Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013 - 95 Degrees is Fall Weather

I love how much the Lord's hand is in everything we do. Earlier this week we were going to contact someone in our plans and we "happened" to run into this less-active lady we had been trying to meet on the street. She had been just going on a walk with her nephew to go visit her parents who "happened" to not be home when we went over so she was on her way home. We were then able to go into her house and talk with her and we invited her to church which she told us her concerns. We were then able to address them and set up an action plan with her so she could come to church. She told us right before we were leaving she didn't think it was coincidence she had been walking when we started to talk with her. The Lord cares about each one of us and sets forth into place the things we need most. Since we've been in this area we have seen the miracles of people letting us into their homes who the ward has told us hasn't opened the door for them or they've never been able to contact them for months. Never give up on anyone! You never know when it's their time.
This week we went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. Our Sister Training Leaders are Spanish speaking and I went to their area. Since I took nada Espanol in High School I was like well, I don't know anything so I'll just let you take over in the Spanish lessons! We had Spanish study and it was amazing to me how similar Spanish is to English and how much easier it was than German (I should have taken Spanish instead of German in High School...) We were able to teach one of their investigators, Angleica. She feels the Holy Ghost strongly in her life, but she just doesn't have the fullness of the Gospel. Almost everything she was saying she believes in, we believe in. She does love to talk though! The impression I received when we walked into the lesson was to just listen to what she said and to testify. It ended up being exactly what she needed. We also taught a recent convert lesson which was all in Spanish. That was fun to just sit back and have no idea what was going on. It was a nice break from our area and to go to another area and get to meet the people there. I have to say it's the best part of exchanges!
One of our Bishops gave us a referral on Friday! We tried to contact her, but she wasn't home. We're going to try again today to see if we'll be able to get a hold of her. I love this area and these wards we have. The members are great and they really are trying to do missionary work. The member visits we've been doing have been spiritually powerful. We've been giving them Elder Andersen's Apostolic Promise and we've been seeing the miracles because of it. I can feel we're about to start seeing even more miracles these next couple of weeks. Transfers are in a week. I can't believe how fast these 6 weeks have gone by. Time does just keep on getting faster and faster. I feel like there's not enough hours in the day to get everything done we need to. It's been nice to be so busy though. Yesterday, Sunday, was one of the busiest Sunday's of my life (what ever happened to "Sunday's are a day of rest?"). We had meetings every half hour from 7:30am-9 and then church from 10:30-5. We cover two buildings so we were going back and forth between the two buildings. I think we use more miles on Sunday than any other day... We were also asked to speak at a youth fireside for one of our wards. We were late because of an appointment we had right after dinner..oops. Good thing we weren't the entire hour! They asked us to speak on the 21 Day Promise (follow up for the family- how is it going? Have you actually started it yet?) and to motivate the youth to share the Gospel. It was a great experience to speak to them and to get to know the youth in that ward a little bit better. I am continually amazed how much I actually do remember names with faces and can match them to their respective families. I know it's the mantle of the calling!
Saturday night we were able to have a Church tour with one of our investigators, Carl. We were hoping to resolve some of his concerns about coming to church. He seemed to feel a little bit more comfortable with our church and he really  likes learning about Joseph Smith. We taught him the Restoration while we walked through the building. At the end we watched The Restoration video and the spirit was very powerful. In his prayer Carl said "maybe even I might be a part of this church one day." We can see the progress he's made since we started teaching him. He didn't come to church on Sunday because he already had plans, but we're going to still continue to teach him this week and he said he'd come this coming Sunday. Brad, our other investigator, has been coming to church every Sunday but we still haven't been able to set up an appointment with them because they're so busy. Hopefully they won't cancel the appointment for this Tuesday!
It's so funny to me to see how much BYU Pride there is out here; i.e. lawns painted with the Y, BYU flags, tail-gating parties, and everyone running around in blue and white. We know with one of our Bishops to not drop off the progress record after 7pm on Saturday nights!
This week I finished the Book of Mormon,focusing on the Atonement. I love how much the Atonement is in the Book of Mormon. I have learned so much the past few months studying the Book of Mormon this way. I feel I know my Savior just a little bit better, it draws me closer to Christ. This morning I was studying how to ask inspired questions. An activity I had started doing was to go through the Gospels and 3 Nephi and write down all of the questions Christ asks. Then I compare them to the questions I usually ask and then write down new questions I can ask. It's been a neat experience to go through the Bible this way and to help me improve on asking heaven sent questions. I am so grateful for this time to improve myself and become more like Christ. He is our ultimate example, He is who I want to be like.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 16th, 2013 - Be Not Afraid, Only Believe

First off, a shout out to my little brother, Camden. He received his mission call this past Saturday! He has been called to serve in the Washington D.C. North Mission and he leaves December 18th. I'm super excited for him!!! The mission is the best, hardest thing you'll ever do. It's amazing how the Lord truly does know each of us individually and He knows where we need to be (even though I was rooting for him to get called to the Arizona Gilbert Mission. How awesome would have that been?!). Camden, you'll be an amazing missionary. I can't wait to hear about all the success you will have.

What a blessing it is to be serving the Lord full time. Just yesterday I gave a talk at our stake's pre-missionary fireside. I was asked to talk about how to best prepare for a mission. My best advice would be to become converted yourself (Alma 17:2-3) and to decide now to be exactly obedient- to the mission rules and more importantly to the Spirit. Obedience brings blessings, there is no substitution. This is the best way we can qualify ourselves for the blessings we desire. We have to be living Celestially in order to receive those Celestial blessings we ask for (D&C 130:20-21). We cannot do this work alone. Two people can do anything as long as one of them is the Lord. I have a firm testimony of this eternal principle. When we trust in the Lord and have faith, He will never leave us by ourselves. Faith produces miracles. We cannot doubt not nor fear not; the Lord only speaks in positives, never negatives. We need to "be not afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36). Share the Gospel now. Share your testimony frequently. Our testimonies changes people's lives for the eternities. Our testimonies are powerful; therein lies our power. Never forget who you are- we are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. We have divine potential. Never let us forget to see ourselves how God sees us.
I'd have to say this week has been one of the hardest, but most rewarding weeks in my entire mission. My testimony has been strengthened. My faith has definitely been strengthened. I know my Savior lives and that He loves me. He loves all of us. I know faith will always overcome doubt, fear, and uncertainty. This week we were able to find a new investigator! His name is Samuel and he's 19. All of his friends are on missions and he's a very deep thinker. He thinks about everything logically. He logically concluded there was a God in High School when before he was agnostic. He's totally prepared. We found him on Thursday night. We had had a lesson with another one of our investigators, Carl, who lives next door to Samuel and his family. After Carl's lesson, we ran to another appointment. We later realized we had lost our phone so we started back-tracking. We went over to Carl's to see if we had left it there and he couldn't find it. We were then looking all of his front yard to see if Sister Huefner had dropped it as she got out of the car. We finally found it in the grass and was just about to get in the car as another pulled up and started to get out. I had this distinct impression we needed to go talk to those two boys. So we stopped getting in the car and went to go talk with them. We ended up teaching a lesson right there on the street and setting up another lesson for the next morning with Samuel. I know faith produces miracles and obedience brings blessings. I know it without a doubt. This area just has so many miracles happening and about to happen. I can feel it and I know the members can as well. The work is hastening. It's exciting to be apart of it right now and in this place. I have the blessing of being able to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are seeking and searching. What an honor it is.

Sister Collins

Sis. Collins and Sis. Huefner at the Mesa Temple

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013 - Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Off to Work We Go!

What a great week it's been! We have seen so many miracles happen here in this area. I'm so  excited for the missionary work here in Gilbert, Arizona. Let's start out with the most exciting news of the week. As a mission we have been blessed with Elder Neil L. Andersen's presence on Saturday. There was a stake splitting in Tempe so he decided to make a stop to talk with our mission. What a privilege it was. He wanted to take a picture with all of us, so as we were waiting for him to arrive, they put us all in the order they wanted us to be in. We were really squeezed in alright. As we were standing there waiting, we started to sing hymns. The spirit was so strong as we waited. As we knew the time was getting closer and closer, the anticipation was getting stronger and stronger. We were singing "A Child's Prayer" and I just started to feel the spirit even stronger. I knew Elder Andersen was in the building. It was the most incredible feeling. The power he has as an Apostle of the Lord. He is a special witness of Jesus Christ. It was exactly like when Elder Holland came to the MTC last November (it's really been that long since I was in the MTC?!).

He then started by telling us why he had chosen to come to our mission and not Tempe's. The Gilbert Mission is the smallest mission geographically in the world with this many missionaries. He told us we are an experiment right now. We're unique as to the missionaries have about 2 wards each while other missions like Utah or Idaho have a set of missionaries to a stake or even multiple stakes. He then counseled us how to work with the members since this is our primary objective to start having people to teach. He told us we're going to be staying in areas longer than ever before so we can really get to know the members and gain their trust and love. Also we need to start loving the members. He also said we are not to tract. If we don't have anything to do, we have to go to the members are start teaching them. This is the whole experiment to see if we can work with the members. He said if it doesn't work then they will fold the Gilbert Mission back into Tempe. Talk about raising the stakes! Elder Andersen wants us to be staying in areas for 6+ months! The longest any missionary has stayed in one area is 10.5 months and that was one Elder. I could finish my mission in this area. I don't know how it's exactly going to be done with all of the missionaries coming in (next transfer 5 sisters and 21 elders are coming into the mission). Maybe after the numbers stop coming in so rapidly? Who knows. I guess we'll see how everything plays out. It's exciting times! I'm really out in the front lines. It's such a blessing to be serving at this time. Changes have been rapidly happening and they will continue to do so.

This week we were also blessed to have a lot of uplifting meetings to attend. We were able to go to District Meeting on Tuesday which is always uplifting and it's great to be trained. Wednesday morning we were able to attend the Temple for spiritual preparation for Elder Andersen coming to our mission. I always love going to the Temple, the House of the Lord. Many revelations were given to me during that sacred time. Then on Thursday for 6 hours we had Zone Conference. We were with 2 other zones while the zone leaders, assistants to the President, and President trained us. They trained us on how to have effective member visits. We're using Elder Andersen's Apostolic Promise from last General Conference regarding missionary work: "I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind, words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them, opportunities will open to you, faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles." I know this promise to be true. I have seen the blessings come into these members lives as they exercise their faith and pray. I also know it works in my own life as a missionary. We apply this every single day. We have to listen to the Spirit and be worthy to hear His promptings. We were also trained on Ask inspired questions, Listen, Discern, Teach, Testify, Invite, and then Promise. I have seen the effect of inspired questions in all of my teaching opportunities. Questions let the individual come to know for themselves than just a commentary by us. I'm becoming a better missionary and person every single day (at least I hope so). I am grateful for the inspiration President Nattress receives.

We have also had a lot of lessons this week. We've been meeting a lot with the members and with part-member families, less-actives, and recent converts. We have had busy nights. We've been basically going from appointment to appointment. We were able to teach a former investigator, Carl, this past week. He's an interesting fellow. We think he might have some mental issues. We have another appointment this week to determine if he really is ready to commit. We're hoping to find the elect, the seekers of truth. I'm so excited for the missionary work going forward.

I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know the blessings of using the Atonement daily in my life; just to become better. Christ's Atonement isn't only from going from bad to good, but from good to better. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon and I love reading it each and every day. I receive the spiritual strength I need to go throughout the day. I love my Savior. I love this Gospel.

Sister Collins

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013 - #missionary

This week was a little less crazier than the previous week. We finally got every inch of our apartment scrubbed Monday. It's now a humble abode we like to call home. The members even gave us some things so we could make it girlified and a place we actually want to step foot in. I love seeing things go from nothing to something. It's definitely something now. We have gotten rid of the ant problem finally. The moth problem- ehh- not so much, but there's nothing we can really do except keep it clean. The other day I was pouring myself some cereal and out flew a moth from my cereal bowl. There was no moth inside the bowl before I poured it. #missionaryprobs. Sister Huefner is doing great. She is a hard worker which is a nice change and blessing. We're both excited for the work and willing to work as hard as possible. This area has so much potential.
This week we actually taught some people! It was great! One day we had 4 lessons in a day which is pretty good for this area. One of our Bishops gave us a lot of less-active names and we've been going by those. He told us he's never had missionaries before who actually go by the people he's given them right away. So he's said multiple times how much he's loving having sisters in the ward. It feels good to know you're at least doing something right! We've also been meeting with a lot of members trying to get them excited for missionary work and to spiritually uplift them. We've had great member visits this past week.
One of the miracles in this past week was that most of the people we went by "happened" to be home or came home while we were standing at the door. We were also able to set up appointments with a lot of the people who were busy or just leaving the house. It was a testimony builder to me about having revelatory planning sessions at night. The Lord truly does bless us when we're just doing what He's asked us to. The people who were home were the ones who needed our message the most and were receptive to it. We have had so many experiences where we had no idea they were less-active or we couldn't remember why we had put them into our plans, and it was exactly what they needed to hear. My testimony has been strengthened time and time again about the importance of an effective, spiritually, revelatory personal and companionship study. It seems like what I had read that day was for some one we ended up talking to.

There are a lot of families in the wards we cover where no one has been able to get into their house. One family in particular we decided to drop by to see since the Bishop asked us to. We went there around 8:30pm and knocked on the storm door since it was locked and we didn't want to ring to doorbell since it was late. We  knocked and waited. Knocked and waited. Then we saw the husband come in front of the door and then go out of sight. We were like Ah, Man! He was totally ignoring us. Then we hear the garage door open and out walks the husband. We both look a little startled and we were like oh, fancy that! We were just knocking on your door. He said he had thought it was the wind... So we began to talk with him and he started sharing with us stories from his mission and we got to know him a little bit. We then shared a message about prayer and the power it has and committed him to start praying as a family. We also set up a time to meet with the entire family. His wife actually has family in the ward. We're totally excited for this visit this week.
This past Sunday was Fast and Testimony Meeting and we started our fast after dinner on Saturday night, praying for our area and how we can best help it along with our investigator. We had decided before hand that we would both share our testimonies in all the wards so that the members would know who we were. We get there for Sacrament Meeting our first ward, and we have a man came up to us who we had actually tried to see that past week. He said, my daughter is now living with us and she could really use your help to spiritually uplift her. This is coming from the man who really doesn't come to church that consistently. Miracle number one of the day. After our second ward's sacrament meeting, we have another man come up to us and say, while you were bearing your testimonies the impression came to me that I needed to have you over in my home. I'm the only one here today because my wife and kids are starting to become less-active. Miracle number two. After church was all done, we had a lesson set up with a less-active. We went to the house and his mother said that David couldn't make it. She still invited us in and said we could share a message with them (they are active), when we started with the message she says, hold on and proceeds to call her son. David answers and she asks if he wants to listen in to the lesson. He's kind of hesitant and she says great, I'm putting you on speaker so you can listen in. She said later after the lesson that as soon as we started talking she receive the impression to just call him.
I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to at least bring one soul unto Christ. I love helping people feel and recognize the Spirit. I love having the Holy Ghost to always be with me, I can feel His presence with me all of the time. I now recognize whenever He's present and He truly does only testify of truth. I receive little confirmations all day long saying, This is it. This is where you're supposed to be. This is My Gospel. I am God and I do listen.
In my personal study one day this week, I was reading the Ensign for September and an article really touched me. In the article it stated the poem, "The Touch of the Master's Hand":
’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game—and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.        
I do know Christ is our Master and He does love each one of us. We can become better, live up to our potential, with His help. It's only through Him that we can be saved. It comes by daily prayer and scripture study, obedience, and faith. I know this to be true. I have seen the blessings in my own life from living the commandments. I know He will bless you as you live the higher law and become more like the Savior.

Sister Collins   

An array of cactus

Monsoon weather!