Monday, April 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sister Collins

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014 - Because of Him

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

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

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

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


Sister Collins

Kristi, Jacob, and Haley's baptism!

Monday, April 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the Faith! Have a great week!


Sister Collins

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Saga Continues - Monday, April 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

We'll see what this next week brings!

Sister Collins

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

1001 N. Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ  85234

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 24, 2014 - Letter Home

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

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

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

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

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


Sis. Collins

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sister Collins

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

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

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

My last zone, acting goofy

Monday, March 24, 2014

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

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

Sister Collins

Hermana Collins and Anderson

Beautiful Arizona sunset

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014 - When I am Baptized

Transfer News! I am leaving the area and Sister Beach is staying and training (everything I recommended for the sisters I'm over happened! I'm so excited Sister Beach is training. I know she'll do great things). I'm so excited to see where I'll be going and who will be my companion on Wednesday. I could be going about anywhere in the mission. Bring on my last 6 weeks! I can't believe I just received my last transfer call- man, does time just fly right on by. This morning we did a sunrise hike up the San Tan Mountains at 5am. It was a lot of fun and the sunrise was beautiful! I love the Arizona skies! An Elder sat on a jumping choya (a type of cactus that's round and when you get too close to it, it latches on to you). Needless to say, his butt was not too happy!

This past Saturday Sierra and Preston got baptized! It was a joyous day! When we were filling up the font we found a scorpion floating in there. Good thing we saw it before! They all looked so happy and cute when they were confirmed on Sunday. I will sure miss them! Their non-member family came to the baptism was that was good to see them and I know they felt the Spirit. I think their father will join the church someday.

This past week I had two exchanges one with Sister Wiggins and one with Sister Trump.This week Valerie found out she had bronchitis and they still do not know what's really going on with her sister's back. On Thursday when I was on exchanges with Sister Trump in our area we went over to visit her while she was sick. We thought we should teach about the priesthood and specifically the comforting power of priesthood blessings. We had a priesthood holder come with us and we explained about the priesthood which is contingent on our faith and offered her a blessing. She accepted and the brother gave her a touching blessing and Valerie was tearing up. The Spirit was very strong. We're going to be seeing her today before I leave on Wednesday and I'm excited for that!

This week we visited a potential investigator family and when we got there it was just the husband outside in his shed and his wife pulled up as we were talking with him outside. Her son had just gotten baptized this past December and they've been a little curious. We ended up talking with them for quite a bit about their background in religion their different concerns. They both said they would read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. They both haven't been to church in a while and the husband said he won't go to church. They did say though that they love to talk about religion. We'll see with them. They're going out of town this week and their son who just got baptized and his wife are house sitting for them. They said we could come by any time this week and meet them and we will try to meet them on Tuesday! There are a lot of things starting to happen in our area and I'm sure there will be a lot more this next transfer.

I know I'm going wherever and with whomever the Lord wants me to go. I know I still need to learn a lot and I'm willing to change even more to who the Lord wants me to be. This is going to be the best 6 weeks of my mission, I can just feel it. I love this gospel and I love being one of His representatives in the Arizona Gilbert Mission. I have been reading a lot in Alma 5 this past week. Alma presents a series of questions we all need to ask ourselves. I know after each question I read, I answered them myself. It's a good self-check to find out where I am standing and what I still need to work on. This life is the time to prepare to meet God. It's going to take a lifetime to try to become as close as I can to being who God wants me to be. Sometimes it's painful, but it's His will which should be my will. I am thankful that He knows better than me!


Sister Collins 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - Pray Always

This week we had a great lesson with Valerie! Since we had found out her main concern last Friday about her wanting her family to support her (which is totally understandable) we decided to talk to her about the Temple and Family History. We both shared how our families became members of this church. I shared my story about Morfar and Mormor's conversion story and then Dad's conversion. I had drawn out a little family tree showing how many people have been impacted because of their righteous decision. I also stared those in the family who had served missions and who are currently on missions. I am so thankful for Morfar and Mormor and also Dad for their decision. They were the ones who were at the right place at the right time in their lives for members and missionaries to help them Come unto Christ. I know I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for them. I will be forever in their debt for their courage. I know this Gospel has blessed my life and my family's lives beyond measure. Sister Beach's family is a lot different from mine since both sides of her family have been in the church for generations so she shared the story of when they joined the church. Valerie said she knows the church is true and when we asked her where she saw herself in 5 years she said a part of the church, married in the Gilbert Temple, and maybe one kid. She had talked with her mother who told her she should go to church this Sunday! Miracle! Now she just needs to talk with all of her extended family. She said she was going to church this Sunday for Stake Conference, but she had slept over at her cousin's house in Mesa and had slept in. Too bad, but I know next Sunday she will hopefully come to church! 

Stake Conference was amazing! It was on Hastening the Work and President and Sister Nattress were guest speakers. They showed a great video called "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" from the World Wide Broadcast in June. It's a powerful video showing how easy doing missionary work is for every person in a family. It all starts out with our own preparation with how we pray and read our scriptures. They didn't have to go out of their way to find those people to help and they involved the missionaries in their efforts to help their neighbors. We need to all work together to help those to come and follow the Good Shepard. It can be done in simple, but profound ways. 

Sierra and Preston are getting baptized this Saturday and we're super excited! Sister Beach has been sick the past couple of days so we didn't get as much done as we would have liked to, but I'm glad she's feeling a lot better now. 
I am so glad Heavenly Father is in charge because He does know all. He is the Gardner of our Lives. He knows everyone's heart when we certainly do not. I am grateful for the power of prayer and the Holy Ghost who is able to give us guidance and the power of discernment as well as feelings of peace and comfort. I love Doctrine and Covenants 90:24: "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another." 


Sister Collins

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - This is the Good Life

This past Saturday we were able to watch the Cultural Celebration that the youth put on. President Monson and President Eyring came to dedicate the Temple and to also watch the dedication. The Saturday before the Celebration, 12,000 youth were practicing at Discovery Park (right across from the Temple) and the dust was so bad, 5 kids had to go to the hospital. It hadn't rained here in the valley since December. On the day of the celebration there was a 100% chance of rain. It rained the night before and it didn't start raining until 20 minutes into the celebration. I'm sure rain was a lot better than inhaling dust for the whole day. And we were actually able to see the kids because there wasn't any dust being kicked up. Right as the celebration ended it started to down pour. The Lord had kept just the right amount of rain to fall during the celebration. Also during the entire day's practice, there were rain clouds all around them but at the park. This is the Lord's work. He knows what's best. The Celebration was amazing and I'm glad I got to see it since I had never seen one before.

The Gilbert Temple has now been dedicated to the Lord! What an amazing experience to be a part of the dedication. We got to watch it at the stake center with all of the common folk (because we are the common folk :D). I kind of remember when the Nauvoo Temple was dedicated because I was able to go to that, but the Gilbert Temple Open House and the dedication I will never forget. It was an amazing experience. I know it is the House of the Lord and I am so glad we got to participate in the Open House. I'm a little disappointment President Monson and President Eyring didn't talk with us as missionaries, but I know perhaps it wasn't supposed to be (President Monson looks like he's getting really old and it's hard for him to move around). The Spirit I felt during the dedication and the impressions I felt will never be forgotten. I can't wait to do a session in the coming weeks.
This week we had a very successful week because we saw a lot of miracles. We saw a lot of people and I had meetings again this week. We had great lessons with both Sierra and Valerie. Sierra and her little brother Preston are getting baptized on the 15th of this month. They're super excited for it as are we. Since there was not regular church this Sunday, President Nattress said in order to count them as at church we need to have a lesson with a member present at a church building. To make it fun for Sierra and her family we did a scavenger hunt/church tour. We hid sticky notes with scriptures of them throughout the church and they led them to different parts where we had a mini lesson with them about the principle. We taught the rest of the commandments in a creative way. Like for tithing we had the scripture Malachi 3:10 and the next sticky note was hidden where you get the Tithing slips by the Bishop's office. They had a lot of fun and we ended in the kitchen were we had made brownies.

This week for Valerie was kind of rough in the beginning of the week because when we had our lesson with her she hadn't been reading and she hadn't come to church. We were praying and fasting to know what we could do for her so that she could receive her answer. On Friday we took her to the Mesa Visitor's Center where we watched the Restoration Video and the Gospel Blesses Families video. She was touched by each of those and we went inside the Temple in the foyer since she can go that far. We wanted her to feel the Spirit of a dedicated Temple. We invited her to be baptized again and she said not yet and she didn't want to set a date right now. She just said she wants to learn more which is perfectly fine, but kind of frustrating at the same time. I kept of getting the feeling it was her family who was holding her back. On Saturday during our companionship study we were pondering about Valerie and we knew we needed her to pray specifically about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but we didn't know how to put it in a different way so she would understand and actually do it. We asked her to read page 11 out of the Restoration and to pray that night specifically if Joseph Smith was a prophet. We had asked her before, but she had never done it. For Valerie's lesson yesterday we gave her a church tour, since she hasn't come to church yet. The Spirit was super strong as we led her around. We can tell she wants it so badly. She prayed about Joseph Smith being a prophet and she had received her answer that he is a prophet of God. She was very happy and having the church tour eased her fears of coming to church. As we sat in the Relief Society room with the baptismal font open we asked her again to be baptized (in Preach My Gospel we are supposed to invite them to be baptized every lesson). This time she felt comfortable enough to tell us her real concerns. She said she wants her whole family to support her in getting baptized. She said she wants to be baptized, but not until they support her in some way. We invited her to pray specifically for a baptismal date and to know what to say to her family members. We know with the Lord's help everything will work out in the way He wants it to that's best for Valerie. If she doesn't get baptized then I'll be sad because I know of everything she'll be missing in her life right now. I know if she doesn't accept it now then at some point in her life she will and that gives me peace.

I have been reading this months Ensign and there are a lot of great articles in there. This morning I was reading the article, "Trials, Tribulations, and Trust in the Lord." I love this quote: “Sometimes we will face things for which there is no earthlyexplanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, ‘Quiet: God at Work.’ Meanwhile, hold on, child of God.Keep believing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Let God do His work in you. The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teachus through our troubles." I want to have a sign in my future house that has that quote on it: "Quiet: God at Work." I pondered today how God is in our daily lives all of the time. We wouldn't have been able to get into the Rice's home or meet Valerie or start teaching Mercedes without His divine help. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, "Be Still and Know that I am God." I invite all of us to be quiet and reflect at how the Lord is working in our lives at that moment. We must maintain an eternal perspective. Everything we go through is for our eternal benefit. How blessed we are to have a loving Heavenly Father who will help us become our best selves. We have to be refined so we can be who God wants us to be. "Quiet: God at Work." I know He lives and He does miracles every day of our lives. I have seen His hand in my daily life.
Sister Collins 

Sis. Collins, Valerie, Sis. Beach

Sis. Beach and Sis. Collins

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, February 24th 2014 - Count Your Many Blessings

We saw a lot of miracles this past week. On Monday night both of our lessons canceled- with Sierra and Valerie, but we prayed and we got them to reschedule for later that night. We went and visited some potential investigators and we were able to have great experiences with them. We had found Mark while tracting in the Proving Grounds a couple of weeks ago and when we went to his house, he was just pulling up. He invited us in and we were able to talk with both him and his wife. It turns out their son and recently gotten baptized into our church and she remembers how good she felt at his baptism. They told us we could come back any time and they were super friendly.

We also visited our Recent Converts house, where Mercedes is a non-member. She's the one who told us she wants to be baptized, but she'll tell us when she wants to hear our "lectures." We had put her into our plans not really knowing why and a little scared because she had already kind of told us to only come when she wanted us to. We get there and she's worried because her son Robert, who's the Recent Convert, hasn't come home and he hadn't called yet and it was getting dark. We read her a comforting scripture and we said a prayer that she would be comforted and that Robert would be home soon. She asked us if we would call later to make sure she was alright. As soon as we go down the street a little ways we see Robert there riding his bike home. We pull over and call Mercedes telling her Robert was going to be there soon. She exclaimed, God does answer prayers and I did feel comforted after the prayer! She told us to call her on Thursday so that we could come back. It was a huge faith booster for her. That was the reason why we were there. Her fellowship called us on Wednesday and told us Mercedes wanted to start taking the lessons and we set up an appointment for Thursday! We taught her on Thursday andFriday. Thursday's lesson was a lot of her just talking about her concerns. It was kind of painful because we can't understand Spanish and she was just jabbering on in Spanish and Brother Thompson was translating. We did resolve most of her concerns. On Friday we actually taught her the Restoration and found out her main concern was that she did not know Joseph Smith was a prophet, but she knows the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. She committed herself to read and pray about Joseph Smith and to read the Book of Mormon. She also said she will pray about baptism. So we have a new investigator who is so prepared. She's been coming to church for the past 2 months and I'm so glad I got to be here to see how her heart has been softened by us and the other ward members.

Tuesday night we were able to teach the Activity Day Girls about how to be a missionary. That was a lot of fun and now we know more of the kids better in our ward. I'm still trying to know all of the kids by name. I know their last names, but I don't know some of their first names. It's great to be so involved with the youth because they are the ones who are going to help us have the most success.

This past Wednesday I went on exchanges with Sister Holcomb. Yes, the Sister Holcomb I trained. It was kind of weird to be companions again! So many memories brought back. It seems like so long ago, but at the same time like it just happened. I can't believe she's almost done with her mission in September. Crazy! We saw miracles on the exchange. I let her lead since when we were together I was the one leading mostly because she was so new!

On Thursday we had Zone Conference and it was a great training. I love it when we have these meetings so we can learn to become better missionaries. After the meeting we had a lesson with our other Recent Convert, Infinity. She had brought a friend to the BYD last Sunday, Jocelyn, who after BYD downloaded the Gospel Library and she wants to be baptized! It's too bad she's out of our area, but missionary work is the same wherever. Jocelyn's father is Atheist and he doesn't want Jocelyn to join the church because he doesn't want to drive her to church. We're going to work with the missionaries in her area to see if they can find a fellowship since Infinity has been picking her up for church. We'll see!

On Saturday I went on exchanges with Sister Caron. She is awesome! She is a convert of 3 years, she was baptized when she was 19 and she's been out for 5 months. We had an awesome day in her area. I had prayed the night before that I wanted to hit all of the key indicators for our exchange that day. By the end of the day we had accomplished my goal. The power of faithful prayers when you back it up with action. I think that most exciting part of the day happened after dinner. During dinner we had gotten a referral from one of their members about this lady who's having a hard time. We go to her house and it's all dark and as we were going to leave, a car pulls up. It's this lady, Carol. She's been having some financial problems with raising 4 kids, one 14 year-old and three 12 year-olds. Her husband had left 10 years ago. Her life has basically hit rock bottom. We got to talking with her and she asked how one could join our church. We said that was  perfect question and that we were missionaries who teach people about that. She said there was no coincidence that we were there. We ended up giving her a church tour right that night because she had been wanting to see what it was like, but had never been able to go inside. We invited her to be baptized and she said she'd absolutely would! She's excited to read the Book of Mormon and she's looking for a way to change her life and to become a better person. I'm excited for Sister Caron and Sister Trump and their new investigator! It was a wonderful night! The miracle of exchanges.

This next Sunday is when the Gilbert Temple will be dedicated. I'm so excited to be a part of it and no, we don't actually get to be inside the Temple. I don't even know if President Monson and/or President Eyring is going to meet with us missionaries. It would be really sad if they didn't! I hope they're planning on it! Also this Saturday is going to be the Cultural Celebration and we get to watch it also. I can't wait to do a session in the Temple! What a wonderful time it is to be here right now. I know the Lord knows each one of us and we're where we're supposed to be for a reason. Oh and this past Monday night as I was praying before going to bed, I hear Sister Beach scream. And there it was. A killer scorpion in our room on our windowsill. Luckily one of the sisters we live with smashed it with a rock (the only way to really kill them) and the other one had a black light so we checked out entire house to make sure there weren't any others. NASTY little critters. I'm so happy the Lord answers prayers and cares about each one of us so that we can find those we need to! The Church is true! I love it, live it, and know it.

Sis. Holcomb and Sis. Collins

Sis. Caron and Sis. Collins

Sis. Collins and "posterity" - minus Sis. Sister Peck, Sister Pooley, and Sister Camellitti

yikes - scorpion!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - Birds of a Feather, Flock Together

Happy Belated Valentine's Day! We had a great day! We made cookies and brownies for all of our investigators, part-member, and less-active families we're working with in the ward. Most of their hearts are slowly softening. It was neat to see how excited they were to be getting a goodie plate from the missionaries and they were willing to let a share a quick message on John 13:43, "As I have loved you, love one another." We had a very productive day and it was fantastic. At our dinner we decorated sugar cookies and it was a lot of fun (she even made chocolate sugar cookies by just adding coco- I had never had one!). This week at the farm, little turkey's were born. We actually got to see one hatch! One of those life experiences as the members we live with say. Sister Beach and I have been having a lot of fun. :)

The Gilbert Open House is now over. The last day was this past Saturday. We had, I mean got the opportunity, to work three shifts this week. We worked the very last shift and it was as crazy as we all thought it would be. Everyone went earlier in the week so it was a lot crazy then. President Hale, who's in our Mission Presidency, gave 17 of us missionaries a private tour of the Temple after the last tour went through. It was amazing and he was able to tell us a lot more details than we had gotten before. It was also very spiritual as everyone bore their testimonies and of course because the spirit is already in the Temple. I can't wait for it to be dedicated on March 2nd so we can do a session! We go to the Mesa Temple on the 26th and it will probably be the last time I'll ever do a session there. It's been exciting to work at the Open House and now it's about to be opened. I thought this day would never come when the Temple would actually be completed. I love the Temple and the peace and comfort I feel there!

Valerie is golden! She wants to be baptized and her baptism is going to be on March 15th as well as Sierra and Preston's. The month of March is going to be fabulous (well every month is fabulous). We love teaching Valerie because she really has the desire to change and to really find out if this is the church for her. We were also able to meet with Sierra this week and we went to the Open House with them on Wednesday, even Kelly came. I think his heart is being softened even more. Hopefully we'll be able to start teaching him as well soon! If only Denise would fully commit! They finally came to church on Sunday! It was great to see them again at church. They're slowly doing more and more and building good habits. I'm excited for their family because I know how much it will bless them now and in the eternities.

This Sunday we taught BYD. We had challenged the youth to invited their non-member friends because we were going to be teaching the Restoration. We had many kids invited, but only 2 non-members showed up and neither live in our ward boundaries. One of the girls is already taking the missionary lessons and the other wants to but her dad won't let her. It was a success though! The kids had fun and the spirit was strong. We played telephone to tie in with the apostasy and going straight to God to find out the answers. The first time we had them try to pass, "A little tug boat tugged as hard as it could down the river with two little blue men down the shore." What got told at the end was, "Tell me something I don't know." We were just like WOOOW. lol The second time we had them pass, "Joseph is a true prophet." That one didn't get messed up at all. Then we watched the Mormon Message, "Origin." I would highly recommend looking it up:

I know God answers prayers since He answers mine every day. He answered my prayers when I asked if this church was true, if Joseph Smith was a prophet, if the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know this church is the same church Christ did establish when He was on this Earth and that Joseph Smith did restore the church and translate the Book of Mormon by the power of God. I cannot deny it because of the many experiences I've had and how many times the Spirit has born witness to me of the truthfulness of the message I teach every day. It comes through just living the Gospel and God will let us know. We have to take action and actually find out for ourselves, we can't rely on someone else's opinions. Actually read the Book of Mormon with a sincere desire to know if it is God's word and He will tell you through the power of the Holy Ghost. 


Sister Collins

The Rice Family

Baby Turkeys!