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, April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013

Hey Mom,
Monday: We had dinner with the Lindleys. They are a great family that lives in a town called Prosperity. They have a beautiful home out there in the country and they live in a secluded spot surrounded by beautiful hills. They have a pond at the bottom of the hill where they go fishing. It's a beautiful place. Their son loves me. He is in 5th grade. He plays the guitar, his favorite color is orange, and his birthday is the same day as mine. I also taught him the chicken wing handshake that Mitchell taught me and he got a kick out of it. I hope I can be a good role model for him. After dinner we worked on the area book and I found an uncontacted referral for a man named Mohi. I called him and ended up talking to him on the phone for an hour. He talks like Sean Connery. We set up an appointment to meet with him.
Tuesday: I emailed you, we dropped off Elder Walker's dry cleaning because Sookie the dog peed on him, and then we stopped in on some people and got some return appointments. We got a return appointment with Gavin's dad, Brandon. We were surprised that he was willing to let us come back. Elder Walker was thrilled. Then we headed over to visit Brother Milan. He is a quadriplegic man. he needed help taking some pictures of his roland analog synthesizer so he could sell it on Ebay. If I wasn't a missionary, I would have bought it from him on the spot. Those things are amazing. After that we were asked by Brother Anderson to go and visit an inactive sister named Cathy. She was in the hospital because her pancreas shut down. We walked in and she was very happy to see us. She didn't know us, but she knew who we were and who we represented. We offered to give her a blessing and she accepted. Elder Walker was nervous but he did a good job with the blessing. I'm proud of him.
After that we got picked up by Brother Philips and he took us to the church to meet up with Dan. We were supposed to have a lesson in the church but I realized I hadn't been given a key to the building. Luckily the sun was shining and we were able to have the lesson outside. He was struggling. It's always hard to see what recent converts go through right after their baptism. They are on a spiritual high, and they are clean and perfect and feeling the best they've ever felt, and then temptation comes up again and they make a mistake and feel terrible. It happens to all of us. Dan just wasn't sure if that was normal or if he was going to hell or not. He is such an honest and sincere man. One of the greatest guys I've ever met. He has such a desire to serve others and to improve his own situation so he can be of help. He's in Mosiah and is cruising through the Book of Mormon. We talked about how Satan came and tried to stop Joseph Smith right before he had his theophany in the sacred grove. Dan said he had opposition before he got baptized. Then we read about how he fell into foolish errors and with the wrong crowd between the time he was 14 and when he saw Moroni when he was 17 and how he received that great blessing on the condition of his repentance. We compared Dan's situation to Joseph Smith's. It gave him comfort. Brother Philips is the man - let me tell you. He has been such a good friend to Dan, as well as a mentor. Brother Philips is a convert - he joined while he was in the military after the missionaries answered the questions of his soul. He heard the first lesson and said, "Alright. I want you to baptize me next week." So they did! He has since served as the bishop of the Kirtland ward and now he lives in Washington. He's a great teacher as well and was able to really relate to Dan and his situation because he'd been through the exact same thing. It was a fantastic experience.
The Sisters Picked us up after that and took us to the King's Family Restaurant for a meeting with the Lion's Club. Apparently, we are honorary members here. Brother Britten is the member who got us the position. He bought our dinner and then we got to sit in on the meeting. Brother Britten is a character. He is one of only 4 men in the church who knit altar cloths for the temples, he is a mason, he is the treasurer for the local library, he is the family history consultant, he is the secretary of the lion's club, he is practically related to everyone ever, and on top of that he's a convert to the church of 2 years. He is an incredible example.
After that meeting we went and visited with Mohi. He is an 80 year old man from Baghdad, Iraq. He was a Sociology Professor at the University of Utah and graduated from the University of Oregon. He has had positive contact with the church his whole life. He especially loves "Brighman" Young and the example of Joseph Smith. We had a great conversation with him. He is working on an art project that at first glance, when you walk in you go, "Man. This guy is INSANE." He has collages everywhere in his apartment. 1,000 collages. But then you speak with the man and realize he isn't crazy. He explains it to you and it is rich with symbolism. He already knows gospel principles because he figured them out through "Radiation," which is his word for revelation. It's a great way to look at it. he asked us to come visit him the next day.

Wednesday: Had district meeting at the chapel. Finished our two part lesson on how to be a preach my gospel missionary. It was awesome. Then we went to a Mexican restaurant with Elders Colvin and Cooper and the sisters. I was able to talk with the waiter in Spanish. It's fun.

After that the Sisters dropped us off in the ghetto and we were able to track down some less active members and update the church records for those who were missing or moved. We actually were able to discover that a man moved to Eerie and so we transferred his records up there after calling him. I was proud of us! We also gave a Book of Mormon to a drug dealer. He was wanting to get out of his lifestyle. He lived outside of our area though, but we gave him our information so he could contact us. He said he'd read the Book.
So we've been having a difficult time finding new investigators. But I have such a testimony that if you're out trying to find people to teach and are being unsuccessful, the Lord will lead them to you. That's what happened when Elder Gerratt and I got the call from Justin. Anyways, that happened again. We were out beating on doors when we got a phone call form an unknown number. It was from Sister Hartzell, a member from the Knox Branch. She was going to be in town on Friday and wanted us to come and visit her friend, David. Of course, we agreed. She gave us all the information and she agreed to pick us up with David Friday at 2:30 PM. We were very excited!

We worked a little too late and it took us so long to walk home that we missed dinner. The sisters picked us up and we went to mutual to help the youth practice answering questions about the church. These kids are incredible. They've gotten hit with every anti question imaginable, and some of them are only 12! We were able to role play and also to teach them the doctrine and help them understand why things are the way they are in the church. The parents were very impressed by how well it went.
Thursday: I called Madalyn, the recent convert from the Pittsburgh 5th ward, to ask her some advice for who to contact to display Mohi's artwork. She gave me some valuable information. She also informed me that her artwork was just purchased by the Pittsburgh Museum and now has a place in their permanent collections! She was so excited. I'm proud of her!

We spent the day walking all the way across town (which took an hour) to try to locate some members. They weren't home or didn't live there. We also tried to locate some people who once investigated the church or were referrals. No one was home. But it was cool because on our way back, we felt impressed to stop and talk to a girl named Tera. She is 30 and was sitting on her porch. We went right up to her and ended up talking to her for an hour or so. She is very nice and is willing to meet with us tomorrow.
The Urbans picked us up and we had dinner at their house. We had S.O.S. only with bits of egg in the broth that you pour over the bread. I enjoyed it. After dinner sister urban played the piano and had us all sing "Abide with Me 'Tis Eventide." It was cool. Then Brother Urban and his son came with us to teach Thomasina, who we found last week. We talked about the importance of prophets and the nature of God and how God calls them. Thomasina is really excited to get back into church. She kept her commitment to have nightly family prayer. Her daughter, who is 8, her name is Laura, colored us pictures of the cross and wrote "God" on it in big letters. It was adorable. Apparently she asked her mom every day when we were coming back to visit. It was a fantastic lesson. Brother Urban was a big help.
Friday: Friday morning Brother Anderson picked us up and took us to visit Amy. Amy is Thomasina's sister. We went in and talked about how great the church is. Brother Anderson bore his testimony about how the church changed his life. Amy talked about how the church had blessed her, especially in times of need. She also kept saying how it was a miracle that we found her. Seriously, what are the odds that Elder Walker and I would feel impressed to go visit her, find she didn't live there any more, and then trek all over town trying to find her when we didn't even know she kept having dreams that her dad was telling her to come back to church? It's a miracle. She said, "I feel that something important is happening here. Something really good is about to come back into my family." It was cool.
After that Brother Anderson dropped us off for our appointment with Brandon. He let us right in. We weren't expecting that. He let us share the first lesson with him. It was awkward on our part, but it went well. It was Elder Walker's first time leading out in a lesson and he did good. At the end of the lesson, Elder Walker invited Brandon to be baptized, and he said, "I already am baptized." He totally missed the point of the lesson, and we knew that, so we just said, "Alright! Well, is it okay if we come back over and visit you again?" He said yeah and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. We left with a prayer. Outside, Elder Walker went, "Well, he said he was really impressed with us, but we definitely didn't teach for understanding." I said, "On the bright side, it was good practice. And you had the courage to invite him." It was a good learning experience.
At 2:30 PM Sister Hartzell and David picked us up. Their GPS told them our apartment was further down the street than it was. David was following the GPS and passed us, but Sister Hartzell said, "We just passed them." David said, "How do you know?" She said, "What other two guys would be standing awkwardly on the street in white shirts and ties and back packs!" It was really funny.

They drove us to David's home. We had an extraordinary experience. David has been having some severe health problems and he asked for a blessing after the lesson. We were able to give him one. Apparently, for the last week or so he hasn't been able to keep food down. On top of that, he'd been throwing up blood. The doctors were working with him but said that there was a good chance he could end up dying. As of today, he has eaten heavy food and has not thrown up once. The power of the priesthood is real!
David is an incredible cook. He and sister hartzell fed us dinner afterwards and then drove us back to our apartment, where we finished the day by doing weekly planning.

Saturday: Saturday was the weirdest day of my mission.
We woke up and I wasn't feeling too good. I'll be honest, I definitely shirked on companion study because I was in a foul mood. That wasn't a good move because it put me in an even worse mood. The sisters picked us up and dropped us off at the church but then they took off because some members had invited them over to watch conference. We were at the church alone. haha. All day. It was kind of a bummer, but conference was good, so you can't get too depressed when you're watching conference.
Things got really crazy half way through the second session. The phone started ringing off the hook in the church. Apparently there was a wedding for a non-member couple scheduled to take place that day but no one had bothered to inform us or give them proper information. So suddenly we were in charge of directing people to the chapel and coordinating this wedding. It was absolutely insane. We were the only people at the chapel, and tons of people started showing up and asking us where to go and we had no clue. The Bishop and 1st Counselor got there late, but luckily they got there to rescue us. It was hectic!
Mohi wanted to come hear the prophet speak but could only come to priesthood session. Brother Anderson agreed to help give him a ride to Priesthood. He picked us up from the church at 6:30 PM. Then we got Mohi. He decided to use his walker, not his wheel chair, so he took forever to get from the 7th floor to the ground floor. Then he requested that we take him to a garage sale one of his friends was having. So we did. He ended up buying a lamp, a garbage can, clothes hangers, a stool, a fake potted plant, and several other things. This took about an hour. He and his friend (who was 90, mind you) fought back and forth and haggled over prices. I was convinced that it would turn into that battle between the old guys from the movie "Up." It was hilarious. After that, we loaded up his things in the van and took him to priesthood.

Mohi loved it! He kept writing notes, half in English, half in Arabic, and periodically he would ask me questions really loudly. Read this in Sean Connery's voice. "My dear, how can I get a hold of this Robert Hales? I wish to seek counsel from his own lips for my life's path." or "Define this Aaronic Priesthood and this Priesthood of Melchizedek." It was great. At the end of the session he was so moved by President Monson that he said, "My boy, fetch me a piece of paper. I want to dictate a well worded letter to you. Write this. Dear Reverend Prophet President Holy Thomas Monson and the Twelve." Then he proceeded to inform me that he wanted to will all of his wealth and belongings to the church. haha I don't think I'm going to send the letter. Mohi needs his things.
Anyway, he was so pleased with the conference that he put his arm around my shoulders and kissed me right on the top of my head!
So Saturday, I went from being an incredibly lonely and discouraged missionary, to being an ineffective wedding planner, to being kissed on the head by an 80 year old Iraqi man after helping him will his entire inheritance to the church! Strange day.
Sunday: Today was a lot better. We watched conference all day with the sisters. It was really good. My favorite talk was from Enrique Fallabella. "HURRY! SHAKE HANDS WITH EVERYBODY!" Funniest thing said in a general conference. Ever. I also really enjoyed Elder Oaks' talk about service and how we are the true church and why. My favorite conference talk, however, was from President Uchtdorf in Priesthood session. He said, "As men of the Priesthood, we ought to carry a vial of consecrated oil for healing the sick in one hand and a loaf of bread to feed the hungry in the other." Epic imagery. I loved also the talk about redemption from Elder Christofferson - temporal or physical redemption through charity and service. I loved it. It inspired me.

At 6:30 PM we were fed dinner by the Stephens family. They used to be in the Pittsburgh 5th ward so we know people in common. Their sons are hilarious. They are 4 and 6. We had a very good dinner talking about general conference.

Mohi asked us to do some service for him around the apartment so we did. Sister Hartzell called while we were working and informed us that David was doing a lot better with his health. It was a fantastic end to a hectic week.
I'm out of time on the computer! Sorry! Love you. Talk to you in 4 weeks.

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