Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 7, 2014 -- General Conf Week!

We got some game meat at a Baptist dinner we were invited to!  Oh the south!


This week was great.  For Hermana Winters birthday on P-day, the car was in the shop (the other hermanas got in a li'l accident) and so we walked to do email and to lunch and to the bowling alley! Haha, interesting but fun.  Then afterwards our car was ready to go! That night a sweet member made us dinner and had a little birthday cake for Sister Winters, so it was fun.

We had some good times contacting more people, and found some people to teach.  We had a lesson with a man named Fidal who seems promising, and a young family, and one named Juan.  The rest of the people we visit are REALLY Catholic -- so sweet, yet very stubborn in their belief.  But one of these families, after praying for us that we'd see the light, offered us FRESH-made tortillas with Mexican cheese, it was heavenly!  Tender mercies. haha.

On Thursday we had Zone Meeting, and I was SO nervous about the training, but it went all right!  I am so grateful the Spirit was there to help lead me.  I shared about repentance and faith, and based a lot of it on an article out of the Ensign about the Atonement by Elder Bednar.  Turns out a large portion of his talk in the last session of conference was taken from that, which was one of my favorite talks.  I also shared an experience that I don't know if I have even shared with y'all.  Last transfer I was studying repentance and learned that  "bringing our lives in line with God's will through repentance is a central purpose of our lives" and thought back to an experience.  In third grade I had taken part in drawing on the bathroom stalls.  Afterwards the teacher asked every student if they'd done it and I said I didn't.  I've since repented to Heavenly Father for what I'd done wrong, but I realized I'd never apologized to Mrs. Barnes and knew that I needed to if I wanted to continue preaching repentance to the people here.  She wrote me back on Monday, and told me the sweetest things -- that my writing a letter was enough and that I shouldn't worry about what I'd done and she was glad I learned from it! It was super humbling to share that in front of 30 missionaries, but I think it helped get across my point that repenting with a broken heart and contrite spirit, no matter what it is that we did wrong, can CHANGE us as missionaries.

The other cool even of this week was Migdalia.  Months ago, we received a referral that we never found, but whilst looking, tracted into a woman named Migdalia.  She wanted to visit with us and gave us her address. Since then, we've tried 4 or 5 times without her being home, and normally we would've given up at this point, but for some reason we were inspired to go back this week.  She answered the door and greeted us warmly but said she was "Tortillando" and invited us to come back the next night.  So the next night finally we went in and started talking to her! We talked a bit about her life--she's from Guatemala--and she seemed to sort of know about us but we didn't really know why.  We asked her if she had a church.  She said, "Well the truth is I went to your church." We thought she meant a time or two, but no! She's a member! The second one we've found recently in the streets. She was baptized into the Rocky Face Branch seven years ago!  Hermana Winters and I were just like SHOCKED as she told us about the people she remembered, and the doctrines she loved.  She even told us how much she liked listening to President Hinckley.  She remembered a ton for not being back for that long! Turns out she got offended by someone, and left.  Even though she didn't accept our invitation come to conference, we're excited to keep working with her and help her overcome her fears and dive into activity again. 

GENERAL CONFERENCE was so good!  After looking over my notes, there were a lot of words I wrote down for different talks that seemed to be themes repeated, some of them were: stand and defend, serve, find joy, obey, increase faith, keep covenants, and importance of family. I also learned about the power of simplicity - The talks at the end centered on the Atonement by Elders Corbridge, Bednar, and Christofferson were so powerful to me.  I just have so much to learn and apply from what we heard, so much growing to do!
Family I love you and miss you so much!  Hope you have a wonderful April week filled with rain showers and sunshine and blossoms and love and stuff!  Thanks for everything you do

Love, Hermana Collier

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March 31, 2014 -- Miraculous Week!

Hola Familia!!  QUE TAL!

This week's been very different, but great.  A really hard thing happened this week -- well actually last week -- but anyway, do you remember the less-active member Bruno who we went with his sister to help fix his car then invited him to church and he came?  He ended up coming again, a couple of weeks ago thanks to a lot of prayer!  Then we didn't see him for a week or two.  So last Thursday Hermana Winters got the impression to call him, but we didn't have his number, so she asked Luisa for it.  Luisa said that she'd call him to make sure it's ok to give it to us - little did she know that was the last time she'd talk to him.   On Friday their was a shooting at the bar that he worked at as a security guard.  The boy with the gun went for the other guard, but Bruno jumped out to tackle him and hence got shot. 
We were devastated, especially with the prompting we needed to talk with him that week.  We found out he was getting ready to quit that job, too.  It was one of the most real experiences I've ever faced with death -- he was just there one day and the next not.  Luisa and her family are crushed.  The viewing was beautiful, and the line wrapped outside of the funeral home around the next parking lot - half of Dalton came!  The funeral was equally inspiring, the family asked if the missionaries would provide the music for the funeral.  We were able to do Teach Me to Walk in the Light and I Am A Child of God, and I was able to use the violin!  The Rodriguez's very tearfully thanked us for it, and so did many members of the congregation.  It was a very special experience. It's interesting that funerals are such a sad thing, but they also bring people together in a beautiful way!

The Lord is watching over us as missionaries. The other day on bikes, we were feeling a little discouraged and down. We started heading down the street walking our bikes, when a van pulls up to us and the man says, "Que Pasa!" I said, "Hola! Como Esta! Somos misioneras!"  They went on to say, "Yes, we know!"  And the young man in the front seat said, "We're members, my brother and I, we just moved here from Guatemala but didn't know where to find the church!"  Their names are Margarito, 23, and Hector, 27, and Margarito has been working here for about a year, and Hector got here 3 WEEKS ago!!  Margarito was has been looking for the church here but couldn't find it, so was happy to see the missionaries that day!  Sadly, he works every day but Thursdays and Fridays so he can't come to church :(.  But Hector is legit as well -- he actually has a wife and four children in Guatemala.  He told us it's very hard for him to be here and he misses them a lot.  He baptized his oldest son a month ago before he left.  When he came here to the US, all he brought were some pairs of clothes, so he came to church on Sunday in a t-shirt and jeans, and everyone thought he was an investigator! Which was kind of funny to me because he's been to the temple more times than most of the members in our ward. But he liked church, or at least said he did, which might have taken a lot for him because I could tell by the way he talked that he really missed church in Guatemala. It was a huge blessing that the Lord gave us to meet these two young enthusiastic members!  Praying that Hector doesn't find a job that makes him work Sundays as well.

Two weeks ago we walked home, thinking we hardly did anything that day, but by the train tracks we talked to a man who didn't even look Hispanic to me, turns out he was, and invited him to church.  On Sunday, the Bishop called us over, "Hermanas, this is your friend Efrian who you invited to church?"  Haha, I had NO CLUE who he was, and then I finally remembered, and acted like I knew who he was all along!  Ha! so he came to church.  He lives in the Elders area so they'll begin teaching him. I am excited to see him progress!
We visited the Catholic church.  I didn't like it very much, but it was good for Oliver and Elizabeth to see that we cared enough to come see them.  They were thrilled to see us there, so maybe they'll come to ours one day! 

Okay, so picture this...The women of the Dalton and Rocky Face wards sit down to watch the General Women's Meeting after enjoying cookies and lemonade.  The lights fade, and a sweet voice welcomes the women to the Broadcast.  A missionary in the back row starts flipping out when it begins and in a whisper-shout, says, "THATS MY MOM!!! MY MOM'S VOICE!!" Haha!  All of the sisters of the ward were like, "Really!?" Mostly it was just great to hear your voice, Mom.  During Mormon.org hour I played the invitation 5 times, because I just like listening to your voice!

My favorite parts of the meeting were Sister Burton's bold call to serve where there is Help Wanted -- she is amazing! And Elder Eyring's comment on "nurturing leaders." I really loved it and I think we can all get something different out of the messages that inspires us to do better, to stand taller and have a higher vision.

The Zone Leaders called me and I have to give a fifteen minute training at Zone Conference this Thursday on faith and repentance.  I am SUPER nervous.  Please pray for me and send me any brilliant ideas or thoughts that you may have on those subjects!

I know that the Savior's Atonement is real. It is all-encompassing.  He is our Rock and our Salvation.  We are all indebted to him!

Love you all! 
P.S. Today is Hermana Winters' birthday!  We're going bowling so she can beat us all again... :)