Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Monday, January 27th 2013 - Is This Real Life?

This week we showed the Temple Presentation to a family in our ward boundaries and they accepted to have us teach them again! It was a powerful 15 minutes and we're very excited to teach them again today especially since they're a family. 

We had a good lesson with Sierra this week about praying often. We can see how the family is slowly changing and progressing. Denise and Sierra finally prayed in front of us. That is a big step for them and we can see the spirit working on them. We're trying to have shorter lessons with them, but they love to talk. :) We love them! 

On Saturday, I went on exchanges with Sister Welch and we had a good day! Unfortunately, Sister Beach got the stomach flu that morning. Sister Welch's companion ended up being sick also so it kind of worked out great (not the getting sick part). In the evening we both had this feeling we were supposed to be somewhere, but we couldn't figure out where we were supposed to be. We prayed and we felt like we needed to go to one of their investigator's home. We went and he wasn't there. We were like, okay, where are we really supposed to be? We prayed again and Sister Welch thought to go to a less-active's house. While we were walking to the house we stopped to talk to this man, Carlos. We found out he was visiting from California and he was going to go catch his plane. He had talked with missionaries the day before and they had given him a Book of Mormon. It was a powerful street contact as we bore testimony how the Gospel was going to bless his life. The less-active didn't turn out to be home and the spirit bore witness to both of us Carlos was the reason why we needed to be on that street. 

On Sunday, Sister Beach was still very sick so we couldn't go to church. The Elders came and gave her a blessing and she immediately felt better. One of the Elders wanted a turkey feather (he's kind of...special), so the members we live with brought the turkey to him to pluck the feathers. It was the most funniest thing. I couldn't believe he would make that request and second that the member brought the turkey to him so he could pluck it's butt feathers! I kept on saying, "Is this real life?!" I have to say it takes a very special person to do that! 

It's crazy because this week I've had a meeting every single day. I'm hardly in my area! I know families can be together forever. Death cannot separate us because of the blessings of the temple. I am so grateful I get to work at the Gilbert Temple Open House and to see the spirit change people once they come out of the temple. This knowledge had blessed my life. I'm grateful for this opportunity to serve and for the precious time I have left to dedicate myself to the Lord. I am so glad this is my life right now in January 2014. I wouldn't trade anything for it.


Sis. Collins

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday, January 20th 2014 - Temple, Temple, and More Temple!

Can I just start off by saying that I have never actually considered moving to Gilbert until I saw the inside of the Temple? I want to just pack right up and move into the Temple. It's absolutely stunning. I wish everyone could come and see the Temple.  On Tuesday night we had a Sisters Training for the Open House with Elder Walker of the 70. He is a funny guy. Here are some of the instructions he gave us: Absolutely NO PROSELYTING. We need to be happy, nice, and smile. Look and feel your best (he said, you have to wear make-up!)We're the first and last people they'll see. He also told us that only 45/82,000 missionaries in the entire world get to have this privilege that we have right now. He said we were the chosen few to be able to have this experience. How humbling to know I am able to be here for the Open House and then the dedication! It's been an amazing experience. Then Elder Walker took us on a tour of the Gilbert Temple. We got the VIP tour and we were able to see more the Temple then the regular tours will. Every Temple is the House of God and this Temple is just, wow. Breath taking. I am so glad we were able to see the Temple before we started working it. I was a little worried that we'd only be able to see it if we got investigators there. This past Wednesday through Friday were the VIP tours. As sister missionaries we have a 60 second speal and then we start a 12 minute introductory video before they start their tour. We also stand in a tent outside the Temple when they're done with their tour where they are able to ask us questions. We were able to work Thursday morning during the VIP tours where it was slower paced. We were also assigned to work on the Saturday morning shift, which was the first day it was opened for the public. It was a little slow in the morning, but then we were soon running from room to room starting the videos. We rotate every two hours from the stake center where the videos are shown to the reception tent. We are divided into 6 groups of 8 sisters each and we will rotate throughout the coming weeks. I love working at the Temple. I feel so blessed. I have already seen so many people from my previous areas and even some people from my past life (lol). I can't wait to continue to work at the Temple for the next month! I have had some interesting questions asked to me. There are some people when I hear them talk about the Temple who are not of our faith and the Spirit whispers to me that they're going to join the church some day. I know there are miracles happening because of the Open House. The missionary work is going to start booming! I hope I get to be a part of the boom!

This past Wednesday I went on exchanges with Sister Kemmerer and she's from New Hampshire. She's been out for about 5 months. She was companion's with Sister Camilletti who left in the beginning of this transfer to go to her assigned mission to New Zealand. She hasn't had a companion since and she is in a trio in the morning and then she has members from her two wards sign up for the rest of the day. She's had a stressful transfer. We had a really good day in her area. We were able to talk to a lot of people on the street and even set up a return appointment from a guy who's interested in learning more. Miracles always happen on exchanges. One of the miracles we saw was when we went to a former investigator's house. She was going to be baptized, but he husband didn't want to commit because he loves drinking and gambling too much. We were able to get into the door and we did some service for her. We were able to share a quick message and she said we could come back the next night when her family was home to show them the Temple Video Presentation. We were also able to have a lesson with two of her investigators. It was a wonderful day and I had a good time! 

Sierra came to church this week! We were able to get in with them on Monday and we had a good lesson on church attendance. Sierra and her little brother Preston, who's 7, will be baptized together on March 8. Sierra is very shy and she doesn't like the spotlight so we decided to more the baptism. We addressed many of their concerns and it was a good lesson. Tonight we have a lesson with them. We are also showing the Temple Video to two families tonight. We pray that they will want to meet with us again! Also on Sunday we taught BYD (Bishop's Youth Discussion) on missionary work. Boy are teenagers a tough crowd! Next month for BYD we're going to teach the Restoration and we committed all of them to invite a non-member friend so that they could hear the message of the Restoration. We gave them a commitment card and made a deal that if they bring them, we'll ask them. We also found a part-member, less-active family who are not on the records. We had a very good chat with Tracy. She's so wonderful and she's been less active since she was a teenager. Her husband, Jose, is not a member and he's a non practicing Catholic. Tracy had a lot of questions and we committed her to read the Book of Mormon since she hadn't in such a long time. We're excited to go back later this week! The work is hastening! 


Sister Collins

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014 - So This is Life

This past Monday night all of the STLs were invited to have Family Home Evening with President Nattress and his family at the Mission Home. We taught the Restoration using a cup tower one of the other sisters had. We didn't have much time to prepare a lesson because he asked us like two hours before if we would be available. Too bad Sister Beach couldn't come with and she and our house-mate went to our lessons both companionship's had that night. It was neat to see the family life of our Mission President and also to see the traditions they do as a family. Tonight actually we're having a sisters training meeting regarding the Gilbert Open House which starts this Saturday!
On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Sister Taylor. We had a great day with a lot of miracles. Miracles always happen on exchanges. We were able to teach five lessons with people on the street and get their numbers and addresses. One lady in particular, Claudia, was quite an interesting experience. She is actually a wiki, a witch, and doesn't believe in God anymore. She was raised Catholic and turned away from the religion because she doesn't think God would allow suffering to occur if He was God. We were able to testify her answer to her question could be answered through the Book of Mormon if she read and prayed about it. She gladly accepted a copy and told us she had actually talked with missionaries before and told them she would talk to them, but they never came back. She actually started crying while we were testifying and talking about the Restored Gospel with her. I see potential in her and I know the Spirit can touch her heart. It's amazing the people Heavenly Father puts in our path if we just take the time to go and talk with them.
Actually this week we went up to go talk with this lady since we saw her while we were going to our appointment with our Young Men's President. When we started to talk with her about families and how the Restored Gospel can help with raising families (her teenage daughter was in the car), she said she's actually been thinking a lot about our religion lately! Her sister is Mormon and she gladly took a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet. She wasn't willing to set up a return appointment with us because she said she needed to talk with her husband. It's amazing how the Lord is preparing so many people. We hope to get into contact with her later this week and hopefully her husband is just as prepared as she is!
This past Friday I was able to go to MLC and Tracey Watson and Brother Gonzales were training us. He is the head over the world's proselyting tools. He was an inspiring teacher. All of the Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders were invited to come to the meeting. They talked a lot about looking through the lenses of the Doctrine of Christ always because it is the center of everything. The Doctrine of Christ is having faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. This is our purpose as missionaries. Brother Gonzales stressed that everything God communicated to men is calculated to draw attention to the Atonement. I thought how true this is and how important using the Atonement daily in our lives is. They also stressed if we want to teach with great power we need to keep it simple. Brother Watson said to expect miracles and we need to have a 90 day vision- we need to think ahead. He also taught us the process of how to be successful not only in the mission field, but in life. 1. Establish Vision from God. He kept on using the phrase, "connect yourselves to Heaven," and I really liked how simple, yet significant it is. 2. Set Inspired Goals 3. Create and Execute Inspired Plans 4. Be Accountable to the Lord and Mission Leaders. This is how we will succeed as missionaries and also in life in general. We need to figure out how the Lord wants us to work. This is His work and His glory. Of course He's going to know what will work best and who is ready at this time. Something I really liked what Brother Watson said was that we have 30 seconds to make an impact on someone. They have to see Christ in our countenances and feel the truth of what we're saying is true.
Another significant visit this this was a Tri-Mission Conference with the Gilbert, Mesa, and Scottsdale Missions. Elder Holland was supposed to come, but he had to cancel the day before. Instead we had Elder Wright of the 70 speak to us. He compared himself to the Dixie Chicks and Elder Holland to the Beatles. They kept on apologizing again and again about Elder Holland not being able to make it. Some of the highlights were "love is the lubricant and life of missionary work." "Act on the promptings you receive. Just don't listen." "Just don't learn the lessons of Preach My Gospel, embrace them." "Doing the simple things (church, scripture study, praying, etc.) will bring the Spirit." "Give the Lord the one thing He can't take from you- your heart." I learned a lot from the conference and I know Elder Wright was supposed to talk with us and the Lord called Elder Holland another way. I'm glad we were able to still have that experience. I did not see Kelsey Hamstead there since she was really sick and had to stay home. :(
I am grateful for the experiences I have had thus far on my mission. I know they have helped me become a better person and I will continue to see the blessings throughout Eternity. I am grateful this sacred time of 18 months to give all that I have to the Lord. May each of us recommit ourselves to the Lord and receive the blessings He's waiting to pour upon us.
Sister Collins

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014 - The Tamest New Year's Yet

HAPPY 2014! This New Years was quite...uneventful. It was the tamest New Years I have ever been apart of. We read from Preach My Gospel for three straight hours. I focused my study on boxing every time it mentioned part of our purpose. I got through about half of Preach My Gospel (100 pages) in the three hours. I actually really enjoyed sitting down and reading through Preach My Gospel quickly. It gave me a broader perspective and showed how every chapter relates to each other. Also it was neat to focus on how much our purpose is scattered throughout Preach My Gospel. There wasn't one page where there wasn't one principle mentioned. This really re-enforced how we should always have our purpose at the forefront of our minds. I have continued reading a little bit each personal study because it's so nice to remind myself of everything I've learned throughout my mission.

In my personal study I'm currently reading in Jacob 5. I have been really focusing on applying the chapter to myself regarding missionary work. I've always looked at this chapter as the Spiritual history of the world. It's been very enlightening to really dig deep and studying this chapter little by little. Today I read verses 13-25. I love how the Lord never leaves us alone because this is His work and His glory. He will always say, "Let us go down and labor". This re-enforces D&C 84:88 and gives me great comfort, and is an example of how Christlike leadership. The Lord knows His vineyard (the world) perfectly. We should never seek to counsel the Lord (vs.22) because His ways are always higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). We cannot judge others based on their circumstances (vs.21-22) and we must labor with all diligence regardless if we see the fruits of our labors currently (vs. 25). I am so grateful for personal revelation and the counsel Heavenly Father gives to each of us as we are obeying one of his commandments- reading the scriptures. I know the scriptures give us protection as we read them daily.

This past Monday we had a lesson with Sierra! Which was great because we taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation. Each of them had a lot of questions and we addressed many of their concerns. We found out the deep underlying concern Denise has and why she really hasn't been to church in the past two years. They didn't end up coming to church yesterday because they all had the stomach flu. Sad day! Now it's just over coming that hurdle! We're trying our best! We're trying to teach more the families in the ward the lessons so that Sister Beach can learn to teach and to strengthen the member's faith in Jesus Christ. We were supposed to teach Mercede's this week, but her sister who she hasn't seen in two years from California randomly showed up on the day we were supposed to teach! She then wasn't able to come to church because she was sick. We will teach her this week! I can feel it. The Lord works in mysterious ways- last week we just weren't supposed to start teaching her. Man, too many people have been sick these past weeks. We have had so many canceled appointments because of sickness. Luckily neither of us has gotten it (knock on wood). This past Sunday a less-active family we have been working with all came to church! That is two weeks in a row. We were so happy to see them and the ward was welcoming them in since they've only been to the ward twice since they moved in two years ago. We are teaching them the lessons to practice. :)

This Thursday I went on my first exchange as an STL. I exchanged with Sister Kamstra. She has been out for 8 weeks and I went to her area. We saw a lot of miracles during our exchange. We were supposed to start teaching one of their potentials, George, but he couldn't stand being at home since his wife just died. We talked to his neighbor who was going to come with us and asked if she would be willing to have the lessons at her house so George doesn't have to be reminded of his wife's passing while they're teaching him. We gave away two Book of Mormons to some people we talked with on the street, Dallin and Rene. They are both two solid potentials the sisters can work with. I have a firm belief in street contacting and finding people through Opening Our Mouths. Overall it was a great first exchange and I learned a lot from Sister Kamstra and I had a lot of fun! We even saw an icecream truck and had a popcile!  I haven't seen an ice cream truck since I was a little girl! Fun times!
I am grateful for the many miracles we see daily and that we are able to participate in. I know my Savior loves me and watches out for me as well as all of you. I know the Lord wants each one of us to become more like Him and He will help us know what we should change and how we should go about doing it. He has set the perfect example and I love reading about His life and how I can try to emulate Him to become just a little bit better. I have come to have a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as I have prayed and used the Atonement in my life daily. I want to be closer to Him and I never want to do anything that would take me farther away from Him. I always strive to have the Spirit to be my constant companion because He is the ultimate teacher.
Sister Collins

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013 - Ring Out, Wild Bells!

What a great week it's been! The Monday before Christmas we went to a family's FHE. This is a long standing tradition in their family and they were kind enough to invite us. Part of their tradition is Grandpa dressing up as Poncho Claus and lip syncing the song that goes with it. HILARIOUS! We're definitely right by the border!!! Christmas we were able to eat dinner with a family and we had Mexican food! I've decided to appropriately theme this Christmas, "My Christmas Across the Border." We then went caroling with some of the members in our zone. We had a blast and I loved watching every one's faces we caroled to (even though I'm sure it was slightly out of tune, but I'm sure the Spirit made up for the rest). I'm so glad I was able to talk/see my family through Skype on Christmas Day! It felt right and surreal at the same time. I haven't Skyped with them since Mother's Day and I've changed so much since then. We were well taken care of by the members of our ward. I'm so grateful for them! We were invited to two breakfasts, a lunch, and a dinner. When 6pm rolled around for our zone activity we were exhausted- in a good way! I'm glad we were able to stay busy because it made our Christmas. We got together as a zone and we watched Chronicles of Narnia. We picked out all of the motifs related to the gospel! It was a fun night and I'm glad we were able to get together as a zone. It was a great last Christmas on the mission!
The next day I had to leave Sister Beach and go to MLC, Missionary Leadership Counsel, from 9-5pm. It was a long day, but it was good for Sister Beach to see how another sister works. She went with the Spanish sister who lives with us since her companion is an STL as well. It was a wonderful experience to be taught by President and the Assistants in a more intimate manner. I learned a lot about Christlike leadership and the focus of the mission right now. President Nattress is a very inspired man. I am grateful he is our Mission President. I can tell he loves us a lot and he wants to do what's best for all of us collectively and individually. It's a big responsibility, but I know the Lord is helping me magnify my assignment. I know how much He loves each one of us and I can see the potential each sister I have stewardship over has. I'm excited because I made posters for each companionship that reads, "Got Miracles?" and we're going to record a miracle a day that we recognize from the Lord. I though since we're in cow country (literally there's a dairy in our area and we have a cow in the back yard) we must embrace it!  
Sierra is scheduled for baptism on January 25th at 11am. Her family hasn't come to church the past two Sundays and they canceled our lesson this past Monday. We had texted and called them, but no reply. We were getting a little frustrated because they had been doing so well! We went to their house every day and sat outside their gate for a good 15 minutes, praying we would be able to get in. We went there two days in a row and nothing. Their cars were there, but we couldn't get in. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I don't know what the difference was between Friday and Saturday when we went, but we got in Sunday afternoon. We pulled up and there were 3 of the children rollerblading outside! If we had been any earlier or any later, we probably would have missed them. We both felt strongly we should go to them at that specific time and the Lord blessed us! We were able to discuss Sierra's baptism, share a message, and set up an appointment for this evening. We've been praying for them and especially Sierra's mother because it all rests on her to have Sierra progress. She's the main holdup right now and we've been trying to address her concerns. I know there's something else we just need to touch on to make her more comfortable at church- she doesn't like how friendly the ward is! What a change from most people's concerns! We had to tell the ward to not swarm them! Yesterday we had several less active families come to church we've been working with! What a great day!
We had a miracle happen at our dinner yesterday! The members we ate with started talking about one of our recent convert's mom, Mercedes. She has been coming to church the past three Sundays. She prefers to speak Spanish, but she understands English and even knows a lot of English. We had thought the Spanish Elders had been teaching her. It turns out they haven't been able to get in. Yesterday Mercedes' son, Robert, decided to not come to church but she came by herself! We have quite a few Spanish speakers in our ward and the ward has really been rallying around them. We had painted their house a couple of weeks ago and her heart has been softened. She wants to be baptized and she just needs the lessons! We're going to start teaching her on Tuesday! I'm so thankful the Lord trusts us and has been blessing us. I know this would have not happened unless it was by the power of God. We have been praying and praying to find the seekers of truth. The ward really feels like she'll progress in our ward and stay active. Robert is an alcoholic unfortunately so we have to get him to rehab. We're planning on getting him there in two weeks. I hope he'll straighten up and become more active.
I am grateful for this time to serve the Lord and to be focus on Him which in turn helps me to become better. We have been studying the sanctifying effect of charity on people in the Book of Mormon. Charity encompasses so much- the Atonement, compassion, service, faith, repentance. As I've been studying this topic for the past couple of weeks I have in turn learned a lot about myself and how I want to become better. Charity is the pure love of Christ. When we have charity we do not have pride. Pride is the root of all sins. We can combat pride with having charity towards all men and seeing them as God sees them. When we truly see others as God does, we become happier. I have seen the effect of charity in my life. I notice the difference when I am charitable and when I'm not. We're all not perfect and we all have weaknesses, but we can strive each day to become better. Especially as we are reflecting on this past year and the year to come, we need to set goals to just become a little bit better. We just can't set goals and forget them. We much write them down and reflect on them daily. This is something I have noticed which has helped me throughout my mission. Once I make a goal I try to review it every day and then re-evaluate and then make a little bit of progress. Setting goals is the only way we become better! I know Christ will help us accomplish those righteous goals! He knows how we feel. HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2014 is going to be the best year yet!
Sister Collins
Christmas packages

Lauren's district

Poncho Claus