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!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - Good, Better, and Best

It's a great day to be alive! This is the best time to be a missionary! We are on the last week of the Gilbert Open House. Last week we didn't have to work at the Temple at all, but we're making up for it by working 3 shifts this week. It's already been a crazy week and it only started yesterday. Fun times!  On Wednesday we had our transfer meeting. It was a crazy one with 2 new zones created and all of them basically renamed. No one knows where the zone boundaries are any more. Sister Beach and I are part of the select few companionship's who actually stayed together this transfer. Exciting! Our mission has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the work. It's fantastic. President said we're almost at our capacity for how many missionaries are going to be in the mission. We won't be changing around as much in a couple of transfers. 

We had a great lesson with one of our investigators, Valarie. She's 18 and she's part of the family who we took to the Temple last Monday. She is golden! We love her so much! She compared herself to Joseph Smith because he was searching for what church he should join. She said she's been searching. She accepted a baptismal date of March 8th and she's super excited! The Spirit was powerful during the lesson. She basically wants to meet with us every day and of course we're happy to! We have been praying and fasting for someone like Valarie. Her parent's don't seem as on board as she is. We think something/someone must have gotten to them since we had met after our first lesson. Which is very sad. Their friend and neighbor, our Stake President, is going to talk with them and see what some of their concerns are. The spirit was so strong in those lessons with the family and now with the lessons with Valarie. We have another lesson with her tonight. 

Sierra is still scheduled for baptism on March 15th with her little brother, Preston. We made prayer rocks last night with them so they will remember to pray. It was a lot of fun! We're going to the Gilbert Temple Open House with the entire familytomorrow. We're excited to be able to go with them! We hadn't been able to teach Sierra all this last week because they were busy. During church on Sunday (which they didn't show up to even though they said they would) I was praying and pondering about Sierra's family. I just couldn't get them out of my mind. After church before dinner we had some time so we decided to go try to make contact with them in person. We get there and it's just getting dark. And surprise, surprise, the gate is closed. We're sitting outside the gate for a few minutes and I suggest that we pray. I pray that someone will come outside (just like the first time we got into their home) and let us in the gate. Literally 5 seconds after I said Amen, Kelly comes outside and opens the gate! We talked with Kelly for a couple of minutes, but Sierra and Denise were not home (Kelly is Denise's nonmember husband), but Alex was there. Alex is 12 and she's a great girl. We were able to chat with her for a couple of minutes and we invited her to read her scriptures every day, especially before she does her homework. It was a great visit with her with just the three of us. Kelly wasn't too interested to staying for the lesson, but he was in the background listening.

Do you remember Mercedes who I mentioned a couple of letters before? She's the mother of one of the recent converts in our ward. She's been coming to church and she's Hispanic, but she understands English. Well we had sent over the Spanish Sisters to try to teach her, but she told them she wasn't interested in taking the lessons because she knows everything already. But she does want to be baptized. Well she told her fellowship, who happens to speak English and is the Elder's Quorum President, that she will take the lessons in her own time but she wants us to teach her not the Spanish Sisters! She called them Gringos... We're just excited that she does want to be taught and that she's warming up to the idea of taking the lessons. She was even going to sit on the the recent convert lessons this past Thursday, but they both got sick. It's all in the Lord's timing! Hopefully it's before I leave!!

Funny story that happened this week. We have a lot of fields where we live and from the bottom of our area to the top of our area takes about 15 minutes. We know the members that own the fields between the Proving Grounds and the church building. We were late so we saw a dirt path that led us in a straight course to our dinner's house, which happened to be the Bishop. The sister's before us had gotten permission to use the dirt path for part of the way. So we went off-roading big time by going through the fields on the dirt paths the trackers use. We ended up going in our Bishop's and Stake President's backyards. It was so embarrassing because they had seen us through their back window and the Stake President was outside as we're coming right behind his house. Bishop kept on giving us a hard time because now our car is so dirty! 

This past week I have completed the October General Conference talks. I have learned so much from reading the talks since I have listened to them in Conference. I think I learn more and retain it more as I re-read the talks. They are revelation given for our day from living Apostles and our Prophet. I love the talk "Drawing Closer to God" by Elder Vinson: 
We should be asking ourselves every day- How Close Am I to God? Is this decision bring me closer or farther away from God? We know that it's us moving away from God, not Him. He never moves because He is the "same yesterday, today, and forever." If we love God we will want to align our will with His. He will not fail us or forsake us. I love my Savior and I'm so happy I made with best decision for myself to serve a mission at this time. I have learned so much and I have grown so much. I love the 3 hours of study I get to have each day to become closer to my Heavenly Father. I know He's there and in fact He does answers prayers; sometimes immediate, other times over time. I know Heavenly Father is the Gardner in our lives. We have to be thankful He loves us enough to sometimes cut us down. He knows what is ultimately best for each one of us on an individual level. I know He lives and loves each one of us.


Sister Collins

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - Transfer News!

Transfer News! Sister Beach and I are staying together for this next transfer. I'm really glad I'm not leaving the area and that we're still companions. This next transfer will be good. Transfers are on Wednesday. This morning I went to the airport with President and Sister Nattress, the Assistants, and the other STLs to go pick up the new missionaries. It was a lot of fun and they have a lot of enthusiasm. We got 10 sisters and 1 elder this transfer. I sympathized with the one elder because that's how I was when I came- just me and 18 elders. 

Yesterday we went with our investigator family to the Gilbert Temple Open House. Their fellowship is our Stake President, who's in our ward. I love walking through the temple and seeing the beauty of it as well as the special feeling. I can't wait for it to be dedicated. The family loved it and thought it was great! Right now we have the most investigators this ward has ever had at one time. We're hoping to find more people to teach though! We also went through the temple with another family in our ward with their neighbors. That was great to see their hearts softening because all of their neighbors are Mormon and they've been fellowshipping this family for quite some time. Hopefully the Temple Open house will spark something. We're hoping to get at least one Temple referral! We've also worked at the Temple twice this week. We had some great lessons with our investigators this week and we were able to see both of them twice this week. We have been seeing a lot of small miracles this week, but combined they add up to a lot. 

Also yesterday morning we went on a hike as a zone. It was supposed to be a sunrise hike, but we ended up seeing the sunrise from the car. We went with a member couple and a non member lady who knows the trails on the San Tan Mountains. This was my first time hiking and I really wasn't prepared for how much a hike it actually ended up being. lol Let's just saw I'm definitely a city girl and I think I'll stay that way. It was a lot of fun though to go as a zone. Hopefully this next transfer we'll actually be able to go on a sunrise hike and see the sunrise from the mountain.

This past week I went on my last exchange for the transfer with Sister Ball. It was a great day and we had a lot of fun. Luckily Sister Beach wasn't sick again. :) We saw a lot of miracles and it was a nice exchange to end the transfer. We also had Interviews with President this past week. The training was great from the Assistants and the Zone Leaders. After interviews we went on splits with the Relief Society presidency and we talked to a lot of people. It was crazy because we found out there was a less active sister who had moved in, but hadn't transferred her records in. I had actually talked with her while I was on exchanges and they were super excited about the Temple Open House. Well, we go to knock on this less-actives house with the relief society and there was the same woman! The Lord works in mysterious ways. How crazy that I had talked with her just the week before and she happens to be in our ward. So she's going to move her records in our ward and is excited to come back to church. Also her son and daughter-in-law are here visiting from China (who I don't think are members).    


Sister Collins   

We had baby bunnies born at our house!

Zone Conference hike

Sis. Beach and Collins at the Gilbert Temple