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 15, 2013

April15, 2013

Hey mom,

To answer your questions: The ghetto in Washington is called the West End. We live right on the border of it. It's not super bad - about equal to the projects in Uniontown when I was there. There's a lot of heroin use in Washington - a lot of people when the glass houses and the coal mines closed down turned to drugs, and that made the economy even worse. So it's kind of a depressed down. It's about 1/8th the size of Vancouver. I can walk from one end to the other in about 2 hours. It has some really nice parts to it. Washington and Jefferson, one of the oldest Colleges in the nation, is in Washington, PA. It's a beautiful campus, so there are some young kids that we can talk to. There are 190 - 200 active members in the Washington ward, but the boundaries cover the whole county, so they're pretty spread out, but we get a lot of support and help from them (even though the sisters get fed more than us! haha!). We don't have a car because of the huge influx of elders. I won't have a car for the rest of my mission. I am the district leader in the Washington District, and I have 2 sisters and 2 elders under my direction. You shouldn't worry. I'm doing okay. I'll make it. =)

This week turned out well. It is difficult because the records here are a mess. There are so many people with defunct phone numbers and addresses. We're trying to locate them all but it's tough to do when all you have are first and last names and birth dates and no access to the internet. Luckily president has approved limited internet use for us in our project, which will help. We have, like I said, 200 or so active members and 560 on the rolls. We were able to locate one guy - we found out he lives in Jamestown, New York, so we shipped his records to the ward up there. He was grateful. He hadn't been to church in ten years. We want to get the records cleaned up so we have an accurate representation of who is really in the ward boundaries. So we've been working hard. It's tedious work but it's important. No one has done an overhaul like this for years. I know for sure that I can sow more seeds that can be reaped by other missionaries in the future doing this than anything else.

Here's a break down of my week:

Monday: We had P-Day. Didn't get everything done that we wanted to because we struggled to find change for the laundry machine. If you want to get me anything for my birthday, please send me quarters. It costs $3.00 to wash and try one load of clothes and it's draining my monthly allotment like crazy. Anyway, Dan, the recent convert in this ward, is so awesome. He took us out to lunch at Taco Bell so we could try the new Cool Ranch Doritos Taco. He said, "You gotta try it. When you take a bite, it's as if God himself came down and gave you a blessing in your mouth." It was so funny! We had a good time with him. He's a cool guy. That night, Brother Philips had us over to his house for dinner with the sisters. We shared a spiritual thought about finding the lost coins in our ward - people we had lost due to our own negligence as opposed to the lost sheep who wandered off alone. Brother Philips really liked it - he wants to work with us to clean up the records. After that he came with us to visit Thomasina and her family. Her daughters Sarah and Laura just love us. Sarah is so cute. Every time we give her a fist bump she goes, "BOOM!" It's adorable. We had a lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel. Elder Walker is getting better at participating in the lessons. We tried to show the Restoration movie but their DVD player was broken, so we took to the internet to watch it and the internet was super slow.... but luckily the Holy Ghost is what makes the lesson, not us so even though we failed it turned out okay. It was a good lesson. I also called and put David's name on the Prayer roll of the temple.
Tuesday was strange. We had a full spectrum of missionary experiences. Elder Walker and I practiced street contacting during companionship study so he could get better at it. Wouldn't ya know, when we went out that morning we stopped and talked to a girl named Larrissa, talked to her just like we practiced, and she gave us her phone number and information! Practicing in companion study is incredible. You really do receive revelation. After that we went and helped the Salvation Army put on a yard sale. It went well. They fed us sandwiches and gave us Powerade. They also asked us to paint their bathroom the next week. We will see how that goes.
After that we were asked by the sisters to go and contact a media referral that they got from They had tried calling the person but couldn't get in contact with them. Upon further investigation they realized that the person actually lived in our boundaries. So we walked to the Washington Hotel (which is beautiful) and asked if we could visit the person that was supposedly living there. They said there were apartments that they rented out on the 9th floor. So we got in the elevator and went up stairs, pretty excited to meet this person. We got out of the elevator and knocked on the door. A man (the referral was for a woman) answered the door. We asked if we could talk with the girl who lived there and explained that a visit had been requested through our website. 
"Are you Mormons?" The guy asked. I said yes. He immediately turned bright red and charged us. Elder Walker took a few steps back into the hallway. I stood my ground. He got right up into my face and said, "YOU GET THE **** OUT OF HERE! YOU TAKE YOUR CULT CRAP AND GO! GET OUT! WHO SENT YOU HERE?" 
Calmly, I replied, "I'm not sure, but someone asked us to come. I'm not sure who you are, but if you don't want us to come back, we won't."

He didn't hear a word I said. He shouted, "SHUT UP! GET OUT HERE! I DON'T WANT YOU HERE!" 
I said, "Sir, before we go, I just want to ask you a few questions so this doesn't happen again."

"NO!" He was an inch from my face. He was getting ready to punch me. Spit was flying everywhere. "I DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER YOU ANYTHING. YOU GET OUT OF HERE!" He turned around and walked back into the apartment and slammed the door. 

I knocked on the door and said, "Sir, are you members of the church? If you are and you don't want to be, we can take your name off the records and this won't happen again."

He opened the door and said, "I TOLD YOU! I'M NOT TELLING YOU ANYTHING! I'M GOING TO COUNT TO THREE, AND IF YOU'RE NOT GONE, SO HELP ME, I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE." Elder Walker said come on, Elder, let's go. I told the man to "bring it. All I was doing was trying to resolve the situation so that you wouldn't have to see us ever again." Maybe I shouldn't have done that. He slammed the door again. This guy was going absolutely nuts! Then he opened the door again.
"Sir, you're being pretty unreasonable."
"You've gotta be kidding me. Really?"
"THREE!" He didn't punch me in the face. I called his bluff. He did charge me again though - kind of like when they charge the umpires in Baseball and get up in their faces. That's what it was like. "THAT'S IT, I'M CALLING THE POLICE!" Elder Walker said, "C'mon, Elder, let's go!" I turned and said alright, I'm coming. The man slammed the door again. We walked hurriedly down the hall. Elder Walker was pretty freaked out in the elevator. I calmed him down. haha. I was pretty proud of myself. I had a dream when I was in Pittsburgh that, in essence, told me I didn't have the faith to lay down my life for the truth. Something between then and now has changed, and my faith is sure, and I went toe to toe with this guy without fear in my heart. I wasn't proud as in prideful, but proud that the Lord has helped me become a man. It was intense. When we got into the lobby, we informed the front desk about what happened and explained the situation and our job. They apologized to us and said they'd send management up to talk with the man. They also agreed to warn future missionaries from visiting the apartment in case they ever received a media referral for this location again. They were very accommodating. If you need a good hotel to stay at, stay there. Just don't talk about mormonism on the 9th floor or you'll get punched in the face by a crazy.

After that, things calmed down. We went and talked with some college kids who were laying down in the grass by their dorms. It was 2 girls and 2 guys. When they saw us coming they rolled their eyes. I knew it was going to be good. At first the boys were goofing around and trying to mess with us, but I cut through the crap and got to know them as people. Then I told them a little about myself. Elder Walker was pretty freaked out. haha! When they found out how old I was (I couldn't believe it. One of those guys graduated in 2011. He was younger than me!) they treated me a little better and actually listened. In the end, one of the guys accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. It was a good experience. I was conquering fears left and right on Tuesday!
Fear of bodily harm at the hands of a nutcase? Conquered.
Fear of rejection from attractive females? Conquered.
Fear of ridicule from peers? Conquered. 
Haha! It was a great day. Tough, and trying, but good. We walked across town for an appointment and got stood up, but we did get to meet some people on the street, which was good. Then we walked up to the hospital and met with Brother Haines who was waiting for us at the bus stop so we could go visit Amy. Before we met him we felt impressed to knock a few doors. We met a really great lady named Jenny. She is a young stay at home mom who has been searching for the one true church. She heard us out and asked for a copy of the book of mormon without us offering. It was pretty cool. We will have to go back and see what she thinks. Then we met up with Brother Haines and visited Amy. We had an excellent Restoration lesson and invited her to come on a church tour on Saturday with us and her sister Thomasina. She agreed. Amy also said the closing prayer! We were very proud of her. She was nervous but did excellent.
The Sisters picked us up for dinner afterwards. We had dinner with the Long family. They're so cool! After dinner we were dropped off at the church. Adam and Naomi had called the night before to let me know that Robin was getting her temple recommend interview from President Murray and would be at the Washington chapel. We came up with a plan for me to surprise her. She was in the office being interviewed when I got there, and Adam and Naomi and their kids were back in the nursery room. But guess who was waiting in the lobby? Ian - a guy my age that I interviewed for baptism last year in Uniontown. He's from the Monongahela ward. His interview was the one Elder Jamieson, Elder Young, and I had to walk through the snow storm to get to because our car couldn't get up the hill! I asked him what he and his girlfriend were doing there. He said, "I'm going on a mission of my own!" I said that was awesome! He was getting his temple recommend interview. The plan was for both him and his girlfriend, Autumn, to go through the temple together. He's going to Anaheim California. I'm not sure where she's going, but she's serving a mission too. She's leaving 6 months after him. Then they're getting married when they get home. HOW COOL IS THAT! I'm so proud of him.
After that we went back and talked with Adam and Naomi. It was so good to see them! Naomi and Adam came and gave me big hugs. Their little boys have gotten so big! We waited until we heard Robin coming down the hall. She walked in and said, "OH MY GOSH!" when she saw me and she started to cry. She said, "GET OVER HERE!" And she gave me the biggest, longest hug I've gotten in two years. I've missed them! We had a lesson about the temple and how we are taught there and I gave her some tips that I wish I had been given before I went the first time. It went great. We took pictures and then Adam and the boys gave me and Elder Walker a ride home. It was a fulfilling night. One of those rare moments when you see the fruits of your labors. I'm so proud of them!!
Wednesday we had a district meeting in Waynesburg about working with Stake and Ward leaders. Then we went to lunch at a diner in Waynesburg and swapped stories. Elder Cooper told us about the time he left a dead fish under the desk of one of his high school teachers. It was really funny and really sad. He got in big trouble. Haha! Then I went on exchange with Elder Colvin. Elder Walker led out in our area with Elder Cooper for the first time! Elder Colvin and I had a good evening. We visited with a lady named Jan and then went and visited a family that night and had a restoration lesson. After I used the analogy about how Priesthood authority to prophets is like Legal authority with a state trooper, the husband told us about the time he was smoking a cigarette on the high way with the windows rolled down and how the wind blew the burning cigarette out of his hand and up his shorts. He started swerving all over the road and got pulled over by a policeman (he was already pulling over.) He immediately jumped out of the car and started trying to put out his shorts and get the cigarette out. The police officer came out of the car with his gun drawn and almost shot him, but as soon as he got the cigarette out he noticed the police officer and put his hands up. He said, "Sorry officer. I cigarette flew up my shorts." The officer busted up laughing and said, "Whew. Well I'm glad you got it out. Go aboutcher business." It was the funniest story I've ever heard.
That night Elder Colvin and I swapped stories before going to bed. They live in a member's guest home, which is pretty much like a resort spa. I'm jealous. They had an awesome shower and massage chairs and beds. It was epic. haha.
We switched back in the morning. For lunch we went to Shorty's, which is this hot dog place that was really good. 2 hotdogs and a ton of fries for 5 bucks! It was cash only though, and collectively we didn't have enough cash, so we had to go find a place to withdraw money. It was funny. After that Elder Walker and I got to work. We met Shelby and Tara on the street. I guess they were both having a tragic day and we showed up at just the right time. We are meeting with Tara tonight. We met with Mohi after that and helped hang some pictures for him since he's old. He made us some hot chocolate. After that we went and bought some card stock and did some work on the area book and locating members with the records. We tried going over to work on it at Bro. Anderson's house but he didn't have the software we needed so we walked about a mile for nothing. haha! With a car, that would've been no big deal. With your legs, it's pretty frustrating.
Friday morning we had a great experience. Heather called us to inform us that David had been watching the Finding Faith in Christ DVD and a thought struck him: "Why does Heather keep telling me all these things that help me but she doesn't help herself? She needs to go to church!" So he called her and demanded that she go to church with him on Sunday. She lives up north, so he said he'd come up and go with her. She was taken aback. She hadn't been to church in 6 years! She felt put on the spot but knew she couldn't balk so she agreed to go. How crazy is that? I told her that I didn't think it was a coincidence that his name was on the prayer roll and suddenly he got the idea to take her and himself to church. Miracle!
Friday we weekly planned. Then we walked 3 miles uphill and across town to visit some people. We were dying. It was really warm. Nobody was home or the members we wanted to visit had moved. We did get to have a wonderful lesson with a man named John who was being taught by the elders before we got there. His daughter also sat in on the lesson and accepted a Book of Mormon. It was cool. After that we walked home, and it was about 8 o'clock. We spent the rest of the time prepping our edits to the ward list in a coherent form so we were prepared for our meeting on Sunday.

Saturday morning we walked 2 miles to Washington Elementary school to help build their new playground with other members of the community. We did that for 4 hours. Then we went to a meeting for the Washington Geneological Society. Brother Britten got us hooked up with that. He's a stud. Then we worked on comparing notes with the sisters for 2 hours. It was exhausting. My brain was going numb. Then we went and got Subway. I discovered an unused subway gift card in my wallet. Such a pleasant surprise! Free dinner!
Then we went to the church with the sisters and prepped for our church tour with Thomasina, her girls, and her Sister Amy. We baked them cookies. Thomasina and Amy came, and we gave Sarah and Laura those New Testament and Old Testament animated storybooks. They loved them! Then we took them on a church tour. Thomasina was pretty emotional. It was her first time back in the church since her dad's funeral. She couldn't go into the chapel because she could picture him sitting on his favorite pew. It was good practice for her though. We went into the relief society room after and had a Plan of Salvation Lesson. They all had awesome questions about the afterlife and we taught about the importance of the temple and doing temple work so that families could be sealed together forever. We also showed them that temple magazine and they were enthralled with how beautiful it was. They all committed to prepare to go to the temple. Amy prayed again! It was awesome.
Sunday, Thomasina, Laura, and Sarah came to church and loved it. We were surprised because Thomasina came into the chapel! She had the courage! We were proud of her. Laura loved primary, though Sarah got scared after the first 30 minutes and stayed with her mom the rest of the time. Amy couldn't come because of work (we already knew about that. She's coming in 2 weeks). It was a great day. We also got a new bishop today. His name is Bishop Young. It'll be good to have him. Bishop North is moving to Idaho so he's been REALLY busy and it has been difficult with us to coordinate efforts with the ward. The Bishopric has pretty much been out of the picture for us since we got here, but it was understandably so. I'm just excited to have a fresh start. We also found out that Brother Long is our new assistant ward mission leader, which will be great for us and him!
After church we took Personal study. Then we went out and tried to locate members. We placed 2 copies of the book of Mormon. One guy approached us and asked for one! How cool is that!? Then the sisters picked us up for dinner and we ate with the Price family. They're really cool. They helped give us information on some of the missing members and Brother Price used his Ipad to help us find addresses. Sometimes I forget that technology exists. I wish I had it. It'd make my job SOOOO much easier.
Then we took companionship study at home. This 2 hours of companion study is killing me. I just want to work! haha. But it was a good one. I definitely needed it because I was having a rough day. It was a heart warming end to our week. We worked hard! I feel like we're punching under water - putting so much force and effort into what we're doing but we're not getting anywhere or having real impact. We will make progress eventually!
It was a good week. I love you guys. I'm proud of Asa. It looks like Jonny and Sammy are doing awesome! I love them! Tell Harrison hello for me and tell Jenni she's cool. Also, tell Mr. Iverson thanks for writing me! He's awesome.
Talk to you soon,

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