This week has been strange, to say the least. Between transfers (and having the same companion both before and after transfers for the first time in my life) and mission conference, Sister Finau and I are still spinning like tops.
We took the counsel of Elder Ballard on Monday evening, and held a family home evening with an [amazing] family in my ward and taught directly from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. It was so incredibly powerful, and such a blessing to all of us. Tears abounded (not from yours truly, because I am known in the mission as being a hundred percent incapable of tears), and the spirit was so strong. We were really blessed to have both Ty and TJ there, our two favorite youth in the ward, who really have been such a light in the ward. I let TJ borrow my Preach My Gospel, apologized for the notes everywhere, only to glance up to see him holding it as gently as he would the scriptures. He looked up at me and said, “Sister Redner, I feel like Harry Potter. I have the Mormon equivalent of the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book in my hands.” I died right then and there. Now you know why we love the Duncans/Stratfords. They are amazing.
We had mission conference this past Saturday with Elder Richards and Elder Garns of the Quorum of the Seventy. Such a huge blessing! Elder Richards started off his remarks by telling us about his great grandfather who was over several nations in Europe in terms of missionary work. He was talking about touring Wales with Elder Snow (who, coincidentally was the first mission president of the Great California San Fernando Mission), and simultaneously reading his grandfather’s journal, where he was talking about training the missionaries about “holy boldness.” I loved that, because being bold has really been a focus for me in the past several months. Sister Red and strangers aren’t exactly buddy-buddy yet, but I have gotten much more comfortable with being bold and sharing the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I learned so much in the few hours we were able to spend with the Halls, and Elder Richards and Elder Garns. So much of what they spoke about was focused on receving revelation and relying on the Lord as we strive to be the best missionaries we can be. What really struck me was that both Elder Richards and Elder Garns taught directly out of the scriptures, which was a really strong example to me as I have been trying to become more familiar with passages so that I can reference them without hesitation, and also work to memorize key verses.
Mission Conference is like a giant, spiritual, energized family reunion, honestly. We were blessed to have all the missionaries in the mission, which is totally rare. Usually we can only have all the English/Korean/ASL meet together, then the Spanish the next day, etc. I got to see Hermana Rodriguez, my favorite Hermana in CA-SFER! It was so good to catch up with all my missionary friends and family. They are so amazing, and I miss them when I am not serving with them. The majority of my MTC district is down in San Fernando still, and then the rest somehow got transferred to Sylmar and Castaic (the outskirts of the mission).
We decided to use ‘holy boldness’ when we taught the 16-18 year old youth yesterday. It was a bit of a ‘Come to Jesus,’ and I’m 95% sure that they are now terrified of the two of us, but what matters is that they know we love them, and they know that we were following the spirit. It was such a cool experience to work with the youth and remember being in their place just a few years ago.
During Sacrament meeting, Brother Padovich, one of the high councilors for the stake, spoke in our ward. He was talking about his parents serving two separate missions in Yugoslavia during the eighties, when it was still a highly controlled and communistic nation. I love hearing stories about missionary miracles. Their son in law had served in Austria before coming home and marrying their daughter, and shortly thereafter, they (the Padoviches) were called to serve a second time in Yugoslavia. They were older, and lived in an ancient three-story apartment building. It was cold (Brother Padovich repeated this several times), but Sister Padovich saw a woman sitting on a bench, waiting for the bus, and was impressed to stop and talk with her. She introduced the Book of Mormon to her, only to have this sweet, dear old woman tell her that she already had a copy. She handed her the worn, battered copy of the Book of Mormon that she kept in her bag. Sister Padovich opened the cover, and as missionaries tend to do, there was a testimony written in the front cover. Being a communist country, it was unlikely that she had been given a copy in Yugoslavia. As Sister Padovich read the testimony, she noticed the name at the bottom – the name of her son-in-law. This sweet sister had spent some years in Austria before returning to her homeland. There, she had met a missionary who was on the verge of completing his 2 year mission and heading home. He promised her that someone would one day find her and help her to be baptized. Over twenty years later, she was baptized in a bathtub in a three story apartment building in Yugoslavia by the only two missionaries in the entire country.
This brought a lot of comfort to me, as we are planting many seeds in this area of the mission. I am so excited to be a part of this work, no matter the labors I am called to perform. Things are going so well with me, despite the run-of-the-mill trials we face as missionaries. I am so blessed!
I have a favor to ask – this week, I am studying the last week of the Savior’s life, in preparation for Easter. I would ask that you keep Christ in mind this week, and focus on the power of the resurrection and His Atonement. I am so thankful for the blessings that he has given us!
Love from CA-SFER,Sister Red