- Reading Journal entries from the MTC
- Birthday parties with little kids and hurriedly decorated houses
- A cup of my favorite herbal tea
- Ping pong for sport night when it was raining
- General conference is this week
- W is getting baptized
- We spoke German to each other all last week
- The guy we see all the time who knows missionaries and greets us by shouting Obama
- Practicing for Musical abend (evening/ fireside)
- Sister Pratt
I found some Flowers on the Ground and then strung them together with a thin plant vine.
( Email received on Tuesday Morning the 7th)
I love you. I will try to send another email quickly in the morning but we are leaving at 5. Meaning I am waking up at 3:45. Go me!…. and my alarm clock fell and smashed, so I have the left side of the numbers but not the other. I just need a screwdriver and I will have it fixed. Cause I am handy like that. Loose wire and all. But all is well. if you send me one then I will lose the chance to participate in the fine workmanship of German clocks. I suppose I could get a small portable Cuckoo clock………………. I think perhaps not.
Any how. I will attempt to send you more… On the Morrow, but if not, know I am safe, and happy… And a little sad to leave this lovely place that has become a most loved home to me. I will also miss this family I have loved here at the MTC. But greater adventure awaits.
I send my love, and maybe you can imagine me humming, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go Dear Lord” as you finish reading this.
All My Love,
Pictures of our Easter Egg Coloring efforts
( Email received Wednesday morning the 8th)
Well, I am off this morning. I really have no time to email you. But I love you.
Go read Elder Wilford W. Andersen’s talk from General Conference on LDS.org about dancing and singing.
“The music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart.”
That man knows what he is talking about.
I will be safe and have fun. Transport mode… Elder Fischer is in charge, so that is sure to be an adventure.
(Elder Fisher is an elder from Germany that joined their MTC group last week)
… In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. Find the fun and SNAP the jobs a game.
If you want to understand what kind of week I have had please refer to the title. Ha Ha. Thank you, now if you are still confused as to what I mean by Tech Week, let me explain.
Tech Week is the week that must come to pass before a show can have its opening night, it is notorious for last minute problem fixes, long hours, stress, malfuncions and basically is like the quality control guy at Krispy Kremes with the long tongs, not everyone is going to make it out alive it seems. ( I’m sure we will though)
Ok, so maybe that is a little too frightening of an explination. But to get my point across. Tech Week is the week that technician, costumers, designers, actors and musicians generally need …but do not want.
But, let me explain to you the other side of Tech Week. These are the rehearsals where everything starts to come together. Is the production perfect? Heavens no. But you start to see the magic happen. The costumes and the props, the lights and the cues. Lines are memorized, scerery added, Projections and fog and music all coming together. The production will only ripen as it continues but Tech Week is when it all starts to make sense in the most nerve wracking sort of way. You start to realize that even though, you feel you will never be totally ready for the show to open, you do in fact have a show. And because the music is good, because the message is written into the scripts and because there are so many working to make it a success, the only hope now is to put your heart into it and share with who ever comes through the doors.
Currently I am trying to wait very very patiently for opening night.
So now that you know my current mental state, how about a little update on what I have been up to.
We gave a tour of the “Church” to one of our investigators this week. Because obviously if you put sticky notes on the doors with names like “Sunday School” and “Family History Center” the empty class rooms magically transform into a full blown chapel and not the corridors of the MTC. I think the most entertaining part of that was when Sister Burgess and I showed Frank the “Primary” and all the other German Elders, the one in the other German Language District, inside started singing in high squeaky voices the much beloved hymn many will know as “I am a Child of God” in German naturally. Just to be brief I will say that those primary children, as much as I love them, need to practice. Ha Ha, It was great.
I got Sister Burgess to do the exercise work out with me, so that was nice. I think it is funny how even listening to hymns sung by the tabernacle choir motivates me to run so much more than silence. We have a funny little group of us who use the gym during work out time. Three are Elders from my district and the other is Elder Dimartino from Italy. I had some Italian music on my Ipod. It was on shuffle, and when it went to the Italian song, he got very excited.
It has been raining here a lot. Surprise! But one glorious day, God stopped the drizzle and it meant that we would be able to go to the field. It has always been too wet to play safely. But there is a lovely running path, It goes through trees and around and up a little hill. Sister B wanted to speed walk, so I would run a little until I would be out of her sight if I continued, and then I would run back to her and giver her a high five. Eventually we started playing ultimate Frisbee, It was so nice to be able to sprint down the field and dive for the Frisbee and get pleasantly grass stained and muddied. ( I am not sure that is a word, but you get the idea.)
Also I got some letters this week and getting letters is the most magical thing, also reading your emails. I don’t know if I said this already, but I go print them off first thing and then I set them around me on the ground in our dorm room, it is like a most lovely Christmas morning. I read them each a few times after email time.
Today we have planned to paint eggs today. Because I do that sort of thing. Elder McArthur says he plans to make a Batman egg. I applauded him greatly.
I don’t know if I shared this with you all, but I thought it was really powerful so I am going to share.
“Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. ” — Oliver Cowdery
I think I just really love the way Oliver is writing here. And it shows how important it is to teach with the spirit. I can give my testimony all I want, I can try to love and serve others, understand and uplift them, but that “one ray of glory” is what will bring the truth to my message and hopefully inspire those I teach.
All My Love,
Hello Dear ones! Yes, it is indeed a good thing I am always always in my Sunday Clothes, I would not like to be burdened by any blue Mondays while on this adventure. Sister Burgess always says: “you are truly a sister missionary when you start wearing things that don’t match just so that you are wearing something different.” Luckily I have not gotten to that point yet, I am singing and searching, and studying… IN my Sunday clothes.
I cannot believe my eyes… ( That was one more obscure musical reference for those who are counting.) It has been a month out here in the land of England, that means I only have seventeen months left. Ok ok, that is still a long time, but I cannot believe it has been this long. Thank you all for your support through letters, It is so good to hear from you. So some highlights from the week.
Sister Burgess and I were put in charge of another musical activity, I have an uncanny ability to get missionaries to sing and dance in ways they never thought they would on their missions. Sister Burgess and I made four dice that we so cleverly blew up bigger using the fancy copy machine and wrote on one dice, a word of inspiration, second dice: a funny way to sing it, third: a physical trait for the performance, and Fourth: a dice that decided if there would be a soloist or not. Surprisingly, not everyone was as excited about the dice as I was, I mean who would have guessed that would happen. We had renditions of called to serve sung in Italian or German with dancing or snapping, one group sang fortissimo in formation: “sweet hour of prayer”, Presitent Preston was the capstone of that group with his hands in the shape of a heart, belting out hymns. I joined in of course. To close we had our doctor, Elder Stevens who had been in the Tabernacle choir for seventeen years talk about how music has influenced his testimony and brought light to those he performed for. He and I were both in tears. Beautiful when someone else feels the way you do for music and its ability to bring peace.
We did some skipping of rocks at the duck pond during personal time for ten minutes on Sunday.
Sister Burgess and I taught two of our most spirit filled lessons yet.
Some of the German grammar lessons are finally making sense in my head. I try to use the new grammar in my daily speaking, but then I get frustrated because I have to talk slower to use it, but perhaps it is better that way so I do not go into long explanations when teaching investigators.
They have been placing the most lovely smelling fertilizer outside our windows in the flower bed which is great for the plants but not so good for missionaries who crack the window open hoping to beckon some sort of breeze to aid them in their studies of accusative pronouns and scriptures to help with understanding faith. It means that we have been using the electric fan more and also discovering that electric fans move paper, and dice made of paper are no exception. Thus the game “Fans and Dice” was born. I have sent a picture to aid you in your pursuit to understand what I mean.
Please note, the above picture does not accurately display the majority of the time spent at the MTC, our district decided to not go to the optional snack time and found other ways to de-stress.
Today we had spaghetti which made me glad. Because we have not had spaghetti the whole time I have been here. They give enormous portion sizes. which is why I have been working a lot harder during exercise time. So today was one of those days I was very glad that they filled my plate with pasta. I got a lesson from Elder Dimartino on the proper way to eat noodles using a spoon and fork.
Today we went on a church history tour, walking along cobble stone streets seeing baptism sights, hearing about the enormous amount of faith that was shared, the bold preaching, and the light that was brought to the saints in England who were living in the poverty of the working class. This religious fervor that helped so many to the truth. There are so many miracles that helped the church take root upon the world and the conversion of so many helped this gospel stay strong and shaped the world wide organization it is today.
We listened to a very powerful talk from Elder Holland. He always strikes me to the heart. (not in the les miserable sort of way) No, Rather in a way that both terrifies and supports you, enlightens you empowers you, inspires you to act and to act well. I am striving to teach with the spirit. Missionaries teach the words, and facilitate the spirits presence, but really the Holy Ghost is the one who lets anyone who asks know it is true. The Holy Ghost is also there for “Trost” Comfort. I have felt that comfort in so many moments in my life where I was not even doing anything specifically religious, just being out in nature, spending time with people I love, or most specifically when I was performing in Little Women. I feel this peace, this light. It sounds like what has been described so many times. But I know it is a truthful feeling. Other peole feel it, it is that feeling of being alive and realizing simultaneously how small but beautiful each human being is.
That is why I love to perform. How many other productions have there been of the same musical, or how many trillions of times in history has an A note been sung. It is impossible to know, it is so fleeting, it has only been in the last of this spectrum of human existence on the planet that we have been able to record music to listen to anytime. But true live performance is like the spirit. It is real and tangible in the moment it is there, it is that feeling of calm or quite once a note rings out….that moment of awe before the audience cheers. It is true connection, true heart. It is beautiful. It has the power to make a lasting impact, but is not loud or enormous It is there, a still small voice, but what we learn from it, and the comfort it give is not fleeting, all it take is a moment to relive it and you can be back right where you were when you first felt that light.
The song of the heart is a prayer unto me.
Love, Sister Gardner
Spring is upon us!
Guten Morgen, Guten Morgen… we’ve taught the whole day through, Guten Morgen, Guten Morgen to you.
So, there may be no staying up late and movie shows here at the MTC, but plenty of… You guessed it, Sister Gardner putting new words to broadway tunes. You would be surprised that I can turn a song from Chicago into something uplifting and pertaining to Missionary work. THAT, is quite the success. Give me your best attempt, I would love to hear your version….
So, I suppose I shall begin my weekly recap for you all, Yes. Hello you there.
First things first. Sister Burgess and I have been given the calling of Sister Training Leaders. Hurrah, It really was helpful because with all the new sisters this week they needed someone to remind them to not wash their red blouses with white anythings, ha ha just kidding. Actually I did answer questions about how to work the dryers these ladies already knew at least the basics of normal clothes laundering. I have stretched my language capacities by pronouncing names in Italian, Taiwanese, Spanish, Polynesian, and various dialects of African languages. Oh and German, always German. hopefully you know that by now. I made a little book with little pictures of them taped in and have been jotting down helpful things about each of them, how to say their name, things they like to do, worries or concerns they have expressed. They are wonderful, they learn fast, and I have been working to get to know them all. Sometimes it is nice when it is just Sister Burgess and I, in our occasional moments of comfortable calming silence.
It was exceptionally foggy this morning. It made me think of a certain iron rod and a tree offering fruits of love and eternal joy as we walked up to the temple this morning.
A few highlights from this week are as follows.
Playing four square at sport and each time there was a new king they announced a new theme, I was exceptionally grateful that when I announced loudly from the king square that I was “The Great Gatsby” the bottom square was labled Myrtle, some sort of cruel irony when Myrtle hit “Daisy” with the yellow volleyball and got her out.
We were taking care of a sick sister who had an upset stomach, it made us a little late to our teaching lesson and we were explaining why where late. I held my stomach to demonstrate and said, “Baumschmerz”… the only explanation you need is that… Bauch=Stomach, Schmerz= Pain, Baum=Tree.
I printed off a grid of 500 squares to write all my new vocabulary words and felt exceptionally like my father getting excited about a graph. What has gotten into me.
Hearing one of my favourite talks by my favourite German general authority in my favourite foreign language. “STOP IT!” -President Uchtdorf
Al-right ladies and gentleman for our finale tonight…. drum roll please.
I realized this week that I really do know how to be a missionary. I know how to share my testimony and find scriptures to teach, I know how to give love and service, I know how to have meaningful prayers. I have taken mission prep in my ward for years, a class at university, and even gone on splits, when it comes to words and the gospel, they come together in my mind in harmony. Now, I just have to do it in German. So that is my new focus. German German German. Oh, hey did I mention German. Of course I will keep growing closer to my Heavenly Father. But in a most lovely type of language.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for the applause, I can hear it clear over here in England.
So, a few fun things about life in the England MTC
1. I am in love with Jelly Babies. ( I don’t know, don’t ask)
2. Sister and I must always be within sight and sound of each other, so if we are across the room, I will say, “I can see you” and she replies “I can hear you”. It has become a bit of a thing with us.
3. I have gotten pretty creative over here trying to do different things with my hair to change it up a bit. Sister Burgess now knows that finger wave where made famous by the twenties.
4. I have an elaborate dream almost every night, and usually I remember them, They are filled with my family and friends. I feel like it is a little gift to me because I cannot see you in person.
5. I was counting out all the syllables in “IHR ZIEL” trying to figure out which hymn the meter would fit best with to memorize “My Purpose” through the use of a song.
6. I started crying when they showed meet the Mormons and I saw the missionary family walking in to the University mall, and Sister leaned over and asked if I was ok, and I just sort of whimpered, “That is where I work, My boss bought me a cinnamon roll from the store they are passing” . It was not ok when they said goodbye in the same place I did.
7. I love my companion so much, we are already planning our visits with each other.
8. The ducks on the pond that the cafeteria looks out onto.
9. Elder Gappmyer has the same humor as (Elder) Justin Messenger. If you know him, you know what I mean.
10. Sister Cheve from France talking to her food. “It tastes like British Accents” (the Yorkshire pudding) “How you doin?” ( to the chocolate dessert)
11. Sister Burgess and I labeling everything in the room with her yellow post it notes that we ended up having to tape up. We were scooting around the room on rolly-chairs.
Life is Good! The Gospel is true!
Love, Sister Gardner
(Sister Gardner asked me, her mother, to post this as well. It has just taken me a few days.)
“I can do it if I try, I can do it by sheer will, All you have to do is work to acquire any skill… These are things a girl must do when she has dreams she must fulfill…”
And yet again, a musical ( Little Women ) applies to my own life. Miss my life is a musical has struck again. Excuse me, that would be SISTER Miss My Life Is a Musical and indeed It has been.
This week was filled with music: efforts with the choir, a special musical number, singing hymns in class and a musical activity.
For the Choir I consulted with Elder Erickson ( the pianist) 15 minutes before choir practice to put together at break neck speed a medley of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Hope of Israel” which, SUPRISE, was not actually needed for next week, rather, tomorrow, to be sung in church. But to be honest it made me more excited to try and pull it all together so quickly, I was excited for the challenge. So with photocopied music, the four of us, Companions remember, cut and taped a new musical score together to make our medley. Thankfully it all turned out wonderfully, I will be so glad when we get more sisters this next week, because then I will hopefully find some altos, or better yet, more than three girls to sing in the choir.
The special musical number was called “The Wintery Day, Descending to Its Close” Look it up. Elder Erickson and I did a Duet.
Then, our musical activity Sister Burgess and I organized. It included missionaries performing wacky primary song, some of them were actually pretty funny. But maybe that was just the total-focus-except-when-we-eat-and-even-then talking. Ha, actually we have a lot of fun here.I tried to finish the activity by singing “a child’s prayer” but everyone got a little off so the spirit was a little off too, I felt in my heart to have everyone sing “I am a Child of God” in which ever language they wanted. When the final note range out, Then, oh then the spirit was there, I felt it, it tell you people it is the music that does it. Luckily our Scottish Chef offered the prayer before I started tearing up too much.
So I got a little worried about my ability to be a really effective missionary, feeling I was too impassioned to be always the best, but I realized two things, first, I feel the spirit when I feel alive, “Men (and woman) are that they might have Joy” I can be happy and still be spiritually in tune.
Second, from my Journal:
“I care about this work with my whole soul. I am not going to magically turn into a sister missionary, I already am, I just have to be myself. Contribute, Myself to being a missionary. Be the unique tool \God needs to give love to those I teach. To manifest my devotion to Christ,but more important my love for people, my spiritual siblings. No matter their background or future, My purpose is to love.”
The three sisters left last night, sister C and Sister S going to Ireland/Scotland and Sister Anderson going back to her home of Finland to teach the gospel. We had a last group prayer last night while they were packing up and we were all looking at pictures. We all took a turn praying in our native language. It is amazing how you can know someone for such a short time, it does not have to be years and years to love them. I love these people here, the people learning beside me and the people teaching me. And I love you to reading this. “And I love you random Citizen.” That is probably what this sounds like, but it is also true so there.
Ha. Take That.
Well, Pray for me and my German Language Learning this week, if you do that sort of thing. I am grateful for your support and I wish you well.
Oh, one last thing, favorite German word of the week:
Ohrworm: A song that gets stuck in you head.
Have no fear, I have not been ripping sets of scriptures or climbing out of my window at night to look at stars. No, I earned this from one of my German teachers this week, as I demonstrated to my Sister, Sister Burgess what exactly German would sound like if spoken with a southern accent. I would write it here, but really there is no way to write it out exactly. Just close your eyes and try to picture it, i’m sure you can figure it out. I suppose Leherer Top… Something. He heard my sounds at the lunch table and then started laughing, I continued at an elevated volume answering all his questions that he asked with the same accent. That is where, with a smile from my teacher I was awarded this nickname.
Well, Hello Everyone. I am totally blown away because of all the lovely emails I received, I am going to have to make a grid system or something to figure out how I will reply to you all. I have an hour here to send emails, but that goes by faster than the scene between costume changes. If you catch what I mean. I will admit those first few days were very hard. My time clock was completely thrown off, So, I have been very grateful that I have slowly adjusted.
Ok, This is the character Description part of this play of too many acts and scene changes to count.
Sister Gardner: sole American woman in this entire MTC. She sings, directs the MTC choir, makes run on sentences in German, and is so happy in the land of England accents. According to the President Preston, Her accent is from “Posh” south london.
Sister Burgess: The Aussie, who defies the odds by working out in a t-shirt printed with candy. With a testimony the size of her country. (Sorry Texas) She is the lovely companion of Sister G, Luckily, Sister B finds Sister G’s quirky mannerisms endearing. (sigh of relief)
Elder Erickson: The swimmer district leader which is probably a theater kid at heart.
Elder McArthur: The California man who learned spanish in High School and while offering laid back hilarious commentary shocks us all with his ability to pick up the language.
Elder Mantle: He loves to sing and acts as a peacemaker with all these big giant personalities.
Elder McDaniel: The most knowledgeable one about German, this elder will tell you what you need to know. Once he starts you get a fountain of knowledge… drink fast.
Elder Gappmayer: He arrived a day after us, and yet provides the most logical solutions… The laws of gravity do not apply to him.
Peter/Bruder Wilkensen: the teacher of German, who goes from making us laugh for 45 minutes about stupid pun jokes to making us cry while feeling the spirit teaching our fake investigator “Peter”. Who says acting does not feel real. That is the moment I realized I was really a missionary.
Sister Fredrickson: Sweeter than honey and smarter than you. (teacher)
There are three other sisters… Sister Chevca ( it is french written differently): France Sister Stein: Really refined and then totally fun loving : Netherlands Sister Anderson: sweet and quite, I am sure I seem like a crazy American girl to her because I am always telling loud stories or so tired I am barely eating my pasta. Well, there you go. That is the cast of characters.
I find things to make me smile every day in the midst of all this mind numbing learning. There is so much to improve on and so much that I have to be patience about. That is Sister B and I’s (and all of us…) theme…. Geduld. We all went to the temple today for P-Day. And into town to the supermarket there.
It is a strange but magical feeling to walk around wearing my badge. Time goes so quickly my lovelies, but please keep writing me, I promise I have read it, and I will reply as soon as possible. I am happy, I am busy, I am still singing, I am working to be patienct with myself and learning better German, I am Sister Gardner.
All My Love, (I’m gonna Pop out now)
I have made it here to the lovely rainy land of Manchester England. This email is just to let you know that I arrived safely. I hope you got the picture from the air port that the kind lady offered to take and send to you. You were not deceived, I was the only sister. I was the only sister when I arrived at England as well, and I will still be the only one until the girl from Australia arrives at four. So it is me and a whole slew of Elders. I have been working hard to learn everyone’s name, and they already have me lined up to play the piano on Saturday. I will be the one to choose the song. The flight was not so bad, I did not sleep more than four hours, but they are giving us an hour nap today before we have some exercise time. I don’t know how that is going to go down considering I am the single female occupant of the MTC at this moment. Besides the wives of the president Preston and Durkin. I have not opened all of your letters yet, I am saving them for an end of the day treat. We have missionaries heading to my mission, the Scotland mission, Birmingham, and some going to Athens Greece, ( the Greece elders where already here). I have been having a really lovely time with all these elders they are nice and helped me with my luggage and I said that I was the Han Solo (girl) and they were all the chewbacas. Heh heh. That got a chuckle out of them. All the flight transfers went well and going through customs. And the most magical of all…… I got my missionary badge. I feel like I am shining to be wearing it. It is magnetic like the one I would wear at Downeast. But this one is a bit of an upgrade. “Kirche Jesu Christi der heiligen der letzten tage”
The keyboards here are a little different than the ones at home so instead of enter I keep accidentally pushing the #. For your viewing pleasure I have removed them.
Ok: one last story.
I gave the book of Mormon away but not in the way I thought I would. I was talking to the lady at the gate and she asked if we were Mormons and I talked to her a bit. Later I decided I would try to give her the book of Mormon. I wrote a little testimony in it but when I tried to give it to her she said that they already had one. She was working so I guess that was not the best idea, but you see, the man on the first flight I sat next to had immediately put his headphones in the moment he realized who we were, so I could not teach him.
And on the next flight I would be sitting with two Elders so again no chance to teach. We got on the flight to go to England, and Elder Mcarthur, who sat in front of us three, was seated next to a very nice British couple, when the flight was almost over I passed my book of Mormon to him from behind and he wrote a little something in it before giving it to the couple he had talked with during the flight. So now it had both of our thoughts written in it, and they agreed to take it. So, long story short, I may have not given the book away personally,. but because I brought it, and I was listening and looking for an opportunity to share it, It made it so that Elder Mcaurther had a book to give away. Well, I am off, but I love you all a lot. I have to go.
Ich Liebe Dich!
Love, SISTER Gardner