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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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 11, 2013

Dear mom,
I would love to live in the dorms again! haha! That would be the coolest experience. I was thinking about being an RA just so I could have that experience again, but then I decided it would be detrimental to finding a wife if I was hanging out with freshmen all the time... so now that I have the opportunity to live in upperclassmen dorms, sign me up! That would be a great experience.
Thanks so much for the good news and also the compliments. I'm not amazing at everything but I'm very grateful that someone in the world thinks so. haha! =) Tell Deanne I'm very sorry about her loss. I love her very much - I love their whole family and I think about them often. Please give her an extra hug just for me. Also, tell Cameron he's a handsome devil and I love him! I hope he got the last letter I sent to him!
So here is my week. I've gotta go quick because we're hanging out with the Krafts today! It's my last free p-day in this area, so I'm going to take full advantage of it. We're going to the Dor Stop (this restaurant in Dormont) for lunch. So I gotta email and get all the reports done before 1!
MONDAY: We had a cool P-Day planned with Elders Nelson and Rivas but we got an email and found out we had to do the Stake President's report. In case you haven't heard, this monster report is due the first week of every month to all the stake presidents and it is pretty much the bane of my existence. We went to the office and started working on it only to find out that Sister Buehner, who is the new office secretary, hadn't done her portion of the report so we couldn't move forward. She's brand new and is still getting the hang of things. She felt really bad, but we were really happy because that meant we were off the hook and could go have a P-Day instead of working all day on that report! Way to go Sister Buehner! So we left the office, picked up the Dormont Elders, and came back to the apartment. Nelson and Bartlett stayed there to lift weights and me and Elder Rivas went to the mall. Klayton, an Elder in our ward, told me to go to this one haircut place in the mall. I was a victim of false advertising: There was a sign out front that said you could get a $17 men's haircut. I went in and signed up and sat down and waited. Then they sat me down and I asked if I could get the 17 dollar hair cut and they said no, you had to have a membership to do that. A non-member hair cut was $35. I freaked out inside but I didn't have time to go anywhere else and I really needed a haircut (I was tired of just buzzing my head) so I just dropped the money. UGH. The good news: they shampooed my head (which wasn't optional), gave me a massage (which was great because I've been having neck pain), and it was the best haircut I've ever gotten and I've been getting compliments all week. So I guess it was worth it...?
AFter that we lifted weights at the apartment. Then Bartlett and I packed, loaded up the car, drove Dormont home, and then we took off to Sunbury which is way northeast of Pittsburgh. It was a 5 hour drive. We got in at 11 PM. Jones and Harris had laid mattresses out on the living room floor for us. We brushed our teeth as soon as we got in and collapsed. We were so tired.
TUESDAY: I exchanged in Sunbury with Elder R. Jones and Elder Bartlett went with Elder Harris. Elder Jones served with Elder Wallentine last transfer so we had quite a few fun stories to swap. We love Elder Wallentine. He's a great guy. We walked all day in Sunbury. It's a nice town - not very big though. We walked all the way around it and up and down the mainstreet at least 3 times. Even though the scenery was nice there, the people there were very strange. I've noticed on my mission that in different places people respond to missionaries very differently. Here, they are terrified of us. Absolutely terrified. It's really creepy how they treated us. Very strange.

Cool experience. We were walking down the street on our way to visit someone when we felt prompted to knock on a door. A lady answered, and she said, "Elders, how are you!" We were taken aback. Elder Jones didn't know the lady. Apparently, she wasn't a member but her sister was. She told us that her church recently closed down and she had been praying for what church she should join. We explained to her what had just happened to us - how we weren't knocking doors and were on our way to an appointment but we felt very strongly like we needed to knock on her door. She said, "Wow. That's really weird. Too bad I'm not interested in taking your lessons!" WHAT? You've got to be kidding me. What're the odds of that happening? Oh well. Maybe one day she'll figure it out. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Be careful what you pray for. The Mormons might show up.
We met up with the other elders for lunch. We had Subway. Half way through lunch Elder Bartlett said, "Uhm. Elders? Is that your car getting a ticket?" We turned around to see an officer putting a pink slip on our windshield. Our meter had run out of time! We jumped up and ran outside to see if we could save it, but the officer in a monotone voice just said, "This your car?" We said, "Uh-huh!" And nodded. Without looking up from his notepad he said, "You got a ticket." And he walked away. Super funny. We took pictures of us getting a ticket. Luckily it was only 10 dollars instead of 200 dollars like my speeding ticket. =D
Later we felt impressed to knock another door. A man named Ed answered. He is a very kind methodist man. He came right out side to talk with us. He was a little apprehensive. Apparently the first time he met Elders he was really rude. The second time they came by he invited them in and bashed them for 2 hours. He said he felt bad about that. The other elders were really nice and he felt bad about it for a long time. So that's why he came out and talked with us. He stated his position and made it clear that he didn't want to learn more about the Book of Mormon. We were cool with that. We just made friendly conversation. He was surprised. He expressed to us how sad he was that his church was dying. He was amazed that ours was growing even though all the churches in the area were closing down. He asked why that was. I shared with him the first two parables out of Luke 15 and taught him the principles of home teaching and missionary work. He said he was always really impressed with the Mormon missionaries and how devoted we are. He said he wanted to start a program similar to home teaching in his church. He expressed how much love he was feeling and how much he was learning from talking with us. He said, "If I could elect all Mormon politicians, I probably would. You're upstanding people, even though I don't believe as you do." As the conversation neared its close, Elder Jones and I both felt prompted to ask him if he would be willing to say a prayer with us before we left. Before we could ask he said, "You know.... this might be weird to ask, but could I say a prayer with you two?" We happily agreed. He said he would say it. In the prayer he said, "Lord, I'd like to thank you for sending these two boys to my door today and for the love that they shared with me. I'm grateful for their knowledge of the scriptures and what they taught me today and I pray that you'll bless them in their mission work. I'm sorry I turned them away before and I promise I will be nice to them if they come again. Please help us help change the world and make it better. In your son's name, amen." We shook hands, he thanked us again, and we left. Wow. That's a repentant man. The Lord will bless him for his good heart and for all that he's doing to help his community.
We had dinner that night with Brother Fedder. He is an Amish Amputee who joined the church several years ago. He's the funniest man I've ever met. His son's name is Lenny. Lenny doesn't say much. Brother Fedder talks incessantly. It was funny. His conversations with Lenny would go like this. Lenny would be in the other room eating and Brother Fedder would say to us: "Elders.... watch this. Hey, do you like pie Lenny?"
Lenny would say. "Uh-huh."
Then he'd say. "Do you like Ice Cream Lenny?"
"Are Elder Jones and Elder Harris your favorite Elders?"
"Do you have favorite Elders Lenny?"
"Who are they?"
"Elder Jones and Elder Harris."
It was super funny. Maybe you just had to be there. But it's an interesting dynamic. Brother Fedder also showed us "The Dog." He put a sock over his stump and drew a dog face on it and then made dog noises and controlled it like it was a dog. Strangest thing I've ever seen but really funny. We got it on video.
Later that night we talked to two guys on the street. They were just about to graduate high school. Their names were James and Donny. We talked to them for about ten minutes about the super bowl and sports and college and stuff. They're really bright kids. Elder Jones asked them, "So, why do you think we do this? You know, be missionaries?"

James said, "Well, to help people. I guarantee that just today you changed someone's life for the better. Not many people do that, but you're devoted to making the world a good place."
I said, "Yeah. We're here to help people. Are you guys religious?"

Donny said, "Nah. The way things are today in the world... that's not the way God intended it to be. There's too much confusion. There's gotta be something better out there that makes more sense, but we haven't found it yet."

We asked them what they knew about prophets. They knew quite a bit. We said, "What if we told you we were sent by one?"

James said, "That'd be way awesome."

I said, "We are. Why do you think it'd be important to listen to the message of the prophets in our day?"

Donny said, "They're God's mouthpiece and hold his authority [we hadn't taught him that]. They speak for God. They can warn us of what's coming and keep us safe from danger, spiritually and physically."

Talk about prepared guys. We taught them about the Book of Mormon. I gave Donny a copy. I didn't expect them to really want it, but James asked for a copy as well. They thanked us and headed off down the street. As we walked away Elder Jones said, "Wow. That was awesome."
It was a great exchange.
WEDNESDAY: We spent the day driving home. It took us 5 hours. We left in the morning without taking studies or showering because we figured it'd be faster. We hit traffic and some of the roads were out. Took us almost 6 hours. By the time we got home, showered and took studies, it was time for dinner. We picked up the Dormont Elders and had dinner with the Eve family. They're so cool. Then we went to Book of Mormon class. Brother Tann, who got baptized by Elder J. Jones and Elder Rivas, had just gotten back from a trip to Utah. He stayed with Brother Jones's family while he was there. He had pictures and everything. It made his life. Brother Tann is such a cool guy. Barb came to Book of Mormon class as well. After that we drove to Sewickley to meet up with the Beaver Valley Elders - Kartchner and Bown - for another exchange. I took Elder Bown back to Upper St. Clair with me.
THURSDAY: GREAT DAY! We woke up at 6 AM because Elder Bown wanted to do an extra hard work out. He whipped me into shape. My shoulders still hurt. It was fun being with him because I picked him up from the airport. He's a goofy guy. I like him. He's from Wyoming and is the first member in his family to serve a mission. We had good studies and then tracted in the morning with little success. We had a lesson that afternoon with Jamal. He was really happy to see us. We walked in and he said, "Whaddup Elders?! Where ya'll been!?" We watched Prophet of the Restoration with Jamal. He loved it. After that we had a lesson with Justin. He's doing well. We also gave Michelle the scriptures that we bought her. We got a call from the Visiting Teaching Coordinator after that. Apparently a family moved into the ward recently that we didn't know about. She directed us to go visit them. We did and we met the son who is way cool. We will be stopping in to visit later this week. They haven't been to church in quite a while but it sounds like their family is awesome. Had Sister Maloney not called us, we never would've known. That's what happens when someone is magnifying their calling! Things start to happen.
After that we went in for dinner. We were running all day. It was very busy. We made some pasta and I ate it really fast and then fell asleep for a bit. I set the alarm to wake me up in 15 minutes. After that we grabbed our stuff and went and picked up Klayton. He was coming out with us on a team up to visit Melissa. She had requested that we come see her. When we got there, she looked really calm and composed, but as we started in with the lesson she broke down. She has really been struggling. Her infant grandson is doing well - he is recovering from his tumor removal surgery - but he starts chemotherapy next week and she is scared. She had a lot of questions on her mind. It was a really tough situation. It's hard when all you can do is give information. It's information that will help, but you can't take the burden away. Elder Bown had never met her before, and he didn't know that we had given her a blessing once before. The thought crossed his mind that maybe it'd be weird if we asked if we could give her a blessing, but he said that something told him to ask, so he did. She said, "I really need that right now." It was a beautiful scene. She said, "I'm kneeling." She knelt in front of us and all three of us were able to bless her. There are few times where I have felt the spirit more strongly while giving a blessing. At the end of the blessing tears of bitterness and sorrow were replaced with tears of joy. Her mother was there, and she had tears in her eyes. She said, "God Bless you boys." There was a lot of hugging. Klayton shared his experiences with her and gave her words of encouragement. He is unable to serve a mission due to health problems. He bore a powerful testimony of how God blesses us and teaches us through our afflictions. She asked if we could say another prayer. We all knelt down and said another prayer. She hugged us again, thanked us, and invited us to come back.

As we were walking down the street back to the car, Klayton said, "Wow. That was....great." I said, "Remember that story Gordon B. Hinckley told about those two boys who were going to steal that guy's shoes but decided to put money in them instead?" They said yeah. I said, "Remember how as they were walking away and one of the boys said to the other, 'Now, don't you have a good feeling?' That's how I feel right now." We all smiled. We drove Klayton home and we were silent the whole way. 

After that Elder Bown and I had a lesson with Nick and Jess. It was on Virtue and Knowledge. Half way through the lesson Nick and Jess had some questions about what virtue was exactly. Elder Bown said this: "Charity is the pure Love of Christ. Virtue is the pure Mind of Christ." It was awesome. I won't venture into the beauty of that statement and the doctrinal implications, but it was awesome. Perfect way to describe it. And it clicked with Nick and Jess. It also resonated with me and I wrote it in my scriptures. After the lesson, I said, "Wow, Elder Bown. Who taught you that? It was great!" He said, "It just came to me in the lesson. I thought it sounded dumb, and I wasn't going to say it, but something told me to say it and I went for it."

All day he had been telling me about how he was having a difficult time recognizing promptings from the Spirit. I explained to him the times that day when he had acted upon them, how things had turned out well, and how afterwards he had explained it the same way. He had felt an urgency - a need to do something good, even though he didn't know exactly how it would work out. He said, "You know what, Elder Collier? I think I'm starting to get it." It was  cool. We went back to Sewickley after that and switched back. Elder Bartlett and I were exhausted when we got home.

FRIDAY: We haven't cleaned our car in 6 months. We decided to do that in the morning during our lunch break. After that we went to the office to take care of some Area Book work, because that definitely needed to be done before I left the area. We found a teaching record for a couple that sounded really promising, but there was no phone number or address on it. We were going to throw it away, but then I had an idea! I was in the mission office! We had stalker records on file! I looked back through the file cabinets that hold the info for released missionaries and I tracked down Elder Segura, a missionary on the teaching record who served in 2009. I called him up. He was an assistant during the Pittsburgh and Harrisburg Mission Merger apparently. He said, "Awh man, I didn't put that info on there?! I'm such a slacker missionary!" It was really funny. It was cool to talk to him. He's at BYU right now. I'll probably run into him.

We also had to do that Stake President's report we put off. It was the report for January 2013, so we had to retool and overhaul the whole report because it was the start of a new year. What a headache. After that we had to drive to the airport to pick up two returning missionaries, Elders Hunt and Fairbourn. I went on exchange with Elder Fairbourn a few months ago but he went home shortly after that due to a torn ACL. It was good to see him again. We ate at the airport as we waited - we were starving. They only had snack food there, so I bought some Gardettos Special Request mix. Normally they have like a trail mix sort of thing, but this was a bag full of only the delicious brown garlic chips. It was great for about 2 minutes. Then I started missing the rest of the trail mix.... too much of a good thing. 

Anyway, after we picked them up we had to drive to Washington PA to drop off Elder Fairbourn. Then we had to drive to Oakland PA to drop off Elder Hunt. When we got to Oakland I got to say goodbye to Elder Medina. He goes home tomorrow. It was good timing. I love him. Well, we were in the car for 3 hours. We stopped at Chick Fil-A to get some food. Long story short I spilled BBQ sauce ALL over everything in the car. We didn't have time to stop so I had to clean it with a seatbelt on while we were moving. It was uncomfortable for everyone. Our car still smells like BBQ sauce. We bought a Vanill-aroma Car Freshener because we thought that'd help, but now our car just smells like vanilla BBQ sauce. That night we had a short lesson with Mason. He's doing well. 

SATURDAY: We picked up the Dormont Elders in the morning and went to go help Sue with her apartment next door.  I finished Jesus the Christ that morning! I am so proud of myself! We did weekly planning after that. Then we went to our appointment that we were supposed to have with Jamal....... he wasn't home. Oh, Jamal. instead we went and visited the Lutz family. They let us in and were happy to see us. We asked if their church and our church could "join forces" to help Melissa, who is their neighbor down the street. They agreed. They're such wonderful people. They asked us to come back. After that we went and tried contacting some people. Nobody was interested.

We've had this problem the last few weeks where we can't seem to find any new people to teach. We haven't been discouraged though. We knew that it'd work out. Well guess what? It did. We got a call from a number we didn't know. It was a lady named Molly. She sounded nervous on the phone. She said, "Uhm... my name is Molly. Three years ago or so, two travelling ministers from your church came to my door. They left a card with their name on it, though I bet they're not at this number anymore... Elders Tidwell and Fisher?" I explained that they had gone home, but I introduced me and Elder Bartlett and let her know we were still the missionaries for the area. She said, "Oh. Well.... yeah... I was wondering if we could set up a time for this week to meet up somewhere. I want to learn more about the church." MIRACLE. 

Who would have thought that Tidwell and Fisher, by leaving a card on someone's door, would affect the lives of missionaries 3 years from then? Whoa. I wonder how far reaching my efforts will be. Pretty incredible. We will be meeting with Molly later this week.

We had dinner with the Bushman family after that. Then Bishop came with us to teach Tori and TJ. TJ taught us about Dating and Tori taught us about Dress and Appearance from For Strength of Youth. It was a good lesson. Tori volunteered themselves to teach the lesson again. She really got a kick out of teaching the Elders. I said, "Well, what are the next two topics?" She said, "It's Education and then Entertainment and the Media. I'll take Entertainment and the Media! You get Education, TJ!" He said, "Well. Crap." It was funny.

SUNDAY: I spoke in Church. Tori and TJ's dad spoke as well. It was his first time ever speaking in church. He was really nervous, but he stood up and nailed it. Everyone loved his talk. Brother Trout came to church again. He's doing great! TJ also told his dad to let us know that he would be getting baptized the same day as Tori. Hopefully he will. It was a great day. The Connor family had us over for dinner after church. 

The highlight of my week was at 7:30 PM that night. We went over to the Match family's home for a lesson. Their son, Moses, is deaf. He is preparing himself for a mission but needs some more attention. We volunteered to come over and teach him about being a missionary, what to expect, and also what he needs to know doctrinally in order to teach effectively. We taught, and Brother Match interpreted for us. We learned quickly just how much we take for granted the ability to speak. We had to make every word count. We had to strip down everything we said so that it would have the purest meaning. Moses asked great questions. He said that the Gospel helped him feel like he belonged. He also said that his dad was his hero, and that's why he wanted to serve a mission. It was really neat. His mom explained to us that when she told him that we were coming over, he was taken aback. He asked, "Why? Why are they coming to help me?" Then she told him that we wanted to make sure he had every opportunity to serve the Lord. He was really grateful. It was such a sweet experience. Probably one of the best of my mission. The Pure Love of Christ was felt as we gave meaningful service.

It was a wonderful week. I'm definitely getting transferred after this week. It's sad. I'm going to miss the people here.

I love you all.

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