So about a month ago Brendan's mission had a visit from Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Seventy (at that time) who came to tour the Winnipeg, Canada mission. As part of the mission tour, he visited the Regina area where Brendan is serving has a zone leader. This, of course, was an exciting event for the missionaries because they all had a chance to meet and be taught by a General Authority. Last week after Elder Renlund was called to be one of the newest Apostles, I asked Brendan if he had a chance to meet Elder Renlund when he visited the Regina area. Brendan responded back by refering to his weekly family letter and indicating the he and Elder Renlund were now on a "last name" basis. So here is the full story about Elder Renlund's visit to the Winnipeg Canada mission.
It all started out with a missionary zone conference that included all of the missionaries from the cities of Regina and Moose Jaw. That's right, "Moose Jaw" is the name of one of the cities in Brendan's zone. Brendan and I have an on going inside joke about Moose Jaw being the place to be. But that is a story for another day so let's get back to the zone conference. Brendan started out by telling us that he was asked to conduct the zone conference. So as the missionary in charge of conducting the meeting, Brendan was obviously sitting on the stand when Elder Renlund came and sat down right beside him and started talking to him.
"He asked me if I was Elder Nicholes. I told him I was, I may have jokingly asked him if he was Elder Renlund but really I was too nervous to remember. haha. But he looks at me and asks me, "is there anything thing you would like to know?" I said No, but is there anything I should know. And he looks me in the eyes and says, Relax. Can I let you in on something, first off, I had told no one that I was nervous about conducting this meeting. Sure, it was my first time ever conducting anything and it was a member of the Seventy. haha, but I had kept that in. And after I shook Elder Renlund and Sister Renlund's hands I hugged President Craig who was next in line and President Craig tells me that Elder Renlund said that Elder Nicholes needs to let his nerves go. I hadn't told no one! Or voiced any concern. But I'll let you in on another thing! You want to know what makes you as unrelaxed as possible!? HAVING A GENERAL AUTHORITY TELL YOU TO RELAX! haha. Anyways it all went really well. I love him a lot! He is an incredible man and I sustain him with all my heart."Brendan initially told us that the zone meeting went well and despite Brendan being nervous, he was able to conduct the meeting as you would expect. But then at the bottom of his family letter, he said:
"P.S. I lied about the conducting going well. I got called out by a General Authority as he sat in the audience while I was conducting. I slipped and said that we were going to have a prayer then a song when Elder Renlund goes "We are going to have a prayer first?" I had NO IDEA what he was talking about. I had not noticed that I had messed up and I just stared at him like a deer in the headlights. It was super funny. I was so lost but all was well. We then had a leadership meeting with him and I got to talk to him pretty much one on one for about an hour and a half, so really it was an incredibly neat experience! I love this gospel!!! There was a lot more that happened but its hard to convey through messaging. But anyways there ya go. Love ya!"Here is another interesting "small world" experience that Brendan had this last week. Brendan and his companion attended a baptism service in their Ward. After the baptismal service the Ward Mission Leader asked the missionaries to meet with him for a few minutes. As often happens, the meeting started out by having everybody introduce themselves. Of course the missionaries introduced themselves and stated where they were from. Brendan said that he hates doing that because most of the other missionaries are from various different places throughout North America and the World. Of course when a missionary is from an interesting place, everybody wants to know about it. But when a missionary states that he is from Utah, especially from Utah Valley, the response is usually something like "oh that's nice". But this time was a little different. When the Ward Mission Leader asked Brendan where he was from and Brendan told him Utah, the mission leader said, "Oh, where abouts?". Brendan told him the city and the Ward Mission Leader excitedly stated that he had served part of his mission there. For those from Brendan's home Ward who may be reading this blog, you might remember that for a long time the missionaries live just a couple of houses down from us in a basement apartment. Well, it turned out that the Ward Mission Leader just happened to have been one of those missionaries. So here you have Brendan who is now serving in a Ward in Regina, Canada with a Ward Mission Leader who spent several months of his mission, years ago, living just a stones throw from Brendan. Small world, don't you think?
If I haven't told you before, Brendan is now serving with the YSA Wards. Due to the fact that the YSA are spread out over several different Wards, a couple of weeks ago Brendan gave us a run down on the Pro's and Con's of working with the YSA.
Pro #1 - He and his companion get fed a lot. The way Brendan describes it is that the members feed them like they are "emaciated little street erchins". It's the best.
Con #1 - They have seven hours of church on each Sunday. In fact just the week before they had spent from 10 in the morning until 10 at night in church meetings of one kind or another. It isn't that they dislike being in church, it is about the fact that after sitting on hard benches or chairs for seven hours, your butt gets kind of sore.
Pro #2 - Seeing all of the less active members or investigators come to church.
Con #2 - The missionaries get really weird looks from members when they see the missionaries refuse the sacrament. It's not that they are really refusing the sacrament, it is that the missionaries have already attended several sacrament meetings that day and have already partaken of the sacrament in an earlier meeting. But obviously the members don't realize that.
As you can probably tell, Brendan is having a great time on his mission. He is working hard and enjoying the hard work. The interesting thing is that he himself is the one comparing Brendan of the pre-mission life to Brendan the missionary. Every once in a while he will mention how he really enjoys things like General Conference or attending church for seven hours on Sunday (except for the sore butt part). Then he will point out how weird it is that he actually enjoys those things, because the pre-mission Brendan never would have. It is interesting how much a mission changes a person.
Here are a few pictures that Brendan sent home recently. If you went to High School with Brendan, you may recognize another missionary in one of these pictures.