Gone and Back Again

That awkward moment when you are transferred twice in one week. In 72 hours, actually.

 
Yeah, that happened.
 
But first things first – all is relatively well. I am tired, but that’s nothing new. What’s new is my companion!
 
On Tuesday morning, Sister Lind and I were getting ready to drive up to Santa Clarita for transfer meeting when President called with the news: Sister Lind’s medical release was approved and she would be flying home the next afternoon, and I was being transferred to Granada Hills to work in a trio. We were given directions to shut down the apartment and the area, and Elder Bertoch and Elder Magele would be taking stewardship of the entirety of Chatsworth. Essentially, I had less than 24 hours to pack and clean the apartment from top to bottom. Thankfully the Tarzana sisters were willing to come help us out. I was totally heartbroken and honestly a little angry when I got the news. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished what task the Lord set before me in Chatsworth and I was being emergency transferred back to the zone I started in. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Granada Hills zone, but it was hard news to take. Nevertheless, I packed up, cleaned up, stressed out, and got everything together. Thankfully I had the opportunity to say goodbye to most of the families I’m closest to before I left – the Willis’, the Grays, Sister O., the Summers, and the Hilarios. We dropped Sister Lind off at the mission office and I drove with the Sister Training Leaders (Sister Olsen and Sister Kemp) to Granada Hills. 
 
I had just unfinished packing (literally, put the last picture on the wall), when President called and asked to talk to me privately. Sister Vanhoven and Sister Johnson (who are awesome, by the way) continued studying while I talked with him. He was incredibly serious so I was a little on edge, but he asked if I would be willing to transfer back to Chatsworth. I thought he meant at the end of the transfer, on February 25. I said yes, of course; he then asked me if I would be willing to train. It took a few minutes for me to realize that he was telling me that I would be transferring back immediately, and training immediately. I was ecstatic. 
 
That’s not the coolest part. 
 
My new companion is Sister Dame who is a) one of the first Korean sisters in the mission, b) is one of the coolest/sweetest people on the face of the planet, and c) her mom reads my blog and we’ve emailed back and forth since my first transfer (hi Momma Dame!). Crazy, right? It’s seriously a testament that the Lord knows exactly what we each need. No one could have foresaw the fact that my companion would be transferred home, and the only other trio was a trio of Korean sisters. The other amazing details? Chatsworth building is also home to the Korean branch, so Sister Dame can continue her Korean studies and get acquainted with the branch members before returning to Korean work (she is English for the transfer, although she has a trainer who is bound and determined that she speak Korean as much as humanely possible).
 
Also, for the past two transfers, I had been compiling a mental list of reasons why I shouldn’t train as a joke. The Lord did not take me seriously, clearly. Also I had joked (and secretly had a gut feeling) that I would be one of the two sisters to train one of the Korean sisters. Proof that God has a sense of humor and He never forgets the running commentary from the peanut gallery. ;) 
 
The day I got that call, I realized it would probably be a good idea to get a blessing. And it was a serious tender mercy that Elder McCauley was transferred into the Granada Hills zone, and he was able to administer it. It was good to see him and talk for a little bit, and the blessing brought a lot of comfort and guidance. I love the details of life! 
 
Sister Dame and I had our own official “transfer meeting” at her six week follow-up meeting where we officially became companions. The funny moment of the meeting was when the trainers and new missionaries are split into two groups. The trainers talk with the Assistants and President stays with the new missionaries. President came into the Relief Society room to talk briefly with us about the new missionaries and about five minutes later two of the new missionaries popped their heads in to let him know his portable mic was still on. He’s so good under the unexpected, and I don’t think he’s ever surprised, so all he said was, “that’s precious,” laughed, and turned off the mic. Another reason why I love President Hall! 
 
There was a bit of chaos getting home and into our apartment (home sweet home!), but eventually our keys, our car, and everything else was returned and we were left to settle in for the night. We had a lot of fun getting to know each other and talking about our goals for the transfer and for our missions. 
 
On Friday and Saturday we had stake conference. Friday night was unique – what is usually a session reserved for adults was open to the youth, and it was entirely about hastening the work. Our stake president, President Peterson, gave a stake-wide “come to Jesus” about helping us missionaries out not only in feeding us meals (we get fed on a pretty rare basis in this zone for some reason), but helping us find people to teach. It was incredibly helpful because it was something we didn’t quite know how to approach members about. I guess there’s no better way to get the message out than to do it over the pulpit in a meeting with over a hundred people. 
 
Between the two sessions, I got to surprise a lot of people with the fact that I was back. Sister and Brother Willis all but tackled me, and Brother Willis (who you must always take seriously) said, “don’t you be leaving us again soon, now – Wanda was about to call President Hall and let him know you needed to be back home in Chatsworth!” All the greetings just cemented my love for this area of the valley and all the people I get to work with. It was nice to meet the new missionaries in the zone too. Sister Cox, our first hard of hearing sister in the mission, is from right next door from home – upstate New York! Sister Lewis (my MTC companion) is training a Tongan sister. Another elder I worked with in Granada Hills was transferred in as well, Elder Silver.
 
The Sunday morning session turned out to be a broadcast from Salt Lake with addresses from Sister Linda K. Burton (General Relief Society President), Elder Neal L. Anderson, and President Eyring. It was exactly what southern California needed. I’ll share more about it next week, when I have my notebook nearby. 
 
Sister Dame didn’t believe me when I told her than we say “I love you” in this zone. I think she got overwhelmed with all the “I love you!s” as we were leaving. It’s going to be an interesting experience this transfer, because I am determined that she have as much to do with the Korean members down here as possible, even if it does mean I get to be the awkward English/ASL companion who gets flustered with all the bowing and honorific traditions, sits in the back of a Korean sacrament meeting and correlation meetings and has absolutely no idea what’s going on half the time. It will be worth it! Even if I have to eat kimchi. Blergh. Yes, I am officially the companion, trainer, and awkward side-kick of the cool, cute Korean sister. I get caught in between Koreans bowing and have ongoing nightmares about being force-fed Kimchi. But I already love the Korean work – I hope they one day realize how many of the English missionaries are rooting for them and praying daily for them. I am so excited for Sister Dame to be in English work, I think in the long run it will be so good for Korean work as well. She’s a powerhouse!
 
Spiritual thought for the day, a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people… stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ.” 
 
Every day I am more and more thankful for the opportunity I have to serve. This week I have been thinking a lot about the example other missionaries have set for me in my almost 5 months in the field (can you believe I’ve been set apart that long? I can’t!), and am so grateful to them. It has been such a blessing to watch others grow and become more powerful teachers. We are fellow missionaries, yes, but many of us have become fast friends and comrades here in the Canoga Park zone. We really do say “I love you” here! 
 
Sending you all some Canoga Park spirit this week!

Love ya!

Sister Red

 
PS – on Tuesday we had Chinese for dinner, and what did my fortune say? “Soon you’ll have a chance at a profitable transaction.” Transferred back to Chatsworth with the coolest gal! Team CA-SFER for the win! 
 
Picture 1 – Sister Oberhansly and I. Love her!
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Picture 2 – The Grays and I. Emily is one of my favorite people in this world. And Alice is the cutest ginger baby.
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Picture 3 – Wanda, yours truly, Eddie, and Elva. 
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Picture 4 – Beverly, the most patient person in the world, Sister Lind and I.
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Picture 5 – This happens when kids get ahold of my camera.
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Picture 6 – The Hilarios. Their dad, Ceasar, is a photographer so we got to use the studio.
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Picture 7 – Becca, Steve and William Summers. 
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Picture 8 – Sister Dame and I! 
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