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