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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Miracle Baptisms (Cazador Week 6)

Bueno. This email is going to be short and to the point. We are going to Temaiken today and want to be able to spend as much time there as possible, so I need to be fast. Temaiken is a very famous zoo in Argentina, it isn´t open on Mondays so the only chance we get to go is on transfer days when p-day switches to Tuesday. And in case that didn´t give it away: I am still in El Cazador and still with Elder Merrill for the next transfer. There are no longer four elders in our apartment (one got sick and the other got called to the offices and they closed the area) so it is just us two. The other elders in our district are the same, but now their area is twice as big since they got the other area that just closed.

This week has been tough. With all the Christmas decorations and everything it is hard to keep focused on the work. And when you start thinking about Christmas you think of home then start to get homesick. I´m actually kind of glad for Christmas to be over so I can focus easier. It was also tough because Christmas Eve our golden family dropped us. This is the family that we found last week that was way excited about everything. We´ve had several lessons with them and they seemed to be progressing really well, reading the Book of Mormon and praying. But Christmas Eve they told us they felt ´impresionados´ (how do you say that in English, ´pressured´?) and wanted to take things more slowly. They don´t want us to visit for at least two weeks. And our other golden investigator, Cristian, told us he is way to busy and won´t be able to find time for us until after the fiestas. So it was kind of a sad day, but we are confident that there are people here who are ready and we are working to find them. We realized we need to work a lot more with the members, all of our investigators we found through contacts on the street, which isn´t nearly as effective.

But along with all this disapointment came a miracle. The elders in our district have been trying for four months to get two girls baptized but couldn´t get the parents permission. On Sunday they finally got permission and decided to do the baptism Monday (yesterday; it´s pretty weird to have a baptism on Monday but they felt that they needed to). So Monday we went to the church at 5:30 so Elder Merrill could do the baptismal interviews. We got there and the elders were literally running around trying to get water. The baptismal font had filled up about a fourth of the way and then the water in the chapel stopped working. We tried for about 40 minutes and couldn´t get water. Elder Merrill then had to do the interviews and the other elders continued running aroud looking for water; the bank next door had water but wouldn´t let them use it, they called the bishop, the city matience people, the firefighters, but nothing worked. At about 8 we still didn´t have water but the family was there and waiting for the baptism. So us four elders knelt and prayed and asked for a miracle. After looking around for a few more minutes we were talking about how we felt during the prayer. One of the elders said he felt very peaceful that it would all work out. The instant he finished talking the door opened and a member walked in. We told him the problem and he fixed it in about 45 seconds. So it was now 8:20 and we had 15 minutes to fill the font and get the girls baptized. We found as many hoses as we could and started filling. I got a bucket and filled it up from a faucet in the bathroom and threw the water in the font. Finally at 8:45 we were ready. The girls changed into white, we had a prayer and a short talk, then they got baptized. It was the craziest baptism I have ever seen, but it happened. And it truely was a miracle that the member arrived just at the time he did. It was interesting. The entire time we were thinking, ¨what do we need to do to get water?¨ It never crossed my mind that we could cancel the baptism and do it another day, the whole time we were just focused on getting water. And at the last possilbe minute God blessed us with what we needed.

This work is true. God lives. 2010 years ago His son was born into this world, and today that Son lives. Miracles still happen, you just have to look for them. I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and has a great week.

que Dios les bendiga,
Elder Gardner

p.s. that was a bit longer than I meant for it to be, but I had to tell that story.

¡Feliz Navidad! (Cazador Week 5)

Well, this has been a pretty good week. Just another week in my craziest transfer of the mission. I won´t go in to much detail, but the wierd news of this week is that one of the elders in my apartment has been in the hospital during most of it. He has had some weird health problems and the doctors couldn´t figure out what it was. He is currently on a plane headed back home to the states to get medical care. He will stay home for a few months until he is better than get assigned to another mission in the states. It was pretty sad to see him leave, but for some reason that is where God wants him to be.

Besides that it has been a week of walking. Lots and lots of walking. My legs are exhausted. We have been working hard but not very many people let us into their houses this week. However we did find one family. They are awesome. A husband and wife and four young kids. I talked to the husband on the street a week or so ago and we set up an appointment. When we went looking for his house we got a little lost, but he came up to us and told us where it was. We taught the husband first by himself and he was really interested. We gave him a Book of Mormon and set up another appointment. By the next appointment he had already read several chapters of the Book of Mormon and explained to us the story line (first time I have had that happen). We then taught him and his wife and the wife was interested as well. Yesterday we had another lesson and we taught the kids as well this time. We read 1 Nephi 8 together about the vision of the tree of life and had the kids draw a picture of it. They are an amazing family and we are excited for them to come to church and get the blessings of God in their lives. The only problem is that they are not married and the husband has no intention of ever getting married. But we´ll fix that.

On Wednesday we had a zone conference in the mission president´s house. It was a Christmas party/Zone conference. We talked about the importance of involving the members in the work. Then we played white elephant but all of the presents were ties (what else are they going to give missionaries?). There were lots of bad ties and a few really nice ones. I ended up being near the end so I was able to steal a nice tie from someone, I was pretty happy.

That´s all the news I have for this week. It is almost Christmas which is pretty exciting. I hope everyone has a great time this Christmas and remembers the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Que tengan una feliz navidad,
Elder Gardner

"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn´t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don´t freak out!

I´ll explain in the next email.

Semana Loca (Cazador Week 4)

Well, this has been one of the craziest weeks of my life (I think I say that every week, but it´s still true). Let me tell you a little about it:

First some good things. On Monday we went to visit the brother of Adrian (the guy who got baptized a week ago). The brother´s name is Claudio and his wife is Sonia (they aren´t married but they live together and have a kid). We went to their house with Adrian and Rocío and talked and it was clear there were relationship problems. They were on the verge of separating, mainly becuase of Sonia, Claudio still wants to stay together. We taught them about the gospel and how it can help their lives and Adrian and Rocío told them how it had helped their relationship. It was a really good lesson and we helped them come closer together. We gave them a Book of Mormon and asked them to read it together. Claudio said he would. Sonia said, ¨si no me voy antes¨ or ¨if I don´t leave first.¨ Wow, that´s harsh. But we are sure that God can help them overcome their problems and if they will just read and pray together they will be happier. They are still together and doing a lot better. It is awesome being an instrument in God´s hands to bless people´s lives like that.

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was the real adventure. Before I tell this story let me preface it with this warning: Do not freak out! We are all safe and all fine. Don´t worry! (That got your attention, right) We woke up at 2:30 in the morning because our doorbell went off. It was the middle of the night and I didn´t understand anything that was going on so I was just about to fall back asleep when Elder Merrill said, ¨There is a fire outside the window.¨ I looked and sure enough there was! It was just a little fire on a tree about 5 feet away from the door. I figured it was no big deal (I was tired remember) but it would be nice of us to go put it out. So I put on a shirt while Elder Merrill put on his contacts. We opened the door to see if anyone else was outside and a woman yelled, ¨chicos, ¡salgan de ahí!¨ or ¨Kids, get out of there!¨ The fire was a little bigger and we thought it might be a good idea to leave just in case. So we closed the door, woke up the other elders in the apartment, all of us used the bathroom, we got our important things (cameras and journals) then left. We still didn´t think it was a very big deal, but we were wrong.

There used to be a lumber yard right next to our house. The key word in that sentence is used to be. As soon as we left it caught fire too. So we called the mission president because there was a pretty good chance our house was going to burn down. He told us the assistants were going to come and make sure we were safe. His last words, ¨Enjoy the experience Elders.¨ The roof of our house caught on fire, but fortunately the firefighters came in time to save our house, and we live on the bottom story. The assistants came and after a while we decided there was no way we were going to get back into our house and there was nothing we could do. So at about five in the morning they dropped us off at the church and we slept on the benches in the chapel for a few hours. Until about nine when a female member came into the chapel, that was awkward. We woke up and left because an activity was about to start.

We went back to our apartment to see what happened. The door got burned and we couldn´t open it, so we jumped the fence and came in through the back. The window shattered because of the heat and the house smells like smoke, but besides that everything is fine. The only thing that got even a little burned was my flag that was in front of the window. Thankfully Argentines build their houses out of cement and brick so it is pretty fire proof. But now we are fine. We are still living there, things smell a little smoky at times but every thing else is normal. The only real difference is we have a much better view out the window. :)

Then to top things off it has been raining off and on the past few days. Before you think I´m just a whinner, remember that about half of the roads here are dirt. Or maybe I should mud. It isn´t very easy to walk around on a mud road. But whenever there are big problems it is because great success is right around the corner. And that was true this week. On Friday we taught an amazing young man (about 22 years old) who told us he truely wants to change his life. We read the story of Alma the younger in Alma 36 and talked about how the gospel can change his life. He told us that he wanted to go to church but instead of us picking him up at his house he would meet us at the bus stop by our house. Usually we don´t like to do that becuase if they don´t wake up there is nothing we can do, but he said he would call us when he left so we would know. Sunday morning he didn´t call us. But we went and waited anyway. Twenty minutes later he still wasn´t there and we were about to take the next bus to town when we saw him walking down the sidewalk! We were so excited and happy that he came. He really liked church and is excited to go next week. The gospel is truely for this type of person, someone who really wants to change their life. That is the whole reason I am here, to help people change and find more happiness.

So this has been our week here. We are working hard and starting to see some real success in this area. Elder Merrill is a great elder and has a ton of faith. We get along great (he likes to sing songs from musicals, what else need I say?) Spanish is coming. I´m working a lot on my accent and it is getting better. I still can´t roll my r´s but that´s ok.

Thanks for reading my really long email this week! I hope you enjoyed it. Fire is always fun (in case you were wondering I did not start the fire). Have a great week everyone!

Nos vemos,
Elder Gardner

Monday, December 6, 2010

¡Bautismo! (Cazador Week 3)

¡Que buena semana! ¡Tuvimos un bautismo!

Alright I´ll write in English now. It has been an eventful week. When I first got to this area Elder Merrill told me not to get too comfortable because we were going to move in a few days. Well, three weeks later we finally moved. Wednesday night we got a call saying the dueños (landlords) were going to kick us out if we didn´t move. So Thursday we packed everything and moved. Our new house is in the suburbs, away from the city. Which means the road outside our house is a dirt road, and there is no grocery store near by, it is pretty different. But it is in the middle of our area which is nice, less walking for us. We also have a patio and an area to plant things; sadly we never have time to actually use the patio.

So, Thursday we spent almost all day moving. Friday we went to a wedding. Adrian and Rocío got married (the blind man and his wife). Argentine weddings are not romantic at all. We went to a government building, waited in line, then got led into a little room with 20 chairs or so. A lady walked in dressed in normal clothes, sat down, and said the marriage thing they say (´do you take so and so to be your wife....´ but it was in Spanish). During the whole time everyone was sitting down: including the couple getting married and the lady performing the marriage. When the lady finished talking the couple kissed (still sitting) then signed some papers. Then the witnesses signed some papers. Then we left. It took about 8 minutes in the room. No wonder no one gets married in this country. It´s not all that of an exciting ceremony.

Then Saturday was the really important day. The day they got baptized! The baptismal service was really good and a lot of members came which was awesome. Adrian asked me to baptize him and Rocío asked Elder Merrill to baptize her. So I baptized a blind man, it was a pretty cool experience. And they are truely converted to the gospel. I didn´t do anything to help them on their journey to the church, I just happened to be the missionary here when they got baptized. They fast every week, already paid their tithing, read the scriptures and pray every day, are already planning on going to the temple, have shared the gospel with their friends. They are really going to help this ward.

On Sunday Adrian and Rocío were confirmed members and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. That was also a really awesome experience for them. Then they bore their testimonies (since it was fast Sunday) and each talked about 10 minutes. They are caupos. After church we taught an investigator that we haven´t talked to in three weeks and also taught his son for the first time. The dad is still very interested and excited about the gospel and the son also was very interested.

We are starting to have some great success in this area. Now we just got to keep it up.

I´ve officially passed three months in Argentina. As for my spanish, I can understand almost everything. I still don´t know all the words they say but I can understand what they are trying to say, unless they start talking about cars or something random. And I can communicate almost anything I want. Not in perfect Spanish, my accent is still very gringo, but I can express myself. So it is going pretty good. God has blessed me alot to help me communicate.

That´s all I got for this week. I´m sending pictures of the wedding and baptism. ¡Que tengan una buena semana!

Hasta Luego,
Elder Gardner

This was our Thanksgiving dinner that we had last p-day. We made mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and chicken (turkey is way expensive).
It was way delicious and I ate a ton.

Siging the marriage paper. ¨Till death do you part¨

Us missionaries with the bride and groom. This is a nice little garden to take pictures in outside the marriage building.

Adrian and Rocío at the temple getting married for time and all eternity....
to come in one year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

IT IS HOT!! (Cazador Week 2)


Well, it is hot. In case you didn´t know, it is summer time in South America right now. And it is very humid and there isn´t a whole lot of shade out in the suburbs. But it´s all good. I´m here to serve the Lord, I can handle a little heat.

It has been a pretty good week. Adrian and Rocío (the blind man and his wife) are going to get baptized this Saturday! We are pretty excited about that. They are great people, they have a ton of faith and are willing to do anything to follow Christ, and being baptized is going to help them a lot. The ward also has really started to help them become part of the family of the gospel by inviting them to activities and making them more included and comfortable. I´ve really come to appreciate the importance of friendship within the church. It is so much easier to live the gospel when you have friends who are there to help you.

But besides Adrian and Rocío we don´t have a whole lot of people to teach. We have been focusing a lot of finding people this week. Last Sunday we fasted to be able to help the ward with getting members to come to church and finding more investigators. That day when we went to our lunch appointment we met a friend of a member who is an amazing person. He is twenty years old, lives alone (not with a girl), doesn´t smoke, doesn´t drink, has faith in God but doesn´t attend a church. We taught him one time this week and was really receptive. I know it was a blessing from God that we found him. The power of fasting is real, and too often over looked in the church.

We also found a boy of an inactive member who is really smart and really liked the church when he went. We found him because all of our plans fell through on Saturday and we just went to a different part of the area to see if we could talk to someone. Finding him was another blessing. Both him and his mom came to church this Sunday which was awesome! The only problem is the mom is kind of weird. She is looking for a husband and we are pretty sure she thinks we are good prospects. It´s pretty akward talking to her sometimes, but she needs to come to church anyway.

So it has been a great week. God is really starting to bless us and the church in this area. We are trying to be worthy of more miracles and more blessing from Him. Our goal this week is to find a complete family that we can bring into the church and baptize on Christmas. So far we haven´t found the family, but we are praying and know that we will.

It is almost December! Almost Christmas time! If anyone wants to send me a Christmas present, don´t even think about it! It is way expensive to send packages here. Instead invite the missionaries over to your house. Give them lunch, dinner, a cold drink, or a snack; however you feel like helping them. And listen to the message they have to share with you. I know that this message is true: that God truely loves His children and that Christ is our Savior. The missionaries are servants of God, and when you accept the servants of God you are accepting Him. That is the present you could give to both me and to the Lord.

Hope you all have a great week. Keep up the good work!

Elder Gardner

Friday, November 26, 2010

El Cazador Week 1

Well, I´m not in Kansas anymore. Actually I feel a lot more like I am in Kansas now than before. My area is a suburb of the city Escobar. The city is about an hour and a half north of Buenos Aires (the city). So I am in ´The Province´ (outside of the city Buenos Aires but inside the province Buenos Aires). It is a lot different from my last area. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Parque Chacabuco (specifically Villa 1-11-14) is one of the most dangerous areas in the mission. El Cazador is one of the safest.
2. In El Cazador there are dirt roads and people actually have yards.
3. There are chickens and roosters and ducks and horses all over the place.
4. At night time there are fireflies.
5. People here are actually from the Argentina.
6. Parque Chacabuco has an average sunday attendance of 140. El Cazador: 70.

My companion is Elder Merrill. He is from Idaho Falls, Idaho. He is the district leader here and is a very good missionary. We are teaching a couple that is going to get married and baptized in two weeks. The husband is blind and the wife is 18. They have a one year old little boy. We are also teaching two kids whose grandad got baptized a year or so ago but no one else in the family. The kids want to get baptized in a few weeks and we hope to baptize the rest soon enough.

Besides that this area has a ton of inactive members. We are working hard to get them back to church and help the attendance on Sundays. There is a lot of walking involved here. People don´t live all close together like they do in the villa.

Well, this week is Thanksgiving. I hope everyone remembers how blessed they are to live in the United States of America and to have the lives that they do. I am more thankful now than ever for what I have back home.

That´s all I´ve got for this week. I hope to have pictures of some chickens or something for the next time. For the first time of my life I am living outside of a city. It is weird, but I love it. Have a great week!

Con Amor,
Elder Gardner

Elder Merrill standing in their room.

Doug and Elder Merrill

The stairs. I think they are awesome cause they are spirally.

The bottom story of their apartment. Kitchen/other elder´s room.

I am attaching a letter. ¡You are not allowed to open or read it until thanksgiving! It is about some of the things I am thankful for. You can have Dad read it before you eat on thanksgiving or something. I am going to be very jealous of the great food. There isn´t really turkey, mashed potatoes, or stuffing here. So have someone eat extra for me. But don´t eat too much mom! You got to watch your health.

Having lived outside of the United States, especially outside of Irvine, Ca, I have come to be thankful for a lot of things we take for granted in the States. Among many, the main three are: my house, my religion, and my family.

1. My house. I have seen all sorts of houses here. Most of them are just cement and brick. Many of them are literally smaller than my front room. They share a kitchen and a bathroom with other ´houses´ that are close by. The people here don´t have the ability to go to their room to be alone, to have a nice table where they eat, couches are almost non-existent, a lot of people don´t even have chairs, just stools. There are also people who don´t even have that much, all they have is the clothes on their back. It is so hard to walk by people sleeping on the street and not just want to cry. To have my own bedroom with my own bed, a fridge, a kitchen, a couch, a tv, a computer, carpet. All of these things I am so grateful for.

2. My religion. There are so many people who don´t know why they are on the earth. Who have no purpose, no foundation. When something bad happens in their live they have no where to turn for comfort or guidance. That is why we have the gospel. That is why we have Christ. So that no matter what happens we know who we are and we know why we are here. It gives meaning to live and a reason to get going enough when life is tough, which it always is.

3. My family. There are tons of broken families here. Girls that got pregnant as teenagers, dads who left, kids who live on the street. The strength and protection that a family gives is invaluable. To have parents who love me and will do anything for me. Siblings that care about me and are always available to give advice or hang out with. It is a great blessing to have a strong large family that loves eachother. Even though there will be at least one more nephew that I don´t know when I get back, I love him too. Though there will actually be at least one more neice/nephew, because Rachel is pregnant.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. I love you all. May God be with you till we meet again.

Les quiero mucho,

Elder Gardner

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

6 in one apartment (Par. Chac. Week 12)

Well, this week we had some interesting things happen. On Thursday we heard that the elders of Nueva Pompeya were going to move into our apartment with us. They were the ones that used to be here last transfer but left at the beginning of this transfer when we got two more in Chacabuco. The place they were living in was really small and there were four elders there, so they moved in with us; six elders in a bigger apartment. Elder Jimenez and Elder Hallett moved in Thursday afternoon. Now the entire district is in the same apartment. It has been crazy. There isn´t a whole lot of space anymore and there is a lot more of people to talk to / things to do while we are all home at night. It´s been a lot of fun.

On Saturday we did service for a member that lives in the villa and we moved a bunch of dirt up some stairs. It was pretty tiring and I still have a blister on my hand from it. But I got some pictures of the villa that I am sending so you can see more of what it is like.

On Sunday we had Stake Conference. It was really good. The mission president and his wife came and spoke at the meeting. Sister Gulbransen is really fun to watch speak spanish, it makes me feel a lot better about myself. She doesn´t really know any spanish, but she is trying really hard to talk anyway which is awesome. After church we went to an investigators house; José and Inese. They were the ones we found that were going to get married but never did. We found out that Inese has debt and José doesn´t want to marry her and inherit the debt. And José told us that he resells stolen items in order to make more money. We were pretty shocked by that. It seems they still have a few things to fix before they get baptized, but they believe the church is true. That´s good.

On Monday I went on exchanges with Elder Jimenez (the district leader). He is going home tomorrow and yesterday was his last full day in the mission field. He did a great job and didn´t slack off at all. We worked hard all day and taught quite a few people. He is a really good teacher and a really fun guy; even though I don´t always understand his Mexican accent. It´s sad to see him go. And also weird to think that someone can actually go home. I never would have thought that was possible. It feels like I´ll be on the mission forever, but that is a good thing. I´m loving it.

O yeah. One awesome story. We were walking through the villa on Wednesday when we heard something fall and break right behind us. At the same time I felt something hit my leg. I looked behind me and saw a broken egg on the ground and egg yoke on my pants. ¡Someone threw an egg at us! That was pretty funny. We are pretty sure it was one of the drug dealers. But a member saw it and talked to the person and took care of the problem. I never expected to have an egg thrown at me on the mission. Crazy stuff happens in Villa 1-11-14.

Well, that is all of my adventures for this week. I´ll have more to tell next week, I promise. Toon in next time, same place, slightly different time. Have a great week everyone!

Hasta Luego,
Elder Gardner

Here is Doug's answer to my questions about how transfers happen and what his new area is like:

Well, my prediction was half-way right. I left Parque Chacabuco, but Elder Ludwig is not district leader. I am currently in Escobar, about an hour and a half north of the city Buenos Aires. So I am out of the city.

Well, at 10:15 last night we got a call telling me I was leaving. We went to bed at 10:30, at 6:30 woke up, packed, and left at 10:15. We all went to the mission offices (about an hour away) and there met up with our new companions. From there I went to Escobar and Elder Ludwig went back to Chacabuco with his new comp. I have no idea what the area is like, we just got here about a half hour ago. It is a smaller city and our area is a suburb of the city. So it is very different from the capital were I have been. My comp is Elder Merrill from Idaho. He is the district leader. I don´t know a whole lot else, but he seems really cool. We should get alone great and work hard together.

Here is what Doug said about the taking the pictures:

We did service for a member family in the villa. We moved a big pile of dirt up two flights of stairs (they are adding another floor to the house). I shoveled the dirt into buckets and the other three took them up the stairs. I felt comfortable taking my camera since we were in normal clothes. I tried to get some pics of what it is like in the villa. You can´t really tell what it is like from the pictures, but it is better than nothing.

Doug and Elder Ludwig with Elder Jimenez and Elder Hallet

Doug and Elder Amasio in our matching jerseys (he paid 50 for it; Doug only paid 40; he wins)

Elder Jimenez with his arroz chaufa and hat that a member gave him. That arroz is sooo good!

Doug on top of the roof with the villa in the background.

The view from the roof of the house. You can´t really see a whole lot because there are houses all around. Practically every window is a different family.

Another view from the roof.

Drinking soda after the service, a favorite Argentine pastime.

The ground view of a typical manzana (alleyway). This is one is bigger than some of the others, but this is what it is like.

A door. There are two really, the one on the left and one on the right.

The inside of the members hose, you can´t see a whole lot in this picture, but you can see some.

Elder Amasio moving the dirt.

Yo y Elder Ludwig. We pretend like we can play the guitar sometimes; but the only one who can is Elder Amasio

Monday, November 8, 2010

The work moves on (Par. Chac. Week 11)

I don´t really have much to say this week. Not a whole lot happened. We spend most of our time trying to find more people to teach. And we find people without too much of a problem, people are willing to listen. But when we set an appointment to come back they are never there. They like to learn about God and Christ but they don´t want to act on what they learn.

Monday of the past week was ¨Day of the Dead¨ which sounds like it would be about ghosts or something but it is actually about paying respect to dead relatives. The tradition is that the spirits of the dead come back and visit the family members, and that this is the only day of the year that they can leave the world of the dead. The families make food that the dead person liked and leave it for them to eat. There was one investigator that was really sad because she forgot to make the food; but we explained to her that it was just a tradition and that the spirits of our loved ones can visit us whenever we need them. She was a lot happier afterwards.

On Friday my companion had to go to paperwork. He´s been here a year and a half and still doesn´t his DNI, the thing he needs to live here legally. Afterwards we went to Florida Street and ate at California Burrito Company. It was pretty good, a nice american burrito; kind of like Chipotle but not as big or as good. Man, if there is one thing I miss here it is Mexican food. The same day (about an hour later) we ate lunch with the Bishop and our district leader came and made tacos. Since he is from Mexico they were ¨real¨ tacos; but they were exactly the same as the ones us Americans made a week ago. The only difference was that he made some special salsa that was pretty good. It was a nice Mexican food filled day.

There isn´t much else this week. The work is moving on. Sometimes I wish it would move a little faster, but it takes time for people to change their lives. Hay que tener paciencia. Sorry for the not too exciting letter. Hope everyone has a great week.

Con Amor,
Elder Gardner

Monday, November 1, 2010

I weigh 67 kilos! (Par. Chac. Week 10)

According to our conversion tool on our cell phone, 67 kilos is 147 pounds. That is still pretty skinny for my height, but it is the most I´ve ever weighed in my life! I´ve gained about 8 pounds since I got to Argentina.

Well, this was by far the most interesting week on the mission so far. On Monday night we went to the villa to visit some people and there were cops in full body gear all over the place. We were in one house teaching a lesson and five of them walked in. I was worried they were going to search us (not that we have anything, just that it would waste a lot of our time) but they just wanted to use the bathroom. Then we went to a family home evening with an investigator family at a member family´s house. But when we got to the member´s house there were police blocking the entrance to the manzana (alleyway) where they lived. Apparently they arrived at about 2 in the afternoon and started a drug search of all the houses in that manzana. They didn´t leave until about 9 at night and during that time no one was allowed to leave or enter the manzana. They ruined our plans.

Tuesday was fairly normal, except that the villa was really quiet and empty. There weren´t the normal drug dealers and there wasn´t music blaring in the street. It felt entirely different after the whole drug bust thing.

Wednesday was the Argentina National Census. In Argentina it is pretty different from the states. Instead of filling out a form and sending it in or whatever we do, Argentina shuts down the country for a day. No stores were open, there was no school, everyone had to stay home and wait for the census workers to arrive. The census workers went to every door in the country and got the information they needed. So we had to stay home all day. It was so boring! There is only so many times you can play monopoly in one day without going crazy. But I was counted in the Argentina National Census, which is pretty cool. I´ll be on the stats for ten years until they do it again.

Also on Wednesday the ex-president of Argentina died of a heart attack (I´m not sure if he got counted in the census before he died or not). He was the president before the current president, and the current president is his wife. I guess there are the Clinton couple of Argentina. So everyone has been watching the funeral services for the past few days.

Thursday we had a member take to a restaraunt for lunch (which has never happened before). I got pizza, which was a mistake. Argentine pizza isn´t that great, they cover it in way too much cheese. I wouldn´t mind not eating pizza again for the next two years, but I know that won´t happen.

When we went to the villa on Thursday there were a bunch of people walking down the street right outside the villa. We asked some members and it seemed to be some sort of protest connected with the ex-president´s death. A lot of people went to the funeral services so the villa was kind of empty and we were advised to stay away for a few days until things got back to normal.

On Friday the ward had an activity at the church were the members made food from their native countries. There was food from Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, China, and the United States. We were asked to make food from the states so we made tacos. Everyone made fun of us for making "fake tacos" but they all liked the tacos. They don´t know what real tacos are here anyway so what do they know. And the best part was that members don´t let missionaries pay for things, even when we try to. (I think it was five pesos for a dish) So I got some free food from Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia; it was all pretty good.

On Saturday and Sunday Elder Ludwig and I took turns not feeling good, and the members were still saying we should stay away from the villa, so we didn´t do a whole lot. We had lunch on Saturday in the villa and we walked through without any problem. From what the members were saying I thought it was some sort of disaster in there; they just worry too much about us. It seems fine. But we have stayed away anyway just in case.

So that was my week. There wasn´t a single normal day during it. Of course normal on the mission is still crazy. We didn´t get to talk to a whole lot of our investigators. I hope they are all still doing well. Hope everyone has a great week! Stay safe, work hard, have fun, read your scriptures, pray, and go to church. That´s my best advice.

Con amor,
Elder Gardner

Those are our tacos in the finished version. I prefer a little less lettuce, but they were still delicous. Members asked us for the recipe... Ummm, we used seasoning packets that Elder Clarke´s mom sent him from the states.

Empanadas! The Argentine clasic. I really like empanadas, they are kind of like tacos all wrapped up, but better.

Elder Amasio and Elder Ludwig making the tacos. Elder Clarke (you can see his arm) got chewed out for putting the lettuce on with his hands. This is Argentina!! The food they eat is ten times more dirty, why did they care!

This is the Peruvian booth. Most of the members who feed us are Peruvian, and their food is really good.

I believe that was the Bolivian booth.

Elder Ludwig and Elder Clarke at our booth in at the ward activity. Ours was by far the least decorated booth, but at least we had some cardboard to draw a flag on.

The view from the roof of the apartment builing. Sometime I forget how big Buenos Aires really is. My area doesn´t feel like a huge city, but seeing those buildings reminds me.

Some ghosts the 9 year old girls in my home ward sent me. Thanks! The best part was the kleenex, they were so soft! Everyone here just uses toilet paper and it is not very soft at all.

A package my companion got from home. The mail is pretty safe, the decorations aren´t necessary, but they are funny.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It´s getting hot (Par. Chac. Week 9)

Well, it is almost summer time here. And things are starting to heat up. It´s been probably in the 70s or 80s this week. But it feels a lot hotter because there is a lot of humidity. And the mosquitos are coming. They aren´t too bad yet, but I hear that soon they will be. The joys of South America.

This week has been interesting. José and Inese, the miracle couple we found last week, haven´t taken out a turn for marriage yet. (The way it works here is you go and do some paperwork and then they give you a date that you get married on, usually a month wait or so.) Their car broke so they have had to be with the car while the mecanic fixed it, we are pretty sure it´s the devil trying to stop them. But the car is working now and they still want to get married, so we are going to go with them sometime this week to take out a turn.

We have also been talking with another guy named José. He is the dad of Mica, the nine year old girl who we were going to baptize. He just wants to argue with us, but after talking to both him and the mom at the same time we got him to agree to let Mica be baptized. But when we said he was invited to the baptismal service he said he wouldn´t come. After that the mom backed down and said to wait so that there isn´t problems with the dad. We haven´t been able to talk to them after that and she didn´t come to church. We are pretty worried that something bad might have happened.

On Thursday I had the grossest thing I have eaten yet. It was some sort of chopped up corn that was boiled in water with some sauce on it. It looked like mush, the taste was bland, and the texture was horrible. I made it through one plate and then they gave me a second and I had to fight through every bite. The banana flavored juice didn´t help too much either. Apparently that is a staple for the poorer people here.

As for miracles this week: Saturday morning my stomach wasn´t feeling very good, but I was doing well enough to leave and work. During the day I was completely fine and had no problem. But as soon as we got home, literally the second I walked in the door, my stomach felt horrible again. I couldn´t plan or anything I just went straight to bed. This truely is the work of the Lord and He blessed me with the strength I needed to accomplish His work that day. God is still a God of miracles, I see them every day as a missionary. You just have to open your eyes and see them for what they are.

Well, that´s all for this week. Hope everyone has a great week. O, and ¡happy birthday Cindy (aunt grandma)!

Hasta luego,
Elder Gardner

Monday, October 18, 2010

¿Do you Believe in Miracles? (Par. Chac. Week 8)


Where to start? First, let me tell you about the area. We haven´t heard anything from the mission president about what to do, so we are just keeping the division we decided on, which means Elder Ludwig and I have the villa. The other two elders in the apartment are Elder Clarke (from Utah) who has six months in Argentina and Elder Amasio (he is Tongan and grew up in Anahiem) who has eight months in Argentina. So there are four yankees serving in the ward. It´s been kind of bad for my spanish because we speak english in the apartment instead of last transfer where we had to speak spanish for the latinos. But my spanish in still progressing and I can understand more every day.

On Tuesday we had a conference with Elder Arnold, a member of the Seventy. It was pretty awesome. He talked a lot about being a consecrated missionary and focusing all our efforts on the work (very similar to what Elder Ringwood told my district in the MTC). He also had a list of things we were going to do differently to be more effective and use our time better, like changing when district meetings are, always praying on knees at the end of lessons, not spending as long with members at lunch, etc. But the real miracle happened after the conference when Elder Arnold gave everyone a hug as we left. I was near the back of the line and when it got to my turn Elder Arnold asked how I was then asked me and my companion to wait a minute. After he finished hugging people he took us into a room and talked to us as a companionship then afterwards he had Elder Ludwig step out and talked to me personally. He pretty much just said that he could tell I was having a hard time and to not be too hard on myself. Sometimes things don´t work out as we want them to and we just have to accept it and not let it get us down. It was definitely something I needed to hear at that moment. I´ve talked to apostles and seventies before but I´ve never had one single me out of a group of over a hundred and talk to me one on one for a few minutes. I could tell he knew what I was feeling and what I needed to hear. It was awesome.

The other miracle of the week happened throughout a period of a few days. On monday we were with a family who wanted us to buy lemons for them. So we went to the store they told us but no one was there (the store is in a home and you just buy through a window). So we went to another fruit stand where the ladies selling the fruit talked to us about the church. One gave us her address. On Wensday we went to go find the house she told us. On the way we got stopped by some people selling mirrors who talked to us about the gospel (that was a fun experience by itself, one of the guys had me pray for him to be able to sell his mirrors; so I stood there in the middle of the villa and said a prayer). When we got to the manzana (I think I would call it an alleyway in english; and yes that is also the word for apple) where the lady said she lived it was obvious the house number didn´t really exist. But as we walked down the alley a guy said ¨hi elders¨ to us. We stopped and talked to him. He is the son of a member and has talked with missionaries a lot, but we have no record of it in our area book. In the beginning as we talked to him he said that he had never been ´convinced´ by the other missionaries. We didn´t teach anything, just asked questions, and all of a sudden he said, ¨tomorrow we will go take out a turn to get married.¨ We have no idea what changed his mind, but he and his wife are going to get married and baptized in a month. There is no way we would have been in that manzana if the fruit lady hadn´t lied to us about her address, or if anyone had been in the first fruit store, and we would have been there too early to talk to him if the mirrors guys hadn´t stopped us. But God knows all things and set up the situation perfectly so that we could be in the right place at the right time.

Both of those experiences were awesome and I know they were both miracles from God. I´ve been kind of sad because there are so many great people who I want to help change their lives, but they just won´t accept what we have to offer, or won´t put in the effort to read the scriptures and pray and go to church. I´ve come to really love some of the people we are teaching, and it is hard to see them deny the comfort the gospel can bring them. But I think that is what Elder Arnold was trying to tell me, I just got to do my best and accept that I can´t force people to come unto Christ; just work hard and put the rest in God´s hands. And He will provide, like He did with the guy we found this week.

Well that is all for this week. Have a great week everyone!

os quiero, (haha, got to love vosotros)
Elder Gardner

¨As I started down the street last Sunday feeling sort of down and kind of blue. Suddenly a voice said go forth stranger spread the picture on a wider screen. And the voice said neighbor there´s a million reasons why you should be glad in all four seasons. Hit the road neighbor leave your worry and strive. Spread the religion of the rythm of life.¨