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?

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

 

Fortune Favors the Brave

Fortune Favors the Brave….No, but really.

The big challenge at the end of the day, the deciding factor is, did you open your mouth and share? Were you brave? Did you try something new? Were you kind? Were you creative? Did you connect? Did you try? Was your commitment there? Did you learn something? That applies to Missionaries, theater, work, the gospel, and daily life (also a plethora of other things, but you get the picture.)

Tranfer Day for Sister Poll.  Off on a new adventure in Vienna (Wein).  I will miss her.

Tranfer Day for Sister Poll. Off on a new adventure in Vienna (Wien). I will miss her.

We went on the fourth of July and did a six-hour service project for a family in our ward. We pulled weeds and dug holes laid weed paper, placed stones, cut grass and spread mulch. We worked in the hot sun and I talked to Sister S about opera and singing in general. (She is an opera singer) After working really hard we had a BBQ with white wurst and salad. Mmm. She also gave us ice cream with Oreos and as a gift a bottle of peanut butter. She was so wonderful trying to help us have a good Fourth of July. I missed the fireworks and family, but it was a wonderful day because I got to serve with my little family over here in Austria.

Fourth of July service project for a family in our ward.  Sister Smith, Elder McArthur and Elder Wise

Fourth of July service project for a family in our ward. Sister Smith, Elder McArthur and Elder Wise

Fourth of July service project

Fourth of July service project

The Project

The Project- Looking Good

View from our ward members backyard.

View from our ward members backyard.

We found some wonderful people this week. So many times when plans fall through, or something goes not according to plan, it puts us in a place to find a different miracle. To talk to someone else or run in to people we have been trying to get in contact with. Like our investigator leaving sacrament meeting early to ” change her daughters diaper” who left before we could make an appointment for the next week. Meaning we did not have an appointment. But we ran into L coming out of his Catholic Church on the way home. We did not even know that the building was a church. We were able to meet with him and he agreed to let us talk it all through with him again.  It is great also finding people who are ready to take a Book of Mormon.

Spires in the sun, on our Pday hike.

Spires in the sun, on our Pday hike.

We found a really cool guy. His name is F.  He took a Book of Mormon, and told us that he really has a lot of respect and love for Jesus Christ. He asked what he would have to do if he decided he liked this religion more than his current religion. we answered to be baptized and he thought that made a lot of sense. He asked if we smoke or drink and we told him no, thinking he would protest, but he went right along with that smiling saying that was good because then we would be stronger. He liked the idea that there is a prophet today. He told us at the very end that missionaries have rang his doorbell many times and he has alwas not given them the time, but this time they found him the park and now it is more serious. Wow. That was an amazing expereience. There is always something to do, some good.

Sister Gardner and Sister Smith

Sister Gardner and Sister Smith with Graz below.

It may have taken 19 years, but I now know exactly what it feels like when I am feeling the spirit. Of course I have felt it before, but now, I can feel it even when I am just reading an ensign talk or a quote. It is like this almost physical pressure inside of me. Every time it comes now, I am able to tell that is the Holy Ghost.  It is hard to explain but this new knowledge has become a huge blessing in my life as I have been studying.

Clock Tower at the Schlossberg in Graz.  Our  P-day adventure.

Clock Tower at the Schlossberg in Graz. Our P-day adventure.

We had a great dance class activity with the girls in our wards Young Women’s group. I was able to lead it just like I have learned from dance classes all growing up. We did a mirroring activitiy and had the girls switch partners so that the new ones could meet the girls already in the ward. We did a warm up, across the floor movement, stretching, following in a line, leg swings and the different ballet postions.  Then for the end, I taught a short sequence. It was a joy to serve the people in my ward with my talents.

I am able to work hard and I am trying hard. I have so much to improve on, but I am feeling good.

……“and I´m feelin’ good”.

And, I need to go now because time is a ticking.

Much love my dears.

Love,

Sister Gardner

I Love.... Send me an email sharing with me three things you love, three things that make you smile.

I Love….
Send me an email sharing with me three things you love, three things that make you smile. (or leave a comment and I, Sister Gardner’s mother, will get it to her)

Murinsel (Island in the Mur) A floating cafe on the River Mur.

These are pictures from last P-day.  They went and visited the Murinsel (Island in the Mur)
A floating cafe on the River Mur.

Murinsel cafe

Murinsel cafe by the giant rope spider web.

Murinsel cafe.  Elder McArthur, Elder Wise and Sister Smith.

Murinsel cafe. Elder McArthur, Elder Wise and Sister Smith.  The New Wonderful Graz Family.

Murinsel 5

bridge over the River Mur

bridge over the River Mur

Einfachstrasse

Einfachstrasse

Hoffentlich, we get there Bald.

A bit of Deunglish for you this morning. I will be proud of you if you get this one…. (Look up the German words.)

No, It is not Easy Street, it is hot, people want to get where they want to go, they don’t really want to listen to a blondie with a pixie cut and a badge, but that is ok, because…. you get there by playing from the rule book, you stack the pass along cards, you load your side bag. Father dear, oh we know you’re up there “list´n`how” can we follow your sweet advice to…. Dun, dun Einfachstrasse

And I will leave you to finish the rest in your head.

A Peaceful path on a p-day hike.

A Peaceful path on a p-day hike.

So, this week held some really lovely lessons with some less active members.

We met with one of the less actives that has not been wanting to meet with us lately, we got her to meet us at the church while she did family history. We had a good talk with her. We told her that she should make a plan how to let us help her start attending again. She always just tells us to pray for her, and we do that, but we promised that we could do more. He agreed with us to make a plan together the next week. But what was really special was that after we closed with a prayer, Sister Poll asked her if we could go sing a hymn in the chapel. I had been feeling the same thing. We let her choose a hymn and she chose “God be with you till we meet again” she thought it was sort of a sad one, but she really loved it. Sister Poll played the piano and I sang the hymn for her, like a little concert. Sister poll joined in on the last verse, me switching from soparano to alto to compliment Sister Poll’s melody. We finished and it was quite for a moment. My eyes and the eyes of this woman sitting before me where filled with emotion. The silence was broken when she said; suddenly bursting into tears that she felt like her father was sitting right by her. She cried with little tears rolling down her face. Finally being able to feel the spirit after a long time. We put our arms around her and sat there in the chapel just looking up to the pulpit on the first row. It was a really spiritual lovely experience. I know that the hearts of the children are turning to the fathers, she is excited about family history, now we are working to help her be excited about finding herself. Finding those who are loved and lost. This was a wonderful experience.

I have been thinking a lot about agency, you learn a lot about it out here. It is up to us to decided and then live up to any covenants we make, really it is that simple. If we don’t then we have to decide if we are going to do something about it, or continue on our way. Knowing sometime we have to come back if our end goal is the same. Anyhow, food for thought.

Also, ten days left on the forty day fast, which went quick didn’t it. Work hard these last few days. Work to be better.

I guess this graffiti at least has the right message.......

I guess this graffiti at least has the right message…….

This week was a week of service. We helped a ward member V move. It took several hours and was really, really lovely. We were taking out boxes, filling cars up, taking apart bookcases and bed frames. We cleaned and carried washing machines. We played Tetris with the large dressers down in the small keller (cellar). The kellers in apartment buildings look like old fashion dungeons, with wooden bars around small storage units. I put a band-aid on a crying child and told him to be brave like Spiderman on his shirt. I carried sleds and bags of clothes upstairs. I tried to figure out how to fit lamps in through driver seats and coat racks too. I smiled as the little kids tried to help but ultimately just rode up and down the elevator one floor when we gave them a little box or toy to take up stairs. We ate pizza all together sitting on a mattress in the now empty bedroom. We sweated and smiled and lifted and pulled. It was a really, really great day.

We stopped by once everything was moved to the inter religion soccer tournament hosted by the Catholics at their church down the street and over a bit form ours. It was so interesting to see the differences, but really cool that we where all together in harmony. The “Mormons” did well, taking first place with the Men’s and second with the Young Men. I was only able to come to the end with Sister Poll, so I missed all of the actual games, but it was great to talk to the members and meet some people of other faiths as well. I was really impressed by the prayer that the Methodist said at the end of the awards ceremony. He told God that he was grateful that this event proved that peace between religions is possible. That is something really lovely to think about.

I started teaching this woman who has been a casual Muslim her whole life, but wants to learn more about what I do here. She has such a different understanding but she also said how she thinks religions are not all so different. I agree, we have one God and I worship the same god that Catholic people do, or Baptists or anyone. It all started as God’s plan for us, and no matter the background or belief now. No matter who believes that there is no god, or is not sure what they believe. We are all here living on this earth, as people trying to figure life out, trying to figure how to be better. It is beautiful. The Plan of Salvation is Beautiful.

Beautifully blocking the Sun

Beautifully blocking the Sun

Well, I feel I could go on, but you know we are all learning, it is important to realize every moment is a part of our life, Even the little waiting parts in between so enjoy all of it. Find the loveliest bit of each day. Remember that you are loved. And if you are not feeling loved, send me a email and I will tell you just how important you are.

On another note, please realize that if you order a vegetarian with pepperoni, be prepared to eat a lot of artichoke and no pepperoni because they will put peppers on it instead. Salami people. Say salami.

Also, I cannot eat a whole pizza and I never want to try to do that again. #thankgoodnessforeldermccarthur #Grazforthewin.

All My LOOOOOVE,
Sister Gardner

Austrian Ole'

Austrian Ole’

Question of the day:   Where am I on my personal Pride Cycle?

And perhaps a sticky bun… or four…

And perhaps a sticky bun… or four…

Before this mission the only train I had really ridden on was the Heber Creeper and some sort of railway at Disneyland. Lets just say things are a bit different.

waiting for a train.  L to R- Elder Durrant, Sister Poll, Elder McArthur, Elder Deleeuw and Elders ?.

waiting for a train. L to R- Elder Durrant, Sister Poll, Elder McArthur, Elder Deleeuw and Elder Anderson

We traveled all day on Friday to get to Munich for our meeting with Elder Bednar. Sister Poll and I made some no bake cookies right before bed so that we could take them on the eight-hour train ride… hence, the title for today. We got really good at those flashcards we brought with us during that time. This whole week has been filled with travel. Really. Honestly. I am so excited for a normal week where we can go talk with people and have some appointments, aber (but), I learned so much during our travel adventures.

Sister Gardner and Sister Poll in Munich

Sister Gardner and Sister Poll

Elder Bedar told us right away that the reason he was there was not for I-Pads. Granted- yes we are getting I-Pads, but it was so much more than an instructional meeting on how to use technology, it was an inspiring meeting led by Elder Bednar, but perfected through the spirit.

So many missionaries here to listen to Elder Bednar.

So many missionaries here to listen to Elder Bednar.

He talked about how we are agents that act not objects to be acted upon. We need to remain that way. The technology is a tool that I might be using more in the near future, but it does not change the nature of this work. This work is to bring others to the light of Christ and help them accept the Lord’s atonement in this life.

There was an elder playing music before the meeting started, he brought such a spirit with his piano playing, the microphone kept throwing angry fits and buzzing loudly and attempting to drive out the spirit. It would be uncomfortable for a moment and then they would fix it, and those beautifully arranged hymns would bring the spirit right back in again.

View from a train.

View from a train.

I wanted to share two different thoughts I have had. The first is a quote:
” I do not believe there is one missionary whose weaknesses are greater than the potential strengths within him. Why? – Because each of us is a son or daughter of God, with His divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls. I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe he expects immediate progress.” -Tad R. Callister

I think that the last part is what I am really going to focus on, always improving and trying to do everything a little better. I know I have so much to learn as a missionary, and it is always hard work. It is a leap of faith to start talking to someone, trying to share what you hold close to your heart and hoping they understand it is meant with love. I know I need to be better, but I am grateful for the change to grow. I know God has blessed me with both strengths and weaknesses, therefore, he understands when I have weakness, and is always encouraging me to improve.

At Castle Ruins in Graz

At Castle Ruins in Graz

Second, I also finished the Book of Mormon again this week, I love reading in Ether and those last power chapters. I prayed as I always do to ask about the truth. I felt good, but usually it is an enormous spiritual experience. I figured it was because I already knew it was true, but I was a bit confused, but hold your horses ladies and gentlemen, because what happened next was about all the spiritual experience I needed. The day I finished, I got some letters in the mail. Inside were two talks from Apostles in this day and age, testifying that they knew without a doubt that the Book of Mormon was true. All the way from Utah, these letters had made it to me on that exact day. Later, Elder Bednar said at the meeting on Saturday that those who are in tune in with the spirit do not have to be hit over the head with the Holy Ghost every time. It means that God trusts me; it means my testimony is solid. And it is true, I do know.

Views from castle ruins in Graz.

Views from castle ruins in Graz.

The Book of Mormon is the manifestation of God’s love for his children in all times. It is either true or it is not, and you have to consider would Joseph Smith die for some sort of hoax that he put together on the weekend with some buddies to make some cash. NO. That is something I can say plain and simple. The Book of Mormon has always been there for me. If you have faith that something will help you, it will. I would offer that when a testimony is challenged the most lovely way to put those pieces together stronger is to read. “Climb the Castle Wall, Sweep her off her feet.” Sorry for the obscure Robin Hood reference, but it really just means ACT! Do something. Decide to be strong and then BE STRONG.

a twist on the Austrian flag

a twist on the Austrian flag

So I forgot to mention something from last week. I went and helped a lovely less active member in her garden last week, I was able to get out of the big city of Graz and just see the beautiful green landscape all around me. It felt good to dig in the dirt and be close to the wind and sky. God gives these as gifts. I know that joy in this life, and joy in doing what we love shows that indeed we are meant to have joy. So be good my friends.
Sing some songs, say some prayers, eat something tasty, dance around in a train station a bit, and try not to flood the bathroom floor of the hostel with a well meaning but secretly evil shower head. Because although the six sisters you are sharing a room with will come to the rescue with their own dry towels, you will inevitably have to go get more dry towels from the lobby.
Life is Good.
Just be Brave.
Be an agent of action for yourself.

Much Love…
Sister Gardner

No Blue Monday In Your Sunday Clothes‏

Hello Dear ones! Yes, it is indeed a good thing I am always always in my Sunday Clothes, I would not like to be burdened by any blue Mondays while on this adventure. Sister Burgess always says: “you are truly a sister missionary when you start wearing things that don’t match just so that you are wearing something different.” Luckily I have not gotten to that point yet, I am singing and searching, and studying… IN my Sunday clothes.

The Easter Package Arrived!

The Easter Package Arrived!

I cannot believe my eyes… ( That was one more obscure musical reference for those who are counting.) It has been a month out here in the land of England, that means I only have seventeen months left. Ok ok, that is still a long time, but I cannot believe it has been this long. Thank you all for your support through letters, It is so good to hear from you. So some highlights from the week.

Sisters in Zion

Sisters in Zion

Sister Burgess and I were put in charge of another musical activity, I have an uncanny ability to get missionaries to sing and dance in ways they never thought they would on their missions. Sister Burgess and I made four dice that we so cleverly blew up bigger using the fancy copy machine and wrote on one dice, a word of inspiration, second dice: a funny way to sing it, third: a physical trait for the performance, and Fourth: a dice that decided if there would be a soloist or not. Surprisingly, not everyone was as excited about the dice as I was, I mean who would have guessed that would happen. We had renditions of called to serve sung in Italian or German with dancing or snapping, one group sang fortissimo in formation: “sweet hour of prayer”, Presitent Preston was the capstone of that group with his hands in the shape of a heart, belting out hymns. I joined in of course. To close we had our doctor, Elder Stevens who had been in the Tabernacle choir for seventeen years talk about how music has influenced his testimony and brought light to those he performed for. He and I were both in tears. Beautiful when someone else feels the way you do for music and its ability to bring peace.

We did some skipping of rocks at the duck pond during personal time for ten minutes on Sunday.

Flowers in Her Hair

Flowers in Her Hair

Sister Burgess and I taught two of our most spirit filled lessons yet.

Sisters in Stripes

Sisters in Stripes

Some of the German grammar lessons are finally making sense in my head. I try to use the new grammar in my daily speaking, but then I get frustrated because I have to talk slower to use it, but perhaps it is better that way so I do not go into long explanations when teaching investigators.

They have been placing the most lovely smelling fertilizer outside our windows in the flower bed which is great for the plants but not so good for missionaries who crack the window open hoping to beckon some sort of breeze to aid them in their studies of accusative pronouns and scriptures to help with understanding faith. It means that we have been using the electric fan more and also discovering that electric fans move paper, and dice made of paper are no exception. Thus the game “Fans and Dice” was born. I have sent a picture to aid you in your pursuit to understand what I mean.

"Fans and Dice"

“Fans and Dice”

Please note, the above picture does not accurately display the majority of the time spent at the MTC, our district decided to not go to the optional snack time and found other ways to de-stress.

Today we had spaghetti which made me glad. Because we have not had spaghetti the whole time I have been here. They give enormous portion sizes. which is why I have been working a lot harder during exercise time. So today was one of those days I was very glad that they filled my plate with pasta. I got a lesson from Elder Dimartino on the proper way to eat noodles using a spoon and fork.

Almost Perfect District Family Picture    L to R: E. Erickson, S. Gardner, S. Burgess, E. McArthur, E. Mantle, E. McDaniel, E. Gappmayer

Almost Perfect District Family Picture L to R: E. Erickson, S. Gardner, S. Burgess, E. McArthur, E. Mantle, E. McDaniel, E. Gappmayer

Today we went on a church history tour, walking along cobble stone streets seeing baptism sights, hearing about the enormous amount of faith that was shared, the bold preaching, and the light that was brought to the saints in England who were living in the poverty of the working class. This religious fervor that helped so many to the truth. There are so many miracles that helped the church take root upon the world and the conversion of so many helped this gospel stay strong and shaped the world wide organization it is today.

Beneath this Bridge Began the Budding Baptisms of the Book of Mormon Believers.

Beneath this Bridge Began the Budding Baptisms of the Book of Mormon Believers.

A bridge  in England with early church history

A bridge in England with early church history

A beautiful little view.

A beautiful little view.

Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

We listened to a very powerful talk from Elder Holland. He always strikes me to the heart. (not in the les miserable sort of way) No, Rather in a way that both terrifies and supports you, enlightens you empowers you, inspires you to act and to act well. I am striving to teach with the spirit. Missionaries teach the words, and facilitate the spirits presence, but really the Holy Ghost is the one who lets anyone who asks know it is true. The Holy Ghost is also there for “Trost” Comfort. I have felt that comfort in so many moments in my life where I was not even doing anything specifically religious, just being out in nature, spending time with people I love, or most specifically when I was performing in Little Women. I feel this peace, this light. It sounds like what has been described so many times. But I know it is a truthful feeling. Other peole feel it, it is that feeling of being alive and realizing simultaneously how small but beautiful each human being is.

That is why I love to perform. How many other productions have there been of the same musical, or how many trillions of times in history has an A note been sung. It is impossible to know, it is so fleeting, it has only been in the last of this spectrum of human existence on the planet that we have been able to record music to listen to anytime. But true live performance is like the spirit. It is real and tangible in the moment it is there, it is that feeling of calm or quite once a note rings out….that moment of awe before the audience cheers. It is true connection, true heart. It is beautiful. It has the power to make a lasting impact, but is not loud or enormous It is there, a still small voice, but what we learn from it, and the comfort it give is not fleeting, all it take is a moment to relive it and you can be back right where you were when you first felt that light.

The song of the heart is a prayer unto me.

Take Luck!

Love, Sister Gardner

Spring is upon us!

Spring Bud 1

Spring Bud 1

Spring bud 2

Spring bud 2

Spring bud 3

Spring bud 3

Spring Bud 4

Spring Bud 4