCH! Sister Pooley was all packed because the transfer calls on Sunday night had said Sister Pooley was leaving. We had went around to all of our appointments with our investigators and Sister Pooley was saying goodbye. Then we had to text everyone and be like, "Just Kidding, Sister Collins is leaving." President said I could come back after transfers and pack, 11 hours before I had to be at the Mission Office. Thank Goodness. Let the craziest week of my mission begin.
My new trainee is Sister Huefner (pronounced Huff-ner). She is from the great Mid-West, Nebraska, the heart-land country. She is 19 years-old and went to BYU-Idaho for a semester. She came out way pre-trained so it's great! We've already been having a lot of fun and laughing a lot (when we haven't been stressed out of our minds- more of that in the next paragraphs).
We whitewashed into the Elders area. When we got there late Tuesday night because the Elders hadn't set up a ride for us from the Mission Home. I came home to pack and the Sisters we were living with hadn't needed to go to the training meetings before transfers and so they packed me! I couldn't believe it when I walked in and my stuff was already packed. They're so sweet! I felt bad for Sister Huefner since I had to be running around like crazy trying to get everything situated and organized with me leaving on such late notice.
Let's talk about the condition of the Apartment shall we? The apartment is a half garage thing behind members like my first area, only this is A LOT bigger and it has a kitchen. Elders have been living in the apartment for 11 years. No Sister has ever set foot in the house until us. The Elders who were serving there both went home- so they didn't care what condition it was in. Here's the condition it was in: maggots in the food, trash everywhere, gross floors, grime all of the walls, patched up holes in the walls because one of the Elders had anger-management issues, supposed bed-bugs in the beds, they had moved on the beds out into the living room because the a/c was broken in the back rooms, lopsided shower rod and curtain, one of the two a/c's was broken (keep in mind it's 110 degrees outside), and just bugs everywhere. Cleanest part of the house? The fridge. And suprisingly the bathroom. Welcome to The Dump in the Third World Country. I have to say I never thought I'd see this bad of an apartment while serving in the Gilbert Mission- I thought I was safe from that. Nope.

Needless to say the owners were not happy about the condition of the apartment (maybe that's why they stuck Sisters in there???). The frist night we were dropped off, after we had cleaned up a little so we could actually take a shower, we stripped the beds to get them ready so we could actually sleep somewhere. As we were stripping them we found bugs which we thought they were bed bugs. We called our zone leaders to try to figure out if they were bed bugs and at this point it's about 10:15pm. The zone leaders told us to take an over-night bag and go sleep at the other Sister's apartment in our zone.---Sidenote, I'm back in the same zone, just reorganized, when I whitewashed in with Sister Holcomb about 6 months ago.--- We went over to sleep on the couch and floor.

The owner fixed the a/c and the housing coordinators came and looked over at the beds. It turned out they were not bed bugs, thank goodness, and we were told to clean up and that our district would be coming on Saturday to help us deep clean and paint the place. This was Wednesday morning. We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon before dinner cleaning and getting it a little more liveable. We were able to meet two of our Ward Mission Leaders so that we could get up to speed on the Area. The area is pretty dead and the Elders did not really leave us anything to really go off of. A lot of things are missing in the records of where people live that they were teaching. Fun times. On Thursday we decided we should go through our Area and try to figure out who we were actually teaching and how we could visit. We also met with the last of our Ward Mission Leader and one of our Bishops. They are so nice and are fired up in missionary work! The Bishop we met with gave us some familes to go by and follow up on the 21 Day Promise to have us get to know the ward members as fast as possible. That night we went by the families and at least met them if they were busy and set up appointments so we could go see them. We also visited some of the people we had wanted to visit who the Elders had been visiting. We met a former investigator named Jim outside and he was not very pleasant. He basically told us what we believe and called us disallusional and crazy. He's a pastor for one of the Christian non-demoninaltional churches. It was Sister Huefner's first Anti. Fun times. On Friday we also got a car which was much needed because we live out of our stake which we serve in. We had been biking at least 20 miles everyday because our area is so big.

On Saturday starting at 8am, four Elders and the housing coordinators came and helped us clean and paint the walls, doors, and trim. They left around 2pm when the whole house was painted and mostly everything was clean. We all went to Culvers! (there's four of us from the Midwest in my zone, so we were all pretty excited. Sister Huefner and I when we found out that's where we were going both screamed. lol). We still had the kitchen cubards (eekk) and the bathroom to tackle. We worked until dinner time, went to dinner exhausted, went back home to unpack and move in all of our things. It took us most of the night to unpack and that's when we found out both a/c's where broken so we had to sleep at the other Sister's apartment again.

On Sunday we were in church from 8-5pm. We cover three wards and we also had meetings with our Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders. We had a dinner with a family who had joined the church about a year ago. They are awesome and seem to be going strong. It was a great Sunday. The Bishops had us stand so everyone could see who we were and we met a lot of people. Since the a/c was still broken, the members we live behind said they had an extra room we could sleep in so we didn't have to sleep on the couch and floor. It was fantastic last night to sleep in a/c and on a bed again! The members are great!
This area has so much potential! In two of the three wards we cover, we're the first Sisters in 9 years to serve there. They're way excited to have us and I'm so excited to be here in the area. I can already tell the members are excited about missionary work, but they just need some guidance. The members are awesome and I'm so excited to be in this area. I can't wait to actually start working full time and not having to deal with all of this craziness with housing. We're almost all cleaned up.
I've learned a lot about patience and just going with the flow. It's been a great learning experience and I've really felt how much Heavenly Father has lifted me up and that He really does care about the little things.

Sister Collins

Sis. Huefner and Sis. Collins

Lauren outside Culver's in Gilbert

An Elder painting the apartment

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday, August 19th, 2013 - "Be Still and Know that I am God"

Tomorrow is transfers. I know that I'm staying in my area and Sister Pooley is leaving. President called and said he's doing last minute transfer changes, so currently I have no idea what's happening. I might even be moving! Who knows. Hopefully we get the call from President soon.
This past Saturday we were able to go to the Visitor's Center with Korbin and Roman. He loved it and while he was watching The Restoration video he said his whole body was tingling. He recognizes the spirit, but something is holding him back. He still says he wants to be eventually baptized, but he doesn't feel the urgency. We need to ask better questions. He doesn't like talking about his feelings and he jokes when he feels like it's getting too serious. He's an interesting kid alright. He did come to the Mission President's Devotional last night and he really seemed to like it. The Mission President's Devotional had great speakers who were really touching. We're teaching Korbin again this week. We're hoping to start meeting with him at least twice a week.
We were able to visit a less-active family we have been helping out. Her two girls were there as well and they asked us we could tell them a story. I started telling the story of Nephi getting the plates of brass in a lively way. When I got to the part about Laban and Nephi chopping off his head, I paused for about 10 seconds trying to decide how to say it gently. The father said, just say it. So I said, "and then Nephi had to chop off his head." Sister Pooley then made a sound effect. The youngest girl, who was about 6, gasped and went to go sit on her mothers lap. I was like oops. Talk about scaring little children with Book of Mormon stories.
This week Sister Bouck and I were a little sick, so Sister Pooley and Sister Monson went to all of our lessons on Wednesday. That's the advantage of living with another companionship of sisters. She taught Julie and Johnny and Sydney. Julie and Johnny are doing great and The Plan of Salvation really resonated with them. Johnny commented when they told him of what we were going to teach next, The Gospel, that we were really getting into the meat now. He's a funny, funny man. Sydney's doing great. The ward is really watching out for her. We finally got her dad's address so that the Bishop were he lives could talk with him. We haven't heard back from the Bishop, but we will hopefully will later this week. We have the faith that good things will come from this! We're at least praying and then acting!
I know the power prayer can have in our lives. My testimony of prayer has been strengthened recently. I do know that Heavenly Father does hear our prayers and He does care about us individually. It's amazing to me to know that an all-knowing Being, wants to hear from me. Even about the minuscule things. But because we care about, He does. I had never really thought about picturing talking to God while I pray to make it more meaningful. While I've been on my mission, I've watched my relationship with my Heavenly Father grow and develop into a more two-way communication. I think before I'd just rattle off some thank yous and then go straight into asking, say Amen, and then be done. I think when we take the time to really ponder about what we're going to say and then listen after we've prayed, or even right in the middle of praying, we can recognize more revelation. I'm also a firm believer in God sometimes doesn't answer us while we're on our knees, it's when we're acting. He  loves us so much and I do love Him. I am grateful for my Savior and for His sacrifice. He's done so much for us. I really can't comprehend everything He has done for me. The Atonement is so infinite. 
I have also been thinking recently about the scripture, "Be still and know that I am God." I think sometimes we forget who really is in the "driver's seat" in our lives- it's God. Who wouldn't want an all-knowing, all-powerful Being guiding out lives? That's really the challenge of life though, isn't it? Trying to align our will with God's. Sometimes it's not what we think is best for us, but since it's coming from God it's really the best thing that could have happened to us. We just need to Be Still and then think about what God wants us to be doing. Are we doing what He would want us to do? Developing into what He would have us become? Life is hard. I wise man once (actually multiple times) told me, "Life's not fair, get over it and if some one's trying to tell you otherwise, they're trying to sell you something." Just stop, ponder, and pray. Heavenly Father knows best. This has been a tough lesson to learn, but I've grown so much as a person.
I really hope all of you are at least praying for missionary opportunities and helping the missionaries out in your ward. You have no idea how nice it is to teach someone who is a referral from a ward member. All it takes is an invitation. The worst thing they can say is No. Please, please, please at least share your testimony with others. It's really the Spirit who converts, not us. We can only facilitate Him. I love sharing the Gospel with all of those around me, it's the best thing I can be doing full time at this point in my life.
Sister Collins
 Speed Biking!

 Mom - Your Street!

Our House!  Sis. Collins, Sis. Poole, Sis.Bouck, Sis. Monson

 Temple View Zone (minus the Assistants)

Sis. P, Sis. C, Roman and Korbin

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, August 12th, 2013 - Faith Produces Miracles

This has definitely been an interesting week. Good news or bad news first? I'll start with the bad news. Barbra was not baptized this past Saturday. It was disappointing, but I know God has a plan like He always does. We hadn't been able to get in contact with Barbra particularly all last week. She was taking care of her ex-mother-in-law and her son has gotten worse. She's had a lot on her plate. It was a little frustrating for her to not get into contact with her, but she did finally call us last night around 8pm. We went over there as soon as we got her message. It turned out she had turned back to her old habit of drinking- she had had 2 glasses of wine by the time we had gotten there. She had also been depressed this whole week so that was why she hadn't wanted to get into contact with us. We talked with her and then we offered to have two men come from the ward to offer her a priesthood blessing. We expounded on what it all entails (have questions? Go to and then also offered a healing blessing for her son.

They came over and it was really a sweet experience to be a part of. They explained what a priesthood blessing was to Dyllan, her son, because he hadn't been there when we explained it. The biggest part of the blessing has to do with the faith of those who are asking for the blessing. Barbra definitely wanted one for peace and comfort, which afterwards she felt a relief and a burden lifted off of her. We then asked Dyllan if he would like one and he said "we've tried everything else, so why not try this." The spirit was so strong during each of the blessings. Dyllan was promised to recover from his back pain as he was doing his part to keep his body clean. I asked Dyllan how he felt after the blessing and he said he felt a sense of hope. We invited him to come to church and to learn more about how we can have lasting hope in Jesus Christ. We will see how this develops. We were sad to see Barbra had been drinking, but the desire to be baptized seemed to be there again. We're going to be teaching her tonight and talk more about the Commandments and the Plan of Salvation. Since the beginning it's been a roller coaster with regards to Barbra.
This week we were able to teach Julie and Johnny! They loved learning about the Plan of Salvation and we brought a ward member who had converted to the church when he was 19. Their little daughter, Maddy, sat in the lesson and understood most everything we were talking about. When Julie asked Maddy she said, "mom, I've gone to church before so it isn't new." She's a 20 year-old stuck in a 10 year-old body. She's so sweet. I love teaching them! Their neighbors who asked them to take the lessons had us over for dinner with them. They had come to all three hours of church yesterday. It was great and they loved it! They were a little overwhelmed with how many people came up and introduced themselves to them. They really do already act like they're Mormon already. I seriously love them and they truly are the highlight of my week.
We taught Korbin this week with his returned missionary friend, Roman, who asked him to take the lessons. Korbin has already had spiritual experiences and has recognized the Holy Ghost. He said he wants to eventually be baptized, we asked him to pray about baptism and when would be right for him. He's solid. He totally understands most everything we talk about and he loves the Book of Mormon. This Saturday we're going to the Visitor's Center with them. The Visitor's Center is such a great tool for converting people and helping them recognize the spirit.
A former investigator, Glenda, came to church yesterday. She had been out of town this past week and had asked her sister, Patricia, to house sit. We had went over unknowingly that Glenda was not there and met her sister. It turns out Patricia had met with the missionaries before and when she had moved she didn't find the missionaries in her new place. So we got her information and forwarded it to the missionaries where she lives. Glenda also talked with us on Sunday and said we could come over and meet with her on Friday! The missionaries have been trying to contact her since April. Miracle! She had told her friendshipper that she knows she's going to be eventually baptized. We'll see about eventually :)
We were also able to get into a less-actives house that the ward and missionaries have been knocking on without any luck on Tuesday night. They were super nice and we had a good conversation with them. I was with the Relief Society President and her counselor because Sister Pooley and I were on splits. I really think we've developed the relationship so that we will be able to get back into the house. Some people I just really don't know why they've just decided to not come to church any more. It makes me sad.
Yesterday our stake put on a fireside for the youth ages 15-19 about preparing for missions. The stake wanted us missionaries in the stake to attend. In the beginning, the man conducting had the missionaries stand up. Kind of embarrassing. It turned out our Mission President was also asked to come and to give a few words. President Nattress had all 6 of us missionaries for the stake come up and stand by him by the pulpit why he was taking. He talked about how he loves all of us and how fantastic we are...again embarrassing. What put the icing on the cake for embarrassment was the little video they showed. Last Sunday they had "interviewed" me and they had actually used some of what I had said. it was a great fireside though because I think it got the youth excited for missionary work. They said the best way for preparing for a mission is to do missionary work themselves before their mission. Fantastic!!!
Some other good news is today we are getting a car again! YAY! We now have gone back to being high rollers with a house and a car. It will be great to have a car so we don't have to travel 2 miles to just get to the edge of our area. I do enjoy biking, but the heat is getting to me a bit and I would like to not be all sweaty when we go to appointments. I'm sure we'll just have enough miles to bike to our area and then bike around, which is fine with me. I'm excited for the coming week and what it will bring. I love helping others come unto Christ and just doing service for them. It's so true that those you serve, you love. I've learned a lot about charity, the pure love of Christ, while being on my mission. Charity truly does take work! It's not really easy to have, but it's totally worth the effort. It makes you so much happier. The little things people do don't really bother me any more. I want to always keep this pure love and happiness throughout my entire life. I really don't want to go back to the person I was before my mission. I'm the same, but then I'm not. I'm a shiny new penny; all cleaned up :)

Thank you for the packages and letters- they're greatly appreciated :) Also transfers are coming up next week. I have no transfer predictions- everything's really up in the air. I guess we'll see!
Sister Collins

Monday, August 5th 2013

The mission is going fantastically. We have seen a lot of miracles this week, especially yesterday after we finished our fast. The power of fasting and prayer is amazing! It's really like a super prayer. We just "happened" to be in the right places at the right time all day yesterday. The Lord truly does care about His people.

The first part of the Sabbath really was disappointing because none of our investigators showed up to church even though we had been fasting for them to. I do know everything is according to God's will and I had to keep on reminding myself about that. We had a lof of meetings after church so we weren't able to really get out and talk to people. We actually ended up walking 2 miles from one building to another because we didn't have our bikes, but a very nice lady stopped and gave us a ride for the last mile. We really are so blessed to have great members here.

After dinner to had a meeting with a member family who gave us the referral for Julie and Johnny. They had forgotten about it and weren't home. So we started walking again and 3 doors down we saw a girl, Jazmin, we had talked to last week with her brother who had set up an appointment (he hadn't been at the appointment last Wednesday). We ended up talking with her and she said she would be interested also in learning and that her brother still was interested. She got her brother to come down and we set up another appointment. His parents are also okay with us meeting with their kids.

The miracle was this: while we were talking with Jazmin and Chase, Johnny had come outside. We hadn't met with Julie and Johnny for the past 2 weeks. Johnny said hello and said when we were done to come and see them. MIRACLE! We went over there and they had just finished having a party for their two year-old son. We talked with them and shared a scripture about families and how we can be sealed forever. Johnny said he is most interested in this part of what we have said so far. We're hopefully going to be going to the Visitor's Center with them so they can see the Temple. They looked exhausted and Julie was sick with a cold. We offerred to help clean up the house. They wouldn't let us, but I knew they secretly really did want our help. So I just said, "we're helping you!" and started picking up toys and cleaning the kitchen. Julie afterwards said she had felt overwhelmed with cleaning up and was very grateful. It was really nice to finally do service for someone. No one lets us do things for them even though we offer all the time, all day long.

On Monday we were able to go to the Visitor's Center with Barbra. She loved it and the spirit was very strong. I love going to the Visitor's Center because there is so much we get to show to our investigators we normally can't (and of course the extra bonus of seeing Sister Hamstead-- I did get to see her! YAY!). It was very touching to see Barbra's reaction to the little walk through of 'God's Plan for Families'. She was very touched herself. She's having a lot of difficulties right now. It's amazing how much Satan does not want people to be baptized. It always seems like everything that could possibly go wrong, does. She couldn't come to church yesterday because she's with her ex-mother-in-law at the hospital. We've now met basically her entire family- daughter, daughter's boyfriend, son, and now her ex-husband. What an interesting reuion I must say. She's still on track to be baptized this Saturday and we're really excited for her and how much it will change her life.

On Wednesday I was able to go back into my first area because I went on exchanges with the STL, Sister Neal. It was fantastic to be there and to see everyone. It's weird to see how much it's changed and also how much it's stayed the same. The Lord definitely had a plan for that day. We had six unplanned teaching opportunities and we were able to have two new investigators. I also got to see Sherry!!! It was just marvelous to see her and to actually see how she's doing. Unfortunently, this has been a hard year for her and she's going to be moving soon, but she hopes to move back into the same ward. The day was full of so many miracles in that area! There were also good times going in my area with Sister Pooley and Sister Peck. We taught a new investigator, Korbin. He's a referral from a recent RM. From what I've heard Korbin is solid and he's a great person. I can't wait to teach him on Wednesday. They also got in with a less active- we've been knocking on that door since I got into this area. AMAZING!

We have also been able to finally meet with the recent converts in one of our wards. It was great to see them. They've been struggling unfortunetly and we've had lessons set up, but they haven't been home whenever we go by. We were also able to meet with a former investigator, Jolyn. She saw us outside and wanted us to come in and talk with her. We ended up talking with her and also a girl, Sasha, who lives in the house. Sasha was quite stand-offish at first and she didn't want to say anything to "offend" us. We assurred her we wouldn't be offended. Sasha said she really confused about religion and God. She ended up accepting a Bible, Book of Mormon, and a Restoration pamphlet. She's moving back to WY so we won't know what will really happen with her unfortunetly. Joyln really isn't interested, but she was nice.

I love teaching people and seeing the impact the Gospel makes on their lives. Today I was reading in Alma 57-58 about the 2,000 stripling warriors and their example. Because they kept their covanents, trusted in the Lord, obeyed with exactness, and had strong faith they were blessed. Not one of them were killed in all of the battles they participated in and it was because of their Christ-like attributes they had. All of them were wounded, but none killed. The Lord blessed them, but it didn't necessarily mean they were free from all harm. They still had to hurt and go through hard things. When life gets hard, the Gospel might not makes things easier, but we will recieve blessings from living it. I know this to be true with all of my heart. I really do love everyone I come into contact with. The power of charity is real. When we see through our spiritual eyes and when we are motivated with love, people can tell. Peoples hearts can be changed.


Sister Collins

Lauren, investigator and Sis. Pooley at the Mesa Temple

Friday, August 2, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013 - The Ups and Downs of Missionary Work

This week has been great! There have been a lot of things happening in our area. First, I want to start off with the best news!! Barbra is getting baptized on the 10! We're excited for her! It's amazing to see the change which has transformed her in the past week. The Gospel truly changes people and helps them through all of the struggles and pains. She's a lot happier and is more at peace. She really resonates with how much service the church gives because she is a strong believer in giving service. She's a very charitable person and she said she must have been in our faith longer than she thought. I love seeing the change true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ have in a person. I love every minute of it. We're planning on going to the Visitor's Center tonight with her. :) I'll hopefully get to see Kelsey (Sister Hamstead) again. Barbra didn't come to church yesterday because of a miscommunication with her ride. She thought she had missed her ride and then decided to go on a walk. They barely missed each other. Her phone is also not working and either was her son's, so it was a bit of a mess.

We were asked late night if we could teach the Relief Society in one of our wards. We accepted it because we thought it was the right thing to do...even though we had no time to prepare with proselyting until 9 and then planning afterwards and then church right at 8 in the morning. Somehow we pulled it off. I don't think people really understand how busy we are. We talked about President Monson's last conference talk, Obedience Brings Blessings. I loved the talk in conference and I was happy to teach about it. It was apparent to me how important inspired questions are and how they just kept on coming to me. I've been trying to work on not thinking about what I'm going to say next and to just completely rely on the Lord all the time when I teach. It really takes a lot of work! A former investigator came to church this past, Glenda. We have been trying to get into contact with her for a couple of months. She's been sick and asked for a priesthood blessing from her neighbors who she knows well. She didn't end up staying for all three hours, but we're hoping we"ll be able to meet with her again soon!

We also gained two new investigators this past week. Nick and Antonio. Nick's uncle and his family converted to our church several years ago. Nick has taken the lessons in California. They are Catholic and when we went to go to the lesson we had no idea Nick and Antonio lived in the same house. We had talked to them separately on the street on different nights. Antonio is Nick's Godfather and is letting Nick stay there while he gets on his feet again. It's amazing how the Lord works. I remember biking past Antonio while we were going to another appointment. I didn't see them until we had already biked past and my brain had registered there were people (it was at night and they were sitting in the dark). I told myself I would talk to them on our way out and hoped they were still there. I remember Heavenly Father saying go talk to them. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't listen to the prompting right away when I did see them. After we went to our appointment they were still sitting outside! Even though Antonio was not at our appointment last Sunday, we ran into them again this week. We talked to Nick and Antonio and Nick said he was comfortable in his church and he wasn't looking to convert. He has felt things when he went to our church in California, but he's worried about leaving his culture. He doesn't agree with the baptism of little children and he prays just like we do (I'm assuming he picked that up from listening to the missionaries before). When we talked to him about prophets he said he felt the chills. We testified to him and he set up an appointment for the next night. Unfortunately they were not there because they were running errands. I really hope they do rely on the witness of the Spirit they have felt. I know it was not a coincidence we "ran" into him and Antonio on separate days. We have been trying to set up another appointment. We're praying and hoping! We have the faith!!

This week we were not able to meet with Julie and Johnny. :( They had too much going on with Julie's daughter coming home and school starting today for them. They also did not come to church which was a bummer even though they said they were planning on it. We have an appointment set up for this Wednesday. We're hoping to also start teaching her daughter. She has gone to church before with the neighbors who invited them to take the lessons from us.

One of our investigator's, Kim, invited us to her Bible study she hosts at her house. We definitely were not sure what to expect. We had already set expectations of that we were not there to argue and if it did come to that, we would have to leave. We brought a couple with us, where he converted six years ago, and they were very helpful. The Spirit was there and they had a lot of good questions. There ended up being four of them there plus the four of us. They all accepted Book of Mormons and the Restoration pamphlet at the end. Only God knows what will become of this exchange. We're trying to discern if Kim is really interested or not. She's the one who had been taking the lessons last year when the Elders still covered the area. We will see this coming week.

This week I've been reminded of the brother of Jared's experience with prayer. I love the lessons we learn from him of faith and how to pray. This is in Ether chapter 2. The brother of Jared after he makes the barges sees three problems- no light, air, or any way to steer. When he recognizes this, his first instinct is to inquire of the Lord. The Lord tells him how to solve the problem with no air- we can apply this to our own lives with sometimes the Lord will give us the answers to our prayers. The Lord then asks the brother of Jared what he would have Him do about having no light. The Lord sometimes asks us to come with a solution to the problem and then to ask Him if it's His will. Lastly the Lord asks the brother of Jared to just trust in Him. He will guide the ship to the promised land. The Lord sometimes asks us to have 100% trust in Him. The last solution to me seems to be the hardest. We have to give our lives completely over to Him because He knows better than we do. He does have a plan of each of us and we do have a purpose here on this Earth. He loves us so much so He does want to help us to do what is best for us. We may not think it's the best thing for us here and now, but with hindsight I can promise it will be better. I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and I'm so grateful for His eternal perspective.


Sister Collins

Monday, July 22, 1013 - An Instrument in His Hands

This week we have seen the tender mercies of the Lord. First, the monsoon season is upon us and it feels WONDERFUL! I love the storms and how it gets down to in the 90s--freezing! lol I've acclimated big time where I can't believe I'm saying that 100 and 90 is cool. The natives complain how "humid" it is and I just say how much better I can breathe. It's really not even that humid- maybe about 10%. Funny Arizonians. We do not have our car any more. The APs gave the car to the sisters living with us since they cover the Singles Ward. Oh well, I do like biking a lot better, but we do live 3 miles out of our area. So it's fun times.
This week we had our lesson with Julie and Johnny. We gave them a church tour and they loved it! They came to church on Sunday and the ward all introduced themselves and everything went smoothly. They could only stay for Sacrament Meeting because Julie had work, but it was a start. We really do love them! Julie was worried about their two year-old being able to sit through sacrament meeting, but he was the most well-behaved child. Their daughter who's nine is coming home in a week from her dad's house. We're hoping to start teaching her as well.
We also were able to teach Barbra more often this week. We were also able to actually sit in her house because her daughter wasn't home. (Her daughter and her boyfriend do not like LDS people, I guess, and don't want us in the house. So whenever we catch Barbra at home we have to sit outside in the 110+ degrees). Her son was also there and he listened in. It was a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation. We invited Barbra to a baptism, church, and the mission president's devotional. She said she would come to the baptism and the mission president's devotional. Her son is really sick and in pain, so they were going to go to the emergency room after we talked with them on Friday because the doctors have no idea what is wrong with him.

The baptism was the sisters living with us, a girl who's 18. Barbra loved the baptism and was crying throughout it because she felt the spirit so strongly. She said she wanted to be baptized some day. We really weren't able to talk with her about it since our ride needed to go home. She then expressed she couldn't come to church because she didn't have any appropriate dresses and she felt uncomfortable at church. We decided to fix that. We got permission to go to Goodwill with her that night to buy some dresses for her. We found a good dress and she said she probably wouldn't come to church, but would see us at the baptism. I prayed that Barbra would have the desire to come to church the next morning.
We get a call while we're in our first ward saying she was coming to church! Yay! She comes to church and the sacrament meeting was also great in this ward. She loved it and the topic was covenants- in particular baptism. Just what she needed to hear. We then found out the Gospel Principles class wasn't going on because our Ward Mission Leader was out of town and didn't get a substitute. We pulled in the first councilor and taught Barbra a lesson right there. It was one of the most spiritual lessons we've had with her yet because it was in the chapel with a member, we hadn't been able to get the lessons with a member yet (long story). The time was right and I asked Barbra if she would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by the priesthood authority of God. She said she'd love to. We weren't able to set an exact date as of yet, but she said she wanted this!

She then went to the mission president's devotional. It's when people who have recently converted to the Church share their testimonies and then President Nattress talks. Barbra loved it and felt the spirit strongly again. She said she loves going to church and this is what she was missing in her life. She wants to start over and feel the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. It was the best weekend ever! We came to find out her son had a thought of what might be wrong with him Friday night. We figured out the time schedule and he thought of the answer just after we had closed and prayed for him and Barbra. It's amazing how God answers our prayers. He does it in His own time and in His own way.
This week has been a faith building experience. There has just been one after the other. We met a man on the street, Antonio, who said he'd love to learn more and set up an appointment for yesterday at 3. We got the house early so we walked around talking to people. We talked with a young man named Chris. He also set up a time to meet this next week! It was amazing! Even though Antonio wasn't there for our appointment, we needed to be there because Christ was interested. We shall see about Friday. We also visited an active member and when we asked if we could share a thought, I turned to the scriptures. I was flipping through trying to see what scripture I should share, when I heard a voice say "What you read this morning." I turned to Alma 37:36-37 and the member started crying and said that was exactly what she need to hear. The Lord is looking out for everyone and knows them personally. We had also met a couple in the street two weeks ago who said they would be interested. His family had actually converted to our church a couple of years ago when he was a teenager. He had not converted and he had just moved here from California with his wife. We got their number and then said we'd call them. We called them and they set up an appointment for this Wednesday. We also had four members give us referrals to teach their friends. One of them is out of our area, so we gave their information for the missionaries in that area, but the other ones are in ours. Two of the referrals we just received yesterday and one of them the boy wants to be baptized! Like I said, the tender mercies of the Lord. If we really look for them throughout the day, it will amaze you how much the Lord is in everything we do. He really works miracles and I'm humbled to be an instrument in His Hands. I love the scripture in Mosiah 28:3. This is truly how I feel. Love should be the motivating factor in everything we do.
Sister Collins

Monday, July 15th, 2013 - We Won the Lottery!

Transfers were this week! We got a house and a car! Yippee! We feel like high-rollers. :) We moved into the Elders house. It was way gross. We were just there the first night and by the morning we couldn't stand how dirty it was. We ended up spending the day deep cleaning the house so it was livable. We have evidence- before and after pictures. I'll have to send them next week since the other sisters have them on their cameras.

This week was kind of a crazy one. One of our wards split and one of the elder's wards, so they made a third one. The sisters we're living with took the new ward, so we're still down to just two wards, with two of our investigators given to the Elders. We're now having to really start from ground zero with both of our wards. We have hardly any potential and former investigators in both of our wards. I'm excited for the challenge of building up these wards since both of them are relatively newly created wards. Barbra and David came to church yesterday. It was the meeting where they were announcing the ward splits. Barbra said she felt the spirit, which was great to hear! Johnny and Julie said they weren't coming to church late Sunday night. We stopped by after church to see them and to set up another appointment. Johnny said the real reason why they didn't come was because he was a little apprehensive about going. We had tried to set up a church tour this past week before Sunday, but they didn't have time. We set up a church tour for this Wednesday and they seemed excited and grateful. Julie also said that she had been reading the Book of Mormon and that she feels good about it. Johnny hasn't read it yet, but he promised us he would read by Wednesday. They're progressing!!!

The lesson with Julie and Johnny went very well this past Wednesday. We recapped part of the Restoration and then we watched The Restoration video. We then invited them to be baptized. They said they would have to discuss it as a couple and then they would get back to us. They did say this is something they want to be a part of their lives. Johnny hasn't ever been to church or read the Bible, so this is a big step for him. He's slowly changing his habits. We just love them!!

We also taught Barbra this week and invited her to be baptized. She said she needed to think about it, but at least we're starting to have regular meetings. It's been difficult to have lessons with her since she's living with her daughter and her daughter's husband who don't like us to come by. We're hoping to have a single sister who would be willing to have a roommate because it's been hard on Barbra to live there. At least we get to keep her as an investigator! She's so ready to accept the Gospel and the blessings it's going to, and is, giving her. She's been slowly, but surely progressing.

We also taught this week one of our investigators, Hayden, who is 9. His dad, who is less-active, wants him to wait to be baptized until he knows more about the Gospel. This was the first time that I had really met Hayden since I've been here. His mom is active and is trying to have the kids be active. Hayden wants to be baptized, but his dad is holding him back. There are a lot of issues with the family unfortunately. We had to give him up to the Elders though with the split. We also have to give David up. At least we can come to their baptisms if they get baptized!

Sydney did not get baptized this past Saturday. :( Her dad said he would like her to wait until she's more mature to make a grown up decision to be baptized. It was a sad day to hear the news when she told us! She wants to be baptized so bad! She said she's going to talk with her dad again this week and tell him exactly why she wants to be baptized. We are all praying for her that her dad's heart will be softened. She could be baptized any day if she wanted to.
I have learned this week that even if something is a righteous choice, it doesn't always mean it's God's will. This was a hard lesson to really go through with Sydney. When we fasted, I had no doubt that she would be baptized. I was just going to rely on faith and do everything we could possibly do and then let the Lord handle it. I still do have the faith and I do know everything is according to the Lord's time and will. It's just hard to remember that people to have their agency and to completely trust in the Lord. He knows. I have to just continue forward and to just do my best and then let the Lord take care of the rest.

I can't believe I'm half way done with my mission. I've had so many people remind me this week. Boy, does time fly by. The Gilbert Mission is also a very young mission. I'm know one of the senior sisters in the mission. I think I'm the 4th oldest of the sisters. Crazy how all of the sisters who were older than me and in the other missions.

Today I was reading in Alma 34 when Amulek is preaching to the poor Zormonites telling them about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I love how simply he explains the need for the Atonement of Christ. Christ had to fulfill the demands of justice while it was so merciful that he did perform the Atonement. I love reading the Book of Mormon while looking for the Atonement. I've come to more fully realize how merciful and how much the Atonement really encompasses. I learn more and more each day from reading the scriptures every day. They truly are written for our day by prophets who were called of God to write down the words of the Lord. I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. It helps guide and direct me through out the day. I find myself using the passages I had read that morning with the people I meet and just reflecting on what I had read. It gives me the boost I need to go throughout the day.

Sister Collins