Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 20, 2014 - Adieu County of Sevier

My last time going to church in a theater! 

Hello family,

Wow.  Well this week was good.  

Thursday we had a cool experience.  We were finding, and decided to head down a dark, semi-creepy road where there was a big log house at the end.  Outside sat a lady named Andrea reading her bible.  She talked to us and explained that she's going through trials in her life right now- her son has Celebral palsy, and she is a single mom, and looking for answers.  We told her of the ways the gospel can bless her life.  She told us that she knew we were heaven-sent and we had a purpose there.  So we got her information and hopefully the elders can teach Andrea!

 We've worked with the Elders to move all our people to their teaching pool, and so we had a lesson with Mexican named Jorge that I met a couple weeks ago in a gas-station.  He's kind of a miracle, he is very humble and is accepting the lessons, although he doesnt say much during our lessons.  But we can see this message is affecting his life cause he came to church on Sunday!  It was great!

We also taught and handed over a sweet lady for the last time named Cindy.  She really loved talking to us sisters, and had really good questions, so we hope she'll continue progressing.  I have truly come to love this investigator so it was a little sad, but I'll keep praying that she'll receive her answers through the Holy Ghost.

On Friday we taught Nikki Singletary for the last time, then helped and ate with the Turley family who we love.  Saturday we could tell people the area's closing.  We went through our appointments and they were all good, and then we had dinner with La Familia Figueroa.  I came up to Maryuri, my first Sunday here and asked if we could come practice Spanish with her sometime.   We've gone to their house to eat and practice English/Spanish almost every week since then.  They have such STRONG testimonies - they are 25 and 26, Josue is  a RM, and they speak almost no english yet come to church each Sunday faithfully and raise their little son in righteousness.  This family has changed my life.  Anywho, we ate and talked like we always do on Saturday, then we sat down to share a spiritual thought - I wasnt even thinking about the fact this was our last time.  But as I began to speak, Maryuri immediately burst into tears.  She said she'd never forget me and she was so grateful for me.  We just sat on the couch and held each other for a tender moment.  It affected me deeply.  Here I am, a young, silly 20 year old girl, who has come to this family's house to eat and talk and enjoy of their spirit for 6 months, and yet they are thanking me!?  I was so humbled and amazed at their LOVE.  That is the true love of Christ.  Afterward we dropped by Bonnie Murphy's home and told her, and she as well immediately burst into tears.  I just got into the car after and said, "Hermana, it's so true, this work is not about me, it's about these PEOPLE!"  Which is something I've always known, but sometimes I forget.  It's easy to get caught up in little unimportant things about me and myself, when in reality I should always be centered on others!

Sunday was emotional for me, everyone was very devastated that there won't be sisters in Sevierville anymore.  But mostly, I know that the Lord has a plan for this area, and I mostly just felt the LOVE from the members.  Sevier county is truly a unique and wonderful place.   And it was crazy knowing this is my last time going to church in a theater!  Across from the Titanic.  I can't fathom a normal church building :)  I will really miss our ward mission leader Brother Sheets, and the missionaries here so much!   

We didn't get the chance to hear the transfer call so I dont even know what my OPTIONS are for where I'm going.  At first I was a little upset about this but I have to keep reminding myself that I've always wanted to know what it's like to go to transfer meeting and know I can go ANYWHERE with ANYONE in all of Eastern Tennessee!  So I am kind of excited. That being said, I am also scared.  The blessing I received last week said that I have trials ahead of me and I have felt the Spirit telling me that a lot recently so I am just a mix of emotions.  

Well anywho, I love you all a lot!  

Love Mads

October 14, 2014 - It's Fall, Y'all

This was a very soggy soggy week.
Hello family!!!

Thanks for all the emails and words of encouragement.  Sorry I missed y'all yesterday, we had zone meeting and so today's p-day.  Mother thank you for the hummingbird umbrella it has gone to extremely good use, as Sevier county has had severe thunderstorms almost every day!  (how puny)

But we had a good week--it included a lot of planning and practicing for the musical fireside.  So rewinding like 3 months, when I first got here I planted the idea of doing a musical fireside for the ward, especially because we meet in a theater it would be ideal!  After it got changed and pushed back several times, this last Sunday was the most opportune day.  So we called everyone who had agreed to perform, and made arrangements for the refreshments, and got together a couple numbers between the missionaries and the youth.  The Lord REALLY helped us!

On Friday we got to teach Nikki, she is doing so great, and her husband is so close to agreeing to meet with the missionaries.  She is so solid and is going to get her patriarchal blessing any day now!  We saw Raisa - she is so tough for me, but I have seen a change come in myself as I have taught her.  She has taught me a lot of patience, and for that I am grateful.  We also had a lot of service done this week, from stripping wallpaper to organizing rooms and more.  Saw some HUGE spiders this week, one the size of my hand while tracting. Happy Halloween!  Sister Guevara gave an amazing training on Friday about losing ourselves in the work of the Lord and it taught me so much. I am so humbled at the way she's grown on her mission, her great attitude about it, and her abilities.  She's great!
Anywho, Sunday came along and what a day it was!  Went to early meetings, then after church went to the Murphy's pool where we had Brianna's baptism.  We prayed so hard all morning that the rain would stop in time for the baptism and it did!  For the whole beginning of the service and the baptism, it was fine.  When she came back out afterward, it started pouring down.  All the members at the baptism crowded into a tiny gazebo and we sang and prayed together, and we were all smiling and laughing and I felt such a strong bond of unity!
​Sister Whitehead took us out to eat! When we told
Ward council this they were going crazy!!
Not long after that, we headed up to the theater-church for the Musical Fireside - little did we know that the traffic would be horrible!  It usually takes us 30 minutes to get there, it took us about an hour.  When I walked into the theater church, sitting right there to my suprise was our 90-year-old investigator Lisbeth! Her daughter brought her.  It made my night to have her there!

Anyway, it was very very stressful, because everyone who was performing was supposed to be there early but all were stuck in traffic.  Everyone who was performing came eventually though, and then some people came to watch too.  The turn-out from the ward was less than we had hoped, but once it began, everything went very smoothly!  I was SO overjoyed and grateful!  I just know that even though it was a last-minute effort, Heavenly Father really cared to support me in this desire and everyone who came really enjoyed it.  Brother Sheets performed some beautiful recitations, the Bishop sang, I did a violin duet with another sister, the missionaries sang, the Young women, and some other members.  We ended with a powerful Mormon message, "The Hope of God's Light".  Many were in tears by the end, including me a bit.  So I was happy with our Pigeon Forge musical fireside.

Yesterday Bishop and Sister Cole had us over for dinner and fed us 1-lb burgers.  INSANE!  They are so fun and I love them and will miss them! 

I love Bishop Cole and his wife!
I wasn't feeling to great yesterday and so I got a priesthood blessing last night, and it was so very needed.  Do you think Heavenly Father can make people get sick just cause He needs to tell them something in a blessing? Possibly!  Even though it spoke about trials I'll face in my future, it was just so powerful to know that God cares for me enough to tell me about them, I suppose.  I don't know if you know what I mean, but point is, I am grateful for the priesthood!

I love you all.  Have a great week!
Love Mads :)

​I love cows!

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 -- Celeste's baptism, General Conference, etc.

At Laurel Falls on P-day
Dear familia!

Well this week was eventful.  On monday we hiked a place in the smokies called Laurel Falls, and had lots of fun!  Not only was it beautiful, but it is so fun to talk to the tourists and people from all over the US who are visiting.  October is the peak tourist season here because of the phenomenon called "The colors".  AKA looking at the fall leaves.

 Then we got a media referral that we contacted on Tuesday.  His name is Austin, and he's been looking for a church to go to.  He spent the last year at school, and he had an LDS friend from Cincinnati, and she asked if he'd be willing to learn more, and he said yes.  When we went to go contact him, we were all out of Book of Mormons, but I finally found one under my seat, before we knocked on his door.  And the Book of Mormon is just what he'd requested, so it worked out perfectly!  We taught him the Restoration and then a lesson on the Holy Ghost with a sweet member of our ward, and he is already excited about it.  We asked if his family may be interested in learning more and he said yes, so hopefully we get to teach the rest of his family next time.  He almost came to General conference too, but ended up cancelling, but it will be great to continue to teach him!

Wednesday was Celeste's baptism!  So Brianna, the elder's investigator, was supposed to be baptized too.  At the last minute she called us telling us that her baby was sick and they had to take him to the ER, and she wouldn't make it.  We had to call the elders and tell them this, and so they were held back, and they had the music for the baptism.  Once everyone got there it was all so crazy and the missionaries were all running around setting things up - the music we'd chosen wasn't working out. Finally, the service started, and we felt the Spirit come in.  The sun was setting  around the pool and pretty backyard, and Celeste looked so happy in her white dress.  We all bowed our heads and said a special prayer for Brianna and her baby, then the service for Celeste continued.  We'd planned to sing Celeste's favorite song, "Come unto Christ", but the music hadn't worked out. But right before Celeste came out, we'd figured out a way to do it.  God is a sound technician sometimes! We went up with some of the Young Women, sang the song, and there was SUCH a strong spirit.  It was amazing.  I'll never forget how calm it felt.  Afterwards, Bonnie, her mom, who was baptized a year ago, said "I'm so happy that Celeste made the decision to be baptized, because now we can be sealed, and that is what it's all about - living together forever."   It was one of those slices of heaven.

Celeste's baptism

General Conference this weekend could not have been better right?  I thought it was amazing how many of them talked about prophets, and personal revelation, and my favorite scripture, Hel 5:12 was quoted like 4 times! I was amazed.  It was great bonding time with the missionaries and brother sheets too because that's basically all that came to watch at the church-theater.  :)  Except some faithful, returning members.  I am truly astounded by the quiet, strong testimonies of members who fall away and then return again.  An example of one that came to conference was a man named Gary, who's in town for about a year working at a local theater.  You can tell he's into show business, and is a city guy, but he hasn't been back to chruch in many years and stopped by to pay a visit.  Brother sheets noticed his last name is Mckay and when he asked if he's related to the prophet, he teared up and said "Yes. I am sort of the black sheep of them though." and wiped his tears, and then "Sorry, I just feel the spirit here very strongly." Then quickly walked out of the door.  I was impressed by his desire to come back to church. funny moment of the week. I sat down to teach Sister Whitehead on her porch and somehow just fell right off into her yard!  Legs flying in the air and probably gave my companion and her a good show. 

Miss ya love ya make it w great week--
Hermana Collier

Laurel Falls with Hermana Guevera

September 29, 2014 -- Southern Harmony

Doing some southern harmony at the local Fall Festival on P-day
Hello family!

Well I had a great week.  What happened? Well.......

We taught some fun people, including Jafet, the 18 year old.  We hope he'll continue to progress, when they work on Sunday's it's really hard to see their progression sometimes!  But it's ok!  On Tuesday night I got to go exchange with Sister Steiner, in Maryville for a day.  This sister is so fun and hilarious, we have loads of fun on our exchanges!  We knocked on this one door and the lady said that she was sick so she didn't have time to listen to our message, and then looked back into her house and complained about her children.  I said, "Well we love to clean! Can we just help you out for a minute?" She just looked so surprised but said we were welcome to do so.  We just went in and tidied and washed her dishes and put them away, and by that time she'd completely changed.  She was so happy we'd cleaned that she almost begged us to stay and teach her and then invited us to eat dinner, but we had an appointment so we just said a prayer and they scheduled to go back the next day.  It was super cool.

Then we had Zone meeting on Friday.  This was fabulous! We mostly just talked a lot about finding and we're setting goals as a mission to really talk with everyone and spend more time out of our days finding.  In interviews with President, it was so funny!  You know how we told you that the sister we live with says we're very noisy whenever we walk down the stairs? Well anywho president said to me, "What does that dear sister think, that you can just fly out the window?" haha!  It took such a burden off of me cause I knew I could be honest with him and tell him it's been hard.  He said that after this transfer (Oct 22) no one will be living there, they're actually closing our area, not because it's not productive, but the ward can't use three sets of missionaries and so we will be leaving and elders will take in Seymour.  I was truly so sad to hear this! Although I have little complaints here and there, my heart is here in Sevierville, I don't want to leave these people.  So just don't come Oct 22.  But I do know that the Lord has greater plans, and I trust Him!  President Griffin is so so great, it's always such a treat to to talk with him.

At the end of Zone meeting we got a special viewing of Meet the Mormons! (popcorn included:) It was a really good show!  It truly was one of those shows that both entertained and uplifted you, inspiring to be better, so I'm excited for y'all to see it as well. 
Speaking of people here we spent a lot of time this week serving and teaching at the Murphy home, Celeste's family.  I love this family so much!  They were all, except Celeste baptized a year ago.  We had a lesson in their home for Celeste and the elder's investigator Brianna, and Bonnie helped us teach everything - a recent convert herself!  It was so awesome to see her explaining about the Priesthood being restored and how our church has is the only one with the right authority.  So the pool baptism is going to happen on Wednesday and both Celeste and Brianna are so excited. Should be great!

On Saturday, Brother Sheets was in charge of entertainment at a local Fall Festival.  I got to go and play some great fiddle songs and sing a couple too.  Of course I am up there with seasoned Southern gospel country artists that have lived in Tennessee all their lives, and it could've been a lost cause! But thanks to growing up on Uncle Howard's Western music I could follow along pretty well with some of the classics like "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "Tennessee Waltz".  There is a LOT of gospel music out there!
The General Women's meeting was really great, I loved Sister Marriott's talk, the temple presentation, and Sister Pike Tall's beautiful choir. So great.  

Today we're going hiking in the smokies, I'm excited! 
Well love you all.  Pray for us, we're praying for you! Make it a 

Hermana Collier

September 22, 2014 -- Grateful in Any Circumstance

Rose is a member of our ward.  She's 89! 
Hello family!!   
Hope you all had a great week!  Happy birthday mom!!  Everyone in my ward knows it was your birthday cause I kept on telling them! 
Well this week was up and down.  
The ups first.  We taught another lesson to Jafet, a young man who's 18, and he did the reading assignment (holla!) and he said there was one verse that stood out to him.  He showed us the verse and it said, "Repent and be baptized".  At this point we had not even mentioned baptism!  Another cool experience has been working with the Christensen family - a less-active couple.  Sister Christensen attended with the ward to the Nashville temple on Saturday, and she is all back into the church now.  She was SO excited about her experience at the temple!  It was great!  One of the hardest things about being here is testifying to people every single day of the blessings of temples, and knowing firsthand of them, yet not having the chance to attend!  It has changed my view on the importance of temples and the appreciation we should have for them! I am SO excited to go to the temple in the future! 
Anywho, remember that guy who payed for our meal when we went out to eat a while ago with one of our investigators? Well on Tuesday we dropped by Wendys to grab some dinner on the go, and he was there again.  We talked for a minute, his name is Jim, and he said he'd be interested in knowing what it is that we teach.  We taught him right there and at the end he prayed in the Wendys, a very spiritual prayer!  So that was the hand of the Lord for sure, hopefully we can bring many people to help fellowship him. 
  We also taught a man and his son, this man Jorge lost his wife years ago, and so we (well, I, Hermana Guevara is still coming on her spanish)...taught him the Plan of Salvation.  Despite our cheesy paper-creation to explain it and my broken spanish, he and his son felt the spirit strongly.  As he talked about being with his family forever, tears started coming to his eyes. It is moments like this that make it all worth it!  
 The Adversary just really doesn't want our ward to baptize, though!  We had Celeste and the elders had a girl named Brianna scheduled for this Sunday, and we were all going to travel to Maryville to use their font.  On Celeste we found out her dad couldn't make it on Sunday so he wanted to reschedule, and on Sunday morning, Brianna's family let the elders know the couldn't make it so both were re-scheduled!!  But we've rescheduled Celeste's for October 1st, a Wednesday...and are praying very hard for it!
We also got the chance this week to help a sister in the ward who just had a new baby, to just go over and scrub her toilets and clean her bathroom.  I am all about service, y'all,.  And the greatest service we can do to anyone is letting them know of the glorious news of the Restoration! 
Yesterday I got to go play violin at the rest home, one of my favorite things because the ladies are so so sweet.  We also had dinner with a wonderful family, and had an amazing deep gospel discussion which always makes me feel so much stronger afterward.  
So anyway despite hard moments I am truly loving every minute here in Sevierville, and being grateful in every circumstance.  It makes me a happier person and missionary.  
I know that Jesus Christ leads this church. I know that we can all be cleansed through Jesus Christ and his Atonement!  I am so grateful for y'all, for the people of Tennessee, for living prophets.  Which reminds me, let the General conference countdown begin!! 
Love, Hermana Collier 
OK now for the pics explanation...these occurred with   WE ARE BEST FRIENDS.

Rose  has us wear japanese slippers in her house so as to prevent scuffs on her floor.