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!

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