Monday, April 29, 2013

A Beautiful Day for the Collison Family! (Week Six!)

Elder Collison is on his way to Romania. He is currently crossing the Atlantic Ocean and will be arriving in Bucharest tomorrow about 2.  He will be there for roughly 23 months.  He got to talk to us this morning from the airport.  The first half of the conversation we had a bad connection.  The rest was wonderful!  Each of us got a turn chatting with him.  His companion Elder Hokannen "met" us all on the phone... he was not able to call his family so we were his family today... bummed we couldn't hear him well enough for a good chat.  We mostly wanted to hear Andrew speak Romanian to us, but he was shy about it... sounds like the airport was very crowded.  He said a couple things and it sounded amazing!  There were 40 missionaries flying out today to the Netherlands and the three of them to Romania.  And he mentioned others on the same flight, but I can't remember.
He is very very excited to get to Romania.  He already has a love for the people and is anxious to meet them, talk to them and serve them.  He is hoping for a good trainer.  He didn't say what attributes he's hoping for in him... assuming one who is fluent in the language and patient would be nice.  :)  He is most excited to serve in the area of Constanta, near the Black Sea.  Said he's also heard the humid summers are rough in the large cities.  All of their teachers in the MTC (except the one native) served missions in Romania.  They've helped him to get really excited.  One of the other things he's most excited about is that he hears they often walk up to 20 miles a day. 
He wanted me to let people know that he is SO grateful for all of the letters that have been sent to him showing love and support.  He feels terrible for all the ones he hasn't replied to yet... he started listing off people to me to apologize to and say that he plans to write when he can.  I told him to just not worry about it, everyone understands he is busy and that he has very little time on his preparation day for letter writing... I told him not to stress, to just focus on his work, that's what we all want and expect.  He seemed relieved.  So please don't be hurt if he doesn't respond quickly.  His p-days will now be on Mondays.  So we won't hear from him again until we receive an email next Monday. 
What else did he say....   oh, he was hungry for everything here... to hear all about what we've done or changed or worked on since he's been gone.  

It was so good to hear his voice and his laugh and have time with him.  :)


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Week Five! (Last week in the United States!)


Last p-day in the MTC! Seriously time has flown by waaay too fast. I'm finally loving it here and now that I'm down to four days I'm almost wishing for more! The people here are amazing, I'm going to have a hard time saying goodbye. Don't worry about sending any packages. I had no idea it was that expensive, that's really disappointing. But I've felt bad enough for all you had to spend to have packages sent here, I definitely wouldn't ask you to spend seventy bucks because I'm impatient for the best cookies in the world.
My flight plans have changed! I'm now leaving Monday, reporting to the travel office at 7:30 then my flight leaves at 11. I'll be flying straight from SL to Amsterdam, which I've heard is a 15 hour flight, then from there straight to Bucharest (Don't remember how to spell that in english..?). I'll be arriving on 2pm on Tuesday. It's so crazy! I've never even left the country before, and now I'm jumping into what I feel is the extreme of extremes! I'm getting way excited though, I'm feeling confident and I think I'm ready for this adventure.
Oh my goodness, Congrats Stokers! I want pictures ASAP! please..? ;) Happy Birthday Caleb and Mini-stoker!
Oooh, what have I learned this week..? let me tell ya, since I got here I've tried cramming my mind with so much information that it truly feels burstable. This week especially! From all that I've learned, all that I know now is that I hardly know anything. About the Christ's Gospel, about the language I've been called to speak, about life in general. And it's these feelings of inadequacy and sometimes loneliness that have called me to humility, and I'm sure by my next email I'll be able to tell you that "last week was nOthing compared to what's expected of me now!" but I learned that that's how it's supposed to be. How am I supposed to establish a connection between my Heavenly Father and my investigators if I don't already have that link myself? I'm still working on it! I'm sure it'll take me the next two years + a lifetime before I figure it out, but it's definitely opened my mind for the trials to come.
I can't think of any necessities that I won't be able to find in the book store or in Romania, and now that I'm leaving monday I don't think you have time anyways..?
Ooh, one last thing. Because I'm flying over seas, I get to call home and talk with my momma! it'll probably be like a 5 minute conversation because the payphones are crazy expensive, but I'm so excited! So you all should come up with some questions, I'll do the same, we're going to have a happy conversation and none of us are going to cry!!
I've gotta go now, Hopefully I've answered all your questions and said everything that needs to be said before I'm outa the country for two years!
Love you all so much! Thanks for the quotes and advice Mom and Dad, I'm going to print off all your emails once I have access to a printer!
Thank you everyone for the letters! I can't tell you what they mean to me.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Week 4!!

My Family!!
First off; I'm super sorry for my lack of letter writing. apparently you're not even supposed to write letters except for p-days, and I've been so busy lately I haven't even been able to think about breaking that rule. So to everyone who's been writing me- thank you so much. you don't know what it means to me when I go to check the mail after lunch and there's something waiting for me. I've got a bit of down time today and I'm going to try and reply to them all!
Oh, and the dear elder thing is awesome. keep up the love!

Ok, couple things I've absolutely gotta mention in this email, and hopefully I remember more in a second:

We got to hear from Richard G. Scott on Tuesday! he came for our devotional and gave us such a good message. After 3500 missionaries finished singing the opening song, he got up crying and started telling us basically how awesome we are. He spoke on communication with our Father in Heaven, and I realized how poorly I'd been utilizing the gift of prayer all my life. It really just opened my mind to what exactly I'm doing, and since then I've started trying to build my connection with the one who can give me enough support to keep me out here. I'm actually having a lot of fun. it's still kinda hard sometimes, but there are so many amazing people here, and everything's becoming so much more enjoyable. I took notes on almost everything Elder Scott said, so if anyone needs some questions answered about prayer I've got some good materiel for ya.. ;) 

K. My two favorite words and phrases in Romanian are probably Gugustiuc (Sounds way cool when you say it right and it means pigeon) and- "Oaia aia e a ei" which basically means "hey! that sheep is hers!" I'm going to look for every possible opportunity in Romanian to say those phrases ;D 

My shoulders are golden! Just had my last physical therapy appointment yesterday and he says I'm good to go. I need to avoid over the head swings like volley ball and punching and that kind of thing. other than that I'm good to start bulking up again! 

I'm getting pretty excited to get out there, but at the same time I'm kinda freaked about getting out in the real world with real people, speaking a language I don't know. My native Romanian teacher kinda has me scared too. Telling me about all the homeless kids on the street, all the people who have it sooo rough. And I'm not even allowed to give money or anything like that. And then moldova's even worse. I had no idea- but apparently it's still under communism (very loosely or else we wouldn't be allowed in there) and we're not allowed to distribute any kind of religious material. 

Wooh! it's gonna be awesome, but it's going to be so different from the life I've had so far. 

My companions are getting antsy so I've got to get.

Thank you all so much for all your love and support. Thank you for the encouragement and letters, and thank you for finally writing me dad!! haha ;) 

Love you all, 23 months to go and the adventures just about to begin! 

Elder Collison

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Ah, I still feel bad! I've been playing it so safe and I feel so weak! yeah, what the ortho-dude was saying made it sound like it's just something I've always had and I'll have it until I get them stabilized, no fun! but on the plus side;  We get 50 minutes of gym time a day, and since I'm out sport-wise- i've been jogging 3 miles a day, with some biking and good stretch sessions. You're supposed to gain so much weight in the MTC because it's an all you can eat buffet, every day- and I've already lost seven pounds.. haha.
Oh boy, I'm trying to come up with some exciting stories for you guys, but it's really just all the same routine I've told you about. I am really starting to enjoy it. It is sO hard. but I'm learning so much and we're actually starting to have some fun. The language is coming along really well. I guess I won't really know how well I speak it until I head out there, but we know way more than what should be possible in three weeks.
Steven and Kate, I saw both of  them! I had no idea kate would be coming to this MTC, so when I ran into both of them in the cafeteria I nearly died. We got some pictures, but I'm on a computer that doesn't allow the upload so you'll have to wait!
Conference was awesome! Everyone for the last couple months has been telling me that once I was on a mission all the talks would sound to me as pure instruction for the mission, but looking back at my notes it looks like the only things I learned was what I wanted in my future family, how to find a wife, and how to prepare yourself for marriage. way funny for a guy so far away from that, but all the talks were centered around the family and I really enjoyed it. 
um, guess who came for our tuesday devo?? Gerald N. Lund, That's who! I haven't ever heard such simple and profound insights from a non-prophet. ever. I got so much about how God speaks to His children out of that.
I love you all so much! I'm already running out of time, but I'm going to reply to your letters today too.
Hopefully this makes sense! I've only been immersed in Romanian for 3 weeks and my brain's already starting to rewire my sentences to their backwardness.
Isaac! I'm so glad we're going to have baby rabbits to eat when I come home! keep them coming! haha
Matthew, I will eat the chocolate from you every single day in your honor, since you can't. 
and Gabriel; I love you! keep practicing the name, I'm getting tired of this 'Elder Collison' junk.. ;)
I'm out of time!
love you all so much! sorry this is scattered all over the place, I'll get to those letters soon.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Hand-written letter - Received 3/28/13
The MTC is huge and all the buildings look identical so I still can't find my way around.  My district is only the three of us, which is weird because they usually have 10-20 missionaries to a class, but it's always us three.  This means that I have no friends aside from my companions, but we're also picking up the language incredibly fast.  We've already given our "investigator" Ion (pronounced "Yawn," and equal to John) three different lessons in Romanian.  I've been learning for four days now and I can bear my testimony, say a prayer and some other basic things.  It's taking a huge effort and 15 hours a day of practice, but we are really receiving some divine help in this. 
My simple, yet sincere, testimony in Romanian:
Dumnezeu este Tatal nostru ceresc, 
Noi suntem copiii sai.
Evanghelia lu Isus Hristos Intareste familiile.
The food is great!  They have so much fruit and veggies available that I'm only eating salads- I'm determined to lose body fat in the MTC.  ;) 
Ooh!  Also just found out that I'll be the youngest missionary to ever serve a mission in Romania.  Kinda weird, huh?

My teachers are amazing.  How the MTC works:  We spend most of the day in our classrooms being immersed in Romanian.  The teachers speak English only to get the most important principles across, otherwise they're speaking the language we're learning.  The cool part is that we're seeing a noticeable difference.  On the first day we heard only gibberish, and now we can at least see a basic meaning of what they say. 
One of my teachers, Frati Vizantez came from Bucheresti to go to school in Provo, and served his mission in England.  It's really powerful when he bears his testimony because it's always, "You guys are special, you were called to my home for a reason and there are specific people you will be able to help," and "Go share the Gospel with my people, they need you so badly."  It's really cool and close and personal. 
It's hard.  I thought I was a motivated person, but I've never worked half as hard in my life.  I thought I was humble, but I"m not, and forgetting myself is as hard as you would imagine.

Thinking that the MTC and being set apart would turn me into a "missionary" was a mistake.  I'm the same person I was a week ago.  Girls are still cute.  I still have my doubts and bad days that try to creep in.  Almost EVERYTHING I knew and loved and enjoyed is something I've now got to miss for the next two years.  The point I'm trying to make is: all you future missionaries: start now!  Please identify and ponder attributes Christ looks for in his servants and try to become a servant He could trust before that's all you are.  You'll have a huge advantage over me and most other missionaries.

Love you all so much!!

Miss you like crazy and wish I was there, but I know this is where I"m supposed to be.
Elder Collison

And here's this weeks email!

April 4th, 2013

Oh so frustrating! I was playing volleyball after taking it easy for so long and I was feeling strong, and my right arm came back out. did exactly the same thing it did awhile ago. I sat out a round, then went back in cause my adrenaline was pretty high, and my left arm came out! The exact same thing! I figured I could just take it easy and it would heal up, but in my last branch presidency interview they specifically asked me if I was having any physical problems, and they suggested I should get it checked out just to be safe. The doctor at the Health wing here referred me to some orthopedic dude. Got a bunch of x-rays and apparently I have something wrong with my shoulders and I'll need some kind of surgery after my mission to stablize them. He had just returned as a Mission President though, and he said I could still serve as long as I followed his guidelines. I've started on physical therapy to try and build it up a bit before I take off, but I won't be able to throw a ball or play volleyball, throw a punch, anything like that until I get it fixed. I feel awful to be wasting your money like that, after I took my problem to the doctor it was kind of out of my control cause they just want it all fixed up before I leave.
 Dad, just so you know; when they called you about insurance information I was totally in the room and I could hear your voice, dang! haha, I was so ready to get out of my chair and yell 'love ya!' before she could hang up.
Anyways, onto the fun stuff! For Easter we had a MASSive sacrament meeting in the gym where all the devo's are held. The sacrament was administered to over 3000 people! it took exactly 15 minutes and 48 seconds (yes, the watch you talked me into has already been useful) with 30 passers. pretty sweet! and all week we were told that a general authority would be instructing us, I was totally expecting President Monson to be there, but we heard from a guy I didn't know existed. Great talk though! I learned a lot of stuff that I can't remember, but I can probably write it out in a letter once I get back to my notes in my apartment.
I'm trying to think of stuff out of the ordinary that would be exciting to hear but after two weeks here EVERything is ordinary. haha, it's definitely getting better now that I'm falling into a routine. When you first arrive they tell you to just make it until Sunday, because that'll be the longest part of your mission. I scoffed, but it's true! I was so dead homesick, but this last week and a half has just felt like one long day and I'm being spiritually edified every second of it! The language is coming along.. well enough I guess. No, it's amazing. We have been here TWo WEeks, and we know more than what should be humanly possible for that much time. We're spending about six hours a day in language study, then the rest of the time our teachers are giving teaching us about gospel doctrine, mostly in romanian. My finnish companion has already learned several languages, including english- so learning this is nothing to him and he already sounds like a romanian. Van dyke and I on the other hand, are normal human beings that'll most likely get laughed at for the next two years of our mission.
Crap, thirty seconds left on the computer,
Love you all so much! I'll write more in the letters!