I wish I knew where to begin about this last week. It's been a crazy day. I had to drive the van and the trailer to the airport for the first time today. Luckily nobody died. haha don't worry, there weren't any close calls. It went well. I was just way nervous, but I got the hang of it quick. We picked up 6 new missionaries from the airport today. They are all bright eyed and happy to be here. I love picking up new missionaries. It's the best part of my job as an assistant. One of them is from Beaverton, but he went to Beaverton high school and doesn't know dad. Bummer!
Let's see... this letter's probably going to be a lot shorter than other weeks because I'm pressed for time. Such a shame because this last week with Elder Gerratt was crazy epic. A lot of it was spent working on the transfer board with president and doing logistics. Elder Gerratt and I pretty much have logistics down to a science. We bring a ton of candy to the office, sit down in front of the computers, and then don't get up for 5 hours until we're done. Biggest headache ever, but we've managed to make it fun.
Monday night we went to the Hoskin's home to watch Prophet of the Restoration with Sue and with Michelle. They loved it. Michelle stayed after we left to look at a picture book about temples.
Tuesday, Nick and Jess took us out to Olive Garden. Jess is so cool. She carries around mormon.org cards, the kind where you can write messages on the back, and every time she asks us a question and we give her an answer or a scripture to look up, she writes it down on one of those cards and puts it in her scriptures. WOW! I'm so amazed by her faith and diligence in living the gospel. Nick is such a crack up. You gotta meet him. He was teasing Jess all through dinner. He said, "Jess, it's like you have buttons on your arm and I can just push them!" Then he poked her in the arm and said, "This one gets her upset. This one makes her roll her eyes. This one makes her want to punch me!" It was so funny!
On Wednesday we had another great lesson with Michelle. She has been living the word of wisdom! She didn't drink coffee at all that week. She was very proud of herself. We also taught the Book of Mormon class that night. Elder Gerratt did a fantastic job covering alma 39-42. Very moving. William was there and he shared a ton of insights about the hope the Plan of Salvation brings. His insights were super poignant and moving because his mom is in the hospital and his sister has cancer. I love that man. He's golden.
Thanksgiving was great.We played in the Turkey Bowl in the morning. Justin came with us and we had a blast. Then Elders Jones and Rivas let us shower at their apartment and then we went to Guille and Luis's home for a visit and a lesson. Their daughter, Tatiana, was back from college and so she got to sit in on a few lessons. She's really softening her heart. She challenged me to a race to the end of the bible. She said, "There's no way I'm going to read the scriptures unless I have a challenge. I'm totally going to beat you!" haha yeah right. Hopefully she reads. Otherwise she's going to get creamed! Anyway, so we had a lesson with their son Jose. He's changed so much. He stopped us in the middle of the lesson and said, "Sometimes I get frustrated with my siblings. I don't like the feeling I have when I'm angry with them. Is that normal to have? Is it wrong? How do I fix it? I want my family to be happy and Christ-centered, and I feel like my inner feelings detract from that." We had a really good discussion with him about that. He's just such a forward thinker. Those questions really display the desires of his heart right now because of the gospel. He wants his family to live harmoniously. That's what it's all about.
Guille made us hot dogs with cheese in the bun and onions and some kind of special sauce. It was delicious. We ate with them and had a good time. Then we went over to the Bishop's house. The Kraft family spent the day with us as well. We sang Thanksgiving hymns together and then had a fantastic meal. Then Bishop taught us how to play Risk 2210 or whatever it's called. It's futuristic risk. It has robots instead of horses and cannons. You can claim territories under water and on the moon. It's nuts. It was good to play risk. It wouldn't be a proper thanksgiving for a Collier without a good game of Risk! Then we did a puzzle and played with their dogs. I got such a melancholy feeling as I sat at their table doing the puzzle with them. There was beautiful music, the smell of desserts, fantastic families, and such a good spirit about the whole situation that I became sad that it had to end and I wouldn't be able to share that experience with them ever again. But it was a sweet feeling, and I savored it. I was moved with such gratitude that I had such good friends - Elders Jones, Rivas, and Gerratt, as well as the wonderful ward members that I'm privledged to serve with. I really will miss them a ton when I move areas.
The Eve family had us over after that. The Adcocks and the Reiks were there as well. Brother Adcock taught us how to play "The Farming Game." It's this crazy board game that's like a mix between monopoly and settlers of catan. Poor Elder Jones landed on every negative square and drew every negative card the game had to offer. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. Elder Jones threw down all of his debt cards from the bank and said, "I'm sick of this! Farming sucks!' SO funny.
Friday we were invited over to Guille and Luis's home for breakfast. Luis and Jose had their baptismal interviews with Elders Deaton and Nelson. After the interviews were over, we had a lesson on the priesthood and its purpose and the duties of the priesthood. Then Elder nelson and elder deaton were invited to stay for the meal. Nick and Jess and Rivas and Jones were also invited to come. The food was so great! Chicken and brown rice and then these things for dessert that were similar to scones but looked more like a doughnut and were covered in a cinnamon sauce. Guille is such a good cook. She was too nervous to cook for us originally because, she said, "I thought you would making fun of my food." But now she knows we think she's amazing and she cooks for us all the time. She loves having the Elders over.
Luis volunteered Guille and Esthela to say the prayers at his baptism. Esthela and Guille were super nervous, so they wanted to have a lesson on prayer. Nick and Jess joined us, and Jess participated in the lesson and taught quite a bit of it. We were so proud of her! Esthela loves Jess and looks up to her a ton, so Jess's teaching was especially powerful.
After that we pretty much did logistics all day. Then President took us out to a restaurant called Houlihan's with his son, daughter in law, and grandkids. It was in a sweet mall called the galleria mall. When we come out here to visit we've gotta go there. It's really neat. Anyway, it was super weird being in a mall and we definitely couldn't wait to get out of there haha. WAY too big of a distraction from logistics. We worked the rest of the night and then had to plan and prep for a baptism on top of that.
Saturday was amazing. Luis and Jose loved their baptism. Guille and Esthela said beautiful prayers. Esthela prayed that Tatiana would get baptized as well so they could all go to the temple to be sealed. Brother Match baptized Jose and Elder Gerratt baptized Luis. Jose had to be dunked twice because his head didn't go all the way under because he's so tall. It was really funny. The talks were fantastic - sister match and brother eve both gave talks in Spanish. Even the Bishop stood up and gave his welcome in Spanish. Jess made her famous banana pudding dessert and everyone loved it. After everyone left, Jose and Luis were interviewed by the bishop to receive the Aaronic priesthood. The whole family was way happy, especially Guille. She kept asking if we could baptize Tatiana the next week, but Tatiana said no! haha. But she agreed to meet with the sister missionaries in State College. We are proud of her. It's tough making changes in your life to conform to gospel principles.
After that we had a lesson with Mason. He and his mom joined the church a long time ago. He is 22 and was baptized when he was 8, but he and his mom went inactive shortly thereafter. He knows a lot about the church, but he has never really sought after a witness from God if it was true or not. I don't think he had ever been prompted to. He told us during the lesson, "Last week, I was touched by what you guys said. I asked if it was okay to meditate to get answers and you immediately said yes! Do it! So I did it. And I got answers. I feel like a big change is about to come into my life and it's gonna be a spiritual one. And I think I'm on the right track." We invited him to church and he said he'd come!
Sunday was another beautiful day. I sat by Mason in sacrament meeting. Elder Gerratt confirmed Luis and I confirmed Jose. It was probably the most powerful confirmation blessing I have been priviledged to give. Jose is a special person. He's going into the marines in a month, and some of the ward members are going to help him prep for being a member in the military. It's going to be cool. Right after sacrament meeting, Bishop invited Jose, Luis, and Tatiana and Esthela (Guille had to work) into his office as well as all the other brethren who were invited to participate. Then Elder Gerratt conferred the priesthood upon Luis and ordained him a priest. Then Luis stood up, Jose sat down, and he gave his son the priesthood and ordained him a priest. Esthela and Tatiana were speechless. It was a beautiful occasion. Jose and Luis were on cloud nine. Jess, Jose, Luis, Guille, and Estela are all going to the columbus temple this Saturday to do baptisms. Jess had her interview to get her patriarchal blessing! My heart is full of joy. These people are really doing it! My friends are living the gospel! And now they're getting the blessings!
Michelle couldn't come to church because her and Justin got in late from their thanksgiving travels, but she had us over after church for Grilled cheese. Brother Hemert came with us and we had a lesson on sacrifice and having a sincere, broken heart and a contrite spirit. It was really powerful. After that, Elder Gerratt asked Justin and Michelle if they'd let him film them sharing their experiences with joining the church. Michelle said, "I first met the missionaries because they came to my house. Justin had gotten on the internet and purchased [haha! Nope! It's free!] a block of time with the elders. I would say hi to them when they'd come over but then I'd go hide upstairs so they woudln't talk to me. But then I'd listen to the lessons and I'd hear Elder Collier's laugh all the way upstairs. You guys just sounded so happy. Then it would get really quiet [because we were saying the closing prayer] and I'd think about it. And then you guys would get up to leave. You were never there longer than an hour, and I was really impressed with that, because you didn't impose. But now we both love you and want you to stay all the time! But anyway, I saw the change in Justin. He was happy and vibrant. And I wanted that. So I started reading the Book of Mormon. And now I'm happy." It was amazing. I love Michelle! You need to accept her friend request and become best friends with her!
The Miner had us over for dinner that night. We spent the day saying bye to everyone Elder Gerratt wanted to say bye to. Then after that we met up with Max, the Teacher's quorum president, and he taught a lesson with us to TJ and Tori. In the middle of the lesson there was a knock at the door. Someone left a note for TJ and Tori, letting them know how much they were loved and how awesome they were. We found a note on our windshield after the lesson as well. Max spilled the beans and let us know it was Caroline, the bishop's daughter. She had come with us to teach the week before. They had coordinated the whole thing. How cool is that?! The youth in this ward amaze me. They are such great people.
Now I'm at president's house and everyone's having dinner without me. I should probably go. My new companion is Elder Bartlett. He came out with Elder Vaioleti and has been the Zone Leader in the Pitt North Zone for 3 transfers now. he's way cool and I'm excited, though I'm really going to miss Elder Gerratt.
I love you guys. Can't wait to talk to you! Only a few more weeks!