Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014 -- FIrst Week of November

Hey family!

Well not too much to report on this week from Middlesboro. We've had some good experiences, and some not-so good. We had a good lesson with a former investigator named Frances.  We talked about temples, and showed her pictures, and she says she really wants to go into one someday.  I miss the temple a lot!!  

To be honest, there were a lot of hard parts of the week - we dropped a lot of investigators.  One or two dropped us, but the rest we've dropped because of not progressing.  I know that shouldn't be a sad thing because it just means God's preparing more people out there, but it's hard to start from Square 1 sometimes.  

But I do want to share a sweet experience.  Several weeks ago we drove by a house with a girl walking her dogs outside.  I knew we needed to go talk to her, so I parked the car around the corner, but when we arrived, she wasn't there.  Fast forward to this week, the Elders knocked on a door in their valley (Harrogate), and taught a bit to a girl named Ashley, and she said she'd be interested in learning more, but she lives in Middlesboro and just cleans a man's house in Harrogate.  So we received this referral and knocked on her door and talked to Ashley.  She seemed open and receptive and scheduled for us to come back.  It wasn't until walking away that I realized it was the same girl I'd wanted to talk to weeks ago.  I didn't tell her about the earlier experience but I will!  

Saturday we found the local rest home and sang and played music to the patrons.  I love doing this as service hours, it gives me the most warm feeling and positive outlook on life!

We also had our investigator Keller come to church for the last time here on Sunday - he's heading back home to Chattanooga.  He is very innocent and funny and accepting.  You know when you have an investigator sit through a gospel principles class that ends up veering off to gay marriage and other crazy things, and is still positive after that, they're golden!  :)  After he asked some of the brothers from the ward to give him a blessing, and it was such a sweet experience where the Spirit was really strong!  

We got fed every day for the last week and a half.  That has hardly ever happened on my mission, so it's pretty fun. In fact last night we got to this member's home and they said, "Well, we decided to have an early thanksgiving dinner!"  So we had it all, from turkey and stuffing to pie.  Holy cow!

Hermana Collier

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014 -- Happy to be here

Hello Familia!!

Well this week has been great.  I really love this area.  Last p-day we went up and enjoyed the leaves from the Pinnacle where you can stand in Cumb Gap National park and see Virginia Kentucky and Tennessee all from one point.  It was SO gorgeous!  It's super fun to be serving with Elder Bradshaw from Holladay.  He went home for 5 months cause of a broken leg and just recently returned.  We took a picture to honor our alma-mater. 
Go titans :)

We also met a Cherokee man who plays the flute! It was cool.  

Anywho, the work has been going well here.  We have had some cool experiences.  The other day we went to contact a referral, and they didn't live there (turns out I'd put it into my GPS wrong-but it wasnt a coincidence!) At the door was a lady named Judy, and we talked to her for a minute and she explained that she wasn't really looking around at other churches at this time.  But then she started talking about her family-she has a young teenage daughter who's making really bad choices.  We talked with her about how God loves us and He gives us these trials to learn and grow from.  She told us that she's never explained that much detail to anyone cause she doesn't feel comfortable, but she feels comfortable with us  I told her that it wasn't us that made her feel like that, that it's the Holy Ghost - and she can have that feeling more if she'll read and pray.  She said that she's busy but she'll try.  Even if we never see Judy again I'm just glad we had that experience and impacted her life for the better a little bit. 

Things with my companion are going better, I believe.  I really like her to be honest.  She is a good missionary, loving, funny and easy-going.  I tell her that all the time.  Her love for me, though, on the other hand, is not as strong, I believe.  I have a lot to learn from her about patience, so that is what I am working on.  More patience especially with investigators.  We have this one named Shirley who's mentally challenged.  You have to meet her to understand, cause she acts like she believes everything and understands it, then she'll thrown in a comment like "Ya, the Book of Mormon was copied from the Bible." I, being my impatient self, just want to drop her.  But Sister Behunin teaches her slowly, sweetly and with no problems.  I need to learn how to be that patient!

This week we got to have pumpkin-carving fun, and watched Legacy with some members because we had to be indoors after 4.  We had so much fun!  

 There's a sister here from Idaho named Rachel White and she is like my favorite, she made us breakfast this morning, and then we went to a Relief Society exercise class.  Cumberland Gap is the life.  I am very humbled and grateful for all the member love and support.

On the other hand, Middlesboro is still Middlesboro - the other day while running in the morning a bearded man hollered out his car window to me, "I love you!" and I jumped out of my britches! and it startled me so bad!!  My companion was laughing pretty hard at me.  
We met two hispanics, hope we can contact them again.  I feel a bit like a stalker cause I talk to everyone I see that even kind of LOOKS hispanic.  One time, at a stoplight, I rolled down the window and talked to the guy next to me and then I asked him if he knows spanish and he was like way offended, he said, "Uh, no, I'm from Chicago and I am not even Hispanic."  It was a good thing the light turned green right after, I drove right off!
So I am still learning how to listen, love, lift, and be patient.  Pray for me.

Hermana Collier

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October 27, 2014 -- From Middlesboro Kentucky

Dear Familia,

Leaving Sevierville was hard and sad as I mentioned last week.  The last couple of days were spent saying goodbye and extensive cleaning of the good ol' house. If you are one to be bored with details then I wouldn't suggest reading this!

At transfer meeting one of the departing Sisters, Sister Peck -- who I replaced -- came up to me, hands me the keys, and says, "Your beds have bedbugs, but that's ok!"  Then I was "cast out of my garden of eden" and left all the missionaries and members that I love and know so well and got into the car of the members that took us, and we drove all the way up along the Cumberland mountain range, passed our church building (which is really nice), drove through the Cumberland gap tunnel (which was really cool the first time, it felt like Disneyland!), and finally arrived in Middlesboro Kentucky.  

Mi companera is Sister Behunin.  She is 21, from Bountiful, has never moved away from home before her mission, really loves animals. We have some things that are not in common. She is very quiet, in fact she doesn't enjoy talking to people.  She also does not like walking quickly -- at all.   But she also is very smart, and has a strong testimony.  I'm not going to say that it's all perfect in our companionship -- it'll take some work and patience.  But I am excited to work with her and try to help her get out of her shell a little.  I can also see that I will have to exercise love and patience and grow in those ways.  Please please pray for me to be able to love and be patient!

We live in the heart of this little town.  Our apartment is in the upstairs of some window shops.  It's actually very spacious -- I realized this is the first time I've ever had my own bathroom!  Cool!  And I haven't noticed any bed-bugs yet.  It is so nice to have our own SPACE though, I feel like I can breathe!  OK so walk out of the doors and you see Middlesboro -- old, poverty-stricken, about as hick-town as it gets -- with drugs and crime mixed in.  (There are no hispanics that I have heard of - except some Spanish restaurants that apparently exist so I have plans to go visit!)  Anywho, the people are poor and very humble! We have many to teach.  After my first day of teaching people, I had this moment of awe -- many of these people don't know how to READ!  I don't realize how blessed I am.  It breaks my heart.  But there is plenty of work to do and the field is very white.  We have an investigator named Keller who is 22, and so ready.  He has some issues to work through, but has already started reading the Book of Mormon and he loves church.  

That leads me to another upside, the ward! We go to the Cumberland Gap ward, about 10 minutes away from us down the road in Cumberland Gap, TN.  It is a wonderful ward.  The church here began with 2 families, and has grown and grown until the local university, Lincoln Memorial University added a Medical School.  That attracted all the westerners, and thus the Mormons!  So we have an unusually big and strong ward of about 200 people attending each week!  It's probably about 2/3 students and 1/3 locals.  I enjoy it a lot.  The mix of westerners and southerners makes a great diverse ward. They are also willing to help us out.  
"LDS Doom" ride at the ward party.  how we do here!
We had a ward party when I first got here, chili cook-off.  It was super fun!  On Saturday Keller came to see a baptism of a young girl in the ward, (that's where the brother took my pic and sent it to you) and then he came to church on Sunday.

Well I have to go but that's the gist of what I wanted to tell you about Middlesboro.  Basically some of these people are crazy!  And then the members here just make me feel like I'm at home, so it's really an odd mix.

Anywho, I've wasted my time with details.  But my spiritual growth even just in the last couple of days has been great. I have reviewed Pres Eyring's talk from Priesthood and Elder Holland's talks from GC and I have learned a lot about love.  I really am committed to look at the positive side of all these situations and make the best of it! Love you!

Love Hermana Collier