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.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

El Fin (mission week 106)

Is this for real? Every minute that goes by is one minute closer till I no longer have this amazing privilege of carrying Christ´s name on my shirt. I would count how many minutes are left, but I´m too busy doing other things. Like baptizing!

This week was probably my best week in the mission. On Sunday after church the sister and cousin of Melisa were baptized. They both asked me to baptize them which was a nice experience. I really love that family so much and it made me so happy to be a part of it. The brother that was baptized two months ago received the priesthood and was called to the young men presidency as well on Sunday. He was one of the witnesses of the baptism. The two girls were both so happy and smiling afterwards. Especially the younger one. She is probably one of the shyest people I have ever met, but we showed her some family pictures the other day and she finally started talking to us. She´s actually really funny. The cousin, Daiana, is also awesome. Her dad is a member but doesn´t go to church and her mom goes to another christian church. But Daiana decided to be baptized and even though she had to do it without much support from the parents she didn´t hesitate for second. She even brought a friend to church to see the baptism.

We have also been working with an inactive family named Barbieri. One brother was kind of active and the rest hadn´t gone to church in years, including one 9 year old unbaptized son. The children have been going to church for a month or two now but the mom never did (the dad doesn´t live with them). We kept on trying to get the kid baptized but they said that they wanted to have a party and a huge cake that would cost 2000 pesos and take two months to make. Baptism is more important than party but they didn´t want to accept that concept. The mom finally went to sacrament meeting two weeks ago (but not the classes) and things changed. We went to eat lunch with them after she went to church and randomly she said, ¨We are going to do Leandro´s baptism next Thursday.¨ We were like, ¨Dale!¨ So the mom went to church again last Sunday and had an interview with the branch president. On Thursday the son was baptized! His older brother started his mission papers and was the one who did the baptism. There were lots of members and others there to support the family so it was great.

That´s about all the exciting news. We are working hard so that all three of them are confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ tomorrow. And while we are at it we might just baptize some one else too. Go big or go home. O wait.......

The offices are going good. I don´t know how ready Elder Lowry feels for me to leave, but all birds have to leave the nest some time. He´ll get the hang of it soon enough. Nothing too exciting is coming to me at the moment to write about.

I love missionary work. I love Argentina. I have learned so much and have enjoyed so much the past two years. I can´t believe it is all coming to an end. It really hasn´t hit in yet. Once it does I´ll probably cry or something; but that´s just because I have allergies. I´ve met so many awesome people, had so many fun companions that have taught me so much. I´ve seen people grow closer to God and gain testimonies of the reality of Jesus Christ. The church is true. This is God´s kingdom on earth. The gospel can change lives. People can be born again and become new creatures. That what it is all about. And as I´ve been helping others in their rebirth process I can feel that I too have been born again. It took two years for me to really get it, but those are two years I would never trade for anything. Ever. La Gran Misión Buenos Aires Norte, te extrañaré.

Over and out.
Hasta la vista,

Elder Gardner

 All in white.

Everybody this time!

More white!


More with everybody!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Los Lowrys (mission week 105)

Well, it´s been one of those weeks. Lots of things going on, little time to think. Transfers are always crazy. Even more so when you are actually part of the farewell fireside and the departing missionary lunch. Things that I have helped with for the last six months but I never thought I would actually participate in them. It feels unreal. One of the missionaries that left said, ¨It´s kind of like death. Everyone knows they will die some day, but no one actually believes they will. It´s the same with ending the mission.¨ That´s exactly how I feel. I know that it is time, but I don´t really believe it. There is still so much to do, so many people to help. And I love it so much. I was sitting there on Sunday during sacrament meeting while Melisa was being confirmed and I just couldn´t stop thinking about how glad I was that I´m not leaving yet. I would hate to miss the baptisms of these people that we have been working with. Tomorrow Melisa´s sister and cousin are getting baptized after church. So we are pretty excited for them.

Monday was the departing lunch at President´s house. The conversation was geared toward going home sort of things, like the first food we will eat when we get home (in-n-out for the win!). And President taught a lot about marriage. He pretty much just took all the doctrine we have been teaching for the last two years and tied it all into marriage. Then everyone I started the mission with got in a bus and left for the airport; except for Elder Beck. His parents drove up in a car and I saw them meet for the first time in two years. Let´s just say that it was hard to keep thinking about mission things after all that. But, I´m here still and the work must go on, so I kept on working.

On Tuesday all the new missionaries came. ¨All¨ the missionaries being two latin missionaries and the Lowrys. We have not received a single American missionary in two transfers. There are 28 of them that we are waiting for that are currently serving in the states. This whole visa mess is killing us. We had to close five areas because we just don´t have enough missionaries right now. But once all these 28 get there visa we will have to open another 10 areas. So, things are getting interesting around here. We keep praying that the politics of the countries won´t get in the way of the spreading of the word of God.

On Wednesday the fun began. With Elder and Sister Lowry in the country and ready to work we got started teaching them the ropes. It´s been interesting. I didn´t realize how much easier it was for me having already been in the offices for three months and in the mission for a year and a half before I took over the finances. I have to take time to explain a lot of things to Elder Lowry that I take for granted. Like, how many zones there are, how the rents are paid, why we do things the way we do, etc. It´s been a slower process than I was expecting, but Elder Lowry is doing a good job getting up to speed. He asks question after question until he understands exactly what is going on. Kind of like the way Dad would do it. We´ve already made several changes to the procedures as we realized I was only doing what I was taught to do and there is a better way to do things. I like change, especially when it is for the better, so it has been a good experience. 

On Thursday we went over to the mission home to talk to the zone leaders about zone money, and we stuck around for lunch afterwards (tacos!). And then on Friday we went over again because our zone broke the baptismal record for the second month in a row! We are doing pretty well here. Four out of the last five days I ate lunch at the mission home. And it sure was tasty. 

Well, that´s about all the news I have for today. We have been working hard in the area and are excited for the baptism tomorrow. Now we just need to find more people! Have a great week everyone.

Nos vemos,
Elder Gardner

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dos Años

Today is June 23, 2012. Two years ago today my parents and Nate and Katie dropped me off early in the morning at the airport. I flew by myself to Salt Lake City where Becca picked me up and took me to the MTC. I said my last goodbyes to the family there and walked into the next phase of my life. They gave me a plaque with the name ¨Elder Gardner¨ on it. I dropped my suitcases off in the dorm room then they took me to my classroom. The teacher said something in Spanish and I just stared blankly at him. My new companion gave me a big huge which I didn´t know how to respond to. Our teachers tried to teach us how to pray in Spanish. They were probably wondering how they were going to help these 19 year old boys become men. I went to bed that night nervous, unsure of what I was doing or why, but firm in my decision to do it. Little did I know all that would come in the next two years.

June 23, 2011. One year ago today I was in Loma Hermosa with my first latin companion. For the first time I couldn´t speak english to anyone. And boy did I miss it. I was struggling to figure out why I had been placed in that area with that companion at that time. I wasn´t sure who I was or what I was made of. I knew what God expected of me but I couldn´t push myself to do it. In the morning we went to the dentist where he continued to drill away at my two front teeth. That night we went to an investigator´s house and challanged him to be baptized in three days. He accepted. I went to bed with a prayer asking God to help me give up my desires and to only want to do His will.

June 23, 2012. Today I woke up with one thought on my mind: how to help Cintia to get baptized tonight. Yes I was excited to write my family, but all of that had become an afterthought. My first and foremost desire was to help a child of God enter the waters of baptism. My companions and I discussed our plans in English, but with so much Spanish grammar and words thrown in it wouldn´t be understandable to an American. We arrived at the offices and gave the usual big hugs to each of the elders there. Some one says, ¨elder,¨ and my head instantly turns. They say, ¨Doug¨ and I don´t even notice. I will go to bed tonight exhausted, as always, but thanking my God for the opportunity He has given me these last two years. Oh how I wish I could stay here for another two years! La gran mision Buenos Aires Norte, te extrañaré.

Awesome (office week 25)

Well, these last two weeks have been awesome! Let me try to tell you why in a consice but also entertaining way:

We´ll start with a story of a lesson we had with Eusebia (or however you spell that). She is the grandmother of Miguel who got baptized a month or so ago. She has gone to church a ton in Peru and has gone a few times here, but she never got baptized. We finally realized that she still doesn´t understand the doctrine very well. While Elder Chase and I were there she said that she has already been baptized as a baby in the catholic church so she doesn´t need to be baptized. We started reading in Moroni 8 were it talks about the abomination of baptizing babies. She thought it was interesting but then started to question the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. For the first time she admitted she has never read it, but she does sometimes open the Bible up randomly and read a verse. So I handed her the Book of Mormon and told her to do it right then. She prayed for about thirty seconds then opened the book and handed it to me since she didn´t have her glasses. When I saw where she opened it to I couldn´t believe my eyes. It was open to Moroni 8, the exact same verse we had already read: ¨Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.¨ We asked her what God was trying to tell her and she finally admitted that she needs to be baptized again, but in the catholic church! Yeah, she doesn´t understand the doctrine. We explained priesthood authority again but we have pretty much just given up with her. But we keep on baptizing her grandchildren:

Melisa, Miguel´s sister, has been reading a ton in the Book of Mormon and we were pushing hard for her baptism on Sunday. She finally opened up enough to tell us that one big obstacle was that she felt that by being baptized she would be leaving her dad alone. The dad isn´t a member and doesn´t really talk to anyone else in the family except for Melisa. So she didn´t want to ¨join¨ with the rest of the family by being baptized and leave the dad alone. We talked a lot about faith and hope with her but she still wasn´t too sure. On Saturday we took Elder Pabon, one of the APs, to do the baptismal interview. She passed the interview and decided to take the step of faith by being baptized on Sunday. Sunday was stake conference and the area president was there to give a talk. It was a really good conference but afterwards when we talked to Melisa she had changed her mind about being baptized. We all went into a classroom and prayed and talked about it, but she still said no. Especially with it being Father´s Day she didn´t want to leave the dad at home alone waiting for them to get back. After talking and trying to help her to make the decision to be baptized we decided to do it the next Saturday. 

We then went into the cultural hall were the area president was taking pictures with the families being baptized in other wards. As Miguel was trying to get into a random picture with another family from another ward, Melisa came up and said, ¨I want to get baptized right now.¨ So she got changed into the white dress and was baptized! It was an awesome baptism. Seven other people from the stake were baptized and the spirit was strong. We were so happy that Melisa had made that decision, and she was all smiles afterwards.

Sunday turned into an even better day when we went to the house of Cristina, who was baptized a few weeks ago. After talking to her we asked her who she was going to introduce us to so we could teach them. She took us to a house in the back of her property where there lives a family that Cristina rents to. We talked to the 18 year old daughter named Daniela. She is really smart. It´s nice to teach smart people, sometimes I get frustrated when people don´t understand what I think are simple concepts. But she understood everything really well and had some good questions. We invited her to be baptized July 8 and she accepted. When we went back the next day she had read 2 Nefi 31 and then started from the beginning and read 1 Nefi 1 up till 1 Nefi 10. Wow! Awesome. And Cristina bore a really good testimony. My favorite part was when she said, ¨I got baptized in three weeks. It took me so long because I had to stop smoking. Otherwise it would have been sooner.¨ Three weeks is a pretty long time after all... :)

So, Sunday was pretty awesome. But also awesome was Saturday. The children of the parents that I found and baptized in Loma Hermosa got baptized! Since Saturday is my p-day I was able to go to it. It was really cool. That was the first time I´ve seen some one I baptized baptize some one else; so it was really special. And they asked me to baptize the daughter, which was cool. I really love them and it made me feel a lot better about my work in Loma Hermosa. One of the members I helped to reactivate is now the primary president. And another couple that I taught there got married yesterday and will be baptized today. I love helping people on the path to salvation. Even if I don´t always get to be there for the baptism.

On Tuesday we had a BBQ at President´s house with the zone because we broke the zone record for baptisms last month. It was a good BBQ. And it looks like this month we will baptize more than last month and get to go again. Sweet. We have been busy with transfers the last few days. Transfers are on Monday. Tomorrow is the farewell fireside for the leaving missionaries, which I will speak at even though I´m not really leaving (shhh, don´t tell anyone).

Well, this is already a really long letter. Thanks for enduring to the end of the letter! Hope it was worthwhile.

With amor,
Elder Gardner

The Flia Jacquet, from Loma Hermosa. 

Us with Melisa.

Melisa and the whole family.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My birthday started off like any other day. We woke up, showered, studied, then headed over to the offices. It was also flag day in Argentina, which is widely celebrated so all the businesses were closed. Around 11:30 our first lunch arrived, ñoquis and a chocolate cake. Ñoquis are pastas made out of potatoes and are delicious and very filling. So we ate that then had to wait an hour or so to eat the cake since we were full. Around 1 arrived our second lunch, locro. We just put it in the fridge since we were too full.

Then a couple of families we are teaching called to wish me a happy birthday; that was nice of them. Sister Castañeda came back after lunch with some banana bread and Elder Castañeda came back after inspecting some apartments with more locro (it´s a traditional Argentine food for national holidays). Then around 5:30  Sister Gulbrandsen called and said not to leave since they were on their way to the offices. She came over with President and a pan of brownies and a awesome candle. So cool. And so nice of them to take time out of their busy day for me.

Then we went out to teach the gospel. We passed by a member family who was going to accompany us to a lesson and they invited us in. They had baked a cake for my birthday. Sweet. After the lesson with an awesome investigator named Daneila (more on her later) we went to a lesson with the peruvian family we have been teaching and one by one baptizing all of them. They had made us tacos, delicious, and the best cake I have ever eaten in Argentina. As we were about the girl who got baptized on Sunday pulled a cheesecake out of the fridge and gave to us to take home. Wow. Miguel (who got baptized a month ago) gave us a ride to the church, then ten minutes later he came back with the family with some chocolate treats, a 2 liter soda, and tortilla chips. Let´s just say we were REALLY full at the end of the day. And our stomachs hurt the next day from all of the treats. But it was totally worth it. Definitely one of the best birthdays I´ve ever had.

Thanks for all of your birthday wishes! I´ll write another letter in a minute.

My last moments as a 20 year old.

President and Sister Gulbrandsen brought over brownies. How nice of them :)

A family we are teaching (and several of which have been baptized) made us tacos for my birthday.

And they made us a cake!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Elder Gardner es super capo!

Hi Sister Gardner,

This is elder chase.  Elder Gardner wanted me to write a quick letter for him letting you know that he woudn´t be able to write you today.  He didn´t get back in time from the baptism today in his old area and now had to go out and do a baptismal interview for another companionship.  But he sends lots of love and is doing great!  He will write next saturday.

Elder Chase

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Halo! (office week 23)

Hola todos! ¿Como están? Espero que todos estén felices.

This week was pretty good. I´m not sure what to say this week. Things continue as normal. Everything going by really fast, trying to keep on top of everything that´s going on. When I´m not busy running to President´s house to get his signature on a check and then going to the bank before it closes, or balancing the books and doing other paperwork, or  counting how many DVDs we have in the mail room, etc. I´m busy looking into all the expenses of the mission and trying to figure out how to fit in the budget. We´ve been making some changes and saving money. Hopefully I can keep it going.

Some good stories: One of the nights as we were heading home, we got a phone call at 10:30. It was one of the APs who said something along the lines of, ¨we are in the middle of no where with a flat tire, what do we do?¨ The car has ¨magic¨ tires that don´t pop so there isn´t a spare tire there at all. Well, they were on a street in the middle of nowhere and hit a metal bar and destroyed the tire. I gave them some numbers to call and went to bed. Around midnight they called and asked a number of a taxi place. Then around three thirty we got a phone call from the alarm agency that watches the church. They told us that someone entered the building. It was a night with lots of disturbances, but at least we got some sleep, unlike the APs. They ended up having to call and wait for a tow truck to come pick them up and take them back. The next day we got a new magic tire and are good to go. 

We´ve been having lots of lessons with Melisa to help her make the decision to be baptized. She is awesome. She has been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and praying. She believes it is all true but is afraid of making the step of baptism. We´ve had some pretty spiritual lessons with her, talking about the gospel and praying with her to know if it´s true. The spirit is always strong and she said she can tell her faith is growing. We are hoping to have her baptismal service next Sunday after stake conference.

Well, sorry it´s kind of a short, not too exciting letter. I got distracted a few times during it. Have a great week! Invite someone to church.

Con Amor,

Elder Gardner

When we got the car they said the car doesn´t have a spar tire because the tires are special Volkswagen tires that never pop. They were right, it didn´t pop. It exploded.

Elder Chase and I did service for a family. We moved all those bricks in the background up some stairs. 

The stairs we had to climb. Fortunately they didn´t break.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Baptize! (office week 22)

What is going on!?! How is already June! That is so crazy! I have no idea what happened to the last six months. Ever since I got here to the offices it has all just been a blur. Things are always busy and there are always new things going on so time just starts to lose it´s meaning. So, time to make the most of it and go work as hard as possible.

Cristina, the lady we helped stop smoking last week, was baptized last Saturday. It was one of those baptisms that is just a miracle that the person was ready and willing to be baptized. I feel like I didn´t do a thing, we just invited her to be baptized and stop smoking then she did it. She asked me to baptize her so I did. As we got in the water I was thinking, ¨she has long hair, I don´t want to do this baptism twice.¨ So after the prayer I made sure to push her down far into the water so that all her hair got wet. It worked; after she got out of the water one of the first things she said was, ¨¡Que fuerza que tenés!¨ I guess my daily pushups have been helping...

As for other exciting news, we had a really awesome lesson with the sister of Miguel (the man who got baptized recently). She is really shy and doesn´t like to go to the classes during church for that reason. But she told us that she has read up until Mosiah 5 in the Book of Mormon. That´s really far! One time she was reading and she felt really good so she decided to cook dinner for her dad (something she never did before). When her dad got home he was so surprised and so happy that he bought her a cell phone. So, she got a testimony of the Book of Mormon and now we have a way to communicate with her. Sounds like a win - win to me. She is still a little reluctant, but we are trying to help her feel comfortable in church. 

Now the offices... Things have been pretty calm. Without the Schoenys I´ve been in charge of getting the materials that missionaries order to them during conferences. It´s been fun, doing different things and keeping me busy. I have a lot less free time this transfer than I have had the other times. I like it better that way.

One fun story: yesterday we had to go to capital to do some paperwork and pick up some cell phones. As we got there we realized there was a protest going on in front of McDonald´s (no surprise, there is always a protest going on in capital). But that meant traffic was terrible. Fortunately, we were going the other direction so it did´t affect us too much; but we could tell that the trip back was going to be
 a nightmare. None of us three wanted to drive in that mess. So, naturally, we played nose goes. My reflexes not being the same they 
used to be, I was the last one to touch my nose and was therefor compelled to accept the challenge of the drive back. I feel like I did a good job. My leg was kind of tired from pushing the clutch in so much, but we made it back without any scratches. For some reason there are a lot of streets without any lanes painted on them. At first that really bugged me since I didn´t know where to drive. Then when we got to a street with lanes I realized that they only gave me a false sense of security. All the other cars would drive half way between the lanes anyway. I had never seen five cars next to eachother on a three lane road until now. Got to love it.

Things are going great here. I love the mission, trying to keep busy and do all I can with the time I have left.

Elder Gardner

Just one of those pictures every missionary has to have.

Yeah, I´m in a tree. 


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Conferences (office week 21)

Well, this was a week full of conferences. Tuesday and Wednesday we had leadership training for all of the zone and district leaders and trainers. We don´t actively participate in the meeting, but it is in the church where the offices are, so we help out. In his continuing efforts to lower spending, President decided to change what we eat for lunch at the conference. We helped put tomatoes (gross) and mayonnaise and lettuce on ham and cheese sandwiches. We also were in charge of buying the bananas. People always look at you funny when you walk out of a store with a hundred bananas in your basket... The sandwiches were about half as expensive as the traditional empanadas we used to order. So President was really happy about that.

Then on Friday, yesterday, we had a zone conference. We are part of the zone so we did participate in this one. Honestly, it was probably the best zone conference I´ve ever been to. I think I feel that way after every conference I go to, but this time it was just awesome. President started the conference reading Alma 7:11-13 (probably my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon) and talking a lot about the atonement. We spent the whole first half on the conference just talking about the ¨why¨ of the gospel. Why baptism is important. How it is that we can be cleansed from sins and how that feels. Why we want people to feel that way. We didn´t talk much about what we do, but why we do it. And I think that is the most important. Honestly, there are times when I´ve wanted to baptize just to fulfill a goal or beat a record. But that´s not why I am here. I am here because Christ died for our sins, He suffered to feel our pains to know how to comfort us, and He invites us to repent and be forgiven of our sins. I am here because I want people to come unto Christ and be clean, through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

Speaking of which, the lady we have been teaching (Cristina), was on vacation for the past week. Last Sunday she came to church for the third time, so we decided to teach her about the word of wisdom. She smokes so we knew it would be a problem. We went over Sunday night and taught her that God has commanded us not to smoke. She said that during church she felt that she needed to stop smoking, so we invited her to stop smoking. She accepted but when I then asked her to give me her cigarettes she started making up excuses and saying she didn´t have any. We knew she was lying so we kept pushing her to give us the smokes. She kept on resisting until Elder Chase invited her to say a pray right then to ask God for help to give up smoking. After the prayer we asked again and she finally pulled the box out of her purse and gave me her cigarettes. Literally about thirty seconds later the phone rang and a friend of hers called asking her to buy a box of smokes and go over to her house to smoke and talk. Cristina was like, ¨no thanks, I don´t smoke any more.¨ and hung up. Legit!

So, she was on vacation all week but we were calling her cell phone every day to make sure she wasn´t smoking and that she was reading. Everything was good, so yesterday when we could finally see her again we went with the zone leader to her house to do the baptismal interview. We haven´t been able to teach her very much, but she has a lot of faith and is absolutely sure that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. She passed the interview and today will be baptized at six o´clock.

Those are the most exciting things going on right now. We are super busy as always in the offices, but it is fun. I remember someone asked me during the mother´s day phone call if I liked the normal mission life or the offices better. I decided this week that I like the office life better. I do love teaching the gospel and baptizing, but in the offices we still get to do that and we also do other random things that help the work go forward. I feel like I can help more as I help other missionaries succeed in their work as I take care of the office work. But I don´t want to work in an office for a real job. That would be boring.

Que Dios les bendiga,
Les amo,
Elder Gardner

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bautismo de diez (office week 20)

Well, I could say that this was a pretty good week, but that´s not saying enough. It all started on Sunday:

Sunday morning Elder Kelly, my MTC comp and current AP, came to our apartment (we live a block away) looking for one of us to accompany him to look for a man to bring to church. So I volunteered and we got in a remis and headed out to find this man. We knew he was working at a car wash close to a train station, so we went to that train station and asked around for car washes. After trying a few we finally found the right one. We talked to the man, but he didn´t want to go because he was working and would lose the day of work. So we talked to the boss and told him that the man had been baptized a few weeks ago and that he had to be confirmed today. The boss didn´t put up any fight, he said he can go and then come back afterwards. So we got the man and headed back to the church. Fortunately the remis driver drove really fast, since we only had 15 minutes to get there. We got there just in time and the man got confirmed member of the church of Jesus Christ.

Our church services were good, then the came the best part: Our branch had ten baptisms. Yep, that´s right, 10 people were baptized on Sunday. It was the most awesome baptism I´ve ever been to. So many people were there dressed in white. It took about 20 minutes just to do the actual baptisms. And all of the members stayed to see it so the church was full during it. Nine of the people who were baptized were people that the other missionaries in the ward had found and taught. Miguel, the man we found a few weeks ago that has been going to church, was baptized along with them. He was so happy and excited. Miguel has changed so much from when we first met him. He is now happy and talkative and joking when before he would just be silent the whole time. The gospel has brought about the change of heart in his life.

Other exciting news: The Schoenys left! I am now officially the only one in charge of the finances. And Elder Nielsen left the offices. So I am also the office missionary with the most time in the offices. And two of the APs, Elder Kelly and Elder Bruce, are now traveling asistants. So they are never here in the offices, they are always out working with elders in the mission. Elder Beck and Elder Pabon (the new AP) are the office asistants. So I also have more experience in the offices than them two. Fortunately in my time here I have been able to learn a little about each person´s job. I try to help them out whenever I can. But new things always come up.

President had a meeting with the financial people in the area offices and came back determined to reduce our spending and stay within our budgets (which we hadn´t been doing very well). So he has been asking me to look through a lot of data and make lots of reports for him. It´s a lot of numbers but it´s been pretty fun. I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure it all out and hope that within these next few weeks I can find a way to make a significant contribution and help save some of the Lord´s money. I guess it´s good training for when I have to do it with my own money.

We had to drive to capital twice this week to get new cell phones that had been lost/stolen. Sadly, it didn´t work either time (that´s Argentina for you). But I did drive there and back. My first time driving in capital. And I did it with a stick shift. I´m pretty much a stick driving mage by now.

We had all the craziness of transfers like normal. People leaving, new missionaries coming, cell phones being lost, etc. That´s pretty much all become second nature to me now. It´s weird to think that the missionaries I came here with and I are the oldest missionaries in the mission. We´ve been here longer than anyone else. Yet I still feel like I don´t really know what I´m doing. I have so much more to learn. I´ve learned and grown a lot, but there is still so much more room to grow but not enough time to do it. I guess that is why we have all of eternity to figure it out. I for one am going take that long...

I guess I will despedir myself (I don´t know how to say that in english) with some of the scriptures I highlighted this week:

Jacob 4:7 ¨Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.¨

2 Nephi 33:3 ¨For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.¨

2 Nephi 25:20 ¨There is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.¨

Love you all,

Elder Gardner

Here are the results of last week´s dedication to you mom!

That looks like some awesome meat. It was at that international food market. Sadly I didn´t have time to eat it.

Woodbridge! Let´s go Warriors.

Us with Miguel.

The clothes waiting to dry.

All of them dressed in white!

We went to a planetarium today for p-day. Yes, I was the driving force behind that. It was fun.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book of Mormon (office week 19)

Introduction: ¨I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.¨

1 Nephi 1:20 ¨The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.¨

1 Nephi 4:2 ¨Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses.¨

1 Nephi 11:22 ¨Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.¨

1 Nephi 17:3 ¨And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God He doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby the can accomplish the thing which He has commanded them.¨

1 Nephi 18:16 ¨I did look unto my God, and I did praise Him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.¨

1 Nephi 19:23 ¨I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.¨ 

1 Nephi 21:15-16 ¨I will not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.¨

2 Nephi 1:21 ¨Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men.¨

2 Nephi 4:17-34 ¨O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities... And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; He hath led me through mine afflictions.. Why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.... O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.¨

2 Nephi 10: 23 ¨Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves.¨

2 Nephi 2:30 ¨I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of yoursouls.¨

Happy Mothers Day! I love you mom!

Love you all,

Elder Gardner

Moroni 8:3 ¨I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of fatih on his name to the end.¨

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Mayo (Office week 18)

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Es una buena oportunidad para comer tacos y escuchar musica mexicana. 

Can you believe it is already May? Where did all the time go? The month started off smoothly; I haven´t had to make too many changes to the finances yet. I just hope things keep running this smoothly. 

On Wednesday we had a special conference with half of the mission. It was a good meeting. President started off by talking very seriously and very strictly about obedience. It seems the mission is starting to have some obedience problems and president put a stop to them. He talked a lot about the temple and the temple that they are renovating in Buenos Aires. They announced the dedication date: September 9. I´ll be long gone. But President told us that always before a temple is dedicated there is an outpouring of temptations and bad things from Satan. So we need to be even more obedient and even more dedicated as we fight and help Buenos Aires get ready to receive the temple. It was a really good and really inspirational talk.

After the obedience talk down, Sister Gulbrandsen announced the Book of Mormon read-a-thon we will be doing. The whole mission received a new Book of Mormon and we will finish reading it before the end of June. While we read we mark any reference to the Savior, any reference to the gospel of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end), and any other scripture that builds our testimony. It comes out to nine pages a day, which is just enough so that we have to be focused and use time wisely to find time to read, but not so much that we can´t do it with our already busy schedule. I´ve been reading and pondering upon the greatest of this sacred book. The Book of Mormon truly is a book inspired of God. By reading it and following it´s teachings we can come closer to God than with any other book. I invite everyone to read or reread the Book of Mormon, for it will truly strengthen your understanding and love for our Savior Jesus the Christ.

Our Peruvian friend Miguel keeps going strong. He went to church on Sunday and a ward activity on Thursday. He has been a little bit hesitant to be baptized next Saturday, he thinks it is to soon; but we have been helping him realize that once a person has a testimony of the church and the Book of Mormon there is no reason to wait. If it´s true we need to act upon it, even though we aren´t perfect. If we make a mistake later God will still forgive us. Baptism is not the end but the beginning of the road to heaven. A road that we all stray from at times, but we can always get back on the road through repentance. But without baptism no matter how many times one repents he can not enter into the path. We must enter by the door, and the door is baptism. (see 2 Nephi 31)

Have you all seen the Bible videos on lds.org? They are interesting... a lot different than the normal videos the church does. At first I didn´t like them but now they are growing on me. Especially the last couple ones. The newest one of Christ being baptized is awesome. If you haven´t seen you should go watch them. http://www.lds.org/bible-videos

Well, we just ate some tacos and played some ping pong for cinco de mayo. I got to the championship game of the ping pong tournament then lost. O well. There is always next week. I still have yet to win one of our office ping pong tournaments (and we do one almost every p-day). 

That´s about all the good stories I have for today. I hope everyone has a great week!

Que les vaya bien,

Elder Gardner

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Level 8 (office week 17)

I am now officially a level 8 stick driving master. Nyquil is awesome. Rubber band in the eye. Doctor trips. End of month financial stress. Lost cell phones. Flashes. Those are just a few sentences or words that describe the many activities of the last week.

Let´s see how many stories I can tell:

The end of the month is the worst. I get to call all the zone leaders and find out their balances of the zone money. Then I get to put the money on the cards; you can´t do it before the 25 or you breach the limit of money you can deposit per month. But you got to do it before the 27 or it won´t get on the cards on time. That pretty much gives you a span of one day to put on the zone money, the rent money, the support money, deduct money from pedidos (things the missionaries ordered), etc. That as it is takes a lot of time and is pretty hard; put it´s even worse when you have a cold. And then when you get hit in the eye by a rubber band it just makes things terrible. But, no excuses, I´m fine and I got it all done. 

I went to the doctor again with Elder Hill for his knee. The end decision was that he is going home to get surgery. That´s too bad. I´ll miss him. Elder Hill is probably one of the best missionaries I´ve met. I´m really glad he has been in terrible pain the past month just so that I could meet him and spend time with him. (Yes I wrote that just in case he reads my blog after he gets home - but really, he is a capo)

As for the important work, aka teaching the gospel, things have been going good. There is a Peruvian family we are teaching and they have a thirty year old son that never seemed to have too much interest in the church. We never really focused on him that much during our lessons, but on Sunday he showed up at church! He liked it but every time we passed by the house during the week no one was home. On Thursday there was a ward activity and he showed up by himself! I was so surprised. We took him aside for a minute and read a little in the Book of Mormon then invited him to be baptized on May 11th. He accepted very easily. 

Peruvians really are the best. Yesterday we went to this same family again around 8:30 at night. We reminded them that we have to be home at 9 and the mom was like, ¨Then when do you eat dinner?¨ I told her we usually don´t eat dinner or sometimes we have a little snack. So she said, ¨well, can I give you dinner right now?¨ I asked her how fast she could make it and she said, ¨How fast can you eat?¨ Bueno, dale. She then went over to the kitchen and stuck some chicken and rice in the microwave and in five minutes we had two huge plates full of rice, chicken, onions, and spices. Never say no to food.

Well, there are always more things going on, but I can´t think of anything fun to tell right now. And we are going to go and have a fun time for Elder Hill´s last p-day. So I hope every one has a great week and I´ll write again next Saturday.


Elder Gardner

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Money (office week 16)

You know, it´s always bad when you run out of money. Well, I didn´t really run out of money, just out of cash. The Argentine economy isn´t very advanced in terms of electronic payments. If you pay with a credit card they charge you more, in order to make electronic transfers to banks you have to have a ton of paperwork, etc. So we end up paying for a lot of things with cash. Which is hard because there is a limit to how much money I´m allowed to have in cash in the offices at any given moment. And when we start getting low I have to get a check approved by the mission president, print the check, then have him sign it; a process that can take several days depending on President´s schedule. At the end of last week I only had about a thousand pesos in the safe; not enough to pay for any of the many things we do here. But thankfully President came over for an office meeting on Monday and we got a check signed and cashed. I learned an important lesson about being prepared.

Also during our office meeting on Monday President changed the process a little for getting new apartments and told us we needed to get another five or so within a few weeks. So Elder Chase has been crazy busy. I guess I should help him out more. I pretty much just explained how to do the whole process, showed him the ropes for a week or so, then left him to do it by himself. That´s what happened to me and I figured it out, so I figured he could do it too. But now there are about seven apartments we are in the process of getting, which is a lot. And that also means I have to have a ton of cash on hand because each time we sign a new contract we have to pay a good sum of money. Just another week in the offices. Lots of problem solving skills and finding solutions in unique situations. It´s fun.

As for teaching the gospel, things are going good. We had an appointment with the sister of some members. The sister recently came from Peru and was feeling discouraged being in a new country and having no friends. The sister didn´t want to come out of the room to talk to us, but we talked to the sisters and had them pray for revelation to know how to help their sister. The sister totally started crying during the prayer and it was really touching. We decided to each write a little note and hide it in the house for the sister to find. When we later talked to one of the members she said that her sister had started crying as she found and read each note. And since then she has seemed a lot happier and a lot more interested in the church and the gospel. (Except for the fact that she thinks we shouldn´t be allowed to dance, but that´s ok. She´ll understand soon enough).

That´s about all the stories I have for today. Now we are going to go to capital and each lunch with the Schoeny´s and the whole office crew before they leave in a few weeks. Hope everyone has a great day!

Elder Gardner

This is like Barnes and Nobles extreme style. Or should I say, Buenos Aires style. I guess it used to be a theatre that they made into a book store. I would sure love to sit and read a few books there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tranquilo (office week 15)

Well, this week was really tranquilo. That means calm or something like that. With Elder Chase taking care of all of my responsibilities as housing coordinator it is nice and relaxing. Financial secretary has a lot less stress. Pretty much I just move all the money around. I honestly can´t even think of any fun office stories to tell. O yeah, I have one good one. Elder Castañeda is from Mexico, so on Thursday he told us to bring in some tortilla chips the next day. We did and he brought some homemade salsa! It was delicious and spicy. It almost killed me at first since it´s been so long since I ate spicy stuff here. But after a few bites I was back into my groove. In about ten minutes we had devoured the entire bowl he made. Awesome!

As for the teaching part, last Sunday we had a ton of people show up to church. And all of them were Peruvian. I don´t know what is it about Peru, but the people who are from there are just awesome. They make great food and they love to go to church. Best combination ever. But the rest of this week hasn´t been too exciting, we had a lot of appointments fall through on us. But we are still going strong and looking forward to a great turnout at church tomorrow. Having five missionaries in the companionship does make it a lot easier to teach more people...

That´s all the real stories I have for now. We are headed off to do fun p-day things. I´ll send some pictures to make up for this being kind of a lame letter.

Elder Gardner

I´m not sure if that was a zombie or a ghost or a dinosaur, but it was scary.

Those are our stars in the bedroom. It is awesome at night.

My tutor, Elder Schoeny, enjoys the break while I work hard at finances.

This is the office gang.

I dedicate this one to all of my pancake loving, choir singing fans out there.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Craziness (offices week 14)

Well, this week was CRAZY! Let me tell a few stories:

First off, we have two more offices elders now. Elder Daniel, who is going to replacing Elder Nielsen as secretary, and Elder Chase, who is going to replace me as housing coordinator. We add them two to Elder Nielsen, Me, and Elder Hill and we get five elders working in the offices, plus the three APs and the Schoenys and the Castañedas makes it a lot of people in the offices during the day.

So, Monday was transfers. And always during transfers we have people stay with us; people who are going south, who are going home, who are waiting for companions, etc. So when we left to go teach we dropped off three missionaries who where finishing their mission at a recent converts house to teach her friends and I went walking with Elder Chase. We had a sweet miracle: we were walking and some guy said, ¨Hola elderes.¨ We stopped and were like, ¨do you know us?¨ He said he is a member that lives in New York but is visiting his family for a few weeks. So we asked if we could meet the family. He let us in and we walked into a room with about 8 people in it; all of them from Peru. After talking a little we learned that half of them are members, they got baptized in Peru 15 years ago but since they moved here shortly afterwards they haven´t gone to church. So we invited them all to church, gave them some Book of Mormons and set an appointment for a few days later.

Monday night we had ten people sleeping in our apartment. There wasn´t enough room so Elder Chase and I went to go sleep in another apartment. A girl´s apartment. Don´t freak out! The girls had already left. We lost two sister missionaries and didn´t receive any, so the apartment was empty and we went to go sleep there. It was kind of weird. There was pink paper on the walls, hair in the shower, it smelled girly, etc. We didn´t think very far ahead so we didn´t have towels or anything; fortunately we found a light blue towel that looked really girly. It smelled clean so we used it. I love being in the offices. We do what ever we have to do to keep the mission running.

Tuesday Elder Nielsen and Elder Daniel went to the mission home to help with the new missionaries that came in. I stayed in the offices and started teaching Elder Chase the ropes. He is going to do a great job. The APs started getting sick so Elder Hill stayed with one of them in their apartment while the others went to the airport to pick up the newbys. Tuesday night I went with Elder Daniel and met the aunt of a recent convert that lives in a villa. The aunt was nice and there were about ten little kids running around ranging from 15 to 5 years old. A bunch of people live there and all the little kids got really excited when we talked about primary and they all want to go now. So we found another family that should go to church tomorrow.

Wednesday all of the APs were throwing up, so Elder Nielsen and Elder Daniel went to the airport to pick up new missionaries (I was pretty disappointed I didn´t get to go, but o well). I forgot to mention that on Monday night we got an email telling us that three missionaries we weren´t expecting to come got their visas and would be coming on Wednesday. That would have been nice to know BEFORE transfers... So these three kids flew in. Elder Chase and I went to the mission home so I could give them their credit cards. We showed up just in time to eat tacos! I miss mexican food....

Thursday we had district meeting: our district leader, his comp, two comps of sister missionaries, five office elders, and three APs. 14 missionaries. That´s a big district! Friday we had an awesome mission conference for easter. It was really spiritual and really good. The only problem was I was in charge of making sure the skype worked so I didn´t get to listen as much as I would have liked. Then in the evening I stayed in the offices with Elder Hill because he was throwing up. Hopefully I don´t get the bug everyone is passing around!

Honestly, it´s been a crazy week. But a good one too. I´ve never had so many people just randomly talk to me as I´m walking on the street. Seriously, everyday someone said, ¨Hi elders¨ to us and when we stopped to talk they were inactive members we didn´t know or something. It was pretty crazy. Wednesday night it was raining really hard and we were standing on the corner waiting for a bus. Some guy stops and is like, ¨Elders get in. I´ll take you back.¨ He had big stud earrings in and tatooes so we were a little hesistant, but he told us he was a member so we got in. He ended up beig the brother of our ward mission leader who is a tatooe artist. Needless to say, he is inactive. It was really nice of him though.

So, that´s probably enough stories for today. I hope everyone is doing great. We are going to keep working hard this week and praying for miracles. I hope everyone loved conference; it was awesome. If you didn´t see it, go to lds.org and watch it right now!

Love you all,
Elder Gardner