Monday, October 28, 2013


Our MTC District
My MTC Companion Sister Sharp from Boise

The view from our Halifax apartment

 I am in CANADA! Wow! It is beautiful here! There are some fall leaves left still, which has brought me so much joy. Sister Lee (one of the sisters in my apartment) said, "We live in a postcard!" The scenery is incredible. Hopefully I can send you some pictures.

Travel to Canada went well. There were seven sisters traveling together. For some reason, not all of us were booked on our last flight (from Toronto to Halifax). Four of the sisters had seats, but the other three did not. I was part of the group that didn't have a seat. Luckily, the airline was able to book us on a flight later that night, about two hours after the first flight left. Sisters Ward and Sharp were with me. We talked to some people in the airport and on our flight. When we found out we didn't have seats on the first plane, I thought, "Maybe there's someone that needs to hear the gospel on this other flight?" Only the Lord knows. :)

We stayed at the mission home for a day for some training and orientation. Wednesday night we went street contacting in Halifax. Sister Laxton and I contacted on the campus of Dal Housie University that night. I was amazed by how many people stopped to talk to us. She and I went to a lesson that night, too. It was with a large group (8-10 people) of university students that the Halifax YSA Sisters had contacted and taught a couple lessons earlier in the week. We taught about the Restoration and many of the students had questions. Sister Laxton and I are hoping to meet with them as a group again and then start meeting individually with those that have a greater desire to find out for themselves. It was an awesome experience!

My companion's name is Sister Laxton. She is from North Carolina. She is very kind and very obedient, and I am really excited to get to know her more and more over the next six weeks to however long we are together. We are both new in this area, so we are both getting to know the are
Our beautiful kitchen
a and members. Luckily, Sister Laxton was serving in the Dartmouth ward last transfer and has spent a bit of time here in Halifax on splits with the sisters. We are serving the Halifax YSA branch. I am so excited to serve the young single adults! The branch consists of about 50 members, but attendance on a good week is around 30-35. Sister Laxton and I both spoke yesterday in the branch about missionary work. There is a set of Elders (the assistants to the president) assigned to the YSA branch as well. Their names are Elders Clark and Nzojibwami. Sister Lee was saying that most areas have a set of Sisters and a set of Elders now, which is fantastic! About half, if not more, of the missionaries serving in the Canada Halifax Mission are from Canada. We live in an Sisters Lee and Jungheim room with us. They serve in the Halifax family ward. We share a car. Sister Lee, Sister Laxton, and I are all involved in the concert series. Sister Lee sings. She is the one on the YouTube clip that sings Phantom of the Opera. She has a beautiful singing voice! Sister Laxton is a pianist and is very humble about her talent. I'm excited to hear her play more. She studied piano performance at BYU-I before her mission at the same time that Elder Call was there. Apparently, she and Elder Call received their mission calls at about the same time! Cool stuff. Our next concert is a week from Saturday in Yarmouth. They happen about every other weekend. We are practicing later today. I pulled my violin out on Thursday last week and I can't wait to play it again. I really am so grateful and excited for the opportunity to share the gospel through music! Both Sister Lee and Sister Laxton have told me about how powerful these concerts are in exposing the community to our church and helping them feel the Spirit. At the end of each concert, we invite the audience to attend church the next day.
Our living room and study area
apartment that is about a five minute bus ride from downtown Halifax. (The apartment we live in has the nickname "Princess Palace" in the mission.It is beautiful and possibly the nicest place I will ever live.)

My address is 3330 Barnstead Ln. #507 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3L 0B1.

I am excited for the adventures ahead! Hopefully next week's email will have more details about the work itself. I love you all! Continue to pray and look for opportunities to share the gospel. I love what you said about being reserved for these times for a reason. Thank you for your example to me of loving others as the Savior would, Mom. Missionary work is more natural and even easier when love is the motivating factor. I'm here to be God's love with skin and to help other people feel that love in great abundance for themselves by following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. I shared Lehi's vision in my talk yesterday and talked about our Christmas tradition. I share the same invitation I shared with the YSA branch yesterday: If you have tasted of that fruit, think of someone in your life, your circle of influence who you can share that with. We have the fulness of truth and access to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Why not share it? When you open your mouth, the Lord promises to fill it. As Sister Laxton said yesterday, "You can't fail when you invite!"

I love you all! I've attached some pictures from the MTC. Hopefully I can send a few more. Have a fantastic week!

Sister Renda

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Orange Blossom Special Worldwide Musical Tour — Sampler

This is a sample of the music firesides that Maren will have a chance to join while serving on her mission.  They perform all over the mission.  I understand the next tour is going to be a Disney music theme and they will be performing at some children's hospitals.  


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Safe Arrival

Your daughters have all arrived safely, have been fed and now are in bed going to sleep. They all arrived in good spirits. The group got separated in Toronto and half came on the planned flight and the other half had problems with their tickets and were put on a later flight arriving about one and a half hours later.

It was not a problem as we are only about 15 minutes from the airport. We took the first group home, fed them and got them straightened around just in time to go and pick up the second group.

They all have their assignments and they range from Newfoundland, to Halifax to Prince Edward Island. They will be orientated tomorrow starting at 6:30 with our daily exercise program. After a full day of training they will go out with the local missionaries and do some street contacting.

They will then come back to the mission home at around 7:00 have supper and retire to bed early as they will leave for their various assignments early on Thursday morning.

They are a great group and I am confident that they will make a significant contribution to the mission. Thank you for sending them and for your ongoing love and support.

President Leavitt

On My Way

Maren called from the SLC airport at 6:00 am.  They left the MTC by bus at 3:30 am. Her first flight leaves at 7:45 am to Denver.  From there they will fly to Toronto and then on to Halifax.  She says they are scheduled to arrive tonight about 8:30 pm Halifax time.

She sounds great and is very excited!  We hope to hear from the mission President when she arrives in Halifax.  She said that she heard that Sister Starkie ( her teachers sister and friend of a friend from camp) is being transferred to open a new area and will have a brand new sister as a companion.  It will be one of the 7 sisters that are arriving today.   Maybe it will be Sister Renda.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

MTC is Oakcrest on Steriods

Thank you so much for the letters and notes. It really has meant so much to me. I never realized how much a simple letter or note could mean to a missionary until I became one. The MTC is amazing! It's hard and I have been stretched a lot over the past week or so, but I am so grateful for all the things I have learned through the Spirit while I have been here. It's crazy to think that I will be in Canada in a matter of days, but I am so excited to apply everything that I have learned here. I am really excited to get to know people and love them as Jesus Christ loves them. I feel like I have learned a lot about the magnitude of the call to be a missionary. I never thought about it in depth, but multiple times this week through the words of my teachers and speakers, the Spirit has taught me about my great responsibilities as a missionary. I wear the name of Jesus Christ on my heart physically, but it must also be there figuratively. I am here to be God's love with skin and to see and treat others as Jesus Christ would. I am His representative for the next 18 months. We had a very inspired lesson yesterday in Brother Starkie's class about love. Everyone has the desire to be loved. Christ offers that love to everyone, no matter who they are or where they're from or how they act. He wants them to feel that they are of worth and that they have great potential to become like Him. He didn't suffer so that we could hate each other. He didn't ask me to serve a mission to prove that I know something. He asks me to love them as He does. "Leave people better than you found them."

The MTC has devotionals on Tuesday and Sunday nights. On Tuesday, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife addressed us. Elder Oaks taught us about why our church is the only "true and living" church because we have a fullness of doctrine, Priesthood power directly from God, and a unique testimony of Jesus Christ. He talked about many things, but one that particularly stands out in my mind was his testimony at the end. He asked many deep doctrine questions that many of us wonder about and then said simply, "I don't have the answers to these, but I know that this gospel is true because of the witness of the Holy Ghost." It was powerful coming from an apostle of God and reminded me of something we had discussed in class earlier. We don't have all the answers, but because of revelation we don't need to know all the answers now. Knowing through the Holy Ghost that God loves me is enough. (1 Nephi 11:17)

Part of the MTC experience is teaching investigators. It is challenging, but an incredible opportunity to really learn through experience. Sister Sharp and I teach a couple of investigators right now: Desiree, Belinda, and soon we will be teaching Chae. I love the feeling of coming out of a lesson knowing that the Lord filled our mouths and that we taught by the Spirit to meet the needs of the individual we taught. Desiree has committed to be baptized and to pray with her husband about her decision to be baptized in the LDS church. SO awesome! She is coming to church on Sunday and will hopefully bring her kids, too! We meet with Belinda again tonight, which I am really looking forward to. Belinda has a very different background and view on life. Our first appointment with her stretched us a lot because we were just trying to understand her views of life and the world. She is studying different religions right now, and Sister Sharp and I feel that the best we can do is to help her understand our religion more. We gave her a Book of Mormon last time and she said she would read it--the whole thing!--before we came back. We may not be able to invite her to baptism now, but our part right now may be to just invite her to learn about Christ and to plant some seeds in her heart. We're praying for divine help with teaching her. We are really excited to teach Chae! She is an investigator that just walks around the MTC, waiting for missionaries to talk to her. We gave her a Book of Mormon and we are hoping to teach her once more before we leave for Canada.

My district is composed of four sisters and four elders. The elders are all headed to Sydney, Australia and all of the sisters are going to my mission. There are three other sisters in our zone also headed to the Canada Halifax Mission. I haven't met any elders yet that are going to my mission. I was called to serve as a Sister Training Leader last week, which has provided me with many opportunities to move outside of my comfort zone. The Lord always knows I need a little push in that direction and is always happy to give it to me. :) My companion is Sister Sharp from Boise, Idaho. She is AWESOME! She has a strong testimony of the gospel and is here because she wants to help other people. We have grown so much over the past week and I am so excited to keep serving with her in Canada. 

I will try to send some pictures later. Time is limited here. We are constantly going and constantly doing something. I love you all and am so grateful for your support! It truly means so much to know that so many are praying for me in my efforts. I am comforted by the fact that whom the Lord calls, He qualifies. I have much to learn and I am excited for the journey ahead!

Sister Maren Renda

PS The MTC is like Oakcrest on steroids. I love it! :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's a Small World

October 9, 2013
My first day at the MTC has been wonderful!  I met our teacher, Brother Starkie, who has a sister serving in the Canada Halifax mission right now.  Sister Starkie is the one that Popcorn, from the Oakcrest Girl's Camp, knows.  It's a small world!  He said that Popcorn told his parents about me.  His dad is a bishop or stake president (the latter, I believe) and when he and his wife came up to Oakcrest they searched high and low for me (the counselor going to Halifax), but couldn’t find me.  I am excited for the opportunity to learn from Brother Starkie.
There are four sisters in my district, all of them going to the Canada Halifax Mission.  My companion is Sister Sharp from Boise, Idaho.  She is awesome and I can’t wait to get to know her more.  There are four sisters in my room (the same as in my district). There are three other sisters in my zone going to my mission.  The Elders in my district are all going to Sydney, Australia.
I am doing well and the Spirit is strong already.  We had a “teaching experience” tonight with “investigators”. It was powerful and I learned a lot about effective teaching.  There was a large group of missionaries in each session (total of 3 investigators=3 sessions) and a companionship would open the discussion and then turn it over to us as a large group.  Pretty cool.  Our goal was to focus on our purpose to invite other to come unto Christ by helping them.
I won’t have P-day unto next Thursday so don’t expect an email until then. Thank you for your love and support.  This is going to be quite the journey but I know that as I give it my all and rely upon my Savior, everything will turn out.  He will lead me and guide me to where I need to go and to what I need to become.
I love you! The Lord loves and knows each of you! Put your trust in Him.

Love Sister Maren Renda
P.S. Food is cafeteria style.  I had a chicken wrap with beans and rice tonight for dinner. Also, they have oatmeal and I am one happy camper!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Well, it's finally here. The day to say goodbye to our sweet Maren for 18 months. After a few tears and lots of hugs, she is off on a great journey.