Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

This was a beyond awesome week! Christmas Eve, Christmas, and some other fun surprises! It was great. I loved being able to be a missionary on Christmas and have the special opportunity to testify of Christ on Christmas. I'm truly thankful for my Savior and for His birth.
I'll start at the beginning of the week! On Monday night we went to the Hill's house for dinner and Family Home Evening. We had steak for dinner (score!) and got to read all the scripture stories about Christ's birth and watch Joy to the World for FHE. It was really nice to prepare us for Christmas. After that we continued to go caroling with our zone. Thankfully no one kissed us this time...
On Christmas Eve we went to the Gorman-Payne's house and spent time with their family. They had family there from Florida, so that was fun for Sister Harrison! Christmas Eve dinner there was probably the best dinner I've had on my mission. Sister Harrison and I were SO full by the time we left. I literally thought I was going to burst. We set up for Christmas a little later, after caroling yet again. The Sisters stayed over with us that night so that we could all wake up and do Christmas together!
Our whole zone met at the stake center at 5:30 a.m. on Christmas morning... Yeah, I guess we were all just excited about Christmas. Plus it was one of our Elder's birthdays, so we had a mini birthday party for him. Then we all played crazy ball for what seemed like EVER, and then went home and all opened presents! We all sat around our mini little Christmas tree! We were all so thankful to be with each other, even though it was sad to not be with our families. Good friends make things so much easier. I love Sister Harrison, Sister Stinnett, and Sister Cummings. I have served my whole mission with Sister Cummings, from the MTC to now! She is like my sister.
I made sure that we all had waffles for breakfast, because let’s be honest, it wouldn't be Christmas without Belgian waffles for breakfast. 

We did our studies and at 1p.m. we went to the Brown's house to Skype our families! IT WAS AWESOME! I loved being able to talk to and see my mom and dad! I wish I had taken a picture of it. That was the best part of Christmas by far. The best.
After Skype we got to go and watch Joy to the World again and wait for dinner. It was so good and we had a lot of fun with the Brown's! They are so sweet. We also stopped by some other members and our Bishop's house! And, of course, our whole zone went caroling that night.
Although I missed all our traditions and being home with my family and the Murphy's, this was one of my favorite Christmases. It was so Christ-centered, and I felt like I really got to focus on and understand the true meaning of Christmas.
The rest of the week Sister Harrison and I worked on our "member areas".  I don't remember if I wrote about it in my last email, but we came up with this idea to try and get the members more involved in missionary work. It's really hard to get referrals here because 1. Our area is reeeeeeally tiny, and 2. Our members pretty much only hang out with other members. So what we've done is we've driven through every community we have (they're all smaller, gated, neighborhoods) and drew out the community and put every house and house number on it. We put where each member, less active, and potential lived. Then, we divided all the communities up into smaller areas (where the members live) and assigned the members their neighbors to work with! We are really excited about it, I mean, who's not going to get to know their neighbor? And the members we've done it with have been really excited about it, as well as our Bishop and Ward Mission Leader. We are pumped! Then we are going to have different monthly events that they can invite their "area" to! What a blessing to have a small area where you can eventually literally know every single person in it!
On Friday morning we had a Christmas zone breakfast at our Stake President's house.  He talked to us for a while and then had all of us share our family Christmas traditions and what Christmas meant to us. It was pretty awesome!
On Saturday we did more of our maps. At the end of the day, Sister Christensen told us to stop by and JAMES NISH WAS THERE. It was so awesome! I got to see one of my best friends! We stayed there for a little bit and talked. I was so happy to see him!
Sunday was nice too, there was a mission homecoming (which was why James was there), and Sister Harrison gave a really great lesson on repentance in Gospel Principles. Then we had a combined third hour on missionary work and every one wrote letters to the missionaries that are serving from the Paseo Verde ward. It was sweet!
Today we are having Family Home Evening with a family from the ward and will do other fun p-day stuff!
We get transfer information this Saturday! Sister Harrison and I will most likely stay together, here. Yay! We hope we stay together for a while. Oh, and on New Years we all get to go to the mission office and watch a movie! Yay!

Happy New Years! Make some good goals and be sure to add one spiritual goal in there :)
I love you!

Love, Sister Coltrin
Christmas Morning:  Sister Coltrin, Sister Harrison, Sister Cummings and Sister Stinnett

An Oreo snowman for Diane

Sister Coltrin and James Nish

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe it's the eve of Christmas Eve (or Christmas Adam, whichever you prefer)! We've had a great week and have been so excited about Christmas and getting to skype home!
On Monday had dinner and Family Home Evening with an older widow in our ward! There were a few other people there, and she was planning on inviting her non-member friend, but her friend was sick. We had salmon for dinner, Mom! I didn't even complain about it :) But lets be honest, food that I don't like is always better at someone else's house.
Tuesday was our mission Christmas party! Well, we did it in thirds, so we were with a few other zones. It was really awesome! We had Leadership Training all morning, and then lunch, and then the party! The stake that was hosting us for lunch gave all of us a present. Some one in their stake makes handmade wood pens, so he made one for each of us! They're really awesome and look really nice. The party included a talent show, so we got a mix of beat boxing, rapping, singing, instruments, dances, and more! It was so, so funny and fun. Sisters Cumming, Stinnett, Harrison, and I made up a pretty sweet mash-up of songs and did it to cups (Sister Moffitt would be proud). It ended with President and Sister Neider coming out dressed as Santa and Mrs. Clause! We all took pictures with them. It was an awesome day.

After that we went back to our area and went on splits with two of our ward missionaries. We brought treats to and visited with all the widows in our ward. It was good!
On Wednesday we had an AWESOME lesson with Missy. We are going over all the lessons again, and we did the Restoration. She has never seen the DVD before, so we all watched that. We have been feeling really prompted to set Missy with another baptismal date, even though her parents won't let her be baptized. We set her for February 1! She was so excited and said she felt like that is exactly what we need to do. We decided that we'd do all we can to show Heavenly Father that we have faith that this can work. We are really excited! Pray for her and her parents!
That night we got to go out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory! The wait was "long" (honestly, it wasn't) and the manager came over and apologized to us and said that we could all get free cheesecake that night! Woo! Free cheesecake!
On Thursday we taught a few member lessons. We have had a ton scheduled, but everyone cancels about 10 minutes before. It's been fun. We went to our ward mission leader's house to talk about some of the ideas that we've come up with for finding. His wife and kids were home and were doing things to get ready to leave on vacation, so we got to help them clean their house, do laundry, and pack for vacation! It was fun! After that we went to the Hill's to make cookies for our less actives. We were running late, so they offered to finish making them for us. They are awesome. Their kids are so cute, and they loved showing us all their toys and their fort. Their son, Mason, told me to follow him as he ran into their coat closet. I peered in, and they had a secret door in their closet! It's literally like Narnia! And then it leads to a little Harry Potter "under the cupboard" room. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen. (I can hear Dad saying, "EVER?") Well, probably not, but it was close.
Sister Harrison and I had dinner at the Tingey's house. When we went to knock on the door, we could tell they couldn't hear us because there were a bunch of kids in their living room that were singing and playing instruments, it was like their band or something. We knocked a few times, but nothing happened, so we had to jump around in front of the windows and wave our arms and ring the bell until someone saw us. I laugh every time I think about it, it was so funny hahaha.
Fun fact. We've been keeping track of the dinners that we've had this transfer and EVERY SINGLE NIGHT except 3 times we have had either pizza or Mexican food. Literally every night. We love it though! No complaints here.
On Friday we got a few gifts from members - one being a Cafe Rio gift card! We were pumped about that! We also got Cafe Rio for dinner that night at a member's house. We started doing our zone caroling too! We met at 7:30 and started going caroling to the people who our members wrote down! It was really, really great.  The first lady we went to was an inactive member and her non-member husband. She just stood there and sobbed while we sang. It was a really spiritual moment.
That night we met with Sister Lake and Sister Pulliam for exchanges. I got to bring Sister Lake back here to Anthem, which is really cool because she used to serve here in this ward! It was a really great day! We received a lot of revelation for the area and what we should do to find here. This is what we've started to do:
We drew a map for each community in our area and put all the houses on it. We marked where members, less actives, and potentials lived. Then we divided the small communities into areas for the members that live in each community. We wrote the addresses of all the houses that live in their "area" (which is usually between 5 and 10 houses) on potential investigators sheets. Now when we visit members we are sharing this with them and are asking them to fill the sheets out- so basically getting to know their neighbors! It is SO awesome!! We will know EVERYONE in our entire area! And we will get so many potentials from this! We are very excited!
That night we went to the Christensen's house to help them set up for their son's homecoming open house! It was really fun. He said that he wants to come with us to teach and work.
When we went caroling that night, we went to a recent convert's house. He was an older man, and when we were about to leave he came up and kissed the 4 of us sisters on the cheek. It was the funniest and most awkward thing ever. All the Elders were laughing.
On Sunday we had our ward Christmas program! We got to be in it and sit on the stand. The music was really good and the whole thing was great.
Tonight we have FHE with the Hill's and more caroling! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and we are excited!
I can't wait to skype home! Talk to you on Wednesday!
Merry Christmas!

Love, Sister Coltrin
Sister Coltrin with President and Sister Neider

Sister Coltrin and her zone

Monday, December 16, 2013

Almost One Week Until Christmas!

This week has been pretty awesome! We are getting really excited for Christmas and skyping home!
Last Monday we had Family Home Evening with one of the less active families in our ward. They just moved here in September from St. George. We had a really fun time getting to know them and their two kids. We had pizza for dinner and then we had a lesson with them about the Book of Mormon. When we were about to leave their daughter asked if she could talk to us outside for a minute. We were so worried! We all went outside and she told us about how she is worried about her dad because he has been swearing and she doesn't want that to lead to worse things. We told her to be a leader for family prayer and scripture study and getting ready for church! It was so sweet. She told us to keep coming back. It was really awesome!

We left to do exchanges that night too, so Sister Harrison went to Green Valley for the day and I got to be here with Sister Pulliam!
So Tuesday, Sister Pulliam and I went and contacted a bunch of people and tried to set up a lot of lessons with members. One of our members told us to come back that night to do a lesson. We went back and taught them, and then afterwards, they told us that they want us to come and teach their 7 year-old son all of the lessons before he gets baptized!
That night we went to do ward visits, which we do every Tuesday with all the ward auxiliary leaders. We got there and waited for a little while, but no one was showing up. I finally called someone to see if they had already left, or what was going on. Apparently they decided that we aren't doing any more ward visits until next year... Thanks for letting us know. Hahaha! It was pretty funny.
On Wednesday we got to meet with Missy! We had lunch at the Reber's and a lesson. Devan brought Cane's Chicken for all of us. They talk about how good Cane's is all the time, so we finally got to have some! We taught Missy about the Tree of Life (we decided we'd do a Book of Mormon story lesson and a regular lesson every week). After that we were supposed to go and have a new member lesson with Avery, but they weren't able to make it. Sister Harrison was feeling really sick and so was one of the other sisters - so we had the two sick sisters stay home and Sister Cummings and I went out and did all the rest of the stuff we had for the evening. So, yeah, we had to have two dinners that night, their ward and our ward. Hahaha. We were so, so full.
Oh and fun fact: I'm serving in Austin Nelson's home ward! As in BYU Basketball! Score!
We've been making cookies to give out at Christmas to investigators and less actives. We also have a list going around so people in our ward can send all the missionaries to carol at their non-member friends houses! It's going to be really awesome! We are going to leave them all with Joy to the World DVD's and cookies! Our whole zone is doing it. Not to be prideful, but I'm pretty cool because it was my idea! :)
On Thursday we went to the Lee's house and made cookies with Sister Lee. She has a daughter serving in the Florida Tampa mission! Afterwards we helped her wrap Christmas presents! We had a lesson with Sister Bluth in our ward, who is one of our investigators. She has come to church for 6 years, is married to a returned missionary, she reads her scriptures, conference talks, prays, everything! She just doesn't have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. She's met with missionaries for a while now. She's super nice. We went over there and we had a little lesson about applying the Book of Mormon to you and your life. She really liked it, so hopefully it will help her! We went to the Christensen's house for dinner again - we love them. Their son comes home from his mission in a few days! We are helping her set up for his open house and everything. We are so excited for them!
Friday was the best! We went to the temple for Sister Harrison's new missionary temple trip. Driving to the temple was so crazy, it was so weird to be back in a really familiar place! We stopped at my old apartment on the way there to drop some stuff off for Sister Fields. It was so good to see her and be there! I love her! Then we went to the temple, which was super awesome! Sister Neider sat by me, which was really fun.
After the temple, we stopped really quickly to see if the Olsen's were home, but only their son Dylan was there! I was sad, but that's okay! After that we stopped by Cristal's house. She was so excited when she saw us there! I was so, so happy! We hugged for a minute! She told me about what's been going on and how she's doing. It was so good to be with her!
We went back to Anthem and had a lesson with Missy and Matt! We taught the Plan of Salvation, even though Missy's been through all the lessons, we're just going to go through them again, plus now we have Matt there! We had dinner at the Van Duzers house and they told us they wanted us to come over on Christmas! We have a list of people that we are going to on Christmas!
We got a referral from one of our members and they said they would think of a good way for us to get into contact with them. He called us and told us that she cuts hair, so we should go get hair cuts from her.  I got my hair trimmed last week, so Sister Harrison is taking one for the team. For the sake of the investigator! Hahahah! We will try that this week sometime.
Saturday morning was our ward Christmas party! Missy was there! We had breakfast. It was really fun, and we got there really early to help set up. They had 15 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and all the boxes had coupon slips for free donuts. Of course everyone gave them to us - because missionaries have no money and obviously we need more sugary food. So basically we have slips for 22 DOZEN FREE DONUTS! Hahahaha! We are giving them to all the missionaries in our zone. It's crazy! Donut day forever!
Missy had signed up on our dinner calendar, so she took us out to lunch! It was really fun! 

After that we went and made cookies at Sister McMurrin's house. She didn't have one of the ingredients, so she left us at her house alone while she went to get it! It was really funny.
We didn't have dinner, so Ben and Devan and our investigator Matt took us to In 'n' Out! We had every meal with Ben that day.
On Sunday Sister Harrison and I spoke in sacrament meeting about baptism! It went really well and was great! I told everyone that "this work is for missionaries and full-time missionaries" so hopefully more people get involved and realize that every member is a missionary! People came up afterwards and told me that they wish my parents could be here to see me, and that I have a future in public speaking, and other nice stuff. It was awesome! I felt really good. I don't even remember what I said in my talk.
Sunday was definitely for Sister Bluth – Sacrament Meeting about baptism, and Sunday School about the restoration, and Relief Society about Joseph Smith! It was crazy! And awesome.  Hopefully she recognized the Spirit.
The ward Christmas program is next week and we sing with the ward choir, so we are pretty excited!
A week and a half until Christmas! Thanks to everyone who has sent letters for my Christmas Countdown, I love, love, love reading them every day! It's such a great way to get excited about Christmas!
Merry almost Christmas!

Love, Sister Coltrin
Sister Coltrin and Sister Harrison

Monday, December 9, 2013

What A Good Week!

What a good week! Well, last Monday I got a package with a bunch of Christmas decorations and - the best thing of all - letters from my friends and my family for every day in the month of December!! It was hard not to open them all right then, but it's really fun to hear from someone different every day. Thanks!
We had an awesome p-day last week.  Sister Harrison and I along with Sister Cummings and Sister Stinnet decided that we were going to skip p-day sports (because the Elders were playing basketball and they get waaaay too competitive for us to play). We went to Seagull Book and a few other fun places. It was fun to just relax with the Sisters.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we went a contacted a lot of people and set up lessons for the next week. We were knocking doors almost all day - it was crazy.  On Wednesday we had a lesson with a former investigator - Frank Drew. He and his wife investigated about a year ago. He said he would give it another try with an open heart. What a blessing! That night we were invited to be on a missionary panel for the young men. We talked about missions and missionary work and they got to ask questions. It was actually really great! The YM counselor wanted us to perform a musical number afterwards too, so we made up a missionary mash up of songs and did cups with it. It was intense and they loved it. We did it for the young women later and they made us do it again so they could record it on their phones.  Hahaha! We're popular...
On Thursday we had Zone Training and there was a Relief Society activity that we were invited to that evening. It was a progressive dinner and we got to go to three different houses in our guarded community! The houses are HUGE and awesome. It was a really fun night and there were some non-members there that the relief society ladies introduced us too!
On Friday we got to meet with Missy! I love meeting with Missy, she is the best. We talked about the Priesthood. At the past few lessons Devan and Ben (Missy's member friends) have invited another one of their friends, Matt. We asked him if he wanted to just start meeting with us too, and he said he did! So he will be at all the lessons now and we will meet with them twice a week! We are really excited!
Saturday morning we (well, I) decided that we should try to ride our bikes! Our plan was to ride to a gated community in our area and set up member lessons. So I was way excited to ride bikes. We got our bikes ready and went out. It was literally the coldest and windiest day ever. We rode around for a little while and went to a few members, but then we gave up and went to get our car. It was pretty funny. But it was so cold that I had to put on pants under my maxi skirt... although it's way better than snow :)
We went to the Christensen's house for dinner that night - they're like, my favorite family in our ward. They are awesome. We each got to make our own french bread pizza for dinner, and they have a hot chocolate bar! They are obsessed with hot chocolate! It's awesome. I had oatmeal cookie hot chocolate - it was the best.
On Sunday we had church, meetings, dinner at our Ward Mission Leader's house, and then the First Presidency Christmas Devotional! It was awesome!

We are excited for this coming week to meet with all the people we scheduled lessons with. We also get to have dinner appointments on Monday nights now and share a family home evening lesson with the families!
Thanks to all of you who have written me letters in my Christmas Countdown! I love them all.
I love you! Can't believe it's almost Christmas!

Love, Sister Coltrin


Sister Coltrin with the beautiful nativity made by the Elisabeth, Madeleine and Meghan Yskes

Sister Coltrin, Sister Stinnet, Sister Harrison and Sister Cummings at the YM Panel Discussion

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A New Transfer and A New Companion

This transfer has already started out great! I've learned a lot and have grown a lot in the last 6 weeks. I'm thankful for the experiences I've had and for the things I've learned.
Monday was just a normal P-day, nothing that memorable happened.  We said goodbye to some members and investigators with Sister Nichols, but that was about it.
On Tuesday, we had transfers! In the morning we went to the mission office and dropped off Sister Nichols to her new companion, and we got Sister Stinnet, who is Sister Cummings new companion! We love her so much already. We can tell we are all going to get along really well. We moved all their stuff back to their apartment (since we had moved it to mine) and they got settled in. We contacted a few people, and then it was time to go to the mission office to meet the new missionaries! We all went into the relief society room and listened to President Neider for a bit. Then, one by one, he told us our companionships. My new companion is Sister Julie Harrison! She is 19 years old and is from North-Central Florida! She went to BYU-I for a year before coming out here. She is the youngest of 5 kids. She is super smart and is hard working and is super fun. I love her already! And she even joins me when I sing in the car (take that, Mom and Dad!). We are great friends already and I am so excited to be with her! It was really funny because before transfers we got the pictures and list of the new missionaries and Sister Cummings picked that Sister Harrison would be my companion. She was so proud.
We moved in that night, had dinner at Bishop's house, and contacted some people. We got to know each other and just laughed and talked! I love Sister Harrison!
On Wednesday we went to new missionary training all day. It was really awesome and I felt way more confident about training a new missionary than before. After our meeting, we met with our 9-year-old investigator, Avery. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since she was raised in the church, all of this is really just review and she practically teaches us. It's awesome! Her Dad is less active and he has been getting involved. The spirit is so strong there. He cried in our lesson this week when we were taking about feeling the Spirit! We are hoping that he will start coming back to church!
After that we had dinner in the guarded community in our area. I had never been in there before -  you have to have an appointment! The houses in there were CRAZY huge! They all had 5 garages and huge front doors and huge fountains and were like 6 stories high. Oh my gosh. It was like the DeVos house - but bigger and a whole neighborhood of them!!!! I am not even kidding.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, so we dropped off cookies to all the "Do Not Contact" people in our ward, did service, and other things that wouldn't get too in the way of families spending time together. That night we went to the Gorman-Payne's house. They had lots of family over for dinner and we had a lot of fun with them! They had super good food (even if it wasn't Dad's famous Thanksgiving potatoes). After dinner they have a tradition of decorating gingerbread houses to welcome Christmas in! It was a lot of fun, and Sister Harrison and I built a gingerbread Temple, complete with an "Angel Moroni" on top :) We were pretty proud. We stopped at our ward mission leader's house afterwards for "pie-hopping".  Although I missed being in our house packed with family and friends, we had a great Thanksgiving :)
On Friday morning we got a call from Avery's Dad. He told us that all their family was in town this weekend and that he knew it was super last minute, but could Avery's baptism be that night. We paused for a second, and then I said, "Well, let us call a few people, and we'll make it happen!" So the whole day was spent scrambling to call people and reserve the building and getting keys to the building and finding out who was doing what on the program and finding someone to conduct and welcome her into the ward- which was not easy, because everyone was out of town, and our Bishop went to Mexico for Thanksgiving! But, we did it! We got her interviewed, thanks to Elder Tyree for scheduling a last minute interview. We got to the church to fill the font, but the faucet was a little broken, so it wasn't filling up fast enough. We ran to the kitchen and got all the pitchers we could find, and then found a leaky bucket in the custodial closet. I filled up pitchers and the leaky bucket in the custodial closet while Sister Harrison and the Elders ran back and forth to fill up the font! It was crazy and we were laughing the whole time. I was absolutely soaked by the time the baptism started - but we did it. It was one of the most amazing baptisms I have attended. The family all came together and had great talks, the baptism was great, her Dad was crying the whole time, and the Spirit was just so strong there. Afterwards, when Brother Dalrymple, the first counselor, was welcoming her to the ward, he left a blessing on everyone that was there. It was incredible. For a last minute baptism - it was the best.
On Saturday morning we went to get hot chocolate with Missy, Ben, and Devan. Missy is so awesome and has such a strong testimony. I am so impressed that, despite her parents, she stays so strong. She has a strong desire to be baptized and will do whatever it takes to have that. I love her.
Sister Cummings and Sister Stinnet had lunch with us. We also did some service that day and helped clean the church with our ward. Other than that, we just spent time contacting people and trying to find people to teach!

On Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting and Sister Harrison was asked to share her testimony. Missy was able to come to church! We had dinner with the Lee's, who just moved to the condos above the outdoor mall here - it made me want to move to the houses above the shops in downtown Holland, it was so cute and fun! We had a great time with them. They have a daughter serving in Tampa Florida. Just a side note, if you've ever read President Monson's little book called "Consider the Blessings" one of the stories (about "Elder Allen") is about Sister Lee's Dad! :)
There was a Christmas concert in our stake center, so we went to catch the end of it, and I got to see Miss McDade! She had come to the concert and brought Sister Harrison and I Christmas presents. She is so sweet. I love her. And I miss Karina! I wish she had been there too, but hopefully I will see them both soon!
That was about it for us this week. We are excited about the transfer and about being companions with each other.
We have a lot of cool new ideas to find people here! Pray that they work :)
Thanks for everything and I love you!

Love, Sister Coltrin

Sister Coltrin working on the gingerbread Temple.

Sister Harrison and Sister Coltrin with their gingerbread temple.
Sister Harrison, Missy, and Sister Coltrin

Sister Coltrin, Avery, and Sister Harrison at the baptism