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 25, 2013

March 11, 2013

First off, I was wondering if you could also look up some info about scholarships for me? I was a fool before my mission because I didn't apply for any... I decided to play xbox and guitar instead. I want to change that. Scholarships are helpful and if I can write some essays or something to get some money, I'll do it. haha.
Well, this week was good. I'll run you through it real quick.
So Monday morning we went and worked out at the Fuhrman's house. The mom is a member of the church but she hasn't been active for many years. Her husband is way cool but he's not a member. They take care of the missionaries though and let us come over and use their gym on P-Days. Their gym is incredible! The husband rennovated their basement and turned it into the coolest home gym I've ever seen. haha.

Then we spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out how to send packages home. The first post office we went to didn't accept debit or credit cards! Who doesn't accept those these days? haha. Oh well. Anyway, I got my packages sent off. I hope you got them. I sent some books back. Please let me know when you get them. I did that so that I could save room in my suitcases for the trip home. Gotta keep bags under 50 pounds.
Anyway, that night we had dinner with the Petersons. We taught them about recognizing the Holy Ghost and committed them to take time every day to meditate and to look for and act on spiritual promptings. We have felt impressed to share this thought with every family in the ward, and we've had much success with teaching it. After that we went and visited Brother Hamill. It's a sad situation. Brother Hamill was diagnosed with schizophrenia about 10 years ago. His wife left him, his family doesn't talk to him, and he has pretty much lost the ability to do anything other than sit in his trailer with his dog and eat ridiculous amounts of Chobani Yogurt. Because he's so lonely, all he does is call us all the time. He calls us every night and leaves messages: "HELLO! Missionary Brothers! This is Brother Hamill." He's always so happy to call us, but because he talks for so long every time we answer we have to pick and choose when we answer him. Anyway, we figure it would be good to actually go and visit him. So we went to his trailer in the woods and he let us in. His trailer smelled TERRIBLE. Probably the worst smell I have ever experienced in my life. It's the type that stays on your clothes and feel in the air. I've never smelled something so bad that I wanted to vomit before, but that was my first time. Anyway, it was a terrible experience. haha. We spent 45 minutes there and let him talk to us. It's easy to judge people with disabilities, but I always try to remember that the Savior went into some pretty sketchy places to minister to those who needed it most. Brother Hamill is very lonely (and also totally incoherent at this point), and I have a soft spot in my heart for him. We were able to share a mormon message and a prayer with him before I left. I wish I could heal people with those disabilities.
That night we had an interesting experience. After we got done planning, we knelt down and said a prayer. Right after the prayer, Elder Mouritsen said, "Elder Collier. We need to call Jesi. Now." I said, "Wait. Why? Can't we just call her tomorrow morning?" And he said, "No. We need to call her right now." So I picked up the phone and called her. She answered and she was crying. There had been a crisis in her life - a death of a loved one - and she had been praying. Right when we called, she was in the bathroom of a friend's house kneeling down in prayer. Then we called her to see how she was doing. She was amazed. Through her sobs she said, "Wow. God really does know me. I was praying for help and I really needed a call from you guys. Thank you so much." It always feels good to follow a spiritual prompting. I'm grateful for Elder Mouritsen being worthy enough to receive one and persistent enough to make me follow it even though I was stubborn. haha.
Tuesday morning we were supposed to meet up at 12:30 with the Chambersburg Elders, but Jesi had asked us to stop by the Gettysburg library at 12:30 to meet up with her. She needed to talk with us. So we went and visited with her. We had a great lesson. We also determined that it would be best to post pone her baptism a week until she got some things worked out. She was fine with it and is super excited for her baptism. She's going to be so great!
After the lesson we met up at the Chambersburg Walk apartment. I went with Elders Clark and Scott and Mouritsen went with Lozano and Espinosa. We had a good day. The weather was absolutely perfect. We didn't even need jackets. Blue sky. We went and visited an older gentleman - a widower named Brother Lenhar. He is 89 years old and almost completely deaf. His wife died 3 years ago and he is unable to leave his home to come to church, so the missionaries look after him. It was a good experience. They brought along a whiteboard so they could write large messages to him because he can't hear them unless they shout really loud. I almost lost it during the opening prayer. I was trying so hard not to laugh. Elder Clark said it, and it went a little something like this:
It was an epic prayer. Loudest one I've ever heard. Anyway, Brother Lenhar gave us some Birch Beer and genuinely thanked us for coming over. He reminds me a lot of Grandpa Collier. It was good to be with him and serve him.
We went tracting after that for about an hour. Perfect tracting weather. I was teaching Clark and Scott how to generate conversation and make every contact meaningful. We made a game out of it - see if we can keep someone who tries to shut us down from shutting us down. It worked most of the time and ended up being a good experience. One man opened the door and just said, "NO." He was about to shut it but I said, "Why not?" And he said, "Well, I already go to a church." I said that was great, which church? So he came outside and talked to us a bit about his church and his family and his life. He said, "You boys are all very nice. I normally don't like it when anyone comes to my door because I like my life how it is and I don't want to be bothered, but it was nice having you boys drop by." It was a good interaction. His neighbor across the street, however, wasn't so kind. She opened the door and we told her we were the Mormon Missionaries, and she said, "In that case, I'm SUPER not interested." And shut the door before we could say anything. It was funny! We talked to a man across the street on our way back to the car. He was carrying groceries into his house. He let us talk with him and invited us back the next week. It was great.
That night we had dinner with the Kramer family. Elder Mouritsen taught and baptized them when he was in Chambersburg. It was a great experience. The food was fantastic. Brother Kramer slow cooked all the meat off some ribs and we ate it over mashed potatoes. Way good! Their family is happy and loving the gospel.
After that we went and visited an interesting family... all they do is talk about health problems. The parents, the kids, the grand kids. They derailed all the conversations by bringing up one strange disease or another that they had. We all did pretty well teaching in unity. At one point I said, "Well, thank goodness for the resurrection! In the resurrection, we won't have disease! Speaking of the gospel, we want to teach you about temples!" Elder Clark was laughing. We used a temple card as a visual and started teaching about eternal marriage, and the dad said, "Ya know. I was reading in the bible one time, and it shocked me. Jesus said, if your right hand offend thee, cut it off. If your right eye offend thee, pluck it out. But then he says if your wife offend thee, don't beat her or make fun of her. Just divorce her. What's up with that?" We were silent for a moment, and then Elder Scott said, "It doesn't say that." Then Elder Clark said, "But it does talk about the temple!" And we got right back on topic. It was super funny. That's probably the best misquote of a scripture I've heard in the last 2 years of my life.

So we didn't get anywhere with that lesson, but on the bright side, they had some pretty sweet owl decorations on their wall, and there was a hole in their wall half way up the stairs, so I got a picture of me holding an owl picture with my torso through the wall next to two owl figurines. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right?
Wednesday morning we got 6 inches of snow and almost got stuck in Chambersburg, but I had driven in Erie so I knew how to get home. haha. We went to the Chambersburg District meeting and then drove back. We stopped through Gettysburg to meet up with Jesi again. She was evicted from her home the day before so for temporary shelter she was living in the Lutheran Church down town. The Pastor there was kind enough to let us come teach her in one of the classrooms of their church. We talked about the importance of obedience to commandments, covenants, and preperation for the temple. She's really excited to go to the temple.
We visited Adrian and Eliza when we got back to Hanover. They are a spanish couple who have been meeting with Elders on and off since Elder Cook was here. They come to church on occasion but haven't been since I've been here. They had some questions about the symbolism of the sacrament and why we do it the way we do it, and we were about to teach them. They invited us to their daughter's birthday fiesta that saturday and we accepted the invitation. They love missionaries. They are really cool people.
The Reids had us over for dinner that night. Their kids are all grown so it's just them living together. Brother Reid has a disease that is slowly paralyzing him from the shoulders down. It is getting hard for him to talk and he's in a motorized wheelchair. He used to be the bishop here. Sister Reid joined the church in England and met her husband there when he was on assignment from the NSA. He brought her home with him! haha. It was cool to hear her testimony and her story about how she joined the church.
Afterwards we rushed to the church and had our Book of Mormon class. Sister Varga brought her friend Laura and we had a great intro to the Book of Mormon lesson. I would really enjoy teaching seminary or institute. I go all out - movie clips, object lessons, lecture, questions, discussion. It's really fun. I taught. We took a field trip to the church library so I could find a three ring binder and explain how the plates were laid out by Mormon. Sister Varga said, "You know Elder Collier. You have a way with bringing boring things to life. It's been really good to learn more about the Book of Mormon from you. You keep it interesting." It was a great compliment. I appreciated it very much. We had a good time.
Thursday we had a fantastic district meeting at the church from Elder Munoz. It was on President Monson's talk, "See Others as they May Become." It was spiritually uplifting and made me want to be a better missionary. We had lunch with Brother Coy, our ward mission leader, at MoMo's Pizza. He said, "This pizza is mediocre, but it's only 4 bucks for a large, so I come here." He was right. It was mediocre pizza, but we got a lot of it for cheap. We had a good correlation meeting. Then we visited a referral we got from an Elder who is serving in Salt Lake. This Elder was baptized a few years ago into the York ward and has been serving for a few months out there. He sent us to go visit his boss from the bowling alley. We were able to stop by and talk to the wife. She was very kind and said we could come back.

We went tracting after that because we rarely get to go out to that part of our area. We knocked this one door and this giant black lab named Hank jumped RIGHT through the screen door at us! He knocked my Book of Mormon right out of my hand and ate my Jesus Cards. He was walking around with them in his mouth. The owner came out and started clapping and yelling, trying to get his attention. "HANK! HANK! HANK! GET BACK HERE! HAAAAAANK!" It was hilarious, but I'll be honest, I was scared to death for a second. He ripped right through the screen! I'm lucky he was a nice dog. The Lady was very kind, but she was a 7th Day Adventist and wasn't interested, though she talked to us for a little bit. It was cool.
We all of our appointments fall through for that afternoon, so we went through our area book and decided to try some people. We went to one house and the person had moved, so we decided to knock the street. We knocked one door, and a lady answered. She was older, but she had flaming red hair - not dyed. Her name was Rose Marie. She was irish. We introduced ourselves and she said, "Mormons? I've been waiting for you guys for years." We didn't know what she meant, but she explained. She came to church 10 years ago because a friend from work was able to answer the questions of the soul. She started taking the lessons from the missionaries in her friend's home. She knew the Book of Mormon was true, but her husband - who was abusive - refused to let her get baptized. He also burned her Book of Mormon and all of her church stuff. She kept meeting with the missionaries anyway until her mom and dad got sick with cancer and she had to move away to take care of them. They both recently had passed away, and so she moved back home. Her husband had left her, and she was rebuilding life. She said she wanted us to come back. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon, and she looked at it like it was the most precious posession she ever had. She said, "Wow. I've missed this Book. Thank you!" We set up a return appointment, and when we asked for her last name she said, "Just spell Collie but with an R at the end." I looked up from my planner and she said, "What?" I said, "That's MY name!" I showed her my name tag and she said, "Oh my heavens!" It was a cool moment. =) It was like running into family. I can't wait to teach her this Wednesday. She is prepared.
We had dinner and then went and visited brother McIver. He is doing well. Quitting smoking and coming back to church. We shared a short thought with him because we had to drive all the way out to Gettysburg to meet with Jesi again. It's tough covering the singles branch. We have to drive all over. Anyway, we met up with John Pennington, a really cool guy from the Gettysburg ward. He joined the church when he was 22 but went inactive almost immediately. Hadn't been to church in ten years. But then the Gettysburg elders showed up at his house and told him to come to church, and now he goes every week and comes out with them and us all the time. He's constantly with the elders doing service and teaching. Anyway, he came with us to the Lutheran Church to teach Jesi. We talked about church organization and prophets.
Friday morning we woke up at 4:30 AM to get ready for Seminary. I don't miss getting up that early! haha! We went to the Burton's house and Sister Burton asked us to share our testimonies of the scriptures and why it is important to read them. The kids had a lot of good questions and were engaged. It was a great opportunity. Then they challenged us to a scripture mastery battle. We played Scripture Man. I lost. haha! But not because I didn't know the scriptures! It was because I landed on a bomb and lost my points!

President gave us permission to go home and get two more hours of sleep since we woke up two hours early, so that was nice. Then we took spanish and language study and then started weekly planning. Then we went back out to Gettysburg to meet with Jesi. She had requested that we meet with her every day leading up to her baptism. We were able to share some good news with her - that the Branch President of the Singles Branch was able to find some help for her in regards to her living situation. She was ecstatic. We had a lesson in the Library on the 2nd Floor about the importance of scripture study. We gave her a quad of her own. She was so excited! She'd been telling us for weeks that she wanted her own copy of the doctrine and covenants and pearl of great price, and she finally got one!
When we got back into Hanover, we noticed the Catholics on the side of the road. The local Parish, for Lent, decided to make "Pray to End Abortion" signs. So for every day of Lent, a different group of Catholics stands out on the side of the road in the cold weather holding these signs. Anyway, Elder Mouritsen and I felt impressed to pull over and go compliment them. We walked right up to them, and at first they looked apprehensive. We said, "We're the Mormon Missionaries. We just wanted to say thank you for being bold enough to live your faith. As you know, we knock doors every day, and people aren't kind. It's good to see other people stepping up. It makes us easier to live our faith and gives us confidence." They were shocked and said, "Well thank you boys very much. You keep up the good work! You're wonderful examples of spreadin' the word!" We said, "Thank you. We love you guys." Then we walked away. It was heart warming. It's not every day that a Mormon missionary gets to compliment the Catholics. I think it should happen more often.

We visited a lady named Nikki that afternoon. She used to meet with missionaries before she became ill. We knocked on the door and when she answered she saw us and her face lit up! We said hello and she said, "I know who you are! I have strep throat right now, but I want you to come back in a week! I've missed you guys." We swapped information and are going to go back and see her this week. It'll be nice to meet her.
We visited Brother McIver again after that to get him to come to the Bartholomews with us for dinner. They had invited him. He is from Camp Hill (another ward) and moved into our ward, so, being inactive, he doesn't know anyone from this ward. It was a good experience getting him to come with us. We had a powerful discussion with the Bartholomews, Brother McIver, and Brother Groft about not judging others (we watched "The Civility Experiment" from Mormonchannel), especially when it comes to sharing the gospel. We need to share it with everyone. We also read some of President Monson's talk and shared some insights from Jacob 5. They all had wonderful comments and the spirit was there in abundance. Brother McIver is a very sensitive man - he's had a rough life and he has felt lonely being in a new town without friends - but he felt welcome and loved. It was beautiful.
We went and visited Paul after that. We just dropped by to see how he was doing because he was too busy to set up a time that week for an appointment. He let us right in and showed me all of his WWII guns. He has a safe full of working weapons downstairs. He showed me his STG and his MP40, as well as his Browning Assault Rifle and his Mauser. He can take them apart and reassemble them in a flash. It was really cool. We spent an hour there just talking and getting to know him. He likes missionaries quite a bit now. He was worried they'd be weird and pushy in the beginning, but I think he's seeing that we're actually people. It's good. We set up an appointment for this thursday.
Saturday morning was the greatest surprise of my life! I got a call from a number I didn't recognize during Elder Mouritsen's Spanish study. I answered it, and I heard a voice say, "Hey, Elder Collier. This is Larry and Lori. We ran into Elder Jolley at Wal Mart here in Gettysburg and he said you were serving in Hanover. Can we come and take you out to lunch?" Of course, I said yes. We met them at Olive Garden for lunch and had a great time. They're doing well. Larry has a crazy beard! Apparently they were out here because their son has been having some difficulties and so he's in a special program to help him out. I was very close with Kyle, so I had Elder Munoz set up a time for us to go see him. Transfers are so inspired! I didn't have any say in coming here. haha. How did President Topham know that Kyle would be in a program on the east side of the mission and I'd be able to see him and his family!? Too crazy.
We went tracting that afternoon and met a really cool guy named Michael. He is a firefighter. He talked to us for over an hour about everything. He was really catholic, so he didn't want to take the lessons or anything, but he said he really enjoyed our readings out of the Book of Mormon and that they were super relevant and on point. He accepted a copy. I came away uplifted and edified by the things he said. He is a stalwart man. It was also cool because this other family we meet with, the Gaylords, were walking down the street. The dad was helping his daughter with a petition for a school program she's in and they were looking for signatures. They waved at us and said, "Hi missionaries!" We asked them what they were doing and they explained, and then Michael said, "Hey, I'll sign that for you!" It was cool. Everyone went away happy.
At 4:30 PM we had the ward Spaghetti Dinner. It was a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts for scout camp. They had an auction and stuff. Jesi came, and so did Brother Kerns, and Sister Resh (a recent convert) brought her husband! I sat by him and got to talk with him. It was fun. We had to leave early to go to Adrian and Eliza's fiesta. It was quite the party! Hispanics are so cool. They simply have a way better culture than we do. Their house was full of lights and crazy trumpet music and they had SO MUCH FOOD! Everyone who showed up came right up to us and said hello. We spent the evening mostly with a guy named Jose. He ate dinner with us and talked with us. My Spanish is doing really well! Though sometimes I'd have to speak English and Jose would respond to me in what English he knew. We kept slipping back and forth in between languages. It was cool! We went to Wal Mart afterwards to buy gifts for Adrian and Eliza's 5 year old daughter. We had to scope out what she was interested in. She really likes disney princesses, so we got her Belle and Snow White changable action figures. Or dolls. Whatever girls call them!
Sunday we woke up and were freaking out because we didn't know what time it actually was due to daylight savings. Luckily, most of our clocks (including our alarm) had made the switch automatically so we weren't late to all of our meetings. We had Ward Council and it went well. Then Sacrament. Brother Hamill came, though I had to sit a few rows behind him because the smell was really bad. But it was good to have him there!
The talks in the Singles Branch were phenomenal. They were on Home and Visiting Teaching. It was cool, because a girl who was recently reactivated because of the efforts of her visiting teacher spoke, and then her visiting teacher spoke right after that. Then the elders quorum president spoke and delivered a powerful talk on the priesthood duty of home teaching. I was impressed.

Gospel Principles class was awesome. Justin, who is slow, kept throwing the class off track with his questions and references to church movies. He asked at one point, "Remember that time the preacher told Joseph Smith to beware of pride and it got him to go pray in the woods?" The whole rest of the class was really confused, but I said, "I remember that. You mean the scene from the 20 minute restoration video, right? Beware of pride, boy. Your eternal soul is at stake!" Justin beamed and nodded his head and gave me a fist bump. Then Sister Cook, the teacher, said, "Well. Back to why we need living prophets..." It was hilarious. I'm starting to love that class. Most of the people, except for Sister Cook, Jesi, and one other girl, have mental disabilities. Wendy, one girl in the class, comes up to me every week and says, "Hello, missionary!" Then she gives me a big hug. Wendy is so awesome. She says I'm her buddy.
After church we went back to our apartment for studies. I made home made soup! It was delicious. After studies we visited Adrian and dropped off the birthday presents. He was very grateful. We tried some people after that but no one was home. The Cooks had us over for dinner and we shared that message with them about feeling the spirit. It's interesting how every time we teach it, it isn't the same - it changes to meet the needs of the people we're visiting, and everyone finds what they're looking for. It was cool.
That night we stopped by the Gaylords. They let us in. We've been trying to teach them a lesson for 3 weeks now, but every time we'd go over they'd either be super busy or they'd talk to us about what we do as missionaries, our families, our lives, etc. haha. They're so cool. They've been letting missionaries in since before I got there and were doing the same thing. Anyway, this time, they invited us to sit down and talk with them. We talked about their week and Mr. Gaylord's job. He's on the SWAT team. Way cool. Mrs. Gaylord said, "So, are you guys visiting many people? Do you teach many lessons?" We were able to say yes and Elder Mouritsen said, "We still need to teach you guys about Joseph Smith!" She said, "Well, how about right now? Do you teach the message together? Like team teaching?" I said yes. She said, "Awh! That's so cute! Okay, let's do this!" It was really funny. We started with a prayer and off we went. Half way through the lesson their kids came home and she said, "Kids, sit down, the missionaries are teaching a lesson!" We taught about prophets, they asked great questions, and when we told the account of the 1st vision, they were enthralled. They were all excited to accept the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It was incredible. We were so happy! We all knelt down and said a prayer with their family. They invited us to come back and share another lesson.

When we got out of their house, we took off running towards our car for 2 reasons: 1) because we were about to be late for curfew and 2) We were so excited!!!! It was awesome.
This Morning I got to go visit Kyle at his school. Us, John Pennington, and Elder Munoz and Elder Jolley went. We were given a conference room and were able to talk for about an hour. At the end we shared a spiritual thought and knelt down. Kyle said the prayer. Then he asked me for a blessing. The spirit was so strong. I hugged Kyle and I said, "I've missed you, man." He said, "I've missed you, too. Thank you so much for coming to see me." It was a tender moment.

Please keep me in your prayers. I'm trying to work as hard as I can for the remainder of my mission. I'm not having issues with motivation - just with keeping my thoughts engaged and not thinking about the future (which I'm really excited for, by the way. I'm rooming with 3 of my favorite people in the world!!!!). Anyway, just keep that in mind. I'll do my best to stay engaged. haha =) It's just a weird feeling. My last Zone Conference is this Friday and I have to give my departing testimony. I don't even know what I'm going to say. Wow. Time flies.
Anyway, I love you all. Good luck this week! Keep the concert under 25 minutes!

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