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, 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.¨

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four Elders in Chacabuco (Week 7)

¿Como estan?

This week has been really interesting. When they told us that we were getting two more elders in our ward they didn´t tell us how the ward was going to be divided. We figured that we would wait till the other elders got here and they would know. But they knew even less than us; they thought they were going to be the only elders in Chacabuco. So we called the mission offices but they didn´t know anything either. Right now we are waiting for the mission president to decide what we are going to do. In the mean time we drew a temporary line down the middle of the ward and each took a different part. Elder Ludwig and I are still have the villa, but we lost the barrio along with quite a few of our investigators.

So we have been doing contacts in the streets trying to find more people to teach. We found a few but none have been home when we went by a second time to try to teach them again. It´s rather frustrating but such is the life of a missionary. Other than that nothing too exciting has happened this week. On Thursday I had to go sign papers so that I can live in Argentina legally. I got to see Elder Kelly and other friends from the MTC which was fun, but waiting a couple hours in line to sign papers wasn´t.

This morning we went to play fútbol with the members at the church becuase it is a holiday in Argentina (I don´t know why). They were really good and having some sort of tournament, so I didn´t play becuase I didn´t want to make a team lose. But Elder Ludwig played goalie for a team and did pretty good until it was time for the kick off to break the tie. Instead of playing soccer we played volleyball, which we were good at because we are taller than all of them. And they aren´t very good at real volleyball. Sometimes they play a version of volleyball where instead of using hands you just use feet, head, and chest like you were playing soccer. And they are really good at that game.

I realized this week how humble these people really live. One family we eat with every week always has us eat in a room with a bunk bed, table, tv, fridge, and clothes. I always just assumed it was the room the two teenage boys slept in and for some reason they had us eat in there. This Sunday I realized that the whole family lives in that one room. One bed for the parents and one bed for the kids (15 and 13 year old boys and 4 year old girl). And that is their only room, everything they own is in that room, smaller than my living room at home. Another family (investigators) have to leave their four year old girl named Michelle at home alone watching tv during the day while both parents work. I can´t imagine how worried they must be wondering if she is alright every day. Then they come home and are too tired to play with her or anything. For anyone in the United States that thinks they have a hard life, come here and see the type of life they live. I´m just now starting to realize how blessed I have been my whole life.

Well, that´s all I have time for this week. Sorry I don´t have anything exciting to report. Tomorrow we have a mission conference with a member of the Seventy. That should be good. I´ll tell you more about it next Monday. Have a great week everyone!

Con amor,
Elder Gardner

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Three cakes in one day (Par. Chac. Week 6)

The elders in my apartment. My companion and I are on the outside.

Me, a member, and his non-member ´wife.´ He needs to get a divorce in Peru before they can get married and she can´t be baptized until they are married. They are very nice and give us lots of food.


First of all, for those of you who realize that it is transfer time, let me tell you about transfers. I am still in Parque Chacabuco with Elder Ludwig. One of the other elders in the apartment left to another area. The other elder is the new district leader and is working in the same area but is moving to another apartment. That is because they are splitting Parque Chacabuco. We don´t know how the split is going to work exactly, but two new elders are coming into the apartment to work in our ward because next month the ward is going to split. I hope that Elder Ludwig and I get the villa.

Besides that I don´t have a whole lot to report. We were going to baptize a nine year old girl this week so we worked pretty hard to teach her everything and get her ready. Then the day before the baptism the mom told her dad about it (they are divorced) and he didn´t think the girl understood enough. Since the girl lives with her mom we don´t need the dad´s permission, but the mom doesn´t want problems. So we talked with the dad Saturday night. It was interesting. He doesn´t think that kids understand the difference between right and wrong so they don´t need baptism. Which is exactly what we believe but we have prophets who have said that at eight years old children are old enough to understand. He doesn´t believe in prophets so we couldn´t settle the matter that way. We read a bunch of Bible scriptures together but as soon as we would come to a conclusion he would change the topic, it was rather frustrating. I really wanted to read Matthew 18:6 to him, but I didn´t think it would do any good. Instead we are going to go back this week and teach him about prophets. Who knows, maybe he will end up being baptized too.

General Conference was Saturday and Sunday! I love hearing the prophets and apostoles speak. Unfortunately, the satilite at the church wasn´t working so they didn´t have it in English. I could understand what they were talking about (mas o menos) in Castellano but it didn´t have the same impact it would have had if it had been in English. I guess I´ll just have to wait to read the talks in a month or so.

Yesterday was my companions birthday. He is now 21. We had lunch with a Peruvian member (the one who fed us raw fish a while ago) and she made us arroz chaofa (I have no idea if that´s how you spell it) which is always delicious. She makes it for us at least once a week when we pass by her restaurant. After lunch she pulled out a cake for Elder Ludwig´s birthday. Then we went to Jesus and Lupe´s house (the couple in the picture) and they had another birthday cake. Then we went to a Family Home Evening with a member family and they had yet another cake. That´s the most full I´ve been in my life. I think I´ve gained some weight, but I don´t have a scale so I have no idea.

As for my Castellano (spanish) things are starting to click. Sometimes I can understand everything without having to think at all, like when we were with the dad on Saturday. I can talk pretty well, I lot faster and clearer than before but I still make a lot of mistakes and don´t know as many words as I need to. There are times though when I have to think really hard just to understand anything. So it is good, but not great.

That´s all there is to say for this week. It was another week in the service of the Lord. Hope you all have a great week!

Les quiero,
Elder Gardner