Only in Tübingen…

Only in Tübingen…

The strange thing about exchanges is knowing that somewhere a few bahnstops and a train ride and a bus until the sidewalk jaunt an appointment for your people is going on, and you are in a different city teaching a different family and you can do absolutely nothing about it. Not that you would need to, because you trust your companion, and you also know that for some reason it was very important to go and love this different part o the garden for the day. Also the little kids showing you their picture books and jumping around like kangaroos, and the dad almost praying in the circle for family prayer despite his obvious uncertainty, and the smiling single with her pretzels and indoor trampoline who happens to speak Hungarian and running for trains like always, is still a pretty amazing day.

Also reminiscing with my “Sister” about “Mom” It was good to be back in Ludwigsburg, but it was lovely to jump back into things here in good old Tü.

sister on a conference call

Sister Gardner and Sister Strihavka on a district conference call.

Big news everyone, Sister Strihavka has gotten her visa… well the paperwork for it anyway. We just need to do a few more things in Münich and then we will be well on our way for helping her be able to leave April 5th for the MTC and then off to Salt Lake City. When I found out, my heart did a tiny little happy jump for her, but also a lot of no, no, no! I am excited that she can go on to her mission she was called too, but I have really loved this time with here, hopefully we will stay together till she needs to leave, but only time will tell. And by time I mean transfer calls on Saturday.

We had a nice zone council on Tuesday and we did a little presentation about how we have been able to find success with finding new investigators. We made the interesting discovery that most of our most reliable investigators were found through service. Not service projects, but simply going about doing good. I like that style, It feels real and it creates an immediate connection because they really see that you are there to help. It shows sincerity and people are able to trust you.

This week, Sister S got called to be a ward missionary, which is amazing because we need a ward missionary and a woman is even better because we are always needing joint teaches. I got really excited when they announced it and stopped translating for a second, which was actually ok because it was Sister S and her husband I was translating for. I think it made her happy to hear my little excited gasp. Yeah, German may be a bit of a struggle, but I am just glad that she will be able to help us. I am determined to use this new opportunity.

ice cream break

A little ice cream break. Sis Strihavka, Sis Baker, Elder Erickson

J is still doing great. We are so excited for her baptism, and the ward is actually doing a great job with befriending S and being excited for J. They are funny, they think that because someone is visiting or new that only the missionaries can talk with them, they need to just jump in and show the new friends that they are loved.

Awesome example. A member in our ward has been bringing her non member boyfriend to church. Everyone is friendly but leave it up to one of our awesome new converts to take the initiative to invite him to do something social with him and get to know each other better. I see many small examples of this, even something so small as J asking her brother to come pray with the family. I am glad when others are brave enough to open their mouth and really make a change in this work of salvation.

We had some interesting lessons this week, a few people we thought where strong showing that they actually have been struggling with some very basic parts of the gospel, but we will love them and testify and hope that the spirit can take this truth into their hearts.

Iim talking to you

I’m talking to you.

IN TO; because I can only bring it to their hearts.

I don´t have much time left but thank you for your support. It is great to hear from you. I pray for you. Of course.

We will be singing this Saturday, so if anyone is in the area, Tübingen. 16:00 Saturday.ö ha ha, just kidding, just keep humming, just keep smiling.
Oh but it´s grand…Hear what I´m sayin`´ Only in Tüüüüüüübbbiiinnnggeeeenn…

Sister puckett

Sister Puckett and Sister Gardner

That Thing Called Love

THAT THING CALLED LOVE
Calee

Give me years and I´ll want more time.

Give me give me that thing called love.

Now of course I am not talking about the running around looking for roses or the strains of Sinatra and folded up sneakily placed torn out notebook pages with rain splatter ink written “I love you ´s”. That was a different part of Valentine’s Day, and I do wish you a Happy Valentines. I am talking about a most lovely kind of love, the missionary kind.

The kind that compels you to paint little water color hearts and then write John 3:16 on the back, that kind of love.Come on inlooking out

 

I have had a good week, filled with plenty to do and a continuous feeling of how on earth are we going to get it all done. But that is the best.
Some unique things that happened this week

  • Church tours for our new investigator J, her prayer was simply lovely. When we told her she was a daughter of God she really took that to heart. She said a sweet prayer and she is excited to learn more about God and our church.Sis G and a castle
  • We had another lovely International food night at the S’s. We gave them all copies of the Book of Mormon so that they could write their testimonies in them and then have them either give it to someone or give it back to us so that we can give it out and tell them how it goes. I think having a testimony and even a few marked scriptures is a really personal touch. R was reading the title page to us on the train ride back with the others. We could not understand the Arabic but you could still feel that sort of quite feeling of the spirit.
  • We had interviews in Stuttgart with president and then for training we finally where able to watch the world wide missionary broadcast. I loved it. It helped me with many brainstorming sessions I have been having lately. I know it was inspired from the spirit. I felt it so strongly.tubingen 2
  • We finalized the flyers and some more of the details for our musical concert the 27th of February. We met early before church to practice the choir song. We have a lot of good songs we just need to figure how we can get them all to fit together in a logical artistic way.in the mist
  • There is a church in Tübingen that has been doing a free lunch as an opportunity for people of different religions and backgrounds to get to know each other. Our GML recommended that we stop by. I was a little skeptical at first, but it turned out to be a really effective use of our lunch hour, we had some great conversations and met people who are interested in coming to the concert.misty day
  • We had a family home evening with P and her two sons. It was really nice and she also made us fufu, think thick mashed potatoes that you roll into a ball and then dip into sauce with meat. It was good. I am just a weakling that cannot devour the African spice but it was really good.Castle wall
  • We had an appointment with a part member family. Sister A is the wife, she is a convert and has an amazing testimony. She is a super missionary, but her husband is a very headstrong Austrian guy. But he committed to take the lessons. Sister Strihavka and I sang the first vision song, Oh, How Lovely was the Morning, and it really brought the spirit. I am always grateful for the spirit.Welcome home

That is the message that I want to leave with you this week.

The spirit confirms truth. You can bring any question, any concern, any doubt to God in prayer and if you feel the spirit when you ask you can trust that it is true. Or that it is still true. I am glad for that knowledge I have gained through countless times on my knees asking or in my heart pondering.I see it

There is power in bearing testimony. I was reminded of that this week.

I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that he has a plan for us. He has restored his church to the earth that we may partake of blessing and return to him. Jesus Christ understands us perfectly and welcomes us to find peace for ourselves.

I send my love,

Sister GardnerSis S and Sis Gtubingen ceiling

Thoroughly Modern Missionary

 

Thoroughly Modern Missionary

This week, I just want to “ode” the life of a missionary a bit.

I am glad for a work that leaves you exceptionally exhausted at the end of the day and then motivates you to get back up again when that alarm goes off. A work that makes you feel this overwhelming love for all the people around you, a work that makes you a better person if you let it.

I am mostly just so grateful for the people that I get to serve. All my stress of getting from place to place, and trying to think how to start conversations, and basically anything uncomfortable or inconvenient for me is in the service of someone else.

Ha, this proved most exceptionally when I am trying to run in the morning for sport, I run so I can catch trains and be punctual for appointments. ha ha. Ok, so that is not the only reason. But it is a good example. A missionary life is a symbiotic relationship.

For what I put in, I get blessing out, and those blessings bless others because I am able to do my work better, thus helping me have the courage to work harder. It is a lovely give and take that actually just keeps accumulating.

Fasching

Fasching Parade- Celebrating the coming of Spring

We had a lovely time with J this week with the family H. It was an amazing chance to have a member joint teach. We had been in ward council and a member of the bishopric asked how he was doing. We told him that we were going to meet briefly tomorrow. He invited us to meet at his home and his wife and children would be there to be our joint teaches. It ended up working wonderfully and we even ate lunch together. It was a lesson really lead by the spirit. I really have a testimony that having members at appointments makes a huge difference, it also functions to give the members a chance to share their testimony. It is not always easy to get it to work, but when it does it is great.Parade

We were finally able to meet with M on Sunday. The member Brother Trippel invited the elders, us, R, Brother C (a member) and M to his house for dinner and they all came. We were finally able to teach him a lesson, the first one since even a bit before I got here. It was a really good review for me and I love teaching the plan of salvation. It is a perfect plan. Really. I think the part that really makes it real for me is the spirit world, the idea that everyone, everyone is going to get a chance to accept the gospel. That has been a bit of a theme this week, We have taught the plan of salvation a lot.

We had a nice time with family R, got to know the sons a bit better and helped them cook egg rolls. The middle son got the Aaronic priesthood on Sunday and his parents stayed for all three hours for the first time since I got here. I was so glad. I got to sit next to S during Relief Society.

The Ali´s (the Syrian family) invited us over to cook a Syrian food feast for us. We wanted to bring R but they are not comfortable to have someone else over yet. They live in one room right now. Which is really no problem for us; but we need to be patience. We came to teach them and they had read to chapter ten in Nephi and had read all the pages in the introduction and witnesses as well. They had written out fifteen questions. It was lovely lesson. They are so hungry to learn everything. It is a little sad because the dad does not want the daughter to feel pressured so she has to go away a bit when we are teaching, but hopefully that will get better. She really loves us.Music in the parade

We met V with Sister C to talk about temples. It was cute to see them try to communicate with each other. Sister C is the primary president. She told her story about being on the side of the wall that was in control by Russia. Even after the wall came down, she still had to wait until her husband softened his heart and let her go to the temple for her endowment. I was an inspiring story because right now V cannot go to the temple to even do baptisms because she cannot leave Germany. But I believe it will be a joyous day for her when she can go and do these saving ordinances for her family.

We walked through country paths and fields to go visit a member this week. We had a nice breakfast and then had a really good heart to heart about the gospel and we are helping her to start being more confident to do missionary work. I really love these people here; members, investigators, new converts, less actives, random potentials on the street. I just love it all.My German home

And the last lovely story is of little J, ” I am 1000% sure I want to get baptized” that is the rough translation.

It was Faschings this week, think Halloween, little kids in costumes. It is like a welcoming spring holiday. We met J walking home from school in her little Chinese princess dress on our way to go meet the family for our teaching appointment. We walk with her and she showed us a short cut all the time talking about the stories and songs she is writing and also how much she loves coming to church. She was doing her best to remember the primary songs. She is so cute. We arrive at her home and have a great lesson. Even though her mom is learning everything for the first time too, she often tries to help clarify the things for her sweet daughter. The lesson ends and simple as that we ask when she wants to get baptized….. It is planned.

We are so excited for this perfect golden family. Just pray for them.Look at those band uniforms

I love you and I have got to go.
Put your shoulder to the wheel……

Love, Sister Gardner

 

5 things that made me smile
1. J is going to get baptized on March 13th!!!!
2. I got to wear pants today. Muwahaha.(well for part of the day)
3. Syrian food with our lovely new family.
4. Sister S thanked me for translating for her during relief society and said she thought I really had a talent for it.
5. The way Elder Elwell tries to get out of eating sweets.
6. Bonus, Elder Petty always ready with his yo yo.

 

Bands are Getting Jazzier…

Bands are Getting Jazzier…

“And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.

“And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace, they did publish good tidings of good, and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.”

Mosiah 27:36-37tubingen

I feel blessed this week. I feel blessed because of the people I am so privileged to know and serve and love. I am truly glad to be an instrument in the hand of the lord. I hope I provide the right sort of blare when I play the trumpet part, or the sweet sincere sort of slide when I am called to be his violin. I try to be a piccolo in the morning when I want to be a deflated bag-pipe, and a harp even when the thoughts inside of me want to go shooting out with an electric guitar. I try to follow the conductor. I try to follow my Heavenly Father to create the music that he wants me to make.

I think the most important thing is that I do play my part, even if my part is a small little ding of a triangle on a bus or while waiting for a train, that little chime could be the first chime in the start of the music, or at the start of a beautiful serenade.

I don´t know exactly what my efforts will mean today. I don´t know the whole plan, the whole musical score that my Father in Heaven has so beautifully composed. I can only trust that I am an important part of this grand symphony of the plan of salvation. I can trust that as I try to be the best instrument I can, the Lord who is the master musician can play whatever I can give as beautifully as possible.

I am sure I have already mentioned it in a letter and you already know about it but I think again on that poem the touch of a masters hand….

The Touch of the Masters Hand

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?” “A dollar, a dollar”; then two!” “Only
two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
dollars twice; going for three..” But no, from the room, far back, a
gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
pure and sweet as caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; “What am I bid for the old violin?” And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make
it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
gone,” said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not
quite understnad what changed its worth.” Swift came the reply: “The touch
of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
“mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. “He is
going” once, and “going twice, He’s going and almost gone.” But the Master
comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.

-Myra ‘Brooks’ Welch

Why may you ask are things getting jazzier, I think that would be because of our five new investigators we got to know this week, for that feeling that there is always something, or someone new around the corner.. sometimes literally.pday

Tubingen group

Elder Ewell, Elder Petty and Sis Strihavka

This work is exciting, it is a big band with shiny brass and a big finish, It is a lullaby, and  few simple cords, It is an art song in the lazy afternoon, and satisfied round of applause at the end of the concerto.

I am glad to be part of this symphony. … ( it´s like a symphony… just keep listening…. ) common, you know you started to sing that in your head.
and pretty soon you´ll start to figure out your part…… oh  it´s glorious.

Love you all,

Sister Gardnerthat blue sky

the light at the end of the tunnel

Sis S and the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Answers to some questions I (her mother) asked: (I had to share her great stories.)

1.How are your investigators doing?  We pray for them.

We have about 19 investigators right now, and those are people we have met with in the last week or the week before. It is awesome.

J we were not able to meet this week. that made us a little sad. But he has finished the book of Mormon. He is trying really hard to just be able to stay here, so he is still making great progress, but this week was a bit of a pause.

S and M and J: I called president and he is totally in support that the kids can get baptized. J is so excited. we are going to set a date next appointment. the really good part is that because we talked with S she is really committed to helping them prepare for the baptism, so when we teach them, we get to teach all of them. and of course they come to church each week. J is so cute and loooooves primary. M is also so, so sweet. S has been doing family prayer with her family. She is so perfect. So ready to accept the gospel. We are on the way to eternal families.

L had her test for her German certificate, she said it was really hard. She is still so sweet and our relationship with her is growing but she is not reading and not coming to church. She needs members at her appointments, but it is very discouraging when we try so hard for a joint teach even a week in advance and no one has time for us. In this area we are more on fire than ever before and yet, I am feeling the biggest struggle to get the ward to work with our efforts. We have investigators in church every week and yet we are not always able to get joint teaches. But I know everyone has their own busy lives. It is just sometimes I wish they where paper dolls and I could pick them up and put them where I need them and make them play nice with the new kids. Don’t get me wrong I love this ward.

D and G: she was supposed to come to the relief society activity for sewing but she got sick. Hopefully it works to meet with them this week. I love them so much. They also really need members.

Y: he has gotten busy. But he is still really nice.

T: These Chinese students study, study, study. But I think he is considering coming to church again.

We have a lot of new investigators this week. I will let you know if they start progressing a lot.

2.Stand out moment of the week?

Probably meeting the little family on the street that was trying to find a hotel out in the middle of Betzingen at the Asylheim when we were going to teach O. The elders where already inside and we were going to be coming in just a bit. But this dad stopped us and asked us in English if we could help him. He was there with his wife and little girl. They were standing with bags on the ground around them. He explained that they had just come from Stuttgart and that they were supposed to be in a home but it was not yet ready so they had to stay here. ( mom note: the Asylheim is a refugee center from what I was able to find out). It is not the best conditions and he did not want his wife and daughter to have to stay there. So he asked for our help to find a hotel. Of course we have no idea where one would be. I find two on my i-pad map. But of course we think of R. He is our go to guy when we need something goggled or a train time and we have no internet access. Of course he is extremely excited to help. The family is from Syria. Cool. They are journalists and used to be working for television before everything started going wrong in the middle east, and they had to flee. We got a plan and then the elders came out. Turns out the lesson only went 20 minutes because O had to go early. So we felt bad that we had missed our lesson, but It was ok because the elders where able to teach it, and I had really the strong feeling that we needed to help them.

We end up riding the train with them and helping them find a hotel and then the next one when that one was full already. I tried to talk with the mom who spoke little English. The cute little daughter is 8. She was kind of cold and tired so I was trying to make her smile as we walked to the train station. I was trying to ask if she liked to dance she did a little ballet plié and then I just took her hand and did some little slide skips. She suddenly is just so happy and we are dancing with each other. I show her the picture of Breesa and say my little sister. She is excited and shows her mom and then points to me. I take the photo back and she just hugs me as we are walking. We are pantomiming different instruments and then she is just really happy and says, “I love you” she was singing anything she could in English. It was so sweet. We were with them for probably about an hour. At one point she sticks her arm through my elbow with my hand in my pocket, we are singing the Frozen songs. Goodness she is a cutie. I was just glad that there happened to be one little child that did not hate me. (Sister Gardner thinks children don’t like her. Ha Ha It is not true. It is kind of our joke.) That was good. She is sweet. Sister Strihavka had a good conversation with the dad, and eventually we helped them find the hotel. The hotel man was nice enough to take off twenty euro.

We met with them that next Wednesday. The mom and dad. They told us their whole story. They have been wondering where God is, they are excited to learn everything and have invited us over for two times this week. Wahooo!

3. Favorite thing about riding the train?

Really easy to contact people. and they cannot leave you because they need to ride all the way to the next destination. Muwahaha. Also earlier on my mission I liked looking out the window. now I am usually just focused on the people inside.