Fall has finally hit California this week. Instead of the low being 70 degrees, it is 65; people have busted out their parkas and snow boots. A leaf falls from a tree and people act like the world is about to end.
Everyone not from Southern California should find this funny: a bear wandered into a suburb in Granada Hills, and it’s all over the news. Officials have advised locals to keep their doors and windows locked, to avoid going outside, and to stay alert and informed until the bear was “taken into custody.” I just about died, because bears wandering about is so commonplace back east. And he’s just a little guy – about 40 pounds.
We got a call from Elder Mudrow and Elder Schroeppel on Monday night telling us we will be getting elders in Chatsworth next transfer, meaning we have been working to divide out area. For the rest of the transfer we will prepare for them by putting together a new area book, finding them emergency safe havens, and helping the assistants to the president find them an apartment. It is a lot of hard work, but worth it, especially since Chatsworth is the area that needs some extra love in our zone. We will also be doing a lot of tracting this transfer, a lot more than I did in Mission Hills. Actually, I’ve already knocked more doors here in the past two weeks than I did in my 6 weeks in Mission Hills.
We’ve knocked a few interesting doors on Tuesday. One lady, upon seeing that we were missionaries said, “good for you, I’m Catholic” and slammed the door. One man, who was ultimately uninterested, asked us where we were from, and upon learning that I was from New England updated me on the Sox, and when I told him I was a Yankees fan, said, “well then, go Cardinals!” and sent us on our merry way with well wishes of luck and success, as well as the promise that if we stopped by again that he’d update us on the Major League Baseball standings. Another man told us he hated churches because all social issues stemmed from churches. He was pretty adamant about it.
I have noticed one thing street contacting that equally amuses me and drives me insane. You offer people a picture of Jesus Christ and they refuse, their excuse being, “no, I’m Christian.” Over and over, they refuse, and I want to holler, “we know you’re Christian! So take a picture of JESUS!” Honestly. (I promise I don’t say that)
(Also, we may or may not have stuck a picture of Jesus in a coffin in front of someone’s yard this week… Happy Halloween!!)
This week has had to have been some sort of “get even” that LDS missionaries weren’t informed about. We’ve gotten all sorts of pamphlets, letters, newsletters, and bulletins from other churches. My personal favorite is the one talking about chariots of fire: “It is most obvious that the chariots of God are today’s flying saucers, which are known as UFOs. They are not from any other planet, but are the angels of GOD, which for centuries have policed the earth for crimes against the law of GOD and against the heirs of salvation.” Yes, there are FOUR pages about these angelic UFOs. I just about died. Do they not realize they are mailing these to Mormon missionaries??
Halloween was really boring, but for our dinner appointment with the Jensen’s, one of their neighbors, and Sister Cass. We got a call from Sister Jensen, Brother Jensen, and Sister Cass, all advising us to not talk politics. Now why in the world would we do that? But it was really awesome to get to know people. We are hoping to teach Diana (neighbor) soon. We would have stayed longer, but we had to be back in our apartment by 7 o’clock. I don’t understand Sister Jensen. She’s inactive, but writes her testimony in a Book of Mormon, gives it to Diana, and doesn’t think she’s inactive. Brother Jensen outright admits that he doesn’t understand her. They are pretty awesome, if confusing.
I am already so impressed with Chatsworth ward and their willingness to help us as missionaries. We met briefly with Bishop Payne on Sunday to talk about the boundaries for the ward split, and it ended up being a brainstorm session about the work. He had us change our boundaries because he didn’t want us tracting in a certain area, and when I told him that I tracted Sepulveda in Mission Hills, he just about had a heart attack of the brain. He told me not to tell him things like that unless I wanted him to go up to Santa Clarita to meet with President and put a restriction on where I can serve. I honestly didn’t find Sepulveda that sketchy, but people just freak out when I tell them Mission Hills was my first area. Weird. Our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Summers, is an absolute missionary gem. He works so hard to help us and is so invested in the work. He’s been organizing a volleyball activity every week where we can go and talk with people on a more informal basis. There are tons of non-members or less-active members who show up -usually over a dozen. He is always telling us to play the party like a politician. And he yells like Kokoum in Pocahontas on the volleyball court. Life in Chatsworth is never dull, especially with Sister Attanasio around. We get on so well, and I love it. She has this issue with crickets that makes me laugh, because there are crickets EVERYWHERE in California. Evenings become cricket-catching time when they get into our apartment.
On Sunday, Bishop Payne called me up to introduce myself and bear my testimony during sacrament meeting, and in retrospect, I really ought to have spelled out my name because for the rest of the meetings, I was getting called by an assortment of “R” names. Again. It didn’t help that in the bulletin it’s spelled “Redman.” I even wrote it down for someone and they now call me “Sister Kedner.” I give up. One brother kept saying, “I’ll make sure your name is printed in the bulletin, and you can send it home to your mum to show her!” He called me Sister Rutherfield. What?
In my personal study, I have begun reading James E. Talmage’s Jesus the Christ, which essentially studies the life, ministry, and purpose of Jesus Christ, and I really liked a passage on pg. 29 that I thought I’d share: “Our Heavenly Father has a full knowledge of the nature and disposition of each of His children, a knowledge gained by long observation and experience in the past eternity of our primeval childhood.” I loved this, because lately I have been thinking a lot about how individual and personal the blessings God bestows up on us are, both the big and little blessings. For example, last transfer in Mission Hills I was in a grocery store just aching for something familiar. I was tired of the Spanish everywhere that I can’t understand, Mexican food, and tired of not being able to pinpoint where I was and exhausted from trying to understand people who speak hardly any English. The store we were in always plays a Latino music channel on the radio, and all of a sudden it switched to an old Irish song that I’ve known for years, and once the song was over, went back to the Latino station. There was no reason for an Irish song to be on a Hispanic channel. It was a little, individual blessing that reminded me that God is aware of each of His children and loves them so much.
The fact that Heavenly Father loves His children is one thing that I try to teach and express when I meet people, whether it is in a lesson with an investigator, or on a street corner to a stranger. If I can leave them with that knowledge, I consider it a success, because every principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christs rests on that foundation: God loves His children, perfectly and individually. This is why I love being a missionary, because I get to share that message with everyone I meet and teach. They might not want to hear our message, they may not have the time, and they may not understand perfectly the language we speak, but as long as they can understand that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them dearly, individually, and perfectly, I can count our interaction as a successful one.
I hope that you all are having a wonderful week, and that you see the blessings of the Lord in your life. I know they are there! I am so thankful for each of your prayers, letters, and words of encouragement. They mean so much to me, I can’t even express.
PS – we have a lot of Hawaiians in our ward, and Sister Fietonu in my zone is from Hawaii, so I swear, I’ve heard the greeting “aloha” more in the past two weeks than ever before. Hence the title. :)
Picture 1- Sister A. and I in our Helping Hands vests up in Topanga last week.
Picture 3- Half-built playground up at the Topanga Community Center.
Picture 4- Yay for my MTC district!! This was at 12 week training. I miss them so much!
Picture 5- Coolest scripture ever! :)
Picture 6- The playground on the second day we were up in Topanga.
Picture 7- The San Fernando Valley – oh hello!