Life is Crazy, Work is Hard and I have an awesome watch tan

Alternate title for this email: The Week I Beat Up a Pitbull.
True story. One of our members owns a kennel, and I was playing with a pitbull. He was just so energetic and happy, he got a bit nippy. No worries, no blood at all. He was more like Libby when she gets super excited over a tennis ball. His name is Striker, he’s such a sweetheart. Sister McCloskey was laughing at me because once I saw she was headed toward the kennels, I hopped over the fence (I was playing with the horses) and booked it in to play with the big dogs. Sister Finau looked traumatized as I was wrestling with a pitbull and a German shepherd. It was pretty hilarious. You can take the missionary off the farm, but not the farm out of the missionary! And Sister Finau has decided to stick with the littler dogs and the chickens. She was so proud of herself, she fed and watered the chickens and collected eggs by herself. She has decided it’s her new job when we go help Sister McCloskey.
That’s one thing I love about Sister Finau, she has so much positive energy, and really is willing to do anything and everything. It’s such a blessing, because it helps me see the routine/habits I have in a new light, and work to get more excited and more positive about the work. Sometimes you just get used to the schedule: get up, exercise, eat, study, go contacting, teach a lesson or two, eat dinner, plan, and go to bed. She is such a blessing!

This week we had her six week follow up training with President Hall. It was the shortest training meeting I’ve ever been to! The blessing of NOT coming in with  49 other missionaries, I guess. Six week is focused on companionship inventory – or, how to be a better companion and be friends with your companion. I swear, I had told her how the meeting would go: opening with President, then trainers and new missionaries split (trainers go with the Assistants, new missionaries stay with President) before coming back together to continue training. I got up to leave and the poor thing got teary eyed. I felt like a mom dropping her kid off at Primary or preschool for the first time. It was kind of hilarious as well. I am so blessed to have such a loving, patient companion, and to work with a really amazing group of trainers. It’s definitely the most mixed group you could have in the mission – between the lot of us trainers, we are speaking Spanish, English, Korean, and ASL. Three of our trainees don’t speak English as their native language, one is learning ASL, two are native signers, and one is learning Spanish. Then you throw in the three of us trainers who have Polynesian companions who probably secretly pray each night that they will wake up to a companion who can speak the language they are most comfortable in. I remind Sister Finau on a daily basis that the likelihood of me waking up speaking Tongan or Samoan is incredibly slim. :)

In preparation for Easter this week, I studied the last week of the Savior’s life, and the resurrection. Well, that was my goal. It’s now after Easter and I’m on approximately day three of the last week, I’ve gotten so caught up in the details and miracles. I have learned a lot, not only about the events of the last week of Christ’s life and the traditions of Passover, but also about the character and attributes of Christ. I am only at when Christ cleanses the temple and begins teaching in the temple, but it’s been a huge learning experience and an opportunity to come closer to the Savior himself.

Our Easter weekend was quiet – we spent all day on Saturday finding and contacting, focusing on having meaningful conversations with those we met. It was really cool to focus not on contacting a certain amount of people, but talking to people for as long as they wanted to talk about the Savior. We didn’t have a dinner appointment on Easter Sunday, but it ended up being perfect because a) I got to experiment and ended up making a really yummy chicken and leek pie, and b) we got to visit and have a lesson with John and Kayla at their home, which never, ever happens due to their housemates and the conditions they are living in.
This week has been crazy for John and Kayla, and thus, for us. Kayla called one afternoon, super upset, and we talked on the phone for a while before she had to go, and were left feeling like we were getting nowhere. We prayed and prayed for them, and to receive any inspiration concerning what we needed to teach, or the approach we needed to take. The next day, Kayla called and told us she was at the library, and if we had time, that she’d love to talk. We were able to talk with her for a while, and address some of her concerns, and then talk with John for a bit too, and answer his questions. I seriously love when investigators come with questions, it makes my job so much easier, and it really leads the way to learning for all involved.
The Easter miracle was that we were able to talk with them at their home for the first time ever. Their housemates are really anti-Mormon, and Kayla doesn’t want us to be anywhere near them, so when she called super excited that they weren’t home, we dropped everything/turned off the stove and immediately left for their place. This was the first time we’d been able to have a full lesson with the both of them with no distractions! SUCH a blessing to us. I love John and Kayla so much, especially for their honesty and desire to really change their lives. They have a long way to go, but it’s no longer than the road each of us have to take.
Things have been getting better in the ward, as well. We have seen a huge shift towards increased unity, which is what our main focus has been. It’s such an amazing thing to see people turn outward and reach out and help one another of their own accord. Sister Franklin called us one evening and asked if we wanted to go visit a few less active members with her (of course!), and now it’s turned into a weekly thing. On Tuesdays we spend a few hours with Sister Franklin contacting less active families and single moms in the community and doing service. It was brought up in our coorelation meeting with the elders, and now there’s a bit of a competitive spirit – how many members can we get to go with us to contact? How many less active members can we visit? How can we serve. It’s amazing what missionary unity can do for the work.
The sad news for the week – Elder Hudson got his visa for Brazil. I’m pretty bummed, because I’m with President on the visa issue: we pray that they get their visa, and hope that they don’t. But Hudson has been in the states for 10 months of his mission, it’s time that he go to Brazil and continue to serve there. His Portuguese is getting rusty anyway! It leaves next transfer up in the air, however, as Elder Smith is going home, and Elder Hudson will be in Sao Paulo – we will have two new elders in the area. It’s turning into Chatsworth all over again! :)
Speaking of language skills getting rusty… my ASL skills are SLOW! I was talking with Sister Ingram for about 20 minutes at six week, and my brain hurt really bad after talking and interpreting for Sister Finau to talk with her. Sister Ingram is one of our deaf sisters, and is a riot. I love talking to her, but the only downside is that she signs so fast. But I don’t mind – it gives her trainer a break from interpreting 24/7, which is a good thing. Yay for signing! President is even learning a little as well.
Not much else happened this week – it’s been quiet because of the families in our area being out of town for spring break. I can’t believe that this upcoming Monday is my 8 month mark! Time needs to slow down, because I haven’t accomplished half of what I’m here for.
Love you all, and hope you’re having a wonderful week! 

Sister Redner

PS – our neighbors had a cascarone fight without us! Lame!! We were so bummed.

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