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, 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 CastaƱeda 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 CastaƱedas 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