Because I am a Fighter

Because I am a Fighter

I thought a few times that this week just seemed to have something against me. Like Wednesday for example, I go to bed thinking, oh yeah. Three appointments tomorrow, I am finally making things happen in this town. And then.

BOOM. Three appointments fall out. Two with members planned to be there.

Dun dun dun.

BUT.

That is ok. Do you know why?

Do you know why despite this little whisper of a feeling of “what am I doing wrong.” There is this other little thought hovering, called “I am a child of God and my Father is an all powerful being with a perfect plan and perfect timing”

And then. It helps the little cloud move on by.soccer and sunshine

 

Speaking of clouds, they bring rain. Which was the thing that made the soccer field very muddy for our zone activity on Tuesday. It was a nice little addition to zone training because we finally achieved our baptismal goal as a zone. So we got to play sports and do a bratwurst bbq. Hence the muddy field. Only a few people biffed it and had a backside full of outside all natural mud baths.

brats and mud

Salzburg Zone Mud Soccer

zone 3

I got to talk with a lot of people that I would usually have not much time to get to know. We have an elder from Peru in our zone. And because of this border being more open now for Switzerland we have a lot of Europeans. Brits and Germans and even Iceland. It makes me so glad. I think it means the next zone training will be in German. It is an important change for our mission culture. This thought sort of struck me during the meeting. So after that, I just made all my comments in German. The only American speaking in German to comment. Then the three German missionaries that are now serving in our zone had the courage to comment in German too, and it was this really cool moment. It reminded me of when sister Strihavka and I gave our part in the zone training in Stuttgart, we started in English because the whole meeting had been in English, but we had planned in German, so half way through we switched.

I know it was a small thing, but I hope I can continue this idea of breaking down the borders. R expressed to me a few months ago his concerns about not feeling really integrated into the ward. That is when we started the idea of the break the borders. You have to give some good effort to change things that are seemingly embedded in human DNA, this fear of the unknow, or something new. Think allegory of the cave for those that know that. That is why I am loving serving with sister Hofmockel. My fantastic Frenchie. 🙂 She is on the same page with me. I love it. She is great.

We went to meet with one our investigators this week, he actually works at a Catholic Church, so we went to the early morning service and then he invited to stay… For lunch… In the convent…. With the nuns…..

Yes! So suddenly I am eating breakfast with a bunch of old blue clad and cross wearing nuns. And we had a great time, and the main Mother actually is from America so she was glad to talk in English and the lady next to sister Hofmockel can speak French.

She reaches out and touches my arm. “A real Mormon. You are very brave coming here. I am glad you did. We have had Muslims and Baptists and Africans… But never any Mormons.” Ha ha, I actually got to teach a lot and then they invited to come back for lunch so that we could meet a certain R. They gave us a key to the convent for the afternoon so we could come back. “I want you to teach R, she should not be alone. Perhaps even she can become a Mormon.”

What?! No. A referral from a Catholic nun.

I get to sing for them. I walk through their garden. Do personal study in the chapel… And then meet R….

We gave her a Book of Mormon and a church tour on Saturday she will be in church next week.

Miracle two..

IMG_4803

We had had a nice less active/new convert lesson with A, and our GML had come a long, we were talking with him before we had to take our train back for the night, but he gets a phone call and steps away for a moment. I stop this other guy on the street and talk causally. It grows and we end up having a 45 minute discussion… And then he came to sport abend… (activity)

Also I found something horrible out that a certain friend of mine never explained. According to my new friend I made on the street. My name. In Arabic. Means. Bald.

Noooooooooooooo.

Oh well.

What can you do.

Pray for M. She says she does not think our church is true, but she agreed to still listen to all the lessons. And try church…

The wife of my bishop in Wiener Neustadt came with her son to visit this ward this weekend. The son was on a mission when I was there and he came to sport night and I ask him what his name is and he tells us his name and I just gasp. He was the missionary from the picture on the wall while I was there. Ha. She came to church and sat with me during relief society. Good to see her.

elder Samuelson

Our Salzburg District: Elder Samuelson

Sis S p day

Sister Hofmockel

Elder E

Sister Gardner and Elder Erickson

For a door approach this week: woman opens up the door.

Sister Gardner: “when was the last time an American and a French woman were at your door?”

…. It goes further. And we had a nice 7 minute talk, she took a card. And smiled a lot.i see you

Ok. The time goes too quick. But I have one thing I need to say.

On Saturday I was feeling a little down, we had a great baptismal service for the investigator of the elders, but after this excitement, I was just feeling a bit cloudy.

We did studies at the church and I watch a video about the missionary work in the Europe area, as I watched it. I just got this really empowered feeling. And I learned some things.

 

  • I got called here because I am strong enough for it.
  • It is not easy but it is possible
  • There are always people prepared to listen to us but there are fewer… So you have to go through more people to find one that is ready.
  • That means I need to talk to even more people.
  • That means God knew I could do it.
  • He sent me here because he knew I would not give up. But rather see these obstacles as opponents to be dealt with in their own time.   Taking them out. One by one.
  • I can do it.
  • I am running out of time (as my mission end comes closer.)

I felt glowing with this power this determination. By running, we made the bus after the meeting.

My mind was going crazy thinking, thinking. A guy gets on, only one on the bus.

I grab that new box of Book of Mormons. Open it up and say. I just got a new box of the book that has changed my life the most. Can I give you one.

I explain it and he takes it. You know what, he take it. He opens it up and gives it a chance.

We gave out five that night in the half an hour of travel time it took to get home.

Needless to say, I think I realized something.

I got called here because I am a fighter. When you have a desire to serve God, you are called to the work. I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.

 

All my love.

Sister Gardner

 

link to the video she watched

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-01-001-unto-all-the-world-hastening-the-work-in-europe?category=topics/missionary-work&lang=eng

The Hills…..

The Hills…..

(dramatic Pause)

are pretty much getting up and dancing with the sound of music.

The last few days since I left Tübingen have gone by at a breakneck speed. My mind has been working to dive into this place. .. and it has been working of course. There is much to do and a whole never ending supply of souls to bless. I loved going to the new relief society activity the first day. And I am just looking around this room, thinking. OK. Deep breath here we go. Got to make new friends. I tried to play it cool as I used my lack of scrapbooking skills to make cards while chatting in German and English with whoever I could.

Sis Hofmockel 2

Sister Gardner and Sister Hofmockel

But that did not happen until the day of traveling and goodbye saying and new adventure starting was over. Transfer day got moved from Thursdays to Wednesdays this transfer. It was quick I am not going to lie. But also nice to get started sooner in the new area.

Thursday morning we went out to visit a new investigator in the middle of the mountains. really. We took a train and a bus and then met a surprisingly springy older woman at the bahnhof who walked us to her house in the middle of a dorf. It was raining and looked about as typical Austrian postcard that you can picture. We teach her the plan of salvation, and at the end ask her if she would be baptized when she finds out this is all true… She said yes and that once she did she wanted to do it as soon as possible. It was beautiful. She has been searching for the truth her whole life and recently her nephew in Croatia got baptized and referred his aunt to us. She is so prepared and was so excited to hear about how this is really Christ’s church.

salzburg

Salzburg Cathedral

 

I am grateful for sister Strihavka´s help with German, because I feel more confident and people have made comments that they think I have good German. so that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. But for people (future missionaries) reading my blog, you don´t need a native companion to do it. Just talk with your companion in the language.. Always. You can do it.

I got to meet V our sweet young woman age investigator who can speak Russian and Hungarian and German. I was able to share a testimony of the ward missionary back in Wiener Neustadt that I had saved on my  ipad, written in Hungarian. She stayed with us after church on Sunday and ate lunch with us and then came that night to the Storrers for family home evening. (The Storrers are the Senior couple serving in Salzburg.)

I am running out of time. Sorry about this week. It is short. But some highlights.
J and L are some fantastic new friends. Both college students… and both with a knowledge about a certain time traveling blue box. 🙂 that was a nice hapensatnce. We had a really good conversation about God being our Heavenly Father. Very spiritual.

mozart

Statue of Mozart ( this is the birthplace of a master)

Riding bikes again.. you know I always read in missionaries emails about them going to insta-care and thought. wow. what on earth were they doing…. well….. heh, heh. Karma…. I suppose. But the knee is healing up nicely and I have been taking the turn coming off the bridge onto the construction zone dirt road a loooooooot slower.

We are planning for an amazing minute to win it activity coming up.

I found a potential in Reutlingen back in wow… I think end of November or beginning of December. J… I sent him as a referral over to the Salzburg area… Guess who is still taking the lessons and coming to church every week…… It was a pretty funny moment to have him come to the family home evening and being like… Soooooo, do you need another sign from God. ha ha. Last time I saw him I was very bold with him on the street challenging him to meet again with the sisters and read in the Book of Mormon again. Go back to church. Keep going with what he had already started to learn 10 years ago…. I guess it worked.

snakes

Snakes…….and a smile

Well. There has already been a lot of singing going on here. and I will be glad to let you know what next week’s adventure brings.

Lots of Love,

Sister Gardner

Slipped Through My Fingers

(From Sister Gardner’s mom:  She will be transferred to Salzburg, Austria on Thursday.  Change is always filled with many different emotions)

This week just seemed to sneak on by. Slipped through my fingers to be honest.

Slipped through my fingers… Who may you ask. Well maybe things like people who have been your best friends for more than the last half of an entire year. There are many things that are needless to say about how I feel about leaving, but then there is a wind in my hair, and grass covered with little blue and white flowers.  I can imagine myself climbing the peaceful hills and it calms the twinges of sadness that come with goodbyes.

Goodness, you think I would be better at it by now.

Will I ever learn?

The week started, a whirlwind of trying to make sure my little darling Sister Strihavka, was all ready to go.  ( She was heading to the Provo, Utah MTC) Finding last minute things tucked away in corners, and giving any contact numbers she might need or money for a Jamba Juice at the airport. As we loaded up her suitcases into the back of brother H’s car, I could not help but feel anxious. And then actually saying goodbye seeing her get on the train, a way by which I could not go. I felt like I was sending my kid on a mission. Now, I cannot compare with the real mama Strihavka, but I suppose In a way it was true. I hoped her companion would treat her nice and she would make friends in the MTC and get there safely and have enough to eat…. Und so weiter. She was my little girl and now she was off to go change more people’s lives… Just like she did mine and all the people she came in contact with.

sister on a conference call

Sis S will be missed

I couldn’t run any faster and I was already sprinting nearing the end of the train platform, the pen had flown sometime out of my coat pocket and the bag had been thrown down sometime before. Smiling on the inside from the ever present concern on her face I know so well, pointing the pen that was already meters behind me lying forgotten on the cracked cement. I gave one last look to the Austrian looking on from a small train window of the train speeding away faster than my legs could carry me. And then with one last wave. I slowed, watching the DB zug move on past, I kept waving even when I am sure she had moved back from the window taking care of the two stuffed suitcases. As the train pulled further away, to my surprise the tears did not come. Just a sort of empty feeling for a moment. Like when you realize you lost something, and there is no way you would find it. Joining after a few moments, or what felt like a few minutes, a few minutes of watching and wondering. A arm comes around my shoulder, putting the blue and black pen in my hand. I turn clutching the G2 and take silently the bag also offered from the serving hands. Then sister whiting and I go back, arm in arm to my two brothers waiting all the way back at the loading platform .

She is gone. But I am not alone.

spring

Yes, Spring!

Three tender mercies for you.

The first.

It came through a phone call. Which came to reality in half of a shared apartment bedroom over salted peanuts and vitamin c juice. D had a dream you see. A few times in the same night, after a day filled with General Conference. Something along the lines of inspired words from a prophet entering a heart through the power of the Holy Ghost. And being in the church with the missionaries and everyone, standing in the lobby just down from the font. With a feeling of needing to be baptized.

But repeated until there was no denying it. I mean, I have really received so much revelation from dreams, but you read it in the scriptures. I know it is possible. I think the amazing thing about decisions that we make with the Lord is that suddenly we know that we will do anything to get to our goal of baptism or endurance. Even commit to keep the word of wisdom… This coming from the man who on our first visit ask most pointedly, is it a sin to drink alcohol and then quickly left before explaining had reached much of a conclusion. That is D. candy tuft

Second. Zwei.

I hate when things fall out. Ok? Here’s the thing, they don’t usually. There are many challenges of teaching German culture people but keeping appointments is not one of them… But living in Germany does not exactly mean you live the culture.

Anyhow, we stood facing the grey fortress before us. Glass and metal and some desert plants In an upper story window. We stared more expectantly at the small typed names and little buttons with a wonder of what is behind klingle (door bell) number 5. We did the whole building. Some answered most did not. No one invited us in. Having finished the building. We started to walk away when we are surprised by a opening glass door and a very tall man… And as the story continues…. We sat drinking mineral wasser in an posh modern apartment living room with the newspaper reading would have been actor R P and his wife strawberry blond C of Deutschland. Turns out, as we found out from our quick conversation in the lobby floor of the apartment building in and out of the glass door, that good feeling I had while pressing a doorbell for a certain here P was not just me. P got to know the church in Portugal where his friends and even sisters joined the church. He was the one who asked if we where Mormons when we explained further what on earth we were doing there. That is not the usual response…. But then again coming down five flights of stairs to talk to someone is not normal either. He is about to dismiss us, but then pauses, asking why on earth we decided to klingel. He goes outside jesterimg to the array of small metal buttons…. “There are a lot of names here, why did you pick mine, he points to it, And which name out of all of them but THE name. P… I say it to him plain. Explaining that as I read the name, I though. I want to meet these people, I felt that I needed to do it. Boom, the Holy Ghost comes diving in like horses sprinting at the bell, or swimmers when that whistle blows. Like posed technicians the moment we have black out. I can feel it, he can feel it, it is like a tangible substance in the air….  “Everywhere I go,  you (the missionaries) are there, on vacation, a year ago at a train station,… Why do I keep meeting you people.” … “Maybe you should ask God that.”

A soft sort of chuckle… ” you might be right about that.” So a bit more negotiating… Saturday 16, but only because of what you said…

And so  Saturday… 17, after coming back to give a bit of time to clean up research newspapers and actually tell his wife who was coming to visit. We were sitting drinking water, talking about family history and Jesus Christ. Getting to share the video  that we had so plainly explained standing beneath a rising collection of lives and homes… To start.-Well not start but rather continue- the journey of this man to finally accept the many second chances that the lord has given. look up

The third.

On Wednesday we planted seeds that would become a Garden, on Sunday they where spindly little beginnings sprouting up to a sun accessible through a window view sitting quite contently on plastic plates and propped up by old worn pass along cards. The miracle of seeds planted in faith… I can’t ask for anything more.

Next time I write I will be writing from the hills alive with music.

Have a good week. I will keep praying… And singing you can be sure of that. Your job, keep that song in your heart and the prayer that it is… Good luck. Break a leg this week.

I say that In an entirely true theater person way. Much love.

Sister Gardner

spring flowers

Sister Gardner and Sister Whiting.  She is going to miss Sister Whiting.  She says they didn’t have enough time together…. and this is a huge spring blossom.

 

She is Leaving

She is Leaving…..

Today marks a day of changes as my companion of 5 months leaves to go on to her new adventure. It just keeps feeling like it will never happen. That she will never go and that we will just continue on like we have. Like it seems we always have. It is strange because now, even Graz and Wiener Neustadt feel like dreams. Very good dreams, and often I am gladdened by the knowledge that these dreams are of flesh and blood and I will be able to visit them and talk with them and best of all, If they can hold on, we will all be there in Heaven in the end.

Sis S and Sis G

Sister Strihavka and Sister Gardner

I think that is what will make heaven what it is, everyone you love living in peace. Well. Hopefully everyone. Ha, that is my job.  The work of salvation and the like.

I really enjoyed conference I loved bringing questions for things happening now and things that will come to pass, in the future. As the conference went along, I jotted down little notes to each.

Besides being exceptionally excited to have understand Uchtdorf, I enjoyed the words of peace and guidance delivered during the conference. Also I was glad that the woman who represent the women of the church declared everything with such boldness. I like boldness. I like unapologetic faith and declaration of doctrine. So actually I was really glad to hear that from her. I myself thought as I left from the spunky fun of JD (YW), oh no, what am I going to do in Relief society? But I think what I have realized is that it is actually how I am going to continue to be a missionary. Serving others.meme

Of course I was also extremely pumped by all the talking about helping refugees and we have been thinking of some service projects that we could do to help. It is helpful when you have a awesome ward missionary who is excited and the priceless help of a member who can speak Arabic. We are thinking of doing a garden project. I will keep you posted on this idea, but we will be looking forward to this warm weather.

Last Monday I went to a pious prayer meeting, I don´t know if I mentioned that. It was very interesting, but it sort of reminded me of a testimony, except for the different hymns we sang and the fact that all the women had to sit in the back… Hmmm. Apostate traditions of our fathers. Maybe. I am glad that the restored church of Christ gives a place for women to share and teach and inspire. I am strong, I am equal.

We had a nice visit with a part member family, the father spoke with us more than he had before and though he left for the spiritual thought, we did something fun for the kids. talking about spring flowers.

I think something I loved this week was the plan of salvation lesson we did with J and M outside using sidewalk chalk. I was pretty fun and best of all, M eventually came out and participated as well.

We had a good meeting with Familie R, the family of the exchange student. We were able to talk a little about the plan of salvation and the restoration. They are people who are going to need years and years. but we are building up this relationship. They live rather far away. But they are nice and say they would be willing to have us over again.

saying goodbye to the RS Pres

Visiting the Relief Society President for Sis S to say goodbye

I tried my best on April fools…Dyed the milk green. No one ate cereal until the next day. ha ha, I pretended to be scared and came running out of the bathroom blaming a giant bug. But I guess sister whiting saw through that really quick. I am not really a screamer when it comes to bugs more like a get a piece of paper, scoop it up and save it by letting it back onto our balcony. So I should have chosen something much more frightening. Like a call back…. Of course that REALLY would have been “inconceivable”.

conference breakfast

Sis Whiting and Sis Srihavka- conference morning breakfast

Visiting E without R there actually proved to be really good, it had been a almost a month since our last visit. D wanted me to play with her the whole time, but I tried my best to help contribute to the lesson while still winning at chess. I guess that is the good thing about a dritt, we all help to keep everyone happy. Plus I know I can trust them. E can speak better English than her husband gives her credit for. That is something that I have noticed in that sort of culture. When we were visiting the Member family that just got her a few months ago from Syria. The where baptized in Lebanon. We introduced R to them at the stake conference and then they wanted us to stop by. They made us something to eat before we had to catch our train. and the husband and wife were working together in the kitchen, the whole time. The church helps to support this idea of both man and woman working together. I just thought that was something to note. R has been taking good care of them and might have found them a house that they can move into to get out of the camp… Best of all, it would be in Rottenburg. Muwaha ha, guess who´s area that is… 🙂 We shall see.

Stuttgart  zones

Stuttgart Stake Conference

Well. I am feeling good, and I encourage you to all go watch general conference again. I know I am going to re-watch, re learn, re read as much as possible. I love the boldness and the claim of our church as the restored church of Christ on the earth.

I know that too. I know that God loves all his children. No matter their religion or feelings. He loves them. I am glad that his gospel helps us to do that too.

all my love,

Sister Gardner

stuttgart and munich zones

Stuttgart and Munich zones at Mission Tour Meeting- it was fun for her to see old friends.