Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

That has been the motto for Sister Finau and I the past two weeks. Life has been nuts! Biggest news first…
Both of us are being transferred out of Solemint, the area is being combined, and it is being made into an elders area. We were totally surprised when transfer calls came in. Since Elder Smith/Sniff flies home on Wednesday, and Elder Hudson leaves tonight for Brazil, we figured one of us would stay in the area with a new companion and cover the entire ward. Surprise, surprise! It’s been crazy trying to get everything together and combined for the new elders coming in. Bishop Haycock broke the news in ward council, and then Brother Kelemen (second counselor) announced it in sacrament meeting yesterday. It was chaos for the rest of the day. We were each asked to get up and speak for a few minutes, and I thought I was doing great… until I glanced at my Primary girls. Then I about cried. It’s incredible how close you become to those you serve. We stopped by and visited a few families yesterday to say goodbye, and will drop by a few more tonight. Saying goodbye to members and investigators is the worst!!
It was such a blessing to talk to my family on Mother’s day! Our Mother’s day was pretty laid back. We went to Bishop’s house for breakfast (yay for real crepes! He seemed proud of me for eating it properly – nutella and powdered sugar on top) and Sister Finau skyped her family. We bought Sister Haycock this ridiculously huge Mother’s day card and taped a picture of us in it. It made her laugh, which is all that matters. We also made a million and a half scones and brought them. We went to church, where every thing was mom-themed and we got roughly a hundred comments on how our missions were teaching us to be better moms and wives, which made me laugh, and the young men gave us roses. I love the Solemint ward! After church we were ordered to return to the Haycock’s for dinner, and I was able to talk with both mom and dad while on the front porch. It was a gorgeous day, so it was pretty perfect! I’m so glad I got to catch up on the homefront.
We got Sister Finau’s tooth kind of taken care of – she will have to have a root canal on Friday, and we were out of commission most of the week. She’s a trooper though, because we were able to tough it out through zone conference and a session at the temple, both of which were huge blessings.
Because we missed zone conference with our zone in Santa Clarita, we drove down to Canoga Park for theirs on Tuesday. It was weird not being with our zone (Canoga Park has changed a LOT since I was there), but it was nice to be able to catch up with the missionaries I know down there. Elder Chandler (still ZL) about had a heart attack because he saw us walk into the building. I also got to see Sister Ha, our Korean temple square sister, before she flew back to Salt Lake, and talk with Sister Park, Sister Cox and Sister McNeil for a little bit. I didn’t realize till then how involved I was in both the Korean and deaf work down in the Valley until we were all chatting about the challenges and triumphs they’ve been facing lately. I am so proud of all of them for all the work they do. I told Sister Cox I was proud of her, and she just about cried and gave me the biggest hug. I realized that as missionaries, we forget to comfort, praise, and support each other as often as possible, and how much we all need it.
Zone conference was pretty awesome, we learned a TON from President Hall and from Sister Hall. Basically, it all revolved around teaching more simply in order to teach more effectively. Generally, in this mission, lessons are around an hour to an hour and a half long – and investigators weren’t getting as much out of those lessons as they could. President’s training revolved around not only shortening our lessons, but making them more effective and useful. He taught the Restoration in half an hour to the understanding of the “investigator” (a mashup of Elder Nelson, Sister McNeil and Sister Finau). It’s sounds easy, but it’s actually pretty challenging.
We were able to put it to use when we had our lesson with Valencia this week. We taught the Book of Mormon in thirty minutes, and we all learned a lot. She is such an incredible lady, and I’m sad to leave her. She understands so much, and is so honest and open with us. We have seen so many amazing things happen from our lessons and conversations. Rarely will someone tell us, “oh, I understand now why we need the Book of Mormon at this time in the world…” Yeah, Valencia’s got it. I’m so happy for her to continue working with the new elders and the ward members here in Solemint!
On Wednesday we were able to go to the temple for Sister Finau’s birthday, which was a huge blessing and a real treat. The elders went as well, which made it even better. I was so glad we were able to do a session with them before they go home/leave for Brazil. I’m going to miss them so much. We drove out with Portia, who has been the biggest example to me here in this area. She had a baby on Friday, just two days after we went to the temple. She’s incredible. I loved talking with her on the way up and back from the temple (talk about time to chat – three hours of traffic!!!), she has such an amazing love for people, and feels the spirit so strongly.
Though it was super awkward, I got asked three times if I was waiting for my husband. And then I realized they were referring to one of our elders. The perils of not wearing your badge… But the upside is that I got to see Brother and Sister Lamb from the Chatsworth ward! I saw Bro. Lamb right as we walked in, and met Sis. Lamb in the dressing room. She caught me and gave me the biggest hug and told me sternly (which is a rarity for her, she’s so sweet and gentle and happy) that I needed to take care of myself, drink lots of water, and stay out of the sun. What makes it funny is that Brother Lamb was the Nauvoo, IL mission president, so she knows that the first two are entirely possible, but that last one not so much. I promised to wear sunscreen though, and she thought that was alright. I love them!
We were adventurers this week (okay, I was an adventurer) and had pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, with Portia and her stepdaughter Sara. We had a ton of fun, but I think Jonmichael enjoyed it the most. He was taking turns eating out of my bowl and his mom’s the entire time we were at dinner. Pho is Sister Finau’s favorite food, so she was off in her own little world with Sara enjoying her pho while Portia and I were fumbling along with our chopsticks. Story of my life on the mission, fumbling with chopsticks. ;)
The weather is steadily becoming less and less conducive to my happiness, unfortunately. The other day it hit 104 degrees in the shade! I think I drink the most water in the mission, I’m downing it like I’m dying in the desert (oh wait, I am…). Luckily the wildfires in California are further south than our mission, and the fire teams are really on top of things. What makes everything worse is the wind – hot, dry, and really miserable. But, you live and you live, right? I just up my water intake and sunscreen application, and we break at the hottest parts of the day for lunch. We end up eating dinner around 8 o’clock (don’t worry, we pack snacks) so we can make the most of the daylight hours while out talking to people.
We have killed more spiders in our apartment this week than ever before. And not little ones either! I usually forget we live in the canyons and that it is kinda-sorta a desert until we find black widows and giant red spiders in our apartment and have to watch out for rattlesnakes. Lizards are okay though. I’ll keep them.
Fun fact – I got mistaken for a deaf person in Walmart this week, because I was signing with Sister Finau. Winner!
Other quick things that happened:
-Gracie and I made fairy houses.
-Sister Finau and I became pro smoothie makers.
-President Hall and I bonded over Canada (yeah, I was confused too).
-we got lost in the valley. Twice.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how I teach, and what I can change to become a better teacher. I realized that the most important thing we teach as missionaries is the atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything in the gospel is based upon that foundation. I’ve been focusing on trying to teach the atonement in a better manner, so that it’s easier to understand, so that everything else makes more sense. Brother Haub gave us a talk that really helped me figure it out called, “The Very Root of Christian Doctrine” by Thomas B. Griffith. I would highly recommend it! Here’s the link:
Madeleine also sent me a pretty epic talk from a devotional given at BYU-I when it was still Ricks called “The Restoration of the Church, Why Now?” by Hyrum W. Smith. I figured I would share an excerpt that really made me think from it, especially for my missionary friends and for the youth that may or may not read my emails. :)

“…Brothers and sisters, I would like to suggest to you today that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in 1820 because that’s the only time it could have survived. There is a more pointed question that needs to be asked. Why were you born when you were born? Why weren’t you born in 911, or 1215? Is it because some computer in the cosmos blipped and you came out now? I don’t buy that. I believe you were born in this dispensation, with the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today, because you were somebody before you got here. If you had any idea of who you were before you got here, the hair would stand up on the back of your neck. Joseph Smith said on one occasion, “If I were to tell you who I am, you’d slay me for blasphemy.” Wisely never told anybody who he was, but he knew.

On one occasion, President McKay, president of the Church, several years before his death, on a Sunday evening, didn’t have anything to do, so he took his wife, said “Let’s go to a fireside.” They went down to a stake center. There were lots of cars in the parking lot so he walks in and their stake president was speaking to a group of young people your age. Eight hundred of them. President McKay and his wife walked in. The stake president about swallowed his tie. Walked down to about the eighth row. He said, “Don’t get excited. I want to hear what you have to say.” The president continued with his talk. About halfway through his talk, he stopped and said, “You know, young people, I feel impressed to tell you that before the world was, before the world was, in that war in heaven, each of you in this room served as captains and generals in the Lord’s army.” And then he went on with his talk. It had nothing to do with what he was talking about. As he finished his talk, he looked down at President McKay and noticed President McKay was drilling him with his eyes. His heart stopped. He sat down and thought, “Boy, what have I said?” The closing prayer ended. He jumped up and he ran down to President McKay. Looked up to President McKay – everybody looked up to President McKay, he’s a great big guy – and he said, “You know, President McKay, I got a little carried away in my talk tonight. Did I say anything that was inappropriate?” He said, “No, you didn’t say anything that was inappropriate, you were just inaccurate.” “Well, what did I say?” He said, “There were no captains here tonight. They were all generals.” And he said, “Don’t you ever forget it.” And he turned around and walked out.”

I know we can’t forget it here in CA-SFER, not when at every transfer meeting we stand and sing “Called to Serve” as the new missionaries enter the meeting, led by President and Sister Hall.

I’m really excited for transfers – I can’t wait to see where I am assigned, and who I will be able to work with. One of the most rewarding parts of missionary work that isn’t related to teaching and investigators is working with and learning from other missionaries here in the Great California San Fernando Mission. I’ve learned so much, and made some life-long friends here, and I’m so thankful for that.

Love you lots!
Sister Red
Picture 2 – Jonmichael, our pho pro.
Picture 3 – Sister Finau teaching the Haycock kids how to play the uke.
Picture 4 – Sister Finau and I at the LA temple.
Picture 5 – Us with Portia!
Picture 6 – Sister Finau and I with “Our” elders, Smith and Hudson.
Picture 8 – Zieglers!
Picture 10 – Riley, our third companion!
Picture 11 – Haycock family. Favorites!

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