June 30, 2014
The alternate title to this email is “Moses Code.” Sister Flake was trying to convince me that she could survive on an island in an emergency because she know’s ‘Moses Code’…. also know as Morse Code. The joys of continual and perpetual mis-communication in our companionship.
In other news, transfer calls came in on Saturday, and we’re both staying in Mission Hills together for another transfer! The bad news is that the two elders areas are being consolidated and Elder Benjamin is headed out, and Elder Hawker is homebound in t-minus 24 hours. Elder Lee and Elder Holdaway are as happy as can be, knowing they are companions. It’s going to be a fun transfer ahead, that’s for sure.
We had the opportunity to go to the temple on Wednesday with the English/ASL/Korean half of the mission, which was a huge blessing. Unfortunately, we let our elders take the lead in finding us a ride to Los Angeles and we ended up in a limo. I kid you not. Elders. They always try to be more creative than necessary. I had just been hoping for a mini-van with air conditioning. We had fun, stuck in traffic, however, with the lot of us laughing and trying to stay awake. And pestering Elder Lee to tell us his life story.
My favorite thing about going to the temple as a mission is feeling the strength of the Spirit with over 140 missionaries gathered together. It’s like a giant family reunion – you get to see people you haven’t seen in forever, who you love and miss working with on a regular basis. I get to see all my ‘brothers’ who have been transferred, which always makes my day. And there’s nothing better than walking into a room with a bunch of elders and sisters talking quietly and greeting one another with handshakes and hugs. I imagine that heaven will be a little like temple day for the missionaries.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about how grateful I am to be serving in the US. It’s a unique challenge to share the gospel in your own language, to the people in your own country. And the blessing is that we get to work with so many different people from different walks of life. While we sang the national anthem yesterday in Sacrament meeting, it hit me how thankful I am to be serving in the United States. There’s this special sense of satisfaction and completion knowing you’re sharing the gospel with your countrymen. And I get to serve in the Promised Land! :) The manifesto, “in God We Trust” has a new and lasting meaning for me as I’ve served a mission here in California. You find that the world is increasingly dangerous and falling away from traditional religious values, whether they be Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. We are surrounded by immorality and addictions, and yet we find those people while we’re out contacting who are stalwart in their faith, trusting in God that kinder days are ahead. In a moment, when you meet those people, it transforms from ‘in God we trust’ to “in God we still trust.’ Until we return to Him, in God we still trust.
We had a lesson with one of our investigators, Mary, this week. We read 3 Nephi 11 with her, and were able to talk about the experience that the people had in seeing Christ in person, each having the opportunity to go and feel the nail prints in his hands and feet. I asked her after we read what she would do with 10 seconds with the Savior, if she had 10 seconds to speak with Jesus Christ. The most powerful verses in the chapter are verses 13-15:
“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.”
I love fact that the Savior took the time not only to visit some of the people, but to have a tender, intimate moment with each of the people present, so that they could gain an individual witness of who He was and what He had done for them. It’s such a reminder of how the Savior ministers individually to us through the Atonement in He made in Gethsemane, and is a dear reflection of His mortal ministry – finding the individual in the multitude and showing them such love and tenderness. He healed more than frail bodies and sick people – He healed minds, hearts, and souls. In Institute a few years back, Bishop Moss asked us where we would be in the line, waiting for that moment with the Savior. Would we be the first person in line? Somewhere in the middle? Or would we be that person who was running back to the village to gather all who had stayed behind, to help them to get to the Savior, no matter what else happened? I’d like to think that as a missionary, I’m that runner, going as fast as I can and searching for the people who might not have heard the news yet, about the Savior and what He did. It’s honestly the best place in line to be, because when I’m through, when I can find no more, I can stand in front of the Savior and simply thank him for the opportunities He has given me, the love He has shown, and the Atonement that He made that. We all need that moment, that 10 seconds, with the Savior. We need that quiet stillness and that love that is so focused and so perfect that it can do anything.
Sister Flake and I got to go visit the Casillas family this week again. I love them. I love walking to their apartment, talking with everyone. The people in that area trust us, and even though I know it’s a “sketchy” part of town, and that it’s not safe at certain times, I love talking to the people there because they know we love them. They want to talk to us, they want to hear what we have to say because they know we want to hear what they have to say. We bring candy with us when we go to that part of town, because the children there rarely get sweets and are shown any sort of affection – their parents are busy working 2-3 jobs, and their siblings are working too. I love making them happy. We walked into the apartment complex, which is really open around a center courtyard. All of the kids know us by now, and come to the door to give us hugs and high fives. After we had passed out some candy (they all share so wonderfully) and taught a lesson, we were headed out. Amy called out to us and yelled, “bye, church!” It was the cutest thing. I love how the kids know why we’re there. One of the little girls who speaks absolutely no English (her parents just moved from India) saw me giving the girls hugs and ran up to us, pulling on our hands and reaching out for a hug. I offered her a piece of licorice and she shook her head – all she wanted was a hug.
All anybody really needs around here is a little love, and someone to listen to them. I’m thankful to be able to serve them and love them for 18 months.
Picture 1 – three of my favorites: Elder Pisa, Elder Hansen, and Elder Magele.
Picture 2 – they were a little too excited for 7am.
Picture 3 – Stereotypical Sister Redner shot. :)
Picture 4 – Sister Flake and I outside the temple.
Picture 5 – Love these three.
Picture 6 – Elder McCauley and Elder Chapman!
Picture 7 – Companions. :)
Disclaimer: wordpress has changed the formatting for the pictures and I have not figured out how to order them correctly…sorry! Momma Kelley