In Extraordinary Ways

In Extraordinary Ways
suddenly a day can be so amazing…

About this time last week, sitting in the same internet Cafe, we got a call from our president asking if we had room in our apartment for another sister. Funny considering the mattress has not even been removed from the last time there was a dritt (a companionship of three). An hour later, it was all fixed, on Tuesday evening Sister Strihavka joined our land of Tübingen.. while I was on tausch with sister Poll in Ludwigsburg.

our Dritt

Our Dritt

I was very excited to get to know this new friend and Sister Wilkes and I have been showing her the ropes because she has not been to the MTC yet. She will be serving in the Temple Square Mission, but is serving here while she waits for her visa. She is fantastic, everyone is so happy to have someone that speaks perfect Deutsch. We are pretty excited too. ha ha.

animal wall

Sister Gardner in Ludwigsburg

sis poll

Sister Poll

This week we had our Meet the Mormons movie activity. We cooked so much popcorn on the stove. We got a lot better at it as we went along. We even ventured to make a sugared popcorn, who knew Germans liked their kettle corn. Even though we were worried that not everything would work, with the projectors and players and everything, thanks to the audio knowledge of Elder Petty and a lot of German people all trying to do the same job, ha, it all worked. I, meanwhile was making the saft ( juice) in the kitchen .

Shout out to little powdered juice packets.

Though there were not as many people as we hoped, I think it was an uplifting experience for those who came along. We gave everyone a picture of Christ after the movie and invited them to write their testimony on the back and share it with someone who needed it. What I realized is that I am really out of practice of watching movies. ha ha, it was the best when I got to watch it in English the next day and R was sitting there next to me, making random comments, which is how I often watch movies. I also found out about boxing from a boxers perspective watching a woman do kickboxing. Imagine that.

flower wALL 2

“My kind of wall”

Another adventure of the week was certainly when it started snowing for the first time. I went out to go look at the stars on the balcony and I was surprised not by pinpricks of light but rather little white flecks. We were all dancing around in it on our not so giant balcony. But then we heard the neighbors coming out. We share the balcony with them. There is a cloudy glass looking wall between our two sections and then some little trees.an outing

I am going to be singing In church an advents song, called Macht hoch Die Tür. We went over to the W’s to practice and got soaked from the rain. They packed our wet shoes with newspaper and put them on the radiator to dry. Then we enjoyed a most lovely four course meal, and then we sang and there was hot chocolate and cookies. Seriously, it was like a visit to grandma and grandpa’s.

It makes me happy to hear Schau instead of Gook. Schau means to look, so does Gook, But they don´t use Gook in Austria. But now we have been using it more again because we are speaking in German(Austrian) all the time.

sis s

Sister Strihavka

This week at zone training president was talking about finding people. He said that people on average need to come in contact with the church seven times before they will be ready for it. Every time I speak with someone I don´t know what number they will be, but I do know that I am bringing them one closer, no effort is wasted.

Well, my dears, I need to close this up and I just want to invite you to focus on hope this week. 2 Nephi 31:20- “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life”.

I love you!
Sister Gardner

My Adventure Book

My Book Report
by Patricia Haggard

I’ve got a great adventure book.
It makes me cry and cheer.
So come with me and take a look—
I always keep it near.
With travels through the wilderness
And battles fought with might,
A compass guiding through the mist,
And stones that shine with light.
While robbers freely roam the land,
Great wonders save the day.
And heroes bravely make a stand
With people who obey.
Now each adventure helps me see
We have a home above.
So come and read my book with me—
It’s filled with Jesus’s love.

I’d Be Delighted

I’d be delighted

Delight is a lovely word.

It is not just happy, or glad or sort-of-pumped-up-but-also-a-little-bit-tired-so-wahoo-everyone-else-is-excited-so-i-guess-i-am-too sort of feeling.

No. It is Delighted.

I am Delighted to be a missionary.

It is exhilarating to see people learning and always trying to think of new good ways to help and love them. Every time I read stories in the New Era or Ensign, I see it. I see this from different perspective. From a missionary perspective, which ironically includes see it from everyone else’s view too.  From long time members, from people on the street, from recent converts, people who have never prayed in their life, children, parents, Germans, those who have lost their faith, students, friends, and hundreds of other people we meet throughout the week.

Perspective is what I am working to get, to gain the perspective that helps me love people how they need it. To inspire and push just enough to help them find their courage to try, to exercise their faith.

The one perspective I don´t know if I will ever totally reach is Christ’s. If I understood that perfectly, I would be an unstoppable missionary. I am working to be more Christ like, so that I can invite the spirit who will help me understand.

This week was filled with many good things, it went by really fast, and I think I will just give some highlights of this week.

  • Helping the R family as they are cleaning up and repairing and rebuilding their house that was burnt a few months ago.
    Service

    Service

    Service with a Smile

    Service with a Smile

    Helping to fix it up.

    Helping to fix it up.

  • Going to zone training in Stuttgart and then grabbing an ice cream cone and sitting in the beautiful main garden with fountains and happy people sitting on benches and enjoying the good weather.
  • Meeting with K and his many “brothers” in their cramped apartment with the elders. He thanked us for coming to him so that everyone can receive the gospel.
  • R got the priesthood on Sunday.
  • We are helping D and G get closer to setting a baptismal date.
  • Our investigator I had a choir concert and we were able to go. The German choir sang all English African spirituals. The ironic part of her singing a solo about taking the yolk upon us, is that she does not believe in Jesus Christ. We are working on that.
  • We made schnitzel. It is not Herbs but it was good.

    Making Schnitzel

    Making Schnitzel

  • Cleaning the Church and Chinese food with V and The S family.
  • Little towns and lovely people.Tubingen river

I am sorry this letter is a bit shorter this day, but I want to extend a challenge to you.

Look this week for someone who´s burden can be lightened, and then act.

Be Delighted!

Love, Sister Gardner

Can you see the face?

Can you see the face?

Colorful Building

Colorful Building

in Tubingen

Fun  fountain with animals

Fun fountain with animals and Sister Wilkes

Tübingen at Night

Tübingen at Night

A cute little Cafe

A cute little Cafe

Those Things that Make You Smile

Ten great things from last week:

1.Test flavors at Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory

  1. A burrito, finally.
  2. Leaves crunching underfoot
  3. French toast
  4. 2 Nephi 31:20
  5. Singing Missionaries.
  6. Sister Wilkes and I get to create a musical number for Christmas Conference.
  7. 5 new investigators
  8. Watching little birds on the balcony.
  9. Birthday emails.

Wonderful thing from this week;

  1. Elder Petty´s one liners
  2. Ice cream in Stuttgart
  3. J, the American staying here, saw us on the street while he was at a cafe with his friend from Georgia. (the country) He ran up to us and asked us to come say hello. He brought her to church. Unfortunately, there is not a Georgian copy of the Book of Mormon yet, but she is fantastic.
  4. We got to eat Chinese all you can eat after cleaning the church with one of the American families.
  5. Little ducks

I’m Making My Entrance Now…..With All That I am Somehow

I can feel it, can you feel it?

I can feel it, that happy heartbeat that races when I am able to help someone. The moment before the words come out and I ask that first question. When you wait hoping, pleading in your heart that they will walk through those church doors. When you look over and see their eyes filled with tears or the quiet still that comes when their hearts are open too. I am feeling so glad. My heart is full as I serve. I feel an urgency to speak with everyone and I am learning to rely again and again on faith.

Birthday Selfie with Sister Wilks.

Birthday Selfie with Sister Wilks.

This week I turned 20. Wah hoo! I made it two decades. Everything I have been learning during that time has been preparing me for what was to come. Preparing me for this week, for this day, for this very moment. God’s plan is a perfect one because it is constantly pushing us to grow and learn enough that we are called to be better and implore him to help us, but strong enough that we can lift others with us as we climb.

Thanks for all of the gifts, cards and birthday greetings.

Thanks for all of the gifts, cards and birthday greetings.

I thank those who sent me their love on my birthday. Thank you for the well wishes and thoughts, it really meant a lot. Thank you also to the elders who called just moments after I woke up being the first, after my companion of course, to wish a happy birthday to a sister still just sitting up after turning off the alarm. Thank you to French toast and primary programs, and funny little Urdu\Romanian speaking couples that give you cola and cookies after just meeting you the day before. Thank you for being able to find a fun place to eat that sells dinner crepes. Thank you for laugher and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

“It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today.” – Joseph Fielding Smith

I like this one because it helps me focus on one day at a time and helps me appreciate the progress I am making. I wish I were better at lots of things. I feel often insufficient to serve and love these people with everything they deserve, but then I think again and have faith in the fact that I am called to these people for a reason and purpose. They need me in some way.

I am really glad to be working with new converts in this ward. This is something new for me, and it is helping me really gain a new perspective of the kind of ward member I want to be when I get back from my mission. It helps me realize again the enormous faith it takes to be the pioneer in a family, the first to take the big step back to our Father in Heaven.

Speaking of new converts, I got an email today that W was able to pass the sacrament for the first time yesterday and that he bore his testimony for the ward. I felt this bubbling up excitement in my very heart and soul when I read those words. It was a glorious feeling of peace and I did a little happy dance in my chair when I read that. Wow, there is nothing like that, to hear that they are strong and happy…

I am running short on time to write, but want to leave a testimony of the importance of love. Loving people no matter where they are on their journey. Working to love them perfectly like the Savior does. It helps you feel how to help them, and even though I am not a perfect teacher, or friend, or daughter or future something, or missionary, or 20 year old, or sister or human being; when I rely on most importantly acting with Christ like love, those I care for will be able to feel it through the spirit.

Be Brave! Enjoy the sky and be still, knowing He is there.

Love, Sister Gardner

Pictures from the Hike up Schneeberg a couple weeks ago before transferring to Tubingen.

Schneeberg, here we come.

Schneeberg, here we come.

Sister Mountain Goats?

Sister Mountain Goats?

The WN Family plus their favorite RM on Schneeberg

The WN Family plus their favorite RM on Schneeberg

On Top of the World

On Top of the World

At the Top

At the Top

We made it!

We made it!

Better…Than This Dazzling Plot

Better……Than This Dazzling Plot

How fitting that I should start my new adventure in Germany with the story of Jo March and her German Professor. I know that this place is the new chapter of my story and this story will be a good one. Filled with exciting people and places and new experience and a forecast of fall leaves and smiles.

I cannot lie, I shed a few tears as I left Vienna, but more importantly my Sister Pratt, but Sister Ahlm was there with a hug and an excitement for my new area. She has served there and during the ride she told me about people I needed to take care of and people in the ward. She gave me finding tips and ideas and left me with a stack of envelopes to give to her old friends and a Chinese bible that needed a new specially selected home.

Goodbyes before the train leaves with sister Pratt.

Goodbyes with Sister Pratt before the train leaves.

I was pleased to meet a lot of new friends and lots of old ones. My birth brother from Graz (Elder McArthur) was also talking the trek across country to Deutschland and Elder Call with his guitar slung across his back. I rode among friends and laughed and said goodbye and marveled at how the time is passing. I was with many of my MTC brothers. We can’t believe that we are already as far as we are now on our missions. It is good to know they are all doing well and off to continue this fantastic work.

WN Family's last outing.

WN Family’s last outing.

On the Transfer Train.  It's Elder Erickson.

On the Transfer Train. It’s Elder Erickson.

Tübingen is a college town; seriously, there are so, so many young people here. There is a beautiful river and brightly colored houses. Sister Wilkes and I go running in the morning through a leaf-covered path in a streetlight lit park. Sister Wilkes and I have actually know each other for a long time, we played on a soccer team together when we where small and she is in my stake at home. It was funny to surprise members with that fact when they asked where I was from. She knows my home, I can describe exactly where the places are that I tell her about and she lets me know about those who I have not heard from in a long time. It is nice, we now have he chance to get to know each other better. She is an awesome missionary, I am just going to try and soak up all of her missionary knowledge that I can.

Sister Wilks and Sister Gardner

Sister Wilks and Sister Gardner.

On Saturday we went with our GML (Ward Mission Leader) and two ward members to go do an Austellung in…. Reutlingen! It was my first Austellung. We set up a table and a display and were able to give out 13 copies of the Book of Mormon in one day. I met a girl named C who I really hope calls us back, she was very hesitant, but we had such a quick connection and even friendship. At the end of my discussion with this young Romanian, English and German speaking student with the snowflake earrings and the long black hair, I asked if I could hug her. She smiled saying she had been just about to ask me that too. She is someone I wish and I could get to know, because I am sure that in some sort of incomprehensible way, I was able to meet an old friend in the middle of a crowded street market atop the great cobble stones in a land in which my Grandfather served.

In Reutlingen

In Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

I felt a sort of energy and drive when I realized that Reutlingen was the place my grandfather started his mission 56 years ago. It helped me feel that I am indeed supposed to be here.

I am also excited to start building my new family. Elder Maw and Elder Petty, Sister Wilkes, Elder Erickson and Elder McDaniel are my new district- New family and a good mix of family reunion.

The first Sunday went all right, I taught lesson number 27 in the gospel principles class. It was an interesting one to do in German, but I feel like it went pretty well. I am excited for this new challenge. I am going to keep things rolling in this ward, working to take care of everyone.

Tubingen Family Elder Petty, Elder Maw and Sister Wilks

Tubingen Family – Elder Petty, Elder Maw and Sister Wilks

I just wanted to share a lovely experience from my first Sunday eating appointment.

There is a family in this ward that recently lost their daughter. We were able to help comfort them. The father wanted me to sing for him once he found out I sang. He sat down at his old piano and after playing a selection of Bach for us, started playing Christmas hymns, which I sang gladly in German. The last song he played was ” Be still my Soul” the song that was played at their daughters funeral. He wanted me to sing it in English. As I sang, tears filled the eyes of the mother and her husband and the spirit entered as a warm strong feeling of comfort and longing. I finished, he played the last few chords and we all pondered in silence. I hope you know that breathless quiet the spirit can bring. He wiped his tears from his eyes and closed the music book on the piano; we were able to give them comfort on this day when they missed her greatly. We bore testimony about the plan of happiness and they finished by saying that they know they will see her again. I wish that all pains and sorrows and worries could go away when we want them too, but the fact that we have them helps us to rely on the saving grace and love of our Redeemer, and the Atonement.

….

Be still my soul: thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as he has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below…

Well, we are going to go catch a train to chocolate heaven now, so I will catch you next week.

All my love,

Sister Gardner

Tubingen, Germany.  Love the colorful building.

Tubingen, Germany. Love the colorful building.

On my way to Tubingen, Germany

On my way to Tubingen, Germany

Out Balcony.  Sister Gardner says she can't wait to get at the remaining plants and fix it all up. This is one of her favorite thing about the new apartment.

Out Balcony. Sister Gardner says she can’t wait to get at the remaining plants and fix it all up. This is one of her favorite thing about the new apartment.