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, February 25, 2012

Fiesta (office week 8)

There is always a party in the offices. Especially the week of transfers. Quick overview:

It all starts Sunday nights. At six o´clock the farewell fireside for the missionaries going home starts. The housing coordinator is in charge of the technology for said fireside. I get to set up everything to be able to show two video clips and make sure all the sound works. Well, I tested it all out before the meeting and there was no problem. So the meeting started and half way through came the time to show the first video. I pushed play and for some reason there were subtitles (the mission president had specifically told me not to put subtitles; and when I tested it before hand there weren´t any). Then, when I tried to turn the volume up I got some major feedback. The microphone wasn´t plugged in when I was testing it earlier. While I was trying to figure out how to turn off the mic, president came over and had me unplug everything and plug in his own speakers. That fixed the problem until I tried to show the other video clip a few minutes later. For some reason Windows Media Player froze and I couldn´t get the video to pause or go full screen or anything, but it kept playing (that´s what I get for using a PC!). So President made an announcement over the microphone, ¨fortunately I´m a scout and I´m always prepared.¨ He busted out his iPad and had me plug that in. That worked just fine. I felt like a failure, but afterwards President told me not to worry about it; there are always technical problems. ¨Always plan that everything will fail.¨

With that experience out of the way we went to the offices to work on transfers. Elder Nielsen made all of his phone calls, I updated the phone lists, the asistents did their thing, etc. At two o´clock we finally left to go get some sleep just to wake up at seven. We headed back to the offices to wait for everyone to get there. All the elders that are changing companions come to the offices to find their companions and then leave again. It is a crazy mess. I play church videos the whole time hoping people will sit down and watch them, but everyone just wants to talk to their friends (can´t blame them). There are a ton of taxis outside waiting for the elders to take them back home. Lots of missionaries taking the opportunity to talk to me to ask for things. Cell phones to change out, mattresses to change from one apartment to another, etc. Around three everyone had finally left and we were able to eat lunch.

There were six elders who were waiting for flights to either go down south or go to another mission; so four of them stayed with us in the offices. We have two bunk beds and two people slept on the floor. At four in the morning three of them left in taxis to the airport. The other one stayed with me in the offices the next day while everyone else was at the mission home with the new elders that just got here. It was a holiday so nothing was open and I didn´t have much to do except go through a box of electronics. Sadly, none of the 12 american elders that were going to come have visas, so we only got 7 latin missionaries. The americans should be here within a month.

On wednesday things were pretty calm. Thursday we had a zone conference and one of the APs left to go down south and another one came. O yeah, I forgot; there are two new APs with us. Both of them arrived in the mission the same time as Elder Kelly and I. Their names are Elder Bruce and Elder Beck (Elder Beck was one of my roommates in the MTC). They are both really cool and it´s lots of fun with them here.

Friday (yesterday) Elder Nielsen and I went on a road trip to the hospital. He had an eye accident a while ago and we just went for a check-up. Everything is great with his eye, and it was fun to see all the fancy machines they have at the hospital. It´s one of the best in all of Argentina. Today, p-day, we went bowling and then went to get some ice-cream cones. Bowling and ice cream, two of my favorite things.

As for preaching the gospel: we finally were able to figure out why this little girl doesn´t want to get baptized. She wants to, she was just afraid of telling her grandmom. So we made some plans for her to tell her grandmom, and she should be baptized this Sunday. We also have been teaching this 13 year old girl with a hard life. She has been going to all the youth activities and really enjoys it. So things are going pretty good there too.

Well, that´s about all the stories I have for this week. As always, life is crazy and I don´t know what is going on. But I´ve learned that is the way things normally are. God takes care of the rest of it. We just have to do the best we can.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Love you lots,
Elder Gardner

That´s what are apartment looked like the night after transfers.

That´s right. I won. Two strikes at the end to break the hundred.

Left to right: Elder Bruce, Elder Beck, Elder Nielsen, Me, and Elder Kelly

That´s a huge ice-cream cone. Way expensive but way worth it.

We call it office ping pong.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The storm (offices week 7)

The mission president´s wife always calls the week of tranfers ¨the storm.¨ It started out a really boring week, actually. I had nothing to do during the day while I was in the office. That was just the calm before the storm. I´ll start with the spiritual stuff this time:

Sunday was awesome! We broke my personal record for the most investiagors in church. The best part is that the members brought them all to church. The family with this little girl that is awesome came to church. The mom who isn´t a member even came in a skirt! Kind of funny since the dad who is a member came in a t-shirt and jeans. At least he came. They really liked it. A member also brought a neighbor to church. The neighboor is a thirteen year old girl named Rocio.

After church on Sunday we went to visit Rocio. She told us that she has gone to our church before with cousins in another city. She also told us her mom got baptized, but had since passed away. Her life has been really hard, so we talked a lot about God and how He loves us, even though bad things happen. She said at church for the first time in her life she really felt peaceful. But when my companion told her he had a gift for her she said, ¨No, I don´t like gifts.¨ Then when he showed her the Book of Mormon she was like, ¨I´m not going to touch that.¨ Apparently the missionaries gave her mom ´gifts´ and the Book of Mormon and then she died shortly after. It was intense, but she ended up accepting our present and even read a little bit before we left. At the end of the lesson we taught her to pray and even though she didn´t want to, we helped her pray to our Heavenly Father. It was an awesome lesson. She is a girl that really needs the gospel in her life.

It was hard the rest of the week since we still have this elder with the hurt back with us. So to be able to go out to work we either have to have the car or need a member to do divisions. I called every male member of the ward probably three times throughout the week, but a lot of them are on vacation so it was hard to get them to help us. A few times we just had to pay for a taxi. It´s worth the sacrifice to be able to preach the word of God. But that´s all the good spiritual experiences for this week, now on to the office adventures.

On Tuesday I went with Elder Castañeda to go deal with a piano. Apparently over a year ago there was an apartment with a piano in it. The missionaries left to work one day and left the window open. It rained and the piano got wet and ruined. So the mission paid some guy to fix it. A year went by and the guy hadn´t fixed it yet so a month or so ago Elder Castañeda went to see how things were going. A week ago he called again and talked to the wife of the guy who was supposed to fix it. The piano fixer man had just passed away a day earlier. So we went to talk to the wife, picked up all the pieces of the piano (the pieces are fixed it just has to be put together) and dropped them off at the owner of the piano´s house. We also took the opportunity to give the wife a Book of Mormon. It was a pretty delicate situation, but Elder Castañeda is an experienced business man and handled it really well.

On Thursday I went with Elder Castañeda to go inspect some apartments and install smoke dectores in the walls. While I was there I fixed one of the fans for them. Then on Friday we had to drive to an area to drop of the injured back elder to be with another elder that is sick and can´t leave the house. We drove back and went straight to President´s house to help with transfers. That was an interesting experience. President opened the transfer board on the wall with all the pictures of the elders. He had already made a lot of changes and let us look for a few minutes just to see what all the changes were. He then started at one end and went through talking about every area and every elder explaining why he felt the change was necessary and asking for feedback. It was interesting to see what he was looking for; he analized each areas potential to baptize, each elders personality and history in the mission and potential to baptize. He was clearly inspired of God as he was deciding what to do with 180 missionaries so that the mission baptizes more and so that every missionary is placed in a area to help him grow personally. Mission presidents are awesome. Especially mine.

Well, that´s all the exicting stories. Except for one pretty important announcement I need to make. The senior couple that works in the offices is leaving in three months. The senior couple that is going to replace them doesn´t get here for four months. So there will be a month where regular missionaries will have to take over their jobs. President informed me that I will be taking over the husband´s job as financial secretary. So I will be in charge of all of the money of the entire mission. Kind of intense, right? But, the new senior couple doesn´t get here until the day I am supposed to leave. So President asked me to extend my mission and stay a couple extra weeks to be able to train the new senior couple on how to run the finances. Now, instead of coming home the end of June I will be coming home the middle of July. I hope that doesn´t ruin anyone´s hopes to see me; you´ll just have to wait two weeks more.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Flashes (offices week 6)

Well, this has been an interesting week. There are always things going on...

So Sunday was alright. Most of the people we are teaching didn´t show up to church, but during sacrament meeting (we have it after the classes here) two 25 year old women showed up and sat in the back row next to me. After the meeting I talked to them and it turned that they had been invited by one of the members. He is a taxi driver and on the way to the hospital he showed them the church and invited them, so they came. We got their address and set an appointment for later that day. Turns out that they don´t live in our area, they live in the APs ward, but that´s ok. The APs went and had a really good lesson.

Sunday night I was in charge of calling all of the zone leaders to get the numbers of the weeks since Elder Kelly and Elder Nielsen were busy calling people about a flash. So Monday morning some elders came here to meet their new companions then leave. Tuesday night we had to set up another flash. I don´t know why they happened (it´s not my place to know), but I learned that it really throws a wrench in the missionary work when they happen. Just things like paying rent get messed up because we had to take money of off the elders accounts and put them on the other elders account. It was kind of complicated, but it worked out in the end. Things always keep going forward, no matter what.

Also, on Thursday an elder flew up here from the south. He apparently had scoliosis before the mission but it never developed into anything so the doctors told him not to put it on his mission papers. Well, a couple months into the mission and his back starting hurting really bad. He talked to President and asked if he could go get it checked out by a specialist. Two days later he was hit by a car while crossing the street. Luckily he didn´t break anything from the accident, but it made his bad back even worse. So he flew up here and is spending a little bit with us. On Friday we went to the church doctor and he gave him some drugs. Basically, unless these drugs create a miracle and things get better really fast, he will be going home to get surgery or whatever he needs and probably won´t be coming back. At least not to Argentina, hopefully he will be able to finish the mission state side.

Other than that things have been pretty calm. I got to drive this week because President went down south and left us his car to be able to drive. It is a really nice car. Today in the morning I was driving and there was a bus next to me that apparently wanted to get into my lane and didn´t care that I was already there. Fortunately all it did was nick my side-view mirror, and it didn´t leave any marks. So still no accidents. It´s alright though since President´s car is already really beat up. It has a big scratch on the side from when a motorcycle ran into it and it has duct tape on the bumper from when it was rear ended a week or two ago. The fun adventures in Buenos Aires.

Well, that´s all the fun stories I can think of. We are still preaching the gospel in the night times. It´s going well. This week will be crazy because it is the week before transfers. So much stuff to do... You´ll hear about it next week. Hope everyone has a great week and invites someone to church tomorrow.

Elder Gardner

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Offices, week 5

Wow. What is going on? I used to think that time was going by fast. I heard that it goes by faster every transfer, but I never thought it would be this fast. It is already February (yes I typed febrero into google translate to know how to spell that in english). Things are just too crazy. I´ve been here in the offices for over a month and it just feels like a week or two.

One of the funnest parts of a new month starting is rent payments. Every month we have to pent rent within the first ten days of the month. With over 80 apartments it gets kind of complicated. We used to pay most of them electronically but a few months ago we had to change the system because of tax issues. Lots of people avoid taxes here, and if we do it electronically the church has to get involved with their tax situation. So most people now ask us to do it in cash. So every month we put the rent on the elders credit cards and they go to a bank to take the money out and pay the rent. We have to make sure that everyone really payed it, which can be fun. Hopefully I don´t have too many angry land lords calling me this week...

So exciting things this week... We have been working alot with this family I mentioned last week that moved here from another ward. They are really cool. The parents didn´t go to church last week, but they let the primary president take the daughter to church. She really liked church but still doesn´t feel ready to be baptized. We´ve gone by their house almost every day this week trying to help her feel ready. She is really smart for a nine year old. We were reading something about baptism and she was like, ¨I really like the part where it says to be baptized in the name of the son. It says the same thing in this other part I was reading the other day.¨ She then showed us another part she had read. Pretty much she understands things better than most adults we teach do. I´m sure she´ll be baptized, it might just take a little bit longer.

As for the office work, I had some fun times. We were really close to getting a new apartment for an area but at the very end the housing agency refused to make any changes to the contract. And I didn´t like the contract all that much, so after a little bit of argueing I told them we wouldn´t sign and we wanted our deposit money back. The day after we went to pick up the money I got a phone call from the land owner where the elders were living and she told me we had to leave the next day. Apparently she had told that to my last companion before I got here, but I didn´t know about it. And we didn´t have a contract with here since she´s a member so there was nothing I could do about it. So after trying to find another house on super short notice I decided to move them in with some other elders for a week or so until I can get a new apartment. There is a member that has a place available in the area, but he is on vacation. When Argentines go on vacation it is often for a month or so, so I don´t know if I´ll be able to get that place soon enough. We´ll see. For now they are just living four people in a small apartment.

So, that´s all the fun stories I can think of. And we need to go buy some groceries. So I´ll talk to you all next week. Don´t hesitate to write me a letter or anything like that. Have a great week!

Elder Gardner