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, September 27, 2010

Raw fish times two (Parque Chacabuco Week 5)

¡Buen Dia!

Well, I don´t have anything too exciting to report this week. But I got a letter from someone (to protect identities the sender will not be named) who wanted to know more about the food. So I will tell you about I dish I had this week from Peru. It is called serviche (I think that´s how you spell it). On Tuesday all four of the elders in the apartment went to eat with a member from Peru (she runs a restaruant and is a really good cook). When we arrived she was still making the food. They were all talking about it and I heard ´pescado´ a lot so I figured it was fish but it was clearly uncooked. I was wondering how long it would take to bake or fry or whatever cause we didn´t have too long. But then she finished putting in the milk, onions, cilantro, and other stuff and we all sat down to eat without cooking the fish! It was actually pretty good. The texture wasn´t amazing but it tasted good. We had it with rice and potatoes (like every other meal I have here). The next few days three of the four of us had stomach problems but we aren´t sure if that was the cause or not. On Saturday we ate with another Peruvian member and had the same meal, but this time with some sort of pasta instead of rice. So much for the amazing Argentine beef; I get to eat raw fish instead.

Besides eating fish I had one of the best experiences of the mission so far. We went with a member to visit his friend who is less active. The friend was asleep so we talked with his non-member mom instead. She had talked with missionaries a few times before but I guess they didn´t explain too well cause she had a lot of misconceptions (like we worship Joseph Smith, we don´t believe in the Bible, etc). We explained what we really believe for a little bit. She said things like, ¨I need to feel something before I believe.¨ Elder Ludwig started talking about prayer and God and I thought he was going to go into the first lesson when he just stopped and asked, ¨How do you feel right now?¨ She said she felt really good and calm. Then he asked where those feelings come from and she said the heart. Then he asked from whom those feelings come and she thought then said God. So far this is pretty normal, we ask those questions a lot; the only weird part was that it was in the middle of the lesson. Elder Ludwig thought for a second then asked, ¨How do you know they come from God?¨ Then all of a sudden she started crying. I didn´t really know what happened but she felt the spirit pretty strong. When she was able to talk again she kept saying, ¨nunca me pasó jamás.¨ Which pretty much means, ¨I´ve never felt that before.¨ We told her that it was the answer that she was looking for. She said she was definitely going to church. It was pretty awesome. Except that she didn´t go to church; but it was still good.

This Saturday we are going to baptize a nine year old girl. We were also going to baptize a 24 year old man but he didn´t go to church yesterday. It´s pretty frustrating. On Saturday people always say they will go but then on Sunday they never go. Instead we have random people we´ve never met come to church. O well, we just have to work harder.

I´ve officially been here over a month. My Castellano is improving. People can almost always understand me, except for when I ask questions. And I can understand enough to fake my way through a conversation. I still have a long way to go before I´m really comfortable, but it´s a lot better than at first.

So that´s all I got for this week. Happy Birthday Lizzy (a little late, I´m sorry). I can´t believe she is five already. That´s crazy. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Gardner

Monday, September 20, 2010

En La Boca (Parque Chacabuco Week 4)

¡Buen Dia!

¡Tengo casi uno mes en Argentina! ¿Donde fue el tiempo? People told me that the first few months in the field are slow then the time starts to fly by. If this is slow then I´m pretty sure I´ll break light speed by the time I go home.

On Tuesday we had a zone conference. It was really good. President Gulbransen was there and we talked about planning with the spirit. They had us do a planning session there and we recieved some pretty good inspiration. Then we talked about teaching people not lessons and asking inspired questions. We did some practices of teaching by asking questions, which went pretty well. Of course the conference was very motivating and we all left determined to be better missionaries. We also got mail, which was fun. We only get mail once a transfer, so I apologize if I don´t respond for a while after you send me a letter.

Tuesday night we found out that we were going to do exchanges with the zone leaders for Wednesday and Thurdsay. So I went to their area, the Boca (the area with the stadium in it), and one of them came to my area to work with Elder Ludwig. In the Boca we taught some people and did all the normal missionary stuff. The zone leader is from Mexico but speaks almost perfect english so we could communicate. On Thursday morning he had to go take care of some zone leader business. So we took a bus to the center of the government builings. We drove past the Pink House (the Argentine version of the White House) and saw the monument that looks almost exactly like the Washington Monument in DC (the tall thin white one, I think that´s what it is called). Then we took a subte (subway) to a bank or something. He handed someone some money, she gave us the change, and then we left. It took about an hour and a half travel each way and we were there for less than two minutes. I don´t envy the life of a zone leader. But we did get to walk down Florida Street. Aparently it´s a pretty famous tourist street. It felt like New York City but in Castellano.

I got back in my area Friday morning and got to work a full day here for the first time in two weeks. Going to other places is fun but I like to work in my own area a lot more because I have relationships with people here (well, as much as you can when you can´t speak the language). When I am in another area I don´t really feel the same connection because I know I´ll never see those people again. So it was nice to be back in Parque Chacabuco.

The rest of the week was pretty good. We taught five lessons on Saturday, I think that is the most I´ve taught in one day so far. We also found out that the duaghter of recent convert wasn´t baptized at the same time her mom was. So we are teaching her and hope to baptize her this weekend, but we may have to wait till next week because a lot of the ward is leaving to go to the temple in Uraguay. We´ll see, but we should be able to baptize her soon. Other than her, we had four people with baptismal dates for either this weekend or the next, but none of them came to church yesterday. So we are working and trying to get them to understand the importance of coming to church.

Gringo Moment of the Week - We are teaching this family in the Villa and Saturday we were talking to the dad. He was telling us about how when he was younger his brother was really sick and none of the doctors would figure out what was wrong and how the Bible had comforted him. I thought I heard him say his brother died, so I said something about life after death. He looked really confused and later Elder Ludwig told me he said his brother got better and he calls him all the time. Oops. He said we can come back so at least I didn´t scare him too much.

Spiritual Thought for the Week - I read Ether (Éter) 12:27 with someone yesterday. I´ve always just focused on how it says that God will make weak things become strong unto us when we humble ourselves before Him. But this time I noticed how it says that when we come unto God he shows unto us our weaknesses. That´s interesting. Why would God show us our weakness, shouldn´t He be helping us to feel good about ourselves? I think it is because when we come unto God He asks us to do things that we wouldn´t do otherwise. And as we try do these things we realize we can´t do them without His help and we humble ourselves. I have definitely learned more of my weaknesses during the past month, but at the same time I have felt more strongly God´s help and love for me.

Well, this letter is pretty long. But thanks for finishing reading it! I hope you liked it and learned something. Even if all you learned is that I´m weird. (though you already knew that) Have a great week!

Con Amor,
Elder Gardner

Friday, September 17, 2010

Doug's last pictures from the MTC

Elder Kelly and Doug. We are going to the same mission, he is pointing to Fierra del Fuego, Doug is pointing to Buenos Aires

Doug's Plan of Salvation drawing. More correctly, Doug's drawing of God's Plan of Salvation. It's in Spanish. He traced another Elder's drawings; he's not that good of an artist.

Doug at Elder Kelly's birthday party. Doug was excited, can't you tell?

They took out the MTC sign. Doug doesn't know why.

"I'm not allowed to be closer than 16 inches (not a real rule) to you. This is awkard," Elder Gardner thought.

"Yeah, I'm excited. We're going to go baptize South America," Elder Gardner proclaimed. "Oh wait, where's the camera?"

This is the real secret to missionary work; light sabers

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Doug and Diego before his baptism.

Doug in front of the field of the Boca Stadium.

Doug's 'dining room' for lack of a better word.

Doug's bed.
Doug's desk.

The kitchen in Doug's apartment

It started raining while we were visiting a family so they gave us this jackets to go back to the apartment in, it looks pretty good on me.

The view from the window in the apartment.

The last morning in the MTC. I was so excited I did a backflip off the wall and Elder Kelly got a pretty sweet picture of it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Parque Chacabuco


This week has been rather unusual. Elder Ludwig had to go to a training meeting for all leaders in the mission, including trainers. So I went to work in another area called Constitución. It was me, Elder Christensen (who arrived in the mission the same I did), and Elder Trayner (who has been here about two months). So none of us could really speak spanish too well, but we managed alright. The work is going pretty well in that area. We visited a family who just had a recent death of a brother and talked about life after death and how they can live with him again. We also taught a young man who was baptized this last Saturday. I think that area is more well developed than ours, but we are working hard here.

I had two fun experiences in Constitución. First, I had Argentine beef for the first time, which was delicious. Not that the chicken I usually have here isn´t good, but that beef was amazing. I want more. Second, I got blood all over my white shirt. Not my blood, some one else´s. We were just walking through the street by a store on the way back to the apartment and there happened to be some sort of fight. Right as we walked by one guy punched the other and blood went spraying all over us. That was pretty fun. I was suprised it happened in the middle of town, I expect that type of stuff in the villa, but not in the normal part of the city.

Speaking of the villa my companion pointed some people selling drugs to me the other day. I had never noticed them before but now I see some one almost every time I walk through the street. They see us and think we are police or something and try to hide their fanny pack full of drugs, but then they realize we are missionaries and keep doing what they were doing. It´s pretty funny to watch them try to be sneaky about it. If cops really cared or if they ever went into the villa they would be able to tell what they are doing instantly.

Back in my area we ´helped´ a member build some stairs on Saturday. He wanted help with the cement, but had to finish some other things first. That took him about three hours and we couldn´t really help with it so we just watched. And we cut rebar with a saw, that was fun. The best part was they made us lunch - an asado (Argentine barbeque), which was delicious. There was beef, chicken, and blood sausage. The blood sausage wasn´t amazing, but it wasn´t gross like I was expecting. By the time he was ready for the cement we had to go teach, so we didn´t work at all and we got food, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Besides that not much happened in our area this week. With the training we didn´t have a whole lot of time. And they were fixing the pipes in our bathroom. Water has been dripping from the ceiling in the apartment below us so we had to have people tear up the floor and replace the pipes. That means we had to be in the apartment while they were working, which took even more of our time. But every thing is working now so we should be able to get back to work this week.

In the training meeting Elder Ludwig learned about the way they are trying to teach lessons now. I had learned about it in the MTC and now they are training the missionaries in the field. Pretty much we teach through asking questions. It is a lot harder than just teaching people, but it is a lot more personal and effective. We have been doing it since Friday and it has been really good. The spirit is a lot stronger during the lessons. The only problem is it is a lot harder for me since I don´t understand exactly what people are saying when they respond. I can understand the general idea but I don´t understand what exactly they are saying about the church or about the Book of Mormon. It makes it pretty hard to know what to say. But I can understand a lot more now, I usually don´t have to have Elder Ludwig translate for me when talking to members, which is nice.

I´ve made it half way through my first transfer in Argentina and things are going pretty good. The people are all really nice here and we get fed a lot of good food. People are never home when we want to teach them, but we are still working hard to bring people unto Christ and baptism. I´m doing great and God is taking good care of me. That´s all for this week. We are off to go make some tacos for lunch (Elder Jimenez in my apartment is from Mexico City so he is going to teach us to make real tacos).

Les Quiero,

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free. Our God is marching on."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Parque Chacabuco Week 2

Hola todas personas!

Well, I’ve made it through week two in Argentina. I still don’t understand a whole lot of Castellano, but it’s getting better. People have stopped talking so fast, I can usually make out the words they are saying; but then I realize I don’t know what those words mean. So I have a lot of work to do with learning words, but I’m trying and praying and hope to be able to understand soon.

Let me apologize for a few things. First, I’m sorry my email last week was so rushed, I’ll try to do better on this one. Second, I don’t have my camera so I can’t send the pictures I promised. We played fútbol for p-day in another area and there is something wrong with the bus so we are doing email in the other area not our own. So I’m sorry, I will do my best to send pictures next week.

So first let me tell you about the missionary work. I have some good news and bad news; well, not bad news just news that makes the first part not as exciting. The good news is that I baptized someone! The other news is that it was an eight year old kid of a member. The kid’s (Diego) dad isn’t a member so the missionary I replaced was going to do it but he left so Diego asked me to baptize him. It was pretty cool, it was my first Saturday in Argentina and I got to baptize someone. Hopefully that was good practice for a lot more to come.

Our biggest problem here is that no one is married and they have to get married before they are baptized. There is no legal incentive to get married here and it is just a hassle no one wants to deal with. The other problem is that everyone is always working so we can never get in to talk with people except on Saturday or Sunday, and during that time everyone is partying because they have time off.

Our two best investigators, José and Margarita, were thinking about getting married but then when we went to visit them this week it was clear they were having relationship problems. They didn’t come to church so we need to go find out what happened and help them overcome their differences. They have a kid named Michelle that is four years old.

Besides that the work is good. We are teaching and finding lots of people, but then we can never find them at home for a second lesson, which is frustrating, but we are trying. We do a fair amount of walking. The villa is about ten blocks or so from our apartment and is only a few blocks long and wide, so most days when we go there we don’t walk to much. But when we go to the other part of town where there are normal streets and houses then we have to walk a lot.

We don’t take the buses too often. Usually just to get home at night if we are running late. They are fine but it is cheaper to walk. The way people drive is crazy. The lines in the middle of the street are only suggestions. Stop lights are taken a little more seriously, but are still ignored at times. At stop lights the cars stop within inches of each other, especially the buses, that always terrifies me. And the bus drivers start and stop really fast like the subway. Last week I feel into someone because I stopped paying attention for a second.

On Saturdays in the villa it is just a huge party, with music and drinks and everything else - since people have work off. Drunk people try to talk to us every now and then and a lot of people think they can speak English, which is always comical. On Sundays it is just a huge swap meet. Everyone and their dog (yes I mean that literaly) set up tents and sell things. Becca would be in pig heaven. So would Grace and Lizzy cause Disney Princesses and Faires are huge here. All the little girls have a tinker bell back pack or something.

Well, that’s all the time I got. I hope you enjoyed the third edition of Elder Gardner’s adventure in Argentina. And I hope it was better than last week’s. I try to help you understand the culture of this place, but I can’t really describe it, you just need to come and see it for yourself. O yeah, Happy Birthday to William and Sabrina this week! Hope you all are doing well.

Con amor,
Elder Gardner

"David walked into the valley, with a stone clutched in his hand. He was only a boy but he knew some one must take a stand. There will always be a valley, always mountains one must climb. There will always be perilious waters which some one must sail... When the world is saying not to, with God, you know you’ve got to march on boys"