Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Canada Day (July 1) and Fourth of July!

Happy Canada Day and 4th of July to you as well! Transfers are this week. Sister Christensen and I are staying in Presque Isle. Wahoo! That means we will be in the States for the 4th. Had I been transferred I would have missed both national holidays. At least I get one! :)
So many mission calls! Crazy stuff! Next transfer (in August) we will get 24 new missionaries. The mission is basically being white washed in the next few transfers.

I love Our Search for Happiness, too. The gospel just makes sense. I feel that every time I study the Restoration. I always love the line in the section "Pray to Know" that says, "This message of the Restoration is either true or it is not." It reminds me of the talk from this last General Conference about Joseph Smith. Either he was a prophet or he was crazy. It's always interesting to me when we talk to people who try to walk this middle ground and sit on the fence about everything, who say they believe that Jesus was a good man and teacher but nothing more. Obviously they don't understand what He taught. He is either the Son of God or he blasphemed before God. There is black and white, right and wrong. There is no in between. The Holy Ghost teaches us the truth.

This week I was studying in PMG Chapter 12 about preparing people for baptism and what it means to take upon ourselves the name of Christ. I read Mosiah 4 and 5. I never realized how clearly King Benjamin was teaching about the baptismal covenant in his address to his people. He quotes parts of the sacrament prayers in some verses! Taking upon ourselves the name of Christ is to do as He would do--serve and lift the poor and afflicted, give freely as He did. Powerful chapters in the Book of Mormon. Take some time to study them this week. :) 

Glad to hear work is going well. We had a lesson yesterday about the Millenium in gospel principles. I'm looking forward to doing more family history and temple work after my mission! 

Love you! Have a great week!

Sister Maren Renda

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Love Is Always in Season

"The best way in the world to show our love for our neighbor is to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, of which he has given us an absolute knowledge concerning its divinity." -President Heber J. Grant

"True Christianity is love in action. There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show an unselfish love for your fellow men. This is the spirit of missionary work." -President David O. McKay

"What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help buy have a concern for the welfare of others....A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others." -President Howard W. Hunter

"Friends, especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world...Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. So if love is to be our watchword, as it must be, then by the word of Him who is love personified, we must forsake transgression and any hint of advocacy for it in others." -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Holland's talk from this last General Conference has been on my mind a lot this past week. Missionary work is full of ups and downs. Sometimes your heart just hurts and feels heavy because people's hearts are hard and they don't want to change or listen or humble themselves. In spite of that, I take comfort in knowing that Christ loves me. He loves them, and because He loves them, I must love them as well. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm grateful that the Lord gives me an opportunity to learn and try with each day. Only the restored gospel of Jesus Christ--His love--has the power to heal and change us, and thus change the world that we live in!

Brandy and Tiana are doing well! Tiana is plowing through the Book of Mormon and told us that she believes it is from God. Her friend, Kristina, joined us for a lesson last night. Kristina has been coming to church with us for a long time, but hasn't acted on anything yet. She likes church, though! They will be good company for each other along their paths of discovering the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord is aware of each of us, and that is another evidence to me of that.

Brandy came to church again yesterday. We had a linger longer after church. We sat down with her and another family to eat, and within a matter of a minute or so, Brandy said, "I'm going to go sit by that lady over there, She's all alone." She stood up, took her plate and spent the rest of the linger longer talking to this older sister. She's an amazing girl and is already living the covenants she will make in a few weeks at baptism.

Things are moving forward in Presque Isle. The Lord has many things to teach each of us, if only we humble ourselves enough to let Him.

Love is always in season, and Christ is the reason!

Have a great week!

Love, Sister Renda

Monday, June 16, 2014

God is Awesome!

This past week, Elder Snow, the Seventy that is head of the Church History Department, visited our mission. We had a zone conference in Moncton, New Brunswick during which he and his wife spoke. The drive to Moncton from Presque Isle is about four hours plus an hour due to the time change. We stayed the night in Houlton, Maine the night before the conference, which would take an hour off of our travel time. Unfortunately we woke up the next morning and Sister Christensen realized that she left her passport in Presque Isle. We drove back to Presque Isle to pick it up and drove to Moncton. We arrived an hour into the meeting, but we made it, thank goodness! We arrived just in time for Elder Snow to begin his training. He and his wife spoke about the lessons we can learn as missionaries and how our missions will bless our lives. It was another reminder to me from the Lord as to why He asked me to serve a mission. I'm here to convert myself. No doubt about that.

A return missionary just moved into the Caribou Ward. Her name is Sister Clark. She is originally from Washington, but most recently moved from Utah. She is a nurse and will be living in the area for a brief time to work at the hospital in Presque Isle. She doesn't know exactly why she is here, other than that the Lord told her she needed to move here. She is an incredible example to me of member missionary work. She is seeking to find those that the Lord is preparing to receive the gospel and to be an instrument in His hands in any way she can.

Last week, Sister Clark gave us a referral for a girl named Brandy that she works with at the hospital. She is so prepared to receive the restored gospel! She has many questions about God and religion. After our first lesson, we invited her to pray every day until we met with her again. At the next lesson we talked to her about her experience of praying and she said, "It felt so good. I feel like someone was there, listening to me." We invited her to be baptized and she came to church Sunday. She is so excited to be baptized!

We also met a girl named Tiana this week. She is a young single mom. She shared with us about being angry with God for a long time over things that have happened to her. Recently, she has turned back to Him for help and strength. Then we knocked on her door. Her best friend, Kristina, comes to church with us every week. We taught Tiana the message of the Restoration and she, too, accepted a baptismal invitation! She came to church on Sunday with her cute baby named Darius and sat by Kristina during the meetings.

Sam also came to church yesterday. We are meeting with him and his friend who is a member tonight again. He continues to read the Book of Mormon. The Spirit is always so powerful in his lessons.

During our first lesson with Brandy, she told us about going to a church one Sunday and the sermon was about how "God is awesome." She told us, "I don't understand why God is awesome." We testified of His love and plan for us as His children. After this past week, my testimony has been strengthened. God is awesome!

My soap box for the week is this: Get involved in missionary work! The Lord is preparing many of His children to receive His restored gospel. As members, we have a responsibility to find them! Pray and look for those opportunities each day to open your mouth and invite others to learn more. It's the best feeling in the world to share the truths that we love with others. We are the Lord's hands to hasten His work. Members and missionaries alike need to work together. It's the only way that His work will advance. You can trust in the Lord's promises to guide you and give you the words to speak. Put aside fear and doubt and just do it. You won't regret it. This is the Lord's work!

Elder Ballard's talk from last General Conference gives some great advice about getting involved in missionary work:
Read or listen to it and then think about ways that you can apply what he teaches. The blessings will flow if we are obedient.

I'll get off my soap box now. Have a great week!

Sister Renda

Christ is the Reason.

The Lord is My Light

Hey Mom!

I'm glad David's graduation went well this week and that he is off to camp for the summer. Crazy. Do you feel like more of an empty nester now? Also, I'm glad to hear that Dad will be getting his cross breeze with the screen doors. Haha. It's started to warm up more this week. We hit the high 80s with humidity yesterday. We opened the windows in our apartment at some point last week or the week before and made a comment about cross breezes. Guess I am my father's daughter. I'm excited to hear about Jacob and Kelsey's mission calls! It's crazy to me that they are that old. No better time to serve than now.

This past week, we helped an older couple in Presque Isle with their yard work. Their names are Dee and Bill. While we were there, Dee told us that Bill's 83rd birthday was the next day and we arranged to drop in the next day to surprise him with a cake. The Elders from Woodstock were with us that day for visits and so all four of us showed up to wish Bill a happy birthday and eat some cake with him. Bill has a great sense of humor. He's always cracking jokes that remind me of Papa and Dad. While we were working in the yard, he asked me, "What do you call a cow that's born without legs?" Quick to the punch line, I said, "Ground beef!" He was surprised that I knew the joke and kept teasing me the rest of the day about ruining his joke. We gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon and then visited again later in the week to find that Bill has started reading it. We're going back again this week to teach them more. They are a funny couple and we sure enjoy their company.

Monday night, we stopped by a  woman's home. Her name is Kimmy Bailey, but she goes by Mama Bailey. Her knees are in bad shape and she gets around in a motorized wheelchair. She was so happy to have us pop by and told us all about the missionaries she has met over the years and all that they have done for her. She misses reading the scriptures with others, so we are planning to stop back again this week to read from the Book of Mormon with her. She loves the Savior so much and it's sad that her health keeps her from coming to church. 

The Murchisons are doing well. Rachel is hilarious! We taught them about family home evening this week and we brought donuts and a mini tree to share the story of the tree of life with them. They were watching a neighbor's little girl that night who is about four years old and she loved the donuts. After her first bite, she kept asking for more and more. Rachel would ask her, "Is that love of God good?" I am so excited for the many good things ahead for this amazing family. 

We also met with David and Gina again last week. I don't know if I have told you much about them. David was injured while serving in Afghanistan and Gina is a gem, just an elect lady. They have a four year old named Abigail who has the biggest heart. David has been reading the Book of Mormon, but has a hard time focusing due to medication he is taking for his knee. Gina has some concerns, but as of last week she hadn't even opened the Book of Mormon. Life has been crazy for them, but I know that if they make the effort each day to read the Book of Mormon that they will come to know it is true! We read Alma 32 with Gina last week and she told us she would start to read it. It's been slow going with them, but we are not giving up on them. I have felt the Lord's love for them SO powerfully. Persistence is key. 

The other person we are teaching right now that has good promise is Sam. He is a member's friend that we happened to meet knocking right after his friend had been telling him about the Book of Mormon and her religion. Chance? Nope! Our lesson with him and his friend last week was amazing. The Spirit is always so strong. It's just a matter of him recognizing it. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and really wants to come to church but hasn't been able to yet due to work. Fingers crossed for this Sunday.

Good things are happening. The Book of Mormon is such a powerful tool in our lives to change our hearts and bring the Spirit into our lives. I know that it is true. Keep reading it every day. My favorite scriptures today are 3 Nephi 9:13-22. The Savior lives and loves us. He has the power to heal us. We just need to trust Him. Myself included. :)

Have a great week! Love you!

Sister Renda


Sunday, June 8, 2014

All Canada Conference ( even though we are not in Canada, technically)

 Hi everyone,

We had stake conference this weekend. Sunday was broadcast from Fredericton, New Brunswick and from Salt Lake. A portion of the meeting was an area wide broadcast to all of Canada. Funny, we don't even live in Canada. Oh well. The Saints here are used to being lumped in with Canada. :) Elder Holland, Elder Perkins, Sister Burton, and President Eyring spoke in the Canada wide broadcast. I particularly enjoyed Elder Holland's talk about Matthew 11:28-30. He spoke about how the Savior has the power to heal us, if we just let Him. He also spoke about how we need to be healers in the areas that we live in. President Eyring spoke about our responsibility to invite our families to come unto Christ and how the Lord will prepare a way for that to happen. Sister Burton spoke about how many of the troubles facing sisters across the world comes from not remembering our divine identity as daughters of our Heavenly Father. As I listened to her talk, I realized that remembering who I am will lead me to have greater faith and trust in the Savior. Elder Perkins addressed the youth about standing on guard for our morals and standards. He focused his remarks on a few of the standards in the FTSOY(For the Strength of Youth) pamphlet. He warned us to stand on guard for appropriate use of media and technology, for work and self-reliance, for service, and for faith. 

Sister Christensen and I have been focusing on using the Book of Mormon more in our teaching and helping our investigators gain a testimony of it. This is the tool that the Lord has given us to gather scattered Israel. Thanks for always reading the Book of Mormon with us as kids. I never realized how important that daily habit was, but it laid a foundation for the rest of my life. We visited a family  last week. They are a family that a member referred us to the week before. We read with them from the Book of Mormon and promised them that if they read it together each day that they would feel greater peace in their lives. We are going back on Tuesday, and I am excited to see how they are doing.

I hope you have a great week! I love you! Keep looking for opportunities to be the Lord's hands.
Sister Renda