What a Wonderful Time to Love

What a wonderful time to love,
What a wonderful time to be here and alive
What a wonderful time to be living and giving
A wonderful time to Love.
I did not realize how much more those words would mean to me as I sang them a year ago. Now as I spend my Christmas time literally talking to everyone about Christmas and Christ and the peace it brings, I cannot but feel that I am giving and alive in a more profound way than I have been before. It is funny how when your life gets swallowed up in the service of others, how much you actually as a person are not taken away from or weakened rather strengthened and refined into something more.
This last week flew by. They all seem to these days. It is almost like a week is one day and we just take little naps in between. When your life is in six week increments it changes things a bit.

Tübingen greenhouse

Tübingen indoor garden on pday.

pday outing

P day Adventures

Fun with Finding this week- ready set go!
• We stopped a couple the man had his long grey brown hair in a ponytail. We introduced ourselves and started talking about Christmas. They don´t really celebrate Christmas. They don´t have a Christmas tree. But they don´t mind it when someone decorates the tree in front of their yard, because cutting a tree is a waste. He introduced himself by his first name and then started explaining du sprach to me. Oh goodness. at the end we tried to give them a card they said no, but then he said. I also am part of a group, ” it is called the free hugs initiative” then the hippie couple hugged us.
• Then there was J, who really just wants to go to culinary school.
• And the little Chinese medical student waiting for a bus eating with chopsticks.
• The guy with dreads wearing a tardis scarf
• The lady on the bike who celebrates the birth of her brother instead of Christ on Christmas.
• Lots of people who for some reason have no time for Christ while in the process of buying CHRISTmas presents
• young women in a Christmas booth offering wares from India and the Himalayas. Prayer flags anyone?
• Cute little Russian moms with strollers
• and lots of doors after surprise singing performances.
I could go on. But I think you get the idea.
We had a beautiful lesson with J, we watched the restoration film, and I felt the spirit so strongly. He did not commit to be baptized but he is getting closer. He says he will pray about it, if he needs to do it again. I know that the spirit is there when we teach him because he and I are both edified and we rejoice together.

chocolate Santa

A Chocolate Santa

I have been singing Christmas carols and eating Christmas cookies, we are excited to go to Stuttgart today with F and the elders to experience once more the magic of the Christmas market. Last week we went to the indoor gardens in Tübingen. They were beautiful.
I invite you to be ready for Christ’s coming. To reflect on the words of the angel, ” good tidings of great joy”… How is Christ brining you joy and peace to your heart this December? This year? what are you going to change because of his birth? What for you was born into the world with his coming?

…..Today I am talking about Christmas. What about you?

Merry Christmas,
Love, Sister Gardner

A wonderful video:

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-12-0040-rejoice?category=2015-first-presidencys-christmas-devotional-video-quotes&lang=eng&cid=HP_MO_12-14-2015_dOCS_fCNWS_xLIDyI-7_

 

Sisters, Sisters…There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

Sisters Sisters
There were never such devoted sisters.
Never had to have a chaperon no sir,
I´m there to keep my eye on her.

Sharing caring every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain Wi-lkes left for home,
We wore the clothes she left “home”
( I have no time to be clever today)

All kinds of weather we stick together
The same in the rain or sun,
Two different faces, but in tight places
Think and we teach as one.

Uh huh

Those who´ve seen us
know that not a thing could come between us
closing doors have tried to split us up
but no one can.
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
( but really, I will put him in the hospital er. uh. I mean a very firm, very scary handshake)
Lord help us, sisters, to find people to teach the plan.
Hello all, all the way from Tübingen, Deutschland. I am bringing you the news of the work of salvation. You keep working on yours

The dritt

The Fearless Dritt before Sis Wilkes left on transfer day.

Goodbye sis wilkes

Sunny transfer day.

This week our fearless dritt became a equally fearless duo. It was strange to say goodbye to sister Wilkes. A) because it did not really feel like she was leaving for home b) She was leaving for Lindon. For my home town, my people. I kept telling her, “you get to hug my mom”. And then the next day again. You are actually going to be there. You get to hug my mom.

(Note from Sis G’s mom: After Sister Wikes homecoming I went up to her and said, can I just give you a little hug, you were just with Sis G. She was holding her scriptures and as I went to hug her she said, Oh no. She put down her scriptures and then proceeded to give me the biggest bear hug. You know, the kind that make happy tears come out of your eyes because you know that hug was a long distance hug from your daughter. A wonderful hug.)

Heh. heh. maybe that sounds silly, but It was this reoccurring thought, and now she is back. And now it is team Gardner and Strihavka. It has been really fun to learning from her as I am working to teach her. She really is amazing and I am loving speaking German with her all the time. However in the morning right when I wake up my German is pretty funny to listen to. We are still going running every morning. Yeah for bodies that are now used to waking up at 6 :20. I never would have thought it was possible. ha ha, No, it is possible.

Christmas market and Sis G

Christmas Market in Esslingen

market 4

Medieval Archery?

Something I have noticed these last few days is how when I am falling asleep I am thinking about the people I am teaching, or about certain questions Sister S asked me, or how I am going to talk with people tomorrow. I still think about things like music and my friends and families, but more and more the people here are becoming my family.

I felt that especially last night as I was riding home from Stuttgart with our GML and two of our new converts R and R. R had her arm around me and was trying to remember the words of a song in English. Bruder H is following his navigator device. R is playing with his phone and I am trying to tell stories about the tradition of going through tunnels on road trips in German. I tried to start up a sort of conversation about the Christmas devotional, I loved hearing about all of their different perspectives. I just really felt a feeling of comradery among a few lovely people who have found their place to fit in among the gospel.

(Link to Christmas Devotional): https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/archive/christmas-devotional/2015/12?cid=HP_SU_12-6-2015_dPFD_fMLIB_xLIDyL1-C_&lang=eng

I read this story this week that I think fits in with this. A young man watches a bag of seeds fall off of a truck into some drying asphalt. frustrated and not having time to pick all of the seeds out the driver leaves. The young man seeing the worth of the seeds goes and gathers them despite their now dirty exterior. He plants them and takes care of them, and these thrown out seeds yield a glorious harvest that benefits his family the whole year. It did not matter that they had been forgotten before, now they where a gathered treasure.

This fits in with missionary work perfectly. Obviously. Because the people we find and love and support, they are often like these seeds, with so much potential that just needs cultivation. and luckily… I am a Gardner.

The lady teaching the class on Sunday asked the question ” what do you think of when I say the word Gardener” Some great answers….. Spiritual. Then me ” I think of my name.” silence and then suddenly a bunch of giggling German ladies. I went on to back that all up with relating it to working in the Lords garden, but I was happy it made them chuckle.Esslingen 3EsslingenEsslingen 4

This week was filled with hellos and goodbyes and lots and lots of Christmas songs. I was happy to help prepare the Christmas party and then enjoy it with the members and investigators and new converts and everyone who came. I got to sing there and again at the stake Christmas Concert in Stuttgart. I am so glad that we can come together and worship the Lord through music and song.

Ward Christmas Party

Ward Christmas Pary

Keep the savior in your hearts. And the words of an amazing teacher.

” May the beautiful lights of every holiday season remind us of him who is the source of all-light.” -Elder David A. Bednar.
Have a Lovely Week,
Sister Gardner

The Nativity Video:  https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-10-067-the-nativity?lang=eng

Christmas Will Exceed Our Finest Dreams

Christmas Will Exceed Our Finest Dreams

 

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along th’unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Till, ringing, singing, on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

 

With these word of Longfellow, I invite you to feel a little spring in your step and joy in your heart. There are hard things in our life, but the atonement is what makes things better. Possible. Even amazing.

This last week we were able to enjoy being together for the Christmas conference. I was able to see some old friends and we had a really fun time together. We ate a turkey dinner, and had lots of America treats because of all the things that were brought from the military base nearby. I enjoyed the passing of the white elephant gifts and came home with a wind up, goggly eyed chattering teeth.

 

Chrsitmas 3

Christmas advent Wreath

Chrsitmas 2

Christmas Conference

I was really touched by the words of the song we sang as a special musical number, that sister Wilkes and I put together. ” In the Bleak Midwinter” I was glad to bring my fond memories from my time in choir to my mission.

My  Daughter

Sister Strihavka my “daughter”.

We were invited to help make cookies and gingerbread houses this week, the members are so kind. We have been meeting with so many people; people wanting to say goodbye to Sister Wilkes and people excited to bring the Christmas spirit. F invited the elders and us to celebrate “team F day” during our Friday dinner hour. We walked around the chocolate festival and drank warm chocolate with whipped cream on top. Why team F day? Well, that would be because after coming to church for the first time last Sunday, F has set a baptismal date with the elders. So we celebrated. I never would have guessed after meeting F that first day hearing him whine about coffee being part of the word of wisdom, that he would be where he is now, he seems happier, less nervous. More at peace.

Today we met for p-day in Esslingen. On the way, I sat down in a foursome on the bus with a man who gestured for sister S and elder M and I to come over. We did and he immediately started quoting bible scriptures against us, saying we do not believe In the true Christ. The way I deal with people who attack my beliefs is bearing simple testimony and asking about the love of Christ. If they have personally felt it. And then inviting them to pray and ask God, explaining that that is how I have gained my testimony. When Christ went back into heaven, he left the Holy Ghost to comfort us. I firmly believe that. I hope that when I share my faith others can feel that I have a personal relationship with both my Father and older Brother.

We are going to have a bit of a Christmas party for D and G, we are trying to get them to have some friends in the ward so it is not such a hard transition every-time a missionary leaves. That will be good, they are a wonderful family.

I love you, keep thinking of Christ. Go watch that new Christmas video, it really gets better each time you watch it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_TEOyhy7Bg

” from our sins, from our sadness”— that kid makes my heart rejoice.

I love you. Tune in next week for more from the land of Tübingen .

All my love,

Sister Gardner

Anything But Quiet

Anything but Quiet

I feel glad to be a missionary in this week of my half way mark. I cannot believe all the time that has past and all the joy I have felt working to serve and love God´s children. I am excited for what the next 9 months bring.

“Christopher Columbus…. I´ll be Astonishing”.

hump day

Camel Cookies and Hump day.  Sister Gardner is officially over half way.


My heart is full.

With a week filled with bustling from place to place, speaking to so many people, and already the lights of Christmas dotting the streets and shops, I cannot help but feel cheerful and glad.

Among the excitement of Advent was one protruding and very American bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy. We were blessed to enjoy Thanksgiving twice this week. First in the very large young single adult center with almost all of the missionaries in our zone. It felt like being in America, everyone speaking English and all of us drinking kool-aid over our turkey and stuffing…… and Pumpkin Pie! I think something else that was lovely was seeing sister Strihavka react to all of this American culture for the first time. Plus I sat with my “mom” and her companion so it was really like family… ( Sister Poll and Sister Cook)…

and Pie.

pie

Pie

It is ok, I was just pretty excited. about Pie.

ha ha, alright, but that was not the most wonderful part of the week, that happened on Sunday… .but pie is a close second.

The other thanksgiving was enjoyed with the American families in our ward and a few other friends and acquaintances. We are working with a new convert named R. R is from Syria and is working on his PHD as a Pharmacist here in Tübingen, and on the train over he told Sister Strihavka and I his whole story. He was really saved by finding the church. His life was spiraling down and he was lifted up by God. It was inspiring to hear his story.

sis S

Sister Strihavka and Sister Gardner on the train

Besides Thanksgiving, it was the glorious first Advent. I was so happy to sing a traditional Advents song in sacrament meeting, But I was even more excited when after weeks of asking and inviting and hoping and praying D and G and J all came to church. Plus F the investigator of the elders and their new investigator F a native American Cherokee living in Germany. He offered the prayer in our investigator class on Sunday. It was fantastic, and also very unique. But he did it in Jesus’ name so at least he has got that down.

Oh goodness this week just had so much good in it, I don´t know how to write it all out.pink roses

We made Christmas wreathes for a relief society activity, unfortunately our investigators we invited did not come, but we had some amazing gifts to give out. We also received all of the left over cookies and liebeküchen, and Stollen. We had no idea how we would eat all of it, so on the way home sister S started offering them to people. Sister Wilkes and I loved it.  I was able to send this happy man off with a bunch of cookies wrapped in a napkin and a card with our number and a link to watch a video about Christ. If anything, we found D and made a lot of peoples days.

advent wreath

Christmas Wreath made in Relief Society

goodies to share

Lebkuchen. looks so yummy.

I love teaching new converts, I am able to share more deeply with them the truths of the gospel that I have learned and hold close to my heart.

I felt the spirit in lessons a lot this week. I think the most powerful was when I shared my story of how I gained my testimony of the prophet. I remember going to conference a few years ago praying with all my heart for peace. I had listened to the conference gladly but as Thomas S. Monson said his closing remarks he said something like, ” may you accept the saviors promised peace:..” It was one of his last sentences in the talk, at the very end of the conference, but I can remember this feeling of love and warmth and truth spreading in my soul and heart. I knew that he had answered my prayer and question and that he was a true prophet of God.

I love you, and I wish you all peace as this Christmas season begins.

All my Love,

Sister Gardner

new zone old district

This is the group of missionaries in the Stuttgart Zone that were part of Sister Gardner’s MTC group. Elder Liechty, Elder ?, Elder Erickson, Elder Gappmayer, Sister Gardner, Elder Mantle, Elder McDaniels

our dritt

Ritter Museum of lights and mirrors.  Sister Strihavka and Sister Wilkes.