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

 

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

Getting Better All The Time

Getting Better All the Time
This week was a week that wears you out but in the best sort of way. Lots to do, people to help, lives to help change. The usual for someone with this sort of name tag.
We had a nice singing stunde (hour) with the voice teacher of brother H. She has been helping him practice his solo for the choir song we are singing on Easter, I have got the Soprano solo so it was good to practice with her. She is a delightfully unique, very sweet lady. But you know what he is paying her to teach him to sing, so if she can do it, I can do it too. ha, it was nice, it is a good way to teacher her more about the church, she has interest to learn more but does not want the pressure of actually being an investigator so she is wavering between potential and something else. sunflower

We went to visit J every evening that we could, Just taking time to review and read in the scriptures. I just love this family. The baptism was great. We had a bit of a fiasco with the programs because the computer program in the church is so, so old but with some glue sticks and attempts at deep breathing we were able to get it all done. We tried to make it all very special, I bought her some white tulips and we made her a cake for after. Sadly it got eaten before I got a picture but I had made a layered flower out of sliced strawberries.
But all the preparations are not important. What was important was that yesterday at about 1 o´clock J G decided to be baptized. She decided to begin her journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ and with the quick dip, she was washed cleaned and made a covenant to think of Him always. I felt the spirit so strongly and she was so sweet. right before, I ran and grabbed her some socks from the closet and put them on her and then hugged her. She said something to the extent of “why does everyone keep hugging me” her mom replies, ” because they love you and are happy for you” It was something really special to see. I am so glad we were able to teach her and help her to make this promise. I can´t wait to see what she does as she grows up.
Of course part of me would love to see a little black badge, but we will see.

column

P-day Adventuring

It was an excellent thing for her family, Her brother is excited and her mom is more excited and her other older brother, the 21 year old, wants to be taught. He lives in the area of Elder Erickson, so I had him call him on our phone and they made an appointment. It was wonderful. I look forward to next week when she will receive the gift of the holy ghost. I was really grateful for her amazing primary teacher who gave great talks, and then of course her mom saying her first prayer for the congregation.

I love the way S talks with God, it is simple honest and beautiful, with pauses and listening and thinking what to say, just like a real conversation. I think I can learn a lot from that. I have high hopes for the eternal perspective of this family. S informed us that the papers G needs so that they can get married should be coming soon.

march dritt

The Tübingen dritt – Sister Strihavka, Sister Whiting and Sister Gardner

We had a nice time in Munich at mission tour, the area 70 talked to us about the missionary work here since the beginning. They showed us a picture of one of the first copies of the Book of Mormon given out in Germany, and very, very old pass along cards. The message, what will you leave behind? Who will remember you?

feeding the birds

Elder Petty and Sister Whiting

I have asked myself that a lot. What are my efforts actually going to do in the future. I know I do not have the whole perspective, but I can trust that God sees it. I just need to be ready to be the tool that God needs when He does his work.
We had a nice time with the Munich sisters and we got the visa all figured out. We also met some really cool people while we waited at the visa appointment. A couple whose wife went in for the interview and the man had to stay out with us to wait. And one of them being a tenor opera singer from china who gave us his email so that we can let him know about activities and music. He also took a copy of the Book of Mormon a long. I enjoyed that conversation very much.
All the lovely people, where do they all come from… all the lovely people, how could I ever go wrong.

oh, and my recommendation for you this week, take a look at the new Easter film. I suddenly hits you with the spirit like a ton of loving bricks. enjoy. enjoy the flowers.

tuppence a bag

Enjoy the birds too

….
I am happy. Until next week.
Love, sister GARDNER

Will All The Missionaries Please Stand Up

Will  all the Missionaries Please Stand Up

 Have you ever had your heart swollen of so many different feelings at the same time? So many things going so right amid the bits going horribly wrong.  Miracles amid the Maladies and hope despite the Hurt. The thing is, as a missionary you are dealing with the lives of so many people. Your own life is really just defined about how the others you care for and love and support are doing, their lives are living and changing, yours is a sort of fixed point amid the chaos that we call human life. Chaos, from one point of view a perfectly crafted poem from the other side.

Sister S

Pday Hike

One of our dear members, the newest convert here in the ward, just lost his best friends. We met with him today to go on a walk, he did not speak much about it, just that he will be now taking care of the friends children. He told us about it last night. It was the moment of silence not knowing what to do, it seems almost fake. When you know how much someone means to someone else and then just knowing that they are gone. The most comforting part is than he now is hoping and wanting to take his name to the temple to do his work for him.

I felt a little angry.  A little sad as well. My fists curled and I just sort of had to stare at the wall for a second. Angry that those who find the gospel have to face so much after. That they are tested and tempted so after making this important step. It comes in many different ways. That is sad because then they think, what have I done wrong, but in reality then have done nothing wrong, and if they can just hold on then this trial can bring them closer to their God and Savior. That is why they need true friends. Everyone needs them, but especially new converts.

And the other end of the spectrum, you get a message that someone has decided finally that they will go to the temple, and you just start yelling with joy with your companions in the apartment, because that was the topic of conversation for the last three appointments almost.

Sunday dress

Sis Stihavka, a ward member and Sis Gardner

R came to the conference and sang in the choir. It is funny you would look at her and think that she has been a member for so long, but in reality she hasn’t. She just fits right in, I hope the gospel continues to bring her joy.

Goodness S is so cool. We will be teaching something and then J (daughter) will have a question and then S jumps In and clarifies. Like baptisms for the dead. She jumps in and clarifies that.  She is a super woman.

M was so sweet we get into the appointment, we are about all sitting down and then he just gets this very serious sweet face and stands up walks to the middle of the room and then turns around. ” I have something I need to say, I have decided to get baptized, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father, and I got an answer.” Of course Sister Strihavka and I are up on our feet and we go join in the group hug that little J has already started, her arms around the neck of her older brother. It was a beautiful moment. We had made invitations for J, cute little flowered handmade paper invitations. M said he would want some to give T’s friends too, but hopefully with Pokemon balls on them instead of flowers. We shall see. His date is for the 10th of April
We now have four baptismal dates.
Dusk
There is D, we have been working with his friends, but through the friends we were able to find him, now his friend lost interest, but D got the number from his friend and asked us to please
come back and keep teaching to him. He has already been baptized before, but he says if it is God’ss plan then he will do it again. He has slowly gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and always reads the little pamphlets we give him. He looks like a total hip gangster. He is so great. The flat brim hat and the sort of low pants, but not so bad, ha ha, he is a classy gangster. Before we knew his name we always called him “cool hat guy”

The we have W a student from China. She is studying breast cancer research. She is so sweet we met her by contacting at Bahnhof waiting for a train in a totally different city. It turns out she lives about ten minutes with bike away from the church. She is doing great, also she scored some more brownie points from me when she cut her hair herself.   I asked her why she did, ” I cut it when it starts to be uncomfortable.” I feel you sister. Also she loves it when we call her
Sister J so that is what we do, she always prays that got will bless his daughters.

F came to help for a lesson with, both, D and W, and he did such a good job. It was wonderful to hear his testimony. Often he makes jokes so you can’t tell how much it really means to him, but hearing him talk about his conversion process makes me realize just how important and life changing the gospel was for him. He always starts it with, “Elder Maw and Howard tackled me on the street and started to talk to me about sports, and then the next day we met at the church, and then he gave me this book. After every chapter I read, I would pray and ask God if it was true, and then I felt peace and that it was true.”

Simple as that folks.
village 2
We went an took care of a very old woman for a little while  her sister went with the elders and Bruder  H to visit a very less active person. The daughter of the very old woman is one of the only ward members who still has contact with this other woman. We played the German equivalent of “Sorry” and sang some songs for her, that was until she started to lose then she got a little tired and just got up without a word and climbed the stairs to lay down. She was trying to tell us a story but she forgets everything every few minutes and got very scared by her cat when she went into her bedroom. We tried to calm her, it was an interesting un-planned service, but I am glad we were able to help, in the little cottage in the middle of snowing Schwarzwald. (Black Forest)

We thought we would never see J again. So needless to say I got a bit excited when I saw him from the back coming out of the Internet cafe. Kind of like the shouting his name and running and then having to stop yourself from hugging him sort of way. So he has not been deported yet, but it is going to happen possibly any day, he is ok, but really so, so, so stressed. He just wants it to be over. He has more white hairs now than when I met him. He has been trying to solve the problem, and his phone stopped working and he did not know because he has two others. So now we secured his email and other phone number. We are not going to lose him again  now at least if I never see him again. I got to say good bye and bear my testimony one last time.

We had a great stake conference.  You, you reading this email, you are a missionary.  that was really the message for the whole conference. It is what these German people needed. “Tell the missionaries my house is open for you, my oven is baking a cake for you.” Then he shared his conversion story.  He was a bearded guitar playing roamer who saw the missionaries in the park, felt practically shoved by the Holy Ghost to talk with them and changed his whole life around in two weeks when he was baptized. There was a member who helped at every lesson. Now, today, he and the member are both still friends, and their son and daughter married each other. I was privileged to volunteer to share my testimony when he asked for any sister missionary to come up.

I think he thought I was funny because we were on the front row and I just agreed with so much of what he was saying that I was smiling like an idiot, and then on Sunday we were able to sing in the choir. Good old EFY medley. over done? A little cheesy? Yeah. But I think we can forgive it for the spirit it brings. If it brings the spirit. I am ok with certain amounts of Käse.

This is a Pinecone

Elder Elwell and the Pinecone

Elder Petty and Ewell

Elder Petty and Elwell

Ahmm, Yes

Something to make her Smile

Brief overview of our district:
Elder Erickson: Superman the Musical
Elder Young: Deep in the Heart of Texas
Elder Petty: Technology Merlin
Elder Elwell: The Hunter
Sister Strihavka: Austria
Sister Whiting: The Fruits of the Valley
Sister Gardner: I don’t know what to call me… Any suggestions?

….Still Singing
Ah there we go.

Some last points:

* Good times with our dritt (trio), lots of running around as usual
* We are excited for Easter
* Our apartment is pretty cozy for three
* We are always looking to improve
* The world needs to judge a whole lot less.

Lots of love,
Sister Gardner

Trees

Thoroughly Modern Missionary

 

Thoroughly Modern Missionary

This week, I just want to “ode” the life of a missionary a bit.

I am glad for a work that leaves you exceptionally exhausted at the end of the day and then motivates you to get back up again when that alarm goes off. A work that makes you feel this overwhelming love for all the people around you, a work that makes you a better person if you let it.

I am mostly just so grateful for the people that I get to serve. All my stress of getting from place to place, and trying to think how to start conversations, and basically anything uncomfortable or inconvenient for me is in the service of someone else.

Ha, this proved most exceptionally when I am trying to run in the morning for sport, I run so I can catch trains and be punctual for appointments. ha ha. Ok, so that is not the only reason. But it is a good example. A missionary life is a symbiotic relationship.

For what I put in, I get blessing out, and those blessings bless others because I am able to do my work better, thus helping me have the courage to work harder. It is a lovely give and take that actually just keeps accumulating.

Fasching

Fasching Parade- Celebrating the coming of Spring

We had a lovely time with J this week with the family H. It was an amazing chance to have a member joint teach. We had been in ward council and a member of the bishopric asked how he was doing. We told him that we were going to meet briefly tomorrow. He invited us to meet at his home and his wife and children would be there to be our joint teaches. It ended up working wonderfully and we even ate lunch together. It was a lesson really lead by the spirit. I really have a testimony that having members at appointments makes a huge difference, it also functions to give the members a chance to share their testimony. It is not always easy to get it to work, but when it does it is great.Parade

We were finally able to meet with M on Sunday. The member Brother Trippel invited the elders, us, R, Brother C (a member) and M to his house for dinner and they all came. We were finally able to teach him a lesson, the first one since even a bit before I got here. It was a really good review for me and I love teaching the plan of salvation. It is a perfect plan. Really. I think the part that really makes it real for me is the spirit world, the idea that everyone, everyone is going to get a chance to accept the gospel. That has been a bit of a theme this week, We have taught the plan of salvation a lot.

We had a nice time with family R, got to know the sons a bit better and helped them cook egg rolls. The middle son got the Aaronic priesthood on Sunday and his parents stayed for all three hours for the first time since I got here. I was so glad. I got to sit next to S during Relief Society.

The Ali´s (the Syrian family) invited us over to cook a Syrian food feast for us. We wanted to bring R but they are not comfortable to have someone else over yet. They live in one room right now. Which is really no problem for us; but we need to be patience. We came to teach them and they had read to chapter ten in Nephi and had read all the pages in the introduction and witnesses as well. They had written out fifteen questions. It was lovely lesson. They are so hungry to learn everything. It is a little sad because the dad does not want the daughter to feel pressured so she has to go away a bit when we are teaching, but hopefully that will get better. She really loves us.Music in the parade

We met V with Sister C to talk about temples. It was cute to see them try to communicate with each other. Sister C is the primary president. She told her story about being on the side of the wall that was in control by Russia. Even after the wall came down, she still had to wait until her husband softened his heart and let her go to the temple for her endowment. I was an inspiring story because right now V cannot go to the temple to even do baptisms because she cannot leave Germany. But I believe it will be a joyous day for her when she can go and do these saving ordinances for her family.

We walked through country paths and fields to go visit a member this week. We had a nice breakfast and then had a really good heart to heart about the gospel and we are helping her to start being more confident to do missionary work. I really love these people here; members, investigators, new converts, less actives, random potentials on the street. I just love it all.My German home

And the last lovely story is of little J, ” I am 1000% sure I want to get baptized” that is the rough translation.

It was Faschings this week, think Halloween, little kids in costumes. It is like a welcoming spring holiday. We met J walking home from school in her little Chinese princess dress on our way to go meet the family for our teaching appointment. We walk with her and she showed us a short cut all the time talking about the stories and songs she is writing and also how much she loves coming to church. She was doing her best to remember the primary songs. She is so cute. We arrive at her home and have a great lesson. Even though her mom is learning everything for the first time too, she often tries to help clarify the things for her sweet daughter. The lesson ends and simple as that we ask when she wants to get baptized….. It is planned.

We are so excited for this perfect golden family. Just pray for them.Look at those band uniforms

I love you and I have got to go.
Put your shoulder to the wheel……

Love, Sister Gardner

 

5 things that made me smile
1. J is going to get baptized on March 13th!!!!
2. I got to wear pants today. Muwahaha.(well for part of the day)
3. Syrian food with our lovely new family.
4. Sister S thanked me for translating for her during relief society and said she thought I really had a talent for it.
5. The way Elder Elwell tries to get out of eating sweets.
6. Bonus, Elder Petty always ready with his yo yo.

 

Snowball Throwing…That’s What I’ll Do

Snow snow snnnnnnooooooowwwwww!
Finally the skies have opened and rained down their sweet white freezing manna of winter time. We were quite excited. Because we all know that cold without at least a little bit of white blanket beauty is probably a bit better than still seeing the dusty broken down leaves of the fall of yesteryear.
We worked hard to end this transfer with a bang. It was really a busy happy transfer, I think the time just keeps going faster and faster. “Time flies when you’re having fun”… or was it, “Time flies when you are having lots of appointments each day and running around trying to talk with people and learn scriptures and smile and keep your hands warm and your German sharp.” Maybe that is how it is.

snowman sister

A Snowy Sister Gardner

Auch So! I did not tell you what happened with transfers. I am staying here to finish out the training with Sister Strihavka and we are welcoming into the land of Tübingen another Sister. Sister Yaursch. She is from Germany, and has been serving in the Switzerland part of the mission. I have never met her before. Sometimes Sister S and I try to imagine what she will be like. It does make sense that she is coming. Sister S could leave this transfer and then I would be without anyone. No one wants their area to close for a week. I cannot imagine a week not being able to meet with my people. So Sister Yaursch will be here and then she will be finished with her mission. So my forecast….. A lot more Tübingen.
I hope you guys still like brightly painted houses next to a river. Because you are going to get more of it.
F got confirmed this week! He seems happy. There is a change in his eyes. We met all together on Thursday, and watched the hour long restoration film. It was a different cut than I was used to. But really good. F shared his thoughts about it and it was so sincere and beautiful. Then he said this prayer and was just thanking God for his baptism and for this new start and that he was back with his team. It was so good. He is awesome, he has a girlfriend who lives near Graz, he has sent her a Book of Mormon, and says he will send the Graz sisters to teach her. He is awesome. Funny how my ‘hometown’ is coming into play again.

zone sisters

Stuttgart Zone Sisters

Elder Maw will be leaving and so will Elder Mcdaniel. I am sad because they are two really, really fantastic friends, but I am also excited to see what this new chapter brings. I am happy to welcome the new and help them learn to love this place just as I have. I think back sometimes on my old homes, remembering my fear of opening my heart up and then I just smile thanking God for giving me the opportunity to let my heart love so many people.

District members transfering

Elder Maw and Elder McDaniel are transferring to a new area.

Sister Strihavka and I have a great time with each other and she says my German is really improving. That is good to hear.
Fantastic story time: We went to go visit S and her kids, we had to start out basic like I said earlier, with God and how to pray. But today we started to teach the restoration. Who prophets are… how they help us know God´s will. I asked J, the daughter, and she knows a little bit about Noah, and I say let’s think of others. We think of Moses, and then she pipes in. “Hey, there was that one prophet, the young one who did not know which church to join, and then he prayed and God and Jesus told him that none of them where the right one.” I seriously feel the spirit come in so strongly, I can tell S can feel it too.
” Genau J, Du kannst Diese Lektion Lehren” ha ha. exactly J, you can give this lesson. and that is what she said. As a fact, as faith, as a knowledge, a testimony.
This girl has been going to Primary for a few weeks now. She is learning these truths while in her youth, I have seen her already learning so much.
I think what it did for me was remind me that I know that this church is true. I have building my testimony ever since primary. There have been times that I feel I have grown up a bit and I start to ask questions or not hold so fast to the rod, fingers still touching, but maybe only just. Then I remember on this testimony I have been working on since I was small. Then I remember that we are to be like children. To trust our father and the songs we learned in primary that are still a part of our heart.

IMG_3695

“Tree of Life” by Kazuto Uota –One of Sister Gardner”s favorite pictures.

Anyhow, at the end of the lesson we asked if she had any questions. She said she had one.
(translated for your viewing pleasure) “I would really like to be baptized, how do I do that? Who do I need to talk to about doing that?” oh my. goodness.
” and My children,I want that for them too.”

The milli second of silence before I get it all under control and smooth it as I pull out the list for the lessons. The one hic-up is her and her boyfriend need to get marriage papers figured out, but besides that, she is simply so prepared. She loves the church, She makes comments in relief society and acts as if she was already a member. On Sunday she brought her oldest son.
They are a miracle.
So pray for miracles for me, for us, for them this week.
That G and S will be able to get the papers so they can be married,
and that J will be able to stay in Germany.
Pray for these people’s hearts. I love you very much. all of you reading this. Thank you for still reading.
All my love,
Sister Gardner

Church in the snow
Fun moment this week:
Sister Strihavka lost her badge in the morning, And we did not have time to look for it. Later that night we were able to find a little time to look for it. We are looking in the snow with no luck. for a good 10-15 minutes. I take a pause and say a pray and then keep walking. She is a ways in front of me. Probably about 6 seconds later. again, translated for your viewing pleasure.

“found it”
“What? I literally just said a prayer.”
“me too”
God. Is. There.
He answers prayers. The end.

sis s in snow

Sis S in the Snow

sis's in snow

And It Came to Pass…

mary's pic

A picture a friend drew of Sister Gardner to add to the wonderful collection from High School.

And it came to pass.
That sister Gardner and Sister Strihavka did go out among the children of the Tübingenites and did seek to bring about much righteousness among the inhabitants. Yea, they did raise their voices to the people. In hope that they might bring some part of the land to an understanding of the falseness of the traditions of their fathers. For behold the people did go forth with all manner of loftiness. Rejoicing in the false traditions of the fathers.
And it came to pass that as the sisters did work with all manner of heart and mind, saying many truths unto the inhabitants, their schedule began to be very full and the cup of potentials did overflow, and yea, the sisters did rejoice.
Yea, they did rejoice greatly for the glorious work that they had been given among the children of the land.
And yea, it came to pass that they did teach in the homes of those from many cultures and histories. Yea, even many who had been taught by their brothers and sisters and
had already been pressing forward on the way to God.
Yea, and one brother did enter the waters of baptism thus beginning to follow on the ways of the Lord more fully.
And it came to pass that the sisters did run for many trains and looks at many google maps,
and thus we see how the sisters in the land of Tübingen did live out their days in the service of their Savior.

Tübingen and Sis G

Sister Gardner in Tübingen

 
I decided to write that because of what one of our investigators said this week. He just started to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning. We asked him what stood out to him, what he felt. He said what he loved is that it said. ” and it came to pass”. He talked about how Gods will always will come to pass. He loved that that is how the story went. Which was something that I had never thought about. But I loved it. His work will go forth, He is there. He has a plan and he will execute it.

District meeting

Elder Maw, Elder Erickson and Sis S

I liked this scripture to add to this thought…
Jacob 4:13 Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

The spirit testifies of truth, simple as that. I was surprised Saturday night when I found out that I should give a talk the next morning. What was my topic you may ask? The topic was conversion. I really only had about half an hour to prepare it because I was also teaching the investigator class in German the next day. So I thought of some ideas and found a few quotes and then I had to leave it up to the spirit. And it works. It does, he lets you feel what you should say. I talked about my own personal conversion to this gospel and also really what that means. It is not just a onetime experience. Yes, the knowledge of the ( I can only think of the German word right now…) …. Confirming power of the Holy Ghost will always remain but we choose everyday to stay converted to the gospel. … This was a quote I used.

You have [the] primary responsibility for your own conversion. No one can
be converted for you, and no one can force you to be converted.” (True to the Faith)
Conversion takes place as we are diligent about saying our prayers,
studying our scriptures, attending church, and being worthy to
participate in temple ordinances. Conversion comes as we act upon the
righteous principles we learn in our homes and in the classroom.
Conversion comes as we live pure and virtuous lives and enjoy the
companionship of the Holy Ghost. Conversion comes as we understand the
Atonement of Jesus Christ, acknowledge Him as our Savior and Redeemer,
and allow the Atonement to take effect in our lives.

For example. F. He has been baptized in other churches before, but
now feels at peace. He has been working on his conversion even before
he knew. But now he is joining the massive army of new converts. Those
who seek to continue on the path they have chosen. We can choose to
build upon that conversion our whole life.

Sis S in T

Sis S in Tübingen

Good things this week
* International food night:
* R’s are back from vacation
* District meeting in Esslingen
* S and G together for family home evening
* Y’s first prayer
* Wet baptismal clothes
* German food
* A coat with a hood
*V’s awesome new African hair
*Team Felix
*Applesauce

Things I have learned
* Sometimes Satan makes things hardest for people who are giving their best
* Sometimes it is faster just to run than taking the bus.
* I can’t handle American sugar anymore.
* The Book of Mormon is true… Wait, knew that already
* Sometimes primary songs are the best
* I pray in my sleep. And then Wake up and realize what I am doing
* I can’t sleep past 6:20am

I am feeling good. Really. I love being a missionary. I highly recommend it, no matter what you think you have got going for you in this world. It is breathtakingly beautiful to do this great work. I know that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that He lives and loves us.
Farewell dear friends.
Sister Gardner

Sis S

Sis S Kegling from last weeks adventure.

baptism

Getting ready for the Baptism.

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.

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

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.