December 22, 2014

This week was a little nuts, as per usual the week of transfers. We are so excited to have elders in our ward again! And I totally called it – I had a feeling Elder Mathews was going to be released as a zone leader and be called as a trainer to whitewash here in Studio City. Elder Mathews and I worked together in Granada Hills and Canoga Park, and he’s a super solid elder. And we decided he’s the long lost relative of the Studio City Sunday school president – they look like brothers and have exactly the same laugh. It was a little strange to see in ward council.  It’s always fun have the other half of a ward be whitewashed (two new missionaries to the area), because inevitably the other companionship assigned to the ward ends up having two new companions – constant phone calls asking where  things are, who is who, how to do this or that… it’s pretty fun. And it’s even better when one is a new missionary, because you’re reminded of when you were new, and it gets everyone fired up again to work.

Poor Elder Jacobson didn’t know what hit him when he came to California… he didn’t know he’d have three companions, two of whom were sisters!!  It was a bit crazy because the new missionaries flying in from Provo got delayed two or three times, and ended up flying into San Francisco, stayed the night, and then flew into Burbank (the rest of us flying straight from Salt Lake into Burbank in one flight on a rickety little plane). Needless to say, everyone was super exhausted, and our elders didn’t get into their area until around 7pm.

For the first time in forever, I didn’t have to go to transfer meeting – instead we got to have lunch with one of the sisters in the ward whom I absolutely adore. She’s incredible, and has the biggest heart. She spoiled us with hot German pancakes and fresh oranges and pears. Sister Walker is one of the sweetest people on the face of the planet, and one of the most humble as well. She had a pretty long run as a singer, and yet doesn’t say much about it, other than she loved performing with her sisters. She puts other people before herself. The prime example is her daughter, Amy, who Sister Cox just idolizes (don’t tell her I said that). Amy is profoundly deaf, as well as blind in one eye, and an incredible gymnast. She made it to the Olympic trials, and would have competed but for an injury. Sister Walker will tell you all about Amy, but never mentions that she was the one who would pound out the rhythms for her daughter to feel so that she could do the floor performances to music, interpreted every practice and meeting, etc. She is just a hero to me. One of those people who does so much without a second thought and doesn’t want any recognition at all. I love Sister Walker! Plus, she and her husband have the funniest stories about interpreting, which I can definitely relate to (i.e. me signing ‘Merry Strange’ for an entire sacrament meeting, and not ‘Merry Christmas’…).

Sister Cox and I have a little too much fun as companions. It’s pretty funny, especially because people don’t quite know what to do with us when we start cracking ‘deaf jokes’ at one another. Both of us have found that in the long run, making jokes and being comfortable with the fact that Sister Cox is deaf really helps other missionaries be at ease. It’s something I noticed with Sister Flake too. A lot of people don’t know what to do when they find out someone is deaf, so if you’re willing to be silly about it, they learn a lot faster that we’re all just human. And Sister Cox is just a master at behind blunt with people about her being deaf. We were in district meeting this week with a bunch of new elders, and she just looks at the new ones and says, “Elders! If I can’t see you, I can’t hear you!”  I’ve never seen elders move so fast so that someone could see them. It was pretty funny. It’s also really fun to be the only sisters in our district with 6 elders. :)

We’re seeing a lot of progress in our ward and in our area, which is a huge blessing. We’ve worked really hard to forge a good, solid relationship with the ward as a whole and with individual members, and it’s really helped us a lot in our area. We found a new investigator, Tony, through a member this week, which was really exciting for us. He’s from Amsterdam, and is so willing to learn and to attend church. It helps that right off the bat, we were able to have members involved to fellowship him. I love seeing our members just embrace our investigators and help them to grow and learn. Missionaries are here to teach, members are here to do the fellow-shipping, the answer of questions, and the social aspect of the work, and they are so crucial.

We were sitting in gospel principles with Jeanine, and she leaned over and whispered, ‘where are all the beards??’ It took me a second to realize she was talking about the normal teachers, both of whom have pretty impressive beards. I think it’s a trend here in California for a lot of members to have big, huge beards. It’s pretty funny, and Sister Cox and I can’t figure it out for the life of us. Was it some sort of bet gone wrong on a ward-wide scale? Or is this just a Mormon trend we didn’t know about? :)

I’m so thankful to be a missionary during Christmas. It is a HUGE blessing to be able to truly focus on the ‘what and the why’ of Christmas, and to help others to find that peace and joy that they’re looking for. I’m thankful also to be able to serve in such a diverse area – it gives me a greater appreciation for what I have, and what I have to offer in the community. We’ve been blessed to see people cross racial and religious divides this Christmas season to just get together and help one another. It has epitomized what Christmas is about – it’s about love,and it’s about Christ. For a few moments each day, because some one was a little kinder than perhaps they would have been, because they smiled at someone who was having a tough day, because they took a moment to say hello, the world has a little more peace this season. I’m so grateful to be part of that on a larger scale, to be sharing that joy and love with everyone that we come in contact with. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about joy, and what joy really is. It’s not that fleeting happiness that a material gift provides, it’s that deep and abiding peace despite circumstances that gives us hope. Joy is rooted in Christ, and in the knowledge that He is eternal. Knowing that, we know that joy is not fleeting. That is a huge gift Heavenly Father has given, and it’s all tied into the greatest gift He has ever given, the gift of His son. That’s what Christmas is all about. That’s what life itself is all about. “Men are that they might have joy.” It’s the truth! We are here to find joy, and help others find it too! That’s why I love being a missionary. It’s all about joy. :)

Merry Christmas!


Sister Redner

PS – I haven’t been called ‘Sister Reindeer’ once this Christmas season! Win!!!

Christmas Sis Cox and me


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