Monday, April 28, 2014

Where do I begin?? I guess I should go in order of when things happened... Saying goodbye to everyone at Mizzou was pretty hard. Qing cried :( 

But she wrote me a beautiful note that I will always cherish. That branch is in good hands with Sister Herdman and her new trainee there. Sister Herdamn emailed me today and told me that they taught Etienne the plan of salvation and he loved is AND came to church!!!! Miracles!!! Oh I am so happy!

Taira and Sarah
TAira is our recent convert and Sarah is a cool member :)

Jake is our recent convert and Jacob is the best branch mission leader I've had on my mission.

Elder Reall is the area 70 that taught institute at the U of M and he is incredible- learned so much from this man.

At our transfer meeting I got to see Sister Huppi!  I love her!

Also at the meeting there was a sister there who served in Sandy Creek right after I opened it and she said that Angela is getting baptized!!!!!!!!!! Last I heard, Angela wasn't taking the discussions anymore but look! Now she's getting baptized!!! As well as the Hammer family!!! The Lord's work is moving forward! Oh I just love this. I love seeing the gospel fill the earth and the best is being a part of it!

After transfer meeting I found the sister that I would be taking her place in Jacksonville and she introduced me to the people who would be driving me back to Illinois. My new companion was waiting for me in Jacksonville and I drove up with a couple and Elder Phillips who is now my district leader. It's so funny to be back in Illinois. It really is different from Missouri. Lots and lots of fields.

 When we got to Jacksonville I met my companion Sister Richardson. She is twenty years old, from Ogden, Utah and is studying math. She plays the clarinet and is the best whistler I have ever heard. We are very different but we get along great. 

My new apartment is awesome! Well, now that I cleaned it, it is. I really like it.  (I spent hours cleaning it.)

My first night in Jacksonville we went to choir at the church because Sister Richardson plays the piano for them. It is a tiny choir haha but it was fun to sing with them. After choir we went to sing language class! Oh it was so fun. I learned the alphabet and some vocabulary. Now it's Monday and I already know how to pray and have small conversations in sign. It's SO AWESOME! I love it. Thursday morning we had district meeting and got to know the other missionaries in out district. My disctrict leader as well as the Pittsfield Elders are almost four years younger than me.. it's really funny. They are basically my little brother's age! Zac is going to be an awesome missionary. It's really cool to see how the Lord qualify's whome he calls.

After district meeting we had lunch and Sister Richardson and I went to go visit a less active couple. They were so cute! Man, I love this little town. Then we went to go teach one of our new investigators at a place called Azkaban. Just kidding, it's not really called that. The missionaries call it that because it's an apartment complex for disabled people and it is just scary. I felt like I was walking into a movie when we signed in at the door and got buzzed in. Our investigators name is Rich. He's old and can't really hear or see.... so we have to yell as we testify, it's really amusing. But he's definitely interested. We taught the restoration and committed him to pray. He said he wouldn't do it. I still don't know why he won't pray but hopefully his heart will be softened.

Later that night we went back to Azkaban to teach another investigator that we have named Brenda. She has a mental disability and has been taught the discussions more than four times. But hasn't been baptized yet because she doesn't fully understand what she is being taught. The mission president wants us to continue to teach her though because she keeps her commitments. She's awesome. She has a hard time communicating but we had a good lesson with her. We are teaching her again tonight.

I'm running out of time but this weekend we had stake conference in Springfield, Illinois and it was amazing. We found two new investigators and are working on finding more. I love this area and I love my mission! Love you all!!

Sister Collett

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boy do I have some news! 

First of all... I'm being transferred to Jacksonville, Illinois and will most likely be learning SIGN-LANGUAGE!!!!! Who knew I would get the opportunity to work in a deaf community?? Oh I am so excited. This is big :) Really big. What if I come home knowing how to sign?? That would be so epic! Man, the Lord must love me!
Really though, I've been reflecting on how awesome my mission has been and am just in awe of how much I have been blessed. I have absolutely loved my mission so far and all the areas I have been in. For example- Holidays mean a lot to me.... obviously. The Lord put me in a place where I would have the most fun celebrating the most important holidays of the year!! There is a girl in our ward named Naomi who always does stuff for us on holidays and Easter has been the most fun so far. It was honestly the best Easter I've ever had because of a lot of different reasons. 

The first being that we had two incredible confirmations on Sunday that almost brought me to tears. Qing's confirmation talked about how she would be a great light and bring the gospel to her ancestors and those in her native land! It talked about her being an avid reader of the scriptures and being strong in the gospel. Then Taira's confirmation was just as cool and unique. Hers talked about her family and how she would lead them to the truth. It said that she was prepared before this life to accept the gospel and bring it to her family and that she would become a great leader. :) It was wonderful. The gospel is filling the earth!

The second reason why it was the best Easter ever was because of all the fun stuff we did at Naomi's house! We came in and all received Easter baskets!!! And they all had stuffed bunnies!!!!!!

Sister Biddle :) She was being trained in our area. 

Then we had a huge feast. Ham, potatoes, salad, fruit... all that good stuff. Oh and of course deviled eggs! Yum! We played some hilarious games while we ate and after we finished. One game  included not being allowed to show your teeth- this family is hilarious. Then we read an Easter story and had an Easter egg hunt! Oh it was so fun! I felt like a little kid again! Then we decorated eggs!! I always love decorating eggs. I made a tortoise one and a pink and blue one. Then we went into the living-room for a special activity. We were each given an egg with a number on it. We went in order and each read a scripture that we found inside the egg that had to do with the atonement. There was also a small object that represented the part of the atonement that was read. The spirit filled the room as we all reflected on the true meaning of Easter. Then we sang hymns like "He Is Risen" and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" all together and it sounded wonderful. When a song would end someone would come up with another one that reminded us of Christ raising from the dead and we would sing it. This went on till our voices got tired, we were enjoying it so much! 

The celebrations ended with us going outside and cracking Easter eggs on our heads that were filled with confetti! It was hilarious! And yes, I got it on video. 

I am just so grateful for my Savior and the He Lives!!! I'm so grateful for his life and his willingness to suffer and die that we might live again. I am so grateful for the peace that comes from this and knowing my Savior. I love him so much and I am so grateful for the relationship I have with him. I know that he lives and that one day I will see him again. Not only will I see him, I will be with him forever as I keep my covenants. I love this gospel and I am so grateful for it! 

Seeing Jake baptize Qing on Saturday was incredible. 

What a unique experience to be able to see someone I have had the privilege to teach baptize another person that I taught. When Jake said the words for the baptismal ordinance he said them with such care and with power. The baptism was perfect and Qing was so happy!! She even had two friends come that are interested in learning more! The gospel is filling the earth!!!! 

Talking to Jake after, he said that baptizing Qing was more powerful than even being baptized himself. He said he felt the spirit so much that it seemed like he wasn't even doing it himself. What an incredible experience for everyone. 

Baptism reminds us again of the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It symbolizes His death, burial, and resurrection. How wonderful that we too will live again as we continue to make and keep our covenants we make with God. 

I wish I could tell you everything but that would just take too long. Stories for when I come back ;) 
Sister Herdman's dream came true and she is getting a brand new missionary to train! She is so excited! I will be follow-up training Sister Richardson. I don't know who she is but I am excited to! Great things are ahead! 

OH WAIT! One more miracle to mention! Remember the African guy we taught the restoration to?? We have been praying that he would contact us all week and then Sunday morning he texted us and asked to meet with us today at four! We were so happy! Miracles. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tuesday night we got a phone call that changed everything. Just as we were about to get ready for bed the Sister Training Leaders called and told us that we would be getting another sister missionary and become a tri. What?? There are only two and a half weeks left in the transfer and we are getting a new companion? Oh and it would take effect the next day. 
I guess there was a companionship of sisters that had to be emergency transferred because one of the sisters has a heart condition and they want her to serve in St. Louis where she can be closer to her heart doctor. So her companion would now be serving with us for the remainder of the transfer. Woohoo! Every person in our life is an opportunity to grow! Let the growing begin! :D
The next day we went to our zone leader training and I left early to drive down to St. Louis with the sisters that were being transferred to drop off the sister that would be serving in St. Louis. This was an all day thing and so Sister Herdman spent the day with the other university sisters so she wouldn't have to go. We drove the two and a half hours to St. Louis and took the sister to her new home. Then my new companion Sister Anderson had a doctors appointment. So we went to that. I did soooo much sitting that day! We didn't get home till nine o'clock at night that evening. It was nuts. 
Then Thursday we had exchanges! So we got in the car again and drove to meet up with our Sister Training Leaders halfway to St. Louis. Sister Herdman went back to O'fallon with Sister Woodward and Sister Felt went with us to serve in our area. That day was nuts! We went back and had an appointment with a new investigator named Mandy. It was our first lesson with her and my first time teaching with Sister Anderson and Sister Felt. It was a good lesson though. The spirit was there and our recent convert Jake was there to bare his awesome testimony. She said she would come to church and was totally going to but she ended up getting a really bad fever and texting us that morning. We will hopefully see her tomorrow if she is feeling better. 
We then had an appointment with Sister Anderson's investigator who will be getting baptized this weekend. Now we are working two areas- which is pretty tricky. Whitley is totally prepared and is really excited to be baptized. 
Then we had our final lesson with Qing where we finished up teaching her the commandments. At the end when we told her that she was ready for baptism she was SO excited. Jake was there helping with the lesson and she asked if he could baptize her. I will never forget the look on his face. I told her that he definitely could baptize her because he would be getting the priesthood on Sunday. He told her how honored he was to be able to do so. My convert is going to baptize my investigator!!!!! This is so cool!!!!! I love happiness. I love seeing people experience true joy... it's the best thing in the world! 
That night we went to Sister Anderson's apartment to get all of her stuff... she had a lot of stuff. But we got it all and moved her into our little apartment. :) 

At the end of the day, when I was writing in my journal before bed, I heard a knock at the door. Immediately we were all wierded out and wondering who on earth would be knocking on our door at 10:20 at night? I opened the door and there was this girl I had never seen before. "Sisters?" she smiled. "Yeah, how's it going?" I think is what I said back. She said she had a delivery for Sister Collett and gave me a teddy bear with a note. Now I was reaaalllyyy confused. What? Who are you? Where did this come from? What? ...Then I heard a familiar laugh and realized it was my brother Mason laughing. He was standing at the top of the stairs around the corner where I couldn't see him. 
"Mason! I told you not to come!" Was my first reaction because I had personally asked the Mission President if we could see each other even though I knew it was against mission policy and he said no. Mason just laughed... I stuck my head out to see him. "Hey Lex!" Oh man, I was so happy to see his face! But I felt like I was sinning so I told him he looked good and thanks for the bear and that I loved him. That was about it. Then I went back inside and told Lauren thank you. The next day I called the Mission President and told him what happened. He didn't care. Haha, I was nervous he would but he said to just punch my brother when I get home. Haha! Seeing Mason was definitely the best part of my week. :) I named the bear he gave me Miracle because of all the miracles that happened that day, including seeing him. 

Friday morning we got back in the car and drove back to the halfway mark to switch again. We got Sister Herdman back and resumed the adventures of our tri-panionship. We had an appointment with a member and then Sam drove us to go see a potential for Sister Anderson's area. The lady was super nice and said her and her husband are looking for a good church. Oh I love when people say those words. She became a new investigator for Sister Anderson- yeah!!
Then we got to go do service for a less-active member in Sister Anderson's ward. An older lady who needed help in her garden. It was a perfectly beautiful day and we had a great time helping her with her garden. We showed her a cool Mormon Message on forgiveness that is on the website. If you haven't seen it yet, go for it. It's really good. I love Mormon Messages. 

Saturday morning we had a lesson with a former that Sister Smith and I had been teaching. Her name is Emily and she is from China. Her real name is Xi Chen but it's really hard to pronounce correctly... so she goes by Emily. She was the girl that invited Sister Smith and I over for an authentic Chinese meal. So memorable. We taught her the plan of salvation and she understood so well. We testified of how having this gospel and putting God first allows us to be successful in every way. She said she would come to church and she DID! :) It was awesome. 

Taira had to be interviewed for baptism twice because she was confused about the role of a prophet. ...It was weird. But she got it figured out and passed her interview and is now going to be baptized tomorrow night after institute... at 8:45 at night. Haha! She really wanted it to be on a Tuesday because she was born on a Tuesday. Cool! She's so funny! She's totally ready now. It's going to be a fun baptism. 
We met with her brother Alex Saturday night and we did an intro to the Book of Mormon. The spirit was definitely there and we think he is going to take it more seriously now. Hopefully seeing his sister get baptized tomorrow will help too. 

Church was awesome and Qing was interviewed after. She's ready to go! Things are going great. We hit or exceeded all of our goals this week and work well together in a tri. Sister Anderson is a wonderful addition to this companionship and has been such a blessing! I LOVE LIFE!!!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

This past week has been nuts! Totally filled with miracles! I love the Lord so much!
It's getting harder for me to write these big weekly emails because I write in my personal journal so much I feel like it's all been said. But I will pick out the good stuff that you might like to hear about.
Our recent convert Jake is a total beast and wants to be a missionary NOW. So he helps us with almost all of our appointments, has introduced us to a friend and has even gone contacting with us around campus. He's so on fire! 

We met with Allie a couple of times and she is still having a hard time opening herself up to Jesus Christ. She still believes that there are many different paths that one can take to reach happiness and we are working on just putting good things into her life. We are going to try to help her with her addictions so that the spirit can get to her more easily. 

Qing is doing AWESOME and is growing SO much in the gospel! She is understanding a lot more now that she reads the Book of Mormon in Chinese and English. She even had her two friends come to an appointment and they both took Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon. Qing is so excited for this gospel to fill China eventually. 
Qing even came to both sessions of conference on Sunday and we had a laptop set up so she could hear it in Chinese. She said she learned a lot and really liked it.

We found a new investigator named Etienne! He is from Africa and is here studying for his first semester at Mizzou. He speaks English but has a thick French accent. We taught him the restoration and he loved it. He said he grew up Catholic and has always been wanting more of the truth and more of God's word. He accepted the invitation to be baptized when he knows that it is true. 

Taira is doing amazing. She also came to conference and is now ready to be baptized this weekend. She has been taught all the lessons and we got to go to a baptism with her so she could see what it will be like. She is such a strong individual and will lead her family to the truth and happiness of this gospel. 

General Conference was wonderful. I feel like I learned so much and just felt renewed. Each session was rich with the spirit and gave me peace and direction. If you haven't been able to view any part of conference I highly suggest going to to watch or read it. I am excited for the Ensign to come out with them so I can read and study each talk again. I'm so grateful for a modern-day Prophet that leads Christ's Church. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and redeemer of the world and that He lives! I love how the gospel blessed families and know that because of the restoration, my family can be together forever. I am so grateful for my mission and the chance I have to serve the Lord full time. I'm so grateful for the support and love of my family and friends. I know that all things are possible through Christ as we rely and have faith in Him. :) I am happier than I have ever been before! The Church is TRUE!

Fun at the pet shop!