Whenever I Feel the Rain on My Face

There is a big tree that grows out next to the road across from the Printing office. We call it “The Tree”. It is funny how we refer to it. It is a part of our life here. Part of serving and loving this place, of calling it home and driving and walking along those streets everyday.
The Tree now has more meaning to me as It was where I was able to spend some happy time with my family.
Because of the unique aspect of performance in this mission families are able to come visit and watch the shows. I sat under the tree on a bench after our afternoon show of Nauvoo singers with my brother. One of the Elders had let my brother borrow his guitar. He played the song we performed together a few years ago and then entertained us with his other song from Nacho Libre. I was laughing so hard. It was a good reminder of who I am and the happiness that is the plan of God. He intends us to find peace and love within our families. It is the second point of the first lesson in Preach my Gospel. “The Gospel Blesses Families”GArdner FAmily Nauvoo 2017
I loved seeing how the messages we share through our performances touched my family and the multiplicity of visitors that come. Other people’s families.
There was some rain this week and we where all set up to do Trail of Hope. I was so worried we would not be able to finish it because of the oncoming storm. I prayed with all my heart that the rain would hold off so that my family would be able to go through the whole street and that everyone would get to hear our message. The storm stayed off in the distance, the clouds so dark and ominous around us but the rain stayed far enough away. I could see lighting streaking through the clouds. It was beautiful and another one of our Nauvoo miracles.
It was hard to say goodbye to my brother there under the tree the next day, but I know he will serve the people of Spain valiantly and bring many to the knowledge of the gospel. I loved seeing him on stage with me. I loved dancing with my little sisters and seeing my parents happy. It made me think about how I get to help so many families feel that way.sweet Violets
We were wondering where to find some people during Nauvoo Singers. There was no one by the tree and it was a bit of a slow day. We decided to pray and Elder Cottam felt like we should go to the brick yard, The day before we had also felt like we should go. Anyway, We stop and sing a bit on the way, but then we get there and there is no one there. unlike last time. We are wondering what to do, and then we see this mother and father and little girl. We start singing as they approach and then they came over to us. We sang primary songs with the little girl and she was so happy. As we continued to sing and play with her a huge crowd gathered. We finished off with a big audience. In the group I saw a girl wearing a name badge. I went up to her and and said “hello Sister” She did not have a companion around and then I realized she was with her family and coming home from her mission. She had served in Missouri. I was able to put my arms around her and tell her that it will be ok.
Even though finishing my mission was hard, I realize that I have a message of peace to offer to the other full time sisters serving here. Who will be leaving. I love having the perspective I do .Carthage 1
This week after the first Wednesday show of the promise, I was standing outside greeting our audience. This girl comes up to me in tears and hugs me. She explains that she is going through a similar problem as the character I play. He boyfriend is not a member of the church and she is trying to figure out what to do. I did not know exactly what to say except, I know God love you and has a plan for you and you can do what ever it is that He intends for you. But I think that was just what she needed to hear. She said that the show really touched her and taught her.
I love when we get to sing our arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer for those who are of other faiths. I like that they are included.zions youth 2
After Trial of Hope Friday night, I went down to the river and I talked with a girl who was crying. She was so lovely. We talked about how God shows He loves us by the way He paints the sky with storms or clouds or sunsets… and as she put it… On the days he is content. A clear blue sky. She said as we parted, until we meet again.
I know that even if I don’t have all the time in the world to talk to these people, or any of the people I have known in my life, there will be time in the eternities to be together. For such is God’s Plan of Happiness.thumbnail_Nauvoo Temple

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!

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