Hi I'm Garry Collins
I am first and foremost a husband to a clever, creative, and beautiful wife, and father to four amazing and incredibly diverse children. I love nature and digital photography and being creative in capturing both small and large moments of my family life and the world around me, in photo and video. One of our favorite family activities is to get out our old home movies and photos and share, through our past memories, the love that binds us together. I love bodyboarding and walking, each providing time to think. I am a very passionate supporter of the Richmond Football Club in the AFL which for the most part is a lesson in prolonged patience, loyalty, and endurance. I have been blessed to have had some unique life experiences through my service in the Church. I have joined couples together in marriage, conducted burial services, blessed children and the elderly, sat with friends and strangers and cried and laughed during times of grief and joy. At the age of 19 I volunteered and was sent to Belgium and France and learned French (a subject for which I received a D at school) so that I could be a missionary for the Church. Aside from being married and becoming a father, this was the greatest and most rewarding time of my life. France became my second home and the French became my people. And the language? God is a worker of miracles and this ordinary man spoke fluent French. I wouldn't change a moment of the adventure that has been my life. I love my life, because I am a Mormon!
Why I am a Mormon
I am a Mormon because of who I am. My parents were taught and baptised by missionaries who knocked on their door when I was a few months old. However, there came a time in my life where I chose not to follow the teachings of the Church and did my own thing. This is the only regret that I have in life. I removed myself from an environment of love and a knowledge of my self worth to a place where I became lost and confused. After a few years I had no idea who I was or what I could become, I had become nameless and faceless. The turning point in my life came when I was 16. At the invitation of some of the young people from the Church I attended several fun youth activities. I felt like I was cared for and quickly began to learn that I had a name and a face and that my Heavenly Father knew me personally. Along with these activities I also decided that I would attend a Church Conference where a real living Prophet spoke to members of the Church. I felt something wonderful deep in my heart for the very first time in my life and I knew that I wanted to feel more of it. I felt really good about myself for the first time in many years and was inspired by this knowledge to change my habits and practices which provided even further opportunity to draw closer to Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. I now knew that I was a son of a loving God, that I was no accident of nature. This knowledge of who I really am is why I am a Mormon. The principles and teachings of the Church have allowed me to know Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God and that he is real. I am a better father and husband than I would be if I didn't strive to live life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The things I believe and know to be true have enabled me to begin to replace those personal character traits within me that are ugly and based in selfishness with those that are wholesome and selfless. Anyone who knows me understands that this an ongoing work, my family especially. :)
How has The Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?
The Book of Mormon has been the most wonderful help in my daily life. I consider it to be an instruction manual on how to obtain a successful and rewarding life. As I read and study the experiences, writings, and dealings of God with this group of his children in the Book of Mormon, I am able to put myself in their shoes and think about what would I do if I was in their place at that time. I find that many of their experiences are relevant to me some two thousand years later. The teachings contained within the Book of Mormon go straight to the heart of who am I, why am I here on earth, and what will happen to me after I die. Many of the prophets and writers in the book asked, answered, and preached to the people on these very important questions. What I love about this "book of books" is the many examples of people and civilizations that both lived by these teachings and also those that rejected them. Their experience and history and their witnesses for Jesus Christ and his reality enable me to make good choices now without having to learn by mistake. I love the Book of Mormon, because of it I know that I will continue to live after this life, that if I do the best that I can in following God and doing good to everyone that I meet, I will be ressurected and live with God one day.
How I live my faith
Because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has no paid ministry I have been frequently called upon to give service in many varied and diverse roles. This has given me the opportunity to develop skills and talents that I never knew I had. Each of the assignments, or "callings" as they are known, has been a learning experience. From teaching early morning religious classes, known as Seminary, to High School students before school every weekday, to being the leader of a congregation, a Bishop, each has blessed my life in some way and has knocked many of the rough edges off my personality and helped me to strengthen my love for all people. It has also provided direction in my life and an understanding that every single one of the six billion people on earth is loved by our Heavenly Father. I have received a spiritual education in my day to day life as a member of the Church through serving, studying, teaching, and helping others recognise the nobility that resides within them. Being a Mormon is a way of life. A seven day a week, three hundred and sixty five day of the year lifestyle that brings real joy and lasting happiness into my life. Each and every person is important and has something wonderful to offer to our Heavenly Father in serving him and others. Whether a person greets visitors at the door, teaches little children, youth, or adults, plays the piano or organ, organises fun activities or sings in a choir, they are an integral part of the Church and will come to feel the love of God for them in their life through their service. I know this because this is what I have experienced and come to know as true. I live my faith by trying to be the best I can be, more patient, more loving, more kind, more considerate of others, more friendly, more hopeful, more positive, more faithful. Although I often fail, when I wake up in the morning I believe that I can do better than I did yesterday. This is my faith and what I have learned by being a Mormon.