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.

Monday, June 28, 2010

MTC, Week 1

Hola Everyone,

Well, I made it. I'm at the MTC doing my laundry right now. The trip from California to the MTC was rather uneventful. Becca already told you all about it so I won't, other than when I was going down the escalators at the Salt Lake Airport I saw a huge sign saying, "Welcome Home Elder Gardner!" I thought it was pretty funny an Elder with my same name came home the same time I left. I talked to the people holding the sign, they were nice.

When I got to the MTC they had another Elder take my luggage while they took my picture and gave me my nametag. It's pretty weird to have my own missionary nametag. It almost makes it seem like I'm actually a missionary. My companions name is Elder Kelly (I call him Elder Keshy (Nate should get that)). He is a really cool kid from Salt Lake City. His dad co-founded Jet Blue, but retired since he is the new mission president of the Rome, Italy Mission. So Elder Kelly's parents were here for the mission president training seminar the past few days. Having the mission presidents here was interesting; we weren't allowed into some of the buildings and the cafeteria was half as small as normal. But there were many apostles here the past few days.

The other Elders in my room are Elder Beck, from Utah, and Elder Rasmussen, from Canada (no relation to President Rasmussen). They are both really cool. My district has nine Elders and two Hermanas (sisters). Half are going to Buenos Aires North and half are going to Neuquen Argentina. My teachers names are Hermano Strugill and Hermano Ringwood. Our zone is getting new zone leaders this week, the old ones are leaving, and one of the new ones is named Elder Molinaro (I think that's how you spell it). At BYU I knew him as Justin, he was my Family Home Evening dad. I've seen several people I know from BYU, but most of my close friends don't come for another month.

Spanish is tough. We have a computer program called TALL that helps quite a bit, but we haven't really learned any grammar yet, just vocab. So I don't know how to form a sentence. I think it's cool though, the first thing they teach you is how to pray in espanol. What a good thing to learn how to do. Hopefully as I pray in Spanish God will realize how bad I am at it and help me out a bit.

On Friday there was a special fireside because of the mission presidents and eight of the twelve apostles were there. Elder Oaks spoke about the true and living church. My companion got to go to a sacrament meeting with his parents where ten of the twelve and the entire first presidency were there. The prophet spoke the entire meeting. Sadly, I didn't get to go with him, but he said it was awesome. We got to meet our new mission president since he was here being trained. His name is President Gulbrandsen, he is from Arizona and seems really nice. I'm excited to be able to work with him in Argentina.

On Saturday we had our first practice teaching experience. Hermano Strugill told us we would be teaching a man named Felipe who was an ex-gang member/drug runner who did some serious sins and didn't think he could be forgiven. He gave us twenty minutes to prepare the first lesson then teach another companionship who pretended to be Felipe. Elder Kelly and I outlined the lesson and did an ok job teaching the restoration, but we didn't focus at all on Felipe's needs. That's what they are really trying to get us to focus on, the investigator's needs. So for companionship study we went over the lesson and tried to do a better job with his needs. We were doing good when we got to the Savior and the atonement. We didn't know what to say and sat for a few minutes thinking. All of a sudden an idea hit me, we turned to the scriptures and we talked about the cruxifiction and the pain Christ suffered. The spirit was really strong as Elder Kelly and I tried to figure out what we could tell Felipe. I think that was the first time I've ever really been guided by the spirit to do something specific, it was a great feeling. On Sunday we tried teaching Felipe again and this time the spirit was really strong. Our pretend Felipe was really good and he said he could really feel the spirit. I'm excited that I've had such a great experience and it's only been four days. I hope that I can continue to recognize the spirit and be able to follow its guidance better.

I'm loving the MTC. I'm loving being a missionary. I know what I'm doing is what God wants me to do and that I can help people change their lives. I'm working hard, and praying harder.

Elder Gardner

p..s.. I don't have anyone's address so if you want me to write you you need to write me first.

"Here I go. And there's no turning back. My great adventure has begun. I may be small, but I have gaint plans to shine as brightly as the sun."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doug's final hours as Doug, by Becca

Just so you know.....I'm writing lots of details for Mom's sake :)

When I drove up to the airport Doug was sitting on is suitcase, waiting for me in the passenger pickup area. His plane was supposed to land at 9:59am. I got there at 10:10, thinking that was perfect timing because that'd give him time to walk off the plane out to passenger pickup. Turns out his plane landed at 9:30 so he'd been waiting for a long time. Oops. And he had no cell phone to call me and tell me to drive faster!

Doug told me that when he rode down the escalator at the airport, the first thing he saw was a big group of people holding a sign that said, "Welcome Home Elder Gardner!!!" He went up to them and told them that he was Elder Gardner but he was going INTO the MTC today. Funny coincidence. We were already away from the airport when he told me that so we couldn't run back inside to take a picture.....sorry mom :)

Our first stop was to the Schofields for a quick visit and to say goodbye. They were all outside working in the yard so we hung out on the trampoline for awhile. Shelly drew some pictures for Doug......which he left in my car and I may or may not mail them to him. I'm sure Shelly will draw and send him plenty more.

Doug had fun swinging Jason around in circles a few times. I laughed so hard when Doug put Jason down and he was stumbling all over the place. I wish I had video of that. But of course Jason wanted more.

After chatting for a bit, it was time for some final pictures and goodbyes. We had been telling Shelly that she wouldn't see Doug again until she was six to which she said, "I'll be six after I'm five and I will be five in December." Smart girl. When she was sitting in Doug's lap for this picture Doug told her that he'd see her in two years. Shelly said, "Two years is a long time, you know." Too true. We'll miss Doug!
I love this series of pictures of Doug and Jason. There was a normal, really cute one that started this series but for some reason it wouldn't upload off my camera. I showed Jason how cute he was and then he just wanted to take more pictures so he could see them. He puffed his cheeks out, then they made grumpy faces, then I got another cute smile out of him. In between each picture Jason would come look at the camera and then run back to Doug's lap.

For the picture with Emmy Sue, Rachel told Doug to hold her in a way that would hide her dirty shirt. I hope that Doug is more obedient in the MTC.

Of course we needed one with Mark and Rachel. And then Shelly wanted in on the photo too.

After leaving the Schofields, we stopped by the Provo House to grab Doug's HUGE suitcases. Doug got to say bye to Matt, Sabrina and Beth and snap a quick picture.

Then it was off to lunch at Cafe Rio. That is where Doug picked for his final meal. Which is funny because he told me he'd only been there one time and he didn't really like it. I asked why he picked to go there then and he said that he wanted to give it another shot because everyone is obsessed with it. He liked it better this time but didn't rave. There were at least 3 or 4 other future missionaries that also picked Cafe Rio for their last meal. We saw families dressed in normal clothes with a young man in a suit......definitely headed to the MTC after eating. It was pretty funny. Sorry mom, no pictures here. Bryan met up with us at Cafe Rio and Doug and Bryan chatted about the MTC and Doug asked a few questions. During lunch we asked Doug how he was feeling. He said he was excited and nervous but mostly excited. He said, "It's just the MTC. I'll be more nervous when I go to Argentina." Doug didn't finish his burrito which was a sign to me that he was nervous because that kid NEVER has a problem putting down lots of food. I asked him if that's what the unfinished burrito meant and he said kind of. He could have eaten it all but he would have been stuffed and he wanted to go into the MTC full but not stuffed. Cute kid.

When it was about 12:45, the boys made me hurry and take a final bite so we could head to the MTC. We got there just before 1:00.

Here are Doug and Bryan wheeling the big suitcases toward the MTC.
And now just Doug without Bryan in the background. Doug was turning around to figure out where Bryan had gone. As we walked towards the MTC a group of missionaries coming off of the field started cheering when they saw Doug. It was like he was a celebrity. They welcomed him and asked where he was going and then as we were walking across the street yelled, "Send your last text message!" Oh missionaries. That'll be Doug in a week or two. Bryan said those missionaries were just excited to have contact with people from 'the outside world'.
One of the MTC corners was really busy with people taking pictures so we hurried across to the other side and didn't have to wait too long. Here is Doug in his final minutes as Doug. I'm sure he'll be taking that same picture sometime in the next two months, but he'll be Elder Gardner then.
Bryan and I jumped in for a photo with Doug and Doug made Bryan stand on the other side all by himself. I cut myself out of the picture because I look hideous and refuse to post that picture on the internet, sorry.....so just imagine me standing by Doug and Bryan on the other side by himself. It was funny. Doug is a funny kid.
We walked Doug up as far as they would let us, which was by this cute man and his chair. The cute man told us to hug and then asked Doug a few questions. He asked, "Do you know where your immunization records are? Do you have a cell phone? Do you have your family's car keys?" Pretty funny questions. Doug answered correctly to all of them and so they let him in. First the man said to hug us again, then another Elder who was helped out grabbed the suitcase that Bryan had and walked away with Doug.
They kept getting farther and farther away. Kind of sad. And kind of happy. All at the same time.
I turned around and snapped this one as we were walking across the street. You can see Elder Gardner if you look close.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One Day More!

Well, this is my last day as a normal person. I'm pretty excited to go, I've been waiting for this pretty much my whole life. I'm also rather nervous about trying to learn Spanish, getting along with my companion, and talking to people. But I'm ready to go save some souls. Besides, I know the Lord will support me. Proverbs 3:4-5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Thank you for supporting me and reading this blog. My mom will update it with my weekly letters. If you want to have the letters directly emailed to you comment on the post with your email and my mom will add you to the list. I'll miss you all. May God be with you till we meet again.

Elder Gardner