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, May 30, 2011

Gone Fishing? (Loma Week 4)

Hello all the people that read this letter! ¿Cómo están? Or maybe I should just say ¿Cómo está?

This has been an interesting week. A few weeks ago we had a mission wide conference call. Every single missionary in the mission (including the missionaries in the bottom of South America -- a total of about 200 people and 100 phones) was on the call and President Gulbransen talked to us. He talked about the urgency and the need of baptism. That all people need to be baptized to show their obedience and desire to follow Christ. And that we need to be baptized NOW! Often, especially as missionaries, we think is it ok to wait a month or two until the circumstances are better or something, but we need to follow Christ and be baptized, and we can not afford to wait in showing God our faithfulness. He challenged us all to do all we could to baptize someone this month (in May).

We worked hard and visited people that had been listening to missionaries and gone to church before, but we didn´t find anyone to baptize this month. But we did have a miracle with one of these people, Miriam. She is the mom of a member and my first week in my area we visited her and she was really happy to see us and wanted to start learning from the missionaries again. But after that day we couldn´t find her again, she goes fishing every single day. We passed by her house almost day this last week, and finally on Friday we found her. She told us about how hard her life is now and how much worse she feels now and that she was a lot happier when she was talking to the missionaries and going to church. It was a really good lesson but I was afraid to bring up the topic of baptism, since she stopped going to church because the missionaries pressured her too much about baptism. But my companion (who has more faith than I do; that´s one of the best parts of junior companions) brought up baptism. She said she had almost gotten baptized twice but never did, but she still wanted to get baptized, but wanted to wait a little bit to learn more first. So we started talking about dates (I was thinking in two or three weeks) and she herself chose this Saturday as the day to get baptized. We told her that it was a great idea. Now we got to work hard to make sure she makes it this time. Third time the charm!

That´s all the stories I got for this week. Time to go shopping. Got to start buying myself some birthday presents! Wink, wink...

Nos vemos,
Elder Gardner

Here is a series of e-mails that I got 2 hours later:

Ok. I don´t have time for the whole story, but here is a quick run down. Last week on p-day we were playing soccer and I fell and hit my face on the cement and broke my two front teeth. I went to the dentist and he said that everything is ok, it didn't reach the roots or nerves so the teeth are fine. But he needs to put on a crown. Two of them. He is going to do it tomorrow in the morning. The dentist just barely called me and told me that each crown is 1700 pesos or 3400 pesos for both. That is a little less than 1000 dollars, which he said is a lot cheaper than it would be in the states, which is good I guess. So I think it will be easiest for me to pay for it with the debit card that I have, which means I need you to put about 1000 dollars on it. If you get this soon reply back. I´ll stay on for a few minutes.

Well, you didn't reply yet which I assume means you haven´t read the last email. I´ll just trust that there isn't a problem and I´ll write and tell you more about it next week. Yes mom I´ll take pictures. And don´t worry about me, I´m in good hands. The dentist speaks English and went to school in the states. Thanks for everything.

I hope I´m not putting the family in a financial crisis! I just think it would be nice to be able to bite things; though I have a much better understanding of how Argentines feel, they all have terrible teeth problems.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

11 Months! (Loma week 3)

Today is my eleven months in the mission day! That´s a long time! I can´t believe it has been so long.

Here is a summary of my progress after eleven months:

Spanish: I don´t have a problem with Spanish. I wouldn't say I´m at the fluent mark, but I can say just about anything I want to say and I understand almost everything. I have a good grasp of the grammar and if I don´t know a word I can ask what it means or describe it in another way. I don´t have to think to speak in Spanish, and I often find myself thinking to myself and dreaming in Spanish. So that is one challenge out of the way; I´m still working to perfect the accent and vocabulary, but the Spanish hurdle has been jumped. In fact I gave a talk yesterday in church. I thought I was going to have about seven minutes but I ended up having twenty. I hadn't written a talk anyway out so I just got up and talked, without any problem.

I feel like I've learned A TON on the mission. I have learned a lot about the gospel and about life in general. I think I have become a better person. I´ve become a little more outgoing, but I still have a lot of shy tendencies. What I haven´t really learned is how to be a good missionary. I've been here working in Argentina for 9 months and have only seen four people enter the waters of baptism. I don´t care much about numbers, but I have great desires to help people come unto Christ, that is what I came here to do. And it´s hard because at times I feel like I´m not doing enough or not doing it right or something. There are people out there waiting for this message but for some reason I can´t find them. I've been here for three weeks as senior companion and I feel a lot more responsibility for the progress of the people here. And I haven´t really seen any yet. But there is no reason to get discouraged or down. I am participating in the work of God; I have no doubt of that. Sometimes He just wants us to learn patience.

Anyway, this week we worked hard but not much too exciting happened. We had a baptism of a nine year old kid planned for this coming Saturday but it rained Sunday morning and the family lives in the villa were all the streets are made of dirt, so they didn't make it to church. Rain is not your friend when you are a missionary, especially Sunday mornings.

But here is good uplifting story of a miracle the past week: We passed by a member´s house for no good reason, just to see how she was doing, and she asked us to come in and give a blessing to her grandson. He had gotten an ear infection and they had just bought medicine but it was still hurting him, and the doctor had said it would take about a week to go away. So we gave him a blessing and then left. The next day she told us that after we left the kid went to take a nap and woke up without any pain at all. The problem was completely gone. The power of God and the authority of the priesthood is real. I have no doubt that this is the church of God.

Well, that´s all the time I have for today. I hope everyone has a great week!

les amo,
Élder Gardner

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


You asked for pictures for the plaque/plack/plak/plaq... how in the world do you spell that?!? Anyway, while my comp was talking to his family I took lots of pictures. I'll send you lots to see which you like best. For some reason they are slightly fuzzy, sorry bout that.

Bryan said I had to do funny ones. I hope these are good enough for him. It would be funny if you put one of these on my plaque. It doesn't matter to me, do what you feel is best.

That picture was an accident. The camera went off to soon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just Keep Swimming (Loma Week 2)

Hola from Argentina!

I hope everyone has had an amazing week. Hopefully it was better than the one we had here. It was one of those weeks where nothing really works out the way you want and you just have to keep telling yourself to keep going trusting that things are going to work out. We didn't have much success, but there were some highlights. Here they are:

On Wednesday we had interviews and a training meeting with President. It was a really good training. President Gulbransen is one of the best men I have ever met. He pretty much just radiates love where ever he goes. He is an amazing example of applying the gospel is one´s life and being filled with the love of God for all men. My interview with him really helped me because I was feeling a little downhearted but he lifted me right back up. And in the training meeting we watched a powerful talk by Elder Holland and then we talked about the importance of working with the members. It helped me get a better vision of what we need to do in this ward. The real measure of success of a person (be it missionary or anything else) isn´t in what s/he does by himself, but in what he helps others to do. We can work all our life on our own projects but we won´t get nearly as much down if we don´t have other people help us. And if we don´t have other people help us we are denying them the opportunity to grow and to learn how to do it.

Other than the training with President the best part of the week happened on Saturday night. Last Saturday we were walking down a street on the way home to eat lunch when some guys sitting at a table drinking wine called us over. I ignored them but my companion went over to talk to them (I don´t know what he was thinking, talking to drunk people doesn't usually turn out well). But one of them said that he was a less active member and but us each a choripan (a really good Argentine sausage in bread type thing). This Saturday (a week later) we saw them on the street again and stopped to talk but they didn't buy us anything. But later that night we were walking through the local villa and heard someone yell my comp´s name. It turned out to be one of those guys at the table that invited us in and showed us around. He is really nice man; an alcoholic but has desires to stop drinking. We talked about the gospel with him and how God can help him stop drinking and we told him we would come by his house on Sunday morning to go to church together. He accepted and was really nice. He even gave us a wooden doll house that he built! We have no idea what to do with it but we couldn't say we didn't want it so we took it. I´ll have to send pictures of it next week. Sadly when we went on Sunday morning he wasn't home. But I felt the spirit really strong as we talked to him and I´m sure he can stop drinking and change his life if he accepts Christ in his life. And we are going to help him on the journey.

That´s all the really exciting news. On Sunday there was a Boca vs. River soccer game so there was NO ONE in the streets or willing to talk to us. Boca won 2-0. ¡DALE BOCA! It´s awesome how into soccer games everyone gets here. We knew every time there was a goal and when the game was over because a ton of firecrackers would go off and everyone would be yelling. Too bad we don´t do that in the states.

Well that´s all I got time for. Make sure you all keep swimming this week and don´t give up no matter how fast the water seems to be going in the opposite direction. I´ll talk to you next week.

Elder Gardner

¡Feliz dia de la madre! (Loma week 1)

Well, I have made it through one week as senior companion. It hasn´t been too much of a struggle. The gift of tongues is real. This is the first time I have really needed it and I have definitely felt it. I have understood better and spoken a lot better this week than I did just a week ago when I was still junior companion.

This area is pretty interesting. It is a lot closer to the capital city and is therefor a lot more city like. The streets are all cement and there aren´t really yards are plants. It´s a lot different. The ward, however, is rather similar. There are a lot of inactives and the majority of the members are older people (like mom :)).

It quicly realized that the missionaries before had been doing missionary work in the wrong way. They hadn´t been working all that much with the members. My companion wasn´t even sure where the bishop lived. So we have a lot of work to do here. People to reactivate, members to strengthen, and people to baptize.

The best investigator we have right now is a nine year old son of a less active member. He came to church yesterday with his eleven year old brother but the rest of the family, including the mom, didn´t want to come. So we have work to do with the rest of the family too.

There isn´t much else to say. It was nice being able to talk to and see the family yesterday (even though you couldn´t see me). I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying life.

hasta la proxima semana,
Elder Gardner

We were bored. So we decided to practice our Dragon Ball Z skills.
I got it down pretty good...

It's probably better if I don't explain this one.
But I'm sure no one is too surprised to see it.

My favorite picture with one of my favorite families.
Adrian and Rocío (blind man and wife) and Alex (the kid).
This is the view from the lady we taught who lives next to the river. It is awesome.

¡Viva la Argentina!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Week (Cazador Week 24)

Well, for those of you who pay attention and know how the mission works should know that today is transfers day. And you might have been able to tell from the title of the email that I was transferred. But I will tell you the details at the end, for now I will tell you what happened my last week in El Cazador.

Last p-day we went to the church´s field to play soccer and football with the other elders in the zone. It was really fun but kind of far away so we got back late and didn't have much time to write emails and go shopping. The rest of the week wasn´t all that exciting, lots of walking, as always. Here are the two highlights:

On Friday we went with Adrian and Rocío (the blind man and his wife) to go visit some of their family members that live far away, off the map. They live next to a river and it was a good 15 minutes in bus to get there, but they live within our area limits. One of them lived literally on the bank of the river, we sat in her backyard about two feet away from the river as we taught. It was awesome. We taught two families that are both really nice and interested in learning more of the gospel. The only problem is that they live kind of far away.

Then on Sunday we went to the despedida (farewell meeting) for Elder Southern, my last companion. We took Silvia and Tatiana with us because they wanted to say goodbye. We left two hours before it started thinking we had plenty of time to arrive at the mission offices. After getting off the bus, wandering around a city we don´t know, and then taking a taxi, we got there about 45 minutes after it started. And then we had to be back home before nine so after waiting at the bus stop for 20 minutes Elder Clarke and I left Silvia and Tatiana and we ran to go find a taxi to take us home. It was a crazy night but we made it home safely and then waited for the phone call to tell us about transfers.

The phone call came and here is what happened. Elder Clarke is staying in El Cazador and he is going to train a new elder and be district leader. I got sent to a place called Loma Hermosa, with means Beautiful Bump. The also told me that I will be senior companion, which made me a little nervous, especially since my companion´s name is clearly a gringo, Elder Rose. I´m not sure I´m ready to take charge, but the Lord called me to do it so that is what I will do.

Right now I am in my new area. It is in the province of Buenos Aires. It seems like a bigger city than my last area but nowhere like capital. My companion is Elder Rose from Salt Lake City. This is his second transfer, which means he has only been in Argentina for a month and a half. Which means he doesn´t know Spanish all that well yet. He actually talks pretty well (a whole lot better than I did at that point) but I am still nervous. I have always had companions that knew Spanish better than me. This means I am really going to have to step it up and take the lead in the lessons and in talking to people. It´s a little scary but with God all things are possible.

I don´t know much about the area yet. I´ll know more next week. That´s all for today. Hope everyone has a great week!

les amo,
Elder Gardner