Elder Gardner

Elder Gardner will enter the MTC on Wednesday, June 23rd. We will keep this blog up-dated every week with his letters and pictures. If you would like to write to Elder Gardner, please click on the "write a letter" link on the right hand side for directions and his address. If you don't know much about Mormon Missions read the "about missions" page to learn more; it may help you understand some confusing terms in the letters.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

El Fin (mission week 106)

Is this for real? Every minute that goes by is one minute closer till I no longer have this amazing privilege of carrying Christ´s name on my shirt. I would count how many minutes are left, but I´m too busy doing other things. Like baptizing!

This week was probably my best week in the mission. On Sunday after church the sister and cousin of Melisa were baptized. They both asked me to baptize them which was a nice experience. I really love that family so much and it made me so happy to be a part of it. The brother that was baptized two months ago received the priesthood and was called to the young men presidency as well on Sunday. He was one of the witnesses of the baptism. The two girls were both so happy and smiling afterwards. Especially the younger one. She is probably one of the shyest people I have ever met, but we showed her some family pictures the other day and she finally started talking to us. She´s actually really funny. The cousin, Daiana, is also awesome. Her dad is a member but doesn´t go to church and her mom goes to another christian church. But Daiana decided to be baptized and even though she had to do it without much support from the parents she didn´t hesitate for second. She even brought a friend to church to see the baptism.

We have also been working with an inactive family named Barbieri. One brother was kind of active and the rest hadn´t gone to church in years, including one 9 year old unbaptized son. The children have been going to church for a month or two now but the mom never did (the dad doesn´t live with them). We kept on trying to get the kid baptized but they said that they wanted to have a party and a huge cake that would cost 2000 pesos and take two months to make. Baptism is more important than party but they didn´t want to accept that concept. The mom finally went to sacrament meeting two weeks ago (but not the classes) and things changed. We went to eat lunch with them after she went to church and randomly she said, ¨We are going to do Leandro´s baptism next Thursday.¨ We were like, ¨Dale!¨ So the mom went to church again last Sunday and had an interview with the branch president. On Thursday the son was baptized! His older brother started his mission papers and was the one who did the baptism. There were lots of members and others there to support the family so it was great.

That´s about all the exciting news. We are working hard so that all three of them are confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ tomorrow. And while we are at it we might just baptize some one else too. Go big or go home. O wait.......

The offices are going good. I don´t know how ready Elder Lowry feels for me to leave, but all birds have to leave the nest some time. He´ll get the hang of it soon enough. Nothing too exciting is coming to me at the moment to write about.

I love missionary work. I love Argentina. I have learned so much and have enjoyed so much the past two years. I can´t believe it is all coming to an end. It really hasn´t hit in yet. Once it does I´ll probably cry or something; but that´s just because I have allergies. I´ve met so many awesome people, had so many fun companions that have taught me so much. I´ve seen people grow closer to God and gain testimonies of the reality of Jesus Christ. The church is true. This is God´s kingdom on earth. The gospel can change lives. People can be born again and become new creatures. That what it is all about. And as I´ve been helping others in their rebirth process I can feel that I too have been born again. It took two years for me to really get it, but those are two years I would never trade for anything. Ever. La Gran Misión Buenos Aires Norte, te extrañaré.

Over and out.
Hasta la vista,

Elder Gardner

 All in white.

Everybody this time!

More white!


More with everybody!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Los Lowrys (mission week 105)

Well, it´s been one of those weeks. Lots of things going on, little time to think. Transfers are always crazy. Even more so when you are actually part of the farewell fireside and the departing missionary lunch. Things that I have helped with for the last six months but I never thought I would actually participate in them. It feels unreal. One of the missionaries that left said, ¨It´s kind of like death. Everyone knows they will die some day, but no one actually believes they will. It´s the same with ending the mission.¨ That´s exactly how I feel. I know that it is time, but I don´t really believe it. There is still so much to do, so many people to help. And I love it so much. I was sitting there on Sunday during sacrament meeting while Melisa was being confirmed and I just couldn´t stop thinking about how glad I was that I´m not leaving yet. I would hate to miss the baptisms of these people that we have been working with. Tomorrow Melisa´s sister and cousin are getting baptized after church. So we are pretty excited for them.

Monday was the departing lunch at President´s house. The conversation was geared toward going home sort of things, like the first food we will eat when we get home (in-n-out for the win!). And President taught a lot about marriage. He pretty much just took all the doctrine we have been teaching for the last two years and tied it all into marriage. Then everyone I started the mission with got in a bus and left for the airport; except for Elder Beck. His parents drove up in a car and I saw them meet for the first time in two years. Let´s just say that it was hard to keep thinking about mission things after all that. But, I´m here still and the work must go on, so I kept on working.

On Tuesday all the new missionaries came. ¨All¨ the missionaries being two latin missionaries and the Lowrys. We have not received a single American missionary in two transfers. There are 28 of them that we are waiting for that are currently serving in the states. This whole visa mess is killing us. We had to close five areas because we just don´t have enough missionaries right now. But once all these 28 get there visa we will have to open another 10 areas. So, things are getting interesting around here. We keep praying that the politics of the countries won´t get in the way of the spreading of the word of God.

On Wednesday the fun began. With Elder and Sister Lowry in the country and ready to work we got started teaching them the ropes. It´s been interesting. I didn´t realize how much easier it was for me having already been in the offices for three months and in the mission for a year and a half before I took over the finances. I have to take time to explain a lot of things to Elder Lowry that I take for granted. Like, how many zones there are, how the rents are paid, why we do things the way we do, etc. It´s been a slower process than I was expecting, but Elder Lowry is doing a good job getting up to speed. He asks question after question until he understands exactly what is going on. Kind of like the way Dad would do it. We´ve already made several changes to the procedures as we realized I was only doing what I was taught to do and there is a better way to do things. I like change, especially when it is for the better, so it has been a good experience. 

On Thursday we went over to the mission home to talk to the zone leaders about zone money, and we stuck around for lunch afterwards (tacos!). And then on Friday we went over again because our zone broke the baptismal record for the second month in a row! We are doing pretty well here. Four out of the last five days I ate lunch at the mission home. And it sure was tasty. 

Well, that´s about all the news I have for today. We have been working hard in the area and are excited for the baptism tomorrow. Now we just need to find more people! Have a great week everyone.

Nos vemos,
Elder Gardner

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dos Años

Today is June 23, 2012. Two years ago today my parents and Nate and Katie dropped me off early in the morning at the airport. I flew by myself to Salt Lake City where Becca picked me up and took me to the MTC. I said my last goodbyes to the family there and walked into the next phase of my life. They gave me a plaque with the name ¨Elder Gardner¨ on it. I dropped my suitcases off in the dorm room then they took me to my classroom. The teacher said something in Spanish and I just stared blankly at him. My new companion gave me a big huge which I didn´t know how to respond to. Our teachers tried to teach us how to pray in Spanish. They were probably wondering how they were going to help these 19 year old boys become men. I went to bed that night nervous, unsure of what I was doing or why, but firm in my decision to do it. Little did I know all that would come in the next two years.

June 23, 2011. One year ago today I was in Loma Hermosa with my first latin companion. For the first time I couldn´t speak english to anyone. And boy did I miss it. I was struggling to figure out why I had been placed in that area with that companion at that time. I wasn´t sure who I was or what I was made of. I knew what God expected of me but I couldn´t push myself to do it. In the morning we went to the dentist where he continued to drill away at my two front teeth. That night we went to an investigator´s house and challanged him to be baptized in three days. He accepted. I went to bed with a prayer asking God to help me give up my desires and to only want to do His will.

June 23, 2012. Today I woke up with one thought on my mind: how to help Cintia to get baptized tonight. Yes I was excited to write my family, but all of that had become an afterthought. My first and foremost desire was to help a child of God enter the waters of baptism. My companions and I discussed our plans in English, but with so much Spanish grammar and words thrown in it wouldn´t be understandable to an American. We arrived at the offices and gave the usual big hugs to each of the elders there. Some one says, ¨elder,¨ and my head instantly turns. They say, ¨Doug¨ and I don´t even notice. I will go to bed tonight exhausted, as always, but thanking my God for the opportunity He has given me these last two years. Oh how I wish I could stay here for another two years! La gran mision Buenos Aires Norte, te extrañaré.

Awesome (office week 25)

Well, these last two weeks have been awesome! Let me try to tell you why in a consice but also entertaining way:

We´ll start with a story of a lesson we had with Eusebia (or however you spell that). She is the grandmother of Miguel who got baptized a month or so ago. She has gone to church a ton in Peru and has gone a few times here, but she never got baptized. We finally realized that she still doesn´t understand the doctrine very well. While Elder Chase and I were there she said that she has already been baptized as a baby in the catholic church so she doesn´t need to be baptized. We started reading in Moroni 8 were it talks about the abomination of baptizing babies. She thought it was interesting but then started to question the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. For the first time she admitted she has never read it, but she does sometimes open the Bible up randomly and read a verse. So I handed her the Book of Mormon and told her to do it right then. She prayed for about thirty seconds then opened the book and handed it to me since she didn´t have her glasses. When I saw where she opened it to I couldn´t believe my eyes. It was open to Moroni 8, the exact same verse we had already read: ¨Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.¨ We asked her what God was trying to tell her and she finally admitted that she needs to be baptized again, but in the catholic church! Yeah, she doesn´t understand the doctrine. We explained priesthood authority again but we have pretty much just given up with her. But we keep on baptizing her grandchildren:

Melisa, Miguel´s sister, has been reading a ton in the Book of Mormon and we were pushing hard for her baptism on Sunday. She finally opened up enough to tell us that one big obstacle was that she felt that by being baptized she would be leaving her dad alone. The dad isn´t a member and doesn´t really talk to anyone else in the family except for Melisa. So she didn´t want to ¨join¨ with the rest of the family by being baptized and leave the dad alone. We talked a lot about faith and hope with her but she still wasn´t too sure. On Saturday we took Elder Pabon, one of the APs, to do the baptismal interview. She passed the interview and decided to take the step of faith by being baptized on Sunday. Sunday was stake conference and the area president was there to give a talk. It was a really good conference but afterwards when we talked to Melisa she had changed her mind about being baptized. We all went into a classroom and prayed and talked about it, but she still said no. Especially with it being Father´s Day she didn´t want to leave the dad at home alone waiting for them to get back. After talking and trying to help her to make the decision to be baptized we decided to do it the next Saturday. 

We then went into the cultural hall were the area president was taking pictures with the families being baptized in other wards. As Miguel was trying to get into a random picture with another family from another ward, Melisa came up and said, ¨I want to get baptized right now.¨ So she got changed into the white dress and was baptized! It was an awesome baptism. Seven other people from the stake were baptized and the spirit was strong. We were so happy that Melisa had made that decision, and she was all smiles afterwards.

Sunday turned into an even better day when we went to the house of Cristina, who was baptized a few weeks ago. After talking to her we asked her who she was going to introduce us to so we could teach them. She took us to a house in the back of her property where there lives a family that Cristina rents to. We talked to the 18 year old daughter named Daniela. She is really smart. It´s nice to teach smart people, sometimes I get frustrated when people don´t understand what I think are simple concepts. But she understood everything really well and had some good questions. We invited her to be baptized July 8 and she accepted. When we went back the next day she had read 2 Nefi 31 and then started from the beginning and read 1 Nefi 1 up till 1 Nefi 10. Wow! Awesome. And Cristina bore a really good testimony. My favorite part was when she said, ¨I got baptized in three weeks. It took me so long because I had to stop smoking. Otherwise it would have been sooner.¨ Three weeks is a pretty long time after all... :)

So, Sunday was pretty awesome. But also awesome was Saturday. The children of the parents that I found and baptized in Loma Hermosa got baptized! Since Saturday is my p-day I was able to go to it. It was really cool. That was the first time I´ve seen some one I baptized baptize some one else; so it was really special. And they asked me to baptize the daughter, which was cool. I really love them and it made me feel a lot better about my work in Loma Hermosa. One of the members I helped to reactivate is now the primary president. And another couple that I taught there got married yesterday and will be baptized today. I love helping people on the path to salvation. Even if I don´t always get to be there for the baptism.

On Tuesday we had a BBQ at President´s house with the zone because we broke the zone record for baptisms last month. It was a good BBQ. And it looks like this month we will baptize more than last month and get to go again. Sweet. We have been busy with transfers the last few days. Transfers are on Monday. Tomorrow is the farewell fireside for the leaving missionaries, which I will speak at even though I´m not really leaving (shhh, don´t tell anyone).

Well, this is already a really long letter. Thanks for enduring to the end of the letter! Hope it was worthwhile.

With amor,
Elder Gardner

The Flia Jacquet, from Loma Hermosa. 

Us with Melisa.

Melisa and the whole family.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My birthday started off like any other day. We woke up, showered, studied, then headed over to the offices. It was also flag day in Argentina, which is widely celebrated so all the businesses were closed. Around 11:30 our first lunch arrived, ñoquis and a chocolate cake. Ñoquis are pastas made out of potatoes and are delicious and very filling. So we ate that then had to wait an hour or so to eat the cake since we were full. Around 1 arrived our second lunch, locro. We just put it in the fridge since we were too full.

Then a couple of families we are teaching called to wish me a happy birthday; that was nice of them. Sister Castañeda came back after lunch with some banana bread and Elder Castañeda came back after inspecting some apartments with more locro (it´s a traditional Argentine food for national holidays). Then around 5:30  Sister Gulbrandsen called and said not to leave since they were on their way to the offices. She came over with President and a pan of brownies and a awesome candle. So cool. And so nice of them to take time out of their busy day for me.

Then we went out to teach the gospel. We passed by a member family who was going to accompany us to a lesson and they invited us in. They had baked a cake for my birthday. Sweet. After the lesson with an awesome investigator named Daneila (more on her later) we went to a lesson with the peruvian family we have been teaching and one by one baptizing all of them. They had made us tacos, delicious, and the best cake I have ever eaten in Argentina. As we were about the girl who got baptized on Sunday pulled a cheesecake out of the fridge and gave to us to take home. Wow. Miguel (who got baptized a month ago) gave us a ride to the church, then ten minutes later he came back with the family with some chocolate treats, a 2 liter soda, and tortilla chips. Let´s just say we were REALLY full at the end of the day. And our stomachs hurt the next day from all of the treats. But it was totally worth it. Definitely one of the best birthdays I´ve ever had.

Thanks for all of your birthday wishes! I´ll write another letter in a minute.

My last moments as a 20 year old.

President and Sister Gulbrandsen brought over brownies. How nice of them :)

A family we are teaching (and several of which have been baptized) made us tacos for my birthday.

And they made us a cake!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Elder Gardner es super capo!

Hi Sister Gardner,

This is elder chase.  Elder Gardner wanted me to write a quick letter for him letting you know that he woudn´t be able to write you today.  He didn´t get back in time from the baptism today in his old area and now had to go out and do a baptismal interview for another companionship.  But he sends lots of love and is doing great!  He will write next saturday.

Elder Chase

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Halo! (office week 23)

Hola todos! ¿Como están? Espero que todos estén felices.

This week was pretty good. I´m not sure what to say this week. Things continue as normal. Everything going by really fast, trying to keep on top of everything that´s going on. When I´m not busy running to President´s house to get his signature on a check and then going to the bank before it closes, or balancing the books and doing other paperwork, or  counting how many DVDs we have in the mail room, etc. I´m busy looking into all the expenses of the mission and trying to figure out how to fit in the budget. We´ve been making some changes and saving money. Hopefully I can keep it going.

Some good stories: One of the nights as we were heading home, we got a phone call at 10:30. It was one of the APs who said something along the lines of, ¨we are in the middle of no where with a flat tire, what do we do?¨ The car has ¨magic¨ tires that don´t pop so there isn´t a spare tire there at all. Well, they were on a street in the middle of nowhere and hit a metal bar and destroyed the tire. I gave them some numbers to call and went to bed. Around midnight they called and asked a number of a taxi place. Then around three thirty we got a phone call from the alarm agency that watches the church. They told us that someone entered the building. It was a night with lots of disturbances, but at least we got some sleep, unlike the APs. They ended up having to call and wait for a tow truck to come pick them up and take them back. The next day we got a new magic tire and are good to go. 

We´ve been having lots of lessons with Melisa to help her make the decision to be baptized. She is awesome. She has been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and praying. She believes it is all true but is afraid of making the step of baptism. We´ve had some pretty spiritual lessons with her, talking about the gospel and praying with her to know if it´s true. The spirit is always strong and she said she can tell her faith is growing. We are hoping to have her baptismal service next Sunday after stake conference.

Well, sorry it´s kind of a short, not too exciting letter. I got distracted a few times during it. Have a great week! Invite someone to church.

Con Amor,

Elder Gardner

When we got the car they said the car doesn´t have a spar tire because the tires are special Volkswagen tires that never pop. They were right, it didn´t pop. It exploded.

Elder Chase and I did service for a family. We moved all those bricks in the background up some stairs. 

The stairs we had to climb. Fortunately they didn´t break.