Another Nauvoo Miracle

This phrase started out sort of as a joke and has perpetuated itself a multiplicity of times. Whenever something goes right that probably should not have, the phrase “Another Nauvoo Miracle” pops out. From found granola bars to beautiful sunsets, costume malfunction repairs, and a whole myriad of escapades, Nauvoo has this way of making everything work out. It is a joke, but it is also true.

As you all know I have been struggling with my voice. On Sunday I fasted that it would get better and planned on starting a medication i had received to help it on Monday.
The next day we had the performance of The Promise. And For the first time since the day they cast the show, the high note I sing came out! I was actually able to sing the high note, it was clear and not as strong as It has been in the past, but I was able to do it. My voice has been improving since. I really believe it was a little miracle for me because of the faith and prayers and fasting… and now as it has been strengthening, the medicines of man that has helped me to work on this healing process.

I tried to make everyday this week a good day and I am glad to report that they were all good days.
I live for the times after a performance when I get to talk to the people. It is interesting. Three years ago, I would not have said that. I was not the biggest fan of talking to strangers. I love to see how my missions have helped me to progress in this area.
Sister Curtis, the director of the promise and the other shows was talking about how each show has something it testifies of. Anna Amanda: Self worth, Sunset by the Mississippi: JOY, Trail of Hope: Faith and The Promise: Jesus Christ. We don’t ever say that, but I think that is what comes across. I have loved helping to form The Promise with my own ideas. I have loved how Sister Curtis has listened to my perspectives with my character and how we have formed this show as a cast.
Something really wonderful happened Friday night at Trail of Hope.
As I was delivering my lines to the people who came down Parley Street. My mind was filled with images of my mission. People and places that I had not remembered or been able to think about. situations or lessons where brought to my remembrance. It was so beautiful. It was like finding an old journal entry. I was just filled with this enormous feeling of gratitude and joy for the service I was able to give.
I realized that since coming home from my mission I have often mourned the fact that it came to an end. I thought, oh, why would my Father in Heaven have me be finished if there was still more I wanted to give. As I stood out in the clover field after Trail of Hope, I saw thousands of fireflies. and I realized that it was not me that was giving, but rather my Father in Heaven who gave me the blessing to be there. He is the one who made it possible for me to have those memories. It is i who should have gratitude for that which he gave Me. The time and the year and the months in his service, was actually serving me. I knelt down and for the first time I really really thanked Him. For my mission in Austria. It put it in a good perspective. Nauvoo is healing me in ways I did not know I needed. I am so glad to be here and serving and singing and loving.
I invite all those who will come to Nauvoo or who study about its stories to do so with an open heart. This place changes lives.
I know that the gospel has been restored. I know that the temple ordinances are God’s gift to help us return to Him. I know that my God has a plan. And I am so grateful for that.
-Sister Gardner

 

Riverboats a Comin’ Up the Mississippi

Greeting from Nauvoo!
I have started calling people folks and I am afraid to say I have even thrown out a few “Ya’ll”s They are infiltrating my vocabulary!
This week has been so quick. I can hardly believe I am writing you again. I am always tired, but it is a wonderful feeling to be exhausted. My voice is still just taking it’s own sweet time getting better. That is really hard. But everyday I see how I am still able to bring the spirit and fulfill my duties and desires as a missionary despite my limitations.
I have had an amazing miracle this week of meeting someone almost every day who speaks German. Sister Greenwood had forgotten her tag, so I let her use mine and slapped on my German tag I had in my backpack. I was talking with a family after a performance. The kids were shy and it was not going as well as it usually does. Then the teenage daughter noticed my tag, She smiled and I was a little embarrassed because I had forgotten. Her mother comes over and she points it out to her and then her mom starts rattling off in German! She was German and also served her mission in Austria. She is from my mission. The Freiburg zone where I did not serve, but she knew all these places that I knew. We ended up talking for a good 20 minutes about her conversion and her mission and her children. All in German. It was a wonderful emotional experience. She was so glad to speak in German.
and I felt so glad that The Lord was letting me use my language in the middle of Nauvoo. I have run into people in other places too, but that was a big miracle for me. promise 4
I have loved seeing the youth groups that came in this week. It was nice to perform for a full house, and then at Sunset by the Mississippi there was a huge group from BYU I. I love doing The Promise and even though my voice is a struggle in Nauvoo singers, I love that too. Just walking around and singin for people. Or doing the little play by the tree called “Youth of Zion”
Today we will perform our first Sunday Concert. It is a new idea that I think is wonderful.nauvoo singers 2

Amid feelings of Stress and inadequacy and sometimes wondering if I fit in over here. I find that the best solutions to “old man Satan’s” brew of trouble and negativity is to serve. When I look outside myself, I am always rewarded with someone to love and inspire.
I love when we get to sing at the visitors center next to the Christus statue. I feel privileged to be able to share my testimony of Christ.
I know he is our courageous older brother, and the bringer and supplier of peace… In deed he is the Prince of Peace.
Till next week

All My love! -Sister Gardnerpraire diamond

Sunset By the Mississippi

This week marked the beginning of putting my hair up in to 1840’s hair styles every night. I am glad to say I got a lot of good practice from doing Christmas Carol because it is exactly the same. Well, that is to say, the hair is the same, but the humidity and the vast amounts of sweating I do make it a little more difficult out here in Illinois.

I am feeling so happy every day, There are hard bits every day, but then I feel good too. We have finally been able to start talking with visitors who are coming! Last night we had our opening night for Sunset by the Mississippi. It is a great show, but there are literally only about 7 minutes when we are changing shoes and costumes that we are not on stage. I am excited to see how my body handles a whole summer of this high energy. But I feel good, I feel stronger. the promise may 2017

Unfortunately, my voice is still just trudging along. I no longer feel sick, but my tone and range is shot. I am so sad. I have felt worried, and wondered why God would let this happen when he was the one who called me to be a performing missionary. I was pondering this during my scripture study one night when I read in Nephi 16. This is the part where the bow breaks and everyone is starving. God called Lehi and his family to leave. They were obedient and did as they were asked. They worked hard and followed the directions of the liahona, but despite their valiant behavior they still where faced with suffering and affliction. I was reading how they began to murmur.

And I realized, even though I was trying to wait it out and be strong and not worry, I was murmuring. I need to learn to be humble. I need to find away to make things work, even if I am having to make a different bow than I am used to. Even if it is course and made of wood rather than steel. I know that it will still serve it’s purpose to bring light and salvation and needed nourishment to my loved one and those I serve on this mission. I cannot promise that my voice will be as clear as it has been in other performances, but I know just like Nephi’s wooden bow, it will serve its purpose by the gift of the Holy Ghost. the promise may 2

We have had a choreographer here with us, he is really good and has worked with lots of big professional artists. He is a member of the church, but it was simple to see that the world was taking its toll on this son of God. I felt the prompting that we needed to write in a Book of Mormon for him. All of the YPM’s writing their testimonies and favorite scripture along with a thank you note in the back. as the time has progressed, we have seen him change and feel the spirit. And yesterday after watching The Promise, he had been crying and told us that he felt like he had been re-baptized and now had the courage to go back on a good path and return to his closeness with God. We saw how the spirit of Nauvoo brought to remembrance the things that he knew but had started to forget. I presented the Book of Mormon to him at his little good bye meeting we had. nauvoo singers

I don’t know what is in store for him, but I do know that he was mean to be helped by the missionaries of the 2017 YPM’s. I could talk about so many wonderful conversations I had yesterday with visiting families. But just know that the missionary work is alive and well here along the Missississippi.

With the Temple in View

(a note from Sister Gardner’s mom.  There was a bit of a problem with the email when she finally had a chance to email home. She was not able to open her account and ended up sending her letter with another email. So, don’t feel bad if you wrote and didn’t get a response. She hasn’t been able to open or read anything sent to her yet.  Snail mail works great. Hopefully it will get worked out soon so she knows we are writing her. Thanks for you support.)
From the green Mississippi riverside I send you a hello from Sister Gardner.

Within a week so much has happened.

One overwhelming feeling I have is that God has put this cast together and he is the one fueling the amazing progress we have made. I have never been in a show where we were given the script, parts and music and then performed it the first time through, from beginning to the end, in three days. We have learned so much music and blocking and  now even dancing within this time.

companion Sister Meikle

Sister Gardner and her companion Sister Meikle

I suppose I should start from the top.  Nauvoo is wonderful. It is fun to see this place that I came to as a child and to know that now I am part of the experience that I had while there. I see all of the missionary force here. The Seniors and the Visitor’s center sisters. I feel this connection to them all. I love to see the similarities of my mission in Austria to this one here. I still get to talk with people if I put myself out there and I was even able to give out a copy of the Book of Mormon and get and email from someone to send her missionaries while at the Airport in St. Louis. I felt that familiar confidence when you are inviting someone to read the Book of Mormon for the first time. It was so wonderful.

I am serving with Sister Miekle as my companion. She is also from Utah, and is studying musical theater at UVU. She is so great. We have been bonding a lot and I love having her around. I am going to switch to bullet points because I have literally seven minutes .

  • I have been given the responsibility to drive the 12 passenger van. Wow that was a little scary at first but I am getting the hang of it and I help to keep everyone on time for when we need to leave for various rehearsals and meetings.
  • We basically live in the theater in the visitors center which is where I feel right at home. I actually really like it. It it is like being in shows like I love, but  I know that I am doing it for God so it is even better and more focused.

    Rehearsals

    Rehearsal of the play  “The Promise”

  • They have already cast all of the shows. I am so excited to have been cast as  Julia in the  “The Promise” She is the girl in the love triangle, so I am excited to be portraying such a wonderful faithful character. It means I have lots of lines to learn and many chances for little solo parts.
  • The hardest part about this week has been losing my voice completely. I have been on vocal rest since Tuesday/ The day they announced the casting.  It started to ago a way and then I could not sing anything in my high range. I got a blessing finally yesterday and it is starting to get better. It has been good because it made me listen and have to exercise faith in God. I know that it happened so that He could teach me.

    first temple trip

    First Temple Trip

  • I love being a missionary again. So even if there are hard things that push me and times when I do not feel adequate to perform this role or to perform as a missionary enough, He can comfort me and lift me. I love the fact that I get to reach out to so many people. I am not perfect and I am realizing more and more my shortcoming, but I feel God is molding me just as before.
  • I love Nauvoo it is so green and beautiful.   Sister Miekle and I got stuck with the single bedroom in the basement, we felt a little sad at first, but it has turned out to be a blessing , because we always get to talk and it is  the coolest room in the house.

Pray for my voice. I love you guys. Sorry this email is so short. I hope we can get it all figured out so that I can actually receive emails from all of you. Thank you!

-Sister Gardner

Where two or three are gathered in my name… There shall I be in the midst of them. The midst of them that love me.

ice cream in Nauvoo

Ice Cream with the Sisters

We didn’t get a mothers day phone call, but this beautiful song and picture sent were perfect.

BUCH GROUP (6)

Save

Save

Sister Gardner Strikes Again

I am sure many of you thought that sister Gardner would write no more. But to my amazement and general jubilation, the missionary journey will continue! If you recall music was a crowning joy on my mission. I used music to touch the hearts of those I taught and to reach closed up hearts. I would like to announce that I have been called to serve as a Nauvoo Performing Missionary for this summer. I will be set apart Thursday and then Friday morning I am flying out at 5:45 in the morning.

It has been an interesting time coming back. I dove right into school again. I have been on stage again, singing and dancing. And now I have officially been accepted into the Acting Program at my university. I am trying to keep following God’s plan for me even though at times I wonder how exactly he  is planning on me using these talents in the long run. I am therefore very glad to have this opportunity to bear my testimony through song and dance.

Nauvoo, for those who are not aware was used as a gathering place for the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There was a thriving city and even a temple built on the banks of the Mississippi River. If you would like to know more about it check out the website : http://www.historicnauvoo.net/

I went there years ago and was so impressed and touched by the performers, the history, and of course the fireflies. So I am excited to be returning.

The audition process for this mission was already such a spiritually uplifting experience. I sent in my video and was then invited to attend a callback in Salt Lake City. I left early that morning filled with anticipation. I listened to the tabernacle choir as I drove, the sun rising in east up over the mountains as I drove along the freeway. I was filled with such peace. I remember going into the church building where the callback was held feeling that whatever happened the wonderful experience on the drive over might have been the only reason  was called back.

We had a marathon of singing. I loved hearing all the talented performers the entire chapel was filled with melodious voices. The audition continued throughout the day, measurements, choral singing, reading of slides (a section of a script), and an interview with the directors. It felt like a lovely musical theater themed zone conference just like on my mission. I felt so happy.

A few days later I received the happy news that I would be serving as a performing sister and I have been looking forward to it since December.

I am excited to see how I will grow and improve as a missionary and performer over the summer. I know that I will be able to dedicate these performances to the lord.

“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”

-2 Nephi 32: 9

…The most beautiful thing about all of this is that I will be able to be sister Gardner again! So I hope you will enjoy these next few months as Sister Gardner is Astonishing along the Mississippi.