Back in 1994, I was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hixson, Tennessee.
I met an amazing family there that I immediately fell in love with and adopted, and they adopted me. Glenn and Karen Collins have four beautiful children, Reine, Noah, Jeana and Callie. Callie was around 1.5 years old at the time I served in their area, absolutely adorable and I enjoyed holding her and playing with her when we would visit the Collins' home.
I have tried to keep in touch with the Collins' over the past 20 years, doing excellent in some years and horribly in others, but this year I have been able to talk a few times through various wonders of technology to Reine and Glenn, and I found out that Callie is now serving a mission here in Utah!
I was overjoyed to discover that she is only 20 minutes away. After much waiting in trying to contact and schedule a lunch or dinner appointment with Sister Collins and her companion, we were finally able to connect and we took them to Costa Vida!
I was in heaven talking about the days of my mission and the wonderful things that have happened with the Collins family since I returned home from my mission. They have been sealed together as an eternal family, now have beautiful grandchildren and are all strong in the Church. They helped me so much while I was there and I am eternally grateful. Callie shared some wonderful stories and her testimony with me, and I discovered that I had a big impact on their family, even Callie who is now an amazing missionary who brings the Spirit with her wherever she goes.
I was grateful to spend a small amount of time with Gwen this afternoon getting to know Callie better, as well as her companion, Sister Baleivuna from Fiji!
Since Sister Collins is living under mission rules, I didn't get to give her the huge hug I wanted to, but I hope that she will bring her family back to Utah after she is released, so I can see them all and hug 'em all! They are so very special to me, I can't even articulate how much.
This past couple of days while I rummaged through my mission memories box looking for things from my time with the Collins' and being able to visit with Callie reminded me again how significant and important our relationships with others are, and how much other worldly pursuits don't mean anything in comparison. I am so thankful for all of my family and friends and the love that I share for each and every one of you.
Best of luck to you Sister Collins when you soon return home to your amazing family. I'm so excited to hear about your new adventures. Until then, may all those you come in contact with feel and recognize the Spirit that you and Sister Baleivuna bring with you... and thanks for sharing it with Gwen and I!
Love ya, Sis!