You can write him at:

You can write to Zach at:

Elder Zachary Collier
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission
2600 Boyce Plaza Ste. 101
Upper St. Clair, PA 15241


Elder Zachary Collier
235 West Chestnut Street, Apt. 301
Washington, PA 15301

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11, 2012 Letter

Hey Ma!
Alrighty, so here we go...
This week started off great. We had a nice P-day, got some stuff done, and then went to Brownsville and did service for a member there. She has some health problems so we helped her and her sister with their garden. It was great. Then we spent time with the Paroda family since they just got back from Brazil and shared a message with them to close off the night. Sister Harris (the lady we did service for) gave us a whole peach cobbler! haha. We shared it with the Parodas. It was delicious.
On Tuesday we had a great lesson with Tom and Debbie. We did service at St Vincent De Paul in the morning and then we met up with Brother Giles. He came with us to their house and we all ate lunch together. We had an interesting thing happen in the middle of the lesson. I started introducing a scripture, and I said, "So, there was a group of people in the Book of Mormon who had left the church and had turned after some strange beliefs..." and Debbie jumped in and said, "You mean the Zoramites Alma visited?!" Brother Giles, Kofford, and I just looked at each other in shock. I said, "Yeah, that's exactly who I'm talking about... how do you know about them?" She said, laughing, "Oh, I skipped ahead. This is a pretty good book. Those guys were crazy!" It was funny! Tom and Debbie are really coming along great. I'm going to miss them very much. They are loving the gospel.
We spent all week trying to track down referrals. Walked a lot, used a lot of miles... no one was interested. haha! Go figure. All part of the work! We did talk to a cool guy named Mike. We stopped and talked to him on the street. He was on his way to the Redbox to get a movie. He was our age and let us know he'd been clean from heroin for 3 years now and had a wife with a baby on the way. He was looking for a change to come into his life, though he wasn't sure religion was what he was going for. He really wasn't all that interested, but he was polite and easy going and he and I hit it off. We discovered we love all the same music. Plus, he's a guitarist and has a studio in his house. We talked for probably 20 minutes and then he accepted a Book of Mormon! He said, "Yeah, I'll give it a read. I read everything. I'm pretty much an atheist at this point with all the college I've done and everything I've seen and read, but I haven't read this, so why not try it?" He gave us his number and we gave him ours, so we will see where it goes.
Wednesday we had district meeting. We just popped popcorn and watched the Life of Christ movie I put together. It was nice just to relax a bit and enjoy ourselves. I went on exchange with Elder McDowell in Monongahela.
They've been working with this awesome guy named Carmon. He is 62 and is really trying to change his life and find the truth. We went over to try and see him in the afternoon but no one answered. Elder McDowell turned and said, "Well, maybe we're here for them?" He motioned towards the crowd of crying people in black down the street. All the kids were skipping stones in the river and looking really sad. "Looks like that lady down the street passed away. She's been fighting cancer for a while," McDowell said. "Let's go." So we went over to talk to them. Of course, one of the ladies saw us coming and met us half way. "Now's not a good time, guys. I just had to bury my mother." I said, "Honestly, we kinda figured. We just wanted to come over and offer our condolences and our help. Is there anything we can do?" You could see it in her face - she didn't believe a word I said. "No. I'm fine." Everyone went inside. Harsh.
We didn't care. "Where's the nearest florist?" I said. "Just a few blocks away," Said Elder McDowell. We hopped in the car and drove to the flower shop. We pooled our money together to buy a vase of flowers.
We asked the service woman there for help - we didn't know what flowers would be appropriate for a death and which ones wouldn't, so we thought we'd ask. She was very kind and understanding and helped us find a beautiful arrangement. When we went to go pay for them she said, "You know, my son in law is a Mormon. He did his missionary in Africa. He's just the greatest." We talked about that for a while. Finally she asked, "Did someone in your congregation die?" We said no. She said, "Oh... who died?" We said we didn't know. "What do you mean you don't know?" We said we just talked to some people on the street who had just buried their mom and were having a rough time, so we thought we'd buy them flowers. She turned and yelled into the back room, "Candace! Come out here! Come see how nice the Mormons are!" So Candace came out and saw how nice the Mormons were. Then she did free caligraphy for us on our sympathy cards for being so nice. It was great. They thanked us for being so nice and wished us luck.

We drove back and walked back up to that same woman who asked us to leave. She looked really distraught at first - then really irritated. But then we gave her the flowers and she just lit up. She was crying, of course, but she was grateful. Everyone stared at us, and it was awkward, but we just said, "These are for you. We hope you feel better." The lady said, "Oh my goodness. Thank you, boys." And we left. We felt incredible! I LOVE HELPING PEOPLE! It's the best. Everyone should try it sometime.
We went and visited Rudy and his wife Emily, two people that Elder Jamieson and I met like 4 months ago that happened to live in Monongahela's area. They invited us in. They're a great old couple. Rudy is almost 90 and so is Emily. They forced me to have grape soda, so I lost my competition with Elder Nilsen. After a year of not drinking soda. Bummer! They talked to us for like 2 and a half hours. When we finally got a word in we told them we were an hour late to an appointment and they let us get up to leave, but not before Rudy said the Lord's Prayer for us in Slavic, Latin, and English. So he did. It was pretty cool. Rudy is a funny guy.
That night we had an incredible lesson with Carmon. We went back to his house and he was waiting on the porch with us. He laughed as we got out of the car and he said, "So, are you the two detectives that give flowers to people?" "What?" we asked. He laughed and said, "The family down the street that you gave flowers to? They thought you were detectives knocking on my door looking for me. You're the two nicest detectives they've ever met." haha! Too funny! Carmon remembered my name from the last time I went to his house (with Elder Jamieson). He's such a cool guy. He's been an alcoholic for 10 years now and is really struggling. But he's so kind and so knowledgable and has been working through the 12 step program and the addiction recovery program from the church.
He brought us into his living room, asked to say the opening prayer, and then said, "Ya know Elders, I made a mistake. You asked me to read Ether 12, and I read Ether 2 instead. Then I realized my mistake, so I read Ether 12. But I loved Ether 2 and I think I was meant to read that." Elder McDowell and I then had an incredible outpouring of the Spirit. We taught in perfect harmony. We would open to the exact same scriptures without meaning to and then just teach. We taught about faith - it's proper definition, how to truly have it, and what it helps us do; repentance and how it takes great faith; and what things we can do to gain faith. Carmon has such a strong desire to be baptized. Last week he threw all his coffee and tea into the river so he could come closer to keeping the word of wisdom. But Alcohol is holding him back. Elder McDowell and I taught about fasting and how miracles can come from fasting. Carmon started to cry and he said, "Elders, I would do anything to quit drinking. I had a plan that I was going to try and quit cold turkey tonight to see if that would work, but I am afraid of the withdrawals. Can we fast, starting right now?" We said of course. We knelt down, and Elder McDowell offered one of the most powerful, beautiful prayers I've ever witnessed. Carmon has such faith and such real intent and desire. It's awesome. When we stood up, Carmon was just shining. He said, "Thank you, boys. You know, you're the only ones who have ever cared. You cared enough to knock on my door. Not just knock, but actually care and listen and help. You've saved my life." His home was a temple. The spirit was so strong.

Elder McDowell and I were so overcome with the Holy Ghost when we left that we had to pull over the car. We prayed together and thanked our Father in Heaven for his help and for the miraculous lesson that had just transpired. We prayed for Carmon, and we prayed for the strength to fast until 5 o'clock the next day no matter what happened. The rest of that night we called around to our district as well as our zone leaders and other friends in the mission and asked them to joing our fast. We had 12 Elders fasting for Carmon the next day. It was a beautiful thing.
I can't describe it. I'll always remember it. It was fantastic.
That night I woke up around 3 in the morning with a 103 degree fever. Not good. I felt terrible all the next day. I came home to Uniontown and had to sleep for 2 hours. Ray was still expecting us at 2, and I wanted to see him just in case I got transferred, so I had to go. I took 3 ibuprofen and got ready to go teach. Then we realized we didn't know where the car keys were. We called Elder Jamieson, and he couldn't remember where he put them. So we walked 3 miles to Ray's house. Walking 3 miles with a fever in 90 degree weather while fasting is generally not a good idea. But I did it. The lesson was incredible, and Ariel, Ray's fiance, is loving the Book of Mormon. I said goodbye to ray for the last time, and he hugged me. He said, "I don't care if you're sick, Elder Collier. Get over here." He thanked me for all I had done for his life, and made me promise to come visit. I made him promise to choose the right. He said he would. It was very emotional, but very good. Then I walked 3 miles home and passed out on the couch for 5 hours until we had to go meet with John and Penny. It was great. Just a nice relaxing hour with friends that I am really going to miss. I'm so proud of Penny and John for all they've done. When I got home I realized I could stop fasting and I ate some food.
I was dead the next day. I slept for pretty much the whole day, except for the hour I went to the doctor's to get tested for strep. I didn't have it. It was the strangest thing - I had a fever of 103 for 2 and a half days - complete with aches and chills - but no cough, no runny nose, no sore throat, nothing. The doctors were confused as well. They just told me to drink lots of gatorade and sleep it off. So I did.
Long story short, on Friday I slept.

Saturday morning I was feeling 100% better. We met up with McDowell and Jamieson and the Paroda and Sumey families and went to the Native American Gathering in Belle Vernon to support Linda and Clarence. It was really cool. They had teepees and fry bread and arts and crafts and tomahawks - really cool. We enjoyed ourselves. I think the greatest moment of my life, though, was when we pulled in and got out of our car and Linda saw us (mind you, she's in charge of this whole event) and yelled, "LOOK EVERYONE! THOSE ARE MY MISSIONARIES!!" and then ran up with Clancey to meet us. It was the best. Everyone in the association said goodbye to us when we left and thanked us for everything we did for them. It was something else.

All this week I got to see the fruits of my labors. It was beautiful.
I found out I was leaving Saturday night. I'm getting transferred - leaving tomorrow - to go be a Zone Leader somewhere. More responsibility, but I'll be able to do it. The Lord hasn't failed me yet. He's chastened me and stretched me until it hurts, but he hasn't failed me. I love Him and am grateful for Him. Truly grateful.
Sunday was incredible. Everyone in the branch was crying and hugging me and taking pictures with me and complimenting me... I've felt so alone for the past 6 weeks. I've worked so hard and I've been so tired, and I've felt like I haven't made a difference sometimes, but I have. I love these people here, they love me, and I am really going to miss them.
The Johnsons had us over last night for dinner. It was really emotional. Naomi's brother, Joe, was there. He's way cool. He came to the baptism and the art show, but he has always been kind of hostile towards the church. But me, Elder Young, and Elder Jamieson hit it off with him really well and he just thought we were the coolest. When I walked in he stood up and said, "Elder Collier! What's up man!" and walked over to high five me. haha. But as the evening progressed we found out he was really struggling... he's going through a divorce. He has three kids. Robin and Sister Johnson have just been in tears over it. Joe has been worried about his kids, about the future, everything. We had an incredibly spiritual lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the pattern for happy living and improvement - and how it can help us overcome any doubt and any challenge. We taught him out of the Book of Mormon. He listened. Robin (his mom) and Sister Johnson both testified to him. Then I was very blunt with him and said, "Joe. This is the only way to true happiness. Full, and complete happiness." He said, "I know. I know." I shared with him about my conversion to the gospel. Everything was just happening a million miles an hour. I don't even know what all we talked about, but it was all so important and everyone was hanging on every word. There was such power and such hope and such authority - such peace, such protection, such guidance.

The gospel we preach is not a pep talk. The gospel we preach is not conjecture. The gospel we preach is a gospel of hard and fast rules that you can hang the weight of your soul on, because it's the same gospel Christ was hung on. It is not easy. It is difficult and sometimes hard to hear. It requires the sacrifice of everything you are. But that which does not require the sacrifice of all things cannot produce the faith sufficient for eternal life. The restored gospel, the fulness of the gospel, requires all things and can give all things. It is beautiful. It is true.

Joe saw that. There was a moment of silence, and then he just said, "Thank you." And just hugged me. He's like 2 feet taller than me, but he just scooped me up and we cried on each other's shoulders. When we were done hugging, laughingly I said, "You know, this is a good book. You should read it sometime." And handed him a Book of Mormon. He said, "No kidding, huh? Naomi's just been trying to get us all to read it forever. Now my mom is. I guess I should too."
It was awesome. Then we had a great dinner. We laughed and enjoyed ourselves. Brian and Kara and Brody kept telling me all about school and the sports they're playing and stuff they've seen on TV and "Elder Collier, I'm imagine this...." or "what If I had shoes for eyeballs?" and stuff like that hahaha. I love them so much.
It came time to say goodbye and it was so hard to go. Everyone was crying and hugging. I'm going to miss them most of all. Brian and Brody and Kara yelled, "No! You can't go! Quick! Put him in the basement!" haha then they followed Kofford and I out to the car and tried to get in our trunk. It was so sad. I really am going to miss them.
Well, now it's monday. That's the story of my life. I'm moving on.
Well, I gotta go have a nerf battle with my district and then I have to finish packing. Have a good week. I'll get you my new address as soon as I know where I'm going. I find out tomorrow.
Love you,

No comments:

Post a Comment