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?

One Short Day

One short day in the city of Salzburg 

One short day oh there’s so much to do.

Cause we’re closing and saying goodbye now.

There’s members to visit.

We will really miss it,

But what can you do?

Yes.

As our opening song for today proclaims, Salzburg sisters area is closing. 

Shocker right? Especially because we have some really great people investigating. I feel like I felt this change happening though. Certain people leave or you lose contact, and then it is time to find more solid people. I just thought I would be staying here for it. But no, that was however the only surprise. Sister Hofmockel will be going to Linz to pink wash. ( Sister Gardner is transferring to Munich)

There now few, if any sister /elder areas in the mission. We need more missionaries. So go on a mission, so that you can come here, or you can fuel somewhere else so that they will not take them from us. Ha ha. But luckily we will be getting 14 or so new missionaries… The transfer after this one… So I will miss out. I wish I could just stay forever.

 rain 2

We spent some wonderful time with members and investigators this week.

 Just as much it is my responsibility to bring new brothers and sisters to Christ, it is also part of my call to help the members come closer to Christ and supply opportunities to do missionary work. I get to invite ALL to come closer to Christ. Whether they have never even hear of the waters of baptism, will be baptized in a few days, or those whose covenant keeping started long before my airplane landed in England. … And myself of course. And certainly other missionaries.

 salzburg 2

We had a great time with the primary /relief society missionary activity. The kids were nervous, but they did a great job, and though there was not a giant crowd, we had lots of happy smiling mama’s and papa’s, a few grandmas and some non member grandkids so j would say it was a success. And then of course our little lady R came to the church for the first time and enjoyed the concert. 

Sister hofmockel and I get to play together, and we got the whole audience clapping along. A was supposed to play her guitar with us, but sadly her car broke down, but it was still a lot of fun. Elder Erickson danced right alongside the boys and elder Apel wore a wig while playing his Beethoven piece which made everyone laugh, I got to sing musical theater, and we had a dynamic rendition from A with plenty of charming children’s performances.

As for the dance class, it succeeded in being adorable and no one could fight over colors of scarves because they where all the same. muwahahaha 

singing with nuns

Singing Sisters in Salzburg

M texted us after our lesson about the restoration and said that she was excited to read the Book of Mormon and was already feeling that it is true. That is always the thing you would like to hear after explaining the restoration.

We also sang with one of our investigators in a park standing next to a peace for mankind post, a passerby stopped and listened and then she just closed her eyes listening with her hand to her heart. Not in a patriotic way, more like something literally touching her heart. 

 thanks

We also had a big adventure driving home from institute. With A. The construction got the better of us, and a wacky navigation system made a lovely quite unplanned road trip. It is one of those times when you could get all worried, but really there is nothing you can do and you are in process of figuring it out, so you just make it fun and call the slow car in front of you with an unknown listened plate… A 

famous

We are so famous…..

We have been working hard to get things ready for closing, and say goodbye to everyone. 

I have to go.

Love Sister Gardner

No One’s Gonna Bring Me Down…

And no ones gonna bring me down
 
 
And nobody in all of Aus. 
No investigator who is or was....
Is ever gonna bring me down.
Bring me dooooooowwwwnnnnnnn ahah haaaaaaaaa! 
Multiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notesMultiple musical notes
 
Boom.
black out. 
Audience bursts into applause
building

Stadplatz in Wels, Austria

 
Well
 I am looking at the end of week four and the start of number five in 
this five week transfer. The sand is trickling down but Dorothy still 
seemed to manage. 
 
Anyhow. 
 This week, of Sister Gardner. As a missionary in Salzburg.
That place with the musical guys with powdered wigs, historically incorrect singing 
nuns, loooooootsssss of tourists, unsurprisingly no snails for 
breakfast, and the fortress on the hill.
 
There are however two 
well used umbrellas, many people with eyes glued to the football 
(soccer) game, little girls in tutus, a salt mine, buses, lot of buses, a
 Very, very German German, original piano musician from France, a proud 
to be an American who misses his organ shoes, two wise grandparents, and
 then of course the laughs at stupid puns, and wants to carry your 
groceries, or change your life, or at least give you a card, Mormon gal.
 Maybe she is singing. Who knows. salt mines 2
salt mines

Salt Mine tour on P-day with the district

This week, was certainly 
partly defined by the tausch (exchange) to Wels that I had with sister 
Gilmour, and the amazing miracles we experienced there. We went walking 
on the street heading to go see if an investigator in a part member 
family was home, we stopped and talked with a man named P and had a 
wonderful conversation, as a nice bonus, he has an elderly mother living
 in Salzburg and he would love if we would go visit her once a week and 
make sure she does not feel alone. And then we get invited into the home
 of a family that we stopped on the street. We sat on their elaborate 
carpeted floor and drank orange juice while he told their story. He was 
seemingly insistent that I come with sister Gilmour on Sunday to eat, so
 I hope it worked out without me.
exchange 4

Sister Gilmour in Wels

The next day we go to stop by a  few members, and less active in the area 
of an appointment. We go in, knock on the door, they open the door we explain 
who we are and we get about a two second stare and then. 
Slam.
Ok...
Then we are going 
down the stairs and we see a mom trying to get her kid out of the 
stroller and take up all her bags. We carry the things up and put them 
in her kitchen then she invites us to sit down,we talk for a bit, she 
says she thinks she knows our church. We are not sure if it was really 
our church but we have a good discussion, and then show her a video...
"I have seen that video before, that is the one my friend showed me." 
......Introduce the Book of Mormon,
" I have that, I just have not unpacked it yet from moving from Vienna."
 
..... Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok 
 
This lady has a friend in Vienna that had already taken her to church and 
introduced her to the gospel.
Later we get rejected hard core on a random less active stop by, we help with
a random woman who happens to live exactly across from the people who 
rejected us, and then she turns out to have already investigated the 
church, and wants to come see the church. But wants her whole family to 
be there so that they can see it together...
Glorious Nachos. That is an amazing story.
Basically
 that tausch was filled with miracles. Plus it was nice to talk to 
people about sister Strihavka, considering it is her old ward.
spider

Said the Spider to the fly…( view from a Castle wall)

 
Um sonst....
Dance classes with hyper little girls and them fighting over the different 
colored scarves, but sister Gardner keeping her cool. And knowing they 
are cute enough anyway. A great part member family home evening, he 
likes it when I sing.
A great member coming along to a new convert 
and investigator lesson. And a heart to heart with our little lady still
 living with her boyfriend.
field white

field White and ready to harvest

Another highlight was being invited to 
go help at a workshop at the motzartteum it is a university for the 
performing arts in Salzburg. We got to mingle with students and do some 
very creative movement, art, sound, and shadow storytelling activities. 
It was one of those times where so thing you don't usually think would 
be the stereotypical "door to door" missionary work proves to be a very 
effective missionary tool. I love when people finally admit that they 
know a Mormon, and I am just like. Ha. You do know us. And I know you 
are curious. It was a great service project for a member who called in 
from Vienna in hopes that we could help. It was so fun.
Mozarteum

Mozarteum – University of Performing Arts

I found a 
guy two weeks ago who we invited on the way to fHE, he came, and then 
came on Saturday for sports, he also happens to be a coach so we got to 
play with his ten other friends and two members that came, In the 
pouring rain on a muddy field. It was great. 
 
Sunday had a nice 
chance for lots of translating, a special musical number in sacrament 
meeting, and a talk about Enos in the primary. 
Over all, it was a good week.the girls
 
My thoughts this week link in a lot with the idea.... Just, Do it.
I
 am not talking sports here, but there is something to be said about 
this idea. Sometimes it get used to justify recklessness, but in my case
 it solidifies and edifices not only missionary work, but also 
obedience.  Even though it is always an interesting experience every 
time I talk to someone on a bus or the street or train, I have to decide
 to do it. I have to take that breath before I open my mouth. I have to 
do it, when I need to stop doing something, when I should go to bed, or 
plan... Anything. 
It is this process of human life of learning to 
have self mastery. To be an object that acts not something letting your 
environment or others choices effect you. It is deciding daily between 
good and evil, just ok, and great. It is prep for new things to come and
 future lessons to be learned. 
but the thing is, in all this hard 
work and decisions, and questions. It is so that we become stronger. 
More like our Father in Heaven. 
Alma 57:21, 27
I am working on 
that and I am still not perfect, but I am getting Better, and I also 
take comfort in knowing that my mission success is based upon my 
commitment to do the things which the Lord hath commanded... For he 
provideth a way.
And I am the Gardner planting the seeds. 
I send 
my love, and an invitation to start doing soothing today that you 
should. Or stop something you should not, strive to be a bit more exact.
 I pray for your progress. 
 
You pray for my investigators to progress.... Ok.?
Ok. :) 
Love, Sister Gardner 

At Some Point or Another

At some point or another you just have to sit on the asphalt and get your hands dirty with bike chain Grease. There is no other way. So you sit as nicely as you can and you put the fickle bike chain back on the gears. For the second time this five minute ride. And this time, every part of the morning that went less than you expected comes out in a desperate sort of prayer that says, “please Father, I need things to go better now.”
Well. They did. And He helped me, He loves me. And that day we saw beautiful miracles.

my bike

And that obnoxious bike, went a whole 45 minute bike ride without giving up the chain once. And then we made it to the appointment even though the train did not
come and we had to cross the border with our bikes. And then while grabbing some water we meet a man who says. “Hey, Mormons! ” I am so glad to see you guys.”

Found a guy who got all the lessons long ago, but never got baptized and when he moved did not know where the church was. K definitely has some promise. I mean it is not every time that you talk with a stranger that they tell you how amazing Joseph Smith was and
that they will come to church sometime soon. And then they give you free samples. Nice.

mountains
Then, two of our meetings fell out, but God had us covered for that. We went dooring in the area where our lesson would be and we find this little bookshelf on the street filled with free cd’s. Sitting right on the top, “Broadway hits” of course I cannot listen to it now,
but it was a little tender mercy.happy thoughts
Then we had a talk with a man in a park, we came back after our fantastic lesson with R and S. They still had not started the Book of Mormon so we read the first two chapter with them, I loved it. Explaining and expounding, I felt like those missionaries in the Book of Mormon that just lay it down what the scriptures mean. I am gladdened every time I start reading the Book of Mormon. It is a promise of all the stories I hold in my heart. I realized when I was explaining it, as I usually do. THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE, It continues
to do so. For the better.welcome
Anyhow. We found this beautific park to talk to people in, but to our dismay the bench where we had had such a long discussion was not empty. The Book of Mormon we gave to the man was still there. We were a bit sad. But you would not have been able to tell because we started talking to the new man sitting on the bench with a random copy of the
Book of Mormon just chilling there next to his backpack. … So first you don’t succeed, try, try again.


Anyhow, to finish it off we saw a wonderful family with a dad who was really taking care of his kids. He looked like a person I knew, and I could only wish that on him. Then, it was just warm and bright like a summer night should be, and there was a beautiful sunset. Thank you.

sunset

We had a nice breakfast with a lesson at a new convert’s house. Her boyfriend was baptized but never received the Holy Ghost, but that was a few years ago. So now we are preparing him to do it right. He is happy guy. They came to church on Sunday for the first time in probably 8 months!!!

M our lady who lives in the middle of far away committed to a date! We managed to find just the right joint teach, she and her husband drove us the whole hour long way in and where at the lesson, and she and M just clicked, sadly the member sister is leaving to
America for six weeks, so we have got to find someone else. But she will be coming back, just in time for the baptism. Woo! The family also took us to eat lunch in a little, very lovely, very old town. We ate next to a river and it was beautiful.

M's house

M’s House

M had little lambs

 

give said the little stream

Give Said the Little Stream ( By M’s house)

Our friend K, who had the sad travel story came to sport abend and brought a friend. His friend was amazing at volleyball ball.  Elder Erickson would set the ball and he would come flying down with a killer spike. Literally killer, everyone covered their heads and
curled up to protect themselves. Hmm. Was noch?

We taught institute on Tuesday. You have a lot of pressure to make it exciting for the young single adults especially when one of your former MTC teachers is sitting there as part of the class in the ward you are serving. But we jazzed it up with a cool activity at the
beginning and epic video segments. And writing on the board activities. It was elder Saumelsons last week. He is a good example.

We had a long church tour with lovely J and then went with her to the doctor the next day to help translate for an ear ache. We had a lot of time to talk and watch church videos and share scriptures while we waited and then we got lunch together after.
I went to a family called the D’s. They did a great big barbecue for the whole missionary force of Salzburg. They are such a nice family and part way through while doing the game part of family home evening, the mom invited us to take a look at some scarves and blouses she was wanting to give away, they did not fit her, so we each got a new shirt
and scarf and skirt.

dinner

Dinner at the D’s

cute

He reminded me of my old guinea pig Nigel

The daughter loves musical theater so we were able to talk about it a lot and we did everything outside in their garden. Plus we did a really fun spiritual thought with the family. It was silly too. They had to draw a picture of themselves using their foot to write. Ha ha, so funny. The elders planned it. We related it to how sometimes we feel awkward with our weaknesses, but that the lord makes us strong.
Then we related that to their own personal missionary work, we invited them to make a list of people. Who fit certain categories that we said and then invited them to give them an invitation to the special visitors Sunday coming up In a few weeks.

Lastly.

I was reading in Alma again today, he is talking to his sons. Alma 39-42. I was thinking about this perfect gift of the resurrection.Everyone has this gift. No matter how many little kids snowmen you kicked over, or old ladies you helped to cross the street. Everyone
will live again. But then your choices are what decide how happy you will be with this
un-ending life, this perfected body and the vast landscape of the eternities.
Did you prepare yourself for your ultimate potential, did you take the name of Christ not only upon yourself. Or upon your heart….

That is sort of like a mission. If you are called to serve, whatever kind of mission it is, if you are stocking the shelves of a bishops storehouse, wading through flooded highways in a jungle, helping people find their ancestors, hiking mountains to meet in huts, dodging
big yellow taxis looking for an address, or waking up to the tolling of church bells in a flat in Austria, you are called to serve. It is like a resurrection, a gift for all.
But, then come the second part.
How much do you use that time, have you given your heart as you could have. Have you let yourself be changed, did you choose to come closer to your Heavenly Father, did you follow his guidance and love all you came in contact with? That is the part that relates to this life, and we are living it right now, so think about it,

You will already receive an unbelievable gift in that you will live again.

But . You decided today, yesterday, tomorrow just how glorious
that will be.

All my love,
Sister Gardnerbikes again

 

Somewhere in My Youth or Childhood

Somewhere In My Youth or Childhood

I must have done something good. I think one of the moments of revelation that I was blessed to review in a light switch turning on sort of moment was my desire to go on a mission. It has just been there. So forgive me if I never ever make any jokes about being glad to go home.  A mission is the best thing ever. So I am going to continue pressing on. In the middle of my mission.

COMIC.png

A comic that made me smile

This week’s email, the thought generator, ready set go.

Well, we are in the Storrer’s house right now writing emails. My feet are resting on a wooden square patterned wooden floor,  my keyboard on my ipad was acting strange and then decided to split itself which I finally figured out.

 

exchanges

Dinner on exchange in Innsbruck.

This week we went on tausch in Innsbruck, I taught a little eight year old about the Book of Mormon with his mom and ate orange jello with a Brit and Icelander and my Frenchie. I don’t know what they were doing with jello in their apartment. The mountains where much more imposing and close up than they are at home. I wanted to just go walk all over them. We also visited a very old woman, and got controlled by a bus ticket man, sadly my companion for the day had purchased the wrong ticket, but he let us off because we were Doing something for God. That does not happen. Ever.,.. So that was a miracle.,

 

Innsbruck

The Innsbruck Mountains and Innsbruck Sisters

I had the heart breaking moment of asking F to read a verse from the Book of Mormon out loud and then discovered that he could not read. And eventually his experience of being orphaned at an early age and his contemplation to simply step conveniently in front of a high speed train but how he was able to overcome that by fasting and praying. Which his sister taught him to do until she herself also died. Life is hard, remember that you are blessed.

 

Death however is not so frightening to face when you consider the plan, the plan of God. It is simply a another step closer to God. Just like our birth to the earth was. It does  not mean that death is not sad though. I felt that especially while going through a bit of a World War Two museum. People are not things to be stacked. I know that is a bit of cruel imagery but that shows you what some people choose to do with their agency.

salzbug framed

When I talk to people , sometimes they don’t even want to talk about the purpose of life, and if I get the word God or Heavenly Father in there the usual excuse is, “wenn es wirklich Gott gibt dann warum lässt er so viele schlimme Sachen passieren.” Translation: if God is really there why does he let so many bad things happen. Well dear person on the street trying to justify your lifestyle of “I don’t care” It is not God wanting these things to happen, in fact he weeps with us when sad things happen, it is people and their own  choices that bring suffering to the world. Really, if everyone loved according to the commandments  we would have so much more peace. What happened to the people in the Book of Mormon when they were all following the commandments of God? Ah… Peace. It is only when people start to get proud or disappointed or power hungry that things start to go wrong.

So my answer my dear Austrian. God is our Loving Heavenly Father. Love.sis H and the tree

In other news we have really been trying to find ways to serve the ward members. We brought a salad by to a family to help with the stake relief society activity. Then we were able to sing Today while the Sun Shines for them, and share a little spiritual though. They are a newly married couple. She was so cute and I would tell she wanted to hold his hand or something while we were singing, but he was totally oblivious. Heh heh.

I have been studying this week about some of the events and experiences of the early church and settlers of the west. Some topics for example polygamy. For me it is no problem, it is normal. I know I have one mom and I know gods plan supports that. But through the spirit and my study’s I was able to come to a good understanding of it and other topics that will help me in the future. I do not understand all of God’s ways but I can trust that is ways are motivated by love for his children. We have to acknowledge that. And let him in our lives.

But His trust is not something I just have because someone told me to. I have prayed about my questions and received answers. I have experienced God’s love personally. And I have felt it more profoundly on my mission. I am called to receive revelation for these people. It is my way of tapping into the priesthood power without having to have anyone place their hands on my head. This priesthood power is not just that, but Gods power. Prayers of the faithful regardless to age, sex, culture, or religion. God know his children. I am glad for that. I am blessed to be able to receive inspiration more quickly as I search ponder and pray. I have had so many cherished experiences with the glorious feeling of the Holy Ghost.

walking sticks

Look Close…. the sticks may move

Please read your scriptures.

Please pray to our Father in Heaven.

Just tell him about your day, what you feel.

Do it,

….

I dare you.

And partake of the sacrament, let the Atonement work in your life, and if you are not yet worthy. Make some changes… If  you lose yourself,  you find yourself. You have been you since before the earth was formed and you will live to the incomprehensible eternities beyond. Life is going to get pretty dull if you don’t let some variety into your life. Be brave, let him in, perform an experience.

You all have the light of Christ in you. So let it fill you with light.soda smile

I send my love and I wish I could just hold your hand and lead you to see it how I am beginning to understand.

All my love

Sister Gardner.

 

SIS h

The darling and beautiful Sister Hofmockel

 

Mi a Name I Call Myself

That title was for all your Spanish speakers, because that is as close
to a Spanish title as we are going to get in the alpine German speaking
mission.

Ah, and the story that actually links with the title. I see a new lady
in the church on Sunday sitting by herself after relief society
meeting. Well of course I go start talking to here. But surprise….
She only speaks Spanish. So I whip out the maybe two dozen words I
know. Ok not counting numbers. I am trying to figure out if she is a
visitor or member or what. And of course even when I realize it is
really not working out so well… I keep trying. It was about a ten
minute conversation. I did figure out who she was and where she was
from. Member visiting from Columbia who’s daughter is in the ward and
had just had a baby.
I think the funny part was me running to get my ipad and whipping out
the google translate.
Hopefully I at least made her laugh. ball

Speaking of that.
This just in, in France, Dora teaches you to speak English.
The real question is how did we come to that topic of conversation….

Well that could have to do with being stuck inside for two days. Ok,
maybe not two WHOLE days, but almost. I had escaped that morning to go
to the doctor which actually ended up condemning me to sit for the two
days…knee

AGONY. Misery. woe.
I guess riding a bike all the time and walking and just being a missionary

is not exactly helpful for knee injuries. But,
egal.(no matter)text message

I am back on my feet and we had a pretty great week.

On Tuesday we did a bit of finding. Talking with people in parks at
their doorways, on the street… And along a walking path next to a
duck pond. We were going to visit a less active, to just stop by,
and we stop to talk with a man sitting on the bench. We ended up
talking for about two hours. He told his his story of coming over from
Pakistan. This poor, poor man. It was the most horrible story I have
heard. He thanked us profusely for listening and said that he had
actually been praying and feeling really alone and his friend had had
a big operation for his seizures that day and then we had started
talking with him and that he knows God answered his prayer.
After ending my exile in Freilassing we met up with the storrers and
K at the church. He talked for about two hours telling us his story.

I recorded it and will begin transcribing it into a document so it

can be translated into German and then used for his visa interview.

He was so,so,so grateful. His story, is something that just sounds

like a bad dream. He has seen so much death and hate and injury and

people treating others like less than animals.
In general conference they talked about letting a refugee tell you
their story, looking into their eyes. It makes such a big difference.
If everyone just took a moment to really listen and hear from their
perspective there would be so much more understanding. So much more
love.lock bridge

We rode out to M this week on the bus with an older member of our
ward. I got to talk with her the whole way up and back. She of course
got on the bus later than we did and got off sooner but in the end it
was probably about two hours, I learned about her whole life and her
journey to find the church. Her first husband and the fifteen years
she spend living in Pakistan and then meeting her husband after being
widowed and then coming back to Germany. She was converted to the
church and has amazing faith. At one point, we where meeting outside.
Maria got distracted because her grandson and his little friend were
playing too far down the dirt road getting down to the bigger road. I
know you are all picturing something in your head but it is probably not
even close. Think in the middle of the mountains In a village. Hard to
explain when you don’t have much time. Anyhow, M asked sister
hofmockel to go get them, but we need to stay together so we go
running off, because two old ladies are not going to be able to do
much In a moment when you need speed. We come back up the big dirt hill
pushing the little petal four wheeler looking cars that the little
boys where riding. We finally get back up and our member sister is

sharing Moroni 10. I was so proud of her. And M really listened. We

read mosiah 4 She finally really read what was in there and then said.

Wow. It is really the same teaching as the bible……. YES. What have

we been telling you.
So, we are making progress slowly but surely.

zone 2

Salzburg Zone

zone

Part II

We had a nice zone training this week. Always nice to see our friends.
And the elder from Peru cracks me up. He is short and so smiley. He
has a great accent. I also have made friends with one of the elders
from Germany. He was talking win sister hofmockel and I at the stake
sport day.zone 3

Our golden guy mike is sadly moving to Italy. We had only one lesson
with him but he was so ready. So we hope that he will meet with the
missionaries when he gets there. His friend that he invited to meet
with us came to church on Sunday. Woo in a taxi!

Well. Things are good here. great Boucing Icebergs, There are soooo
many tourists in the Bahnhof today. Wow. Just took a pause to talk to
a couple from Canada. He is a firefighter but cannot find work. She
studies physiology. They have been going through Italy, Austria and the
czech republic. Managed to talk about Jesus Christ and give them a
card.
And now I let that little dandelion puff fly out into the sky and we
shall see if it grows.Salzburg Hauptbahnhof

I had some great moments reading the Book of Mormon this week.

Read it again, it is true. The stories are real. There is good and bad
in every life but God is always there, he loves us. He loves you.

So do I you know.

Love, sister Gardner

 

Rain Drops on Roses

Raindrops on Roses

Well. It is raining. Again.

But that is alright because we are sitting oh so cozy and dry in the waiting room of Salzburg Bahnhof. Free wifi, and lots of people who can’t leave until their train goes. You meet lots of people during those two hours despite the fact it goes by too quick.
sisters in a selfie
I just want to share a few lovely moments from this week.

I told you about meeting a man on the street and talking for a long while. Well. We met up that Wednesday and had out first appointment with him. We gave him a church tour and he was just really quiet during it, we went into the library and he finally says something.
There was some random book in there “the way to perfection” he asked is that what we thought perfection was. Darn it random book. But it was fine we explained about the atonement and that although we are not perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we can be made perfect. We get to the end and he asks. Ok, well what is actually your message. So we sit down in the chapel, chairs In a circle. We give an overview
of what we teach. Now E is not a big fan of books, he is more of a how you feel and doing service sort of guy. He shares about when he was fourteen he asked, in prayer not in the Muslim way, or the Christian way, but his own way if God was there. He described feeling
a burning in his heart, warmth. … But that is where the spirit just gets started.
He asks us how we came to know what we believe is true. I share about when I felt closest to my Heavenly Father. That leads to a few more things, but then our member A, who is return missionary from the Manchester mission. Talks a little about how the Book of Mormon helped her. He listens but then says. I have read the bible over and over and the Koran over and over, but it does nothing for me. I feel nothing. It is just words. Why is this book different.

Wow, I can feel the spirit as I start to write this..
We open up to Moroni 10:3-5 and ask him to read explaining that this book has a promise. We hand the open book to him. He does not read out loud, as he starts
like a crescendo, the spirit comes in, stronger and stronger until it literally has a physical feeling in the room, like a weight of warm, and an undeniable presence. His hands start to shake and he is silent staring at the words he has read. He looks up and there are tears just so slightly at the rims of his lower eyelid. I look to my companions, their eyes match mine with a wet line of tears on our cheeks. The feeling does not go away. He finally speaks.

Saying…. Something to the extent of.
That is different.
That is the feeling again. I have not felt that since I was fourteen. If I could cry I would. And you won’t believe me, but, well you see,
my sister died when I was a little boy. I really have not thought of her so strongly.

.. ” do you believe you will see her again.”
“Yes.” You will.
“What do I need to do.”

And so I invited a 25 year old Muslim Christian Austrian young man from Pakistan who has been looking for the truth since he was 14 to be baptized…

The story can only go further from here, and I don’t know what lies in store for him. But I know that it is important because I have never experienced that so totally realistically physicality of feeling the spirit. He is amazing.

minute 2

All Set up for the Minute to  Win it Activity

In other news, we had an amazing minute to win it activity, the decorations s turned out great and we had lots of visitors there and
it was really very fun. We know these games well in the United States but for many of these people it was the first time. I love when I am running around being a hostess and making sure everything is going well and all the games are going well. I don’t know, it is energizing. And exhausting.

Pray for V,  we went to visit her but when her mom came home she had us go immediately because she says her mom is not so excited about religion. But I felt bad leaving right when she came. We are not robbers. So I hope I can get to know her better so that she can know
we are normal people.

Ha, I got a call from a certain mama Strihavka on the phone who was very excited to hear that I was serving in her stake. I don’t think you in Utah understand what a stake is like in Austria. There are two stakes in the whole country. It divides in the middle. Vienna and
Salzburg. That is it. Chew on that for a while.

framed

Sister Gardner in Salzburg

I met a woman who is planning to make a pilgrimage across Austria. She is one of the two ladies we met thru our nun convent adventures. She is really sweet, loves Imagine by John Lennon which luckily sister Hofmockel could play on the piano and she has the baby tooth of herson as an earring. She is cool.

trying not to laugh

The beautiful Sister H

Salzburg is filled with tourists, and the American ones all know I am Mormon. Oh happy day. Go home and ask the missionaries to visit you.

I would say they are pretty charismatic, super fun, spiritual and sing a lot. And also secretly thinking of hundreds of different things at one time. And trying their best even though they often wonder how to perform the work as greatly as their Heavenly Father would desire. But also counting on the power of the Holy Ghost, the love of Christ, and the knowledge of the truthfulness of our message.

All my love,
Sister Gardner.

 

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!

Thoroughly Modern Missionary

 

Thoroughly Modern Missionary

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

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

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

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

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

Fasching

Fasching Parade- Celebrating the coming of Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Sister Gardner

 

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

 

I’m Making My Entrance Now…..With All That I am Somehow

I can feel it, can you feel it?

I can feel it, that happy heartbeat that races when I am able to help someone. The moment before the words come out and I ask that first question. When you wait hoping, pleading in your heart that they will walk through those church doors. When you look over and see their eyes filled with tears or the quiet still that comes when their hearts are open too. I am feeling so glad. My heart is full as I serve. I feel an urgency to speak with everyone and I am learning to rely again and again on faith.

Birthday Selfie with Sister Wilks.

Birthday Selfie with Sister Wilks.

This week I turned 20. Wah hoo! I made it two decades. Everything I have been learning during that time has been preparing me for what was to come. Preparing me for this week, for this day, for this very moment. God’s plan is a perfect one because it is constantly pushing us to grow and learn enough that we are called to be better and implore him to help us, but strong enough that we can lift others with us as we climb.

Thanks for all of the gifts, cards and birthday greetings.

Thanks for all of the gifts, cards and birthday greetings.

I thank those who sent me their love on my birthday. Thank you for the well wishes and thoughts, it really meant a lot. Thank you also to the elders who called just moments after I woke up being the first, after my companion of course, to wish a happy birthday to a sister still just sitting up after turning off the alarm. Thank you to French toast and primary programs, and funny little Urdu\Romanian speaking couples that give you cola and cookies after just meeting you the day before. Thank you for being able to find a fun place to eat that sells dinner crepes. Thank you for laugher and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

“It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today.” – Joseph Fielding Smith

I like this one because it helps me focus on one day at a time and helps me appreciate the progress I am making. I wish I were better at lots of things. I feel often insufficient to serve and love these people with everything they deserve, but then I think again and have faith in the fact that I am called to these people for a reason and purpose. They need me in some way.

I am really glad to be working with new converts in this ward. This is something new for me, and it is helping me really gain a new perspective of the kind of ward member I want to be when I get back from my mission. It helps me realize again the enormous faith it takes to be the pioneer in a family, the first to take the big step back to our Father in Heaven.

Speaking of new converts, I got an email today that W was able to pass the sacrament for the first time yesterday and that he bore his testimony for the ward. I felt this bubbling up excitement in my very heart and soul when I read those words. It was a glorious feeling of peace and I did a little happy dance in my chair when I read that. Wow, there is nothing like that, to hear that they are strong and happy…

I am running short on time to write, but want to leave a testimony of the importance of love. Loving people no matter where they are on their journey. Working to love them perfectly like the Savior does. It helps you feel how to help them, and even though I am not a perfect teacher, or friend, or daughter or future something, or missionary, or 20 year old, or sister or human being; when I rely on most importantly acting with Christ like love, those I care for will be able to feel it through the spirit.

Be Brave! Enjoy the sky and be still, knowing He is there.

Love, Sister Gardner

Pictures from the Hike up Schneeberg a couple weeks ago before transferring to Tubingen.

Schneeberg, here we come.

Schneeberg, here we come.

Sister Mountain Goats?

Sister Mountain Goats?

The WN Family plus their favorite RM on Schneeberg

The WN Family plus their favorite RM on Schneeberg

On Top of the World

On Top of the World

At the Top

At the Top

We made it!

We made it!