Whenever I Feel the Rain on My Face

There is a big tree that grows out next to the road across from the Printing office. We call it “The Tree”. It is funny how we refer to it. It is a part of our life here. Part of serving and loving this place, of calling it home and driving and walking along those streets everyday.
The Tree now has more meaning to me as It was where I was able to spend some happy time with my family.
Because of the unique aspect of performance in this mission families are able to come visit and watch the shows. I sat under the tree on a bench after our afternoon show of Nauvoo singers with my brother. One of the Elders had let my brother borrow his guitar. He played the song we performed together a few years ago and then entertained us with his other song from Nacho Libre. I was laughing so hard. It was a good reminder of who I am and the happiness that is the plan of God. He intends us to find peace and love within our families. It is the second point of the first lesson in Preach my Gospel. “The Gospel Blesses Families”GArdner FAmily Nauvoo 2017
I loved seeing how the messages we share through our performances touched my family and the multiplicity of visitors that come. Other people’s families.
There was some rain this week and we where all set up to do Trail of Hope. I was so worried we would not be able to finish it because of the oncoming storm. I prayed with all my heart that the rain would hold off so that my family would be able to go through the whole street and that everyone would get to hear our message. The storm stayed off in the distance, the clouds so dark and ominous around us but the rain stayed far enough away. I could see lighting streaking through the clouds. It was beautiful and another one of our Nauvoo miracles.
It was hard to say goodbye to my brother there under the tree the next day, but I know he will serve the people of Spain valiantly and bring many to the knowledge of the gospel. I loved seeing him on stage with me. I loved dancing with my little sisters and seeing my parents happy. It made me think about how I get to help so many families feel that way.sweet Violets
We were wondering where to find some people during Nauvoo Singers. There was no one by the tree and it was a bit of a slow day. We decided to pray and Elder Cottam felt like we should go to the brick yard, The day before we had also felt like we should go. Anyway, We stop and sing a bit on the way, but then we get there and there is no one there. unlike last time. We are wondering what to do, and then we see this mother and father and little girl. We start singing as they approach and then they came over to us. We sang primary songs with the little girl and she was so happy. As we continued to sing and play with her a huge crowd gathered. We finished off with a big audience. In the group I saw a girl wearing a name badge. I went up to her and and said “hello Sister” She did not have a companion around and then I realized she was with her family and coming home from her mission. She had served in Missouri. I was able to put my arms around her and tell her that it will be ok.
Even though finishing my mission was hard, I realize that I have a message of peace to offer to the other full time sisters serving here. Who will be leaving. I love having the perspective I do .Carthage 1
This week after the first Wednesday show of the promise, I was standing outside greeting our audience. This girl comes up to me in tears and hugs me. She explains that she is going through a similar problem as the character I play. He boyfriend is not a member of the church and she is trying to figure out what to do. I did not know exactly what to say except, I know God love you and has a plan for you and you can do what ever it is that He intends for you. But I think that was just what she needed to hear. She said that the show really touched her and taught her.
I love when we get to sing our arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer for those who are of other faiths. I like that they are included.zions youth 2
After Trial of Hope Friday night, I went down to the river and I talked with a girl who was crying. She was so lovely. We talked about how God shows He loves us by the way He paints the sky with storms or clouds or sunsets… and as she put it… On the days he is content. A clear blue sky. She said as we parted, until we meet again.
I know that even if I don’t have all the time in the world to talk to these people, or any of the people I have known in my life, there will be time in the eternities to be together. For such is God’s Plan of Happiness.thumbnail_Nauvoo Temple

Another Nauvoo Miracle

This phrase started out sort of as a joke and has perpetuated itself a multiplicity of times. Whenever something goes right that probably should not have, the phrase “Another Nauvoo Miracle” pops out. From found granola bars to beautiful sunsets, costume malfunction repairs, and a whole myriad of escapades, Nauvoo has this way of making everything work out. It is a joke, but it is also true.

As you all know I have been struggling with my voice. On Sunday I fasted that it would get better and planned on starting a medication i had received to help it on Monday.
The next day we had the performance of The Promise. And For the first time since the day they cast the show, the high note I sing came out! I was actually able to sing the high note, it was clear and not as strong as It has been in the past, but I was able to do it. My voice has been improving since. I really believe it was a little miracle for me because of the faith and prayers and fasting… and now as it has been strengthening, the medicines of man that has helped me to work on this healing process.

I tried to make everyday this week a good day and I am glad to report that they were all good days.
I live for the times after a performance when I get to talk to the people. It is interesting. Three years ago, I would not have said that. I was not the biggest fan of talking to strangers. I love to see how my missions have helped me to progress in this area.
Sister Curtis, the director of the promise and the other shows was talking about how each show has something it testifies of. Anna Amanda: Self worth, Sunset by the Mississippi: JOY, Trail of Hope: Faith and The Promise: Jesus Christ. We don’t ever say that, but I think that is what comes across. I have loved helping to form The Promise with my own ideas. I have loved how Sister Curtis has listened to my perspectives with my character and how we have formed this show as a cast.
Something really wonderful happened Friday night at Trail of Hope.
As I was delivering my lines to the people who came down Parley Street. My mind was filled with images of my mission. People and places that I had not remembered or been able to think about. situations or lessons where brought to my remembrance. It was so beautiful. It was like finding an old journal entry. I was just filled with this enormous feeling of gratitude and joy for the service I was able to give.
I realized that since coming home from my mission I have often mourned the fact that it came to an end. I thought, oh, why would my Father in Heaven have me be finished if there was still more I wanted to give. As I stood out in the clover field after Trail of Hope, I saw thousands of fireflies. and I realized that it was not me that was giving, but rather my Father in Heaven who gave me the blessing to be there. He is the one who made it possible for me to have those memories. It is i who should have gratitude for that which he gave Me. The time and the year and the months in his service, was actually serving me. I knelt down and for the first time I really really thanked Him. For my mission in Austria. It put it in a good perspective. Nauvoo is healing me in ways I did not know I needed. I am so glad to be here and serving and singing and loving.
I invite all those who will come to Nauvoo or who study about its stories to do so with an open heart. This place changes lives.
I know that the gospel has been restored. I know that the temple ordinances are God’s gift to help us return to Him. I know that my God has a plan. And I am so grateful for that.
-Sister Gardner

 

Riverboats a Comin’ Up the Mississippi

Greeting from Nauvoo!
I have started calling people folks and I am afraid to say I have even thrown out a few “Ya’ll”s They are infiltrating my vocabulary!
This week has been so quick. I can hardly believe I am writing you again. I am always tired, but it is a wonderful feeling to be exhausted. My voice is still just taking it’s own sweet time getting better. That is really hard. But everyday I see how I am still able to bring the spirit and fulfill my duties and desires as a missionary despite my limitations.
I have had an amazing miracle this week of meeting someone almost every day who speaks German. Sister Greenwood had forgotten her tag, so I let her use mine and slapped on my German tag I had in my backpack. I was talking with a family after a performance. The kids were shy and it was not going as well as it usually does. Then the teenage daughter noticed my tag, She smiled and I was a little embarrassed because I had forgotten. Her mother comes over and she points it out to her and then her mom starts rattling off in German! She was German and also served her mission in Austria. She is from my mission. The Freiburg zone where I did not serve, but she knew all these places that I knew. We ended up talking for a good 20 minutes about her conversion and her mission and her children. All in German. It was a wonderful emotional experience. She was so glad to speak in German.
and I felt so glad that The Lord was letting me use my language in the middle of Nauvoo. I have run into people in other places too, but that was a big miracle for me. promise 4
I have loved seeing the youth groups that came in this week. It was nice to perform for a full house, and then at Sunset by the Mississippi there was a huge group from BYU I. I love doing The Promise and even though my voice is a struggle in Nauvoo singers, I love that too. Just walking around and singin for people. Or doing the little play by the tree called “Youth of Zion”
Today we will perform our first Sunday Concert. It is a new idea that I think is wonderful.nauvoo singers 2

Amid feelings of Stress and inadequacy and sometimes wondering if I fit in over here. I find that the best solutions to “old man Satan’s” brew of trouble and negativity is to serve. When I look outside myself, I am always rewarded with someone to love and inspire.
I love when we get to sing at the visitors center next to the Christus statue. I feel privileged to be able to share my testimony of Christ.
I know he is our courageous older brother, and the bringer and supplier of peace… In deed he is the Prince of Peace.
Till next week

All My love! -Sister Gardnerpraire diamond

Sunset By the Mississippi

This week marked the beginning of putting my hair up in to 1840’s hair styles every night. I am glad to say I got a lot of good practice from doing Christmas Carol because it is exactly the same. Well, that is to say, the hair is the same, but the humidity and the vast amounts of sweating I do make it a little more difficult out here in Illinois.

I am feeling so happy every day, There are hard bits every day, but then I feel good too. We have finally been able to start talking with visitors who are coming! Last night we had our opening night for Sunset by the Mississippi. It is a great show, but there are literally only about 7 minutes when we are changing shoes and costumes that we are not on stage. I am excited to see how my body handles a whole summer of this high energy. But I feel good, I feel stronger. the promise may 2017

Unfortunately, my voice is still just trudging along. I no longer feel sick, but my tone and range is shot. I am so sad. I have felt worried, and wondered why God would let this happen when he was the one who called me to be a performing missionary. I was pondering this during my scripture study one night when I read in Nephi 16. This is the part where the bow breaks and everyone is starving. God called Lehi and his family to leave. They were obedient and did as they were asked. They worked hard and followed the directions of the liahona, but despite their valiant behavior they still where faced with suffering and affliction. I was reading how they began to murmur.

And I realized, even though I was trying to wait it out and be strong and not worry, I was murmuring. I need to learn to be humble. I need to find away to make things work, even if I am having to make a different bow than I am used to. Even if it is course and made of wood rather than steel. I know that it will still serve it’s purpose to bring light and salvation and needed nourishment to my loved one and those I serve on this mission. I cannot promise that my voice will be as clear as it has been in other performances, but I know just like Nephi’s wooden bow, it will serve its purpose by the gift of the Holy Ghost. the promise may 2

We have had a choreographer here with us, he is really good and has worked with lots of big professional artists. He is a member of the church, but it was simple to see that the world was taking its toll on this son of God. I felt the prompting that we needed to write in a Book of Mormon for him. All of the YPM’s writing their testimonies and favorite scripture along with a thank you note in the back. as the time has progressed, we have seen him change and feel the spirit. And yesterday after watching The Promise, he had been crying and told us that he felt like he had been re-baptized and now had the courage to go back on a good path and return to his closeness with God. We saw how the spirit of Nauvoo brought to remembrance the things that he knew but had started to forget. I presented the Book of Mormon to him at his little good bye meeting we had. nauvoo singers

I don’t know what is in store for him, but I do know that he was mean to be helped by the missionaries of the 2017 YPM’s. I could talk about so many wonderful conversations I had yesterday with visiting families. But just know that the missionary work is alive and well here along the Missississippi.

Patience

“Patience- the ability to put our desires on hold for a time- is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and at times, bitter. Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace. Patience means accepting that which cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace, and faith. it means being “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon  (us), even as a child doth submit to his father. ” Ultimately, patience means being “firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord” every hour of every day, even when it is hard to do so. The lessons we learn from patience will cultivate our character, lift our live and heighten our happiness. ” -Deiter F. Uchtdorf

nauvoo 5 21I found this quote yesterday when i was feeling really worried about the state of my vocal cords yesterday. it is still getting better, but i feel helpless to repair my most beloved tool. But I know in my heart the Lord is striving to help me grow.

That being said, i have grown a lot this week. We have learned so much choreography. It has been really exciting, but we have sweat so much. When I was not put into some of the featured dance groups I felt a little frustrated, But then I thought about why I was here, and I realized again that it is not my place to worry about when or how much i am dancing. I am still able to contribute mountains through my character I can portray on the stage. carriage ride 5 21

We have a new revamped show for Sunset by the Mississippi, There is lots of new music and choreography. My favorite part is the little bit of tumbling and jumping on the bed I do for ” Grandma’s feather bed”

We open our shows on Saturday. The promise is going well. I love the story I get to tell. I know that this character is an in important part for me to have. It is the way I can share my testimony with the audience. I can put all my feeling into it. I hope that all those who see the show will feel the truth of my words.

I am exhausted at the end of each day. I am loving it though. I love to be always dancing,  singing, and working and then underneath is all is this fueling power of my calling.
I will just end with a  few highlights.
*I got a story sent to me by my mother. The story was so touching to me, many of the difficulties my ancestor faced are portrayed in the promise and then I was able to go with a small group during a music rehearsal to sing in the still and the silence of the historic cemetery knowing that I had an ancestor buried there. we sang here 5 21
*Something funny we have been dealing with this week is the hideous rehearsal slips. They are all white but ill fitting and sweaty, we have to wear them over our rehearsal shirts and sweats. They do not flatter anyone.

*Most nights we gather in the visitors center around the Christus statue and we all get the opportunity to share our thoughts from the day. I love hearing what everyone is feeling and then singing together and kneeling in prayer.
*When we first got here I suggested to the stage sisters that we choose a Christlike attribute to work on each week. Last week was faith and this week we chose virtue. We are going in the order of D&C. We are all figuring out how to work along with each other, but I already feel this closeness and love. It is so different living with so many women, but I love it too. Which surprises me. singing rehearsal
*Elder Zwick of the seventy came and surprise visited us. He told stories about President Monson, and said we should read the Book of Mormon while we are here.
It is so funny how close I feel to my mission. I have been wanting to speak in German more and more.
Well, time is up! Love you!

rehearsal 5 21

With the Temple in View

(a note from Sister Gardner’s mom.  There was a bit of a problem with the email when she finally had a chance to email home. She was not able to open her account and ended up sending her letter with another email. So, don’t feel bad if you wrote and didn’t get a response. She hasn’t been able to open or read anything sent to her yet.  Snail mail works great. Hopefully it will get worked out soon so she knows we are writing her. Thanks for you support.)
From the green Mississippi riverside I send you a hello from Sister Gardner.

Within a week so much has happened.

One overwhelming feeling I have is that God has put this cast together and he is the one fueling the amazing progress we have made. I have never been in a show where we were given the script, parts and music and then performed it the first time through, from beginning to the end, in three days. We have learned so much music and blocking and  now even dancing within this time.

companion Sister Meikle

Sister Gardner and her companion Sister Meikle

I suppose I should start from the top.  Nauvoo is wonderful. It is fun to see this place that I came to as a child and to know that now I am part of the experience that I had while there. I see all of the missionary force here. The Seniors and the Visitor’s center sisters. I feel this connection to them all. I love to see the similarities of my mission in Austria to this one here. I still get to talk with people if I put myself out there and I was even able to give out a copy of the Book of Mormon and get and email from someone to send her missionaries while at the Airport in St. Louis. I felt that familiar confidence when you are inviting someone to read the Book of Mormon for the first time. It was so wonderful.

I am serving with Sister Miekle as my companion. She is also from Utah, and is studying musical theater at UVU. She is so great. We have been bonding a lot and I love having her around. I am going to switch to bullet points because I have literally seven minutes .

  • I have been given the responsibility to drive the 12 passenger van. Wow that was a little scary at first but I am getting the hang of it and I help to keep everyone on time for when we need to leave for various rehearsals and meetings.
  • We basically live in the theater in the visitors center which is where I feel right at home. I actually really like it. It it is like being in shows like I love, but  I know that I am doing it for God so it is even better and more focused.

    Rehearsals

    Rehearsal of the play  “The Promise”

  • They have already cast all of the shows. I am so excited to have been cast as  Julia in the  “The Promise” She is the girl in the love triangle, so I am excited to be portraying such a wonderful faithful character. It means I have lots of lines to learn and many chances for little solo parts.
  • The hardest part about this week has been losing my voice completely. I have been on vocal rest since Tuesday/ The day they announced the casting.  It started to ago a way and then I could not sing anything in my high range. I got a blessing finally yesterday and it is starting to get better. It has been good because it made me listen and have to exercise faith in God. I know that it happened so that He could teach me.

    first temple trip

    First Temple Trip

  • I love being a missionary again. So even if there are hard things that push me and times when I do not feel adequate to perform this role or to perform as a missionary enough, He can comfort me and lift me. I love the fact that I get to reach out to so many people. I am not perfect and I am realizing more and more my shortcoming, but I feel God is molding me just as before.
  • I love Nauvoo it is so green and beautiful.   Sister Miekle and I got stuck with the single bedroom in the basement, we felt a little sad at first, but it has turned out to be a blessing , because we always get to talk and it is  the coolest room in the house.

Pray for my voice. I love you guys. Sorry this email is so short. I hope we can get it all figured out so that I can actually receive emails from all of you. Thank you!

-Sister Gardner

Where two or three are gathered in my name… There shall I be in the midst of them. The midst of them that love me.

ice cream in Nauvoo

Ice Cream with the Sisters

We didn’t get a mothers day phone call, but this beautiful song and picture sent were perfect.

BUCH GROUP (6)

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Sister Gardner Strikes Again

I am sure many of you thought that sister Gardner would write no more. But to my amazement and general jubilation, the missionary journey will continue! If you recall music was a crowning joy on my mission. I used music to touch the hearts of those I taught and to reach closed up hearts. I would like to announce that I have been called to serve as a Nauvoo Performing Missionary for this summer. I will be set apart Thursday and then Friday morning I am flying out at 5:45 in the morning.

It has been an interesting time coming back. I dove right into school again. I have been on stage again, singing and dancing. And now I have officially been accepted into the Acting Program at my university. I am trying to keep following God’s plan for me even though at times I wonder how exactly he  is planning on me using these talents in the long run. I am therefore very glad to have this opportunity to bear my testimony through song and dance.

Nauvoo, for those who are not aware was used as a gathering place for the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There was a thriving city and even a temple built on the banks of the Mississippi River. If you would like to know more about it check out the website : http://www.historicnauvoo.net/

I went there years ago and was so impressed and touched by the performers, the history, and of course the fireflies. So I am excited to be returning.

The audition process for this mission was already such a spiritually uplifting experience. I sent in my video and was then invited to attend a callback in Salt Lake City. I left early that morning filled with anticipation. I listened to the tabernacle choir as I drove, the sun rising in east up over the mountains as I drove along the freeway. I was filled with such peace. I remember going into the church building where the callback was held feeling that whatever happened the wonderful experience on the drive over might have been the only reason  was called back.

We had a marathon of singing. I loved hearing all the talented performers the entire chapel was filled with melodious voices. The audition continued throughout the day, measurements, choral singing, reading of slides (a section of a script), and an interview with the directors. It felt like a lovely musical theater themed zone conference just like on my mission. I felt so happy.

A few days later I received the happy news that I would be serving as a performing sister and I have been looking forward to it since December.

I am excited to see how I will grow and improve as a missionary and performer over the summer. I know that I will be able to dedicate these performances to the lord.

“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”

-2 Nephi 32: 9

…The most beautiful thing about all of this is that I will be able to be sister Gardner again! So I hope you will enjoy these next few months as Sister Gardner is Astonishing along the Mississippi.

And in the End…

This is the last note I wrote home to my family before they flew to Munich to pick me up, it remained archived during the hullabaloo of me coming home, enjoy…

I have been putting off writing this email. Honestly, today was the first day I actually went through and emailed all my old companions because I was putting off this one. But then I thought, just because it is the end. Does not mean that this writing will come to an end. The story of these people is not over, there is still more to be told. I will never be done telling the story of my mission to the Alpine German speaking mission. So for anyone who wants to keep listening my heart, and experiences are there for those who need them.

I was thinking about the Word End.

Ende. Das Ende. We come to a lot of ends in our life. the end of the line, end of the string of spaghetti, the end of a relationship, the end of a book, the end of the corn maze, the end of our ropes, the end of a vacation, end of an awkward stake dance, the end of a very nice ice cream cone, end of a sickness , the end of a documentary of the migratory patterns of north Atlantic seabirds in the 21st century, or at least the end of the stairs. you follow what I am saying.

I think that everyone has been arguing that It is the end. for me. yes true. I am down to a few day. ( luckily the traveling around the mission for a week lets me wear this badge a bit longer, (muwhaha) But the time is coming to an end.

This fact has been a dark rain cloud over my head for the past week. It was fine during the day, but at night still just driving me crazy… So Thursday morning I wake up with this feeling like, ok, enough is enough. So I decided to be happy. There is this Mormon message that I love, It is called “Men´s Hearts will fail them” It basically talks about an apostal on a plane that is on fire diving out of the sky. on lady across from him is screaming and crying hysterically. He says, ” I was calm, I was totally calm, even though I knew I was going down to my death , I was prepared to meet my maker” I just made me think on my situation. I thought, why on earth am I being the screaming lady on the air plane? Ha ha, it made me chuckle a bit, but then also made me think. I have peace. I can be calm because I can trust that my maker has a plan. Anyhow in the video the plane does not crash, and the end image is him sitting there will a copy of the book of Mormon in his hands. The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. Proof that he was there. If I can put the gospel of Jesus Christ into my life, if I am really letting it work, then I can trust in my future… and even this end that is coming.

I want to talk a bit about my week as well. I felt blessed to have a good week, lots to do, lots of appointments, lots of teaching. a lot of music, and a little bit of cake, and Peruvian chicken.

Helen was just a little name written on a blue card in blue ink found from and elder flying home that day at the airport. Helen is actually a mom with two kids and a husband who is now wanting to meet with us to learn everything about the church and also have us give her two little boys English lessons. She said. “I really want to come closer to Jesus Christ, can you help me with that?” …………. Does my name tag have Jesus on it. yes.

When it is raining often people don´t want to stop and talk on the street. But sometimes you teach a whole restoration lesson with someone in the park, and then in the end you get to give them your umbrella and you see them later walking around with that. I think that was a nice moment this week. One little yellow plastic portable ten given out, one yellow pamphlet with Jesus Christ on it. Two umbrellas to protect us from two different types of projectiles… Think Heleman 5

We saw heroic acts of missionary work from our tiny Italian ward missionary who came with us and helped us go finding. She stopped them and then I was able to ask our question. It was really fun, I have never had a member who wanted to go finding with us, That was a miracle.

We taught someone about the basic beliefs of the church using crude stick figure drawings, (me), google translate ( Elder Wright), a worn out whiteboard marker, (Sister Pugh) and some good simple questions, (Elder Mateer) I think that despite the language barrier, we where able to make some really great progress with one of our new contacts we found this week.

Sylvia is making progress. She made us potatoes this time when we came, and showed me her spice box from India. She will be baptized someday soon, she makes progress every week. She had been saying last week she did not feel answers to her prayers. This week she let us know that she had woken up with a terrible ache in her jaw, she had knelt down prayed for the pain to go away and she said she could feel it starting to fade as the prayer ended.

I have felt a lot of love from members and part member families this week, and I am grateful for that. I was worried no one would remember me here, but I have been glad to see that I have made a difference, and if anything pried open a few doors that where sealed tight as can be. I can only hope the seedlings planted will grow through the further work of other missionaries.

I loved having our mini fireside about the life of Jesus Christ. It was by no means perfect, quickly put together with not many visitors, but it was just what was needed of the people who did attend. I am grateful for the many ways we can share the gospel, for the i pad that hold videos, music, music, notes and scriptures in all kinds of languages.

I am grateful for the happiness I see from members who live the gospel. I mean I would rather keep being a full time missionary, but life seems to be pretty good for those guys too..

On Sunday we played piano for sacrament meeting in the third ward, and then I gave a talk about honoring your father and mother in sacrament meeting of the 1st ward. We had two guys show up to church randomly, potentials, which was great, and then Lucho and Sylvia came. It made us so happy when we opened the door of the Spanish Sunday school class and we see Lucho in there from the back. ‘As I looked out at the ward, I could not help but feel sad, They still need so much support, I just want to keep healing these people and bringing people back to the church.  or to the church, or their spouse to baptism. It all has it´s time. I am just another paint stroke in the master piece.

In my talk, I mentioned how during my mission, I have strengthened my relation ship more with my heavenly parents than my earthly ones simply because I have been with them less than my Father in heaven and I have spoken, but as I went on, the rest of the thought formed it´self as it came out of my mouth. Because my relationship with my father in heaven is stronger, my relationships with my earthly family can be strengthened as well. I suppose I will find out just how far that works out when I get back, but i have confidence. 😉 Í also mentioned how obedience is really the way we can honor our Heavenly parents. our performance here on the earth is not simply for our benefit, and it does benefit us greatly, but it is also a chance to show them we love them.

I did not get to share my testimony with the Zone, and I don´t have time to write down the whole thing, but I hope you can see a bit, from these words I have written today, from the words I wrote last week, and in Graz and after a bike crash, and during the winter, and when I came into England, and when I said goodbye to good friend, and when I was excited and when I was sad, and when I just was probably singing too much. .. ‘And I hope you will continue to see them.

I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, That is Son is our Redeemer, and The Holy Ghost can bring that knowledge to our hearts.

That is it really, actually, all the other things just fit in with the basics. I don´t know how to write how much I love this gospel or my time as sister Gardner… It is astonishing really.

I love you, And you will hear from me again. .. So this is not goodbye…

rather. Bis aufwiedersehn.
All my love, Sister Gardner

It’s the Grand Finale to the Greatest Show on Earth

It’s the Grand Finale to the Greatest Show on Earth

Six thirty, alarm clock goes off. Some mornings I am more prepared for
that than others. Sometimes my eyes open minutes before the alarm. I
close them reminding myself I still have a bit of time to sleep. Get
out of bed, punch in the code on the i-pad Jesus holding a lamb greets
as I close the flap on the iPad cover and crawl half away back up the
latter. Now I pray.
It was not until the mission that I ever got this habit down. Praying
for help at the start of the day and not just after everything took
its course seems like a logical option.

Of course my brain has been going through a roller coaster of feelings
and emotions, memories made and remembered.  Talking with people,
teaching, keeping a temper, being humbled, discovering weakness. And
also weaknesses made strong.
domes
You know Munich was an essential part of my growth here. It shows me
the importance of keeping up with the covenants I have made, not
getting lazy, not letting scripture study or prayers or church
attendance slack. Not making excuses. I also realize that often being
obedient or preaching repentance, even if it is with love does not
make you a popular person. Only those who understand the worth of the
message and are willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ will
appreciate what you are doing.

I think on Jesus Christ. Who taught with the most love and Boldness of
anyone on this earth. He was beaten and killed, along with the
apostles who followed him, while trying to help people be protected
from their own self destruction of sin. It is all a labor of love, but
some cannot see it as such. That is why we always invite people to
find out for themselves. To kneel down and ask their father. It is not
between us and the church and the teachings, and whatever the relief
society president or sunday school teacher thinks is right, or even me
as a missionary, a representative of Jesus Christ. It is between them
and God.
street
Well. Those where some of my thoughts. As I am drawing to the end of
my ministry among the people of Germany and Austria,Ii am finding
myself not plagued with regrets but rather a sadness that it cannot
continue. I am not good at goodbyes.

But amid all these thoughts inside my heart and head I want to let you
know about some of wonders that have been happening this week.

At district meeting I was assigned to talk about how we can develop
the faith for miracles. I studies a lot for this assignment and was
able to find great scriptures, quotes and even a video segment. I
asked my distrikt if they had the faith to have two baptisms in our
distrikt, (one for our distrikt and then the zone leaders) we then
went into the other room and all kneeled down then I prayed and asked
God to please help us achieve this goal.. It was very spiritual and I
prayed with the most faith I could. This week we set two baptismal
dates. It was miraculous.
smiles and flowers
We had a great member come a long to help teach S who is our
sweet older woman preparing for baptism. Her house is often smokey
when we come, we are trying to help her give up the cigarettes. She is
so great though, every time we come the light in her eyes is brighter,
and her house if filled with photographs and interesting statues from
her travels to different lands. She shared that she had not been
feeling the same peace that she used to. We followed up a bit more and
she has not been reading daily or praying daily. I felt the power of
the Holy a ghost as I was able to promise her that if she would take
ten minutes to read and study and ponder each day she would find that
peace again.
I extend that challenge to you, set a time, get rid of distractions.
Have a notebook and pen to write down thoughts, and read. Study. Write
down questions. Study for a topic. Let yourself find the answers and
feel peace.
The member shared his whole conversion story and it goes to show that
the atonement, that Jesus Christ can help people come to an
understanding of their life.
street
We had a funny things happen. We had met a great potential on a s
bahn. He was really interested and took two pamphlets. We went to meet
with him after church with a Ward missionary. He had just finished
work. We sat down by a fountain to show him the Book of Mormon. But he
was acting very strange, so much different than when we first met him.
He puts his hand in the fountain his arm is around my shoulders
resting on the fountain. I scoot forward thinking he does not notice
what happened. Happened again, we are still explaining, he is asking
strange questions. He tried again. This time his whole sleeve gets
wet. I squish closer to sister Pugh. Finally he is leaning past the
normal space bubble. Yes something definitely wrong… I finally smell
the alcohol. Some church’s like to party…
Finally I just stop him. Alright, I think it would be best to have
this conversation another time. Ha ha. He tries to hug me before we
go, put up the hand and we all leave. It was pretty funny. We were
trying to reassure out joint teach that he had had a lot of potential,
she was just laughing her head off. But she knows it did him good. I
am glad she came, she was the best person that could have been there.
Also we had a Ward family home evening… Guess who kicked the soccer
ball into the fast moving stream going though the park…. Yeah. And
guess who goes chasing it all through the park until a swimmer fishes
it out, our GML still in his work clothes. Ha ha. It was pretty funny.
museum
airWe showed the restoration film twice this week, once in Spanish, once
in Italian. I am always so amazed everything I watch it not matter
what language. I feel the truth of it’s message. Having a testimony of
the restoration makes everything fit together. I am so glad to have
the spirit confirm the truth to me.

Sylvia asked me what is a testimony. I said something like… A
collections of beliefs that you just think are true, but rather ideas
and truths you have tested and found out to be true through the power
of the Holy Ghost. I think we underestimate the power of prayer. We
need it. It brings peace to troubled souls, clarification  to those
confused which way to go, and everyone as they work to find their way.

in honor of those killed

In honor of those Killed in the shooting.

Well. I have said a lot. I hope something I said brought you at least
something to think about. I’ve got lots of stories for you all. But
unfortunately there are only so many minutes in email time.

I am going to sprint  to the end. I thank you for your prayers at this time.

All the best.
Love, sister GardnerKonigs Platz 3Konigs Platz

Ubahns and Miracles… Among other things

Dear Son or Daughter of God Reading this email.

Stop. . no don´t stop reading… Just stop for a second.

Look around at your surroundings. Maybe you like them. Maybe not. Maybe there are many people, maybe a few. Maybe just you.. Not alone, maybe you should pay a bit more attention to the one trying to talk to you. My words can wait…

Close your eyes… ok, now hopefully you have opened them and are still reading. Or if you have started a sudden nap I do hope it is not an inconvenient time and that if it does work out you enjoy it.

how was that closing your eyes for a second?

What did you hear?  What did you feel?

Ok, a few things I would like to explain with this exercise.

  1. You are alive in the year 2016. You were not born some time before so that you could be on the earth at this time.
  2. You are not alone, hundreds of thousands of onlookers in the preexistence and spirit world look at you.
  3. You have a body that can read, think, and Feel. At least to some extent. You can understand.
  4. What you are learning today is what you are meant to face in order to get to where you are going.
  5. Every little interaction or experience changes you in a way that might be extreme or not really noticeable. But all significant.
  6. You are a son or Daughter of God.
  7. This earth life is a mere moment on a vast span of never ending.
  8. You are doing better than you think, but you could be doing better than you are.
  9. Sometimes it is nice to close your eyes for a second.
  10. Think about it, what did you take out of that.

I think I started thinking about this as I look around at everything with a sort of love… Even the graffiti in the tunnel under the street makes me smile. I started tearing up just looking around our apartment. My missionary Apartment in München… Which I live in because I am a missionary.

Honestly, I cannot even express or put down in to logical words what doing this work means to me.

I can´t.

I promise I will keep trying. Of course.

I will try for you, for my family… for a blog or a journal, for my dreams or my heart. For my children or grandchildren, or husband, or person on the street that I stop to tell them about the purpose their Father in Heaven has for them… That he loves them..

He loves you ok.

Do you understand.

Do you really?

Honestly. He loves you no matter if you are sitting in a closet right now reading it, or somehow after just breaking into someone’s house. He loves you. Just get it. Let it into your mind. Let it change you.

My heart is really full writing this. I can´t explain.

district lunch

District Lunch: Sister Pugh, Sister Gardner, Elder Gibson, Elder Clark

I just think I will give you a bit of what I was up to this day. My throat has one of those stuffed up choking feelings in it, like when you swallowed too much water at once, or you are trying not to cry. Probably the second one. I am so glad I am blessed with so much to have happy tears about.

This week, honestly was not perfect. Things fell out, the most carefully planned… could not be executed but I think what makes any week on a mission worth it is the little miracles that happen and all the times you don´t sit down and call it quits.

so let’s take a little stroll down miracle lane eh?

 

lady bug

A little guy with places to go

Monday: We went and visited M a sweet, sweet woman who speaks mostly just Spanish and a few words of German. I Sister Calee Gardner attempted to sing for someone in Spanish and sat at a computer with the slowest internet connection in the world to try and book mark LDS.org in Spanish so this woman could see she is not the only woman striving to live the gospel. I think what really did it though was her just expressing in the sweetest most broken German that she really had no idea what we were saying. But she could feel it… and that is exactly how the Holy Ghost works. But I throw in my extremely microscopic vocabulary of Spanish, she throws out her German. The holy Ghost makes it possible for me to understand exactly what she is saying even though I understand close to nothing coming out of her mouth.

Dienstag: V, one of the people in our English class made our miracle for Tuesday.
Everyone was supposed to bring a picture and then explain about it a bit. he brings a picture of many people holding hands, with the word friendship written across the top. He goes into this description about how we are really all brothers and sisters if you think about it and we should love people no matter where they come from and what they do. Then we play story cubes to practice further in my part of the English conversation class, and the story ends up being about all of the English class going to a native American pow wow, which led them to asking questions about the meaning of life within the English class… Which then resulted in one copy of the Book of Mormon leaving my hands after class ended…and entering into the hands of V.notes

Wedtvolk: This was a miracle for me. We had a visiting return missionary who used to serve in Munich and Graz during her mission come visit. We met her when she came to visit a less active in the third ward at the same time we where there. She ended up riding with us, and gave me a lot of good perspectives about what it is like finishing a mission, and how she still loves it. It comforted me a bit. I think when I come back here I would love to tag along with the sisters again. If I lived here, it would be for that.

Donnersday: No problem, the part member family you have been trying to get in contact with since you came is home when you take the 45 minute bahn ride to get out to them. Just praying they will be there when you ring. Recommit papa to take the lessons… from the sisters. Sounds like a miracle to me.

Frieday: This one gets two. One for our mutig member J who took the courage to give out two copies of the Book of Mormon to her co-workers.. That is after decorating it with stickers and pictures of Jesus.. Whatever gets it done my dear…. Second. Setting two baptsimal dates for our new friends who will be taught by the elders in the international ward. We will find them and get them set up to prepare for baptism… You teach them ok? I am glad I got to be part of that little miracle.

flamingo

This sign just made me laugh

Saturtag: This is the day that look like it would not have any miracles. Canceled appointments, left I-pads, defensive crying less actives…. and to end it a wrong address after a hour and a half travel time… and then we missed the bahn home…. But then came the little tender mercy. Who should appear on the gleis as we waited for our next train home. But the Orbegroso Family! L, and his wife and son! We were so happy to see them, and he had been reading the chapters we assigned him, and they stayed and waited with us and rode the train with us… She hugged us. They make us feel like we are super heros or something. I like that. I need to see these people all in white standing in front of a temple… They deserve it.

Sonday: M came to church for the first time in years! It was raining and  the third hour of church is about to come. We head of to walk to her house. We wait at the door of the apartment building. Just when it seems like this master plan will fall out. She comes bustling out of the front door still trying to tie her shoes laces. She came to church. She took the sacrament. And S made it to church, and L with his family.. and one of our investigators who has not been able to meet with us since I got here, and has not come to church in three months. They all came.

So I suppose Sunday just was the icing on the cake.

I have started the Book of Mormon again this week… Studying about patience. Goodness, the first book of Nephi has a lot of that. ….the lion

So when you are feeling impatient remember you might not fully understand until more than 2,000 years later…

“Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should makes these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people….. Wherefore the lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.´”

I want to close this email this week with one more scripture..

1 Nephi 9: 6

” But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning, wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men, for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. and thus it is. Amen.”
And Thus it is. Amen.
Love you,

Sister Gardner

do you

Well, do you?