There’s Something in This Place That is Different

sunset 4

With the clock ticking ever closer to the half hour, I don’t have much time to write. So I will start with the most lovely miracle in the form of a story.

Once upon a time after Sunset by the Mississippi someone came back stage and said “Sister Gardner, German!” So Sister Gardner sprints gleefully away to meet the next adventure. He was visiting on a road trip with the young man who’s family years ago had welcomed a German teen into their home for an exchange program. years later, the friendship is still strong and the American is now a returned missionary eager to see the sights with his German friend.
She convinced him to stay for Trail of Hope promising that Philip (That’s the German man’s name) and I could talk after the trail. She was worried she would not be able to find them, but to Sister Gardner’s Joy, she saw him and the American friend walking up from the River. She talked with them excited to speak in the language that she so loved. She invited them to stay for the evening prayer and devotional. it was lovely to watch as her fellow missionaries shared simple testimonies of God’s love and plan. Then to her excitement and amazement the group chose to sing a song uncommon to their nightly meetings, “A Child’s Prayer”.  To her joy Elder Muncy even went and got his guitar and Sister Zamora had her violin. “A Child’s Prayer” is the only song that Sister Gardner still knew every single word to in German. So as they played, she sang along standing next to Philip. She watched as he looked to the stars and wiped a tear away from under his glasses.
This eternal investigator who had been in a town in her mission felt the spirit again after a long time. She joyfully gifted him another copy of the Book of Mormon. He said that though he was scared to accept what he knew to be true, frightened to be different than his family and accepting all the teachings, he would really try and figure it out this time.
Even in Nauvoo, I am able  to meet and teach the investigators of my Sisters teaching and serving in Freiburg in my beloved Alpine German speaking Mission.

The Gospel is true, God is Good.
Bis Aufwiederhoren.

Sister Gardner

sweet violets 3[1]

Nauvoo Singer singing Sweet Violets

orange blossom 2

Sunset by the Mississippi – Orange Blossom Special with Elder Larsen

boo

“Along Came Jones” – Melodrama

I Believe In You, I Believe In You

I Believe in You, I Believe in You.

I am coming to you on a Wednesday this week. Oh exciting!

This week was a glorious, strenuous, exhausting and exhilarating week.

Austria's National Library

Austria’s National Library

Library in Vienna

Library in Vienna

I was in Salzburg and Vienna and all the way through to Munich, Deutschland. Lots of getting to know new people and really thinking, praying, pondering how we can help. It was nice to see my MTC companion Sister Burgess again, for she, as a European is locked away in Switzerland. Ha ha. She is doing well. It was just nice to all come together and I really loved learning from President Kohler and Sister Kohler. We also had the opportunity to get to know the zone leaders better. They are nice elders. I feel really involved and invested in the Vienna (Wien) zone and I love it. It is like a big family we work to take care of everyone.

Sister Burgess, my companion form the MTC.

Sister Burgess, my companion form the MTC.

New Friends at training Conference.

New Friends at training Conference.

Mission conference friends

Sister Poll at the conference.

Sister Poll at the conference.

Hey, It's even Elder Hadfield a friend from my very own high School German class.

Hey, It’s even Elder Hadfield a friend from my very own high School German class.

Well I am sure you have been waiting for this, W was baptized!!!!!

It was a most wonderful taufegottesdeinst. There where 100 people there, we did it in the chapel and when it was time for the baptism we all tried to squish into the room with the baptismal font. It was great, his whole family was there, his son in laws family, ward members from multiple wards, investigators and less actives. We sang a song, Sister Pratt and I. The Bishop got my programs all printed out for me, and the all the elders (Elder Call and Elder Chilcutt) even managed to fill the font with warm water when it was filling up too slowly. Two of the Vienna companionship came, Elder Bowers and Monson, in our district and Elder Plumb and his golden, Elder Elwell. They all saved the day.

I talked to W’s daughter she was taking pictures of the event trailed closely by her four year old. She was saying how it seems like a dream and she was not quite processing it; that it was really happening. She got a little choked up. I know everyone is so happy he is now a member of the church. They have loved him for years and years, now it is official. Lots of little wonderful things happened. I wish I could explain all the little things. Me getting after W when he was doing dishes.  “Hey, let us do this. You go enjoy your party”, Or all the copper roses on the white tables. Or the cinnamon rolls and meat platters. It was a beautiful moment the next day when he was confirmed in Sacrament meeting with his children and grandchildren watching. I felt so happy, happy for his family and for him.

Loved the copper flowers.

Loved the copper flowers.

Well, that was the end of the week. We were pretty tuckered out by Sunday, so we were very glad when we finished planning and were able to go to bed.

I think I shall now direct your attention to the title of this email.

In the musical How to Succeed in Business, Finch is singing about himself. In this case, I do not mean me, I mean my savior Jesus Christ. One of Elders Call’s favorite scriptures is (Alma 26:11-12) the one that talks about not boasting of yourself but rather my God, my Father and his Son. We were working on demur humility in our district this week. It is something I though I had more of, but in fact find that I must strive to improve it everyday, I know that when I humble myself to my Father in Heaven’s will. I do it his way and therefore in the best way. He is there as I strive to give my best and to give me hugs when my head hangs, red faced in shame. He helps me work it out. …. Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend. I am striving to, as Elder Dieter F Uchtdorf puts it, live up o my privileges and remember, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

On our bikes in the rain.

On our bikes in the rain.

My dear fiends, I hope you see the good this week, and see the beauty in the dismal and variety in the “plot twists” of life.

I also hope you win at the clue card game when you play it silently with the Zone leaders of Austria In a crowded bus for 3 hours with everyone sleeping. Ha ha, you’ve got to love the little things, like Musli for breakfast.

Have a good one!

All my love, Sister Gardner

Sisters in Vienna

Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner in Vienna

P. S. it is Fall.

P. S. it is Fall.

Quick Conclusions Often Lead the Best of Us Astray.

Study Time Selfie of Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner

Study Time Selfie of Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner

When I first got here I was feeling like there was so much to do and no matter how much I was working at it there would still be an immense amount to complete. While that still is basically true, I have seen so much during this week that shows me that God really has reasons for my darling Sister Pratt and me to be here. So no, a week of zeros at the beginning of the first week of work here did not reflect the work we were doing, all those discussions and plans and prayers and questions are starting to show themselves in the form of miracles.

Look who was here last. Sister Winters is a friend from home in Lindon.

Look who was here last. Sister Winters is a friend from home in Lindon.

This week started out running (or for today’s email theme galloping) “Cheese cakey” yes, I know, deal with it. Ha ha. Anyhow, we helped set up for a ward relief society breakfast and got to know more of the sisters so much better, also I got to try this fantastic thing on toast which was like Nutella with little frosted flakes mixed all together and made into a spread. Also lemon curd from Romania. I love these Austrian people with their sandwich meat and cheese for breakfast. We left quickly after for zone training. It was so nice to see Sister Smith again and my two Graz brothers and the lovely Miss who is the new member of the Graz family. We played an awesome object lesson game at the conference that was so fun and quite hilarious.

My favorite flower can with some little flowers always brightens any window.

My favorite flower can with some little flowers always brighten any window. ( ah, i got a fruit fly too) Can you tell is has been raining?

I met my GML ( Ward Mission Leader) this week J is awesome. He is from Spain and his wife is from here in Austria. Their children are fluent in English, German and Spanish, four sweet little girls. It was lovely to get to know them. It was wonderful, the girls sang to me; singing apparently the world’s favorite song….Let it Go. That song has some sticking power. Anyhow.

Probably happened when the Elders were here.

Probably happened when the Elders were here.

There were so many good things that happened so here is the crash course. Ready, set, go.

We met C. She is a long time investigator so this meeting was more so she could get to know us. She is actually having a break from teaching because she has been learning for five years and making little progress but we are always there for her. She and I just really clicked I looked in her eyes and I felt like I knew her. I hope we get to meet again.
Hey J_ _ _. ( insert Beatles song here) Yeah, we met with our African friend J this week. He has so many deep thoughts and feelings and though it took a few tries to meet with him we finally met up and had a good discussion, he really believes in God but unlike most people from his country he does not have as much faith and knowledge of the bible. We see him around quite often and had a lesson with him underneath the overhang of a shop when it was pouring rain. Whenever we see him I can’t help but say, hey J_ _ _ with the song playing in my head.

Schwester E. This woman is lovely and has just been going through a hard time but we visited her and are praying for her.

I am telling you folks you make sure you read scriptures, pray and attend church each week and you will not lose your faith, it is when the hard times pull us away from these three things that Satan separates us from our life line. Hold on, with faith. Don’t let him get you down. He would have you believe those things are not going to help at all but, that is not true.

W. B., this man is a testimony to the fact that everyone has his or her own journey to the gospel. We were drinking cold root beer in their artwork of a house at the foot of a mountain down the street from a castle, talking with the family and he just pipes in with this. ” So, the Bishop and I decided today that my baptism will be on October 10th.
Uh. Ok. Wonderful. Just set your own baptismal date. It sure makes our job easy. His wife has know for a very long time he would someday be a member but now her wish that she though might be for the afterlife is coming true and we are helping this inspiring man on his way. God has been preparing him. They said it was like a portrait they have been painting for more than a decade, each little stroke, “Now I am out of paint,” he jokes, “Better do it now”. Totally inspiring.

One thought I wanted to share before I go.
I was thinking about ballet. I remember being so overwhelmed one day in class. There is so much to think about at one time. Shoulders open, head position, rib cage together, hips in the correct place, the shape of your hand and on and on. I felt like I could not think about it all at once. That is how I feel as a missionary sometimes, there is so much to do but it is hard to think how to do it all at the same time, but sometimes things just become muscle memory through practice and you get stronger and them turning on pointe is not so much of a dangerous adventure but a thing of grace and beauty. I am not always graceful as I continue to learn my way but I do love it and it is getting easier. I focus on specific places to improve and it is better.

My Favorite Ballet Picture of Edgar Degas

Sister GArdner’s Favorite Ballet Picture by Edgar Degas

Well I am off to Vienna today, and probably going to eat some ice cream.

mom's note- If this is the ice cream they are sharing, i want some too. Yummy!

mom’s note- If this is the ice cream they are sharing, i want some too. Yummy!

Well you dear ones what do I say for this day, the day before I will have been six months on this mission for my father. Probably only can say that it has gone by at a breakneck speed just as I knew it would. I have only a year left of serving as Sister Gardner, in this way anyway. I am going to make those 365 days count.

Love you all………love is all you need. (and the plan of salvation)
No big deal
Bye,
Sister Gardner

I’ll Heed Your Call

I’ll heed your call, no need to small, and face the fire below for you!

Tis true!

Two companions more than sisters…

Two companions when all others flee than we remain.

Tis true, tis true … True companions are we two!

Sister Pratt

Sister Pratt

Sister Gardner

Sister Gardner

I feel like this happy little melody is a good way to start my email this week. (Song from The Mystery of Edwin Drood) If you will recall, the two who sing this song actually have a very strained sort of relationship, but the sisters I am talking about today are united in their efforts in the land of Wiener Neustadt.

Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner singing hymns after exercising.

Sister Pratt and Sister Gardner singing hymns after exercising.

So dear ones some amazing things started coming together this week; new faces becoming new friends.

Also we attempted to get bikes. …. Cough, cough.

No, it was all right we are going to go buy one this week, though the bishop’s wife was kind enough to lend us her bike. But it got a flat and a flat tire doesn’t go so far even when you try to repair it three times. Even with the Elders and Bishop and bike shop guy. Heheh. We learned that it is really hard to ride with bags and two people on one bike. Don’t worry we only tried that once and we had our freshly purchased bike helmets to protect us. We probably looked like a circus act or something.

The Bike: Thanks to Elder Call and Elder Chilcutt

The Bike: Thanks to Elder Call and Elder Chilcutt

So we met two Arabian gentlemen this week and to our excitement they came to sport night! We ran into them, on the way from the church. K and O are both about 25. One already somehow had a Book of Mormon. He was really excited to hear from us and told us he has lot of questions. We invited them to play soccer and they are both so good at soccer. The next day we tried to meet with them, but they got home really late. Well, missionary standard late and we could not wait for them anymore. They texted us that they would be at Hauptplatz until midnight if we wanted to get a coffee with them. Oh, no. But the next time we met them at three and we helped them understand better what we do as missionaries, a.k.a. teach people not go on coffee dates. Ha ha. Luckily they both seem to have real interest still so that is good.

K has so many questions about the differences of Muslim and Christianity. We continually have to explain that we are not catholic and don’t know about the pope. It was sort of a difficult lesson because he was going all over the place with his questions and like Korihor wants proof. Confused how Jesus can be the Son of God. Confused why there are so many religions. Confused about how to be “saved”. He has so many questions. We handled it pretty well though even though he was a force to try and scatter the lesson. He is going to read in his Arabic Book of Mormon and read the pamphlet we gave him. Today we made a whole plan of arrack how to answer his questions and bring the spirit. The other hard part was that his friend only speaks German. I would go to translate for his friend and then K would interrupt with another idea and it would get confusing for O. Then they would both speak in Arabic to each other. Oh goodness the adventures we have. But I can see it. Their spirits are hungry for the truth.

Soccer on the Hauptplatz.

Soccer on the Hauptplatz.

We also got to know a man on Sunday that the elders told us about. His wife is a member and he is not. He has been taught so many times the lessons but now he has decided to get baptized. We are the ones to prepare him. His wife said, in her English accent, that we have it easy because he has already decided to be baptized. And then he interjected with a good-hearted laugh, “Oh no sisters you still have to convince me”. He smiled and let us know he was joking. He is a fun sarcastic fellow. But during the gospel doctrines class he gave all the answers in the lesson about the priesthood. I know that will be a big blessing for him and his family.

One of the families from Graz has moved here and the brother of one of the members from Graz lives here too. I was able to enjoy a lovely vegan chocolate cake with my friend J and get to know more of the members this week. Part of being in Weiner Neustadt means traveling to different cities by train to teach members or investigators. That is a very common thing. I am going to have quite a collection of city maps.

Settlers Game and Vegan Chocolate Cake.

Settlers Game and Vegan Chocolate Cake.

The elders are teaching a fun little kid. He has the fullest, blackest, slightly curly mullet. He is nine years old; his whole family was investigating but now only him. But his father came to sport night and his mother has been in church the last two Sundays. She wants us to come visit with the elders when thy come to teach K, hopefully that means we can teach her!

Well I am feeling so happy out here. It is slow getting started and I still have not quite had time to unpack my suitcase all the way away, but good things are happening and we are getting some new things started. There is actually a lot of member support. There are some people here who are really big blessings in our lives.

The best time for me is when I am conversing with someone, talking with them and street contacting is starting to be more of an adventure for me.

I also love the quiet time at the end of the day when I am painting watercolor thank you notes and drinking cold sparkling water while sometimes singing along with whatever song we are listening to.

The rooftops in the evening.

The rooftops in the evening.

I have really felt peace a few times this week by being reminded about the enormity and love of the atonement. I hope you can feel it too.

Love Sister Gardner

Object lesson of the day:

Think about a dead light bulb. No matter how many times you flip the switch it does not come on. There is no light. That is like baptizing without the restored priesthood power or any other church really. A light bulb still looks like a light bulb but it does not serve its full purpose of bringing the power into light and helping the people make a full connection with God. (Object lesson for you today)

The Priesthood light.

The Priesthood light.