Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adventures on The Rock


My new address is PO Box #1046 Bay Roberts, NL A0A 1G0.

This week was a whirlwind: visits with the Cornerbrook sisters, Zone Conference in St. John's, blueberry picking, a trip to Marystown. All in all, it was a great week.

The Cornerbrook sisters, Sister Aslett (a previous companion in Halifax) and Sister Sharp (Maren's MTC companion), live on the other side of the island and they drove in with a senior missionary couple on Thursday for zone conference the next day. We spent Thursday and Friday evening working with them in our area. It was so fun to work with both of them again. It's fun to see how far we have come since we were in the MTC together. This was the first time serving with Sister Sharp since we were companions in the MTC. It was a blast! I definitely feel like I have made some friends for life. I keep telling Sister Aslett that I will have to visit her in England some day after our missions. :)

Zone Conference was great. The Assistants to the President brought my violin up from the mission home so I could do a musical number, and now I have my violin for the time that I will be on the Rock. It was great to be reunited with my old friend. I hadn't played it since May.

Saturday we took a trip with the Scheels to Marystown, a town about 3 hours from Bay Roberts. There used to be a branch in Marystown, but it closed in 2010. There are a handful of members still there, but most of them are inactive. It makes me sad to see so many lost sheep. A family from Texas, the Wiers, recently moved there for his work, and they have permission to meet together on Sundays with some of the members there for Sacrament meeting. Sometimes they Skype in with us for our Sacrament meeting. We found a couple people on the branch list while we were there and invited them to meet with the Wiers for sacrament. One day there will be a branch there again. I have hopes.

One of the members we visited in Marystown is a lady in her 80s named Sister Taylor. She meets with the Wiers each Sunday. Her testimony is incredible! President Scheel told us that after the branch closed in Marystown that she continued to set aside her tithing until she could pay it to someone again. For three years she did that. When the Wiers moved into town, she gave her inch-thick envelope of tithing to him so he could pay it to the Bay Roberts branch for her. Amazing, right? Even though the Church was no longer there or accessible to her, she stayed strong. She has been a widow for over 15 years now and holds fast to her covenants, knowing that she and her husband will be together again. 

I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve among spiritual giants in the Bay Roberts Branch. The members here are strong. They are few, but they are mighty and they support each other like a family. It's a really neat feeling. Today we picked blueberries with the Scheels and the Youngs, a couple in the branch. Blueberries grow wild here and they are everywhere! Who knew?

Hope you have a great week! Thanks for the letters, prayers, and love. Love you!

Sister Maren Renda

Sister Taylor in Marystown
View in Brigus

Knocking in the rain. :)

Sister Sharp and Sister Aslett at zone conference
Bridge from our blueberry excursion today

Last two are views from our various trips this last week. Newfoundland is beautiful!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Greetings from The Rock (Newfoundland)

What a week! Saying goodbye to my Maine friends and being welcomed in by the Newfies. I didn't arrive in the area until Friday afternoon. I left Presque Isle early Thursday morning. We made a pit stop in Halifax, went to the temple with all of the departing missionaries (that was weird to be there with them, but I am so grateful I got to go to the temple! Don't take the temple for granted if you live close to one. Go as often as you can!), and then worked with the YSA sisters. It was fun to be back in my first area. Totally different experience being there in the summer. On Friday morning, we flew from Halifax to Newfoundland.
 Sister C and I with the Everitts.

Jamie and Delores from Presque Isle

Sister C and I with Brandy with her "Tree of Life" in the background.

Sister Christensen and I at the Halifax Temple

Fun fact about Newfoundland: the time zone here is 30 minutes ahead of Halifax.

 I am serving with Sister Comfort in Bay Roberts. Usual attendance in the branch is around 26-29. We live below Elder and Sister Scheel, a couple from Fruit Heights, UT. Elder Scheel is serving as the branch president. Most of the members are older, but there are a few younger families that moved here from the states. Because the branch covers such a large area, there are a group of saints that join us via Skype for sacrament meeting each Sunday. Once every month or two they make the drive to attend with us in person. There is a priesthood holder in that area that blesses and passes the sacrament to his family and two older sisters while we have the sacrament here. Technology is pretty incredible!

Newfoundland is beautiful! The accent is awesome, and I'm hoping I can pick up on some Newfie phrases before I leave the area. What a culture change from Maine to here. The work is pretty slow going. Lots of knocking, but people are friendly. There is also a set of Elders in the branch: Elder Evanson and Elder Walker. Elder Walker is a greenie from northern Idaho. 

The branch had a BBQ on Saturday and Elder Walker and I, as well as many families that are here visiting from the states, were "screeched in." I am officially an honorary Newfoundlander! Apparently the Newfoundland branches do this to all of the missionaries. Real screeching in involves rum, but we did the Mormon version of screeching. I'll send some pictures. They dressed us up in oil slickers, ate traditional Newfoundland foods, and then had to say a phrase in Newfie. It was pretty hilarious.
Being Screeched in. Newfie!

I am excited for the adventures ahead in Newfoundland with Sister Comfort. She is a powerful missionary and I have a lot to learn from her over the next transfer. I just have a good feeling about being here. Sweet is the peace the gospel brings. I know the Savior lives and loves us and that this is His work!

I love you and hope you have a great week!

Sister Maren Renda

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Transfers! Hello Newfies!

Thank you for the email, Mom. It's what I needed. :) Transfers are this week. Presque Isle is being white washed. Sister Christensen is going to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and I am headed to Bay Roberts, New Foundland. I will be serving with Sister Comfort and we will be co sister training leaders. What a small world that you met one of her friends serving in Utah and now I will be serving with her! I'm excited for a new adventure, but very sad to leave Presque Isle. The ward here is amazing and the field is white, ready for harvest. Sister Laxton will be coming to Presque Isle. She and I keep swapping places and following in each other's footsteps in the mission. She was just serving with Sister Comfort in Bay Roberts and now she is heading here and I am heading there.
Note from Lory: Sister Laxton was Maren's first companion.
Miracles and highlights of the week:
-Brandy went to the temple this weekend! She said it was amazing. I am so happy for her! The ward had a temple trip to Halifax. A family that joined the church last spring was also sealed this weekend. They said they had a powerful experience. It's so exciting to see others receive the blessings of the temple. :)
-A less active family we have been teaching, came to church yesterday!!! They came in after sacrament meeting started and when we saw them sit down, Sister Christensen and I were filled with joy. I am so happy for the progress that they've made. I'm grateful that I will be able to stay in touch with them through Facebook. 
-Sam will be coming to church next week! He has read through Jarom in the Book of Mormon and is excited for his baptism at the end of the month. I'm sad I won't be here to see it happen, but he is ready and prepared for it.
-Sister Christensen and I taught a Primary class yesterday. I love Primary! I understand why Christ taught us that we should be like little children for of such is the kingdom of God. 

I am so grateful for the experiences I have had while serving here. I feel much like Alma at the waters of Mormon in Mosiah 18:30:
"And now it came to pass that all this as done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful  are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea. and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever."

I love you and miss you, too. Have a great week! 

Missionary Maren :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

I've heard a lot about that movie (Heaven is For Real). Usually members tell us about it and tell us that we need to see it because much of it aligns with our doctrine. Pretty interesting! Thanks for sharing what you learned in the scriptures with me, Mom! That's so neat, and I feel the same way. It's crazy how much has changed since I left. So many people getting married. I can't believe that Braden will be back in 7 weeks. Didn't he just leave? I bet Sherrie is so excited to see him again. Yup, I know Liann Bratt from Oakcrest. Her name was French Fry. That's exciting for her!

This week was a week of miracles. I feel so grateful for the blessings and experiences that the Lord has granted me, especially serving here in Presque Isle. We had another baptism this weekend. Actually two baptisms: a child of record and a convert. The convert baptism was a woman who the Elders taught. Her name is Gayle. She had a wonderful experience and is excited to continue learning and growing.

Brandy is awesome! We visited her on Monday night and she spent the whole lesson teaching us what she had learned in the Book of Mormon. She felt prompted to start reading it from the beginning again, and she understood so much more this time! The gift of the Holy Ghost is real! He teaches us truth and helps us to understand the scriptures. The ward is having a temple trip this weekend and she is hoping to go.

Sam, who we have been teaching since May, accepted a baptismal date this week! He has been praying about it for a few weeks and this past Monday, he told us that it feels right and that he wants to be baptized on August 30. WAHOO!!! Sister Christensen and I are so excited for him. It's been amazing to see his progress over the past few months.

Tuesday, we had a change in our plans and decided to stop by a referral we received from a member. We've tried a couple times to contact her, but she was never home. This time, we just happened to catch her at home. She's been talking to her friend about the church, and without us sharing much with her at all, she felt the Spirit really strongly and has a strong desire to learn more about the Church. We're excited to start teaching her.

Saturday, the Lord blessed us with so many tender mercies. It was an ornery day for me, and looking back, it was probably because Satan wanted to keep us from doing what the Lord needed us to do. We were out talking to people on Main Street when someone pulled over and started talking to us. We met him a few weeks ago, and when he saw us walking down the street, he pulled over to tell us about a friend of his that we could contact. It was a reminder that God is mindful of all of us and will provide ways for us to be successful in His work.

Later that night, we went knocking and met a woman from New Jersey who moved up here to give her son a better life. She met missionaries back in the spring when she lived in a different town, but couldn't meet with them because she had to move suddenly. She is an amazing woman considering all that she's experienced in her life. We asked her about her belief about Jesus Christ and she became very emotional. She told us that He is the Son of God, that He put us before Himself, that He suffered so that we could be individuals, and that He is here to help us come to know His Father the way that He knows His Father. It was so powerful. She has a very personal relationship with the Savior and I am so excited for her to receive the restored gospel. Another moment that strengthened my testimony that God answers our prayers and that He will guide us to those who are prepared.

Church yesterday was incredible. One of the recent converts in the ward blessed the sacrament for the first time. His name is Sie and he was baptized in February. I couldn't help but smile and feel so happy the whole meeting. Sie is evidence to me that we cannot judge who is ready for the gospel. He is covered in tattoos and piercings and before he met the missionaries, he didn't believe in God. He took the missionaries challenge to fast and pray, and he got an answer that God is real. His life hasn't been the same since then. He loves the Book of Mormon and isn't afraid to let his faith show. I was so happy for him yesterday.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It has the power to change us! I am so grateful for the humbling opportunity to see the Atonement working in the lives of those around me and in my own life as well. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. The greatest goal in my life is to deepen my love for my Father in Heaven and His Son and for those around me. Love is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as President Monson said last conference.

I love you and hope that you have a great week! 

Sister mare


Brandy was baptized this Saturday. Her confirmation yesterday was so neat. I have no doubt that it came directly from Heavenly Father to her personally. We are excited for everything ahead of her. She will be attending a YSA conference in PEI next month and she is excited to go to the temple. The ward is having a temple trip in a couple weeks. Maybe she'll be able to go!
Sister Christensen and I have had some neat experiences over the past week or two. We've wanted to focus more on others and have been finding small ways to make someone's day. Each time we go out of our way to do that, the Lord places someone in our path that we've met before but lost contact with. Go about doing good and serve those around you! God will help you find those that are prepared as you do! The section in Chapter 9 of PMG always reminds me that the best way to share the gospel is by living it. That chapter is a great resource for anyone who wants to find people to share the gospel with.
We also "taught" a family from the Dominican Republic this week. We didn't actually teach much because they don't know much English. We brought a brother and his son from the ward, who both speak Spanish, to the lesson, and they taught. It was amazing to feel the Spirit, even though I couldn't understand everything that was being said. We're hoping to start teaching them English and see where things go from there. 
We are also teaching two ladies who are Native American. One of them came to church yesterday and really enjoyed it. She is starting to read the Book of Mormon and wants to know if it's true. We met with Roldena yesterday for the first time. We shared a verse from the Book of Mormon with her and she became very quiet and started reading other verses in the chapter to herself. Her eyes filled with tears and she told us that it felt so familiar to her, almost as if she'd read it before. God's promises in the Book of Mormon are real!!! :) The Spirit was so strong! We're excited for both of them to continue reading the Book of Mormon. 
Good things are coming. The Lord is hastening His work! Let's do all we can to be anxiously engaged in it. 

Love you!