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, June 27, 2011

Miracles (Loma Week 8)

Wow. This was a crazy crazy week. Where to start?

We have a family we are teaching, a dad with his two sons. Roberto is the dad and the sons are Brian and David. We have been working with them a lot but have never been able to get them to church on Sunday. We talked to them about baptism a few weeks ago and David said he wanted to get baptized, the other two weren't as sure. So we set a date for this Saturday, but they had to come to church for him to be baptized. Last Sunday they didn't come to church, so we changed to the baptismal date to a two weeks later.

Well, Sunday night we told our leaders that we were planning the baptism for David for July 9th. A little bit later that night the zone leaders called and asked why we were waiting. I explained that he didn't come to church and we felt he needed more time. But the zone leaders wanted us to do it after church on Sunday instead of waiting. I hate it when zone leaders do that. The only reason they called was because it was the end of the month and they wanted the number to count for this month instead of July. We talked for about 20 minutes and the whole time I just wanted to say ¨Tomátela. You don't know my investigators, I do. I'm doing what I think is best for them. Callate la boca and let me do my job.¨ But I didn't say that. Instead I agreed to pray and ask God what He wanted us to do.

So Monday morning we prayed and asked God when David should get baptized. We prayed twice and I was still dead set on not doing it this Sunday, so we didn't receive any sort of answer. Finally I was like, ¨Ok, I give up. I´ll do it whenever God wants. Even if He says this Sunday.¨ So we prayed for the third time and felt very strongly that this Sunday was the right day.

Later that day we had the ward activity (locro is pretty good; it´s kind of like corn soup) and the whole family came and the members did a great job of being their friends. On Tuesday we went over to their house planning to talk to them about being baptized this Sunday. But it was Roberto´s birthday and there were too many people and we couldn't talk about the gospel. On Wednesday we had zone conference and we didn't get home until 7:30 at night so we didn't have time to go over. On Thursday we took the ward missionary leader with us and were determined to talk about the baptism. But the ward mission leader started talking and didn't stop and then the kids had to leave to go to school we still couldn't do it. It was now Friday and I had given up hope. But my companion still had faith so we went over to try one last time.

Right as we showed up the two sons were leaving with a friend and the dad was in the shower. But David decided to stay to talk to us, which was perfect because we were alone and could talk seriously. We read Alma 7:15 and invited him to be baptized this Sunday, in two days. And he accepted! So we called the district leader and set up an interview for the next day, talked a little bit then left. The next day, Saturday, we were talking to a less active and David called and said that he was sick in bed with a fever and asked if we could wait till next week for the baptism. I said it was fine and we would wait, but I didn't really plan on waiting. God told us to do it this Sunday so we were determined to do it this Sunday. As we left the member's house I asked my companion, ¨Do you believe in miracles?¨ He said yes. I said, ¨Me too. Let's go.¨

We went to the church and prayed and asked God if what we were doing was His will. We felt that it was so we asked God for a miracle and to bless David with health. We then called the district leader and told him to meet us at David's house, and we then went to his house. The first thing we did was give David a priesthood blessing. I gave the blessing and felt the spirit very strongly, the most I ever have felt it in a blessing. I blessed him with health and strength to be able to go to church tomorrow and be baptized. The district leader then showed up and David passed the interview. Sunday morning we called and David was awake and perfectly healthy. He said he hadn't had any more sickness since we left his house. We picked him up and went to church together and he got baptized after the meetings. It was a crazy experience. So clearly a miracle. The Lord´s hand was involved every step of the way. God told us what He wanted to happen and we did everything we could to make it happen. And when that wasn't enough God stepped in and took care of it for us. Miracles are real. God exists. The church is true and the priesthood of God is once again on the earth.

¨I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.¨ 1 Nephi 3:7

Well, that was a super long story. So I won´t tell you anymore. Thanks for everything you do. Keep up the good work.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Elder Gardner

It rained A LOT this past week. And a couple times we got caught without umbrellas. Fortunately a family let us borrow their purple umbrella.

I like this picture a lot. I´m not sure if it´s sacrilegious to have a picture of Christ in the back of a gangster pose, but I think it turned out nice.

My and my companion with an investigator named Brian. This was during the ward activity on my birthday.

Presents! My companion bought me two presents at the 'swap meet' and I bought the sunglasses and the sweat pants I'm wearing. I bought the jacket a few weeks ago as an early present. To give you a little insight into my companion: He bought me these two presents without telling me before he bought them. One is a board game where all you do is roll dice and move the pieces and the first one to the finish mark wins. It is a game for very little kids. The other present is some yuigo cards. Neither are things I'm going to play anytime soon, but he has such a great heart buying things like that. Especially since he doesn't have money to pay for it. He now only has five pesos to last him this whole week. What a great guy.

Me and David.

Me, David, and Elder Romero. Never give your camera to an Argentine. They never seem to take very good pictures. O well. A picture is better than no picture.

A member family invited us over for an FHE on my birthday. It was pretty fun.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Living with Latino (Loma Week 7)

Hello all my fans. Thank you for supporting me.

Well, first off, I hope everyone had a great Father's Day yesterday (especially Dad) and a good Flag Day last Tuesday. Here in Argentina it is Flag Day today. It´s a bigger holiday here than in the states, there´s no school, stores are closed, the big ´swap meet´ type things are open (Becca would die), there is an activity at the church (locro = some type of stew; or so I´m told). And it´s p-day which is sweet. And even better, it´s my birthday! We are going to eat locro (I hope it´s good) then go to the swap meet thing and spend lots of money on cheap pointless Argentine stuff. That sounds like a good birthday to me.

This week has been interesting. In terms of the missionary work there isn't really much to say. The most exciting thing was that a member we helped reactivate when I first got here was just called to be elders quorum president (yes there are so few active males here that they had to call someone who has been inactive for years). But what has been interesting is being with my new companion.

I don´t think I could describe enough for you to understand what he is like. He comes from a very poor part of Argentina, I get the feeling he has more spendable money here on the mission than he did before. He also had some psychological problems before the mission. After he was baptized he improved a lot but it is still evident he has some problems; from the way he tells me the same story ten times every day to the way he doesn't understand the questions I ask him. At first I thought it was a language or a culture difference, but I realized that the same thing happens even when he is with fellow Argentines. It was really hard at first. Having come from a rich, well educated, American family, having only been with American companions; I felt really alone the first few days. Like no one really understood me or what I was feeling. But not anymore. I've grown a lot closer to the Lord in this week. I´ve also learned a lot of humility. I´ve always kind of thought highly of myself (I try not to show it but I know it comes through) but living with Elder Romero I have seen his connection with the Lord, as a poor uneducated man. And it blows me away. I hope some day I can be as close to God as he is. I still have a long way to go. I've learned a lot from my companion. It´s still hard, especially with him being a convert he doesn't understand much about the mission or the gospel and I have to do a lot more, but it is worth it. I wouldn't give up this last week of my life for anything.

Well, that´s all I have time for today. I hope everyone has a great week. God loves you. Now go out there and do something to help other some one else.

con amor,
Elder Gardner

WARNING!!!! Not For Weak Hearted

Thursday, June 16, 2011

¡Hola! (Loma Week 6)

Well, here we are again.

This was a week of lots of hard work, but it had a pretty good ending. Yesterday and Saturday we had stake conference. And the mission president said that we needed to do all we could to get the people we are teaching to stake conference both Sunday and Saturday. So we worked really hard to get a family there on Saturday. We arrived at their house at 6:15 p.m. to head over to church, but they took FOREVER getting ready and we didn't leave until about 7:40 (it started at 7). We arrived at about 8 and got to listen to the last hour of the meeting. The mission president was there and gave a great talk. The whole family really enjoyed the conference. Sadly they didn't wake up in time to go the meeting on Sunday. But on Sunday night we took on of the boys of the family to the testimony meeting of all the missionaries that are going home. He really enjoyed the meeting and has a lot more interest in getting baptized now than he did before. I also saw my trainer, Elder Ludwig, at the meeting. He is going home today. It´s amazing how fast the time has gone by, it seems like just yesterday I was with him in Parque Chacabuco.

So the other exciting news of the week: Transfers! My companion, Elder Rose, left Loma Hermosa. I am with a new companion, Elder Romero. Elder Romero is from Argentina, ¡I finally have a Latin companion! He is a convert to the church, he got baptized about a year ago, and this is his second transfer in the mission. So he is still learning about the gospel and about the mission. It is a pretty big culture difference, me being an American and being raised in the church and him being an Argentine that recently became a member. But I am excited to work together and learn together. He has great desire to work and be a good missionary. There also is a new program in the mission that the new missionaries study for an extra hour for the first two transfers. So I now have a different schedule than before and am in the role of ´trainer´ even though I´m not really. It´s kinda weird but it should be good.

That´s all I have time for today. I was going to send pictures but the computer doesn't like me. Hope you have a great week!

Love from Argentina,
Elder Gardner

Monday, June 6, 2011

Third Times The Charm (Loma Week 5)

I know I've said this before, but this has probably been the craziest week of my mission. Let me explain a little:

It actually starts two weeks ago on p-day when we were playing soccer. I chased after the ball (all alone) and stepped on some mud and slipped and fell. I fell fast and hard and didn´t have time to put my hands up. I smacked my face on the cement and broke my two front teeth. I went to the dentist immediately and he took x-rays, said that luckily it didn't hit my nerves or anything, took some molds and told me to come back in a week.

Now we start this week:
On Tuesday morning I went back to the dentist. He spent half an hour drilling my teeth to little stumps (they looked gross). Sadly I didn't get a picture, I hope to get one this week. When he was done he took another mold then put in temporary teeth. They are big and don´t match my teeth very well, but he is going to put in better ones (from the states) this Thursday.

We came straight from the dentist and did divisions with the district leader. He went with Elder Rose to my area and I went with Elder Rasmussen to work in his area. It was a lot of fun because Elder Rasmussen was my roommate in the MTC and we are good friends. But during the day the zone leaders called us and took away our cell phone (they had lost theirs). So when we got home at night we had no way of calling our companions and figuring out when we were going to meet to switch and go back to our own areas. We went to sleep and waited in the morning hoping our companions would show up. They didn't. We tried calling them from local phones about 5 times during the day but they didn´t answer. So we just kept working. When we got home at night they finally answered their phone and they came to meet us and we went back to normal.

Elder Rose told me that they had talked to Miriam (the lady we talked to last week who wanted to get baptized on Saturday) and she was excited for her baptism. So we went to the church to make sure the baptismal font worked, and we learned that the hot water was broken. So after thinking and praying for a while we decided to do the baptism in another chapel with the zone leaders. But Miriam had gone fishing so we couldn´t get a hold of her to see if it was ok with her. We spent all of Thursday passing by members and inviting them to the baptism.

On Friday we had the baptismal interview for Miriam. The zone leaders told us that the district leader would come and meet us in the apartment to do the interview (he still didn't have a cell phone). But the district leader didn't show up, so the zone leaders said they would head over. We called Miriam and told her we would be a little late, she said it was ok. But we showed up VERY late. The zone leaders took almost 2 hours to show up. When they got here we headed over to Miriam´s house but she had left and we couldn't get a hold of her. So one of the zone leaders stayed with Elder Rose to try to find her later and I went with the other zone leaders to their area. In their area we met up with the district leader (the zone leaders needed a baptismal interview too) and he stayed with them and I went with Elder Rasmussen to his area again. We still didn't have a cell phone but they told us they would come to the apartment at night to switch back. We hurried home after a lesson and waited and waited and waited. Finally at about 10 the doorbell rang and a member told us that the zone leaders had called him and told him to tell us to meet at the train station tomorrow at 12.

So we went to the train station at 12 on Saturday and waited and waited and waited. Finally at 12:50 the others showed up and we all went back to our normal areas. Elder Rose and the zone leader hadn't been able to find Miriam until that morning, but she passed the interview and everything was a go for the baptism. So we ate lunch then went to pick up Miriam and go to the other church for the baptism. The baptism was really good, except the water was cold anyway and Elder Rose had to do it twice. But the most important part was that she got baptized and was washed clean of her sins.

On Sunday morning we called Miriam and she said she was ready for church and just waiting for her daughter´s family to come pick her up. So we went to pick up some other people (José Luis and Ruben). When we got to church, two minutes before it started, ¡Miriam wasn't there! That was a stressful moment. Fortunately she showed up at 9:03 is (church started late anyway so it didn't matter). I had the opportunity to confirm her a member of the church of Jesus Christ and give her the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was a very special moment and both her and her daughter had tears in their eyes.

So that was a really long story, but it had a very happy ending. It was a crazy week, but the most important part was that another daughter of God was able to enter the waters of baptism and recieve the Holy Ghost. That made it all worth it.

I hope everyone has a great week. Talk to you next time!

Elder Gardner

The night of the accident. You can see the bruise on my chin.

My broken teeth.

My fixed teeth. Actually this is just temporarily fixed. He is putting in better ones on Thursday.



Miriam with Elder Rose.

Us with Miriam and her daughter and her daughter´s kids. The daughter is a member.

José Luis (less active) and Ruben (investigator). They are awesome and came to church yesterday.