Lizards, Snakes and Elders, OH MY!

Winter has finally hit California, several months too late. I’ve been loving the cooler weather, and we even had rain the other day. I needed it – the heat just kills when it’s day in and day out. We haven’t used our air conditioning all week, and for the first time in months, I didn’t take a cold shower to cool off. The tender mercies of missionary work.
 
This week was all over the place, so this email probably will be too.
 
Tuesday we went to Sister McCloskey’s to help her for a few hours. She needed help worming her horses, so I offered to help. Haven’t done that in a while! The elders were laughing at me because by the end of the string of horses, I was covered in bright green medication and was as happy as could be. I took a hit to the shoulder by Tango, the one gelding on the farm, so I was a bit sore for a few days, but that’s all right. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We’ve been using our service hours to help her prep her garden area for planting, which is a good stress relief. The elders always laugh at me because I’m so comfortable doing farm work, and Sister Finau gets so excited about it. She texted Sister McCloskey the night before we went to help to make sure she didn’t take care of the chickens, because she wanted to. The elders want nothing to do with the chickens (oh well, more eggs for us!).
 
This week has been a week of adventures. We got lost a lot, and found some really cool places and really cool people. Our area is really weird. You don’t realize you’re in a desert until you get lost and can’t tell what cactus you’ve passed by before and which one is new. Also… lizards. They’re everywhere. I want them to stop trying to break into my bathroom. And the snakes. They’re coming down from the mountains because of the drought, so we’ve been seeing a lot. Thankfully no rattle snakes. I still remember someone telling me when I was a little girl that rattle snakes would bit their tales and make themselves into a little hoop and roll down the mountains for water. I told Sister McCloskey about it and she died laughing. Perils of growing up in southern Pennsylvania. Sister Finau almost believed me, too! It’s like the mountain sheep having two legs shorter than the other, mom. :)
 
Wednesday we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. I was excited to spend some time in Mint Canyon with Sister Johnson – it was great being companions again! Out day was booked with appointments, and we saw so many little miracles. We met with Marisse, who is from Poland, and talked about faith and committment. She’s what we call an “eterna-gator,” or someone who has been investigating the church forever. I learned a lot from her, and was really thankful to be able to use my two Polish phrases: czecz (hello) and kocham cie (I love you). She was tickled to find out that not only did I grow up with a lot of Polish people, but also that there were Polish members of the church. Proof that the Gospel is going to “every nation, kindred, tongue and people”!
 
We also stopped by to see a less-active sister, which was a real treat. She’s pretty lonely, so it was good to talk with her and spend some time teaching her about family history and the temple. I am so thankful for the stories of the members here in California – all of them have come so far and made such changes in their lives, and each has a unique and important story that they carry with them.
 
Friday turned out to be a huge blessing – we were able to teach two lessons, and find one new investigator! Our new investigator, Valencia, is so prepared. She’s been looking for a church family, and hasn’t found the right fit. She is so sweet. She’s a retired history teacher, and really loves working with the youth. We had a great lesson on the Restoration with her, and when she came to Church on Sunday, she really seemed to enjoy it. What made it better was that Bishop Haycock’s daughter, Riley, spoke, and that really caught Valencia’s attention. I guess I had lately been not appreciating the youth involvement in the Church, so it was good to see it through her eyes for a little while. I am excited for our lesson on Thursday, especially since we are planning on bringing Riley (she’s preparing for a mission, so we’re going to be stealing her often).
 
Saturday we had Mormon Helping Hands. It was pretty fun – we got to help repaint an elementary school’s playground. It was the funniest moment, however, to see a bunch of Mormons who have never tagged/graffitied in their life trying to figure out how to work spray paint cans and get it in straight lines on pavement. We had a lot of fun as a ward, laughing and working hard. I got adopted by the Primary girls, who had me running in ten different directions all day long. It was really good to get out and work hard to serve someone else. I loved little Kierstin’s explanation of how the kids would look on Monday when they saw their playground all prettied up: “Wait! What happened! Did those Mormons come do this?!” Kierstin is in kindergarden, mind you, and became a painting pro within a few minutes of us showing up to help out.
 
Last night there was a stake fireside about the Book of Mormon with BYU professor Dan C. Peterson. A lot of it went over the stake’s head honestly (mine included) – proof that most of us have been out of school for a while! I can’t believe that today I hit eight months as a missionary. Time flies so fast, and it’s hard to keep up. I still have a lot I want to accomplish, so I plan on making these next ten months count. The proof I’ve been out for a while? I’m exhausted and my clothes are wearing thin, but that makes it all the more enjoyable. Missionary life is kind of the best thing ever.
 
Transfers are next month, and I know it’s going to be crazy. Both the elders in our ward will be leaving – Hudson for Brazil, and Smith for home, so we will have two elders come into the area having no idea what’s going on. I am hoping that Sister Finau and I stay together another transfer, but who knows? Well, aside from President and the Lord, anyhow.
 
I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Please know that I pray for you and am thinking about you often (but not too often, I’m too busy working!).
 
Love,

Sister Redner

 
Picture 1 – Coconut personified.
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Picture 2 – We find lots of lizards. Not a fan.
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Picture 3 – Shopping Cart Recovery. It’s a real thing.
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