Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 26, 2014 -- Happy Memorial Day

Me and Sister Burr passing out poppies for Memorial Day.  Good contacting opportunity.
Hola lovely familia!

First of all, thank you for the package with the journals and cards from the wedding reception. I love them SO MUCH! Haha I couldn't stop smiling when I read them, so thank you to everyone who sent a message my way. It meant a lot! The journals are PERFECT too, Mama!

So what's new in Seymour TN? Well we've had a good week, teaching Lisbeth, our favorite 80 year old lady, she is keeping her commitments of reading the Book of Mormon but is still very very stubborn, bless her heart! But we keep serving and loving her.  Also have taught Doris and Bernice who are coming along, although they said they'd come to church and didn't make it on Sunday. 

We got to eat with an Hermana in the ward from Argentina and practice our Spanish, she is so awesome.  We also got to teach Raisa, the recent convert, about temples.  She understands a lot of it and is excited to go!  And we went to mutual to talk to the young women about the musical program we're planning for July, and they're excited and all want to participate, so that will be good.  We also had a meal appointment with an awesome family which was so fun, and afterwards we watched Finding Faith in Christ, and shared our testimonies. This has been one of my favorite things to do with families because it reminds us of the reason we do everything!  I felt the Spirit so strong!

Knoxville landmark:  The Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World's Fair.

On Friday we drove to Knoxville (took all our miles:) for Zone Conference, which went pretty well. I had to give a surprise two minute talk but I somehow pulled it off.  It's fun to be in the Knoxville zone because we're close to the leaders, president and wife, and office couple and see them more often.  So AFTER I went on an exchange to Rockwood TN with Sister Burr.  She's a ton of fun, super down to earth, and has had an awesome mission.  Together we tried the best BBQ this side of the Mississippi, contacted investigators, and taught a less active member in Spanish, which was really great for me cause it was my first Spanish lesson this transfer. Orale.  I LOVED Rockwood! 

So there's a recent convert family that lives right down the road from us - the Murphys. The funny thing is they're technically in the elders area but we're way closer, and their dad's always gone for work, so we end up spending a lot more time working with them.  Last night we had dinner.  Their oldest daughter Celeste, who is 15, has struggled with the decision to be baptized.  Basically the elders committed her for this Saturday, but she kind of pulled Sister Malloy and me aside and told us that it wasn't her desire.  The funny thing was that earlier that day I'd felt inspired to bring with me an extra one of the journals you sent, Mom.  As we talked we decided to start trying to build her faith in very simple ways, and one of them is she's going to make that journal a gratitude journal and write what she's grateful for every day.  

Please pray for Celeste that she'll be able to come to know Heavenly father! We are praying so hard.  Oh ya and Nikki, by the way, is also coming along -- just trying to convince her that she can be baptized before her knee surgery, but we'll see.

Anyways.  HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! We're going to the Sheets to play Corn Hole, woot woot!

Love y'all!

Hermana Collier

May 19, 2014 -- Lovin' Tennessee

The Lackey famly!  When we got there little Zachy came up to us and said, "Can we act out a scripture story!?"  (see previous post . . .)  Love them! 

So so so! This semana was really great!  Our area here in Tennessee...it is just so interesting!  But I am just happy here, enjoying every minute.  The ward is struggling, pero that is close to every unit here with only a couple of exceptions, and I have just realized we have to do what we can to help, and then be content!

So I went to Mission Leadership Conference in Knoxville for the first time, a monthly training that is held for all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders in the mission.  It was great, I was able to receive a lot of personal revelation, although I was a little wide-eyed and wondrous being at my first one ever.  For the musical number, another sister and I played a duet of "I know that my Redeemer lives" and it went great! After the meeting we got to go to President's home and have homemade Cafe Rio..Orale!

The next few days we taught some good lessons with investigators Doris and Bernice and Lisbeth, and contacted some less actives as well.  OH! I almost forgot, we also taught a member referral, named Nikki -- this was just Sister Malloy's second time meeting her.  She is an older lady, probably in her 60s, and struggles a little with health, but she is a super hard worker, and she absolutely loves BYU-tv and thus knows a lot of church doctrine, after years of watching it.  She LOVES to talk, so we'd be on the subject of the Priesthood and somehow end up talking about her dogs, but after an hour of a combination of chit-chat and gospel teaching, I mentioned the word "baptism", and she told us she wants to be baptized! So she's committed, but is waiting for the word on when her knee surgery is so she can know when she can be baptized.  So pray for Nikki por favor!

One other thing that happened this week was I have just have been feeling this prompting to work on some type of program that will help the youth.  On Wednesday Sister Malloy and I went to the house of the Young Women's president, and as soon as I mentioned the idea of a musical fireside, she said that she's been wanting to do one for a year but felt like she didn't have the support.  So we were able to devise a little plan and a theme, were planning it to be around my b-day in July.  I am super excited to work with the YW on this, and most of all to invite their friends who are interested in knowing about the church as far as a missionary effort.

Exchange with Hermana Horrocks
On Friday we had District Meeting and I experienced one of my first back-west connections in nine months! Two LDS tourist families came in while we were having lunch and shook all our hands.  Sometimes it's nice to have someone know who you are :) 

Then I had my first exchange!  I was with the sweet Hermana Horrocks from Bountiful (same stake as the Palmers, crazy right?) in Loudon, TN.  We had a great time working together, we taught some lessons in Spanish, got new investigators, talked to their recent convert, and even located a less active member who hasn't been to church in decades and has tons of potential as a future leader of their little branch over there.  And through it all had a blast!  But most of all, it was just so great to learn from her, and to talk through things she was struggling with, and edify one another.  I know Heavenly Father has called me to this calling just cause He loves me a lot -- I feel super blessed to  be able to learn from these beautiful sisters. 

Church in the theater is becoming a more regular thing, they put out a little plaque out front, so that's great!  We also visited the Lackey family last night--they were celebrating their baptism one year ago and so invited us for dinner. Taught their little boys about the Title of Liberty, then Sister Lackey had us make our own! It was great! I love them so much!

Make it a great week.  Love ya!

Hermana Collier

The sign outside the church on the busy busy parkway

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 12, 2014 -- Little Girl of Y'alls in Tennesseeee!

Recent convert Bonnie's son, Caleb -- the most lovable baby in the world. 


AH talking to you all yesterday was absolutely fabulous!!  I LOVED IT! Y'all are the greatest, funniest, folks around!  And I missed Jon and Bri but it felt like I got to see them with all the pics and videos and everything, so wonderful.  What a great wedding, it seemed like!

Bonnie's front yard -- a beautiful estate.
She was baptized last fall and we sisters help her out a lot!  
Well, I already told you a little but here are some details. My companion, trainer, first mother, Sister Malloy is with me again!  It is absolutely crazy how long we've been able to serve near/together, but it's the greatest! She is super awesome and I learn a lot from her!  We live in Seymour, TN, just outside of Sevierville/Pigeon Forge, in a big white house in the upstairs of a members home. We have nice spacious rooms and a big wooden staircase.  Every morning we cross the highway the house is on, to go running in a really expensive neighborhood with Pride-and-Prejudice-like houses, and the sun is just peaking above the Great Smokey Mountains . . . It is surreal!
The drives to church are long, (which is the struggle with this area: our mile limit is low) curvy, super green and lush with fields, rolling mist, and trees. The people here are a mix of  Southerners of all kinds, including some Hispanic families.  

Little Matthew.  We're best friends basically.
A week from yesterday Sunday, right before I got here, the sister's investigator Raisa, (pronounced Rye-Sa) was baptized!  So I got to meet her, and get to know her.  She's hilarious, originally from Cuba, but speaks more English than Spanish.  She is super intelligent and comprehends a lot, (when the sisters asked if they could come to her house to practice Spanish, she had their intentions figured out by the 2nd lesson, but continued to learn), and so loving.  I already love her so much.  There's also this investigator, Lisbeth, who is HILARIOUS!  She calls Sister Malloy and me "Alicia" and "Madeleine" because she says, "I'm sorry, I just don't believe in callin' you 'Sister.' "

The ward is fabulous, I've had the chance to meet and serve less active members, all of which call on us to help them and know we're willing, and all of which want to feed us.  We've stacked picture frames, rearranged furniture, deep-cleaned rooms, gardened for 3+ hours already!  So they know how to put us to good use at least :) And then they always give us food in return - it works out really well, I believe. 

The Sevierville ward has been trying to get SLC to permit an extension onto their building for  years, and it was finally passed this spring, so construction's already begun.  After many prayers they found a place to meet on Sundays, until October:  An unoccupied theater, right across from the Hatfield and McCoy and the Titanic, among other attractions on the strip of Pigeon Forge. Haha! Yesterday was the first day of church there, and although it was really chaotic, the Bishop mentioned how blessed they are to have a place to meet, and to encourage everyone to think of the pioneers that didn't have places to gather and worship.  It was pretty cool to see all the faithful saints come and worship together! Raisa was confirmed and she just turned to me right before and said, "This is really, really different." Bless her heart.  But the spirit was really strong during her confirmation still!  

There are a bunch of Hispanic families in the ward, most really young, from Honduras, and most are related in some way.  They're super awesome and I'm excited to get to know them better!  

Our ward mission leader had us over to Skype. His name is Pat Sheets, and he is awesome, the most involved ward mission leader I've heard of on the mission.  He and his wife have 7 kids and 20+ grandkids, and a lot were over at their home yesterday so it was just great to be in that kind of environment.  I really love that family already!
Las hermanas rubias de Rocky Face. 

As far as Sister Training Leader stuff goes, we have Mission Leadership Conference tomorrow, and going to play violin in that meeting so I'm excited for that.  Then we'll begin to exchange this week too which will be a blast!  I know that the Lord will give us the strength we need to fulfill this calling, I know I'll learn from it more than anything!

I have goals this transfer to speak in Spanish more around the house, be more obedient (because it's the only way Heavenly Father's obliged to bless us) and work more with the ward.

So I am really enjoying Sevierville, my companion, and the work here.  I'm praying that we'll be able to work hard and see the fruits of our labors!

Hermana Collier

​At transfers -- All the spanish hermanas, except good ol' Hermana Button. Left to right is Hermana Malloy, Hermana Norman, Hermana Horrocks, Hermana Bateson, Hermana Winters, Hermana Collier, Herman Lindhardt, Hermana Edlund, and Hermana O'Very.  I LOVE THEM!   It was my first time seeing Hermanita Lindhardt since October!  She's now comps with Hna Winters.  Hermana Bateson is who I replaced here in Sevierville - she is a really good missionary, all the people here miss her a lot.  By the way, ALL the elders I'm serving with here in Sevierville, I've already served with in Dalton -- haha, the life of a Spanish missionary!  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 5, 2014 -- Goodbye Georgia!

Mary Ortiz and Marcia Martinez - southern girls that both have Mexican husbands. They are so wonderful and have helped me so much while here! They just love so easily!

I miss you all! I loved the pix of Sarah/Brandon's Boda, and the court of honor for Ollie, and Jon and Bri's experience at the temple, sounds like it's all going great!!

Familia Fraire.  The other family that really took us in! they are amazing.
This week has been fabulous!! I have loved every minute, and it has made knowing that I'm leaving soooo hard. Why Georgia Why!?

We had a regular week (except a lot more meals from the members) and it was great!  There was one really sad part - one of the Elders in our district, went home - honorably, but we still miss him!  He was replaced by Elder Morales who is originally from Mexico - it has been awesome to practice Spanish with him.  So that was sad but there is a reason for everything.

On Friday Sister Ortiz had the missionaries over for one last bonfire at their house in the countryside, and we got to play soccer and talk about the gospel under the stars! That night we got the text to be on leadership transfer calls. That night I told Heavenly Father that I trust He knows where I'm needed and I will go faithfully. The next morning we studied, and then transfer calls.  I got the very unexpected news that I'm going to be a Sister Training Leader in Sevierville Tennessee!  I don't know what my mission president's thinking but I will do what he and Heavenly Father ask!

On Saturday Luis Gonzalez took us to teach two lessons. The first was Manuela, a 40-yr old women who has 7 children, and no spouse.  We've really struggled in the past with her wanting to talk more about her problems than the gospel, but on Saturday we were able to both LISTEN and TALK.  It was great! THEN we taught Jose! He is fairly golden, and we had a really good Restoration lesson with him.  Luis bore his testimony on how he's changed since he's been baptized and on Joseph Smith.  Those two lessons were AWESOME.

Alexa, who's baby's birthday it was
That night the Fraire's had a party for their one year old grandson - the Mexicans go hard core for baby's parties which I think is hilarious because it's not like they'll remember :)  But hey it was a blast!! We got to practice our Spanish, eat, take pictures with people, and then they had this big bounce house.  Most of the people had left, and Laura, a returned missionary, runs up to me and Sister Winters and was like "C'mon Hermanas, let's go!" And so us sisters went crazy in the bounce house in our skirts!  Shhh...

The next day church was fabulous!  Luis' kids came for the first time ever, which was great. Also, Jose came and sat right next to us, and Manuela as well!  During Fast and Testimony meeting, I just sat there and thought of all the weeks I'd spent, sitting on that bench-sometimes very hard weeks, and I was overcome by the feelings I have attached to that Dalton chapel.  I have been there in the roughest times and the best.  I have changed so much while I've been here.  I felt such an overwhelming love from Heavenly father for me and for the people of this area.  I got up and bore my testimony and felt the Spirit so strong, and it really helped me say the words of my heart in Spanish.  Wow.  Our investigators loved church - all 3 hours, and Jose sent the sweetest text to us after, thanking me for all my hard work and telling me that he'll always remember me, and that we've changed his life! Unforgettable.  

Lisa, the sweet girl who is
going toget baptized!
So excited for her!
After church we contacted a referral that the Elders taught once, named Laura Sanchez. She's 16, and her parents are from Guatemala so she speaks good English and Spanish. She actually was looking  at instagram and discovered mission calls, and wanted to know more about what a missionary is and how to get a mission call. She found out about the book of Mormon and referred herself on Momon.org.  We got there and just taught her the whole Restoration and she was totally attentive, and extended her a date of June 7th to be baptized! She was SO EXCITED, probably would've consented to sooner! I'm so happy for Hermana Winters and Hermana Lindhardt, my CCM comp, to continue teaching her! Yes, Hna Lindhardt is coming to take my place in Rocky Face.  I am SO excited for them! 

So I learned yesterday, HARD WORK PAYS OFF!!  It is the best feeling to look around on Sunday and see that I have made a difference here.  When we serve others and work hard, it changes us. Thank goodness for the Atonement that makes all of this possible!

After our lesson with Lisa we had a goodbye dinner at our wonderful Bishop Torres' home.  We bore our testimonies and cried and took pictures.  The people here have become my family, and I love them so much. I have changed here so much!
But I still have 2 more days thank goodness :)

Love you all,

Hermana Madeleine Collier
With Bishop Torres' familia, I love them so much!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April 28, 2014 -- Refiner's Fire

Fresh guacamole! . . .
Querida Familia,

. . . when we went out to dinner with Jared and Hermana Mora.
Hola! Jon and Brianna I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!  It's getting sooo close!

Well this week was not the easiest of my mission!  But that's ok -- I am learning to love tough things, I am being humbled, and learning so much.   

It started out with some great lessons, and a lot of calling upon members, trying to get them more involved.  We got to go out with the Young Women visiting less actives and with another member who took us out to visit people.  We had some great experiences with those people.  We just want this ward to be strengthened, I'm just praying and working for it constantly! 

Satan really came out for us on Saturday. We taught a lesson to a guy named Jesus - the Spirit was super strong as we answered his questions about Joseph Smith, asked inspired questions, listened carefully, and followed the guide of the Holy Ghost.  I was super pleased with how it was going.  He was responding really well and telling us that these were answers to his prayers and he believed that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. Then he told us he CANT change his religion- it's the tradition of his fathers.  I have never felt so discouraged -- I've never seen someone who so clearly believed and understood and yet blatantly denied it!

The same day, a family member of Rafael, our recent convert, stood and said such hurtful things to my companion and me as we stood in her driveway.  We wished her a good day, walked away and sat in the beating sun on the curb and cried for a minute. Wow, I have never felt so dragged down!  But this day and these experiences led to study, to prayer, and to meditation, and my testimony has been strengthened SO MUCH over these last few days!

But Rafael is experiencing some crazy pressure from his family.  Please pray for him!  We will be working with him so hard this next week.

Luis our other recent convert is doing awesome - he went to El Salvador this week, and he visited the church there.  He loved it and was amazed at the size! Of course the missionaries there all tracked him down and were super shocked when he talked to them in perfect English. He also brought us back souvenirs, woot woot!

A ward baby shower
After a semi hard week, thank goodness for members -- last night we had dinner with the Fraire family, renowned in the mission for their food, but more importantly than the authentic Mexican food, they had the spirit so strong in their home.  It was something I needed, to sit and talk about the gospel and the ups and downs of missions, and the joy of living these truths.  This next week is my last here in Rocky Face and I am super sad but excited to live up these last few days.

I KNOW that this restored gospel is true, and it is wonderful! I know that I've been called of God to be out here and for that I am so grateful.  I know that Jesus Christ is the reason for everything, and I will strive every day to help others feel of His love and His sacrifice for them.

Thanks for everything you guys do! I love y'all to death!!
Hermana Collier

With the young women we saw a wild rabbit! Emily reincarnated?  

   The Fraires had baby chicks 

April 21, 2014 -- Happy Easter!

With Amanda Torres at the egg smashing

Hola familia! 

Hope your Easter was fabulous, mine sure was.  Y'all sound busy and like you're busy and having fun.

Well, this week was great!  On P-day I bowled a 117, holla! Haha, I was pretty excited. Also that day at Wal-Mart, I talked to a guy, Agapito, and he said we could come over and teach him the next day!  So we went to Agapito's and had a lesson with him and his daughter Elizabeth.  The Spirit was super strong as we taught about Jesus Christ, and what He's done for all of us.  Then the Spirit prompted us to go on and teach the Restoration, and as we taught about Joseph Smith and related the first vision, we saw  Elizabeth, the 12 year old daughter shed a few tears.  It was one of the coolest lessons and I know the Spirit was so strong there. 

After conquering a very dirty house with Sister Hatch

On Wednesday I went to Harrison Bay Tennessee, near Chattanooga for an exchange.  I was companions with the lovely Sister Hatch, which was great, we had a great time and taught some powerful lessons.  She taught me a lot about the importance of striving to have the Spirit with us as missionaries -- and I've made some goals of what I want to change.  We also did some service and cleaned a really dirty house . . .  The silent vows you make on your mission - "My house will nevverrrr ever be this dirty!"  It's great!  But we had fun while doing it.

We're also teaching a man named Jose right now.  Although we've only had two semi-short lessons and both were on his porch and without members, he's already read a good part of 1 Nephi and wants to come to church, although he works every other weekend.  We're super excited about him though!

Taught Rafael about temples :) love him! 
Remember how Rafael's grandson Jesus was interested for a while then sort of stopped?  Well he almost came to church on Sunday! Turns out Rafael got a headache so none of them came, but we're going to try and get him back on the road to taking the discussions. I hope.

We had some other good lessons this week.  Right now we're struggling with members getting involved in teaching our people, but as we grow closer to the ward members I think they'll volunteer their help more.  It's coming along!

Crazy to think I only have 2 more weeks here in Dalton.  President and Hermana Irion came down to District Meeting on Friday and we had a great interview, I love President! He just gave me a lot of encouragement and also told me he still hasn't decided where he's sending me...It made me so anxious!

Busch smashing the egg on the bishop.  Ha ha!

Pascua was great!  We had a splendid day, full of church, sunshine, a delicious Carne Asada at the Garcia's with some families from our ward, and Easter egg hunts.  I led out the kid's easter egg hunt- they went out and got as many eggs as they could and then when they came back, they were all empty.  I explained to them that was how the women who went to find Jesus at the tomb felt when they found no one there, but that He still lives and gives us gifts -- and so they still got candy.  :)  It was great.
Then the bishop and his wife had organized a second hunt, with egg shells filled with confetti.  I thought it was kind of random, but when I got to the front yard everyone was cracking them on each others heads and such.  Haha, Mexican Easter!!!  Never to be forgotten!

All fun aside, I am super grateful for our Savior and His sacrifice for us.  Even though I didn't get to be with ya'll this Easter, I think it was one of my favorite ones ever because I have come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Atonement and Resurrection for me and what it means.  It makes me more happy than any Easter celebration could! 
Happy Easter! 

Love and miss y'all to death!


Hermana Collier

April 14, 2014 -- A Week of Walking and Talking

Dalton Georgia, I'll never forget ya!
Que pasa Calabasas!  What's new!?

Okay, funny story before I forget:  I think I told you a while ago about Efrain. He's the guy we saw while walking home one day, and invited him to come to church, and then he came!  The Elders finally got to teach him and he's accepted a baptismal date.  After doing so, he basically told them, "It's so crazy because when the Sisters first came up to me, I thought they were the police! But then I saw Jesus Christ on their tags."  And he loves to tell that story over and over.  On Sunday he pointed at me and said "Theres the police!" :)

We've had some pretty good investigators, but for some reason have struggled maintaining investigators that are females.  So as weird as it is, I've really been praying that we'd be able to find some this week, and Heavenly Father answered my prayers!  We had a lesson with a woman named Lupe who is raising three teenage daughters.  The middle one has major special needs.  She was super open to learning more and we are really excited to start teaching them.  We also had a lesson with a woman named Manuela, who will need a lot of help, but is open to the gospel! 

Best ice cream...EVER...seriously!
On Saturday we had a cool experience, we talked to a family out on their porch, and we've talked with them in the past, so I was surprised when after chatting for a minute (and almost convincing them that I'm Puerto Rican, haha) they invited us to come in and share our message.  The Spirit was very strong in the room, especially when the dad asked, "If you were both born in the religion of your fathers, how did you come to know your Savior Jesus Christ?"  And we both just bore personal testimony in our broken Spanish that we KNEW that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is true, because we've experienced it for ourselves and it's changed our lives.  The Spirit helped us so much during that lesson, and I think they were very affected by it.

It really is amazing to look back and see how much my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration has really grown in these last 7 months.  I encourage you to study the talk from President Uchtdorf, "Are you sleeping through the Restoration?"  It is super duper true!

     thought we'd pick up some lunch on the road :)
A family in the Dalton ward just had their son get back from his mission in LA so we got to go to their home and talk to him about his mission a bit.  He has great story because he was 24 when he decided to go, after years of wandering, but served a very honorable mission.  He gave his testimony in church on Sunday and told us how important missionary work is to him and to our Savior.  I realized it is not a sacrifice I'm making to be out here at all, the Lord is giving me this chance to spread His love and serve others!

I love this gospel!  I love you all.

Hermana Collier

Hispanics give us Coke for the road...all the time!

We had a carne with la familia Mesta..pollo, carne, todo!  It was very fun!