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!