Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 18, 2014 -- On a Mission to Rescue Sevierville

 Sister Whitehead,  the most hilarious ward member we have.  

Hola Familia!!!

Well this week was good!  The last couple days of Sister Malloy being here we had lotsa food and visits with members, and then we had Zone Conference on Wednesday.  It was sad to say goodbye to Sister Malloy and see her go, but exciting for her as well.  I'll miss our little trio!  In our zone Conference we had on Wednesday, among other things we talked about strengthening the wards we serve in.  President Griffin said, "These wards have 10 or 15 people who are working hard -- who are tired.  Do what you can to uplift them and take the burdens onto your shoulders."  This couldn't have been more true.  Sister Guevara and I talked after and felt that we both felt very inspired to do this in our ward--to really reach out to those without Visiting Teachers and those less actives who need to return.  This leads up to our experience with the Bowes' family.

So last week, I'd felt inspired to call a Sister Bowes off the ward list.  We called, and turns out it was a number they don't usually answer - but she did, and let us know her address and welcomed our visit.  When we got there, we were greeted Sister Bowes -- fun, bubbly, very sweet sister who was SO excited to have missionaries at her door!  She described her story, including the burden of her part-time job on top of raising a 12 and 13 year old, an autistic 17 year old, and caring for both her husband who had mental damage from serving in the militairy in the 90s, and another old family friend who she's dedicated most of her time and money in the last few years to.  And how the missionaries had found her a few years ago at a yard sale, and she was baptized soon after. Our first visit we really just got to know her, and told her we'd come back.  That Sunday the whole family made it to church for the first time in about a year.  

ANYWAYS! On Friday we called an active sister to go with us. This sister's husband just began chemotherapy and was throwing up all day, but she still said yes she would go!  So she came with us to visit Sister Bowes.  They immediately connected.  We began a lesson on the Savior's Atonement, and Sister Bowes, so cute, pulled out a notebook and took notes on everything we said.  At the end of the lesson Sister Byers bore her testimony and began crying, testifying of Jesus Christ and also relating her experience of caring for her own family members to that of Sister Bowes'.  Afterwards, Sister Byers thanked us for the oppurtunity to serve, she felt blessed for her sacrifice.  This is what it's all about!

We had two more appointments after this one, and we needed a team-up for them so bad, but had already called everyone that we thought we could.  We went to the library to do, and there was Sister Lackey from the ward.  We told her our situation and she said, I'd love to take you to the appointments!  So we went and taught Nikki, who's doing well, and then an investigator named Laurel.  We had a good lesson with Laurel (see picture) and invited her and her family to church and they almost came, but she had back pain so didn't end up coming.  But she's progressing pretty well.  Best of all, it really boosted Sister Lackey's confidence to be taking the missionaries around- she wants to do it again!  Sometimes team-ups are just as much for the members as they are for the missionaries.  

Another thing we'd wanted to do was go to Seminary and talk to the students there about coming unto Christ and helping them get more involved in missionary work.  So we woke up earlier on Friday, not really sure what we were doing -- but as soon as I walked into the seminary room (in our theater-church building) and felt the spirit of those youth and adults who'd sacrificed to be there so early, I felt the Spirit affirming we were supposed to be there.  We shared a short message with them and gave them excitement to share the gospel this year with their friends and talked about the different ways we could do that!  It was great.  After we studied, we called a sister in the ward to come with us to a less active family.

On Sunday the whole Bowes family came to church and met everyone.  There is no feeling like seeing a full family return to activity and seeing the smiles on their faces and everyone around them.  One of the most rewarding experiences was, last night Sister Bowes calls us with an emergency.  Her mother had been involved in a hit and run and was going to the hospital.  As soon as we let the YW pres and RS pres know, they had meals lined up and the Bishop planned to go visit them.  This sounds small and simple but it was HUGE because things like that don't always happen back here!

So we just really feel the need to help the ward, and raise their faith and their vision, and I know that ours will raise as we do so as well.  I am excited to continue the work of Salvation, through helping and serving the members, and inviting souls to really truly be converted.

I hope yall are being converted as well daily.
Love ya!
Hermana Collier

Smoky Mountain Hermana

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 11, 2014 -- Ever Heard of an Attack Goat?

Sister Jones - love her! She leaves us soon, sadly.
Dear familia:  

I will give an accounting of this fun, slightly crazy, great week!  Well let's start with the spiritual awesome moments.  First, Sister Malloy and I had an exchange with the lovely Sister Jones, it's funny cause the first exchange of my mission ever was with these two sisters so it was way fun to be together again!  We taught a less active family in our area that just got sealed a year ago, but now don't want to make the effort to come to church and are not afraid to admit it at all.  He is tough and hard on the outside, but a softy on the inside. They're so loving and wild, and I think our ward needs their energy so much!  We had a great lesson with them though.  The spirit was so strong, and he began crying as he said the closing prayer! We're praying for them.

Another was when we went to contact a potential investigator.  We knocked on the door and it was his sister-in-law, but she let us in. Her name was Lakrisha, and she was a young sweet mom.  We sat down and said a prayer together, and started to tell her simply of the love God has for her.  Tears just started streaming down her face and she told us she knew God had sent us to her that day.  We taught a simple restoration, in which Sister Guevara recited the First Vision -- during which we were all crying.  It was just a sweet manifestation of the Love of God.  Her husband however doesnt want us to meet with her so please pray that we'll be able to meet with Lakrisha more!

Happy and sad moments of the week:  We teamed up with our favorite person, Scarleth flores, for the last time before she heads to UT.  It is the best experience for her and for us, and at a Gas Station on the way to teach Nikki, we talked to some people and got their information. When I went to the check out, the cashier said, "So where are you from, Sister?" she continued to tell me she's a member, just not ready to go back to church.  It was definitely the hand of the Lord that placed her in our path!  That night we got to have dinner and FHE with the Flores family for the last time.  Brother Flores taught us the most hilarious game, "Bunga bunga" - I would tell you why it's my favorite thing, but that would ruin it so I'll just wait till I can play it with y'all!

The fab four team-up -- in turquoise!

The Flores family will be greatly missed.  Off to Utah they go.
So training's always fun because you never really know what she's thinking when you do crazy things for the first time.  Saturday we went to go try and contact a less active.  We drive through the banjos of Tennessee, and pull into a driveway with a barn next to it with a sign reading:
And so I thought it was just a joke, so we say a little prayer, right? As soon as I open my eyes, and there's a goat, staring at me with a challenging gaze! It had jumped it's fence.  I was laughing yet really nervous cause I didnt really know if it was real or not.  So slowly we got out of the car and tried to tiptoe our way around the attack goat, it was just bleating at us SO LOUD, i thought it was really gonna go for us, but we luckily got away.  My companion said, "We don't need to go! Heavenly Father doesn't need these children in His kingdom!"
There it is, the goat that scared us.  And note the pheasant,* which added to the eeriness of the situation.

ANYWAYS we are doing well here in Seymour. training is a great experience and is teaching me a LOT.  Sister Malloy will be sorely missed here by the recent converts, members, investigators, and maybe most of all us!  But that's life! We're excited for her despite our sadness!


Hermana Collier

*Editor's note:  Pheasant?  It looks like one of those that the folks at include in their list of Confusing Domestic Ducks:    "If your duck has a red face, it’s probably a Muscovy Duck. This red skin can be quite bumpy, exaggerated, and frankly, gross, with a knob on top of the bill and lumps all over.  If you see that, it’s a slam dunk Muscovy Duck."  Add the pied black and white plumage and it's double slam-dunk.  As a daughter of Maynard, I have neglected my duty to teach her the difference between a pheasant and a duck.  

August 4, 2014 -- A New Transfer in Seymour!

Hola Familia!!
I am here in Tennessee, so excited to write y'all, and so grateful for all the letters/emails I've received recently.  Well here we are with our new hija!!  Time in the last week has just flown seriously. 
But there were some great highlights . . . 
Something fun:  last p-day we went with a sweet sister in the ward and her daughter hiking in the Smokies.  It was beautiful!  I love these mountains--and there are REAL TREES here! We got to see the cabin of the oldest people to live within the park boundaries, I could just see the mountain people living here in their old cabins, off the land, pickin' on their banjos. 

So on Wednesday, we went to Farragut for the biggest transfer the Tennessee Knoxville mission has seen in months.  About 75% of all companionships were changed, so there were tons of missionaries, members and amazing people there.  We entered the training meeting with President Griffen who gave us wonderful council.  We found out in that meeting, that our hermanita wouldn't be spanish speaking assigned, (she's english) which I was a little surprised to hear.  But we went into the meeting where trainers meet their trainees, and we received Sister Guevara, and it was all great!  Her name is spanish because her grandparents come originally from Spain, and the boy she's writing is Mexican, but she's never learned Spanish so she was super excited for the oppurtunity to learn with us, and I think it's the Hand of the Lord for sure.  She's from Lehi UT, blond and cute, is about Sister Malloy's height, so I feel like a bit of a giant, but that's ok!  She's super chill and genuine.  She loves dogs, her family and friends.  She's more quiet but a really gifted, bold teacher, so I've enjoyed teaching situations with her. So I'm happy to be companions with her and work in Seymour for the next couple of transfers together.  
Something funny:  After a day or two in Seymour she said, "I never expected to be living in a big, creepy farm-house!"  Now that she mentions it, I kind of agree.  With ants and spiders everywhere, creaking doors, and rumors of past ghosts that lived in it I can see where she's coming from! Oh and Buddy the dog that died last week? He is now cremated sitting on the shelf.  Maybe we shouldn't have mentioned that one. Haha we have a good laugh about it every day.  
Something spiritual:  On Friday, we had our first District Meeting with our new district, and it was really different, our district leader made it more of a discussion, which is GREAT because it made us all be more involved.  We're really focusing as a district on what President's asked us to do which is really be led by the Spirit in our missionary work, so we had some great discussions on how we can do this.  We concluded with praying often, working hard, using our own thoughts and ideas, and applying the scriptures among other things.  We also talked about as we do this how our faith will increase and our success will as well.  Faith is such an amazing and essential concept in life and in the work of the Lord.  At the end we talked about goals.  Some of us missionaries who've been here for a while put out an idea, and most nodded in agreement, until the two trainees who'd been quiet most of the meeting boldly told us their thoughts of raising our goals as a district.  The Spirit was SO strong in the room as we felt the faith and enthusiasm rising.  I'm excited for these next few transfers.

Teaching moments:  We taught a few lessons to the Glatz's grandchildren who are in town, and almost set a baptismal date.  They are 10 and 9 and so faithful and sharp, it is a delight to teach them.  However, they live in Florida and the Glatz's decided they want them to take the discussions there which we think is a better idea anyways.  
  We also taught a young woman named Laurel, which went really well.  She didn't show up to church sadly as she said she would, but we hope to keep working with her.  We also got to teach sweet Joel and Averie -- a young, awesome, hard-core Christian family.  It's hard because we agree on SO MUCH, and they just can't see the need for a Restoration and the Book of Mormon.  But we left with them the commitment to pray with real intent about our message.  The cool thing is that when I left that with them, I felt with a surety in my heart that if they do pray with FULL sincerity, then there's no problem, because the Spirit won't ever lead them astray. 

On my mind:  The church is the same wherever you go, it is so true! Fast and testimony meeting here is SO powerful because I think it encourages the members that live here a lot to hear the visitors bearing strong testimony of the feeling of love and unity they felt in our ward.  I KNOW from my mission that it is so important to lift where you stand, to grow where you're planted, and to be positive about it.  
something hard: Spanish once again has been used as a tool of the adversary, as yesterday I had a discouraging experience.  But on the bright side, I have one comp who speaks it pretty well, and the other who wants to learn, and I know that the responsibility is mine. It was a needed moment and I have a renewed energy to learn the language. Just pray for my diligence please! 
Love you all MUCHO! 
Hermana Collier