I’ll Play it the Missionary Way

I’ll play it the missionary way,
Whatever the Lord asks me I’ll obey.
Wherever he needs me there I’ll go, supposing say Deutschland, I will go
Ooooh, Oooh, Oooh
The future is gleaming with missionary time,
I’m working to conquer that fear inside.
I’ll go where you want to go dear Lord, I’ll open my heart and make if full.
….

So big news for this email.
Sister Gardner had been part of the Vienna Zone since her first moments as a missionary in the field. She had grown apart from many of the others in her lovely green land of Graz, she would see them when she gathered with them, faces becoming familiar and watching slowly as all those familiar faces left, but not sister Gardner. She instead went to a new land, the land of Wiener Neustadt. Now closer to those who worked with her for her cause, she felt a renewed sense of support and a knowledge of what was happening across the entire zone. Still she remained as old faces left. Then for a glorious few weeks, Sister Gardner got to live a dream of hers, she loved and cared for every bit of the zone that she could touch. Her knowledge growing, she felt that she would be quite content and happy to stay in the Vienna zone her whole mission life, or at least stay in the land of red white and red. She felt that there were things to do, people to love. One day however, as her loving sister and she sat next to the phone, eating breakfast and nervously putting together a puzzle to calm the Amazonian butterflies, she discovered that she would be leaving. Leaving to the land of black, red and yellow. She found out that she would be joining forces with a fellow “Lindon-ite” in the land of Tübingen, Germany. The Lord had different plans than she had for herself, as He so often does. So now was the time for the Sister to follow with faith despite her surprise. A feeling of anticipation was prominent, penetrating, even with the flood of so many emotions that she would feel among those last few days in Wiener Neustadt.

The two flags of Sister Gardner's Missionary Heart.

The two flags of Sister Gardner’s Missionary Heart.


It has made me think about hearts. We are always told to bring to the Lord a broken heart and a contrite spirit. A heart that is to be broken to be healed again, to become stronger.

I have felt to Sing, ” I Left my Heart in Wiener Neustadt.” But as I thought about it more, I felt that it sounds a bit selfish, my heart has been letting me know that it is willing to break a little bit more to let in more people.

Or maybe a whole country.

Austrian Hillside.

Austrian Hillside.

When I left on my mission I left behind loved ones, but oh how I have been rewarded with more people to love, and here I go again. I shall fall in love with these people that I do not even know yet.

Yesterday I went up to a mountain called Schneeberg.
I was the most beautiful thing to be back up in the mountains, with the trees and the mist and the rocks and the earth and the leaves. I could not help but feel my soul swell with thanks and joy to be in Gods creation. We climbed through many different sorts of paths, my favorites were the ones that required me to cling to the rocks in front of me. Just steep enough that it required me to look for good hand hold in the rocks, testing first the section to see if it would hold as I continued up. We laughed and told riddles, throwing snowballs gleefully at each other, waited for those who needed our help in certain sections, gazed hungrily at the vast landscape marveling at the clouds below us. We lived as beings in an entire unpopulated, uncluttered section of the earth. Sometimes the mist covered the peak and our goal was out of sights, but the wind would blow giving us a temporary view of our end destination. The air was clean and fresh.
A member of our ward was our mountain guide, he brought a lady in one of the wards with him, and it was the Wiener Neustadt missionaries, and our favorite Hungarian RM. Wearing borrowed hiking boots and using sticks supplied by W S we ascended safely.
When we finally reached the top a vast field rewarded us with the wind roaring and other bright dots of color from the few other hikers also on the top. We stopped for lunch.
But I wanted to share my main thought of this whole purpose of relaying this story of our trip.

On top of the mountain, I went a few yards away from the group still in their sight of course. I lay in the thin mountain covering looking up into the blue cloudless sky. The wind pushing my hair about as I opened my arms and glazed up, feeling very, very close to my Father in Heaven. I had brought a Book of Mormon along. I started to read and as I did a feeling of peace settled upon my heart. I could feel the love of my Father. After a few pages, I just sat enjoying that feeling, enjoying this glorious beautiful moment of my life.

Schneeberg, Alps

Schneeberg, Alps

Now, I am back in a computer room, paper and printers and mouses and appointments and planners. All good things too, but as I think back to that mountaintop, I can feel again that peace. That peace of knowing my Father was there aware of me, as he is aware of all his children.

I am grateful for God’s children I have loved in this little bit of the earth. I am grateful for the missionaries I have worked with, for my dear Ecuador families, for leaders in the church, for the young people, for the old, for the S and K’s family. I am grateful for K’s mother even if she did call me, Elder Calee. Ha. Ha.
I am grateful for those I have spoken to on the street or in trains, grateful for the regulars of my little city. I am grateful for little tri-lingual girls, and German classes filled with Hungarians. I am glad for rehearsals and butterfly loving ladies. I am grateful for maps of Vienna that help me not get lost. For sassy friends who turn out to open up their hearts and let you heal them a bit before you go. For too large cheese filled pieces of fried meat at Herbs, and shaken up Traums (dreams) on long train rides. For inspired prayers and kept commitments. For faith being built and testimonies strengthened. For all the on the floor belly laugher in between. I am grateful for all of the miracles I have seen, all the moments when everything worked out with the help of power beyond my own.

I am grateful for my companion Sister Pratt, for the love and music she has shared with me. She, for being a true friend. I am so glad to have reopened this area, and though I must now leave it, the very world I have worked with my heart and soul to build up, I find comfort in my confidence of the Lords plan for us.

I have confidence in sunshine. I have confidence….

So here is to you Austria, to how much of my heart you have won, I will leave you now to take care of your brothers and sisters.

” But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.”

I love you.

Sister Gardner

Sister Gardner, a missionary in the rain.

Sister Gardner, a missionary in the rain.

I Shall Return

I shall return….

Hello my dear ones, I come to you now from the Vienna Bahnhof (station). Sitting quite wet in a booth at Burger King. What do you think about that? I think something that is so interesting about my mission is all the different cultures I get to see blended with each other. Millions of different lives trying to live in some sort of symbiotic relationship together often good, sometimes not perfectly, but then again it is wonderful to see how Gods children care for each other.

This week was all leading up to the musical abend (fireside). We put up flyers everywhere, where inviting people. And asking all the Vienna missionaries to help us spread the word. We had zone training, on Tuesday, which incidentally was before my last email. I think it all pulled together well, our new theme we came up with was “thrive not just survive.” We have been maintaining about the same for a few years, the idea is to start going on an upward slope. We showed the video based on President Uchtdorf ‘s talk “Your Potential,your privilages” with the parable about the man on a cruise ship. I really loved it. I felt it in my heart, we applied it to missionary work.

Wien Zone Selfie- taken after Zone Conference.

Wien Zone Selfie- taken after Zone Conference.

I don’t have much time today, but I wanted to let you know the musical
abend went well. We had 107 people there. We practiced all of Sunday and before that of course. It was really beautiful to see it all come together. It was the closest I have felt to a real opening night show since left on my mission, I loved singing. The spirit of the message also really touched me. The primary and young women sang A Child’s Prayer and one of the girls in the video was wearing a missionary badge. That was rather wonderful. “Heavenly Father are you really there, and do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?, Some say that heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray”. … And the ward really worked hard to pull the whole evening off they did a great job…and it was my joy to sing again.

I also got to go back to Graz this week. I got to visit the B’s,
A and E, sister K, and K. It was so wonderful, it was also really nice to already know how to get everywhere. Ha ha, but don’t worry Sister Grossen got to lead the way and she did great. She is taking good care of Graz in my place.

What was really nice was going to stake conference in Vienna on
Saturday, I got to see my Graz ward again and everyone seemed glad to see me. I was so glad to see them. S the young man who got baptized in Bruck an der Mur was there. We are good friends so I was able to get to talk with him and catch up. I am so glad he is going strong. Two older sisters from Wiener Neustadt offered us a ride home, and they talked to each other so fast in very thick dialect the whole way home, they where like two happy hens. I tried to participate but then they would start telling a story and I would sit there smiling as they went back into their catching up. Sister Pratt and I worked on memorizing words for the musical abend. It is a moment I will not forget. There are many small moments like that. I am very grateful for them, for they are treasures.

My treasures to keep and hold and love.

Theresian military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Austria

Theresian military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Austria

I want to close with a bit from a hymn that you all know already, but perhaps have not braved to this verse. It really went to my heart. And
It is a good metaphor for missionary work and any sort of service really.
In he song the man has just helped the other like in the story of the
Good Samaritan….

I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

Peace is something I am always looking for. I remember praying in the temple for peace. Studying it, but in this little bit, it was proved to me again the way we heal ourselves. That is through love and service as I use my heart it grows stronger, more willing and able and expert to open and love and pour itself out to whoever needs me. And as I serve and work to serve with everything, my own troubles and doubts are forgotten and I can worry about healing someone else.

I find such guidance in the words of hymns and scriptures and prophets. I know they are true when they prick my heart.

My tip for the week: Check how deep the puddle is before you kick it.
If you don’t people might get rather wet.

Have. A. Good. Week.
Love Sister Gardner.

Munich And Me

Munich And Me

Graz Building in the fall. now I just need a winter picture and my collection is complete.

Graz Building in the fall. now I just need a winter picture and my collection is complete.

I Believe In You, I Believe In You

I Believe in You, I Believe in You.

I am coming to you on a Wednesday this week. Oh exciting!

This week was a glorious, strenuous, exhausting and exhilarating week.

Austria's National Library

Austria’s National Library

Library in Vienna

Library in Vienna

I was in Salzburg and Vienna and all the way through to Munich, Deutschland. Lots of getting to know new people and really thinking, praying, pondering how we can help. It was nice to see my MTC companion Sister Burgess again, for she, as a European is locked away in Switzerland. Ha ha. She is doing well. It was just nice to all come together and I really loved learning from President Kohler and Sister Kohler. We also had the opportunity to get to know the zone leaders better. They are nice elders. I feel really involved and invested in the Vienna (Wien) zone and I love it. It is like a big family we work to take care of everyone.

Sister Burgess, my companion form the MTC.

Sister Burgess, my companion form the MTC.

New Friends at training Conference.

New Friends at training Conference.

Mission conference friends

Sister Poll at the conference.

Sister Poll at the conference.

Hey, It's even Elder Hadfield a friend from my very own high School German class.

Hey, It’s even Elder Hadfield a friend from my very own high School German class.

Well I am sure you have been waiting for this, W was baptized!!!!!

It was a most wonderful taufegottesdeinst. There where 100 people there, we did it in the chapel and when it was time for the baptism we all tried to squish into the room with the baptismal font. It was great, his whole family was there, his son in laws family, ward members from multiple wards, investigators and less actives. We sang a song, Sister Pratt and I. The Bishop got my programs all printed out for me, and the all the elders (Elder Call and Elder Chilcutt) even managed to fill the font with warm water when it was filling up too slowly. Two of the Vienna companionship came, Elder Bowers and Monson, in our district and Elder Plumb and his golden, Elder Elwell. They all saved the day.

I talked to W’s daughter she was taking pictures of the event trailed closely by her four year old. She was saying how it seems like a dream and she was not quite processing it; that it was really happening. She got a little choked up. I know everyone is so happy he is now a member of the church. They have loved him for years and years, now it is official. Lots of little wonderful things happened. I wish I could explain all the little things. Me getting after W when he was doing dishes.  “Hey, let us do this. You go enjoy your party”, Or all the copper roses on the white tables. Or the cinnamon rolls and meat platters. It was a beautiful moment the next day when he was confirmed in Sacrament meeting with his children and grandchildren watching. I felt so happy, happy for his family and for him.

Loved the copper flowers.

Loved the copper flowers.

Well, that was the end of the week. We were pretty tuckered out by Sunday, so we were very glad when we finished planning and were able to go to bed.

I think I shall now direct your attention to the title of this email.

In the musical How to Succeed in Business, Finch is singing about himself. In this case, I do not mean me, I mean my savior Jesus Christ. One of Elders Call’s favorite scriptures is (Alma 26:11-12) the one that talks about not boasting of yourself but rather my God, my Father and his Son. We were working on demur humility in our district this week. It is something I though I had more of, but in fact find that I must strive to improve it everyday, I know that when I humble myself to my Father in Heaven’s will. I do it his way and therefore in the best way. He is there as I strive to give my best and to give me hugs when my head hangs, red faced in shame. He helps me work it out. …. Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend. I am striving to, as Elder Dieter F Uchtdorf puts it, live up o my privileges and remember, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

On our bikes in the rain.

On our bikes in the rain.

My dear fiends, I hope you see the good this week, and see the beauty in the dismal and variety in the “plot twists” of life.

I also hope you win at the clue card game when you play it silently with the Zone leaders of Austria In a crowded bus for 3 hours with everyone sleeping. Ha ha, you’ve got to love the little things, like Musli for breakfast.

Have a good one!

All my love, Sister Gardner

Sisters in Vienna

Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner in Vienna

P. S. it is Fall.

P. S. it is Fall.

My Favorite Talk from Conference

This was my favorite talk from this Octobers LDS General Conference.  I just wanted to share these beautiful words in case you didn’t get the chance to hear or read it.

A Plea to My Sisters

By President Russell M. Nelson

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.

Dear Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund, we, your Brethren, welcome you to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We thank God for the revelations that He gives to His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.

Brothers and sisters, when we met in general conference six months ago, none of us anticipated the coming changes that would tug at the heartstrings of the entire Church. Elder L. Tom Perry delivered a powerful message about the irreplaceable role that marriage and family occupy in the Lord’s plan. We were stunned when just a few days later, we learned of the cancer that would soon take him from us.

Though President Boyd K. Packer’s health had been declining, he continued to “soldier on” in the work of the Lord. He was frail last April, yet he was determined to declare his witness as long as he had breath. Then, just 34 days after Elder Perry’s passing, President Packer also stepped across the veil.

We missed Elder Richard G. Scott at our last general conference, but we’ve reflected upon the powerful witness of the Savior he had borne in many previous conferences. And just 12 days ago, Elder Scott was called home and reunited with his beloved Jeanene.

I had the privilege of being with all of these Brethren during their final days, including joining members of President Packer’s and Elder Scott’s immediate families just before their passing. It has been difficult for me to believe that these three treasured friends, these magnificent servants of the Lord, are gone. I miss them more than I can say.

As I’ve reflected on this unexpected turn of events, one of the impressions that has lingered with me is that which I observed in these surviving wives. Etched in my mind are the serene images of Sister Donna Smith Packer and Sister Barbara Dayton Perry at their husbands’ bedsides, both women filled with love, truth, and pure faith.

As Sister Packer sat next to her husband in his final hours, she radiated that peace that passes all understanding.1 Though she realized that her beloved companion of almost 70 years would soon depart, she showed the tranquility of a faith-filled woman. She seemed angelic, just as she was in this photo of them at the dedication of the Brigham City Utah Temple.

I saw that same kind of love and faith emanating from Sister Perry. Her devotion to both her husband and the Lord was obvious, and it moved me deeply.

Through their husbands’ final hours and continuing to the present day, these stalwart women have shown the strength and courage that covenant-keeping women always demonstrate.2 It would be impossible to measure the influence that such women have, not only on families but also on the Lord’s Church, as wives, mothers, and grandmothers; as sisters and aunts; as teachers and leaders; and especially as exemplars and devout defenders of the faith.3

This has been true in every gospel dispensation since the days of Adam and Eve. Yet the women of this dispensation are distinct from the women of any other because this dispensation is distinct from any other.4 This distinction brings both privileges and responsibilities.

Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He prophesied: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”5

My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!6

We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!7

President Packer declared:

“We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …

“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.”8

Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.

Throughout my life, I have been blessed by such women. My departed wife, Dantzel, was such a woman. I will always be grateful for the life-changing influence she had on me in all aspects of my life, including my pioneering efforts in open-heart surgery.

Fifty-eight years ago I was asked to operate upon a little girl, gravely ill from congenital heart disease. Her older brother had previously died of a similar condition. Her parents pleaded for help. I was not optimistic about the outcome but vowed to do all in my power to save her life. Despite my best efforts, the child died. Later, the same parents brought another daughter to me, then just 16 months old, also born with a malformed heart. Again, at their request, I performed an operation. This child also died. This third heartbreaking loss in one family literally undid me.

I went home grief stricken. I threw myself upon our living room floor and cried all night long. Dantzel stayed by my side, listening as I repeatedly declared that I would never perform another heart operation. Then, around 5:00 in the morning, Dantzel looked at me and lovingly asked, “Are you finished crying? Then get dressed. Go back to the lab. Go to work! You need to learn more. If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know.”

Oh, how I needed my wife’s vision, grit, and love! I went back to work and learned more. If it weren’t for Dantzel’s inspired prodding, I would not have pursued open-heart surgery and would not have been prepared to do the operation in 1972 that saved the life of President Spencer W. Kimball.9

Sisters, do you realize the breadth and scope of your influence when you speak those things that come to your heart and mind as directed by the Spirit? A superb stake president told me of a stake council meeting in which they were wrestling with a difficult challenge. At one point, he realized that the stake Primary president had not spoken, so he asked if she had any impressions. “Well, actually I have,” she said and then proceeded to share a thought that changed the entire direction of the meeting. The stake president continued, “As she spoke, the Spirit testified to me that she had given voice to the revelation we had been seeking as a council.”

My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as “a contributing and full partner”10 as you unite with your husband in governing your family. Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.

We know that the culminating act of all creation was the creation of woman!11 We need your strength!

Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.12 We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.

My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women—women like my dear wife Wendy—whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.

So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!

I bear witness of the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His redeeming, atoning, and sanctifying power. And as one of His Apostles, I thank you, my dear sisters, and bless you to rise to your full stature, to fulfill the measure of your creation, as we walk arm in arm in this sacred work. Together we will help prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. Of this I testify, as your brother, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng

Stand Strong Wiener Neustadt, Stand Pure and Strong

Stand Wiener Neustadt, Stand Pure and Strong

Stand against the questions and hurt feelings, and misunderstood questions, stand against the pressures and uncertainties, hold on to testimony and love and look for the light in each day. I have faith in you and I am here to help you, I am the caregiver who will care while the miracle curer is away. I will bandage your wounds and sit with you on the long nights reading stories and helping you grow to love the people of back in time in the scriptures. I will take care of you, my companion and I, what ever you need.

"So, this is where we are suppose to put our bikes, I think".

“So, this is where we are suppose to put our bikes, I think”.

On our way to the middle of somewhere.

On our way to the middle of somewhere.

I love this place; it makes me so happy that I am busy with people to love and grand adventures to pull off.

I learned a lot from General Conference, sitting on the front row on metal chairs with a few Austrians quietly listening to the conference in English. I don’t know why they where in that room, the German translation is in the other room. Maybe it I had something to do with actually hearing a Prophet’s voice. This I can fully approve of and understand.

I really appreciated conference this week. I don’t know, I felt like it went by too fast. I was feeling comfortable and then suddenly we are singing the closing song. I really, really listened and I found a lot of promises in the words that where spoken. Promises that reassure me that when I open my mouth and declare, I can bring the spirit.

One thing I enjoyed about conference was being able to understand all the jokes. You underestimate that for people watching it translated.

Hurrah for old musical friends from the MTC.  Singing  with Elder Erickson.

Hurrah for old musical friends from the MTC. Singing with Elder Erickson.

This week was filled with service actually, and a trip to Salzburg for zone conference, and a Tausch (exchange) with my friend Sister Ahlm.

I worked in a garden for a few hours pulling weeds and getting the earth ready for the winter. We picked beans and made cake. I was with sister Ahlm. We told stories and avoided the stinging nettle used for tea making. I love rose bushes and speckled slugs. These were bigger than I had ever seen before. I helped E with his English homework later that week when we came in from digging a trench for Sister R and I took a break from chopping up veggies and drilled him on his political themed vocabulary. He is a good friend.

So you want to learn a language.  My stack of books.  Spanish books are now in the mix.

So you want to learn a language. My stack of books. Spanish books are now in the mix.

I loved carving pumpkins with the P’s this week. Over here in Austria the priesthood session was shown Sunday morning at the church. I helped their little girls print out and prepared their pumpkin carvings. They ran around and rolled along on roller skates.

The zone training was nice. Good to see some good friends again. One funny thing happened. We had all been given one of the two assignments to prepare a talk on; Language or Preparation day. President used random months and “oldestness” to decided who would give the talk for each topic. Guess who was born in November, and a few days before Elder Call… yep. That is me. Ha ha. I had a feeling and it was nice to share my thoughts on the topic.

Dinner with Sister Ahlm on our exchange.

Dinner with Sister Ahlm on our exchange.

Tausch (exchange) was really great. It is interesting to be a Sister Training leader now, but really often I felt like I was learning more from Sister Ahlm than me helping her. We had a good time. One highlight was teaching T again. She got a bit busy, but after meeting with her she is still so excited. Best of all her husband was also on board. Favorite quotes from that lesson are as follows:
“Yeah, but C, sprinkling is not in the Bible. We’ve got to do it like Jesus.” -T
” If you had said, 1000 members yesterday, you now have 1003.” -C

Sister Pratt and her bike.

Sister Pratt and her bike.

Well. There you go folks.
It was a good week. The church is true. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. The new apostles are awesome. Tab choir can sing! The church is a thing in Africa. I still like spaghetti. Schwester E came to conference. Uchtdorf is funny. I like being a missionary. The sky is blue and leaves are falling. Bruder C is a piano genius. I am out of time. I like to feel the spirit. It is pretty great. You are also pretty great. I am writing what I am thinking.

The Sisters and Breakfast

The Sisters and Breakfast

“She realized she was actually going to miss this strange old house with the stalker cat and her beloved great-aunt Rose” (Quote from Elder Uchtdorf’s talk in Women’s Conference)

And with that my dears, love every place you are. Love the stalker cats and happy hat-wearing ladies of your place in time on the earth right now. It is a blessing. I know that I am blessed to be in Wiener Neustadt; serving the Lord and doing my best to love. I have so many weaknesses, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Love,
Sister Gardner

Zone Conference

Zone Conference

Missionaries at Zone conference

Missionaries at Zone conference

Zone Conference

Zone Conference

A fun German version of a favorite story.

A fun German version of a favorite story.

Happy to……

Happy to……..

Be a missionary.

Dear Family, Friends and various users of the Internet.

I am glad you are there and I hope you are pushing on with strength. I hope that your trials are helping you learn and that you are looking for the good. I hope that this mixed up world is not weighing too much on you and that you are feeling the confidence of knowing your purpose and plan on the earth, on the earth and beyond.   To Infinity and Beyond!!!!!

Good Morning Wiener Neustadt!

Good Morning Wiener Neustadt!

Well with that cheesy segue; I wanted to talk a little bit about glow in the dark stars and being brave enough to take a step into the dark.

This is the basic idea of my metaphor today. You can only see the glowing effect of these planetarium moneymakers if you turn off the light. Only in the dark do they start to glow. If you choose to keep a flashlight on or the nightlight plugged in, you do not see these plastic stars in their splendor. We have to be brave enough to turn off our own light, our own way our own plan, and take faith in the way that God is leading us. I will find the scripture or talk snippet for you next week that started this idea in my head. When we rely on the way of Christ our eyes are opened to the beauty and understanding that was always there, but not yet so visible. When we trust, we see the new perspective even though initially it was terrifying to be plunged into dark. Without the dark we would never see the stars and how beautiful they are.

Austrian Parliament Building

Austrian Parliament Building

This week was good. This week was fun. Next week is another one. We worked hard and some things were hard. I saw my strengths and weaknesses, I found people who were ready, some that were not. I shared my heart; I shared Christ’s love. I worried and then was relieved. I smiled and sometimes my brow furrowed in thought. I sighed and laughed and took breaths in and out, I woke up, used my voice and heard other voices. I lived. That is what we are doing, all working at. And it is beautiful.

Does this mean it is Fall?

Does this mean it is Fall?

We did service and taught German classes, we ate pizza with new friends from Ecuador, we strengthened weaken testimonies, we reminded people of their divine heritage, we went to a birthday party. we picked up chestnuts and tried white wurst (Weisswurst). We took transportation to meet with single ladies in little dorfs (towns), we prepared people to be baptized, made phone calls, wrote notes, spoke in German, planned, dreamed and stretched. We sang. We petted little cats at a home still filled with returned missionary fire. We prayed. I did not burn the second batch of cookies.

Meeting with our Recently Returned missionary friend that is so happy to help.

Meeting with our Recently Returned missionary friend that is so happy to help us.

It was a good week, and a week that somehow was able to penetrate some of the more stubborn parts of my heart and soul and help me refocus and work to more follow the Example of Jesus Christ. Dear friends he taught us to love one another. He taught us to care.

Dinner with the WN family.

Dinner with the WN family.

This week holds conference. Wahoo! (Jumping up and down)….. and then a sudden pause. Wait a second! I watched the last conference in the MTC.

“Fame is fleeting, but the incident is forever.” -Ferb.

Ha, really cheesy quote, but basically what it means to me is just enjoy and work hard. Be glad and take care of each day as the gift it is.

I made big spirit prompted promises to W about answers he could get during conference this week. I trust in the spirit, but a few more prayers would not hurt.

All my love,

Sister Gardner

p.s. if you ever have the missionaries over, member or not, please turn off The Fairly OddParents. Though certainly charming, Cosmos´s green hair and little wand are not helpful for my focus, or the spirit.  Ha ha! I hope that one put a funny picture in your head. Well, like I said before…

LOOOOOVVVEEE Ya!

New signs at the train station.  And Elder Call

New signs at the train station. And Elder Call

W and S gave us a ride home Friday night, and I forgot my sneakers from sport night in their car, I come to the church today and in the place I put my helmet are my shoes and these cookies. They are so nice to us. I am excited to get the taufe (baptism) program all typed up for him.

W and S gave us a ride home Friday night, and I forgot my sneakers from sport night in their car, I come to the church today and in the place I put my helmet are my shoes and these cookies. They are so nice to us. I am excited to get the taufe (baptism) program all typed up for him.

Little Street in Vienna

Little Street in Vienna

Theresian Military Academy : The Academy is located in the castle of Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria. It is one of the oldest military academy in the world. The Wehrmacht installed a war school for non-commissioned officers at the castle of Wiener Neustadt. After World War II and the Austrian State Treaty which was signed in 1955 the demolished castle was rebuilt and in 1958 the military academy.

Theresian Military Academy : The Academy is located in the castle of Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria. It is one of the oldest military academy in the world. The Wehrmacht installed a war school for non-commissioned officers at the castle of Wiener Neustadt. After World War II and the Austrian State Treaty which was signed in 1955 the demolished castle was rebuilt and in 1958 the military academy.

St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna, Austria.

St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna, Austria withSister Pratt.

A Birthday party we were invited to.  Sister Pratt, Elder Chilcutt and Elder Call

A Birthday party we were invited to. Sister Pratt, Elder Chilcutt and Elder Call

Things that are Good

  1. Reading Journal entries from the MTC
  2. Birthday parties with little kids and hurriedly decorated houses
  3. A cup of my favorite herbal tea
  4. Ping pong for sport night when it was raining
  5. General conference is this week
  6. W is getting baptized
  7. We spoke German to each other all last week
  8. The guy we see all the time who knows missionaries and greets us by shouting Obama
  9. Practicing for Musical abend (evening/ fireside)
  10. Sister Pratt

How to Succeed on your Mission Without Really Trying

How to Succeed on your Mission Without Really Trying.

Overture comes to a screeching halt as I stride on stage and rip the mic tape off of the window-washing singer, and proclaim, (Preach my Gospel book in hand)….
“There is no such way!”
Bows slightly and then walks off the stage.
The End.

Wien Zone Meeting

Wien Zone Meeting

I have most certainly learned this during my time on the mission. I knew it would be hard and I knew I was up for the challenge, but really there is no easy way to complete a mission because, “salvation was not a cheap experience”… Every morning we recite a few scriptures and our purpose as missionaries.

1. (Our Purpose)  Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

2. D&C 4 1 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.

3.  3 Nephi 5:13 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.

The goal is to serve with all our hearts, might mind and strength… I am always working towards this.

This week, like the weeks before it was filled, filled with the work to bring others to Christ.

Fall has come to the plaza.

Fall has come to the plaza.

I love the little tiny things!!!

I love the little tiny things!!!

Some good things:
• Monday: We had a family home evening with the C’s and then they invited us to eat lunch with them the next day.
• Tuesday: German class went really well and we are going to start using these Hungarian grammar sheets that a member found for us.
• Wednesday: was an adventure in and of itself. Written on the border of my planner for that day is…. ” The day of the Eating”. We had five appointments that included some sort of eating that day. It seriously rivaled some sort of Thanksgiving. We had appointment back to back the whole day starting after companion study and all the way until we had to go back for the day. We had a member appointment, part member family, helped the Elders with two of their appointments that their investigators invited us to, and also the wife of one of our church investigating friends who is now probably going to become an investigator too. Wow, it was so, so busy. I saw that God answers even our most small desires and prayers when Sister Pratt prayed the night before for a bigger stomach.
• Thursday: we went and got the P’s house ready for the big move on Saturday. We took tape off the newly painted walls and cleaned up paint-splattered papers spread on the floor. We also biked to the old house to get the baby care items she needed so that she did not have to take all the kids back to the old house. Yeah for service. I really love it.
• Friday: We had a member appointment with the elders and with one of the former investigators. It was one of the roughest appointments so far on my mission …… yeah. It was a little too interesting. But the day ended on a lovely note when we met with W.  It is so wonderful how much spirit and peace I feel when I teach with Sister Pratt during these lessons with him and his wife. They gave me the baptism program plan so I can type it up and make the program. I am so, so excited.
• Saturday: We did the big move, it was really fun because many in the ward came and helped. We also met with sister E and wrote down exactly her plan on paper, in pen, with a date of how she will get herself to the temple. We are going to help her all the way. We also started the special clean out of our home and personalities; it is a goal for our zone.
• Sunday: I think I may have found a picture of my former German teacher in one of the guest books in the member’s house that we visited last week, it was a blessing to be able to sing with her and bring the spirit to her house.

My WIener Neustadt Family Elder Call, Elder Chilcutt, Sister Pratt on the train.

My WIener Neustadt Family
Elder Call, Elder Chilcutt, Sister Pratt on the train.

Well, that was the quick version. Basically I could never explain everything I do even if I wrote for hours and hours. Heh heh. Well, this day begins our week of only speaking in German. Oh my Goodness, I need to break some habits. But Sister Pratt and are working on it together. We have also had the pleasure to get to know our neighbors a bit. I really need to be done, but thank you for your support.

I know that through the lord, we can do hard things; we can stand against negative feelings either from others, situations, or ourselves. We are eternal beings with eternal potential. I know that the choices we make here and now on earth are so important because they will shape our entire not fully comprehensible existence. And Christ is the one who brings us there. I love you…

Love,
Sister Gardner.

Sunset Skyline

Sunset Skyline

Scripture of the Week: D & C 64:33

33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.ee

Love it, Theme for this transfer.

Through our building arch.

Through our building arch.

The Writing on the Wall

The WRITING ON THE WALL

But more than that,

More than what solution fits the crime,

What I’ve learned is life is bits of time,

And you fight for every tiny speck ……

Is it clear?

If you hear my voice then you’re alive,

What a blessed marvel we survive,

When you think of ever trial you face

In this grand human race……..

And give up never!

The fight – you’ll need the wherewithal!

Can’t you heed the lighting

As I plead.

Inciting you to read the writing on the wall.

(Song from The Mystery of Edwin Drood)

This is debatably one of the most influential musical theater songs in my life, the other now inspires the very name of my blog you may be reading.  Though high school musical theater holds little weight in the grand scheme of things, the love and effort put into this single little moment in a school auditorium really resonates with the efforts in a little city in a right hand corner of Austria. Compared with the vast expanse of missionary progress in South America, one might be tempted to compare our 36 baptisms mission wide as some sort of small single Lego in the middle of a large model of the Incredible Hulk or a complete to scale model of New York City. But just like throwing a starfish into the ocean after a storm, it makes a difference to that one.

Sister Gardner and Sister Pratt in Wiener Neustadt

Sister Gardner and Sister Pratt in Wiener Neustadt

“Life is bits of time… And you fight for every tiny speck…” Every moment on my mission is a moment of the Lords. I am on his time so I try to always look for ways to serve or at least put on a smile so I can truly share that my work is a work of joy. I am not always perfect at this, indeed I feel pushed down or discouraged occasionally but it gives no excuse to sit down and give up. I have tried my whole life to never be that. And it has inspired a sort of stubborn and blessed obstinacy that has kept me going through good and bad. It has grown as I have experienced what life has to throw at me or give me, it has grown through experiences and choices and it is all made possible by the atonement of Jesus Christ.

This week marks the end of my first transfer in Wiener Neustadt, luckily for me, I get to stay another one with my dear Sister Pratt.  She gets to put up with my occasionally “sherlockianness” another transfer, good thing we will be singing all the way. My district stayed the same for this transfer, and almost all the sisters are staying the same. Some changes with elders but not too crazy. My original Graz family is all out of Graz as it welcomes yet another golden into it’s arms. One big difference is that the sister training leaders are now living in Wiener Neustadt. I am so grateful for this opportunity to love and serve my sisters even more than before. Also lifting some lost lambs in Graz on tausch (exchange) will be a blessing for I find I have been thinking of them.

Well this week held many wonderful things, I am glad when our weeks are busy, I like to be busy and if we are not, I work to find time to meet new friends that will, be blessed by this gospel.

No rolling green hills right at hand so how about

No rolling green hills right at hand so how about “This Field is Alive with the sound of Music”

We went to opera house last week and it was so, so wonderful to be in a theater again. I could smell those set changes. I asked out tour guide if she had ever sang on the stage she said no with a smile but said that I could. My district was teasing me a bit, and of course I would not try and really sing, but I did sing a bit under my breath imagining how wonderful it would be to be out on stage again. It makes me happy more than anything, second only to teaching someone with the spirit and seeing their souls be touched and their hearts softened.

Our German courses went well this week. I ended up teaching all of the Tuesday class. We had a tausch (exchange) with the Vienna sisters and I was with Sister Eden so it was fun to do a little bit of training for the day. I tried to really make it a really good and fun learning experience. I was also glad to help our GML (ward mission leader) with his moving. Running up and down stairs is fun. Sister Pratt and Ahlm had a late appointment so they did not have time to tausch back so I packed an overnight bag and joined all of the others in Vienna for the night. It was so fun to fill up all the beds in the two bunk beds and feel what it would be like to live with another companionship or in a dritt. (trio) Sister Pratt told us some scary stories and I kept interjecting with things like, “and the butterfly flew gracefully across the…” And other things like that when ever sister Eden started to get really freaked out. Sister Eden and I where singing astonishing as we cooked toast without a toaster for breakfast for the four of us.

An exchange with Sister Eden.

An exchange with Sister Eden.

Zone training was amazing, a super spiritual and motivating experience, more than any one I have been to this whole time. It really helped me see some ways to improve and realize that though I am improving I need to re evaluate and really focus on becoming the missionary I always thought I could be, my dream. I made a little poster banner of sorts in red paper to remind me of the attributes I am trying to exemplify.

We met with sister E, she is a less active and has so much desire to come back and get her patriarchal blessing and go get prepared for the temple. We are trying to help her feel the love and know that God will support her through any trial and cheers at each progress no matter how small. We know she has the desire and we are working to make it happen.

W fixed our bike problem by buying us lights and a new bike.  Luckily he is going to let us pay him back for the bike but he bought the missionaries a pump for the bike as a gift. He is trying so hard and has been making so much process in reading and testimony building since the first time we met. We were able to meet with C. a young single mom Hungarian woman we met through the German class. She has just been feeling alone and the church has really been giving her a place to belong and she has felt good just being there. She is going back to Hungary for a while but the missionaries and ward already know she is coming thanks to some lovely member help.

J and E are still trying to work things out. T got back in touch with us after we had been trying and so we are going to meet this week.

I really love K’s mom R. I can tell she feels the spirit at church but we just need to keep gently inviting her to pray about the truth, she is so lovely. Her curly, curly black hair and little yellow hair clips, she works so hard to help with translating and I just really love her. I hope that as the elders keep teaching K and we keep getting invited to the appointments so we can keep her progress going. I finally also this week met the cousin of J, A, she was helping with the moving and is an investigator. She is a cool lady. I really hope we get to start teaching her.

Also Bishop and his wife where feeling sick this week so we brought them a card.

Well that was a big long email of names and people that you have never met, but I suppose you can gain comfort in knowing that all over the world the Lords work is moving forward. One little slice of the giant plan of the pie of salvation. Heh heh.

Beautiful Countryside

Beautiful Countryside

In other news I gave a talk on Sunday and Sister P said we should wear dirndls because it was some holiday but I get to the church and no one is wearing them, just Sister Pratt and myself. I was so embarrassed, but when sister P and all the little P’s children got there I wasn’t so alone but it was a little nerve wracking to give the talk.  Usually it is just fine, I love giving talks, speaking in front of others. But, I had only found out about it on Friday night so it was not all translated, written in English yes and thought, and prayed over but not yet translated. I was very nervous. But then as I was standing at the door greeting people trying not to worry, who comes walking in with her son in law, but the Stake young women’s president. And that just happens to be sister K from Gemeinde, Graz. I started crying happy tears when I saw her. She was like a mother figure for me when I was in Graz, she gave me a big hug and a little chocolate heart she brought for me. Then when she was sitting on the stand (as the important visitor she was) I got to sit by her until it was time to give my talk. God sent me this tender mercy in my time of being nervous.

I love you so much and I wish you well for this week. Look for little tender mercies

Love, Sister Gardner

My limerick as promised:

Bounded in blue, yes, this is a true book

Let me explain, while you take a good look.

Maroni ten three through five

Do it while you are alive

Ask in real intent; a spirit shook.