Quick Conclusions Often Lead the Best of Us Astray.

Study Time Selfie of Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner

Study Time Selfie of Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner

When I first got here I was feeling like there was so much to do and no matter how much I was working at it there would still be an immense amount to complete. While that still is basically true, I have seen so much during this week that shows me that God really has reasons for my darling Sister Pratt and me to be here. So no, a week of zeros at the beginning of the first week of work here did not reflect the work we were doing, all those discussions and plans and prayers and questions are starting to show themselves in the form of miracles.

Look who was here last. Sister Winters is a friend from home in Lindon.

Look who was here last. Sister Winters is a friend from home in Lindon.

This week started out running (or for today’s email theme galloping) “Cheese cakey” yes, I know, deal with it. Ha ha. Anyhow, we helped set up for a ward relief society breakfast and got to know more of the sisters so much better, also I got to try this fantastic thing on toast which was like Nutella with little frosted flakes mixed all together and made into a spread. Also lemon curd from Romania. I love these Austrian people with their sandwich meat and cheese for breakfast. We left quickly after for zone training. It was so nice to see Sister Smith again and my two Graz brothers and the lovely Miss who is the new member of the Graz family. We played an awesome object lesson game at the conference that was so fun and quite hilarious.

My favorite flower can with some little flowers always brightens any window.

My favorite flower can with some little flowers always brighten any window. ( ah, i got a fruit fly too) Can you tell is has been raining?

I met my GML ( Ward Mission Leader) this week J is awesome. He is from Spain and his wife is from here in Austria. Their children are fluent in English, German and Spanish, four sweet little girls. It was lovely to get to know them. It was wonderful, the girls sang to me; singing apparently the world’s favorite song….Let it Go. That song has some sticking power. Anyhow.

Probably happened when the Elders were here.

Probably happened when the Elders were here.

There were so many good things that happened so here is the crash course. Ready, set, go.

We met C. She is a long time investigator so this meeting was more so she could get to know us. She is actually having a break from teaching because she has been learning for five years and making little progress but we are always there for her. She and I just really clicked I looked in her eyes and I felt like I knew her. I hope we get to meet again.
Hey J_ _ _. ( insert Beatles song here) Yeah, we met with our African friend J this week. He has so many deep thoughts and feelings and though it took a few tries to meet with him we finally met up and had a good discussion, he really believes in God but unlike most people from his country he does not have as much faith and knowledge of the bible. We see him around quite often and had a lesson with him underneath the overhang of a shop when it was pouring rain. Whenever we see him I can’t help but say, hey J_ _ _ with the song playing in my head.

Schwester E. This woman is lovely and has just been going through a hard time but we visited her and are praying for her.

I am telling you folks you make sure you read scriptures, pray and attend church each week and you will not lose your faith, it is when the hard times pull us away from these three things that Satan separates us from our life line. Hold on, with faith. Don’t let him get you down. He would have you believe those things are not going to help at all but, that is not true.

W. B., this man is a testimony to the fact that everyone has his or her own journey to the gospel. We were drinking cold root beer in their artwork of a house at the foot of a mountain down the street from a castle, talking with the family and he just pipes in with this. ” So, the Bishop and I decided today that my baptism will be on October 10th.
Uh. Ok. Wonderful. Just set your own baptismal date. It sure makes our job easy. His wife has know for a very long time he would someday be a member but now her wish that she though might be for the afterlife is coming true and we are helping this inspiring man on his way. God has been preparing him. They said it was like a portrait they have been painting for more than a decade, each little stroke, “Now I am out of paint,” he jokes, “Better do it now”. Totally inspiring.

One thought I wanted to share before I go.
I was thinking about ballet. I remember being so overwhelmed one day in class. There is so much to think about at one time. Shoulders open, head position, rib cage together, hips in the correct place, the shape of your hand and on and on. I felt like I could not think about it all at once. That is how I feel as a missionary sometimes, there is so much to do but it is hard to think how to do it all at the same time, but sometimes things just become muscle memory through practice and you get stronger and them turning on pointe is not so much of a dangerous adventure but a thing of grace and beauty. I am not always graceful as I continue to learn my way but I do love it and it is getting easier. I focus on specific places to improve and it is better.

My Favorite Ballet Picture of Edgar Degas

Sister GArdner’s Favorite Ballet Picture by Edgar Degas

Well I am off to Vienna today, and probably going to eat some ice cream.

mom's note- If this is the ice cream they are sharing, i want some too. Yummy!

mom’s note- If this is the ice cream they are sharing, i want some too. Yummy!

Well you dear ones what do I say for this day, the day before I will have been six months on this mission for my father. Probably only can say that it has gone by at a breakneck speed just as I knew it would. I have only a year left of serving as Sister Gardner, in this way anyway. I am going to make those 365 days count.

Love you all………love is all you need. (and the plan of salvation)
No big deal
Sister Gardner

I’ll Heed Your Call

I’ll heed your call, no need to small, and face the fire below for you!

Tis true!

Two companions more than sisters…

Two companions when all others flee than we remain.

Tis true, tis true … True companions are we two!

Sister Pratt

Sister Pratt

Sister Gardner

Sister Gardner

I feel like this happy little melody is a good way to start my email this week. (Song from The Mystery of Edwin Drood) If you will recall, the two who sing this song actually have a very strained sort of relationship, but the sisters I am talking about today are united in their efforts in the land of Wiener Neustadt.

Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner singing hymns after exercising.

Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner singing hymns after exercising.

So dear ones some amazing things started coming together this week; new faces becoming new friends.

Also we attempted to get bikes. …. Cough, cough.

No, it was all right we are going to go buy one this week, though the bishop’s wife was kind enough to lend us her bike. But it got a flat and a flat tire doesn’t go so far even when you try to repair it three times. Even with the Elders and Bishop and bike shop guy. Heheh. We learned that it is really hard to ride with bags and two people on one bike. Don’t worry we only tried that once and we had our freshly purchased bike helmets to protect us. We probably looked like a circus act or something.

The Bike: Thanks to Elder Call and Elder Chilcutt

The Bike: Thanks to Elder Call and Elder Chilcutt

So we met two Arabian gentlemen this week and to our excitement they came to sport night! We ran into them, on the way from the church. K and O are both about 25. One already somehow had a Book of Mormon. He was really excited to hear from us and told us he has lot of questions. We invited them to play soccer and they are both so good at soccer. The next day we tried to meet with them, but they got home really late. Well, missionary standard late and we could not wait for them anymore. They texted us that they would be at Hauptplatz until midnight if we wanted to get a coffee with them. Oh, no. But the next time we met them at three and we helped them understand better what we do as missionaries, a.k.a. teach people not go on coffee dates. Ha ha. Luckily they both seem to have real interest still so that is good.

K has so many questions about the differences of Muslim and Christianity. We continually have to explain that we are not catholic and don’t know about the pope. It was sort of a difficult lesson because he was going all over the place with his questions and like Korihor wants proof. Confused how Jesus can be the Son of God. Confused why there are so many religions. Confused about how to be “saved”. He has so many questions. We handled it pretty well though even though he was a force to try and scatter the lesson. He is going to read in his Arabic Book of Mormon and read the pamphlet we gave him. Today we made a whole plan of arrack how to answer his questions and bring the spirit. The other hard part was that his friend only speaks German. I would go to translate for his friend and then K would interrupt with another idea and it would get confusing for O. Then they would both speak in Arabic to each other. Oh goodness the adventures we have. But I can see it. Their spirits are hungry for the truth.

Soccer on the Hauptplatz.

Soccer on the Hauptplatz.

We also got to know a man on Sunday that the elders told us about. His wife is a member and he is not. He has been taught so many times the lessons but now he has decided to get baptized. We are the ones to prepare him. His wife said, in her English accent, that we have it easy because he has already decided to be baptized. And then he interjected with a good-hearted laugh, “Oh no sisters you still have to convince me”. He smiled and let us know he was joking. He is a fun sarcastic fellow. But during the gospel doctrines class he gave all the answers in the lesson about the priesthood. I know that will be a big blessing for him and his family.

One of the families from Graz has moved here and the brother of one of the members from Graz lives here too. I was able to enjoy a lovely vegan chocolate cake with my friend J and get to know more of the members this week. Part of being in Weiner Neustadt means traveling to different cities by train to teach members or investigators. That is a very common thing. I am going to have quite a collection of city maps.

Settlers Game and Vegan Chocolate Cake.

Settlers Game and Vegan Chocolate Cake.

The elders are teaching a fun little kid. He has the fullest, blackest, slightly curly mullet. He is nine years old; his whole family was investigating but now only him. But his father came to sport night and his mother has been in church the last two Sundays. She wants us to come visit with the elders when thy come to teach K, hopefully that means we can teach her!

Well I am feeling so happy out here. It is slow getting started and I still have not quite had time to unpack my suitcase all the way away, but good things are happening and we are getting some new things started. There is actually a lot of member support. There are some people here who are really big blessings in our lives.

The best time for me is when I am conversing with someone, talking with them and street contacting is starting to be more of an adventure for me.

I also love the quiet time at the end of the day when I am painting watercolor thank you notes and drinking cold sparkling water while sometimes singing along with whatever song we are listening to.

The rooftops in the evening.

The rooftops in the evening.

I have really felt peace a few times this week by being reminded about the enormity and love of the atonement. I hope you can feel it too.

Love Sister Gardner

Object lesson of the day:

Think about a dead light bulb. No matter how many times you flip the switch it does not come on. There is no light. That is like baptizing without the restored priesthood power or any other church really. A light bulb still looks like a light bulb but it does not serve its full purpose of bringing the power into light and helping the people make a full connection with God. (Object lesson for you today)

The Priesthood light.

The Priesthood light.

Happy Things

  1. Scrambled pancakes for dinner
  2. Good dreams
  3. Someone who told you they are already planning on being baptized and just need to be taught for review. And they have been preparing since 2006 and now you are the one who has an appointment with them next week.
  4. Vegan cake and soy milk
  5. The new bike the elders put together for us.
  6. Learning how to stuff a raw chicken and sew it up to cook and eat from the bishop’s wife. A little gross but tasted good.
  7. The men from Arabia you invited to sport night are amazing at soccer.
  8. A little fall of rain.
  9. Flower markets in the mornings.
  10. Hugs

One Bite at a Time

Food for Thought this week courtesy of Shel Silverstein  

We can do anything one bite at a time.

Melinda Mae

by Shel Silverstein


melinda mae 

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,

Who ate a monstrous whale?

She thought she could,

She said she would,

So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said, “You’re much too small,”

But that didn’t bother Melinda at all,

She took little bites and she chewed very slow,

Just like a little girl should…

…and eighty-nine years later she ate that whale

Because she said she would!!!

melinda mae 98

There You Are

“There You Are. We but care that there you are”. That is what I am going to be singing in my head to every single person in this itty-bitty city. Because seeing someone on the street that is not the main square of the whole city is literally like finding a four-leaf clover or the opening to a musical based on Charles Dickens last work. Actually, I am not sure how it is like that; you could say it is a mystery in fact. Heh Heh. Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to……

The Mystery Wiener Neu Stadt!


The lights come up on the young Sister Gardner and her glowing companion Sister Pratt.

Sis G and Sister Pratt

Sis G and Sister Pratt

Thrown swiftly into a town and place with no knowledge of the prior lives lived here the two find themselves in a mansion of a missionary apartment. Goodness gracious who would have thought that there could be separate rooms for sleeping and studying and eating and sitting. On the cusp of the Hauptplaz (main town square), the sisters look out upon the world they now hold in their hands. They are excited and frightened to begin the next chapter of this story.

The New aprtment right on the town square. Their building is the one on the left.

The New aprtment right on the town square. Their building is the one on the left.

One last Graz family photo.  Elder Wise, Elder McArthur and Sister Smith.

One last Graz family photo. Elder Wise, Elder McArthur Sister Gardner and Sister Smith.

Yes, I have left my darling Graz behind and now turn to this wonderful new place. We have been working hard these past few days to get on our feet and understand what the frabjous is happening (thank you Lewis Carroll) We now have acquired a map, an area book, and a ward list. We have a phone and an apartment building that smells like incense because of the hippy store in the shop next door. (all the classy hippy hipster smells) and lots of Spanish copies of the Book of Mormon.  (mom’s note- I have heard the missionaries teach as much in Spanish in this area as German or English)

If you think you keep hearing someone singing show tunes, that is probably you hearing sister Pratt and I. All. The. Time. I hope you like it. You are very welcome.

The peacocks of Graz.

The peacocks of Graz.

But really, I am so excited to be in this new place.  Is it a little terrifying and already a little hard? Yes. Do we have to sort of re learn our finding techniques? Yes. Do we have so much love to give to this little stadt of Austria? Also yes. I can already tell there are going to be miracles here, with the people I meet and the ward I come to love.. Speaking of that….

Something really lovely happened at our member eating appointment yesterday after church. The Elders had already told us that the ward was so excited to have sisters and then we where talking with this family and they where asking what we liked to do, and we both have a great love for music and also know that it is a special medium for the spirit to work though. We shared this and they looked a little surprised. They told us they had been praying that the sisters who would come would have musical talents and know about it because they want to do another musical fireside. I felt this feeling of peace come over me. I am so glad I am here.

The musical fireside is something that I have been wondering about since I came on my mission, it is still a few months away, but hopefully I can A) stay and put it on or sing in it or B) help it get all planned and ready to go. We want to try to teach voice lessons here and get two language classes going. We also want to start up a FHE for the youth once a week. There is so much to do, it is sometimes like trying to swallow a whale in one bite, but I think Shel Silverstein wrote a poem about that and it turned out all right for her. Melinda Mae did it one bite at a time.

Little Beautiful flowers

Little Beautiful flowers

Some other good things this week: We got to know the bishop over an intense game of Football (Soccer for you yanks). Heh, heh. We hope that more people will come this next week, but it is good to offer these activities for the ward and investigators and anyone else who would like to kick around a happily worn soccer ball on the back lawn of the church.

I have be trying to read a bit in Doctrine & Covenants this week and I found something really lovely that I wanted to share.

“And no one can assist in this work except [she] shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope and charity being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to [Her] care.” D&C 12:8

This little part has been entrusted to my care. My companion and I are responsible for helping people come to Christ. It is a big job. Everyone has something or someone or some(insert word here) entrusted to them. How are we taking care of what we have been entrusted with? May we have the courage to do it the way Christ would want us to. Well I know my adventure will continue. I am glad to be busy and my heart feels full and glad when I am able to talk with others about what I hold dear to my heart. Getting better all the time.

Luckily for me, the people here still use Baba to say goodbye.

So, Baba! All my love.

Sister Calee Gardner

Mixnitz Hike

Mixnitz Hike

Mixnitz Hike: Sister Smith, Sis G, Elder McArthur and Elder Wise

Mixnitz Hike: Sister Smith, Sis G, Elder McArthur and Elder Wise

Mixnitz Hike

Mixnitz Hike

Today While the Sun Shines

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught, “Music can set an atmosphere of worship which invites [the] spirit of revelation, of testimony.”

I loved this quote I read this week in a talk by Elder S Gifford Nielson.

(This is the part where Sister Gardner had written this lovely little opening paragraph and introduction to her week. This paragraph fell victim to technology. I realized this as she sent one last little email saying, “ if the beginning of the actual letter doesn’t make sense, it is because I believe the whole first part didn’t send… and is lost now…I cant find it…. and I’m out of time. I don’t love technology. I think I am a quill pen and paper person. But, then again if that were the case you probably would not hear this message for three months. #oceanvoyage  So…..write something for me”. Ha Ha! I cannot in any way do justice to her writing style. I can however, fill you in on some of the information she would love to share that is not included in the letter.)

Mom’s note: This last Saturday the transfer call came and she is being transferred to Wiener Neustadt, a city just 30 minutes south of Vienna (Wien). Her companion will be Sister Pratt from Maine and they will be reopening this area. She is excited and…..nervously excited. She is really sad to be leaving Sister Smith and all those she had come to love so much in Graz. A part of her heart will remain with those beautiful people there. I know she found the peace felt when you are home. Now it is time to grow again. Sister Smith is staying in Graz to train a new Golden (the term for a brand new missionary).

Imagine that last paragraph and the tie in of the aforementioned quote of President Packer as her introduction and I will turn the writing back over to Sister Gardner.

It has been wonderful to see the progression of E from staying upstairs when we would come to now joining in, listening and giving feedback about our Father in Heaven and also her older brother Jesus Christ. I have seen her go from not being willing to be with us at all to now coming to church often and giving her own feedback and observations during lessons. I know her mother is grateful and I just feel happy and safe and so loved when I go to their home.

With the Bishop holding up his matching red umbrella.

With the Bishop holding up his matching red umbrella.

I was able to meet with E. again before I left and we hope we can see Sis B tonight.

I have loved having the AIMS (American Institute of Musical Studies) students here; they help me remember that even though Americans are usually loud, I do love them too. Ha Ha. W is such a good missionary even now; she has worked to be a good example. She simply invites. I hope I can be able to apply that to my own work.

I was reading today about Oliver Cowdery wanting to translate the Book of Mormon. I know I have been in places like that before where I wish I could be given the certain responsibility or I wish things would go the way I have planned the. But God always has a plan. I need to be willing to give myself over to his will and plan for me. I have my own gifts and talents and callings that I can contribute to this work.

I also read “Today While the Sun Shines” after finding in it in my scripture study written on my margin of Doctrine and Covenants 6:3.I also read “Today While the Sun Shines” after finding in it in my scripture study written on my margin of Doctrine and Covenants 6:3.

6:3 Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.

It is a little different than Doctrine and Covenants 4 but I really like it. We have only this one-day. All the work we do, all the love we share on a mission or at home adds to that harvest. But also we are able to build up our own reservoir of spiritual strength. I am committed to work hard during my time here; I am looking for more ways to love.

1.Today, while the sun shines, work with a will;

Today all your duties with patience fulfill.

Today, while the birds sing, harbor no care;

Call life a good gift; call the world fair

2.Today seek the treasure better than gold,

The peace and the joy that are found in the fold.

Today seek the gems that shine in the heart;

While here we labor, choose the better part.

3.Today seek for goodness, virtue, and truth,

As crown of your life and the grace of your youth.

Today, while the heart beats, live to be true,

Constant and faithful all the way through.

I am seeking these treasures better than gold; the “better” treasures that endure beyond today or tomorrow but help us always.

In my new dirndl by the tree at the church.

In my new dirndl by the tree at the church.

I think the part that really touched me as I read it was “Today while the heart beats, live to be true. Constant and faithful all the way through”.

Looking at it with more of the eternal perspective, our life is really so, so short. I have the gift to be here, to have a beating heart, to be alive, to be joyful and I am so grateful. I will stay constant.

I am not doing this all perfectly. I am still learning so many things every single day. Sometimes people just look at you weird when you start to talk to them, sometimes they have invited you to teach their whole family but then disappear, sometimes they stay awhile, sometimes they are ready, sometimes they are not. I am glad however that I am the one who invites and in doing so I invite myself as well.

The One True Church

The One True Church

On another note: Well, I discovered that the wall in our closet is actually wallpaper and it does not react well to you taking off things that you taped there for inspiration, but that is what glue is for. Especially glue that you both bought two off because you thought it was a stick and it turns out is super glue, so you are both gluing in pictures to a tusch (exchange) book with super glue. Heh, heh. Oh well, the pictures are not going anywhere. Sister Smith and I have worked hard together and had lots of fun. We have found more potentials during this time than I have ever before, and we are continually helping people to the light.

And won’t it be fun to do it all again.

Man, I love this and I love you too.

Sister Gardner

Following is part of the talk by Elder Neilson that Sister Gardner loved so much this week. Following the excerpt is the link to read the entire talk. It’s a great one.

At the end of a cultural seminar in Greece, author Robert Fulghum asked the organizer of the event, Dr. Alexander Papaderos, “What is the meaning of life?” Dr. Papaderos responded by pulling a small, round mirror from his wallet. Then he said:

“When I was a small child, during the war [World War II], we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

“… I kept only the largest piece. … I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine–in deep holes and crevices and dark closets.”

Reflecting light into inaccessible places became a game for him. But when he became an adult, Dr. Papaderos realized that his childhood game was a metaphor for his life’s mission.

“I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light–the light of truth, understanding, and knowledge–is there, and that light will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

“… I can reflect light into the dark places of this world … and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

When we encounter people who are struggling, can we reflect the Savior’s light to encourage them? The Apostle Paul taught the Romans, “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

Art outside the Opera House and a beautiful sky to match.

Art outside the Graz Opera House and a beautiful sky to match.


Visiting opera and music friends to the ward. Elder Wise, Elder McArthur and Sister Smith are in this group as well.

Visiting opera and music friends to the ward. Elder Wise, Elder McArthur and Sister Smith are in this group as well.