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, March 4, 2013

February 25, 2013

Hey mom,
My new address is:
Elder Zachary Collier
500 Frederick St 2nd Floor
Hanover, PA 17331
I'm serving in Hanover, PA as a Zone Leader. I'm in the York Zone. I'll probably only be here for 4 more weeks, but it's possible that I could stay here longer. My current companion is Elder Mouritsen. We are having a ton of fun. I know him from the Zone Leader Council, so it's like being together with a good friend. We are having a lot of success.

This last week was crazy. When I think about Pittsburgh now, it feels like I've been gone for years. On Monday, after I emailed you, I went back to the office to finish up some stuff. Then we prepped the trailer and drove to Brother Trout's house to say goodbye. His street ends with a dead end and we pulled the trailer down the street, so Brother Trout offered to back it for us. He was a career truck driver for like 20 years. He was a pro! Because of his health problems it's tough for him to walk, so I gave him a ride back to his house in our Carolla. We had both vehicles because there were too many new missionaries to pick up in the van alone. So after that we left for the airport.
There were so many missionaries! It was cool to watch them all come down the escalator and meet us. Most of them are 18. We only had two sisters in this group, but 12 more are coming next transfer. I met Sister Plater. She said, "Hey! We know each other somehow. It's nice to meet you. I only know you from your blog." We had a good conversation. It's kind of funny because we had already met each other. We played volley ball together at BYU the summer of 2010. Then I checked some ping pong stuff out to her at the central building. She lived in Fox hall, not too far from Snow. Small world, huh?
We loaded up the missionaries after that. We had the van, our Carolla, president's SUV, and Elder Warnock's Audi. We drove them all to the west end overlook. I took a wrong turn and got us lost. But I figured it out! I was only lost for about 15 minutes. haha! We took pictures of the group and then Elder Bartlett and I got one last picture together. Kind of sad.
After that we dropped them all off at the church. Then Elder Bartlett and I set off to go say goodbye to some more people. We went and saw Justin and Michelle. Elder Gerratt was in town because he was training and he was there as well with two other missionaries - Clark and Slesk. It was cool having everyone together. Justin told me one last hilarious story about a guy who made national news for slapping a baby on an airplane. Justin tells the story really well. We went and saw Nick and Jess after that and took pictures. Jess had the kids she nannies over. Their names are John and Charlie - a brother and sister. They are so adorable. I colored knights and princesses with them. It was sad saying goodbye. After that we headed back over to the church to pick up the missionaries.

We had an interesting experience after that. Elders Sheffer, Howell, Foster, and Taylor came with me. We were talking about the mission and what to expect and were getting to know each other on the way back to the mission home. They had just finished their in-field orientation (they had to have it at the church because there wasn't enough room for them all in the mission home.) As we were driving, I felt impressed to pull over and to go visit Melissa one more time. So I did. The Elders asked me what I was doing and I said, "We're going to go visit an investigator." They were terrified but excited. They said okay. We said a prayer and then we walked up to her door. She was excited to see us and let us in.

The missionaries introduced themselves and they talked for a bit. Then Melissa brought up her concern yet again: she was angry at God for giving her grandson cancer. "Why would he do that to him? I know I haven't been the best in my life, but why would he do this to my daughter and her son? What wrong have they done?" We were all silent. The new elders were lost in thought. I didn't know what to say. We didn't have time for a full lesson. I waited and then testified that we had the answers to those questions. I promised her that if she would have Elder Bartlett and Elder Moulton (the new AP) over, they'd be able to answer all of her questions and help her find peace and happiness. She agreed to let them come over and teach her.

There was another moment of silence. Then Melissa says, "But why can't you give me a short answer?"
Then Elder Howell, one of the new missionaries, said: "I feel impressed to share this with you." He then told a story from his childhood. He was diagnosed with a rare disease and was close to death for weeks. He weighed only 45 pounds as a 4th grader. He said, "I remember laying awake one night in bed. My parents thought I was asleep. They were talking about how scared they were for me to die. Then it hit me - I could die. I was scared. I didn't know what to do, so I said a prayer. I prayed with all my heart, and God spoke peace to my heart and I was able to sleep. I knew it would be okay." After a priesthood blessing the next day and through a series of miracles, the doctors were able to find a cure for his ailment. Years passed, and still Elder Howell did not know why his family had to pass through that. Then, the son of a friend of his aunt's fell ill. The doctors didn't know what was wrong, and he was close to death. The mother of the sick boy felt impressed to call elder Howell's aunt. She explained the situation and the symptoms, and Elder Howell's aunt said, "I know exactly what the disease is. My nephew had it. Tell the doctors it is [such and such disease], and they need to give him this medication." They followed her instructions, and the boy was cured.

Elder Howell said, "I know now why I had to go through that. Through the knowledge I gained in suffering, I was able to help another boy live. God uses our afflictions to help us see miracles and to make miracles happen in the lives of others. You will be okay. You can't see the end from the beginning, but one day you will see the big picture, and you will see how merciful god has been to you." Melissa cried and thanked him. She asked if we could pray with her. We all knelt down in a circle and said a prayer. Then she hugged me and cried. "I'm going to miss you," she said. "You've been my rock. Please pray for me." Then to all of them she said, "God bless you, and good luck on your missions."

As we left the house, we were silent. We got in the car and sat there, quietly as I drove. Finally, Elder Sheffer said, "I've never loved someone so quickly before in my life. I want her to be happy." Elder Taylor said, "Man... that was intense. Elder Howell, how did you even know what to say to that?" Elder Howell said, "I didn't. I was scared. I was sad. But I said a quiet prayer and it came to me. I think that's what it's like to teach by the Spirit."

I said, "There you go, Elders. Now you get it. You're every bit as qualified to preach the Gospel as I am. Remember that." I dropped them off at the mission home, they had dinner, and then Elder Bartlett and I drove home. Slesk, Gerratt, and Clark stayed the night with us. I worked quickly to pack. I got done around 11 PM and then went to bed.
The next morning we woke up at 5:45 AM and picked up the trailer and then had breakfast with the new missionaries. Elder Bartlett had to pick 8 of them up at President Topham's friend's house - he's not a member but offered to house the missionaries. We ate breakfast and then took them to the church. There we spent until 2 PM training the new missionaries and their trainers. The Spirit was poured out in rich abundance. It was unlike any training session we had done before. We spoke boldly and with power, and the trainers testified, and there was an energy about it that was unreal. I know for myself that this work is getting done the way the Lord wants it to be done.
It was very difficult after the meetings to assign trainers to missionaries. There were so many! But through about 45 minutes of prayer and deliberation we were able to decide. Elder Moulton participated in the proceedings. It was cool to see him participate. I remember when I was in his exact position. Time has flown by.
After transfer meeting, I loaded my stuff up in the Harrisburg truck and trailer and then I set off with 3 other missionaries for the east side of the state. I was with Sister Averett, Elder Lubbers, and Elder Bladh. We stopped for dinner at Wendy's and I got a picture by the elephant statue in Somerset for the second time! This time he was wearing a scarf. At one point the GPS gave us some crazy directions, and Elder Bladh did a funny impression of the GPS voice. He said, "In point three miles, take a figure 8. Then, make a Mickey Mouse." It was so funny because on the map, it looked just like what he said. We made the 5 hour drive safely. We got in to Harrisburg at around 9 PM. Then Elder Lubbers and I loaded our stuff into the Hanover Malibu and drove for another hour to York, where I dropped him off and picked up Elder Mouritsen. Then we drove home. We had a somber talk in the car where he filled me in on what had happened with his last companion. It was pretty disappointing. Elder Mouritsen was crushed. We got home around 10:30 PM. I unpacked a bit and then went to bed around 11:30.
Wednesday morning we had studies. Elder Mouritsen is Spanish speaking so I have an extra hour of study in the morning. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up some more Spanish from him. I've forgotten a lot of stuff that I learned with Elder Gerratt. After studies we visited Brother Coy. He's our ward mission leader. He had us over for lunch and we talked about things going on in the Hanover Ward. He also showed us this funny video from a blog he reads called "Rejection Therapy." This guy set up a challenge for himself where for 100 days he has to ask people crazy things and get rejected so that he can learn to deal with rejection better. The guy says the Mormon Missionaries have guts for doing what they do. haha! Yeah we do!
Afterwards Elder Mouritsen emailed his family because he was unable to on Monday. He had to spend the day in another area while his companion went to the airport. He also was unable to go shopping, so we took care of that, too. Then we went and visited some people that he's teaching and he introduced me. I met Michael and Jeff - they're big into video games and star wars and pokemon and pretty much everything I like. =D We hit it off pretty good. Then we had dinner with the Thompson family. We shared a message about recognizing the Spirit. Then we had Book of Mormon class. Sister Stoner and Sister Varga came. We went over the Book of Enos. It was powerful. Sister Varga is so awesome. Tyson Cook taught and baptized her. I told her I knew Tyson from back home and she freaked out. She was so happy! She has been through the temple and everything and is now a ward missionary. She just loves Tyson. She asked me what I thought about "that girl he's marrying" and I told her I approved. She said, "Okay, since you know her I trust your judgement. I'll let her have my missionary." It was so funny. We met with the bishopric after that. They are such good guys. Bishop Baughman is the bishop here. He's super genuine and wants to do everything he can to help the people in his ward.

A thought hit me half way through the meeting. My last bishop, Bishop Bushman, was a doctor. His father wrote "Rough Stone Rolling" and is a gospel scholar. Bishop Bushman is highly intelligent and is a very astute man. Bishop Baughman is a mechanic, a convert, and a native to Pennsylvania. They are total opposites in every way, yet both of them are equally bishops. They both have hearts full of love, and both of them are qualified to lead and have been called by prophecy and revelation. It was cool to see. I love them both.
Thursday we worked our butts off. We had district meeting in the morning. Elder Munoz and Elder Jolly are in my district. Elder Jolly really wanted me to serve with him. I told him he should have prayed harder because I'm not his companion, I'm just in his district. haha. We had lunch after, then we let out these dogs at the home of this guy named Adam. He has been meeting with the missionaries forever and he lets them come over and work out and asks them to let out his dogs on occasion. Elder Mouritsen knows his garage door code... haha. Weird.
We went tracting for a while. Tried some people and no one was home. I started to get sick that evening. I've had a sore throat and a headache and a slight cough every day since then.

Brother Stoner had us over for dinner. Sister Stoner had to go to a relief society thing. They are both converts and they just moved back from Texas. After dinner Brother Stoner told us of some remarkable spiritual experiences that he has had in his lifetime after the deaths of his brother and mother and serving in the temple. Brother Coy told us a crazy story the day before, too. He home teaches a less active lady and she and her husband had been seeing the ghost of her great grandmother. Her great grandmother was moving things around in her bedroom and wouldn't let her sleep. She asked Brother Coy to come over and "cast her out." So he and his Home Teaching Companion went over and blessed her house and asked the spirit to leave. All was fine for a few days until the ghost came back. She told the lady, "You don't understand. I'm stuck in hell and I can't get out." The lady called brother Coy and reported on what her great grandmother had said. Brother Coy said, "Well, you know why she's in 'hell,' right? Her temple work hasn't been done and she wants to leave. Call your sister in Florida and have her go do the temple work for her." So the less active sister did, the work got done, and the ghost hasn't been back since. How crazy is that?!
Anyway. What a tangent. After dinner we went and had a lesson with Michael and Jeff. We taught about the history of the bible and the restoration and the need for the book of mormon using diagrams and charts. It was really cool. Jeff said the closing prayer. He did a good job.

Friday morning we had our weekly planning session. I slept during Elder Mouritsen's Spanish Study time. I wasn't feeling good at all. That afternoon we tracted. Had moderate success. We visited the Gaylord family, who is investigating the church. Mr. Gaylord is on the SWAT team here in Hanover. He is so awesome. He told us about his training and how tough it was. Their son is Sammy's age. He was getting ready for a dance. I asked him if he was going to dance with girls and he said, "Eh. Probably a couple times. Then I'll go to the gym and play dodgeball or basketball." haha! I remember that age. It was a good drop in visit. I got to meet the family and we set up a time to come back.
The Baughmans dropped off dinner for us. Then we went and visited some other people that night. No one was home.
Saturday we studied and had lunch and then went and visited Trudy. She's not a member, but her son is a Bishop in Florida and her daughter joined the church as well. She has had some questions and wants to find answers and learn more about the church. We stopped in so I could meet her. She is very kind.
After that we visited some families in the Ward. We met the Henrie family. They're really cool. Brother Henrie went to BYU. They let us right in and were excited to see us. He served in Australia. We had a good lesson about the importance of following Spiritual promptings when serving others.

We also went and visited a lady named Shirley. She is a grandma and lives with some of her grandkids. Her grandson, Corey, is 18 and he sat in with us. He has some mental disabilities and is almost totally blind, but he is really clever and funny. He is quick witted and can play the keyboard really well. He can manipulate the sounds to make it sound like a full orchestra and he's mastered the pitch bend thingy so that he can use the harmonica voice and make it sound authentic. I was really impressed. It was a fun visit.
That afternoon we met up with a girl named Jesi. She has been meeting with the missionaries for quite a while and recently decided to get baptized. Her baptism is in 2 weeks. She texted us before hand and said, "Hey. I have a friend I want to introduce to you." She brought her friend, Lexi, along. We had a lesson inside Royal Farms, a gas station with an eating area. We had a fantastic first lesson and Lexi agreed to read the Book of Mormon. We all had chocolate milk together after. It was fun. That night, Jesi texted us and let us know that they'd read the Plan of Salvation Pamphlet and 3 chapters of the Gospel Principles Manual together and that Lexi was really enjoying it.
The Howell family had us over for dinner that night. Brother Howell is from Jamaica. They are a funny young couple. I don't think we talked the whole time we were there. They just bantered back and forth and were hilarious. Brother Howell made us Jamaican food. It was really good. We tried visiting some other people that night but things fell through - so we went back to the apartment and worked on reformatting the area book and prepping our talks.
We had church in the morning. Ward Council was fantastic - all of the members are willing to work and they are doing their home and visiting teaching. I spoke in Sacrament Meeting. Everyone loved it. They all came up after sacrament to thank me and introduce themselves. That was very nice of them. A hispanic sister from Argentina came to church today. Elder Mouritsen found her. She was a member in Argentina and recently moved to the US and was looking for the church. She ran into Elder Mouritsen and he invited her out. Crazy how that works, huh? So she came. Brother Coy taught gospel principles class and did awesome.

There's a brother in the ward here. I can't remember his name. But he was in Lacamas Creek ward 6 or 7 years ago. I think his name is Brother Grant. Anyway we had a cool conversation.
We cover the Young Single Adult Branch out here as well. They meet right after our gospel principles class. Elder Mouritsen spoke in their sacrament meeting. Jesi and Lexi came and they loved it. We had Gospel Principles class after that and then the third hour we had a missionary lesson with them and a member about tithing and the Tree of Life. It went great! Lexi said she cried during Sacrament meeting. She said, "It's been so long since I've felt close or connected to God. It's really nice here."
After church we had lunch with the Shurfey and Cook families. We had chicken noodle soup. Then we went and had our studies and Elder Mouritsen took Spanish study. In the middle of his Spanish study there was a knock at the door. It was the Kramer family! Elder Mouritsen and Elder Rivas baptized them when they were serving in Chambersburg. They tracked us down since they were in the area and stopped in to surprise Elder Mouritsen. They are such an awesome family! They are getting sealed in June. Brother Kramer just recently baptized his son and they are active and holding callings and loving life! It was a nice visit. I'm proud of them. I'm glad I got to meet them. Elder Rivas would talk about them all the time.
We visited some people after that and then had dinner with the Remingtons. They are a cool family. Their son just recently moved back in with them from college. He finished his degree in animation and he's working on getting his first comic book off the ground. It's pretty impressive. We had a deep conversation after dinner about what truth is, how to recognize it, and how to stand for it. It was cool.

We visited a guy named Pablo after dinner, but he wasn't home. His brother, Gerard, let us in, though. We taught him the message of the Restoration. Well, Elder Mouritsen did. I mostly played with Gerard's neice and nephew. They were blowing bubbles and I was popping them. They got a kick out of that.
I was feeling really sick by the time we got out of the lesson, though. I had a headache all day and was feeling feverish. It was 8:30 PM so we came in half an hour early and planned and then I went right to bed. I was asleep by 9:30 PM. I slept like a rock all through the night.

It was a pretty cool week. I'm liking the new area. It's different, and it's weird not having a ton of crazy extra responsibilities. I'm kind of home sick for Pittsburgh but it's nothing serious. I've been through transfers before so I'll be okay. I just feel like I did about Uniontown when I was in Altoona.

Anyway, I'm feeling alright this morning. I'm still sick. Hopefully I'll be able to sleep it off this afternoon. We have exchanges this week so I've gotta be at my best!

That's it for my week! Tell Jonny he's a stud and tell Sammy I love him! Thanks for the pictures! I especially loved the one of Harrison producing the game. Elder Mouritsen thought that was pretty cool.

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