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, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Hey mom,

The ticket is all taken care of. I'm so sorry that I was speeding. haha. Won't happen again. Definitely not worth a loss of 200 dollars. I was on the interstate and I decided to pass some people who were already going 10 over. As soon as I sped up, I realized a cop was pulled over on the side of the road right next to me. He just put on his blinker and pulled out. I immediately pulled over without him even turning on his lights. He was a really nice guy. It was a pleasant exchange, other than the fine. haha. Oh well.

As for Christmas, I can tell you what I don't need. I don't need:
-New shoes
-New ties
-New Socks
Or new anything missionary related. All of my stuff will last until I get home.

What I would like:
- A pair of my jeans from back home. I've been wearing the same pair (for p-day activities, service etc) for the last year and a half. I'm tired of wearing them and I think I'm growing out of them. So if you can just send me another pair of faded or slightly beat up work jeans, that'd be great.
- If you could make a token payment to my student loans, that'd be cool. My goal is to get those paid off as soon as possible. I dunno if this would mess with my interest or whatever since the loan is frozen for my mission. If it's not possible, you don't have to. But if it is, please just make a payment on my student loan of whatever amount you would like. This really is the most important thing on my list right now, since I'm flat broke and won't have any money when I come home. The best present I could ever ask for is for you to help relieve the burden of crushing debt.
- Could I get a cool Deseret Book leather-bound version of Talmage's "Jesus the Christ" if that's available?
- Some shaving cream, razors, body wash, and axe hair gel. My current stock will last until about Christmas. But when that stuff runs out, it really takes it out of your monthly allotment when you have to replenish. haha.

Anyway, that's it. I won't be needing anything else.

Alrighty, so this week was great as usual. Monday we played basketball with the Uniontown, McKeesport, Pitt 2nd, Pitt 6th, and Dormont Elders at the church. We only played for a little bit because Guille and Luis wanted to feed us lunch. So we showered (the church has a locker room. How cool is that?!) and then went over for lunch. We ate with Guille, Luis, and Esthella. It is really neat to see how their family has taken to the gospel. Normally when we eat with people, we suggest a blessing on the food. He didn't need that. We all sat down and he just said, "I'll say it." Then he said a beautiful prayer and blessed the food. Guille made Puerto Rican food - beef chunks with rice and vegetables. We had a great lesson with them after the meal.

That night we went to "Uncle" Mike's house to help him install some speakers. He wanted to run a cord from his living room out to his back patio so that he could listen to his stereo in the back yard. Elder Jones and Elder Rivas helped us drill holes in his living room wall and in the back wall of his house so that we could run the cords through his rooms. It was a blast. I'll never forget Elder Jones drilling those holes... we had a ton of fun. It definitely wasn't even close to professional, but Mike totally doesn't care. He called us later during the week to say thanks. It was nice of him.

Tuesday we had Elder Spohn and Elder Anderson over for an exchange. Elder Anderson and I went together. It was fun because months ago I had gone on an exchange with him towards the beginning of his mission and Elder Gerratt had gone with Elder Spohn. So we just followed up on our experiences with the first exchanges. Elder Anderson and I had a lesson with Sue on her front steps. We had a long discussion on the principle of faith. Sue is doing so well. She's been sick the last few weeks but she was finally starting to get over her cold. She said, "Before my baptism I had to talk myself into going to church, but now I miss it. I love being a member." 

We had a lot of plans fall through later that day and ended up tracting a ton. We talked to some guy with an interesting looking dog. It was an english something or other, but it looked like a pitt bull with an elongated, egg shaped head. A lot of people yelled at us, some people let us in to get out of the cold... it was interesting. haha. One guy thought we were Jehova's Witnesses, but as soon as we told him we were Mormons his whole expression changed and he said, "Oh really!? I was just watching a special on you guys! How's your two-year mission going? You guys are so awesome." We had a good chat with him. We wasn't interested in learning more about the gospel but he asked for as much "literature" as we could give him. This other guy let us in - he was in the middle of installing a hardwood floor in his house. He's a retired gym teacher. He had a beautiful house. He loves talking to Elders. Apparently, "We're good company." He didn't want to hear the gospel, either. But he thanked us for stopping by and gave us water and said we were welcome to come back any time. I love meeting genuine people.

We had a lesson with Nick and Jess at the church that night. They brought pizza from Pizza Hut over and we ate in the kitchen. Then we read Heleman 7-9 about the murder of the chief judge and Nephi's inspired prophecy about it. Nick had a rough day, and it was what he needed. At the end of reading the chapter, I said, "Moral of the story? Follow the prophet. The end." We all laughed. After the prayer Nick told us about his day using only scripture language. "And verily verily I say unto you that I was exceedingly upset and I wanted to smite them in the face with my fists." haha! 

After that we went over and helped the relief society and some of their husbands with cleaning out Sister Merida's apartment. Sister Merida had to move back to Guatemala to take care of her mom, who isn't doing well. She left almost all of her things, so we had to go through them and move them into storage and stuff. But the good news is that Nick and Jess have been looking for a cheap, available apartment for 3 months now, and suddenly they found one! There is a good possibility that they'll be able to move in to Sister Merida's apartment. Anyway, Sister Merida wanted us to have some stuff, so we were given a TON of food, dishes, and furniture and elder anderson and I had to take them back to the apartment and clean them up and stuff so that in the morning, Elder Gerratt and I could put it in the mission storage unit for future missionary apartment use. We are getting a big surge of missionaries next year, so we need all the furniture and stuff we can get. It was a blessing.

We had a good night hanging out and talking once planning was finished. Elder Anderson and I hung out in the living room and slept on the couches. It was a blast.

We had Zone Training on Wednesday morning at the church. Elders Deaton and Nelson trained on Prayer and a little bit on finding. President also addressed us. He spoke with some serious power and authority about upcoming changes in missionary work and how we need to prepare ourselves. He gave us a list of 10 things we needed to quit doing and 10 things we needed to start doing. It really was inspiring. We had a break for lunch in between addresses, and me, Elder Gerratt, Elder Jones, and Elder Rivas went with some other elders to Boston Market and we ate a TON of cornbread. After the training was over we dropped people off and then Elder Gerratt and I did a ton of office work. We had to move all the furniture and dishes and stuff into the storage unit. Long story short, it made us late, as usual, and we had to hurry and meet up with the Dormont Elders again so we could pick them up and take them to our meal appointment at the Adcock's house. They are such a neat family. We had chili and cornbread (again! haha). Their son, Gabe, has a rare disease in his lungs and he had recently gotten sick, so he was really struggling. He is 5 years old. We were able to help his dad give a blessing. It was beautiful. 

After that we had Book of Mormon class at the church. Elder Nelson and Elder Deaton taught again. William, one of the guys Elder Jones and Elder Rivas are teaching, came. Justin and Jess came, but Nick was sick with strep throat. Another guy, named Mark, came as well. Interesting story about Mark: last week we got a media referral for him. His friend in Arizona who had grown up with him felt impressed to refer him to the missionaries. Elder Gerratt normally tries to contact referrals immediately, but he felt we should wait. The next day, (right after I got the speeding ticket) he felt impressed to call Mark. Apparently we called him right as he finished praying for God to send him help and direction in his life. He was shocked. He said, "Well, can I meet with you guys today? Like, in an hour?" We told him we were in Somerset and wouldn't be able to, but we asked him what his address was. We found out he lived in the Dormont elders' area, so we let him know and told him Elder Jones and Elder Rivas would come see him immediately. Right after we hung up, he prayed again for confirmation that God had heard his prayer. Right when he finished that prayer, Elder Jones and Elder Rivas called him. Then they had an incredible lesson with him and he came to Book of Mormon class that night. Fast forward to just this last wednesday, we were learning about Alma the Younger in Alma 36. Mark raised his hand and said, "I would just like to say that this chapter is extremely relevant to me right now. Never in my whole life have I found spiritual strength like this. I've been unhappy with [his faith] for 17 years now, and I've never been able to find answers to questions in my heart. But every time I pick up the Book of Mormon, I find truth. This is it. I feel like I've finally found what I've been searching for." Then William raised his hand and said, "I would like to second that. I'm [from the same faith] as well. I had the exact same experience. My life was difficult and lacked meaning, and nothing could satisfy. But as soon as Elders Jones and Rivas came into my life, everything changed. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and we have it." It was powerful. Elder Jones and Elder Rivas are incredible missionaries.

Thursday we had a good lesson with Luis in the morning. It was in Spanish, so I dunno what happened. It went good though. We went to the office after and we had to help Elder Warnock, the Fleet Coordinator, move a ton of mission vehicles. Elder Gerratt left his coat in one of the vehicles and we had to go back for it, which took about an hour. It was kind of a tedious day of running back and forth. But I got my ticket paid for, which was good. We had a good experience with following the Spirit that afternoon as we went to visit Allie, one of the people we met 2 weeks ago. As we got out of the car to go see her, I got nervous and so I said, "Maybe we should go see this person first." So we started in that direction but then I felt like that totally wasn't the right thing to do. So we manned up and turned around and went and saw Allie. Turns out, she was thinking about us and wondering where we were. We showed up. She wanted us to teach her more about what we believed right then. We met outside on her patio for about half an hour. Had we gone to do the other thing first, we would have missed out because she would have left to take her son to Hockey. It was a good lesson and she agreed to study the book of mormon.

We had a great lesson with Nick and Jess that night, going over how to obtain complete forgiveness and understanding the atonement. Jess really likes Alma 36. We met alone with nick for a little bit before Jess got home, and we had a good lesson on the necessity of service and forgetting ourselves and going to work. They were going to go out teaching with us but the lesson got cancelled and so we just had a lesson together. It was really great. I love them!

The Eve family had us over for dinner after that. Elder Rivas and Elder Jones went with us. Guess what we had? Cornbread. Aaaahhh!! It was cornbread week. But it was really delicious and we had a good lesson on the importance of the Book of Mormon and how to introduce it to friends. We taught by using a clip from The District 2 DVD.

Brother Daugherty had us over after that. He joined the church 6 years ago and is just a stud. But he asked us on Tuesday when we were cleaning out sister merida's apartment if we could come visit him. He said, "Elders, I need spiritual nourishment. Please come teach me." We had a great lesson about the temple. He hasn't been ordained an Elder yet, but he's working on it. It was a fantastic lesson and he's meeting with the Bishop and Stake president in January to progress in the priesthood.

We had weekly planning on Friday. We had a ton of clerical stuff we had to take care of before transfers. I'm not as worried as I normally am about getting a new companion, but every day I get more nervous about being the senior assistant. Ah well. It's turned out well in the past, so I trust that the Lord will help me get through the change, so I guess that's why I'm not as worried. I'll just keep working hard and he'll prepare the way. 

Our lesson with Jose was awesome. He's so ready for baptism! He and Luis are getting baptized this Saturday. Brother Match came with us and we went over the baptismal interview questions and the law of tithing and some other commandments. Jose is just so full of faith and dedication. He's going into the marines in January. He wants to make sure he's solid in the faith before he takes off and he's really stepping up his dedication to the gospel. It's cool to see. It's good that his family is all on the same page and that they're helping each other with living the gospel.

Michelle, Justin's mom, had us over for a lesson after that. Brother Root came with us. Brother root, me, Elder Gerratt, Michelle, and Justin all had a lesson around their dinner table. It was fantastic. We learned about the Plan of Salvation. She said, "Elders, this just makes sense. This is how God would operate. What's so crazy is that I already believed a lot of this stuff. Justin told me that I've been a Mormon all my life and I didn't even know it." She bore her testimony of the Book of Mormon and how she feels when she reads it. She said, "It's just weird. There's nothing else that makes me feel this way. When I read it, I'm better. I'm nicer, I'm happier, I'm more peaceful. It's amazing." Brother Root was able to share his experience with joining the church and making necessary changes and how the Book of Mormon was the reason why he was able to do it. It was a good experience.

Saturday morning, the Whitings had us, the Adcocks, and Jess over for breakfast (nick was still sick). We had pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup. WAY good. After we had a lesson on diligence, Elder Gerratt and I took off down the street to go try someone who said we could come back for an appointment. We got stood up of course, but we met his neighbor Sarah. She was going through a ton of problems in her life with her health. She has fibromyalgia and it has really hit her hard. We offered to rake her leaves for her and she said, "Really? You'd do that?" We said of course! She said, "Well, my rake is broken!" We said no problem, we had friends with rakes. So we went to Sue's house and she gave us a rake and a broom. Then we went back to the Whitings and got another rake. Then we went back to her house and raked her front and back yards for her. She's a great lady and we're going back to teach her the gospel tomorrow. We also got her mom's information and contacted her and offered to rake her yard.

William, the cool guy from the book of mormon class, got baptized at 4:00 PM on Saturday. Elder Jones baptized him. He was very reverent when he came out of the water. He was beaming, and he bowed and said, "Thank you everyone. Thank you." But then when he got out of the water and went into the changing room, you could hear the echo of him hugging elder Jones and patting him on the back and then he yelled, "WOO HOO!!!!" It was awesome!

Brother Hoskin Jr. came out with us after the baptism to teach Melissa. I just love her. She's a fantastic lady. We reviewed the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We focused a lot on the atonement, and of the necessity of baptism by proper authority. We told her we held that authority, and she started crying. She has really been searching for a way to find complete forgiveness in her life. We told that way to her very bluntly. She said, "Well, I guess I better find out if all this is true or not." I think that was a big turning point for her. Brother Hoskin bore a powerful testimony of his experience with finding out the Book of Mormon was true. As we were coming out he said, "Elders, it's been too long. I haven't felt the Spirit working through me like that since my mission. Thank you for letting me come testify with you. There's no better feeling in the world." As we drove back to his house to drop him off, I found out that we sang in a concert together in 2012! He was in the BYU-I Men's Chorus as a Bass II. We sang in the same section when the BYU men's chorus came to perform with them on choir tour! Small world.

Caroline, one of the young women from the ward, met up with us at Tori and TJ's house for our lesson with them. Caroline is the bishop's daughter and she's a pro. The youth in this ward are so solid. They send each other scripture texts every morning after seminary. They hang out with each other all the time and they do fantastic missionary work. Anyway, we reviewed the Plan of Salvation and incorporated object lessons. Tori and TJ remembered almost everything from the last lesson! And Tori read the Book of Enos! She loves the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized. TJ is working on it. =D Caroline, towards the end of the lesson said, "Hold on, Elders. I wanna say something." Then she taught the whole last part of the lesson and applied it to her life and pulled out scriptures and asked engaging questions and everything! It was incredible! It was especially good for Tori and TJ to have someone their age teach them. It was great. We were really impressed.

Sunday was SO. COOL. Elder Rivas confirmed William. After his confirmation, William asked the bishopric quietly if he could make a few remarks. They let him come sit up on the stand. After sacrament, he stood up and said, "Everyone. I just want to let you know how happy I am that I have the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is real. I feel the joy right now. I didn't have this joy before Elder Rivas and Elder Jones found me. I want to thank all of you for being so kind to me. I want to thank all the elders for their help. And I want to promise you that I will stay active in this church for my whole life. Thank you." Then he sat down. Everyone was amazed. Bill is such a cool guy! Michelle, Esthela, Jose, Nick, Luis, Jess, Justin, and Sue all came to church today. It's incredible to see everyone there. I love this ward. The whitings sat in front of us and wrestled with their two kids the whole time. They were crying and kicking. It was hilarious. Brother Whiting turned around and looked at us and said, "Are you ready elders? Gear up. Parenthood is coming." It was great!

Michelle had us over after church for lunch. "Uncle" Mike came with us. She made us grilled cheese and tomato soup. Over lunch she said the most amazing thing. She said, "You guys, I am so impressed with the type of boys you are. I don't know how you do it. I know this isn't going to make sense because you're boys, but you two remind me of a starched white pinafore. You know, one of those white aprons little girls wear over a dress. Everyone in the world is so dirty. Either that or they're wrinkled. You know what I mean? Either they've been tangled up in sin, or their attitude is so depressed or despondent because of the terrible world they live in that they walk around with a frown on their face. Everywhere you go! And I hate that! But you two... you're clean. Justin is clean. He's just different now. And the thought that I could become that way? It's incredible to me. I want to be a part of what produces such clean, bright people." I was very touched. It was a memorable and profound statement. She was very happy to inform us that she had quit drinking coffee and started drinking hot chocolate instead. We haven't even asked her to do that! We focused the whole lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ - what he expects of us during our life here. Uncle Mike gave her some hilarious tips on how to quit smoking. He said, "Michelle, you wanna know how to quit smoking? But some tylenol PM and take it. I slept for 3 days!" She said, "Mike, I can't do that. I have to go to work." He said, "Just go to sleep, Michelle. Just go to sleep." It was SUPER awkward. haha then he said, "You only want to quit smoking once. The agony of the experience is too great!" You've gotta know Uncle Mike. He's a character. It was a good lesson.

We taught the Plan of Salvation to Mason after that. He was baptized when he was 8 but has pretty much been inactive his whole life. He knows all the parts of the Plan of Salvation, but we went through and made them relevant. Then we realized his issue was not knowing whether or not the Book of Mormon was true. If he was going to act on the teachings from the plan of salvation, he needed a witness from God. He had read it on occasion, but had never made a diligent study of the Book. He admitted this was true. He said, "How do I get an answer? I mean, how should I go about reading the Book?" I related the account from the life of Willard Richards.
He said: "The first time I opened up a copy of the Book of Mormon, which was given to me by my cousin, it opened by chance to 2nd Nephi. And I read, 'Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.' I had been taught all my life that God was too far away to hear a little boy's prayer, but close enough to grab him by the scruff of the neck and thrust him into the hottest corners of hell for the least infraction. I said to my cousin, 'Either God or the devil had a hand in writing that book, for man never wrote it.'" He then read the Book of Mormon in a week with the intent of finding out for himself whether or not the book was from God. When he received his answer, he left his job as a doctor and moved to Nauvoo.
"That's how you need to go about this, Mason," I said. "You need to understand that it's either true or it isn't. There's no middle ground." He understood. We had a great lesson, full of the spirit. He thanked us for coming and said it was a very spiritual lesson.
The Hoyt family had us over for dinner after that. They are so awesome. At the end of the thought sister Hoyt asked, "Hey, could I have 5 copies of the Book of Mormon to give to my neighbors since we just moved in?" Holy cow. Way to go!
We had a general priesthood meeting after that and I was able to see brother Moser and Brother Sumey from the Uniontown branch. I miss them! It was really embarrassing because the service started and everyone quit talking and rushed to their seats. There wasn't a seat for me in the pews.... and I was the only one standing up in the chapel and the stake president was speaking. So I said to Elder Gerratt, "Gotta find a seat!" And I just ran to the overflow. haha! I felt like everyone was staring at me.
We talked last night with President about a giant media campaign the church is launching for the Christmas season and how to impliment it among the missionaries. All the district leaders will be training on it this wednesday. You should check and post it on your facebook!
Anyway, this week was great.

I love you all! Have a blessed week!

No comments:

Post a Comment