Shotguns and Road Signs

26 January, 2015

Transfer calls are in – I’ll be staying in Studio City for the last six weeks of my mission, and Sister Cox is transferring out. We’re betting she’ll be headed back to the deaf work in West Hills, but we’ll know for sure tomorrow. It’s crazy how fast these two transfers have gone by.

This week was a little slower than normal. I think everyone has been sick – our elders, our investigators, our members, half the people on the streets. Luckily, Sister Cox is quite the little germophobe and has an infinite supply of hand sanitizer. :)

We were able to go on exchanges this week wtih the Sister Training Leaders – SIster Cox went with Sister Anderson to Sylmar, while Sister Wensel and I stayed here in Studio City. It was a pretty quiet exchange, as my knee was acting up, and Sister Wensel has been dealing with some back issues. All of our investigators we had appointments with that day flaked on us, leaving us do to some “paperwork contacting” – tracking down people we need information on for the ward council. It was fun to be able to talk and get to know each other. She was Sister Finau’s MTC companion, so I’d heard a lot about her from Finau, but never had the chance to really talk to her myself. It was cool.

I realized this week how the Lord really answers prayers through members for me on my mission. It always seems that a member shares an experience or a thought that really helps me to navigate what I’m going through. We had dinner with a single mom in our ward and two of her three kids, who both Sister Cox and I just adore. After dinner, the kids went off to play in another room, leaving us to talk with their mom. She’s such an example to me – she’s been though so much, and has struggled with a lot of things that most people don’t have to deal with, yet she keeps working hard to follow the Lord. I love listening to her talk about her mission in Florida, especially (I just love hearing people talk about their missions in general). She shared with us a few thoughts about following the Spirit as missionaries when everything else seem sto be going wrong. The way she phrased it really hit me – “You need to let the Lord ride shotgun.”

Sometimes we forget that this isn’t ‘our area’ or ‘our work.’ It’s Heavenly Father’s work, he’s just letting us be in on the action. He needs to be in charge for it all to be successful. Yeah, we still need to make decisions, but ultimately, He needs to be giving us the go-ahead. It’s not as easy to really learn that as I thought at the beginning of my mission, but I’m getting there.

It’s funny, I’ve been out 17 months on Wednesday, and I just barely feel like I know how to be a missionary. It’s pretty humbling to know that the Lord has just been waiting for me to figure it out so that I can really be an instrument in His hand, not just here in California, but for the rest of my life. I’ve learned a lot about how He communicates with me. It’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s a little bit of a good old “come to Jesus” and a lot of patience on His part as I try to figure out what I’m doing with my area/companion/life. When I’m being a bit of an idiot, he sends a scripture my way that is meant to chasten, and help me readjust my sights and sails. When I’m down, He sends me a friend to remind me that everything is going to be okay. When I’m confused, He sends me a member to give me clarity. And through it all, He helps me to follow the promptings of the Spirit, which is the ultimate comfort.

It’s funny, I’ve had a lot of questions that have been answered in unique ways. I wasn’t sure about the summer semester at SVU, and we drive past a “Buena Vista Street” every other day. I feel like there are a lot of answers to my prayers that come in the form of road signs, which keeps me laughing. As if things couldn’t get clearer!

I am really excited to finish up my mission in Studio City. It’s been tough, especially since when I got here, the area was really slow. We had two investigators, and now we have nine. We are teaching more than I ever have on my mission, and we’re making a huge amount of progress in an incredibly short amount of time. It’s a huge blessing, and I’m so thankful to be a part of the work here.

DSCF9917

My bestest bud, Isabelle

And I’m really excited to spend another transfer with my best bud, Isabelle. She might just have to come home with me . She’s one of the primary kids in the ward who I just adore. We sit behind her family pretty much every Sunday, and she always shows me what she’s drawn or colored throughout the week. Her dad, Isaac, is in the bishopric and sits on the stand, so when her mom, Nueki, has to leave the meeting to take care of one of her brothers, she always comes and sits with us. They are one of my favorite families in the ward – they have taught me so much just by their example. They really exemplify Christ-like love: they are always wiling to go help someone, to reach out, and to go above and beyond what is asked of them, despite tough circumstances, three little kids, and busy schedules. Nueki taught Relief Society yesterday, which was based on Elder Lynn G. Robbins’ most recent General Conference address, “Which Way Do You Face?”

I love how clearly Nueki teaches, and also her beautiful accent. She and Isaac are from Ghana (a familiar culture for me, so I love them even more for it), and she always talks so beautifully and simply, and teaches in a way that really drives home the point. She talked about making sacrifices to become better, and to focus ourselves truly on God’s plan for us, rather than getting distracted by things that can keep us from progression. She talked about when her family joined the church, they had to sacrifice some cultural things that weren’t in line with the standards of the Gospel, and how in doing so, they were able to really strengthen their familial relationship, and their relationship with Christ. That idea of having to sacrifice some aspects of culture is something I’ve become really well-acquainted with. We work with so many people from other countries, who have had to, or are working on, putting aside things that aren’t in harmony with the Gospel, but are something that they’ve grown up with. It’s tough for most people, but you see how much the Lord blesses them as they strive to do so. I’m so grateful for the examples of the people I serve with, especially people like Isaac and Nueki (and their three adorable kids, Isabelle, Kobina, and Ivan). They make my mission richer and more meaningful.

Gotta run, but I love you! Sister Cox needs help packing up for transfers tomorrow.

Love,

Sister Redner

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