Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bonus Post - letter to Young Women

Whitney with her "little sisters" - Girls' Camp 2012

Whitney loved being part of the Young Women's program.  Being the youngest of two girls, Young Women's gave her the opportunity to be a "big sister" to other girls in our ward.  She teases them and loves them as any big sister would.  The following is a letter she sent to our ward's Young Women, but it contains advice we all can use.

Dear Tuscany Young Women,

How are you?

I recently studied all about the strong women in the scriptures.  While I was studying this I thought about how the Lord must have prepared them in their youth in order for them to have such great spiritual experiences.  Then I thought about you.  How great of an opportunity you have to be prepared by the Lord for something great.  Within each of you lies enormous potential and a great influence for good.  But, just like these great women of the scriptures, it takes  sacrifice and you have to work for it in order to unlock it.

President Gordon B. Hinkley once said, "It is so important that the women of the church stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord... We call upon the women of the church to stand together for righteousness."

How great of a call is that?! We must unite ourselves together and we must start today. There is a saying, that big gates move on small hinges.  Sisters, even though what you do may seem small, it makes a huge difference.  Like Alma said, "It is by small and simple things, great things shall come to pass." Just by the way you dress and groom yourselves, the way you talk, the way you pray, the way you testify, the way you live every day will make the difference.  These are your beginnings. This is your day of preparation to unlocking your potential, to becoming the Daughter of God that He knows you to be.

The opportunities that are presented to you each day might never come again.  So if you would like to have amazing spiritual experiences like these strong women then you need to seize these opportunities; take that leap of faith.  Actively participate in the activities of the church and activities that your leaders prepare for you.  Your leaders have been set apart by someone holding the priesthood, the power and authority to act in God's name, for your benefit.  They are led by your Father in Heaven to know what you need.  Trust in God and His servants. Joyfully live the commandments and the standards that are set before you.  And NEVER deny yourself the opportunity to feel the spirit. 

This is the time to establish who you are! The choices you make today will affect you for the rest of your life, so firmly establish yourself to be the daughter of God that Heavenly Father knows you are. Live the way that He would have you live. Cling to your loving and understanding Savior, who is Jesus Christ.  I promise you that as you do these things you will know of a surety who you are! You will be blessed with wonderful faith building experiences that will mold you.  You will have the overwhelming conviction that this gospel and its precepts are true, because it is! But, you can only know it is true by allowing yourself to experience it.  Remember, you are first and foremost Daughters of God and your purpose in life is to come close to Him.

It is my prayer that you will remember that and that you will always strive to come closer to Him.

My dear friends, I testify unto you that as you live the Gospel Joyfully you will find true, lasting happiness. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt because I have experienced it myself.  I know that I wouldn't have experienced it without putting in the effort. I know that there is a God and that He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that we may live again and that we my reach our Divine Nature.

"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever.  Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of His great power and His mercy, and of his long suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel" - Alma 26:16

There are not enough words to describe my gratitude or explain the great joy I've found through and in my Father in Heaven and in my Savior, friend and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, the constant comforter which leads and guides me and this gospel.  This is true and it is real.  I say these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

With lots of love,
Sister Whitney Collins

Monday, March 30, 2015

Praying for Spring

Sister Upton and Whitney
So, a member called a big snow bank in front of her home the Matterhorn.  It totally made me think of Disneyland.  However, the one at Disney is a lot more fun and WAY WARMER!!!  I am getting a little sick of the snow.

This week has been interesting...
The members are really nice... well, the ones I know.  The others are just super busy and haven't really talked to us much yet.  We went tracting a lot and also went on exchange.  I stayed in our area with a new missionary.  She is here training while she waits for her visa.  While she was here we had a meal appointment with some members that I hadn't met yet.  They were so sweet!!!!  They have three kids and it was so fun just to be around kids.  They fed us this yummy stir fry.  We didn't have too much time so we just shared Jacob 3:2 and talked about ways we can feast upon His love.  One of the boys who is almost eight went and got this cute little spiritual experiences journal and had me read on of his experiences from it that had to do with coming to know that God loves him.  IT WAS SOOOOO CUTE!

The area I am serving in has a lot of doctors, scientist, lawyers, etc.  A lot of them are never home so they don't really interact with the missionaries much.  The people I have met have been really nice, but it may take longer for me to get to know people in this area.  It seems a little off because I am used to how things were in Augusta and Manchester.  I still love the area and the people.  I just hope I am able to get to know more of them.

We only have one set of investigators right now.  We have been meeting with a married couple.

We go to the branch to watch the Women's Conference and General Conference.  I really liked all of the Women's Conference.  One of the sisters who spoke during the video clip said something I really liked, "On earth we are not perfect, but we have the seed of perfection within us that we must nourish and grow."  I really liked how several times they said to defend the gospel and also the home and family. I thought it was interesting how it was all centered around the family. And I liked where they talked about how if we don't make family a priority then we are more opened to attacks from the enemy.  We need to build our spiritual walls within the homes of our families to protect us from the perils and evils of the world. Also, a thought came to my mind during it that once I am home if I make the family my priority then I will be blessed to accomplish my dreams and goals.

Well, I am out of time. Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sister Upton and Sister Collins by the Ocean

The Ocean!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Did someone say spring?

Good Morning!!!
It definitely doesn't feel like spring in Maine.   It is only supposed to get up to 30 degrees today and drop back down to 8.  

Thanks for the brownies!!!  They were super yummy!  It was a nice surprise and the letter helped a lot!  I actually read that talk for studies that morning before I got it.  Funny how God works. I also loved the music you sent, especially her version of "Endless Night" from The Lion King.

I can't believe my one year mark is this week.  It doesn't even seem like it has been that long.

This week we went tracting a lot and were able to teach two lessons.
I also did exchanges with Sister Farrally in Oxford.  She was in the MTC with Sister Bee.  Sister Kimball came here to do exchanges with Sister Upton.

So, while we were emailing, a lady just walked up to us and asked if she could give us her number to give to the ward clerk. Turns out she has been less active and was about to start drinking coffee again and she looked up and saw all four missionaries sitting here.  She also took a picture of us and was posting it to her facebook saying that she guessed that this was a sign that she needs to go back to church because she has never seen missionaries here before.

There are four missionaries serving in the Yarmouth Branch.  There is me and Sister Upton and two elders, Elder Williams who is from New Zealand and Elder De Leon from Guatemala.  I finally got to go to church in this branch.  People in this area are very busy and can be hard to catch, but they are also very loving.  On Sunday they made me feel very welcomed and loved.

Right now my companion and I are still figuring out how we are going to food together.  I like cooking and having leftovers for days when there is no time to cook.  She doesn't like leftovers and prefers just having frozen pizza, sandwiches or pasta sides.  I am just not used to eating like that.  Even in college I had real meals.  We will figure it out eventually.

Sorry I don't have much time to write.  Here are a few pictures.  This sd card doesn't have a picture of me and my companion.  Hopefully I can send one next week.

Love you lots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the talk that was mentioned above:

I got to see Sister Bee at Zone Conference

With Sister Farrally on exchange in Oxford

We saw deer while we were driving.  Yep we still have lots of snow.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Yarmouth / Cumberland, Maine

Near the islands in the north you can see Cumberland and Yarmouth where she is now serving
So, it is official, I am now a Sister Training leader in the Yarmouth Branch.  I am actually living in a small town named Cumberland that is just a few minutes away.  The road I live on is a small country road with some cute older homes, it reminds me of some of the roads and homes in Wayne County.  

My companion is Sister Upton.  She has been out for 14 months and is also from Utah.  I think she is from Vernal.  We are still figuring out just how this companionship is going to work, but it is going to be great.  I know there are things we both need to learn from each other.

I haven't met many members from the Yarmouth Branch yet because we had Stake Conference this weekend.  However, Stake conference was in the Farmingdale Ward!!!!! (my Augusta ward)  I was able to see so many people I had just said goodbye to and got lots of hugs.  The other good thing is that some of the members have friends from the Yarmouth Branch and took the time to introduce me to them. 

We did a lot of tracting this week, but not a lot of teaching.  

We had two meals with members.  This was different for me because we had gotten to know the members in Augusta so well that we were getting meals most nights during the week.  We are going to have to really work together and figure out we can best budget for meals because without meals with members, our tiny budget can go pretty quick.  One hard thing is that my companion doesn't really like leftovers which makes stretching the budget even harder.  From what I can tell, she has been having frozen pizza, pasta sides, sandwiches, cereal and yogurt.  I just don't think I can do that.  Don't worry, I will figure it out so I can make regular meals.

Oh, also, there isn't much to cook with in this kitchen.  I am going to have to get a couple pans and some utensils.  I will be able to get reimbursed for them and leave them here for future missionaries.  Luckily, there is a crockpot but I don't think it has been used in a very long time.

We found out that we will probably be getting Ipads in June.  Luckily, those who are leaving before the end of November don't have to pay the fee and we will just leave them with the mission when we go home.  Tender Mercy!!!

Oh, guess what. . .. . . . . I may have to sing at our zone conference next week.  They needed a musical number so my companion volunteered us to sing a duet.  If we sing, we will be singing "I Heard Him Come" A'Capella.  AHHHHHH!!!!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I promise I didn't forget yours and Grandma Shauna's Birthdays.  It has been really crazy moving and going back for Stake Conference.  I feel so bad that I wasn't able to send a card.

Sister Bee's new companion came from Manchester.  She told me some of the members from the Manchester Ward told her to tell me hi and that they miss me.  It is amazing how much these wards start to feel like your family after serving with them for a few months.  I have been blessed to have been able to serve in both Manchester and Augusta for 6 months each.  I am hoping that my new branch becomes family and accepts me as quickly.

One thing I have realized is that often it is hard for me to notice if I have even done any real work.  I have to step back and look at the things I have done and see if I have served as the Savior would.  I have decided that when I am serving people with a true Christ-like love, it doesn't feel like work at all.  I do this things because I love my Savior and have developed a true love for the people in my mission.  

Love you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

The following maps were taken from google maps.  The first is the driveway to the branch she will now attend.  The second is the aerial view of the church building.  I love how it is hidden in a forest.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Little Dot's Big Move. . .

How do you feel about leaving Augusta?
I am super sad about leaving, but I know the Lord has prepared something else for me in my new area.  I know there will be challenges as I start working as a Sister Training Leader.

Did you do anything special to say goodbye to people in your ward and investigators?
We mostly said our goodbyes at church.  We visited a few members that we didn’t get to see but other than that we mostly did normal missionary work.

How was your testimony strengthened the week?
I think something that strengthened my testimony was a lesson we had with some potentials.  We met this sweet Iraqi family while tracting.  The two men we knew from the food bank.  Only one of them speaks English.  They said we could share a message with them so we shared a message of the Restoration.  The one man interpreted for us.  The Spirit was so sweet in there!  They said we could come back and said that they would love to read the Book of Mormon.  We ordered an Arabic copy for them.  At the beginning the woman gave us water bottles and a little while later brought us some tea.  I was very grateful that the Spirit was there so strongly and that their hearts were softened so they understood when we rejected the tea.  As we were leaving, the man who interpreted for us said that if we ever meet another family from the Middle East he would be happy to come and interpret for us.  It was amazing!  Especially since we found another family a few weeks ago that speaks Arabic.
Also, we had a great conference with Elder Hallstrom, President of the First Quorum of the Seventy,  Bishop Causse of the Presiding Bishopric and Elder Bennett, the area Seventy.  There were a lot of prayers answered and a sweet spirit there.  They are definitely men called of God!

What was the hardest part of your week?
The hardest part for me this week was just saying goodbye to the people here I have fallen in love with.

Any new potentials or investigators?
We have found three potentials this week and one of them is a family!

Any word on IPads for your mission?
No word on Ipads, but I am okay with that

More details about the conference last Saturday?
I forgot my study notebook so I will write more about the conference next week.
I also forgot my miracles book where I write down all of my awkward moments. . . I’ll just have to draw more pictures.

After the conference there was a meeting for some of the priesthood leaders in the area so I got to see Brother Young, Brother Spencer and Bishop Dickson!  I also got to see all of my friends who are still in the mission.  They also took a mission picture and I got to stand by Sister Smedley since we are both short.

Sister Bee will be staying in Augusta!  I am hoping I end up being the Sister Training Leader in Yarmouth, Maine.  If so, I will be able to come back to Augusta for exchanges every once in a while.  I hope she gets a great companion.

The following is a great scripture for those times you start to question your faith:
Doctrine & Covenants 6:
22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?  What greater witness can you have than from God?

The following is a video with a renowned scientist that testifies of the gospel and Eternal life.  Science and the Gospel DO work together.

Have a great week! Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was also surprised by an email from Sister Bee:
Hey becky, haha Momma Collins…  It’s Sister Bee.
I just had to write you a quick email to say thank you for having such an amazing daughter.  I feel so blessed to have been companions with her for three transfers.  I have learned so much from her testimony and from her kindness towards others.  She teaches the gospel SO beautifully and brings such a spirit in to the room.  Thanks for raising such a great daughter.
I know we haven’t officially met in person, but I love ya and can’t wait to meet you.
Sister Bee

Mia, Emily, Abby and Megan

Their picture with the First Presidency.  Whit, Armando, Bro. Walker and Elliot

The Elders with the First Presidency

Signs of spring!!!

Sister Harrington

Monday, March 2, 2015

Goats and Geese and Turkeys, Oh My!!!

Are you planning anything fabulous for your last weeks as a companionship?
You know it! We are planning to do . . . wait for it. . .  MISSIONARY WORK!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!! We are going to try and meet as many of the less active families that we can this week so we can establish which ones are interested and so we can see how we can help them come back.
Tell us about your investigators and lessons you have had.
All of our lessons and investigators fell through this week.  So many people have been sick.  We were able to have one lesson with a potential about the priesthood and the Restoration.  We also had a lesson with our other investigator and she had been having a rough day and almost cancelled on us, but we were already at her door when she called so we got in and showed her the 20 minute restoration video.  She loved it!  We then testified of Joseph Smith and the restoration and how it can help her.  We committed her to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  Oh, and we had a lesson with our other investigator and that went really well and she is going to pray about baptism.

What is the most exciting thing that happened this week?
We got to pet a goat and also met some amazing people.  We also did service at the food bank.

How has your testimony been strengthened this week?
It has been strengthened through my prayers and studies.  I have written a lot more about this in the letter I am sending.

What has been the hardest part of the week?
I think the hardest part has been having so many things fall through, and one of our investigators disappearing.

If you do get transferred, what things will you miss the most?
I will miss the people most and the friendships I have developed.  Thank goodness for technology!

That awkward moment when…
You are “doorbell ditching” a note on someone’s door and you hear them buzz someone in so you have to hurry and hide and they think someone stole the pin on the door because you accidentally took it with you…

A guy is flirting with you at the library while you are emailing and he knows you are a missionary…

You knock on a door and a guy answers in his underwear… (no, they weren’t boxers)
Your companion accidentally stabs a sharpie into a yogurt cup and gets the lid stuck…

You forget to turn your phone on silent and your cat ringtone accidentally goes off and the person thinks it’s their cat and says, “Oh, what’s wrong sweetheart?” And goes looking for their cat…

You get bit by a dog. . . twice…

A goat tries to eat your skirt…

Whitney will be attending a Mission wide conference on Saturday where they will have the opportunity to hear from leaders of the church including a general authority.  Saturday is also the day she will learn if she is being transferred.  Waiting to hear on transfers is so hard.  You wait to hear IF they are being transferred and then wait another week to hear WHERE they were transferred to.  If she is transferred, I hope a member updates me on where she goes.

Until next week.  . 

The sun is setting on their time as companions :(