Good News

He lives! Jesus Christ, He lives! The son of God, the Prince of Peace,
the friend to all, his love shall never cease. Goooooood news. He
lives.

(If you are confused take a look at the opening song of the musical
not about Dorothy.)

From the moment this new transfer started we have been seeing a lot of
changes especially with the people. Wednesday morning was eaten up by
being at bahnhof, helping all the missionaries get their luggage where
they needed to go and being there to be companions for the sister
waiting on her new companion. Salzburg is the point, much like Munich
that many, many transferring missionaries have to go through on
transfer day. It was exhilarating to see new faces and old.
Bittersweet to say goodbye to friends, and inspiring to welcome those
who are brand new on the mission.


I envy these freshly bloomed missionaries, they have their whole
mission ahead of them. Would love to have a whole new set of eighteen
months ahead of me, I have wanted this time since I was 14, why would
I want it to be over any time soon. This was the big goal, the big
dream. It still is, I am still living my dream every day. Talking with
random strangers and trying to help them remember that we are actually
brothers and sisters.

This week two people that I love very much went on their missions.
Reading their first letters I felt so, so glad for them. A mission
is the most wonderful thing. I am so excited to hear about their ups
and downs, successes and failures, disappointments and victories, the
mere adventure and amazing learning process.

transfers

Sister waiting in Salzburg

Anyhow on a note of what is happening in Salzburg…

I have been trying to work in unity with ward members and leaders. We
had a great meeting with our relief society president, just talked
about some sisters we could be supporting in the ward and she also
told us her conversion story, it all happened just because her friend
invited her over to watch a presentation from the missionaries, she
was too shy to say no, and did not want to go alone so she brought her
brother and two friends. … Guess who are all members of the church
now? Boom. Member missionary work.

Then later that week there was a relief society activity. I loved
looking around the room and realizing I had done something to either
work with or serve each lady in the room. We have a sweet Italian lady
in our ward, she is married to an Austrian and they just had their
first baby. A few Sunday’s ago she and her baby had a bit of s fall,
there was a glass that broke, and the poor little thing had stitches,
just a few weeks old. We were all very concerned and an ambulance had
to come to the church after the third hour, anyhow, we made her a meal
and it made me so happy to see the little baby feeling ok, and the
hair starting to grow back where they had to shave it away.

We also had the wonderful opportunity to go to ward council this week
because our ward mission leader had to work. I love being a part of
ward council, it helps you know what worries the ward members have,
and you find ways you can help more than when the GML himself goes and
just reports. But our GML is great so I am not complaining. Just you
know me, I like to be in the behind the scenes, the ( (employees only)
if you will) and part of what makes it all happen.

We have got our children’s dance class and singing class all set up
for these next weeks and a concert lined up for the first of July. I
am glad we have a small stage, now I just need to figure out how those
lights work. 🙂 this is all for our activity in combination with the
relief society and the primary children. The idea is they can invite
their friends to participate and then also the teacher of those who are
learning a musical instrument, Just pray that we will be able to pull
it all off, the ward is worried about having it later because if I or
elder Erickson gets transferred than the engines powering things will
be dead.   Well, not dead yet, just, somewhere else. So now it is in
three weeks and the ward members hardly know anything. But if I can
make this into something, then my name is not sister Gardner. We
already had a nice response from the moms that we spoke with on
Sunday. The theme is “singende klingede sommer” or roughly translated,
” singing the songs of summer.” Just pray I can handle the class of
little children and that we will have enough Olafs for our “In sommer”
choir. If anyone can put together a number with little boys, it is
elder Erickson. The kids love him and he is so patient with them. I am
excited to also see how it goes with elder Apel.
transfer waiting
Elder apel is from Freiburg, I love that he speaks in German all the
time. He has a strong personality and he looks like someone you would
not want to mess with, in a good way. He has served in Switzerland his
whole mission and now he is in Austria for his last twotransfers. We will go
home the same time. Haha,…… when we go home……. which is still really far
away. He likes his meat, and loves to go finding. He is great. Our
district now also has a golden, being trained by elder Jensen. I am
excited to get to know him more.

We have many people preparing themselves for baptism but they are not
keeping the commitment to come to church. Every time we visit they
say, oh yes, I want to go, and then we ask how we can help them , and
make a plan and then… Sunday. No one.
Sorry folks, no matter how bad you want to get baptized you need to
actually go to the church you are wanting to join… Logical? I think
so. But I am patient. We keep trying and committing.

donut day

Artistic treat or donut day?

Many other lovely things happened this week. I don’t know how to
explain my whole week. Which is sad because a missionaries day is
actually very interesting to read about. My experience is rather
different than someone serving in say Nigeria, USA, Argentina, or Hong
Kong. Buuuut. It is all the Lords work. I wish I could just keep going
on different missions all over the world, I could learn every
language, try every strange food cooked by the members, wear pants as
missionary clothes or street contact in a giant city with enormous
high rise buildings that touch the sky. I could get to know all
people, and come to love even more than I do all cultures. I could do
service projects in a swampland, or translate a sacrament meeting into
sign language, talk with people who already know tons of Mormons
because they live in a neighborhood full of them, or try to teach in
Tibet without a translated copy of the Book of Mormon. Oh my goodness
the possibilities are endless. I mean I would not trade my mission for
the world. But what I am saying is all over the world, missionary work
is uncomprehendingly amazing.

And the work of Him who gives us life.
And part of a perfect plan with a happy ending if we choose it.

How are you doing with your part?

To close I just want to give my testimony that Jesus Christ knows all
our pains, he understands our struggles and every time we cry out he
is there. He performed the atonement that we might not be alone. So
weather our pain is deep and penetrating like the loss of a loved one,
or something more for the all days, like a habit we want to break, or
keeping our words and thoughts cleaner, the pain from a life saving
seatbelt burn from a car that stopped to fast, or not know exactly
what you want to do with your job, child, investigators, lack of clean
water, choosing a major, broken heart, testimony, loneliness… He is
there that you may not face it alone. Take advantage of this blessing.
He will wipe away your tears. He will not leave you comfortless.

All my love,
Sister Calee Gardner

package

Package from home

 

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.

 

Because I am a Fighter

Because I am a Fighter

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

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

Dun dun dun.

BUT.

That is ok. Do you know why?

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

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

 

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

brats and mud

Salzburg Zone Mud Soccer

zone 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miracle two..

IMG_4803

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

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

Noooooooooooooo.

Oh well.

What can you do.

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

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

elder Samuelson

Our Salzburg District: Elder Samuelson

Sis S p day

Sister Hofmockel

Elder E

Sister Gardner and Elder Erickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needless to say, I think I realized something.

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

 

All my love.

Sister Gardner

 

link to the video she watched

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

The Hills…..

The Hills…..

(dramatic Pause)

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

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

Sis Hofmockel 2

Sister Gardner and Sister Hofmockel

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

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

salzburg

Salzburg Cathedral

 

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

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

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

mozart

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

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

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

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

snakes

Snakes…….and a smile

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

Lots of Love,

Sister Gardner

Slipped Through My Fingers

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

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

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

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

Will I ever learn?

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

sister on a conference call

Sis S will be missed

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

She is gone. But I am not alone.

spring

Yes, Spring!

Three tender mercies for you.

The first.

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

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

Second. Zwei.

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

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

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

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

The third.

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

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

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

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

Sister Gardner

spring flowers

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

 

She is Leaving

She is Leaving…..

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

Sis S and Sis G

Sister Strihavka and Sister Gardner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

saying goodbye to the RS Pres

Visiting the Relief Society President for Sis S to say goodbye

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

conference breakfast

Sis Whiting and Sis Srihavka- conference morning breakfast

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

Stuttgart  zones

Stuttgart Stake Conference

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

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

all my love,

Sister Gardner

stuttgart and munich zones

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