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, 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