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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 27, 2012

Hey mom!
Man, I can't believe Harrison's been married for over a week now! Life goes on. I hope they had a great time. 
Time is flying by! I just realized that conference is the month after next. After this October conference I'll only have one more and I'll be home. Can you believe that?! Sheesh. That's crazy. Things are going well. We are gearing up for transfers this week. We have transfer board meetings Tuesday and Thursday and Friday all day. We've been doing a lot of praying about things. It'll be really busy. Next week I'll be picking up 9 new missionaries from the airport and taking 2 home. I'm looking forward to the experience.
It's really funny that you sent me that story about me hating church and asking "Is it Sundays?!" Elder Gerratt and I were talking to each other this morning about how we want to raise our kids like our parents raised us because they taught us how to seek truth for ourselves instead of forcing us to do things. I told him that story about how you were wise enough to let me pray about church and it changed the entire course of my life because God answered me. I don't remember exactly what happened to me, probably because of the veil (I was super young!), but I know that it changed my life and I've always loved church because of it. I've always felt that God was very near to me and would hear me if I asked him something. I have you to thank for that. I was really shocked that even though we're thousands of miles away and separated by time zones, we were thinking about the exact same thing. I love you, Mom.
Last Monday we had a great lesson with a lady named Sue. She was being taught about 2 months ago but has been in and out of the hospital so it's been tough for her to meet with us. But she knows the Book of Mormon is true and wants to be baptized. We have been helping her out with her health issues and the members here have been super supportive and helpful. It's really great.

We got stood up for an appointment after that. So we went tracting and met a lady from England! She is a young, new mother of 2 kids and met her husband while he was doing a study abroad thing in Europe. Pretty cool. Too bad she wasn't interested! haha. I went home after that and slept. I've been really sick all week still. I guess the doctor's diagnosis wasn't correct. He figured I had what all the other elders have been getting, but he said it should be a 3 day thing tops if the diagnosis was correct. This has been going on for over 2 weeks now, so he's asked me to schedule an appointment with him and he's going to do some blood work. I hope I'm okay. I've lost a lot of weight and you can see it in my face. Not good.
Tuesday morning we had a good lesson with Sean. He's loving the Book of Mormon. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and it answered a ton of questions. He said, "Ya know, this is the only church that has made sense to me. Everything just fits and works. I really want to keep reading the Book of Mormon. It brings me closer to God. I'll stay up on this." He had watched the Restoration video on his own and he said, "I'm a lot like Joseph Smith was. I'm just searching. It's time I asked God if this is true." It was really good.
Elder Gerratt and I kind of got into a fight on Tuesday in the car on the way to Sunbury. It wasn't good. He just keeps calling me out on "obedience" things, which really aren't obedience issues. They're just his strict interpretation of the white handbook. It was a stupid argument. I got really upset at him because he said the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals weren't in the approved mission library and I shouldn't be studying anything but the Standard Works and the Approved Mission Library. I told him that the white handbook states that we can study the words of modern prophets and apostles, and that it was approved church curriculum material. He didn't like that I could defend my position, so he graciously provided some other examples of how disobedient I am. He's right, I mean, I have been obedient but I haven't been EXACTLY obedient my whole mission. I went to that baseball game with the Senior Couple in Altoona. He said that was disobedient. I didn't think it was, and president never said anything about it, and it was during P-Day, so I figured it was okay and both Elder Harrison and I prayed and felt good about it. He said, "We need to avoid ALL forms of worldly entertainment, Elder." I just slapped my forehead and said "Oh, brother." haha.
I just figure I've had success and made it this far in my mission based solely on the Spirit of the law, because even though I try my best, I still fall short. He's had success and made it this far because of the letter of the law. He's the strictest missionary I've ever seen. I try my very hardest to be obedient, but only Christ has ever been EXACTLY obedient. And sometimes you can take it too far. I've learned that. I've been living on dad's advice: "If you're losing hope while doing missionary work, you're doing it wrong!" I can't be perfect. I'll continue trying, but heavenly father understands my heart and my sacrifice.
Imagine how happy I was when Bruce D. Porter talked about the Spirit of the Law, the importance of Grace and Mercy, the impossibility of being exactly obedient, how we can't earn salvation or work our way to heaven, and the importance of striving despite imperfections - for 4 days in a row during mission tour. I felt really nice. I wanted to say "I told you so" to my companion, but I decided that wouldn't be a good idea. Plus, when Elder Porter interviewed me, I asked about the manuals, and he said they were okay. BOOM! haha. Whatever.
Anyway, back to Tuesday, our fight ended up being a really good conversation and we got to know each other a lot better. We came to find some common ground and ended up talking about things that were really important to us. It actually ended up being a really spiritual experience and it motivated me to want to be better and to do better. I want to become what the apostle Paul became (See JST Romans 7):
 "But now I am spiritual; for that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which I am commanded not to allow, I allow not.  For what I know is not right I would not do; for that which is sin, I hate.
 Now then, it is no more I that do sin; but I seek to subdue that sin which dwelleth in me."

It truly is my desire to become perfect like my Father in Heaven is perfect. I'm just very grateful that I understand now that God is forgiving and perfectly merciful. It's like the parable of the laborers in the vineyard; he doesn't care at what hour we arrive to work, as long as we show up and work hard. For some people it takes longer than others. Before my mission I felt like God was ALL JUSTICE, like if I failed in one instance the whole ship was sunk. But I know for myself now that if we despair when we slip up, we lack faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. We are relying upon the arm of the flesh, and that cannot bring lasting peace. But, if our desire is to not excuse ourself but to improve and fix the problems we have, to subdue the sins which dwell within us, then we can move on and rely on the merits of Jesus Christ to change us. It's a wonderful thing. I'll never be perfect in this life, but eventually I will become perfect. It's all baby steps. I can do those.

Things were all settled by the time we finished our drive. We slept over at the Sunbury Elders' apartment and then went on exchange with them the next day. Elder Gerratt went with Elder Zaugg (who can do an incredible Joker impersonation and can do any other voice you can think of) and Elder Davis. Elder Davis is from Beaverton and went to Westview. He had Brother Farmer for seminary, but Dad taught his older brother, Jade, seminary. He was so excited to be doing missionary work with the legendary Brother Collier's son. haha he said, "I'm totally writing home about this!" Elder Davis is an incredible missionary. He's just finishing up his training and he's doing fantastic. Wednesday was really, really fun.

Thursday morning we drove to Harrisburg to have our first Zone Conference. Elder Porter is SUCH a nice guy. His wife is really cool as well. Their talks were incredible. I think my favorite part was the ending when he opened it up to questions. He knows everything! He answered every question and tied them all together so that we could understand. He taught extensively on how the Light of Christ or the Spirit of Christ is different from the Holy Ghost, and how all 3 members of the Godhead operate through the medium of the Light of Christ. Really interesting concept, totally true, but too deep for an email. haha I'll show you my notes when I come home. Really good. Elder Woodruff did an organ solo. He's a concert organist. He did an incredible rendition of "Come Come Ye Saints." It sounded like general conference! After the conference we drove to State College and I went on exchange with Elder Hatch, who used to be an AP. He goes home soon, which I'm sad about. He went on exchange with me my first transfer on the mission and pretty much changed my life. I owe him for the things that he taught me. It was really cool to be with him again at the end of his mission.

The next day we went running on the Penn State track. I ran a mile and a half. It was great. I'm trying to get in shape so I can beat Jonny! haha! Altoona's conference was really good. I got to see Elder Harrison and eat lunch with him. We had a blast. He's one of my best friends. We had a long drive home after that and didn't get in until late. We had dinner with Brother DaTillo. He made us pork chops. They were really good, but I got really sick that night.

Saturday's conference was absolutely fantastic! I sang really well. People were crying. I was amazed at how well I sang. Definitely the best I've ever done. I got to spend time with Elder Vaioleti and Elder Wallentine and Elder Remund. It was great.  I miss them all so much. My personal interview with Elder Porter was really good. I told him about how you guys know his son. He said, "Does your dad work for CES? That's great!" haha it was cool. Elder Gerratt and I both talked to him individually about our companionship and we got really sound advice. He's such a wise man. You just feel the spirit when you're around him. It's kind of intimidating, and he like, stares into your soul, but you know it's good natured and you feel so special when he talks to you. It was an incredible experience.
I was really sick all Saturday as well. We had a great lesson with Nick and Jessica that night and they came to the adult session of Stake Conference. Nick gets claustrophobic in large groups of people so we watched the conference in the relief society room with all the screaming children. He enjoyed it though. I saw the Johnsons at conference. They all screamed and ran up and hugged me. I played catch with their little son Aaron. It was fantastic.

Sunday was just wonderful all around. I saw the Johnsons again. Nick and Jessica came to this session too. It was held in a high shcool auditorium and was filled to capacity. The choir was really good and so were the speakers. I took a nap after church for 2 hours because my stomach was hurting really bad, but it went away. We tracted for a while and then taught a missionary fireside to the youth in the Bishop's home. Then we had an appointment with this great family! Kris and Eric let us come over. They're both normal people. They go to church but they know something is missing. They're super nice. She's a kindergarten teacher, he's a mechanic I think, they are married, and they just adopted a little boy because they couldn't have children. They are absolutely golden. She said she's super skeptical about things, so she may drill us with questions. We said that was totally okay. She asked one question, we answered it, she looked surprised and satisfied, and then took everything about the restoration in. Eric was really excited when we taught about the book of mormon and he said he wanted to read it. It was a great lesson. They invited us back and gave us lemonade. Wonderful, wonderful people.

Then we had an appointment with the Cardenas family. Elder Gerratt taught Luis and Guille in Spanish while I taught Jose and Estella in english with Brother Reik in the next room. Both lessons went well and they are getting baptized on September 29th! (hopefully!). I taught them about how true knowledge about Christ leads to true faith, and only true faith in Christ leads to true perfection. It made sense to them, felt right, and they were excited to read more about Nephi.

That's my week! I hope I answered all your questions. I'm going to the dentist today so I've gotta go!

Love you!

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