Our Search For Happiness

I have been in love with this poem this week.

William Wordsworth- “Ode on Intimations of Immortality”

Our Birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star

Hath had elsewhere its setting

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home.

-The picture is of Sister Gardner in a small Book Swap Booth-

What We Do

2 Nephi 25: 26

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Above is a beautiful picture of the Preston England Temple.

No Blue Monday In Your Sunday Clothes‏

Hello Dear ones! Yes, it is indeed a good thing I am always always in my Sunday Clothes, I would not like to be burdened by any blue Mondays while on this adventure. Sister Burgess always says: “you are truly a sister missionary when you start wearing things that don’t match just so that you are wearing something different.” Luckily I have not gotten to that point yet, I am singing and searching, and studying… IN my Sunday clothes.

The Easter Package Arrived!

The Easter Package Arrived!

I cannot believe my eyes… ( That was one more obscure musical reference for those who are counting.) It has been a month out here in the land of England, that means I only have seventeen months left. Ok ok, that is still a long time, but I cannot believe it has been this long. Thank you all for your support through letters, It is so good to hear from you. So some highlights from the week.

Sisters in Zion

Sisters in Zion

Sister Burgess and I were put in charge of another musical activity, I have an uncanny ability to get missionaries to sing and dance in ways they never thought they would on their missions. Sister Burgess and I made four dice that we so cleverly blew up bigger using the fancy copy machine and wrote on one dice, a word of inspiration, second dice: a funny way to sing it, third: a physical trait for the performance, and Fourth: a dice that decided if there would be a soloist or not. Surprisingly, not everyone was as excited about the dice as I was, I mean who would have guessed that would happen. We had renditions of called to serve sung in Italian or German with dancing or snapping, one group sang fortissimo in formation: “sweet hour of prayer”, Presitent Preston was the capstone of that group with his hands in the shape of a heart, belting out hymns. I joined in of course. To close we had our doctor, Elder Stevens who had been in the Tabernacle choir for seventeen years talk about how music has influenced his testimony and brought light to those he performed for. He and I were both in tears. Beautiful when someone else feels the way you do for music and its ability to bring peace.

We did some skipping of rocks at the duck pond during personal time for ten minutes on Sunday.

Flowers in Her Hair

Flowers in Her Hair

Sister Burgess and I taught two of our most spirit filled lessons yet.

Sisters in Stripes

Sisters in Stripes

Some of the German grammar lessons are finally making sense in my head. I try to use the new grammar in my daily speaking, but then I get frustrated because I have to talk slower to use it, but perhaps it is better that way so I do not go into long explanations when teaching investigators.

They have been placing the most lovely smelling fertilizer outside our windows in the flower bed which is great for the plants but not so good for missionaries who crack the window open hoping to beckon some sort of breeze to aid them in their studies of accusative pronouns and scriptures to help with understanding faith. It means that we have been using the electric fan more and also discovering that electric fans move paper, and dice made of paper are no exception. Thus the game “Fans and Dice” was born. I have sent a picture to aid you in your pursuit to understand what I mean.

"Fans and Dice"

“Fans and Dice”

Please note, the above picture does not accurately display the majority of the time spent at the MTC, our district decided to not go to the optional snack time and found other ways to de-stress.

Today we had spaghetti which made me glad. Because we have not had spaghetti the whole time I have been here. They give enormous portion sizes. which is why I have been working a lot harder during exercise time. So today was one of those days I was very glad that they filled my plate with pasta. I got a lesson from Elder Dimartino on the proper way to eat noodles using a spoon and fork.

Almost Perfect District Family Picture    L to R: E. Erickson, S. Gardner, S. Burgess, E. McArthur, E. Mantle, E. McDaniel, E. Gappmayer

Almost Perfect District Family Picture L to R: E. Erickson, S. Gardner, S. Burgess, E. McArthur, E. Mantle, E. McDaniel, E. Gappmayer

Today we went on a church history tour, walking along cobble stone streets seeing baptism sights, hearing about the enormous amount of faith that was shared, the bold preaching, and the light that was brought to the saints in England who were living in the poverty of the working class. This religious fervor that helped so many to the truth. There are so many miracles that helped the church take root upon the world and the conversion of so many helped this gospel stay strong and shaped the world wide organization it is today.

Beneath this Bridge Began the Budding Baptisms of the Book of Mormon Believers.

Beneath this Bridge Began the Budding Baptisms of the Book of Mormon Believers.

A bridge  in England with early church history

A bridge in England with early church history

A beautiful little view.

A beautiful little view.

Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

We listened to a very powerful talk from Elder Holland. He always strikes me to the heart. (not in the les miserable sort of way) No, Rather in a way that both terrifies and supports you, enlightens you empowers you, inspires you to act and to act well. I am striving to teach with the spirit. Missionaries teach the words, and facilitate the spirits presence, but really the Holy Ghost is the one who lets anyone who asks know it is true. The Holy Ghost is also there for “Trost” Comfort. I have felt that comfort in so many moments in my life where I was not even doing anything specifically religious, just being out in nature, spending time with people I love, or most specifically when I was performing in Little Women. I feel this peace, this light. It sounds like what has been described so many times. But I know it is a truthful feeling. Other peole feel it, it is that feeling of being alive and realizing simultaneously how small but beautiful each human being is.

That is why I love to perform. How many other productions have there been of the same musical, or how many trillions of times in history has an A note been sung. It is impossible to know, it is so fleeting, it has only been in the last of this spectrum of human existence on the planet that we have been able to record music to listen to anytime. But true live performance is like the spirit. It is real and tangible in the moment it is there, it is that feeling of calm or quite once a note rings out….that moment of awe before the audience cheers. It is true connection, true heart. It is beautiful. It has the power to make a lasting impact, but is not loud or enormous It is there, a still small voice, but what we learn from it, and the comfort it give is not fleeting, all it take is a moment to relive it and you can be back right where you were when you first felt that light.

The song of the heart is a prayer unto me.

Take Luck!

Love, Sister Gardner

Spring is upon us!

Spring Bud 1

Spring Bud 1

Spring bud 2

Spring bud 2

Spring bud 3

Spring bud 3

Spring Bud 4

Spring Bud 4

Just Singing and Dancing: auf Deutsch!

 A beautiful glorious sky!

A beautiful glorious sky!

Guten Morgen, Guten Morgen… we’ve taught the whole day through, Guten Morgen, Guten Morgen to you.

So, there may be no staying up late and movie shows here at the MTC, but plenty of… You guessed it, Sister Gardner putting new words to broadway tunes. You would be surprised that I can turn a song from Chicago into something uplifting and pertaining to Missionary work. THAT, is quite the success. Give me your best attempt, I would love to hear your version….

So, I suppose I shall begin my weekly recap for you all, Yes. Hello you there.

First things first. Sister Burgess and I have been given the calling of Sister Training Leaders. Hurrah, It really was helpful because with all the new sisters this week they needed someone to remind them to not wash their red blouses with white anythings, ha ha just kidding.  Actually I did answer questions about how to work the dryers these ladies already knew at least the basics of normal clothes laundering. I have stretched my language capacities by pronouncing names in Italian, Taiwanese, Spanish, Polynesian, and various dialects of African languages. Oh and German, always German. hopefully you know that by now. I made a little book with little pictures of them taped in and have been jotting down helpful things about each of them, how to say their name, things they like to do, worries or concerns they have expressed. They are wonderful, they learn fast, and I have been working to get to know them all. Sometimes it is nice when it is just Sister Burgess and I, in our occasional moments of comfortable calming silence.

It was exceptionally foggy this morning. It made me think of a certain iron rod and a tree offering fruits of love and eternal joy as we walked up to the temple this morning.

A few highlights from this week are as follows.

Playing four square at sport and each time there was a new king they announced a new theme, I was exceptionally grateful that when I announced loudly from the king square that I was “The Great Gatsby” the bottom square was labled Myrtle, some sort of cruel irony when Myrtle hit “Daisy” with the yellow volleyball and got her out.

We were taking care of a sick sister who had an upset stomach, it made us a little late to our teaching lesson and we were explaining why where late. I held my stomach to demonstrate and said, “Baumschmerz”… the only explanation you need is that… Bauch=Stomach, Schmerz= Pain, Baum=Tree.

I printed off a grid of 500 squares to write all my new vocabulary words and felt exceptionally like my father getting excited about a graph. What has gotten into me.

Hearing one of my favourite talks by my favourite German general authority in my favourite foreign language. “STOP IT!” -President Uchtdorf

Al-right ladies and gentleman for our finale tonight…. drum roll please.

I realized this week that I really do know how to be a missionary. I know how to share my testimony and find scriptures to teach, I know how to give love and service, I know how to have meaningful prayers. I have taken mission prep in my ward for years, a class at university, and even gone on splits, when it comes to words and the gospel, they come together in my mind in harmony. Now, I just have to do it in German. So that is my new focus. German German German. Oh, hey did I mention German. Of course I will keep growing closer to my Heavenly Father. But in a most lovely type of language.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for the applause, I can hear it clear over here in England.
Auf Wiedersehen,
Sister Gardner

What a joyous day!  Sister Gardner at the Preston Temple.

What a joyous day at the Preston England Temple.

Sister Burgess

Sister Burgess

A little Friend.

A little Friend.

The Beautiful place I call home right now.

The Beautiful place I call home right now.

 

Fun Little Things

So, a few fun things about life in the England MTC

1. I am in love with Jelly Babies. ( I don’t know, don’t ask)
2. Sister and I must always be within sight and sound of each other, so if we are across the room, I will say, “I can see you” and she replies “I can hear you”. It has become a bit of a thing with us.
3. I have gotten pretty creative over here trying to do different things with my hair to change it up a bit. Sister Burgess now knows that finger wave where made famous by the twenties.
4. I have an elaborate dream almost every night, and usually I remember them, They are filled with my family and friends. I feel like it is a little gift to me because I cannot see you in person.
5. I was counting out all the syllables in “IHR ZIEL” trying to figure out which hymn the meter would fit best with to memorize “My Purpose” through the use of a song.
6. I started crying when they showed meet the Mormons and I saw the missionary family walking in to the University mall, and Sister leaned over and asked if I was ok, and I just sort of whimpered, “That is where I work, My boss bought me a cinnamon roll from the store they are passing” . It was not ok when they said goodbye in the same place I did.
7. I love my companion so much, we are already planning our visits with each other.
8. The ducks on the pond that the cafeteria looks out onto.
9. Elder Gappmyer has the same humor as (Elder) Justin Messenger.  If you know him, you know what I mean.
10. Sister Cheve from France talking to her food. “It tastes like British Accents” (the Yorkshire pudding) “How you doin?” ( to the chocolate dessert)
11. Sister Burgess and I labeling everything in the room with her yellow post it notes that we ended up having to tape up. We were scooting around the room on rolly-chairs.

Life is Good!  The Gospel is true!

Love, Sister Gardner

From Left: Elder Gappmayer, Elder MacArthur, Elder Mantle, Sister Gardner, Elder Erickson, Elder McDaniel, Sister Burgess

From Left: Elder Gappmayer, Elder MacArthur, Elder Mantle, Sister Gardner, Elder Erickson, Elder McDaniel, Sister Burgess

(Sister Gardner asked me, her mother, to post this as well.  It has just taken me a few days.)

Amid The Smell of Rain

“I can do it if I try, I can do it by sheer will, All you have to do is work to acquire any skill… These are things a girl must do when she has dreams she must fulfill…”

And yet again, a musical ( Little Women ) applies to my own life. Miss my life is a musical has struck again. Excuse me, that would be SISTER Miss My Life Is a Musical and indeed It has been.

This week was filled with music: efforts with the choir, a special musical number, singing hymns in class and a musical activity.
For the Choir I consulted with Elder Erickson ( the pianist) 15 minutes before choir practice to put together at break neck speed a medley of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Hope of Israel” which, SUPRISE, was not actually needed for next week, rather, tomorrow, to be sung in church. But to be honest it made me more excited to try and pull it all together so quickly, I was excited for the challenge. So with photocopied music, the four of us, Companions remember, cut and taped a new musical score together to make our medley. Thankfully it all turned out wonderfully, I will be so glad when we get more sisters this next week, because then I will hopefully find some altos, or better yet, more than three girls to sing in the choir.

The special musical number was called “The Wintery Day, Descending to Its Close” Look it up. Elder Erickson and I did a Duet.
Then, our musical activity Sister Burgess and I organized.  It included missionaries performing wacky primary song, some of them were actually pretty funny. But maybe that was just the total-focus-except-when-we-eat-and-even-then talking. Ha, actually we have a lot of fun here.I tried to finish the activity by singing “a child’s prayer” but everyone got a little off so the spirit was a little off too, I felt in my heart to have everyone sing “I am a Child of God” in which ever language they wanted. When the final note range out, Then, oh then the spirit was there, I felt it, it tell you people it is the music that does it. Luckily our Scottish Chef offered the prayer before I started tearing up too much.
So I got a little worried about my ability to be a really effective missionary, feeling I was too impassioned to be always the best, but I realized two things, first, I feel the spirit when I feel alive, “Men (and woman) are that they might have Joy” I can be happy and still be spiritually in tune.
Second, from my Journal:
“I care about this work with my whole soul. I am not going to magically turn into a sister missionary, I already am, I just have to be myself. Contribute, Myself to being a missionary. Be the unique tool \God needs to give love to those I teach. To manifest my devotion to Christ,but more important my love for people, my spiritual siblings. No matter their background or future, My purpose is to love.”

The three sisters left last night, sister C and Sister S going to Ireland/Scotland and Sister Anderson going back to her home of Finland to teach the gospel. We had a last group prayer last night while they were packing up and we were all looking at pictures. We all took a turn praying in our native language. It is amazing how you can know someone for such a short time, it does not have to be years and years to love them. I love these people here, the people learning beside me and the people teaching me. And I love you to reading this. “And I love you random Citizen.” That is probably what this sounds like, but it is also true so there.

Ha. Take That.

Well, Pray for me and my German Language Learning this week, if you do that sort of thing. I am grateful for your support and I wish you well.
Oh, one last thing, favorite German word of the week:
Ohrworm: A song that gets stuck in you head.

Love You,
Sister Gardner

Beautiful English Countryside

Beautiful English Countryside

You are a “Sassy Sister” aren’t you!

Have no fear, I have not been ripping sets of scriptures or climbing out of my window at night to look at stars. No, I earned this from one of my German teachers this week, as I demonstrated to my Sister, Sister Burgess what exactly German would sound like if spoken with a southern accent. I would write it here, but really there is no way to write it out exactly. Just close your eyes and try to picture it, i’m sure you can figure it out. I suppose Leherer Top… Something. He heard my sounds at the lunch table and then started laughing, I continued at an elevated volume answering all his questions that he asked with the same accent. That is where, with a smile from my teacher I was awarded this nickname.

Well, Hello Everyone. I am totally blown away because of all the lovely emails I received, I am going to have to make a grid system or something to figure out how I will reply to you all. I have an hour here to send emails, but that goes by faster than the scene between costume changes. If you catch what I mean. I will admit those first few days were very hard. My time clock was completely thrown off, So, I have been very grateful that I have slowly adjusted.

The Bookstore.  L to R: Sister Burgess, Sister Gardner, Elder McArthur, Elder McDaniel, Elder Gappmayer, Elder Mantle, Elder Erickson

The Bookstore. L to R:
Sister Burgess, Sister Gardner, Elder McArthur, Elder McDaniel, Elder Gappmayer, Elder Mantle, Elder Erickson

Ok, This is the character Description part of this play of too many acts and scene changes to count.

Sister Gardner: sole American woman in this entire MTC. She sings, directs the MTC choir, makes run on sentences in German, and is so happy in the land of England accents. According to the President Preston, Her accent is from “Posh” south london.

Sister Burgess: The Aussie, who defies the odds by working out in a t-shirt printed with candy. With a testimony the size of her country. (Sorry Texas) She is the lovely companion of Sister G, Luckily, Sister B finds Sister G’s quirky mannerisms endearing. (sigh of relief)

Sister Gardner and Sister Burgess exercising.

Sister Gardner and Sister Burgess exercising.

Elder Erickson: The swimmer district leader which is probably a theater kid at heart.

Elder McArthur: The California man who learned spanish in High School and while offering laid back hilarious commentary shocks us all with his ability to pick up the language.

Elder Mantle: He loves to sing and acts as a peacemaker with all these big giant personalities.

Elder McDaniel: The most knowledgeable one about German, this elder will tell you what you need to know. Once he starts you get a fountain of knowledge… drink fast.

Elder Gappmayer: He arrived a day after us, and yet provides the most logical solutions… The laws of gravity do not apply to him.

Peter/Bruder Wilkensen: the teacher of German, who goes from making us laugh for 45 minutes about stupid pun jokes to making us cry while feeling the spirit teaching our fake investigator “Peter”. Who says acting does not feel real. That is the moment I realized I was really a missionary.

Sister Fredrickson: Sweeter than honey and smarter than you. (teacher)

There are three other sisters… Sister Chevca ( it is french written differently):  France Sister Stein: Really refined and then totally fun loving : Netherlands Sister Anderson: sweet and quite, I am sure I seem like a crazy American girl to her because I am always telling loud stories or so tired I am barely eating my pasta. Well, there you go. That is the cast of characters.

From Left: Sister Anderson, Sister Stein, Sister Burgess, Sister Gardner, Sister Chave

From Left: Sister Anderson, Sister Stein, Sister Burgess, Sister Gardner, Sister Chave

I find things to make me smile every day in the midst of all this mind numbing learning. There is so much to improve on and so much that I have to be patience about. That is Sister B and I’s (and all of us…) theme…. Geduld. We all went to the temple today for P-Day. And into town to the supermarket there.

Sister Gardner with Flowers

It is a strange but magical feeling to walk around wearing my badge. Time goes so quickly my lovelies, but please keep writing me, I promise I have read it, and I will reply as soon as possible. I am happy, I am busy, I am still singing, I am working to be patienct with myself and learning better German, I am Sister Gardner.

All My Love, (I’m gonna Pop out now)

Sister Gardner.

Preston LDS Temple Visit on P-day

Preston LDS Temple Visit on P-day

Standing in the Rain  from Left: Elder Gappmayer, Elder McDaniel, Elder McArthur, Elder Erickson, Elder Mantle, Sister Burgess, Sister Gardner

Standing in the Rain from Left: Elder Gappmayer, Elder McDaniel, Elder McArthur, Elder Erickson, Elder Mantle, Sister Burgess, Sister Gardner

England SnowdropsEngland MTC flags

Companions. Sister Burgess and Sister Gardner

Companions. Sister Burgess and Sister Gardner

Those in the England MTC on 3/4/2015

Those in the England MTC on 3/4/2015