The best two years

I’m not sure what got me interested in becoming a Psychiatrist, but as of
now it’s something I’d like to work towards! I realize that once I’m in
college my major will be switching all over the place. I mean I’ve had like
15 different career interests switches on my mission so it will only be
worse when I’m exposed to more in school haha. But one thing that hasn’t
changed is the fact that I want to travel with work and school. So that’s
kinda orienting my decisions. I’m very excited to continue my education as
well.

Yes I got my Book of Mormon back from Carissa. We haven’t been able to meet
though. We had a really good lesson with her and her mom last Monday but
they canceled all lessons following. It’s hard to keep people committed
here in California. Everyone is so “busy” that they have no time for
anything other than work.

Ryan’s baptism is still on for the 27th but we need to catch him up with a
lot of things. We’ll be able to fit it all but we’re expediting the process
haha (btw, do you still have my passport safe and secure? I’ll need that in
the coming years)

So highlight of the week has to be Steve’s talk given at Stake Conference.
He did a great job! For only being a member for 2 months he sure seemed
comfortable and natural at the pulpit. Today he emailed me and the other
missionaries he’s worked with and said some really nice things. I’ll
forward you the email he sent me. Oh Steve also wants to take me and Elder
LeBaron to Australia when we get home this summer. He said he’s wanted to
go for a while but none of his family wants to go. When he told me that I
immediately seized the opportunity haha. So this week we’re going to meet
with Elder LeBaron and get it all figured out 😂 Steve is a great guy and
I’m happy I’m am able to work with him. (He takes us to lunch and to get
dessert every week, those are where all the pictures of us from him come
from)

I hope you have a great week! Love you!

Elder Collings


This is the letter that Steve wrote. I am grateful that Bridger forwarded it to me. This letter was a testimony to me of why the two year sacrifice has been SO worth it!  I cried reading this letter–it just hit home to me as to how my Son from small town Grantsville has had a hand in the Lord’s work!  -Melissa

Hey Brandon (Brother formerly known as Missionary Elder Condie), Elders Stone, LeBaron, McDaniel and Collings:

First I want to thank all of you guys for the incredible support I received from you guys when you found out that I was talking at Stake Conference. Those phone calls, texts and emails were just what the doctor ordered. You guys made me feel loved. When President Rouza asked me to talk about my conversion story, the missionaries and the Temple trip, I knew this was going to be easy, well on paper anyway. Hey look at my source material; You guys, Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ! Throw in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, how  could I go wrong. The only problem I had was keeping it at 10 minutes. My first draft was over 30 minutes long. Also I was worried that my story wasn’t really that interesting to anyone except our little circle. Oh I think I was wrong…

I really have to extend a extra very special thanks to Elder Collings and Elder McDaniel. Most people are lucky to have one or two really great missionaries on their spiritual journey to teach them, what the heck, I had 5! Their support I received in helping me prepare for this speech as well as the preparation for my temple visit was above and beyond any new convert could expect from a missionary. Seriously. Add to their impeccable timing at the temple in which we entered the Temple the same time as President Rouza which got this all rolling. Also showing me how to exactly perform the ordinance of baptism  and also them being the proxies for my relatives as well as others that President Rouza had me do. Honestly  I did close to 30 baptisms that day. Also Elder Collings pushing me to tell him my conversion story to President Rouza’s wife. He and his wife were impressed with me, Elder McDaniel and Elder Collings that he extended that invitation to talk at Stake Conference right there. Thank you guys with all the love and brotherhood from the bottom of my heart. I would not have been chosen to speak if not for you. That’s the truth.

I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous when it was my turn to speak. I think my delivery could have been smother but I was happy with the results considering the time constraints that I had. Luckily the two speakers who spoke before and after me were less than stellar. I did get a ton of compliments. People from other wards telling me how much they loved my testimony. Elder Martinez came up to me afterwards and expressed his gratitude for my story about the missionaries saying and talking about his similar experience with them. That was cool. Seriously I made all 5 of you look like champs. That wasn’t really hard to do since you guys are.

I wanted to share that with you. I know you guys are proud of me. I consider every one of you part of my baptism and conversion. I know you guys don’t keep tally but if you are ever asked to name the people you baptized on your mission….you all better say Steve. You better because I  beared (or is it bared)  my testimony that all five of you were part of it.

What an incredible honor and just think because I found the truth by reading the Book of Mormon. I know it’s true and I know that Joseph Smith is a true profit of God and that our church is the only true church.

Man do I ever feel the power of the Holy Ghost right now. It’s amazing what the good Word of God can do. I love you guys and I’m gonna end this letter how in ended my speech .

” One of my favorite quotes, from watching an old video from a past General Conference from 1997, when President Hinckley was talking about Missionaries and Converts and he said ” There is no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. The two must me inseperable”…  I believe that each one of those missionaries were hand picked by our Heavenly  Father just for me…I don’t know if they believe that’s truI believe that each one of those missionaries were hand picked by our Heavenly  Father just for me…I don’t know if they believe that’s true, e, but I know it’s true…Just like I know this Church is true…and I will bear my testimony to that truth…and I say these things humbly in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”

 

Email to Mom from one of Bridger’s Converts

Dear Melissa:

Sorry for the delay in my reply.

Huge thanks for those kind words in your email. I really appreciate them.
You know the whole story with the missionaries especially your son is quite
funny. So many coincidences that really were miracles. In the 4 months that
I was investigating and preparing for Temple I went through 5 missionaries.
That is unusual in such a short period of time. I actually had first
contact with your son and Brandon (Elder Condie, he’s now back home in
Utah). It’s a little convoluted but I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the
story. You’ll understand why doing this speech in 10 minutes was quite the
challenge.

I was outside when I saw Elders Collings and Condie 3 houses up the
street. Of course I ran inside and hid to avoid talking to them. Still
Brandon and your son walked up and knocked on my door anyway. It was your
son who knocked. I was amazed at his boldness after I purposely tried to
avoid them. I was with my dad and told him to tell them I wasn’t
interested. They thanked him and left. So 3 weeks later I was visiting my
son and his wife in Walnut and I went walking like I usually do twice a
week there, and I cut across a church parking lot, not realizing it was a
Mormon Church, and I ran into your son again. This time he had a different
companion. I was looking in amazement as I knew it was the same guy. I was
thinking, what the heck, are these people following me. Then his companion,
Elder Crandall asked me “can I help you?” Oooh nooo and I doubled my pace
to get out of there. It was now on my mind why I kept running into this
missionary.

About 2 weeks later I was walking and for some reason I crossed the street
where I never cross. Something innate just had me do it. It was strange
that I did it. That’s when I ran into Brandon and his new companion Elder
Stone. This time I was caught. I gave them a few minutes but Elder Condie
didn’t recognize me from that day, though I remembered him. So I agreed to
meet them a few days later. When they pulled up to the house, Brandon
immediately remembered the house and me. We laughed and he told me that it
was your son’s idea to knock. He told me that your son had been transferred
to Walnut that’s why I saw him there.

I would read the Book of Mormon in one month, understand Joseph Smith was a
true Prophet of God and I would work with Condie for 9 weeks and Stone for
13 weeks. So here’s another coincidence. Elder Stone who’s from Utah, born
and raised, was the one I picked to Baptize me because Brandon was getting
transferred before my baptism date. ( That’s another long story). Elder
LeBaron came on board who had just left your son as his companion in
LaVerne. When he told me Elder Collings was his old companion I didn’t have
a clue it was the same person as I had never known your son’s name, just
his face. So my date of November 19th had to be moved up a week because
Elder Stone now got word he was getting transferred. On November 11th I was
Baptized and the next day he was transferred. I don’t know if you were
familiar with this, but missionaries were now allowed to use Facebook now
for recruiting purposes. So Elder Stone told me to add him on Facebook. I
told him I would after I told my family I was now a Mormon. I looked him up
and of course his name is Matt Stone…the same guy who wrote the play “The
Book of Mormon” and South Park so it was impossible to find him. Eventually
I found a video of him on a woman’s page name Beth. Turns out it was his
mom. Here’s the coincidence. When I meet people I never forget their faces.
It quite a unique gift I have even though I’m horrible at remembering
names. The face I recognize was Elder Stone’s father. I was certain I had
met him even though I didn’t know anyone from Utah. Well I had. Turns out
we went to the same exact college, at the same exact time, the same exact
major and we graduated on the same exact day. I had many classes with him
and I met him several times over the course of 4 years. His son is name
Matthew and my son is named Matthew. That’s the coincidence. At this point
I realized this was destiny.

I would now work with Elder LeBaron and he got a new trainee name Elder
McDaniel. Elder LeBaron would confirm me and give me the Aaronic
Priesthood. We were getting ready for Temple visit when LeBaron was
inexplicably transferred. No warning at all. He was in the middle of
training which made this transfer even more unusual. Elder McDaniel was now
going to be finishing up his training with a new missionary, Elder
Collings. Elder LeBaron said I would work fine with him as we had very
similar personalities. Also he was here in Hacienda Heights before which
was really unusual to bring back a missionary who had served the area
previously. So Brandon who calls me every week to make sure I’m on the up
and up asked who the new missionary was. I told him Elder Collings. He
started laughing and asked me to call him after I met him. I said why? He
said because . So that Sunday when I went to pick them up for church and he
came walking up to the car, I realized it was the same missionary who had
knocked on my door at the very beginning. Yep I had come full circle. He
did a great job preparing me for my Temple visit. So much so that our Stake
President was impressed with me and with your son and Elder McDaniel. After
I was baptized I had planned to stay in the background, but that wasn’t
happening with Elders Collings and McDaniel. They have really pushed me to
the forefront. Our Bishop, the missionaries, and President Rouza seem to
have a lot of faith in me, so my unassuming sit in the back row church life
was never going to happen, thanks to your son and Elder McDaniel.

I really believe it was our Heavenly Father’s plan for all this to happen,
Too many things just lined up. I have great relationships with all the
missionaries on my spiritual journey and I look after them to make sure
they are taken care of. Even after they get transferred. I know what it’s
like to have a son across the country because my son spent 4 years in
college in New York. I know it’s not the same as serving a mission but I
have some understanding of what it’s like. It’s a double edged sword, it
goes by quickly, but at the same time it seems like it takes forever.

I’m really glad I got a chance to meet your son and he’s a great person and
a great missionary. You should be very proud of him and I absolutely know
you are. In 10 days he has another baptism. I’ll make sure to get pictures
of it for you.

Thank you for the email. God bless you and your entire family. Thank You
again for your kind words.

[image: bridger and mcdaniel 1.jpeg][image: bridger and mcdaniel 2.jpeg][image:
Bridger and McDaniel 3.jpeg][image: Bridger and McDaniel 4.jpeg]

Elder Collings – Notes From The Field

Hello!

So not much to talk about this week. Ryan did not get baptized this week.
We moved to back so we could teach him a few more things. We’ll either have
the baptism this Sunday or the next but he is still on track to get dunked
and I don’t see anything getting in the way! We have transfer calls this
Saturday. This past transfer was 7 weeks instead of the normal 6 weeks but
it has gone by FAST. My guess is that I’ll be transferred but I’m happy
with whatever happens this time.

Most of our investigators aren’t making much progress right now which
sucks. But it happens in missionary work so I’m not too upset. Right now
we’re dropping a lot of people and hope to find new people who want to
listen to our message. We’re still meeting with people such as the Flores
family, Arthur, and Kim’s family but not with much emphasis.

We did have a good lesson with Cecilia this past week. We talked to her
about God’s plan for her and the Plan of Salvation. She took to it well and
we left her with a chapter in the Book of Mormon to read. It was Alma
chapter 5 and 7. We invited her and her family to church but nobody showed.

Me and Elder McDaniel are getting along just fine. He’s a really good kid
and came prepared for the mission. He’ll do a great job with his remaining
21 months on his mission. Looking back I wish I would have prepared more
but I think I turned out okay haha!

We had interviews with President this past week. Nothing to special was
talked about other than my dying wish in the mission. I told him I would
like to serve Spanish speaking the rest of my mission haha. I’m sure he
thought I was crazy hahah. I explained how being bilingual is one of my
goals in life and how I would like to teach English after the mission. He
said he’d consider it so I have a smidge of hope! It would be hard to learn
since I have only 3 transfers left but I believe in miracles haha.

I have other pictures to send home but I can’t access them right now.
Hopefully I’ll be able to send them home today! I’m trying to take more
pictures and videos for memories but it’s hard to remember. Oh and thanks
for the film!! I haven’t got it yet but I’m sure I will. I really
appreciate it 🙂 Colton is looking good! He’s looking more slim and his
haircut suits him well. Tell him he looks like a stud for me. Love you!

Moving!

I’m staying with Elder McDaniel. We will be moving to a new apartment
though with the Spanish Elders. I don’t know them very well so it will be
interesting to see how we all get along. I’m happy to stay but I don’t want
to move haha. My current place is way better. The new apartment is GHETTO.
I’ll probably get shot once or twice before leaving haha. But it will be
good.

I got the camera film, thank you! I got a new pair of shoes today! Ryan is
getting baptized this Sunday or the next. They’ve been dodging us so we
have to figure out what that’s all about. But, Ryan is very excited so it’s
going well. I’m excited for this next transfer with McDaniel, we’ll
definitely buckle down and do some more hard work!

New Apartment!

Hello! Yes I got the package, thanks so much! When I first got it I was
like, “ughh a bunch of candies and cookies…” then I opened it and it was
full of granola, cliff bars, and nature valley haha. I was SO happy!
Nothing better than some good ol’ wholesome snacks haha. Thanks again and
happy Valentine’s Day! Sorry for sucking at emailing lately, but not much
is going on. All our investigators are lazy and nobody’s is doing what we
asked. We’ve had to push back Ryan’s baptism because they won’t come to
church. Still working with them and Ryan is still progressing but Natalie
and Johnathan won’t come to church. The Flores family won’t read the BoM
unless we make them which is frustrating. You just wish people knew how
much the things we present them could benefit them! I don’t have much
motivation to email because nothing good is happening. I’m not upset,
because I’m pretty use to the cycle by now but it is annoying. Lately I’ve
been thinking about how much I have really enjoyed California. I’ve also
been thinking a lot about how much my mission has changed me. At first
glance I feel I haven’t changed much but after thinking about it I’m pretty
different, and for the better! I didn’t have much motivation to do anything
before my mission. I had no reason to get educated and have a good job with
a happy family and a strong church life. But now I realize that those
things need to happen because real life is just that, it’s real. And it’s
knocking on the door haha. I’m really grateful for the things I’ve learned
out here in SoCal and the change I’m my character. So even know the weeks
have sucked, I’ve found a lot of good. You can always find things to be
happy about in life if you just look for them 🙂

Elder Collings


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