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, January 31, 2011

(Cazador Week 11)

It´s been an interesting week. We had some really good success working a lot with the members. We managed to get a member to go with us to an appointment every day. It helped the people we are teaching a lot to talk to someone who is a member that isn´t a missionary and it also helped the members be more excited about missionary work. We found a lot of new people this week, here are a few of them:

Claudia and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the mom of Claudia, 21 year old girl who has a year old daughter, and Erik, an 8 year old boy. We first talked to them over a month ago but have never been able the enter the house because there isn´t a man there. After many failed atempts we finally got a member to come with us. We soon realized that they LOVE to TALK. We were there over an hour and barely said five sentences, the rest of the time they just told us practically their life story. They have had a pretty tough life, they really need the gospel to help them find peace and comfort. Saturday night Claudia´s ex-husband (they were never married but lived together) came and tried to take the baby away. He hit her but the neighbors called the police and stopped him. Apparently, he hit her bad enough Claudia had to go to the hospital. Then Sunday she went to work and got fired. Without knowing any of this, we showed up Sunday morning with a picture of Christ and a scripture written on the back that talks about how even when we feel abandoned God will never forgot about you. When we gave it to them Elizabeth asked, ¨how did you know how we felt? Are you magic?¨ We replied, ¨nope, just representatives of God.¨

Homberto Gomez. He is an old man that is all alone. His wife died and they didn´t have any kids, so he is all alone in the world now. We taught him a short lesson about the plan God has for us and then invited him to church. He said he would come so we said we would go by his house to pick him up Sunday morning. It is about a half hour walk from where we live and I wasn´t very excited because I didn´t think he would really come (o man of little faith that I am) but when we got there he was wearing a white shirt and dress pants and waiting outside. He went to church and really enjoyed it and said that next week we can just meet him at the bus station. That was amazing. I learned to never doubt in people like that again.

Silvia. Her ´husband´ is a member that we didn´t know lived here. The elders quorum president found him and invited us over to talk to them. The husband wants to bless their new born baby in church but knows he needs to change some things in his life first in order to be worthy (such as get divorced to his ex-wife and marry Silvia). We talked about how first he needs to change the small things in his life, such as reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church, and then God will help him with the bigger problems, such as finding the ex-wife to get the divorce. (It´s sad how big of a problem that is here.) We also taught Silvia about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and she really liked it. They are an amazing family.

We taught a lot more people than that but those are the most interesting. It honestly had been a pretty amazing week. My companion and I are working hard and have seen a lot of results of our efforts. The gospel is real. Christ really came to the earth two thousand years ago to pay for our sins so that we can have peace in this life and live with God again in the next. That´s why I am out there walking around in 105 degree weather with 90 percent humidity. Because He lives. There is nothing more important or as fulfilling as helping people come unto Christ.

I hope everyone has a great week. Remember, with God all things are possible.

les amo,
Elder Gardner

Toy Story! They come on the back of cereal boxes, so I bought all the cereal of them I could.

Random picture I took while walking to the internet place today. This is the sidewalk.

Another random picture I took. This is a ´chino´ - mini supermarket.

The map of the area.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Un bautismo milagroso (Cazador week 10)

Well, this week was rather amazing. A couple weeks ago I mentioned that Elder Merrill found a member family that isn´t on the list of members, and that in this family there is a 12 year old son who isn´t a member (or wasn´t a member). The grandmom and son came to church two weeks ago, last week Juan (the son) came by himself, and yesterday he was baptized. So the story:

Juan´s mom died about three months ago. Ever since then the whole family has been kind of depressed (he lives with his grandmom, dad, and 8 year old brother who has down syndrome). The grandmom and dad are members but the dad stopped going to church a long time ago and the grandmom stopped about 5 years ago. Elder Merrill showed up at their house the day after the grandmom had a dream where the recently deceased mom asked her why she doesn´t go back to church. After the grandmom and Juan came to church the first week we tried to teach them again but never found them at home, we passed by three times during the week but they were never there. After Juan came to church by himself we realized he was really interested and we needed to talk to him. So Monday night we set an appointment with him, his dad (who is almost never home), and the grandmom. We felt that we should invite him to be baptized, but he is going on a two week long vacation on Wednesday so we didn´t know when to do it. We prayed and decided that it would be best for him to be baptized before he left, so we invited him to be baptized on Sunday. He accepted and his dad was very supportive of his decision. We had to call the mission president to get special permission to baptize him before church on Sunday, at 8 in the morning. So with lots of help from members, we went to his house and taught him every day this week to help him be prepared. On Saturday morning he had his baptismal interview, he was there 15 minutes early waiting for us to arrive. Then on Sunday morning we were a little worried because he was late, but he showed up a few minutes later with his dad, grandmom, and aunt and cousins. It was a great baptismal service and there were lots of members there to show him and his family support.

So, Juan has been our main focus this week. We have had a lot of help from the members who were willing to go with us to visit and teach, which was amazing. We realized this week how willing people are to help, they just need someone to invite them to do it. Also this week the ward had an activity on Saturday. There was a carnival in the soccer field in the back of the chapel. Sadly I forgot to take my camera so I don´t have pictures, but there were lots of little games (throw a ball at cans, ring toss, water balloon toss (I got wet), get candy out of flour using your face, etc). It was really fun and lots of members came, along with Juan and his cousin who had a great time.

We have seen God´s hand guiding us to people who need our help a lot in the past week. From guiding us to Juan and his family that really needed some comfort in a hard time of their life, to talking to another lady on the street that recently had to get a restraining order on her abusive husband. There are a lot of people who need help, it is amazing to be an instrument in God´s hands to bring them the help they need.

I hope everyone has a great week. Keep up the good work and remember to take time to stop and lift the hands that hang down. You can be the miracle that that person was praying for.

Elder Gardner

"These are Argentine keys. Yes, they look like they are keys to a castle or something. It´s awesome."

"Juan with more of his family: his dad, grandmom, brother, aunt and cousins."

"Juan and his dad, his dad is inactive, but is fully supportive and very proud of his son´s decision."

"Juan and the missionaries, Elder Merrill baptized him."

Juan Ignacio, the amazing young man that got baptized yesterday.

"A few weeks ago we went to spend some time with Adrian and Rocío (the couple that got baptized a month or so ago) during p-day. Adrian showed us some of his guitar skills, it´s rather impressive considering he his blind."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Senior Comp, for 2 days (Cazador week 9)

Wow, time is really flying here. I can´t believe it´s already been a week since last p-day. Time especially goes by really fast when there is some sort of change. And this week I was on divisiones for a few days, which made time speed by.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday there was a mission wide training meeting for all the leaders in the mission, which means that my companion had to go since he is district leader. So Wednesday I went to work with Elder Gómez in his area. It was pretty fun, we did service breaking a bunch of rocks with hammers. Then we visited a few people before our companions came back at night.

On Thursday Elder Gómez came to my area and we worked to together until Friday night. It was weird because he has less time than me in the mission so I was the senior companion for a few days. I realized I still have a whole lot to learn about how to be a good missionary. Fortunately Elder Gómez is Argentine so he can speak spanish and understands the culture very well. He is also an amazing missionary. On Thurdsady we taught five lessons together and found five new investigators. Two of the new investigators were Juana and Andrea. An old lady and her daughter that live out in the middle of nowhere. A member told us that we should go visit them but we never had a car to be able to go. But on Thursday we had a young man with a car who took us (his name is Nahuel and he is waiting for his mission call that should arrive any day now). We passed the last of the houses in our area and continued down a dirt road about 8 more minutes before we finally found a group of houses. Juana and Andrea were there and we taught them a nice lesson then said we would be back Sunday to bring them to church. But Saturday Nahuel told us his car was in the shop and he couldn´t go. So we called a few other members and found someone who was willing to drive us (that was a miracle, that aren´t many people with cars here). We got to the house about 8:40 Sunday morning and they were both ready and waiting so we left and made it back just in time for church to start at 9:00. They had a really good experience except that Juana had recently fallen and hurt her arm and was in a lot of pain. But it was amazing that we could get them there and back again without any problems. Truely a blessing from God.

Also on Friday we did service again. This time we moved a bunch of dirt from the front yard of a house to the back. It was a ton of dirt and we spent about two and a half hours with wheel barrows and shovels moving it. We didn´t even finish it either. Needless to say I am very sour right now. I didn´t expect to get such a good work out on the mission.

This week I really learned the importance of action. Many times we want something to happen but instead of doing anything we just hope it takes care of itself. That doesn´t work very well. We can sit there and hope and pray and have great faith that someone will come to church, that some how we will pay able to pay the rent, or that we will be happy. But unless we go out and do something about it nothing is going to change. That´s why James told us faith without works is dead. I can have faith that God will help me pay the rent but unless I go out and look for a job it isn´t very likely to happen. God blesses us as we put in the effort, He doesn´t bless us in our inaction.

Well, that´s all I got time for this week. I hope everyone had a great week and will continue having the same. Or, mejor dicho, will go out and make it a great week.

Elder Gardner

Monday, January 10, 2011

¡Hola! (Cazador week 8)

Well here we are again. Another week has passed in the service of the Lord. It´s been an interesting week. We have seen some of the tender mercies of the Lord.

We had decided before that we would go to a part of the area that is far away on Tuesday. We almost didn´t go since it is so inconvienent but we felt that we decided to go for a reason so we went. When we got there we were headed to the people we had planned to talk to when Elder Merrill just randomly turned and clapped a house (we don´t knock doors, we clap). A member used to live there (that´s why he clapped the house) but he moved. But the person who came out is from Peru and has talked with missionaries before, he also told us his brother is a member that lives in another city but was currently at his aunt´s house a few blocks away. So we went to visit him. He was really nice but didn´t have time to talk so he told us to go visit his cousins who are members who lived a few blocks away. So we went over there. At this house we found his cousins, one of which is a member (the member is 13, the others were too young to be baptized, but one of the kids is 8 now). We also talked to their mom who loves the church but hasn´t been able to be baptized because she isn´t married and has paperwork problems (paperwork has stopped a lot of people from being baptized here). They recently moved from Peru so they weren´t on the member list and the ward had no idea there were members that lived there. So God led us to this family that wants to come back to church; the only problem is they live really far away so we can´t go over as much as we need to. But we are trying to get some members that live close by to bring them to church.

On Thursday we did exchanges, so I went over to work with Elder Gomez (an Argentine who is going to serve in Arizona but is waiting for his visa so is here for now). We had a pretty good time together teaching a blind lady, a 15 year old boy that wants to be baptized, and an inactive family. I found I had no problem communicating with him even though he speaks very little english. My spanish skills have gotten a lot better, but he still made fun of my accent. During this time Elder Merrill was in our area and he found another family of members that isn´t on the ward member list, with a 12 year old son who isn´t a member but wants to come to church. That was pretty awesome.

Then on Saturday we had an activity that the ¨obra misional¨ planned (us and the ward mission leader planned it). We invited all the members to bring friends and we invited lots of inactives and lots of investigators. The plan was to get everyone together, play some games, drink some mate, get to know eachother, and have them bring nonmembers we could talk to. But only ten members showed up, the ward mission leader, his family, and the bishop. It was a little disappointing but the ward mission leader brought his nonmember girlfriend who also came to church yesterday. Apparently he has taught her a lot and she is really interested. That´s our main problem right now, getting the members to be excited and come to activities and bring friends. But we are working and have seen some fruit from our labors.

Ojalá que todos tengan una semana maravillosa. Recuerden que Dios les ama. Y que yo les amo tambien.

Nos vemos,
Elder Gardner

¨Bound, bound, bound, and rebound. Sometimes you´re up and sometimes you´re down. But when you´re up you´re up and when you´re down you´re down. Just bound, bound, bound, and rebound.¨

Sunday, January 9, 2011

¡Feliz Año! (Cazador Week 7)

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great time celebrating the start of a new year. New Years is always a good time to think about the way the year has gone and the things we want to change. Then we can set goals about how we want to improve and most importantly make plans to achieve those goals. That´s what the mission is all about. Setting goals and making plans to achieve them (with of course God´s help being part of the plan).

Well, our visit to Temaikén last p-day was pretty fun. We went from about 2-5 in the afternoon, which was kind of a bad idea since most of the animals were sleeping. But we saw a hippopotamus, some crocodiles, some sleeping tigers, and lots of other animals. The most impressive part was the ¨lugar de las aves¨ or ¨Place of the birds.¨ It was a big cage that we could walk through and be with the birds. There were lots of colorful birds, parrots, flamingos, other birds that I don´t know their names. It was pretty cool.

There isn't a whole lot to say about this week. We have been trying to work a lot with the members and get them to share the gospel with their friends. Quite a few have told us some of their friends that they want to share the gospel with but we haven´t been able to talk to the friends yet. So this week has mainly been setting the stage so that we can have more more people to teach later on (hopefully the week that is coming).

New Year´s Eve we spent with a member family. They have seven kids, all grown up, five of which were home. They remind me a lot of my family, all of them joking and making fun of each other. It was a lot of fun. They made us sing them a song because the daughter was mad because we forgot to call her and cancel an appointment a few days ago. So we sang them a song and they all liked it and the mom gave us empanadas (which was good because the mom is inactive and didn't like the missionaries before). But we had to be back in the apartment at 9:30, we went to sleep at 10:30, and woke up the next day in the year 2011. I woke up a little bit at about 12:15 in the morning because of all the fireworks that people set off, but I went right back to sleep. New Years isn't that exciting as a missionary.

Well, that´s all I got for this week. The work is moving forward as normal. We did find two new families that we taught yesterday, which was pretty exciting. Everyone keep up the good work and don´t forget that you are a child of God.

Elder Gardner

"This is when we had to sleep in the church because of the fire by our house."

"Our door after the fire. It was white before."

"The elders in the apartment last transfer:
Me, Elder Briggs, Elder Gordon, and Elder Merrill (left to right)"

"That is me trying to be a cowboy, I don´t think it worked too well.
The hat I got from a member for Christmas (I jokingly made a comment about it a week before so he gave it to me for Christmas) and the guns I got in my package from mom."

"This is Elder Wray preaching the gospel to a scuba diver in Temaikén. I´m not sure how to baptize him because he is already under water, but it will work somehow."

"That is a hippopotamus."

"My companion and I in front of a waterfall in the bird place at Temaikén."

"Bird Down! I don´t know what is wrong with the bird,
but Elder Wray seems to be doing alright."

"This is a video I took during the fire."

"This is me practicing my pronunciation. Now you can all hear how gringo my accent is."

"This is Christmas morning at about 12:10. All of those sounds you hear are fireworks. It was a lot louder than it sounds like because the camera didn't pick it all up. They are mostly just little firecracker things but every now and then there are the big aerial fireworks."