Can you believe we made it!? To the end of my 18 month mission? I say we because I KNOW I couldn't have done it without everyone of you. You were all there for me to encourage me and lift me up! I also say we because I know I couldn't have done any of this or become all that I have without the Lord. WE DID IT!!! I want you all to know that I have given it my all and because of Jesus Christ my mission has been perfect. I finished my mission strong so that I can now live strong. That's what matters to me.
I have so much passion for this beautiful experience that I have been able to be a part of! I am just so blessed and cannot believe how aware the Lord is of me! I finally trust him. The Lord knows Sister Collings and I know the Lord.
In Camarillo I started my mission. To sum this area up we did a TON of knocking.. not just on doors, but at my pride. I was so humbled. Right off the get go I was able to experience what its like to find teach and baptize. I learned the passion of true hard work. And I learned how to change being stubborn to being determined. Who knew that I really didn't know EVERYTHING... I hardly knew anything. Through all the internal battles with my natural man I was able to experience for the first time what JOY really is. Hard work brings joy. It brings exhaustion too but mostly joy. I was able to trust in the lord. And Trust that working this hard could change me forever.
In Santa Maria I had never met more Anti Mormons! Everyone I would talk to had something terrible to say about the things I believed. They even laughed at my testimony. We did a lot of tracting and never at anytime of my life did I feel more alone. In Santa Maria I learned that I am NEVER alone, no matter how hard the day is or who attacks who you are or what you stand for. I felt the presence of the lord more in Santa Maria than anywhere else. I really learned that I could turn to him and regardless of the day, he could give me peace and he could love me. He could heal me. I learned the power of sincere prayer. I learned to trust in the lord and his opinion of me above others.
In Ventura I learned that enthusiasm goes a long way! It's beautiful! I was so blessed to serve in this area for 5 weeks. We would walk down the street and EVERYONE would want to talk to us. It was insane we would have lesson after lesson, found so many people, and were BOOKED. I finally learned how to enjoy the work and to Love everything and everyone. That through Jesus Christ miracles could happen, and that I could love ANYONE. And I learned to trust in the spirit and what it tells me to do everyday! I learned that the Lord doesn't just cry when we cry, but rejoices when we rejoice :)
In Goleta my testimony was strengthened so much by seeing first hand what the gospel has done for me in my life. I don't mean to sound rude but, we met a LOT of crazies in this area.... The stories I could go on and on and on from crazy drunks, to scandalous college kids, to homeless, to handicap... And I saw the difference in my life and theirs. They were so crazy because they didn't have the gospel. I learned to recognize Gods hand daily. That praying for others really does change lives and it even changes my own. That when we pray sincerely with our whole hearts that others will feel the power of the holy ghost. Not many people wanted to listen to us in Goleta, but everyone would let us pray with them. And we got new investigators because even though they didn't care what we had to say at first, they felt the spirit when we prayed, so they invited us back. I learned the power of stopping to smell the roses, and to enjoy each day that God gives me, and to take time and laugh. I learned that the Lord loved these people just as much as he loved me and the apostles. So I needed to love them too.
In Dos Vientos it was pretty much all gated. And nobody seemed interested. So we had to be sneaky and find a way into these hearts. We decided to offer service to everyone we saw first, and man did that open doors! We were serving EVERYONE and their hearts would soften, and then they would let us teach them. I learned what it meant to be stretched. That the scriptures are a way that God wants to speak to us and really are a life-line. I learned that the Lord had bigger things in store for me than I could ever imagine. I learned what it means to really be consecrated and sacrifice and the blessings that come from that. I learned that God used CRAZY little me to bring souls to Christ. That I really am making a difference, and as I follow the lord, that others would follow me because I was following the Lord.
In San Luis Obispo we were able to teach so many less actives and get them excited to go to the temple, which helped me to realize WHY I am on a mission. Because I want to return to Heavenly Father with EVERYONE I can! And that our families really can be together forever. I realized that I need to care more for my family and make them a bigger priority in my life. I learned that consistency in the small things brings forth extraordinary results! That through my diligence and hard work thus far on my mission, God was able to give me precious revelation. That God gives blessings when we do what he says. I really learned that this life is all about our relationships. And that I need to have more gratitude. I learned how to listen to show my love for others. That when the Lord is involved in any relationship, that is when they can have charity. Which means my love can last. Forever.
In Simi Valley we were just PACKED with appointments. In fact we only tracted a few days! We spent the whole time racing from place to place to place!!! We didn't have time for lunches, but we had so many dinners! About 2 a night... I learned what it means to truly have a relationship with the Savior. What his enabling and redeeming power can do for me. I was able to be swallowed up in the Atonement. I felt forgiveness, strength, and peace. I know now of my nothingness. I am fully dependent on the Lord. I don't ever have to walk alone because he is beside me. I learned about grace. How beautiful that after all I can do He will make up the rest. It humbles me so much. I Can do All things because Christ believes in me. That I mean everything to him. And that all I want is to become with him. That is the ONLY thing I am positive about. I NEED him everyday, all the time, in every way.
These 18 months have changed my life. My testimony is really simple. But I am firm in what I say. I know this is Christ's true church on the earth today. I know that I must daily rely on Christ and that I cannot skip prayers and scripture studies without weakening my Armour. I know that as I follow the prophet and the council of priesthood holders, and I keep all of my covenants, and as I trust the book of Mormon, trust the Lord, and trust my Father in Heaven, that I can, and it is a reality that I can return to Father in Heaven. That's my goal. I'm finishing strong so that I can live strong forever beyond this life.
"I will not doubt I will not fear, God's love and strength are always near. His promised gifts help me to find an inner strength and peace of mind. I give the Father willingly, my trust my prayer, humility. His spirit guides, his love assures, that fear departs when faith endures."
I am ready to come home :) And I won't stop enduring.
Love Sister Kaylea Collings