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, August 30, 2010

Parque Chacabuco Week 1

Well, here I am again. Mondays are my p-day, I emailed last week just because my companion needed to write his mom. I´m not sure how much time I have, but things are getting better. I still don´t understand a whole lot, but I can understand a lot better. Elder Ludwig lets me teach quite a bit during the lessons, which is helping my Spanish (Castalleno).

It´s kinda cold here. It´s warming up since it is Spring time, but I still wear a sweater every day, especially at night. Today it was bad since it was really windy, but it is bearable.

The food here is really good. I haven´t really had a whole lot of native Argentine food. We do most of our work in the Villa (pronounced visha in Buenos Aires) and the Barrio (that happens to be the word for ward (as in church) but it is also a community) and most of the people there are immigrants. So I´ve had Peruvian, Bolivian, and Chilean food. And I hear a bunch of different accents, the natives in the ward talk with the sh but most of the immigrants speak ´normal´ spanish.

Let me try and explain the Villa to you. Words can´t come close to describing it well enough, but if I were to try taking a camera in there either I or the camera wouldn´t walk out alive. There are two main ´streets´ that run through it, they aren´t really streets just cement walkways that cars drive down some times. Each street can barely fit one car going both way if no one were in the way (which people are always in the way). On both sides are ´houses´ that are three or four stories high and made of cement and brick. Coming off the streets are little alleyways that can´t even fit one person going each way. The doors to the ´houses´ are in these alleyways. Usually each story has one room and an entire family lives in that room. In the streets people are always selling food (which smells really good) and there are dogs and trash.

I´m out of time. I have pictures that I´ll send next week and tell you more about it. We are low on time because we went to the Boca stadium for p-day.

Alright, Goodbye until next week.
Elder Gardner

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Parque Something Day 2

Well, I am here in Argentina. It´s been a crazy two days, but I made it and I´m starting my new life as a missionary.

There are eleven new missionaries in Buenos Aires North. After we arrived we were taken to the mission home in Buenos Aires where President Gulbransen gave us some intsruction. We had lunch (empanadas) which was really good. Then we met our trainers. My companion´s name is Elder Ludwig, he is from Las Vegas so he speaks English (thank goodness!). We are in an area called Park Something (I can´t remember the name); it is in the city of Buenos Aires, but not the down town part, the poorer part. We live in a small apartment with two other elders, neither of which speak much English.

After we met our trainers they sent us off to our areas to go work. We had an apointment with Juan and Margarita who are from Bolivia. They are investigators who live in a one room apartment with two kids. The whole family sleeps on the same bed. I didn´t understand much of what they said, but Juan asked a lot of questions about the word of wisdom, which Elder Ludwig answered. At the end I bore my testimony and they gave us milk (heated not cooled). They live in the villa (pretty much means ghetto), where most of the foriegners live. They are all really poor.

After that we went to the church building to give the Bishop something and talked to some of the members who were playing fĂștbol.
I didn´t understand anything they said either, but they seemed nice.

This morning we had a district meeting. It was all in Spanish and I understood a little more of what they said. I think I am getting better at it, but I still don´t understand a whole lot. Then we got lunch from a member family (the parents weren´t home so we had to eat it in our apartment) and went shopping for food. And now we are here.

It´s been hard. I´ve never been on such an emotional rollercoaster in my life. From the excitment in leaving the MTC, to the spirituality with the mission president, to the nervousness when traveling to my first area, to the frustration when trying to understand anything people say; it´s a lot of feelings to go through in one day.

If you ever want to be really tired, wake up at 5:30 a.m. in Provo, drive to Salt Lake, take a four hour plane ride to Atlanta in the middle seat of an airplane with small seats, run to your connecting flight, then try to sleep on a ten hour flight to Argentina. Arrive in Argentina at 8 a.m. in the morning and don´t go to bed until 10:30 p.m.. That will make you really tired, trust me.

If you ever want to feel loved ask my mission president (President Gulbransen) for a hug. He is the most loving guy I have met.

If you ever want to feel incredibly inadequent try talking to someone on the street in Argentina about Jesus Christ in Spanish.

If you ever want to feel completely out of place just walk down the villa in Buenos Aires, where people are so poor they make fires in the street to cook food, wearing a white shirt and tie. And all anyone speaks is Spanish and you don´t know a thing they are saying even though you have been studying Spanish non-stop for the last two months.

But if you want to feel that it will all be ok, just remember that you are a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. And no matter how hard things get you know that this is His work and that it will all be ok in the end. It will probably take a while, and it will definitely be hard, but other people have gone through the same thing and they managed to make it work. And the Lord is there, never forget that and it will be ok.

So that is what is going on Buenos Aires. I´m trying to do my best. Hopefully I can understand things soon. I would appreciate your prayers.

con amor,
Elder Gardner

E-mail from President Gulbrandsen

Your son arrived safely in Buenos Aires this morning - He looks great. He is serving with Elder Ludwig. We love your son.

Thank you for sending him to us.

President and Sister Gulbrandsen

Monday, August 16, 2010

MTC, Week 8


It's been a crazy week! Mainly because I got my flight plans. I'm actually going to leave the MTC, and a day earlier than I thought I was going to. I leave a week from today, August 23. The bus leaves the MTC at 10 am, my flight leaves Salt Lake City at 1:50 pm and lands in Atlanta at 7:40 pm. I leave Atlanta at 8:30 pm and land in Buenos Aires at 7:45 am. (all times are local, I think) I also have a flight planned out of Buenos Aires to Miami for a month after I land in Argentina. We aren't sure exactly what the purpose of that flight is, but we think it is in case we don't get our visas and we have to leave. Let's pray that doesn't happen. So I'm pretty excited. And pretty busy getting everything done I need to before I leave.

Gringo moment of the week: 'pegar' means 'to hit/punch;' 'pagar' means 'to pay.' But 'pegar' is pronounced more like the English word pay so it is pretty easy to say the wrong one. It made for a rather interesting sentence when I said something like, "Christ died in order to punch our sins." I don't think that is correct doctrine, but I've been reading the new testament to see if I can justify it ;).

I don't have a whole lot to say; this week was a lot like all of the other ones here. We did have one change from the normal schedule because we got to host new missionaries. It was pretty fun. The family would drive up and drop of the missionary then we would take them and help them get their supplies and show them to their rooms. It's crazy how many new missionaries come every week. I think it's somewhere in the three to four hundred range. The MTC is an incredibly efficient organization. The two misisonaries I hosted were going to Mexico City and Tampa, Florida. And the Mexico City missionary happened to be companions with a kid from my ward at BYU (Cody Wright).

Well, that's all I got to say about my week here. I would like to finish with something I've thought a lot about recently. I've never been one to talk much about my beliefs. I instead have tried to follow the advice found in James chapter two and 'show my faith by my works.' I hope that everyone who knows me thinks of me as someone who acted the way a disciple of Christ should. If anyone doesn't think of me like that, I am sorry for whatever I did and hope that I can improve. But let me take this oppurtunity to tell all who care to listen: that I believe that Christ lives. He is my Savior and my Redeemer. I am nothing without Him. Everything good in my life has come through Christ, and anything good I have done for others has been because of my belief in Him. He is the reason I am here. I'm about to go to a foreign country and try to talk to people in a language I don't know. But I am not worried because I know that through Christ I can do whatever He asks of me. He is the reason I find joy in life, and I know that all people can find joy if they will come unto Him. That is why I am here.

Well, I'm out of time. This is my last letter from the states, next time you hear from me I will be in Argentina.

Elder Gardner

"I am on my way, I can go the distance. I don't care how far, somehow I'll be strong. I know every mile will be worth my while. I will go most anywhere to find where I belong."

Monday, August 9, 2010

MTC, Week 7

Dos mas semanas en el MTC!!!! Es loco!!

Well, it was another normal week in the MTC. Nothing too exciting to write home about, but I'll tell you a few fun stories anyway.

In the TRC (where you go teach volunteers who are fluent in spanish) Elder Kelly and I got a person we had taught a few weeks ago. Last time we taught him we thought he talked really fast. This time we could understand him pretty well, but he brought a friend (she was acting as his wife, but I don't think she really was); and we couldn't understand her at all. And she would laugh at us whenever we messed up our spanish (which was pretty often). So during the lesson we talked about our families and I told them, "tengo siete hermanos. cinco son cansado." That means, "I have seven siblings. Five are tired." They thought it was pretty funny. I meant to say, "cinco son casado" which means five are married. They laughed for a while, and so did I. That is what happens when you are a gringo. Plus that lesson was tough becuase they were "Jewish" and asking a lot of questions about Christ how we know He was the Messiah. We did ok, but it probably the hardest lesson we have taught.

In class on Friday we had a member of the Quorum of the 70 come speak to our district. He is one of our teacher's dad. I won't tell you his name since he said he didn't get permission to speak to us, he just did it. But if you look back at my teacher's names it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. ;) He talked about becoming a consecrated missionary and devoting all of our thoughts, even during our "free time," to missionary work. It was really good. I hope I can put into practice the things he suggested.

The weather here has been kinda crazy (it is Utah, what do you expect). Almost every day for the past week it has just started to rain randomly. Then it will get sunny again in a hour or so. It makes it more interesting to have a change every now and then, even if it is just the weather.

Yesterday was a pretty busy Sunday for me. Elder Kelly and I taught district meeting at noon. It was really good. We taught about the power and authority of our calling as missionaries. We didn't really follow our lesson plan very well, but we followed the spirit and it was a lot more powerful than what we had planned out. Then in sacrament meeting Elder Kelly and I passed the sacrament. I figured since I was already doing something in sacrament they wouldn't call on me to give a talk, but I was wrong. They had me give the talk I prepared about virtue. It wasn't that scary since I just read what I already wrote, and the native speakers in our zone said it made sense, which is pretty good.

On Wednesday mornings we have "service," which is really just janitorial work. But it's fun, especially since the person in charge of us (we call him Hermano Fix-It) is really cool. This Wednesday he had a ball and cup (the game where you catch the ball in the cup, the ball is attached with a string). He said the record was nine times in a row, so of course I had to beat it. It took a few tries but I eventually got 15. So Hermano Fix-It put my name on the record board in the costudial room. Then another elder in my district got 23, so I'm now number two. But I'll regain my top spot this Wednesday.

Well, I'm almost out of time but I have one more bit of news I need to share. Jenny is pregnant!! The baby is due in March sometime. Robby emailed me and told me to announce it (he's pulling a Rachel) and I figured waiting till Christmas might be a little long of a wait. So now you know.

That's all I got for today. Everything is going great here. I'm loving being a missionary. Spanish is tought but it is coming. God is great.

Elder Gardner

"He lives in you. He lives in me. He watches over everything you see. In to the water, in to the truth. In your reflection, He lives in you."

Monday, August 2, 2010

MTC, Week 6

Hola todas personas!

It's August already. That means that by the end of this month I will be in Argentina preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. CRAZY! I've also been here for 41 days. That's a long time. Only three weeks left. I can do it. Si se puede!

So, the MTC is very routine, I've already told you everything that happens here in my last letters. So instead I'll tell you about some of my lessons this week. Elder Kelly and I have four progressing investigators we are teaching. Here is run down of each of them:

First is Doug (yes, it's weird to teach someone named Doug. And he picked the name just to bug me). We have taught him all the lessons and he is going to be "baptized" tonight. Hooray! My first fake baptism. He is being played by a missionary, which is why it was so easy to get him baptized. When you teach other missionaries they always accept the invation to be baptized. The lesson we taught him this week was all of the commandments (chastity, word of wisdom, tithing, etc). It was honestly a pretty horrible lesson, especially cause we have never taught it before and we didn't practice very well before hand. O well, that's why we are here at the Mistake Training Center (as Elder Kelly calls it).

Another investigator is Thomas. We teach him at the TE (Teacher Evaluation) which means he is a returned missionary and actually knows how investigators act, and does a good job being a fake one. We have only taught him twice because it is really hard to get appointments at the TE. The first time was just the Restoration lesson, which was alright. The second time we went and he hadn't read the Book of Mormon at all. So instead of teaching the Plan of Salvation we just read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and Alma 7:11-12 (probably my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon). It was way spiritual, but I don't know if we will be able to teach him again and get him baptized.

The first two we teach in English. The next two we teach in Spanish. First is Estaban and Armando. They are missionaries that we teach during class time. They are brothers that work on a farm. We taught them the restoration and that's about it. Armando asks a lot of questions so we end up not having a lot of time for the lesson. But it's all good.

The last people we teach are Pepe and Juan. They are missionaries from the district that is fluent in spanish. They are native spanish speakers. So we teach them and don't really understand what they say, but we try to teach them anyway. We've only taught them about God being our loving Heavenly Father, the gospel blessing families, Christ and the atonement, and prophets (both ancient and modern). But they have definitely felt the spirit, even though they are gang members (at least I think that's what they said, it was spanish so I could be wrong).

So that's what I do all week. Teach those people and go to class, with a few other lessons thrown in there. On Saturday we taught the second lesson (plan of salvation) in spanish for the first time. We taught it four times in one day, but never got past our life on earth. We don't really know how to describe the spirit world in spanish yet, so we just spend a lot of time talking about pre-earth life. But we are definitely getting better, which is great.

Gene R. Cook spoke at the devotional on Tuesday. It was pretty awesome, he is a great speaker. He talked about seven things we need to do to recieve and follow the spirit during lessons. Then of Friday we had a Large Group Meeting where we talked about baptizing people. It was really good, it made me want to go right now and start baptizing people, but I guess I probably need to learn spanish first. That might help.
Well, that's all I got time for today. It's been a great week. I'm enjoying the MTC even while I look forward to leaving it. Yo se que la iglesia es verdadero y Jesucristo es el hijo de Dios y nuestro Salvador.

Les Quiero,
Elder Gardner

"Who will join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barracide is there a world you long to see? Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free!"