It’s the Grand Finale to the Greatest Show on Earth

It’s the Grand Finale to the Greatest Show on Earth

Six thirty, alarm clock goes off. Some mornings I am more prepared for
that than others. Sometimes my eyes open minutes before the alarm. I
close them reminding myself I still have a bit of time to sleep. Get
out of bed, punch in the code on the i-pad Jesus holding a lamb greets
as I close the flap on the iPad cover and crawl half away back up the
latter. Now I pray.
It was not until the mission that I ever got this habit down. Praying
for help at the start of the day and not just after everything took
its course seems like a logical option.

Of course my brain has been going through a roller coaster of feelings
and emotions, memories made and remembered.  Talking with people,
teaching, keeping a temper, being humbled, discovering weakness. And
also weaknesses made strong.
domes
You know Munich was an essential part of my growth here. It shows me
the importance of keeping up with the covenants I have made, not
getting lazy, not letting scripture study or prayers or church
attendance slack. Not making excuses. I also realize that often being
obedient or preaching repentance, even if it is with love does not
make you a popular person. Only those who understand the worth of the
message and are willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ will
appreciate what you are doing.

I think on Jesus Christ. Who taught with the most love and Boldness of
anyone on this earth. He was beaten and killed, along with the
apostles who followed him, while trying to help people be protected
from their own self destruction of sin. It is all a labor of love, but
some cannot see it as such. That is why we always invite people to
find out for themselves. To kneel down and ask their father. It is not
between us and the church and the teachings, and whatever the relief
society president or sunday school teacher thinks is right, or even me
as a missionary, a representative of Jesus Christ. It is between them
and God.
street
Well. Those where some of my thoughts. As I am drawing to the end of
my ministry among the people of Germany and Austria,Ii am finding
myself not plagued with regrets but rather a sadness that it cannot
continue. I am not good at goodbyes.

But amid all these thoughts inside my heart and head I want to let you
know about some of wonders that have been happening this week.

At district meeting I was assigned to talk about how we can develop
the faith for miracles. I studies a lot for this assignment and was
able to find great scriptures, quotes and even a video segment. I
asked my distrikt if they had the faith to have two baptisms in our
distrikt, (one for our distrikt and then the zone leaders) we then
went into the other room and all kneeled down then I prayed and asked
God to please help us achieve this goal.. It was very spiritual and I
prayed with the most faith I could. This week we set two baptismal
dates. It was miraculous.
smiles and flowers
We had a great member come a long to help teach S who is our
sweet older woman preparing for baptism. Her house is often smokey
when we come, we are trying to help her give up the cigarettes. She is
so great though, every time we come the light in her eyes is brighter,
and her house if filled with photographs and interesting statues from
her travels to different lands. She shared that she had not been
feeling the same peace that she used to. We followed up a bit more and
she has not been reading daily or praying daily. I felt the power of
the Holy a ghost as I was able to promise her that if she would take
ten minutes to read and study and ponder each day she would find that
peace again.
I extend that challenge to you, set a time, get rid of distractions.
Have a notebook and pen to write down thoughts, and read. Study. Write
down questions. Study for a topic. Let yourself find the answers and
feel peace.
The member shared his whole conversion story and it goes to show that
the atonement, that Jesus Christ can help people come to an
understanding of their life.
street
We had a funny things happen. We had met a great potential on a s
bahn. He was really interested and took two pamphlets. We went to meet
with him after church with a Ward missionary. He had just finished
work. We sat down by a fountain to show him the Book of Mormon. But he
was acting very strange, so much different than when we first met him.
He puts his hand in the fountain his arm is around my shoulders
resting on the fountain. I scoot forward thinking he does not notice
what happened. Happened again, we are still explaining, he is asking
strange questions. He tried again. This time his whole sleeve gets
wet. I squish closer to sister Pugh. Finally he is leaning past the
normal space bubble. Yes something definitely wrong… I finally smell
the alcohol. Some church’s like to party…
Finally I just stop him. Alright, I think it would be best to have
this conversation another time. Ha ha. He tries to hug me before we
go, put up the hand and we all leave. It was pretty funny. We were
trying to reassure out joint teach that he had had a lot of potential,
she was just laughing her head off. But she knows it did him good. I
am glad she came, she was the best person that could have been there.
Also we had a Ward family home evening… Guess who kicked the soccer
ball into the fast moving stream going though the park…. Yeah. And
guess who goes chasing it all through the park until a swimmer fishes
it out, our GML still in his work clothes. Ha ha. It was pretty funny.
museum
airWe showed the restoration film twice this week, once in Spanish, once
in Italian. I am always so amazed everything I watch it not matter
what language. I feel the truth of it’s message. Having a testimony of
the restoration makes everything fit together. I am so glad to have
the spirit confirm the truth to me.

Sylvia asked me what is a testimony. I said something like… A
collections of beliefs that you just think are true, but rather ideas
and truths you have tested and found out to be true through the power
of the Holy Ghost. I think we underestimate the power of prayer. We
need it. It brings peace to troubled souls, clarification  to those
confused which way to go, and everyone as they work to find their way.

in honor of those killed

In honor of those Killed in the shooting.

Well. I have said a lot. I hope something I said brought you at least
something to think about. I’ve got lots of stories for you all. But
unfortunately there are only so many minutes in email time.

I am going to sprint  to the end. I thank you for your prayers at this time.

All the best.
Love, sister GardnerKonigs Platz 3Konigs Platz

Ubahns and Miracles… Among other things

Dear Son or Daughter of God Reading this email.

Stop. . no don´t stop reading… Just stop for a second.

Look around at your surroundings. Maybe you like them. Maybe not. Maybe there are many people, maybe a few. Maybe just you.. Not alone, maybe you should pay a bit more attention to the one trying to talk to you. My words can wait…

Close your eyes… ok, now hopefully you have opened them and are still reading. Or if you have started a sudden nap I do hope it is not an inconvenient time and that if it does work out you enjoy it.

how was that closing your eyes for a second?

What did you hear?  What did you feel?

Ok, a few things I would like to explain with this exercise.

  1. You are alive in the year 2016. You were not born some time before so that you could be on the earth at this time.
  2. You are not alone, hundreds of thousands of onlookers in the preexistence and spirit world look at you.
  3. You have a body that can read, think, and Feel. At least to some extent. You can understand.
  4. What you are learning today is what you are meant to face in order to get to where you are going.
  5. Every little interaction or experience changes you in a way that might be extreme or not really noticeable. But all significant.
  6. You are a son or Daughter of God.
  7. This earth life is a mere moment on a vast span of never ending.
  8. You are doing better than you think, but you could be doing better than you are.
  9. Sometimes it is nice to close your eyes for a second.
  10. Think about it, what did you take out of that.

I think I started thinking about this as I look around at everything with a sort of love… Even the graffiti in the tunnel under the street makes me smile. I started tearing up just looking around our apartment. My missionary Apartment in München… Which I live in because I am a missionary.

Honestly, I cannot even express or put down in to logical words what doing this work means to me.

I can´t.

I promise I will keep trying. Of course.

I will try for you, for my family… for a blog or a journal, for my dreams or my heart. For my children or grandchildren, or husband, or person on the street that I stop to tell them about the purpose their Father in Heaven has for them… That he loves them..

He loves you ok.

Do you understand.

Do you really?

Honestly. He loves you no matter if you are sitting in a closet right now reading it, or somehow after just breaking into someone’s house. He loves you. Just get it. Let it into your mind. Let it change you.

My heart is really full writing this. I can´t explain.

district lunch

District Lunch: Sister Pugh, Sister Gardner, Elder Gibson, Elder Clark

I just think I will give you a bit of what I was up to this day. My throat has one of those stuffed up choking feelings in it, like when you swallowed too much water at once, or you are trying not to cry. Probably the second one. I am so glad I am blessed with so much to have happy tears about.

This week, honestly was not perfect. Things fell out, the most carefully planned… could not be executed but I think what makes any week on a mission worth it is the little miracles that happen and all the times you don´t sit down and call it quits.

so let’s take a little stroll down miracle lane eh?

 

lady bug

A little guy with places to go

Monday: We went and visited M a sweet, sweet woman who speaks mostly just Spanish and a few words of German. I Sister Calee Gardner attempted to sing for someone in Spanish and sat at a computer with the slowest internet connection in the world to try and book mark LDS.org in Spanish so this woman could see she is not the only woman striving to live the gospel. I think what really did it though was her just expressing in the sweetest most broken German that she really had no idea what we were saying. But she could feel it… and that is exactly how the Holy Ghost works. But I throw in my extremely microscopic vocabulary of Spanish, she throws out her German. The holy Ghost makes it possible for me to understand exactly what she is saying even though I understand close to nothing coming out of her mouth.

Dienstag: V, one of the people in our English class made our miracle for Tuesday.
Everyone was supposed to bring a picture and then explain about it a bit. he brings a picture of many people holding hands, with the word friendship written across the top. He goes into this description about how we are really all brothers and sisters if you think about it and we should love people no matter where they come from and what they do. Then we play story cubes to practice further in my part of the English conversation class, and the story ends up being about all of the English class going to a native American pow wow, which led them to asking questions about the meaning of life within the English class… Which then resulted in one copy of the Book of Mormon leaving my hands after class ended…and entering into the hands of V.notes

Wedtvolk: This was a miracle for me. We had a visiting return missionary who used to serve in Munich and Graz during her mission come visit. We met her when she came to visit a less active in the third ward at the same time we where there. She ended up riding with us, and gave me a lot of good perspectives about what it is like finishing a mission, and how she still loves it. It comforted me a bit. I think when I come back here I would love to tag along with the sisters again. If I lived here, it would be for that.

Donnersday: No problem, the part member family you have been trying to get in contact with since you came is home when you take the 45 minute bahn ride to get out to them. Just praying they will be there when you ring. Recommit papa to take the lessons… from the sisters. Sounds like a miracle to me.

Frieday: This one gets two. One for our mutig member J who took the courage to give out two copies of the Book of Mormon to her co-workers.. That is after decorating it with stickers and pictures of Jesus.. Whatever gets it done my dear…. Second. Setting two baptsimal dates for our new friends who will be taught by the elders in the international ward. We will find them and get them set up to prepare for baptism… You teach them ok? I am glad I got to be part of that little miracle.

flamingo

This sign just made me laugh

Saturtag: This is the day that look like it would not have any miracles. Canceled appointments, left I-pads, defensive crying less actives…. and to end it a wrong address after a hour and a half travel time… and then we missed the bahn home…. But then came the little tender mercy. Who should appear on the gleis as we waited for our next train home. But the Orbegroso Family! L, and his wife and son! We were so happy to see them, and he had been reading the chapters we assigned him, and they stayed and waited with us and rode the train with us… She hugged us. They make us feel like we are super heros or something. I like that. I need to see these people all in white standing in front of a temple… They deserve it.

Sonday: M came to church for the first time in years! It was raining and  the third hour of church is about to come. We head of to walk to her house. We wait at the door of the apartment building. Just when it seems like this master plan will fall out. She comes bustling out of the front door still trying to tie her shoes laces. She came to church. She took the sacrament. And S made it to church, and L with his family.. and one of our investigators who has not been able to meet with us since I got here, and has not come to church in three months. They all came.

So I suppose Sunday just was the icing on the cake.

I have started the Book of Mormon again this week… Studying about patience. Goodness, the first book of Nephi has a lot of that. ….the lion

So when you are feeling impatient remember you might not fully understand until more than 2,000 years later…

“Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should makes these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people….. Wherefore the lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.´”

I want to close this email this week with one more scripture..

1 Nephi 9: 6

” But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning, wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men, for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. and thus it is. Amen.”
And Thus it is. Amen.
Love you,

Sister Gardner

do you

Well, do you?

Wir Sind kinder Gottes‏

Dear Family, Friends, Potential Missionaries, or You people who
stumbled here by accident during a rather extended internet wandering.

Welcome.

Glad you made it.

It is sunny outside about 27 degrees Celsius. We had plenty of rain
this week, but that provides an excellent opportunity for all our
umbrella street side service to the door on a Sunday morning desires
that we could have.
I dont’ know exactly what to do with two wards at one time. I know I
have got nothing on those people serving in Utah with like three
stakes and a temple and a petting zoo, but it is something really new
for me. When I got this call I was thinking just Munich 1 but it is a
lie, and now we are singing in Munich 3’s Ward conference next week.
Freut Mich. and running up and down stairs to go to different sacrament
meetings and relief societies and trying to make sure we don’t forget
anyone.

Tubingen crew 1

Tubingen Crew back together in Munich

 

The week was good. Despite having two wards, our pool of progressing
investigators is very small, so that has been my goal this week and we
were able to find so many new people to teach. It was great. I love
that moment of stopping someone on the street and just teaching right
then and there. It is a beautiful feeling, to stop someone and
literally explain the importance of your message. Saying, I know you
are probably on your way to do something good, but this knowledge is
more important than that. So I have high hopes for this coming week

munich city3

Town Hall

We had zone training this week. Luckily it is not yet my last one. Or
so I hope. We shall see. We got to take part in zone training by
teaching a bit about how to work with the members. We did a little
object lesson which involved partly elder Jacobi ripping paper and
then attempting to rip a hammers guide. Ha ha. The basic idea was, the
more members (pages of paper) you involved in the progress of anyone
you are teaching. The more support and protection they will have for
when hard times come. I wish it worked like that all the time. But the
general idea supports itself.munich building 5

munich building 4We also wore our dirndles so that was nice. Talking to people in the
rain with an umbrella in traditional dress. I love that we are
actually allowed to proselyte in them. The elders are not so lucky in
the lederhosen. I think I will always try to find any opportunity to
wear it.munich city 5
Munich city
I also loved hearing the testimonies of the new elders who are just
starting their missions. I am so excited for them.
I am Running out of time so… Let get to some miracles this week.

We were on our way home from Munich Hauptbahnhof, we entered the train
scouting a place we could sit and talk with people. We see a four some
with two teens, a boy and a girl about to sit down. They sit down one
on each side of the foursome. As we sit, the boy gives us a bit of a
strange look in a sort of annoyed that we chose to sit with them, the
girl as well. It takes about forty-five seconds after the train
leaves. And suddenly this girl is practically rising out of her chair
trying to read sister Pugh´s Tag who is sitting Diagonally from here.
Her eyes are big and excited. And she says in her very German accented
German “Are you missionaries? From the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints?”
I was sitting next to her and she turns to me, her face with a sort of
strange excited smile.
She tells us she is doing a project in her school about our church and
that her Uncle is a member in Texas.
I ask, ‘Well, do you want an interview?’
She goes on to explain that she is planning on watching 17 Miracles.
We exchange emails. She starts her project in two weeks. They get off
two stops later.
All of Munich. Seven different train cars that we could have gotten
on. many, many fourmans… and one companionship of Sisters in München.
God led us to her, and we did not even realize what we were doing. He
is the master Craftsman, we are just his tools.

cleaning font

Cleaning the font

That was a great Miracle.

But I think the moment I really liked this week was seeing a young
woman crying going on the up escalator. and we were on the down. It
was late and we needed to catch our s bahn. But, I had one of those
moments, where you just feel like the Holy Ghost just say. Go! so you
do. Haha. I ran back up a fourth of the escalator. (there was no one
else on it) and met her up at the top. She is crying. I ask, are you
alright? She nods. Do you need a hug? She nods again. So I hug the random girl at the top
of the escalator platform. and then I fish the roses out of my bag
that the family who´s daughter got baptized yesterday gave us for
helping to clean up. Whip out two white roses and a hallelujah video
card. Sister Pugh was also a champ scaling the opposite going
escalator.
I don´t know exactly why she was crying, she did not say, but I felt
this care for this random girl, and I felt that it was a moment where
I got to be God´s hands literally hugging this little lady. I am glad
he lets me experience things like that every day.modern munich

Interesting fact that fits in with our title for today. We are all
enlisted is the title of the song in English. But in the German hymn
book they took out anything about war or battle. The title is We are
Children of God…. Happy are we
.

I am glad that a mission can help me to change my desires. When I
desire to be more like my father in heaven and Jesus Christ, he helps
me to have the right priorities and to overcome myself. Not change or
forget who I am, what I love, but help me achieve more of the
potential my father has for me.

1. Wir sind Kinder Gottes, laßt uns dienen dem Herrn!
Fröhlich sind wir, fröhlich sind wir!
Ja, beim Aufbau seines Reiches helfen wir gern;
Zion wolln wir bauen heut und hier:
Gib deine Gaben willig und frei,
hilf deinem Nächsten, stehe ihm bei,
in deinen Pflichten sei stets getreu;
so dienen, dienen freudig wir dem Herrn!

Wir sind Kinder Gottes, laßt uns dienen dem Herrn!
Fröhlich sind wir, fröhlich sind wir!
Ja, beim Aufbau seines Reiches helfen wir gern:
Zion wolln wir bauen heut und hier!

2. Unser Herr braucht Helfer heut an jeglichem Ort;
kommt, seid bereit, kommt, seid bereit!
Helft in seinem Weinberg, zu verkünden sein Wort,
fürchtet nicht, der Herr steht uns zur Seit!
Hilf einem Freund die Wahrheit verstehn,
freu dich, an seiner Seite zu gehn,
lehr ihn, die Liebe Gottes zu sehn;
so künden, künden freudig wir das Wort!

Wir sind Kinder Gottes, laßt uns dienen dem Herrn!
Fröhlich sind wir, fröhlich sind wir!
Ja, beim Aufbau seines Reiches helfen wir gern:
Zion wolln wir bauen heut und hier!

Got to go, love you!
-sister Gardner

I Know My Redeemer Lives

Coming to you… On a Monday…. In Munich…. In a three story church building. That certainly at one point was a whole apartment building. That is painted Yellow. and lives almost across from Theresienwiese which is where the biggest Bier (Beer) Festival in the World takes place.

Fitting place to have a baptismal font, eh? Are you looking for some people who need repentance… Well. Good thing I am a missionary.

Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg

music paper

This week feels like it is not actually a week long. The moment you are in a new area, the last one feels like it was a sort of dream even though on Monday you where walking on the bridge in Salzburg and now you running with a beautiful Merida look alike through Germany.

Sister Pugh

Sister Gardner with Sister Pugh

I had a great experience with the Atonement this week. As I considered choices I have made in my life, and things I have learned about myself, both strengths and weaknesses I am always amazed by the way that the Lord can shape me to something better. Without the Gospel, I would be a sad pathetic version of myself. I would be more carnal, and lazy, and quick to anger. The Gospel helps me have more peace in my life, and love in my soul. I am in no way perfect, but I know the atonement works.

I have met many new faces this week, most kind, many tired, few disgruntled, and some earnest. I have shaken probably one hundred hands, and I washed and dried dishes with happy little Hispanic ladies. I have Said goodbye and Hello, and talked with people from all walks of life on the Subway.

Oh, Missionary life, it is a fantastic Adventure. I LOVE IT

Everyone likes to bring up that it is my last transfer. Ok, yes. It is. I´ve got it, I´ve acknowledged it. But I am not going to dwell on it.

I have a lot to do. the church

Basically what happened is…

The Elders in Münich 1 are being Pink washed by us, But we are still taking care of the Investigators… and therefore Members of Münich 3, But there are also Elders in that ward. So Sort of like a 2 area 6 area book ( Munich elders area books are less organized than I would have hoped) Area.

My companion is Sister Pugh.

sister Pugh 2

Sister Pugh

She is kind, loves to tell stories. sings ALONG. Is our navigator, a good friend, from Washington…. and makes me laugh every day. I am so glad for the challenge of this last area, and that I get to have this grand adventure.

Also today I found out that it is the area that my Grandfather finished his mission in… In the same church building!!!! Wooo!blown glass

We had a wonderful lesson with a part member family. They are all members except for the Dad. AND they come originally from PERU, so I recognized the flag, and they were so excited that my little brother was there right now, and they have never been taught by sisters so I am really hoping we can soften his heart and help him make a date.

Then on Sunday we see this young woman with her little brother, we talk with her and find out she investigated two years ago, and now has decided to come back because…. she wants to GET BAPTIZED.

MLC June

MLC in Munich in June

Our GML is really cool, and it feels a little like when I first got to Wiener Neustadt with a young GML. but this time no elders. But that is a funny story. Elder Call went home this transfer, and as we were walking to the church we saw him and elder Bensig talking with a lady on the street doing the last bit of finding, and I have not seen that guy for about a year, and my face just bursts into a big smile when I realize who it was and his face gets all excited, but then he had to focus back on the lady. Ha ha.

We also got the Area book app. Oh my goodness. I am excited for the technology. But I feel like a grandma… Back in my day we carried our bibles in the granola bar box cover we made for our mini version. we brought our actual preach my gospel to district meeting… We updated the area book with our own hands and ink pens. Ha Ha

Isar river

Isar River in Munich

Over all.. things are going great. I am just enjoying the adventure.

I want to close by mentioning something I learned in my scripture study…

The idea of comparing Elder Abinidi and Elder Ammon…

Well Abinidi, he did not get to see the baptisms until after he died… Not just the end of 18 months death… and Ammon happened to get the best new member referral possible..

Both amazing missionaries. Both men spoke with the power of God and revelation from the Holy Ghost. Their “numbers” may have looked a bit different, but God knew they were giving their best, and all things happened according to his plan. in front of fountain

I am glad that I have a Father in Heaven, that I really truly can say, I believe that there is a God, that he is a person who loves us, a father, who has a son who really lived. Jesus Christ.

It is not some sort of vague Christian perspective or idea that is nice around Christmas time.

“I know My father lives, and love me to. The spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true and tells me it is true. ”

I also know that my Redeemer lives… That’s what we sang this morning.

And it is true.

Love,

Sister Gardner

Siegestor in Munich

Siegestor in Munich

Zone conf June

Salzburg and Wien Zone Conference in June

 

Teaching Through Life

Teaching through life…

Testimony, commitment.

Asking the questions they have in their soul.

Life is mess

Without our name tags.

Word on the street hey, you guys are Mormons

Teaching through life,

Find on the sidewalk,

Hey we would like to share with you…

“Nothing matters,” “no sir, to God you really matter,”

This is life… So we’ll keep teaching you…

 

This week flew by. Again.

I don’t know I cannot even really seem to exactly grasp when the week started, or how it all went by. I mean I know what we did on each day, but it just sort of goes and goes and goes and then it is Monday again.

My life is this work.

 

I don’t have very much time today, so unfortunately this letter this week will just be a nice bunch of bullet points.

️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️

But at least it has stars on it.

 

the zoo teaching

teaching all of God’s creatures at the Zoo

  • I preached to the Flamingos and the goats at the zoo. … (Matthew 16: 15)
  • I Talked to people walking along the river way in the most lovely part of town, and helped an American find the start of the sound of music tour, surprise she had already met with the missionaries before and a good friend of hers is a member, I challenged her to take the lessons again. (Alma 26:29-30) (not so much the second half of 29…)
  • We ate cake and sang loud for our cute teenage investigators birthday, who finally came to a young woman’s activity. (Mosiah 20:1)Birthday Party
  • I tausched with a lovely new missionary, that also happened to be extremely excited to help with the primary girls dance activity, and put up with me running around just like the good old days in Tübingen. (Mosiah 4: 27)

    Sister Harrick

    Sister Harrick from California- we went on an exchange t his week.

  • I ate all you can eat schnitzel at a members home… (Ends 1:20) (heh heh)j/k…(Matthew 15: 37)
  • We went and clarified the commandments to our friend who thought any painting of Jesus was blasphemes and would not read the pamphlets because of that . (Mosiah 27:35)
  • We had a wonderful zone conference and I was able to see many old friends and also find out what has been happening in my old Wien zone areas. (Alma 17:2-3)
    Zone conf

    Salzburg And Wien Zone Conference

    zone conf 2

    Zone Conference

    the MTC crew

    My MTC Buddies

  • And I kept a 6 year old investigators son busy in relief society when he did not want to go to primary by playing tic tack toe and showing him little Book of Mormon story picture cards. (Alma 43:30)
  • We got on a train and ended up far, far away from our goal… And just about out of our area, but found two people who had already met with missionaries in the past. The woman saw us wandering in this three house neighborhood in the middle of the woods, as we had gone down the dirt road trying to figure out if there was any way to get back home besides the next train that would come in an hour. Then this woman comes driving up, and asks us if we are lost and offers us a ride to the main part of town about ten minutes away with a car… Where are you two from… France. USA… Utah… Are you Mormon? (The breath of a moment that is just this sort of fist pump inside of my head) Ah, yes, yes we both are…. ….. Well the conversation continued, she did not take the copy of the Book of Mormon, for the one that had been inscribed for her she had not given back, but if that is not some sort of sigh to this woman I don’t know what is…. Literally in the woods and there were three houses and we just got off the random train stop when we realized we were on the wrong train, which we realized at that time because I had been so involved with talking with a former investigator that we met on the train of the Newmarket elders in our distrikt. …. God has a plan, especially when ours does not go as we had planned. (Alma 26:12)

    elvis was here

    Bus stop in the middle of nowhere…at least we know who has been here before.

Well folks, I just wanted to close up by saying our Father in Heaven loves us. No matter how many silly things we do we can always come back to him, and like the father welcoming the lost son, he we see us afar run to us and welcome with open arms. Our Father in Heaven knows your heart, so if he can see you coming, he is going to run to you… Any by that send those who will run to you. So if you see that, know you are most certainly not alone, accept the messengers who bring Gods love in his place they are his tools. His hands that put into action the desires and plans of his heart. Whether the messengers be missionaries, or friends or family, or random people on the street. If you want to come back or even just be better He will help you along your way… Let him know how you feel, pray to him. Tell him what is on your mind.

I love you all…

And happy Father’s Day, here’s to fathers on earth and a perfect Father in Heaven…

Love, sister Gardner

going to maria's

ON the way to a teaching appointment

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.

If I Let Him, If I Love Him

If I let him, if I love him

It only took a couple dozen times for me to finally get something that I should have realized about 999 years ago. And that is something very important.

Something very important about Easter.

I learned it one moment, a moment when you are teaching and suddenly you find yourself saying an idea that you have never had before and in that moment you know the Holy Ghost is teaching. I am glad for those moments for I as the joyful bystander receives an expanded view that blesses my current pupil and my own soul.

The idea is actually not terribly new, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter. But when you think of all that led to that and what it really meant it is glorious, we are not just celebrating that the tomb was empty, or a new start, or spring, or hope for seeing family members who have gone on. Those are all part of it, but when we look at it really, the theme of this holiday surpasses every Valentine’s Day, or Thanksgiving, national pirate day or New Years. It does that because on Easter we are celebrating the Atonement. The crowning event that made the whole of earth life and the plan of salvation possible. What allows us to depend and return. To Earn and to experience, cry and then turn our faces back to the light of new starts and forgiveness. The bridge that saves us from one misplaced word or hasty reaction splitting us from our father who loves us. He makes our way home. The atonement of Jesus Christ.

Now that is something to celebrate.

And we did. We had joy, it was a good week. It was a week filled with lots of service and a tausch with sister Baker. Sister baker served with my companion sister Pratt. And so it was fun to hear some of the same stories that I had heard from sister p but from sister b. Ha ha. It was an alright tausch, usually I like to do more teaching and street contacting during tausch to see other missionaries In those sorts of situations, you can learn a lot. But we had two days with long service projects, which turned out to be a lot less packing and moving the R’s to their new house and more cleaning up the bathrooms and kitchens. But it is alright, to ease the pain.. We told stories to do something while we worked. Got some creative juices flowing and cleaned a lot of dried on stuff off or most surfaces.

It was pretty great when a man came up to us and just started asking if we where Christian. I mean that makes the whole starting a conversation thing go a lot smoother. He also told us we were just shining with some sort of light. We had a great talk with him and an on the train platform lesson of the restoration. Also he said I had a face like a Mary Magdalene. Soooo… I’m ok with that. We will bring him a copy of the Book of Mormon.

We were able to finally meet with T again we met at sister C’s house. She had prepared everything it was so sweet. Tea and chocolates and pastries. T is sweet but really does not give breathes for us to speak, and sister C was able to get in a few more words than us. But I was still able to finally break in and share our go to for Book of Mormon conversion, Moroni 10:3-5. And bear strong testimony, the spirit was so strong and she was almost in tears, but then after a little while of listening kept going on about her divorce and her new boyfriend and. and. and. But it was good and we are taking little steps also it is so important that she creates friendships with members, so that is good. She tells us she feels good when we come. I wish she would accept the connection we have tried time and time again to make that it is the Holy Ghost telling her what we say is true. Not that we are just so sympathetic-isch.Easter activity

I would say a highlight from this week was the Easter activity. We had a really nice turn out and it was really fun, we did a whole Easter program at the beginning using Easter eggs with different objects that acted as symbols to tell the story of Jesus’s atonement. We sang together and watched two sort films. We had a lot of people come, families and new converts and a few investigators. After the spiritual section we handed out later colored Easter eggs on paper and invited them to write how they have found new life in Jesus Christ and then put it somewhere in their house that someday when they need it they will “find” this Easter egg.

I was mostly staying to keep children from dropping eggs into dye bowls from an unreasonable distance above, so I did not have lots of time to observe what was happening on the cookie decorating table, or the blowing out the egg and doing a marbled dip dye, or the water coloring, or the food table, making sure J S  does not suddenly have a dark green mutated flower shape on a light pink shirt was a general objective.eggs

It was great, it was fun to set up and everyone helped put it down. I am glad for that, glad that people came, sad that I did not take more pictures, but glad that the overall impression and feeling was there. Considering we were pretty in panic when we went to go buy everything in the morning and all the stores were closed for good Friday, it turned out to be a success.

cookie

A Cookie made for sis G

We had a nice afternoon on Sunday at the S’s house and with the “family”

My aunts and uncles. Health food sister T, wearing the pants sister S, political shrink brother T, and quiet joke cracking brother S. And then of course sister A, with her nail polish and Instagram. Then the cool 12 year old E who happens to think my tough guy Russian accent to be the funniest thing. Then grandma and grandpa R and brother H. Then there is of course the oldest “son” not moved out of the house but actually just an exchange student from California M, and the mysterious, not sure how he is related or how he appeared uncle/son who has become part of the family R.  Then of course the 5 screaming nerf gunning little cousins running around, baby M who everyone loves, and the silent observing oldest teenager from the S’s . Sadly uncle F was in Austria. (note from mom- it is nice to hear how those she serves with and around have become like family)

Then there is us, the missionaries. I don’t know exactly where we fit in to the whole picture. But I am glad that I got to enjoy that evenfulness for our dinner hour on Sunday. I hope the kids will remember me playing with them and remember that missionaries are cool and they should do it too. 🙂

Just one last story to describe our Easter Sunday, because it displays it really well. At least the quirky-ness of it. We are all standing in a circle after finally rounding up everyone to eat. The table is decked with spicy chimichangas, a roast ham, salad, a garbanzo bean smelling Syrian soup, Heath bran banana muffins and apple juice. Sister S asks brother H to say the prayer. Surprised by the invitation, he asks if he should say it in English or German. He of course is now in a house of English speakers but really cannot speak much English. Brother S jumps in quietly. “Say it in Arabic.” Brother H says ok and then makes some jumbled sort of Asian Arabic sounding nonsense words. R just looks at him, still all of the above described holding hands in the circle,  and says very dryly, “seriously” then everyone is laughing and sister S pops back in “you can say it in German.” Then he says a lovely prayer in German and we all bow our heads and pray to our Father in Heaven… Wow, I could go on and on, and I would love to, but for today I am done.

Have a good week, look for the tender mercies and remember that God made us so that we would have joy.

All my love,

Sister GardnerEngland Snowdrops

 

  1. On a golden springtime, underneath the ground,

A tiny seedling lay asleep until the sun shone down.

Awake, awake, O little seed!

Push upward to the light!

The day is bright. With all your might,

push upward to the light!

 

  1. On a golden springtime, Jesus Christ awoke

And left the tomb where he had lain; the bands of death he broke.

Awake, awake, O sleeping world!

Look upward to the light,

For now all men may live again.

Look upward to the light!

 

  1. On a golden springtime, in a forest glade,

The Father and the Son appeared as Joseph knelt and prayed.

Awake, awake, O nations all!

Receive the gospel light!

The gospel true is here for you.

Receive its glorious light!

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