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, February 28, 2011

¡8 meses! ¡¿¡Ya!?! (Cazador Week 15)

No puedo creer que ya tengo ocho meses en la misión; son mas que la mitad de un año; ha pasado mas que el cuarto del tiempo de mi misión. ¡Es incredible! El tiempo ha pasado volando.

Alright, I´ll talk in english. We had a zone conference this week and President did interviews. He always talks to the yankees in english when we are talking one on one. When I came back from my interview everyone was praticing teaching. I took my companion´s spot and the other elder who was teaching asked me a question (in spanish, of course) about how I can come closer to God in my life. Without realizing it I responded in english about going to church and the other elder just stared at me (he is from Peru or something so he didn´t understand what I said). It took my a few seconds to realize I had spoken the wrong language. That was the first time that has happened to me. I think it´s a good sign; I´m comfortable enough with spanish that I can´t tell if I´m speaking it or english. I find myself thinking in spanish more and more often. And pretty much everyone understands me and I understand most of what they say.

So this week has been alright. Silvia, the lady we have been teaching for a while who needs to wait for her husband to get divorced, is doing very well. We talked to her sister-in-law this week as well. Somehow her three year old daughter got a hold of a book of mormon from 1952 and carries it around with her all the time. The mom has no idea how she got it and didn´t know what it was until we showed up. God works in mysterious ways... The lesson with her was awesome. She said she felt something inside as we explained about the restoration of the gospel, and she started crying as Silvia said the closing prayer. The two of them are reading the Book of Mormon together and came to church this Sunday with their children. Their amazing.

Other than that nothing too exciting. Except that I officially passed my eight months in the mission and six in Argentina mark. It´s crazy. I can´t believe that the time has gone by so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was flying to the MTC, and like this morning that I was flying to Argentina. I haven´t had the most amazing success as I was hoping in my six months here, but I have helped a few people come unto Christ. And I have learned more here than in my entire life before hand. If nothing else I have helped myself come unto Christ and gain a stronger testimony that He lives. I testify to all of you that He does live. That He is ready and willing to bless you and change you for the better if you will just come unto Him.

I hope everyone has a great week this week. Keep up the work good and I´ll talk to you next week.

Elder Gardner

Monday, February 21, 2011

Searching... (Cazador Week 14)

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your eyes.... Alright, I¨m not Shakespeare so I´ll just talk normally. Hello everyone. I´m back to tell you about the Argentine Adventure.

This week has been a week of searching. Searching for people to teach. It says in Preach My Gospel (A guide to missionary service): ´Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach.´ How true that is! We have been searching but sadly haven´t been finding. It was a tough week. But there were some bright spots.

Silvia, the mom of the kid who got hit with a rock, is doing very well. A member invited her over to Silvia to her house and we have had several lessons there with her. She has a long time to wait until she can be baptized (her ´husband´ has to get divorced so they can get married) but she really likes the church. Most of the time we just read with her from the Book of Mormon. She has read up to 1 Nephi 8 already.

We also happened to teach a family that are pastors of an evangelical church. They were very nice and didn´t try to argue at all. We just had a nice conversation about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Then on Saturday night we went to their church to see what it was like. It was interesting. There were about twenty people there and they just did like a Sunday School type thing were they read scriptures together. It´s interesting to see how other churches do things.

Alright, I¨m out of time. Sorry this letter wasn´t too exciting. At least I sent pictures :). I hope everyone has a great week. I´ll be here again next time.

Elder Gardner

"My district from last transfer. From left to right: Elder Merrill (my comp), Elder Ramey y Elder Olano (zone leaders), Elder Gómez (Argentine that was waiting for his visa to serve in Arizona), me, Elder Wray (Elder Gómez´s companion)"

"Lobo. He is a random dog that followed us from a member´s house back to our house (about ten blocks) and waited while we went to the bathroom then kept following us until we went to a house and the mom of the house made him leave."

"Gold toed socks. They never get a hole in the toes.... yeah right. It´s only been eight months and almost all of them already have holes. Good thing my young men leaders taught me to mend socks."

"Me and my companion, Elder Southern. Before we went to go play soccer."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Transition (Cazador week 13)

Well, this week has mainly been a week of transitions. Getting used to working with a new companion and passing by all the members so that they can get to know Elder Southern. Elder Southern is a pretty cool person. He is from Indiana and loves to make jokes and have fun. His Spanish accent is really good, people often ask if he is from Argentina. He also just came from Parque Chacabuco, where I was three months ago. And best of all he did show choir in high school. Of course he did show choir in Indiana where it is way bigger and better than anything I ever did, but it is still a cool thing to have in common.

We spent a lot of time this week talking to inactive members. When Elder Southern was called to this area he was told this his responsibility was to strengthen the ward and the inactives. It took less than a day for him to figure out what the problem is: people don´t feel like they have friends at church. (I knew that a long time ago) The members that go to church go to church once a week, attend to the meetings, then leave as soon as it is over, and don´t see each other again until next week. That is not what the church is about. La capilla no es la iglesia. The purpose of the church is to be a community of friends who are concerned for each other and help each other, both spiritually and physically. That´s why we have home and visiting teaching, relief society, priesthood quorums; to make friendships and help each other grow. So we have been thinking of things we can do to help build friendships and bring people back to church and find nonmembers to teach at the same time. We've got some good ideas, now we are going to start trying them.

Other than there isn't too much to say about this week. Yesterday was Elder Southern´s birthday so we ordered ice cream Saturday night (I LOVE Argentine ice cream) and are going to eat at McDonald´s today then play soccer.

Hope everyone has a great week this week. I´ll talk to you next time.

Elder Gardner

Here is a second e-mail that Doug sent to his parents and siblings:

¡Hola Familia!

I have decided to write you all a letter. Mainly just to say that I love you. Ok, that´s not really why I´m writing it. That is way to emotional for me to write something like that. More it is just to say, ¨Gracias por nada.¨ That´s actually not it either.

It is actually just to say hi. Partly cause I´m bored. My comp is going home fairly soon so he talks about home and I have thought a little about what it will be like when I get back. It will be weird. New nieces/nephews, new brothers/sisters in law (Katie and Nate, wink wink). But thanks for all the support you have shown me. I miss you all and am excited to see you all again in a little while. That´s all I've got to say.

Love you all,
Your brother/son/nephew,
Elder Gardner

p.s. Write me letters!!
p.p.s. In case you didn't realize it yet, there is another reason I am writing this. Sabrina is pregnant. That is all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tribulation (Cazador week 12)


To tell the truth, this week has been kind of tough. The week before was amazing and we had high hopes for all the people we had met and started teaching. But slowly one by one they all started falling away. On Thursday we had four appointments planned and all of them fell through. On Friday we had seven planned and all but one fell through. So we were rather disappointed, but we kept working through the tribulation. I think Satan was working pretty hard too, let me tell you some of the things that happened:

Silvia. She is the wife of a less active member. We talked to them and gave her a Book of Mormon on Sunday. On Tuesday we came back and talked to them and they said that they had read together and discussed the church and felt really good. It was the first time they had talked about religion without fighting. Then Tuesday night Silvia´s son (14 years old, from a different father) was out playing soccer when some punks came and started a fight. The son got hit in the head with a rock, right in the temple. It broke the skull and he is in the hospital and won´t leave for a while. So Silvia has been in the hospital with him too. And the husband just got a job offer that will take him to another province (state) for about a month. And for some reason he accepted! So he left when his family really needed him most (they have a three month old baby too). Any thoughts they had about the church have left for at least a month.

Family Jousset. They are the cousins of Juan Ignacio, the kid that got baptized two weeks ago. After we taught them the daughter went to the hospital for surgery, I´m not entirely sure why - some sort of gall bladder thing. So the mom has been gone and we haven´t been able to talk to them in over a week.

Juana. This is the older lady who lives really far away and came to church once. Her daughter was kidnapped, we believe. She left of her own free will with an older man that Juana doesn't know. And she took her national identification documents, all of the pictures of her in the house (so they can´t put up signs with her picture), and 800 pesos. So Juana has been busy trying to find her and take care of the farm that she lives on all alone.

Domingo. An amazing old man that we found. He told us that he wants to become a member of the church. We were really excited for him. On Saturday we had an appointment with him but when we went there was a note on the door for us telling us that he will be gone for 15 days. We have no idea why or where he went. But at least he thought to leave us a note, I think he will be baptized when he gets back.

So it´s been an interesting week. But Elder Merrill and I kept working. And for those of you who realized that today is transfers week, let me tell you about my new companion. Elder Merrill left and I am here in El Cazador with Elder Southern. He is from Indiana (I think). I don´t really know a whole lot about him yet (I just meet him about an hour ago). He only has two transfers left so I hope he isn't trunky. I´m a little bit worried about having to handle the area until he learns the ropes here. This is my first time staying in an area and getting a new companion, I´m going to have to take a lot more leadership. It´s a little bit scary but I´m really excited for the chance to learn a lot. God kept me here for a reason, now I just got to find out why.

Well, I hope everyone has a great week. I´ll tell you more next week. Same time, same place, slightly different storyline.

les amo,
Elder Gardner