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, July 26, 2010

MTC, Week 5

Well, it's been an exciting week.

Last p-day I got a haircut at the MTC barbershop, so of course they cut it really short and I look rather silly right now. But o well, it will grow back.

On Wednesday new missionaries came (like they do every week). Our zone got some new Elders, but they are all fluent in Spanish already. So they are only here for three weeks then they leave. It's rather humbling to have some new elders come in and start speaking to me and I have no idea what they are saying even though I've been here for a month. But they are really cool and are willing to help us with our spanish, which is nice. Elder Kelly and I have taught some of them two lessons so far. They say that they understand everything we say so we need to stop worrying so much about what we are saying and just focus on teaching. But I can't understand what they say when we ask them questions. So I need to work on listening to natives. I understand other missionaries that are learning spanish cause they all talk slow and use the same words I am learning. But these new ones talk fast and use different words. So it's great that they are here, they should really help my spanish.

Also on Wednesday Hermana Yost (Allie) entered the MTC. I looked for her all day but didn't see her until Thursday afternoon. She is doing well. There isn't really time in our schedules to talk to people, and we have different food and gym times, so I haven't gotten to talk to her too much. But I see her every now and then when we are studying outside. I'll have to send a picture of us home (we did an awkward photo together since we're missionaries and can't put arms around eachother or anything).

Another person who came in on Wednesday was Elder Delmoe (I knew him as Ben at BYU). The weird thing is he and my companion and another elder that was in my ward at BYU (Elder Anderson) were best friends before the mission. The world really is small when you are mormon.

On Friday we had a fake sacrament meeting in Spanish with another district. I don't know why we did that because we have a real sacrament meeting in spanish every Sunday, but we did it anyway. I was asked to talk about the law of chastity. I thought that was kinda silly cause I don't know spanish and if I were to say something wrong I could end up saying something pretty bad. But it went ok. The only one who really understood it was the teacher and he said I did a good job.

We got to go to the temple today! Today was the first day it was open (I think) after being closed for a month. It was nice to get to go again. And I still learn lots of new things even though it was my sixteenth time.

And today is no ingles lunes. Our zone is trying to speak in only spanish all day. We've tried it as a district before but it hasn't worked all that well, but hopefully as a zone we can keep it up for longer. It's hard not to speak english, but we are at the point where we can communicate pretty much any idea in spanish that we need to, we just need to make ourselves do it. So it is nice to have to force myself to think of how to say it in spanish. Hopefully that will help once I get to Argentina and I absolutely have to speak in spanish.

Well, I'm out of time. I'm doing great in the MTC. God is good. Talk to you all next week.

les quiero,
Elder Gardner

"Open the gates and seize the day. Don't be afraid and don't delay. Nothing can break us, no one can make us give our rights away. Arise and seize the day!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

MTC, Week 4(?)


Well, I've made it another week. It's crazy, I've almost been here a whole month. I'm just about at my half way point of the MTC. I'm way excited to get to Argentina and start teaching real people, but I am still enjoying being here. I heard that Argentina recently legalized gay marriage. That should make the next two years a little more interesting...

So, mom asked me some questions about how mission presidents are called. I don't think she actually expected me to answer them, but since my companion's parents are mission presidents I asked him and he told me how it works. The person being called has be to officially recommended be a General Authority (member of the 70 or higher); stake presidents can suggest names to them but only GAs can officially submit them. The recommendations are given to the presidents of the quorum of the 70 and they make the intial decision as to who will serve in what mission. Their decision is then given to the quorum of the 12 apostles who go through and make changes if they feel like it. The apostles then send their decision to the first presidency who make the final decision. The people being selected as mission presidents have no idea any of this is happening until they are called and told to meet with an apostle. So, that's how it works. Hope you're happy mom. And if I got any of it wrong blame my companion.

Nothing too exciting happened this week, just normal class and teaching. Spanish is coming along alright; it's hard but not horrible. Taking Latin in high school has helped a little bit with understanding grammar, but it hasn't helped at all with vocab or anything. Mainly because I forgot everything from Latin.

During our TRC this week we had to talk to someone on a "bus." It went ok, my companion did most of the talking, but I understood and said more than I have on previous weeks. Then we taught the second lesson in English. The second lesson is the plan of salvation (in case you were curious) but we didn't get very far. We talked about pre-earth life and Adam and Eve but then he asked about baptism and we spent the rest of the time talking about why he would need to be baptised again and why we don't baptize babies. We did a good job of answering his questions, he seemed sastisfied enough. Sadly we didn't get to teach him anything about what happens after death. O well, I guess he'll find that out when he dies.

Our teacher had us teach in Spanish for the first time on Saturday. It was pretty intense. We had about twenty minutes to prepare, so we went over what we knew how to say and tried to get ready. We taught a companionship that has been here a week less than we have (one of them was Elder Jones, I knew him by his first name Tyler while at BYU). But they understood most of what we said. Hopefully the parts they didn't understand was because they didn't know enough Spanish yet, not because we didn't know enough. It was pretty rocky, but we got the message across. When we were finished we went back to class and our teacher told us we were going to teach in Spanish again in ten minutes. So we talked about what we could do better and did it again. The second time was much better, but we still have a long way to go in speaking Spanish. I'm happy our teacher had us do it again because we ended on a good note of improvement instead of a sad note of not teaching well. Considering the fact that four weeks ago I had never spoken a sentence of Spanish in my life, I think I'm doing pretty good. But the Lord deserves the credit for that, not me.

On Sunday we couldn't go to the Music and the Spoken word because they are doing construction in the gym and only have room for the sisters. That was sad. But church was really good. Sunday's are a nice break from class. Sunday night we had the usual fireside (which we had to watch in the cafeteria because of the construction). The speaker was the administrative director of the MTC, Brother Heaton. He talked a little about the new mormon.org that was launched a week or so ago. It seems really cool. All of you who are members should go set up a profile, and those of you who aren't should go look at it. Then he talked about how Preach My Gospel has changed the course of missionary work and how they are trying to get it to change even more. He said that all the missionaries in the world are getting training right now on how to better help people to come unto Christ for themselves. He then gave us a little break down of the training missionaries in the field are getting. It was pretty exciting. I think that if we can actually apply the things we was saying we could be a lot more effective in helping people come to Christ. Hopefully all the missionaries can put them in into practice. It made me really want to get into the field right now and start teaching.

Well, that's all for this week folks. Now for some birthday wishes: Happy Birthday Emily (I'm late I know), I can't believe she is a year old already. Happy Birthday Nate (I'm late I know). And Happy Birthday Becca (I'm not late, I know)!

Con Amor,
Elder Gardner

"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see."

Monday, July 12, 2010

MTC, Pictures from June & July 2010

Doug & Elder Kelly

No caption necessary

Sister Keele, Sister Dennison, Elder Prusse, Elder Wachob, Doug, Elder Kelly,
Elder Rasmussen, Elder Johnstun, Elder Smith
Elder Ashton, Elder Beck

Sister Keele, Sister Dennison, Elder Prusse, Elder Wachob, Doug, Elder Kelly,
Elder Rasmussen, Elder Johnstun, Elder Smith
Elder Ashton, Elder Beck

The District
Elder Ashton, Elder Prusse, Elder Smith, Elder Johnstun, Elder Rasmusen
Sister Dennsion, Sister Keele, Elder Kelly, Doug, Elder Wachob, Elder Beck

Doug and his roommates
Elder Beck, Elder Rasmussen, Doug, Elder Kelly

Doug and Elder Kelly, his companion.

Random Missionaries, on bikes without helmets, & Doug

The view from Doug's bed (he has the top bunk).
Things to notice:
1. The flag Nate gave to Doug
2. The tag on my luggage (top right)
3. My companion writing letters (he wrote 12 that day)
4. How clean his desk is (he cleaned it just for this picture)

Doug & Samuel Smith

Dear Jenny & Robby (oops, I mean Rob :-))
Thank you for the pillow case. I use it every night. I definitely think it is helping my Spanish. You're kids are kind of cute, thanks for letting me play with them for those two weeks. They better still be cute when I get back (but hopefully they won't watch Dora the Explorer anymore.) I hope you guys are doing well.
Love, Elder Gardner

MTC, Week 3


It feels like just yesterday I was writing a letter home. Time blends together so much here. I have no idea what I did yesterday and what I did three days ago, it just feels like one gaint day. But it's good, I'm loving it. I'm definitely looking forward to teaching real people instead of just actors, but it's still fun.

On Fridays (or maybe it's Saturdays, I really don't know) we do a "zone teach" where a companionship from the zone teach another companionship from the zone. They help us learn from other missionaries and have them give us feedback. Sadly, it seems that I usually learn more of what not to do from the other companionship than what to do. But I'm sure they learn what not to do from me too. Yesterday (or maybe three days ago, who knows; whenever it was) our teacher had the other companionship pretend to be Miguel. He was a 16 year old boy who the rest of his family had joined the church and we were trying to get him to. He loved futbol so Elder Kelly and I came up with this awesome futbol analogy with the the plan of salvation. I'm pretty sure any 16 year old boy from a latino country would join the church after hearing that lesson ;).

Español is tough. We have learned everything that you learn in two years of High School spanish, by next week we will have learned everything you learn in four years of High School. I´m definitely not that good at speaking it yet, but I´m working on it and I know that the Lord has helped me. There is no way I could speak even close to as well as I do (which is still pretty bad) without His help. I've just got to keep pressing forward and trust in Him to help me.

On Sunday (that was yesterday, right) we had our first really Sunday. The other weeks have been different because of the Mission Presidents and it was fast Sunday last week. So in the morning we got to watch Music and the Spoken Word. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is awesome. They sang a bunch of really good songs, my favorite was a rendition of Down to the River to Pray. For church every missionary writes a talk on a certain subject in español. Then after the sacrament the branch president announces who will give the talks, they have no warning or time to prep, just stand up and talk. Fortunately I wasn´t called to speak; we haven´t really learned a bunch of sentence structure so I´m sure my talk made no sense.

Sunday night we had a fireside, as always. Yesterday is was Jenny Oaks Baker (Elder Dallin H. Oaks daughter) who is a very very well accomplished violinist. She spoke about how music had changed her life and strenghtened her testimony. She would tell a story and then play a song related to it. Some of the songs were: Amazing Grace, I Need the Every Hour, Be Still My Soul, This is the Christ, and I Know that My Reedemer Lives. It was really good, both because she is an amazing violinist and because the spirit was really strong. I'd forgotten how powerful music can be. There really is no better way to feel the spirit than through the influence of music.

So I don't really remember anything else that happened that I would want to tell everyone about. It was a pretty normal week: class, lunch, class, gym, dinner, class, sleep, repeat every day. My district is really cool. We all get along really well. I would say more but the computer keeps freezing so I'm just gonna send this as fast as I can.

Con Amor,
Elder Gardner

"As I went down to the river to pray, studying about that good old way and who will wear the robe and crown good Lord show me the way. O sinners let's go down, come on down, don't you wanna go down. O sinners let's go down, down to the river to pray."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Postcard from Doug

Here is a postcard that I received today. To see a larger view of the image, double click on it.

Be sure to notice the hand drawn picture to the right of the missionary on the bikes!

Monday, July 5, 2010

MTC, Week 2

Happy day after Independence Day everyone!

It's been a good week, quite a bit better than the first few days. Time is weird here at the MTC. There is a common saying here that is very true, "the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days." On one hand it feels like I just got here and on the other it feels like I've been here for a year. But I love it. It's pretty much just class all day every day, but it's fun.

We had a really cool experience with the power of prayer. When we met our mission president last Friday he told us that he and his wife hadn't gotten their visas yet so they couldn't go to Argentina for another month or so. They asked us to pray that there visas would arrive quickly. Well that was Friday and we all prayed for them, then on Monday my companion and I got called to the Travel Office at the MTC. They told us we no longer needed visas to get into the country, all we need is a passport. The other missionaries in our district going to Argentina still need passports, just the ones going to Buenos Aires don't. Apparently the province of Buenos Aires just passed a new law where all you need is a passort to enter the country, so our mission president doesn't even need a visa anymore. We were rather amazed when we found out.

On Thursday we had our first appointment in the TRC (Teaching Resource Center?) where we had to talk to people in a "park" in Spanish. I thought I was ready for it since we had praticed a bit in class and I understood most of what was being said. But when we got to the "park" and talked to people I didn't understand a single word. In class it's easy since everyone just says phrases they taught us so we know what they mean, but the people at the TRC spoke real spanish and I was way lost. Fortunately my companion (Elder Kelly) was able to carry on a conversation with me saying a sentence here or there. Then we taught the first lesson in English. That went well, I can speak English.

On Friday we played soccer during our gym time, like we usually do. And Elder Kelly and I both scored a goal. They were both really easy goals that never should have gone in, but their defense wasn't very good. That was probably the only goal I'm going to score in soccer for the next two years.

On Saturday we had a special devotional for Independence Day. It was all about how America came to have religious freedom which allowed for the gospel to be restored. It was good, lots of singing. Afterwards they let us watch the fireworks of the Stadium of Fire. That was way fun. I saw some new shapes I hadn't seen before (a crescent moon type thing and a spiral). Fireworks are awesome. We even got to stay up late because of it. I didn't go to bed until 10:50 (gasp!).

Yesterday was fast Sunday, so we didn't get to eat for a full 25 hours. Usually I start to shake around 18 hours and barely have enough energy to walk by 24. But I was fine yesterday; I was just really really hungry. I don't know if that's because I didn't use much energy during the day or if it was God strengthening me, but either way I was surprised. Every fast Sunday we have a Mission Conference where the MTC Presidency speaks to us. It was pretty good, nothing too interesting to report. Except that we sat by the teleprompter and I look inside it and figured out how it worked. It was pretty fun; I was tempted to start calculating things to see at what minimum angle the glass had to be titled for it to still work, but I decided I'm taking a break from physics for two years. At least the calculating part of physics.

Every Sunday we also have a district meeting and Elder Kelly and I were assigned to teach the lesson yesterday. We taught about the importance of the Book of Mormon, both in our own lives and in the lives of the people we teach. We did a pretty good job.

This morning I saw the hot air balloons for the 4th of July. (Since it's Mormon land they didn't do it yesterday because it was Sunday) There were lots of them. It made me remember that there actually is a world outside of the MTC. At least that's what they tell me.

Well that's all I got. Hope everything is going well back in the real world. I heard Argentina lost in the world cup :( O well, then they'll just be more humble and willing to listen to our message.

Elder Gardner

"My soul belongs to God I know. I made that promise long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone, He gave me strength to journey on."