At Some Point or Another

At some point or another you just have to sit on the asphalt and get your hands dirty with bike chain Grease. There is no other way. So you sit as nicely as you can and you put the fickle bike chain back on the gears. For the second time this five minute ride. And this time, every part of the morning that went less than you expected comes out in a desperate sort of prayer that says, “please Father, I need things to go better now.”
Well. They did. And He helped me, He loves me. And that day we saw beautiful miracles.

my bike

And that obnoxious bike, went a whole 45 minute bike ride without giving up the chain once. And then we made it to the appointment even though the train did not
come and we had to cross the border with our bikes. And then while grabbing some water we meet a man who says. “Hey, Mormons! ” I am so glad to see you guys.”

Found a guy who got all the lessons long ago, but never got baptized and when he moved did not know where the church was. K definitely has some promise. I mean it is not every time that you talk with a stranger that they tell you how amazing Joseph Smith was and
that they will come to church sometime soon. And then they give you free samples. Nice.

mountains
Then, two of our meetings fell out, but God had us covered for that. We went dooring in the area where our lesson would be and we find this little bookshelf on the street filled with free cd’s. Sitting right on the top, “Broadway hits” of course I cannot listen to it now,
but it was a little tender mercy.happy thoughts
Then we had a talk with a man in a park, we came back after our fantastic lesson with R and S. They still had not started the Book of Mormon so we read the first two chapter with them, I loved it. Explaining and expounding, I felt like those missionaries in the Book of Mormon that just lay it down what the scriptures mean. I am gladdened every time I start reading the Book of Mormon. It is a promise of all the stories I hold in my heart. I realized when I was explaining it, as I usually do. THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE, It continues
to do so. For the better.welcome
Anyhow. We found this beautific park to talk to people in, but to our dismay the bench where we had had such a long discussion was not empty. The Book of Mormon we gave to the man was still there. We were a bit sad. But you would not have been able to tell because we started talking to the new man sitting on the bench with a random copy of the
Book of Mormon just chilling there next to his backpack. … So first you don’t succeed, try, try again.


Anyhow, to finish it off we saw a wonderful family with a dad who was really taking care of his kids. He looked like a person I knew, and I could only wish that on him. Then, it was just warm and bright like a summer night should be, and there was a beautiful sunset. Thank you.

sunset

We had a nice breakfast with a lesson at a new convert’s house. Her boyfriend was baptized but never received the Holy Ghost, but that was a few years ago. So now we are preparing him to do it right. He is happy guy. They came to church on Sunday for the first time in probably 8 months!!!

M our lady who lives in the middle of far away committed to a date! We managed to find just the right joint teach, she and her husband drove us the whole hour long way in and where at the lesson, and she and M just clicked, sadly the member sister is leaving to
America for six weeks, so we have got to find someone else. But she will be coming back, just in time for the baptism. Woo! The family also took us to eat lunch in a little, very lovely, very old town. We ate next to a river and it was beautiful.

M's house

M’s House

M had little lambs

 

give said the little stream

Give Said the Little Stream ( By M’s house)

Our friend K, who had the sad travel story came to sport abend and brought a friend. His friend was amazing at volleyball ball.  Elder Erickson would set the ball and he would come flying down with a killer spike. Literally killer, everyone covered their heads and
curled up to protect themselves. Hmm. Was noch?

We taught institute on Tuesday. You have a lot of pressure to make it exciting for the young single adults especially when one of your former MTC teachers is sitting there as part of the class in the ward you are serving. But we jazzed it up with a cool activity at the
beginning and epic video segments. And writing on the board activities. It was elder Saumelsons last week. He is a good example.

We had a long church tour with lovely J and then went with her to the doctor the next day to help translate for an ear ache. We had a lot of time to talk and watch church videos and share scriptures while we waited and then we got lunch together after.
I went to a family called the D’s. They did a great big barbecue for the whole missionary force of Salzburg. They are such a nice family and part way through while doing the game part of family home evening, the mom invited us to take a look at some scarves and blouses she was wanting to give away, they did not fit her, so we each got a new shirt
and scarf and skirt.

dinner

Dinner at the D’s

cute

He reminded me of my old guinea pig Nigel

The daughter loves musical theater so we were able to talk about it a lot and we did everything outside in their garden. Plus we did a really fun spiritual thought with the family. It was silly too. They had to draw a picture of themselves using their foot to write. Ha ha, so funny. The elders planned it. We related it to how sometimes we feel awkward with our weaknesses, but that the lord makes us strong.
Then we related that to their own personal missionary work, we invited them to make a list of people. Who fit certain categories that we said and then invited them to give them an invitation to the special visitors Sunday coming up In a few weeks.

Lastly.

I was reading in Alma again today, he is talking to his sons. Alma 39-42. I was thinking about this perfect gift of the resurrection.Everyone has this gift. No matter how many little kids snowmen you kicked over, or old ladies you helped to cross the street. Everyone
will live again. But then your choices are what decide how happy you will be with this
un-ending life, this perfected body and the vast landscape of the eternities.
Did you prepare yourself for your ultimate potential, did you take the name of Christ not only upon yourself. Or upon your heart….

That is sort of like a mission. If you are called to serve, whatever kind of mission it is, if you are stocking the shelves of a bishops storehouse, wading through flooded highways in a jungle, helping people find their ancestors, hiking mountains to meet in huts, dodging
big yellow taxis looking for an address, or waking up to the tolling of church bells in a flat in Austria, you are called to serve. It is like a resurrection, a gift for all.
But, then come the second part.
How much do you use that time, have you given your heart as you could have. Have you let yourself be changed, did you choose to come closer to your Heavenly Father, did you follow his guidance and love all you came in contact with? That is the part that relates to this life, and we are living it right now, so think about it,

You will already receive an unbelievable gift in that you will live again.

But . You decided today, yesterday, tomorrow just how glorious
that will be.

All my love,
Sister Gardnerbikes again

 

Somewhere in My Youth or Childhood

Somewhere In My Youth or Childhood

I must have done something good. I think one of the moments of revelation that I was blessed to review in a light switch turning on sort of moment was my desire to go on a mission. It has just been there. So forgive me if I never ever make any jokes about being glad to go home.  A mission is the best thing ever. So I am going to continue pressing on. In the middle of my mission.

COMIC.png

A comic that made me smile

This week’s email, the thought generator, ready set go.

Well, we are in the Storrer’s house right now writing emails. My feet are resting on a wooden square patterned wooden floor,  my keyboard on my ipad was acting strange and then decided to split itself which I finally figured out.

 

exchanges

Dinner on exchange in Innsbruck.

This week we went on tausch in Innsbruck, I taught a little eight year old about the Book of Mormon with his mom and ate orange jello with a Brit and Icelander and my Frenchie. I don’t know what they were doing with jello in their apartment. The mountains where much more imposing and close up than they are at home. I wanted to just go walk all over them. We also visited a very old woman, and got controlled by a bus ticket man, sadly my companion for the day had purchased the wrong ticket, but he let us off because we were Doing something for God. That does not happen. Ever.,.. So that was a miracle.,

 

Innsbruck

The Innsbruck Mountains and Innsbruck Sisters

I had the heart breaking moment of asking F to read a verse from the Book of Mormon out loud and then discovered that he could not read. And eventually his experience of being orphaned at an early age and his contemplation to simply step conveniently in front of a high speed train but how he was able to overcome that by fasting and praying. Which his sister taught him to do until she herself also died. Life is hard, remember that you are blessed.

 

Death however is not so frightening to face when you consider the plan, the plan of God. It is simply a another step closer to God. Just like our birth to the earth was. It does  not mean that death is not sad though. I felt that especially while going through a bit of a World War Two museum. People are not things to be stacked. I know that is a bit of cruel imagery but that shows you what some people choose to do with their agency.

salzbug framed

When I talk to people , sometimes they don’t even want to talk about the purpose of life, and if I get the word God or Heavenly Father in there the usual excuse is, “wenn es wirklich Gott gibt dann warum lässt er so viele schlimme Sachen passieren.” Translation: if God is really there why does he let so many bad things happen. Well dear person on the street trying to justify your lifestyle of “I don’t care” It is not God wanting these things to happen, in fact he weeps with us when sad things happen, it is people and their own  choices that bring suffering to the world. Really, if everyone loved according to the commandments  we would have so much more peace. What happened to the people in the Book of Mormon when they were all following the commandments of God? Ah… Peace. It is only when people start to get proud or disappointed or power hungry that things start to go wrong.

So my answer my dear Austrian. God is our Loving Heavenly Father. Love.sis H and the tree

In other news we have really been trying to find ways to serve the ward members. We brought a salad by to a family to help with the stake relief society activity. Then we were able to sing Today while the Sun Shines for them, and share a little spiritual though. They are a newly married couple. She was so cute and I would tell she wanted to hold his hand or something while we were singing, but he was totally oblivious. Heh heh.

I have been studying this week about some of the events and experiences of the early church and settlers of the west. Some topics for example polygamy. For me it is no problem, it is normal. I know I have one mom and I know gods plan supports that. But through the spirit and my study’s I was able to come to a good understanding of it and other topics that will help me in the future. I do not understand all of God’s ways but I can trust that is ways are motivated by love for his children. We have to acknowledge that. And let him in our lives.

But His trust is not something I just have because someone told me to. I have prayed about my questions and received answers. I have experienced God’s love personally. And I have felt it more profoundly on my mission. I am called to receive revelation for these people. It is my way of tapping into the priesthood power without having to have anyone place their hands on my head. This priesthood power is not just that, but Gods power. Prayers of the faithful regardless to age, sex, culture, or religion. God know his children. I am glad for that. I am blessed to be able to receive inspiration more quickly as I search ponder and pray. I have had so many cherished experiences with the glorious feeling of the Holy Ghost.

walking sticks

Look Close…. the sticks may move

Please read your scriptures.

Please pray to our Father in Heaven.

Just tell him about your day, what you feel.

Do it,

….

I dare you.

And partake of the sacrament, let the Atonement work in your life, and if you are not yet worthy. Make some changes… If  you lose yourself,  you find yourself. You have been you since before the earth was formed and you will live to the incomprehensible eternities beyond. Life is going to get pretty dull if you don’t let some variety into your life. Be brave, let him in, perform an experience.

You all have the light of Christ in you. So let it fill you with light.soda smile

I send my love and I wish I could just hold your hand and lead you to see it how I am beginning to understand.

All my love

Sister Gardner.

 

SIS h

The darling and beautiful Sister Hofmockel

 

Mi a Name I Call Myself

That title was for all your Spanish speakers, because that is as close
to a Spanish title as we are going to get in the alpine German speaking
mission.

Ah, and the story that actually links with the title. I see a new lady
in the church on Sunday sitting by herself after relief society
meeting. Well of course I go start talking to here. But surprise….
She only speaks Spanish. So I whip out the maybe two dozen words I
know. Ok not counting numbers. I am trying to figure out if she is a
visitor or member or what. And of course even when I realize it is
really not working out so well… I keep trying. It was about a ten
minute conversation. I did figure out who she was and where she was
from. Member visiting from Columbia who’s daughter is in the ward and
had just had a baby.
I think the funny part was me running to get my ipad and whipping out
the google translate.
Hopefully I at least made her laugh. ball

Speaking of that.
This just in, in France, Dora teaches you to speak English.
The real question is how did we come to that topic of conversation….

Well that could have to do with being stuck inside for two days. Ok,
maybe not two WHOLE days, but almost. I had escaped that morning to go
to the doctor which actually ended up condemning me to sit for the two
days…knee

AGONY. Misery. woe.
I guess riding a bike all the time and walking and just being a missionary

is not exactly helpful for knee injuries. But,
egal.(no matter)text message

I am back on my feet and we had a pretty great week.

On Tuesday we did a bit of finding. Talking with people in parks at
their doorways, on the street… And along a walking path next to a
duck pond. We were going to visit a less active, to just stop by,
and we stop to talk with a man sitting on the bench. We ended up
talking for about two hours. He told his his story of coming over from
Pakistan. This poor, poor man. It was the most horrible story I have
heard. He thanked us profusely for listening and said that he had
actually been praying and feeling really alone and his friend had had
a big operation for his seizures that day and then we had started
talking with him and that he knows God answered his prayer.
After ending my exile in Freilassing we met up with the storrers and
K at the church. He talked for about two hours telling us his story.

I recorded it and will begin transcribing it into a document so it

can be translated into German and then used for his visa interview.

He was so,so,so grateful. His story, is something that just sounds

like a bad dream. He has seen so much death and hate and injury and

people treating others like less than animals.
In general conference they talked about letting a refugee tell you
their story, looking into their eyes. It makes such a big difference.
If everyone just took a moment to really listen and hear from their
perspective there would be so much more understanding. So much more
love.lock bridge

We rode out to M this week on the bus with an older member of our
ward. I got to talk with her the whole way up and back. She of course
got on the bus later than we did and got off sooner but in the end it
was probably about two hours, I learned about her whole life and her
journey to find the church. Her first husband and the fifteen years
she spend living in Pakistan and then meeting her husband after being
widowed and then coming back to Germany. She was converted to the
church and has amazing faith. At one point, we where meeting outside.
Maria got distracted because her grandson and his little friend were
playing too far down the dirt road getting down to the bigger road. I
know you are all picturing something in your head but it is probably not
even close. Think in the middle of the mountains In a village. Hard to
explain when you don’t have much time. Anyhow, M asked sister
hofmockel to go get them, but we need to stay together so we go
running off, because two old ladies are not going to be able to do
much In a moment when you need speed. We come back up the big dirt hill
pushing the little petal four wheeler looking cars that the little
boys where riding. We finally get back up and our member sister is

sharing Moroni 10. I was so proud of her. And M really listened. We

read mosiah 4 She finally really read what was in there and then said.

Wow. It is really the same teaching as the bible……. YES. What have

we been telling you.
So, we are making progress slowly but surely.

zone 2

Salzburg Zone

zone

Part II

We had a nice zone training this week. Always nice to see our friends.
And the elder from Peru cracks me up. He is short and so smiley. He
has a great accent. I also have made friends with one of the elders
from Germany. He was talking win sister hofmockel and I at the stake
sport day.zone 3

Our golden guy mike is sadly moving to Italy. We had only one lesson
with him but he was so ready. So we hope that he will meet with the
missionaries when he gets there. His friend that he invited to meet
with us came to church on Sunday. Woo in a taxi!

Well. Things are good here. great Boucing Icebergs, There are soooo
many tourists in the Bahnhof today. Wow. Just took a pause to talk to
a couple from Canada. He is a firefighter but cannot find work. She
studies physiology. They have been going through Italy, Austria and the
czech republic. Managed to talk about Jesus Christ and give them a
card.
And now I let that little dandelion puff fly out into the sky and we
shall see if it grows.Salzburg Hauptbahnhof

I had some great moments reading the Book of Mormon this week.

Read it again, it is true. The stories are real. There is good and bad
in every life but God is always there, he loves us. He loves you.

So do I you know.

Love, sister Gardner

 

I Have Confidence in Sunshine

I have confidence in sunshine

I wanted to talk about a certain word that I learned in my personal study today.

It is called anmutig

anmutig means, according to the handy yellow dictionary means Graceful. I am reading through the Book of Mormon in German, and I am in Mosiah. Shortly after the wicked king Noah leads part of the men of his people to leave behind their families. The people send their “fair” daughters before them and the lame guys are charmed and do not kill them anymore. Hurrah, happier ending than expected.

Anyhow, the process for translating is complex. Really, I notice that when translating for church every Sunday. You could just do a word for word translation, but you have to take into consideration the sentence structure and the ideas trying to be portrayed. So it is interesting that the word that was chosen was anmutig or graceful.

I had always though. Oh. They got them with their looks. Which might have been true… Which considering they were sword toting men in a sort of beastly rampage that might have been true. But this time as I read it in German, this passage had new meaning.

It would have taken a lot of courage to stand between your family and the fiends that had already slain others, their blood stained weapons raised poised to add to the slaughter. So that brings me to my observation. The word anmutig has the word mut in it. Courage.

So with a grace-filled courage these fair daughter stood before the army, pleading the lives of their mothers and fathers. And they saved them! Which was good because these people where not yet ready to be united with their Father in Heaven.

Long story short. Shout out to the female heroes of the Book of Mormon.

And let us be anmutig. Cause, that does not just mean you can waltz your way around the dance floor.

I suppose, in the end I hope that I can also be anmutig.

So. Pardon my musings.

Well, this week was pretty excellent.

Our referral from the Catholic nun accepted a baptismal date in the first lesson, and her friend accepted one too. And there is a third friend with a little daughter found through his woman. They were very excited but they have got to come to church still for the first time.

ice cream

This calls for ice cream celebration

I really enjoyed skype-ing on Sunday. It seems like some strange sort of time machine. Back to before I took care of hundreds of people in my different areas. In two different countries. From all countries.

Regarding the tourist. I was a little frustrated by this, because when finding people to teach it would be nice if the people that you talk to on the street actually loved in Salzburg. Not Texas, or India, or France, or England, Und so weiter. My friend sister Camilla Strihavka is serving in the temple square mission. She wrote that their job is to make sure that everyone who comes has a spiritually uplifting experience and leaves having come closer to Jesus Christ. So. That is what I hope I accomplish anytime I offer to take someone’s picture and they only leave with a card. I hope that for this time, I made a difference and that when they go home to their respective country. Hopefully we can turn some of these curious tourists into referrals for missionaries around the world. Feeling a bit united with my sister at home in one of the most popular tourist cities in all of Europe.

We had a stake sport day this week and I was helping with the little kids Olympics. One of the organizers for the primary had asked if we would be willing to take care of a station. So I helped little kids jump through hoops do a “Purzelbaum” (somersault) weave between the cones, through  tunnel, riding on one of those sitting scooters and back again. Actually, explaining it meant I had to learn some new words.

mama s

Mama Strihavka

I also got to talk with sister Strihavkas mom. Which was really nice. She and I had a great conversation, and at one point we just hugged each other, both with tears in our eyes . She is a strong lady. And some of the things  she did were just like sister s. Aber, I am not sad. Just glad I got to make this weitere connection. Also I met the parents of sister S’s best friend who is serving in Greece right now. So basically I’ve got my roommates all figured out if I ever come back to Vienna to study.

This week had a few hard times, and a few lovely times.

Sometimes you pack in all your stuff to do an amazing service project and lesson, and then your investigator does not want to walk back to their house because it is raining and there is no way you could work in her Garden anyway. And then you are forced to meet in a cafe instead and have to deal with all the people there. Sometimes no matter what you say people will not believe that our father in Heaven loves us. Sometimes members feel the need to tell you how you should be doing your job, but are not willing to invite the very less active friend you are working with to come to church.

spring in  salzburg

Mirabell Palace

But then again, sometimes you catch your train even though your chain breaks off your bike again, and sometimes people are actually so excited to hear about the gospel being restored and after you finish explaining the first vision, they take the pamphlet from your hand and turn to explain it in their own words to their friend next to them. Checking with you sentence by sentence if they got it right.  Sometimes you talk to cool students who just dyed their hair bright blue, this morning, and sometimes a fiesty Austrian papa, who has been holding out with W S like  determination waiting time to not join the church, is touched by the song you sing and then walks with you out to the car, explaining the herb garden and construction site next to his house as you walk out. Sometimes you get a horrible, sunburn. But everyone offers to bring you aloe Vera.

another zellow building

St Michael’s Basilica

Sometimes you rejoice when a lesson goes well, sometimes you are sadden when someone cancels. You celebrate all the elders birthdays but made too much cake. Ok, so that last one is not so schlimm.

All in all, this microcosm of missionary work shows what life is like. But no matter what happens, I can move on rejoicing that I am a missionary and a daughter of God.

VonTrapp Family home from the movie

Von Trapp Family Home in the Movie

16 going on...

I am 16 going on 17 gazebo….oh yeah!

God has a plan, he loves us, Jesus Christ stands in the middle of this plan, the Holy Ghost helps us to know. The Gospel brings joy to those who let it.

It has brought me joy.

…is it working for you?

 

All my love,

Sister Gardner

Salzburg missionaries

Sister  Hofmockel, Sister Gardner, Elder Erickson and Elder Samuelson…..and Salzburg, Austria

Rain Drops on Roses

Raindrops on Roses

Well. It is raining. Again.

But that is alright because we are sitting oh so cozy and dry in the waiting room of Salzburg Bahnhof. Free wifi, and lots of people who can’t leave until their train goes. You meet lots of people during those two hours despite the fact it goes by too quick.
sisters in a selfie
I just want to share a few lovely moments from this week.

I told you about meeting a man on the street and talking for a long while. Well. We met up that Wednesday and had out first appointment with him. We gave him a church tour and he was just really quiet during it, we went into the library and he finally says something.
There was some random book in there “the way to perfection” he asked is that what we thought perfection was. Darn it random book. But it was fine we explained about the atonement and that although we are not perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we can be made perfect. We get to the end and he asks. Ok, well what is actually your message. So we sit down in the chapel, chairs In a circle. We give an overview
of what we teach. Now E is not a big fan of books, he is more of a how you feel and doing service sort of guy. He shares about when he was fourteen he asked, in prayer not in the Muslim way, or the Christian way, but his own way if God was there. He described feeling
a burning in his heart, warmth. … But that is where the spirit just gets started.
He asks us how we came to know what we believe is true. I share about when I felt closest to my Heavenly Father. That leads to a few more things, but then our member A, who is return missionary from the Manchester mission. Talks a little about how the Book of Mormon helped her. He listens but then says. I have read the bible over and over and the Koran over and over, but it does nothing for me. I feel nothing. It is just words. Why is this book different.

Wow, I can feel the spirit as I start to write this..
We open up to Moroni 10:3-5 and ask him to read explaining that this book has a promise. We hand the open book to him. He does not read out loud, as he starts
like a crescendo, the spirit comes in, stronger and stronger until it literally has a physical feeling in the room, like a weight of warm, and an undeniable presence. His hands start to shake and he is silent staring at the words he has read. He looks up and there are tears just so slightly at the rims of his lower eyelid. I look to my companions, their eyes match mine with a wet line of tears on our cheeks. The feeling does not go away. He finally speaks.

Saying…. Something to the extent of.
That is different.
That is the feeling again. I have not felt that since I was fourteen. If I could cry I would. And you won’t believe me, but, well you see,
my sister died when I was a little boy. I really have not thought of her so strongly.

.. ” do you believe you will see her again.”
“Yes.” You will.
“What do I need to do.”

And so I invited a 25 year old Muslim Christian Austrian young man from Pakistan who has been looking for the truth since he was 14 to be baptized…

The story can only go further from here, and I don’t know what lies in store for him. But I know that it is important because I have never experienced that so totally realistically physicality of feeling the spirit. He is amazing.

minute 2

All Set up for the Minute to  Win it Activity

In other news, we had an amazing minute to win it activity, the decorations s turned out great and we had lots of visitors there and
it was really very fun. We know these games well in the United States but for many of these people it was the first time. I love when I am running around being a hostess and making sure everything is going well and all the games are going well. I don’t know, it is energizing. And exhausting.

Pray for V,  we went to visit her but when her mom came home she had us go immediately because she says her mom is not so excited about religion. But I felt bad leaving right when she came. We are not robbers. So I hope I can get to know her better so that she can know
we are normal people.

Ha, I got a call from a certain mama Strihavka on the phone who was very excited to hear that I was serving in her stake. I don’t think you in Utah understand what a stake is like in Austria. There are two stakes in the whole country. It divides in the middle. Vienna and
Salzburg. That is it. Chew on that for a while.

framed

Sister Gardner in Salzburg

I met a woman who is planning to make a pilgrimage across Austria. She is one of the two ladies we met thru our nun convent adventures. She is really sweet, loves Imagine by John Lennon which luckily sister Hofmockel could play on the piano and she has the baby tooth of herson as an earring. She is cool.

trying not to laugh

The beautiful Sister H

Salzburg is filled with tourists, and the American ones all know I am Mormon. Oh happy day. Go home and ask the missionaries to visit you.

I would say they are pretty charismatic, super fun, spiritual and sing a lot. And also secretly thinking of hundreds of different things at one time. And trying their best even though they often wonder how to perform the work as greatly as their Heavenly Father would desire. But also counting on the power of the Holy Ghost, the love of Christ, and the knowledge of the truthfulness of our message.

All my love,
Sister Gardner.