It’s the Grand Finale to the Greatest Show on Earth

It’s the Grand Finale to the Greatest Show on Earth

Six thirty, alarm clock goes off. Some mornings I am more prepared for
that than others. Sometimes my eyes open minutes before the alarm. I
close them reminding myself I still have a bit of time to sleep. Get
out of bed, punch in the code on the i-pad Jesus holding a lamb greets
as I close the flap on the iPad cover and crawl half away back up the
latter. Now I pray.
It was not until the mission that I ever got this habit down. Praying
for help at the start of the day and not just after everything took
its course seems like a logical option.

Of course my brain has been going through a roller coaster of feelings
and emotions, memories made and remembered.  Talking with people,
teaching, keeping a temper, being humbled, discovering weakness. And
also weaknesses made strong.
domes
You know Munich was an essential part of my growth here. It shows me
the importance of keeping up with the covenants I have made, not
getting lazy, not letting scripture study or prayers or church
attendance slack. Not making excuses. I also realize that often being
obedient or preaching repentance, even if it is with love does not
make you a popular person. Only those who understand the worth of the
message and are willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ will
appreciate what you are doing.

I think on Jesus Christ. Who taught with the most love and Boldness of
anyone on this earth. He was beaten and killed, along with the
apostles who followed him, while trying to help people be protected
from their own self destruction of sin. It is all a labor of love, but
some cannot see it as such. That is why we always invite people to
find out for themselves. To kneel down and ask their father. It is not
between us and the church and the teachings, and whatever the relief
society president or sunday school teacher thinks is right, or even me
as a missionary, a representative of Jesus Christ. It is between them
and God.
street
Well. Those where some of my thoughts. As I am drawing to the end of
my ministry among the people of Germany and Austria,Ii am finding
myself not plagued with regrets but rather a sadness that it cannot
continue. I am not good at goodbyes.

But amid all these thoughts inside my heart and head I want to let you
know about some of wonders that have been happening this week.

At district meeting I was assigned to talk about how we can develop
the faith for miracles. I studies a lot for this assignment and was
able to find great scriptures, quotes and even a video segment. I
asked my distrikt if they had the faith to have two baptisms in our
distrikt, (one for our distrikt and then the zone leaders) we then
went into the other room and all kneeled down then I prayed and asked
God to please help us achieve this goal.. It was very spiritual and I
prayed with the most faith I could. This week we set two baptismal
dates. It was miraculous.
smiles and flowers
We had a great member come a long to help teach S who is our
sweet older woman preparing for baptism. Her house is often smokey
when we come, we are trying to help her give up the cigarettes. She is
so great though, every time we come the light in her eyes is brighter,
and her house if filled with photographs and interesting statues from
her travels to different lands. She shared that she had not been
feeling the same peace that she used to. We followed up a bit more and
she has not been reading daily or praying daily. I felt the power of
the Holy a ghost as I was able to promise her that if she would take
ten minutes to read and study and ponder each day she would find that
peace again.
I extend that challenge to you, set a time, get rid of distractions.
Have a notebook and pen to write down thoughts, and read. Study. Write
down questions. Study for a topic. Let yourself find the answers and
feel peace.
The member shared his whole conversion story and it goes to show that
the atonement, that Jesus Christ can help people come to an
understanding of their life.
street
We had a funny things happen. We had met a great potential on a s
bahn. He was really interested and took two pamphlets. We went to meet
with him after church with a Ward missionary. He had just finished
work. We sat down by a fountain to show him the Book of Mormon. But he
was acting very strange, so much different than when we first met him.
He puts his hand in the fountain his arm is around my shoulders
resting on the fountain. I scoot forward thinking he does not notice
what happened. Happened again, we are still explaining, he is asking
strange questions. He tried again. This time his whole sleeve gets
wet. I squish closer to sister Pugh. Finally he is leaning past the
normal space bubble. Yes something definitely wrong… I finally smell
the alcohol. Some church’s like to party…
Finally I just stop him. Alright, I think it would be best to have
this conversation another time. Ha ha. He tries to hug me before we
go, put up the hand and we all leave. It was pretty funny. We were
trying to reassure out joint teach that he had had a lot of potential,
she was just laughing her head off. But she knows it did him good. I
am glad she came, she was the best person that could have been there.
Also we had a Ward family home evening… Guess who kicked the soccer
ball into the fast moving stream going though the park…. Yeah. And
guess who goes chasing it all through the park until a swimmer fishes
it out, our GML still in his work clothes. Ha ha. It was pretty funny.
museum
airWe showed the restoration film twice this week, once in Spanish, once
in Italian. I am always so amazed everything I watch it not matter
what language. I feel the truth of it’s message. Having a testimony of
the restoration makes everything fit together. I am so glad to have
the spirit confirm the truth to me.

Sylvia asked me what is a testimony. I said something like… A
collections of beliefs that you just think are true, but rather ideas
and truths you have tested and found out to be true through the power
of the Holy Ghost. I think we underestimate the power of prayer. We
need it. It brings peace to troubled souls, clarification  to those
confused which way to go, and everyone as they work to find their way.

in honor of those killed

In honor of those Killed in the shooting.

Well. I have said a lot. I hope something I said brought you at least
something to think about. I’ve got lots of stories for you all. But
unfortunately there are only so many minutes in email time.

I am going to sprint  to the end. I thank you for your prayers at this time.

All the best.
Love, sister GardnerKonigs Platz 3Konigs Platz

Ubahns and Miracles… Among other things

Dear Son or Daughter of God Reading this email.

Stop. . no don´t stop reading… Just stop for a second.

Look around at your surroundings. Maybe you like them. Maybe not. Maybe there are many people, maybe a few. Maybe just you.. Not alone, maybe you should pay a bit more attention to the one trying to talk to you. My words can wait…

Close your eyes… ok, now hopefully you have opened them and are still reading. Or if you have started a sudden nap I do hope it is not an inconvenient time and that if it does work out you enjoy it.

how was that closing your eyes for a second?

What did you hear?  What did you feel?

Ok, a few things I would like to explain with this exercise.

  1. You are alive in the year 2016. You were not born some time before so that you could be on the earth at this time.
  2. You are not alone, hundreds of thousands of onlookers in the preexistence and spirit world look at you.
  3. You have a body that can read, think, and Feel. At least to some extent. You can understand.
  4. What you are learning today is what you are meant to face in order to get to where you are going.
  5. Every little interaction or experience changes you in a way that might be extreme or not really noticeable. But all significant.
  6. You are a son or Daughter of God.
  7. This earth life is a mere moment on a vast span of never ending.
  8. You are doing better than you think, but you could be doing better than you are.
  9. Sometimes it is nice to close your eyes for a second.
  10. Think about it, what did you take out of that.

I think I started thinking about this as I look around at everything with a sort of love… Even the graffiti in the tunnel under the street makes me smile. I started tearing up just looking around our apartment. My missionary Apartment in München… Which I live in because I am a missionary.

Honestly, I cannot even express or put down in to logical words what doing this work means to me.

I can´t.

I promise I will keep trying. Of course.

I will try for you, for my family… for a blog or a journal, for my dreams or my heart. For my children or grandchildren, or husband, or person on the street that I stop to tell them about the purpose their Father in Heaven has for them… That he loves them..

He loves you ok.

Do you understand.

Do you really?

Honestly. He loves you no matter if you are sitting in a closet right now reading it, or somehow after just breaking into someone’s house. He loves you. Just get it. Let it into your mind. Let it change you.

My heart is really full writing this. I can´t explain.

district lunch

District Lunch: Sister Pugh, Sister Gardner, Elder Gibson, Elder Clark

I just think I will give you a bit of what I was up to this day. My throat has one of those stuffed up choking feelings in it, like when you swallowed too much water at once, or you are trying not to cry. Probably the second one. I am so glad I am blessed with so much to have happy tears about.

This week, honestly was not perfect. Things fell out, the most carefully planned… could not be executed but I think what makes any week on a mission worth it is the little miracles that happen and all the times you don´t sit down and call it quits.

so let’s take a little stroll down miracle lane eh?

 

lady bug

A little guy with places to go

Monday: We went and visited M a sweet, sweet woman who speaks mostly just Spanish and a few words of German. I Sister Calee Gardner attempted to sing for someone in Spanish and sat at a computer with the slowest internet connection in the world to try and book mark LDS.org in Spanish so this woman could see she is not the only woman striving to live the gospel. I think what really did it though was her just expressing in the sweetest most broken German that she really had no idea what we were saying. But she could feel it… and that is exactly how the Holy Ghost works. But I throw in my extremely microscopic vocabulary of Spanish, she throws out her German. The holy Ghost makes it possible for me to understand exactly what she is saying even though I understand close to nothing coming out of her mouth.

Dienstag: V, one of the people in our English class made our miracle for Tuesday.
Everyone was supposed to bring a picture and then explain about it a bit. he brings a picture of many people holding hands, with the word friendship written across the top. He goes into this description about how we are really all brothers and sisters if you think about it and we should love people no matter where they come from and what they do. Then we play story cubes to practice further in my part of the English conversation class, and the story ends up being about all of the English class going to a native American pow wow, which led them to asking questions about the meaning of life within the English class… Which then resulted in one copy of the Book of Mormon leaving my hands after class ended…and entering into the hands of V.notes

Wedtvolk: This was a miracle for me. We had a visiting return missionary who used to serve in Munich and Graz during her mission come visit. We met her when she came to visit a less active in the third ward at the same time we where there. She ended up riding with us, and gave me a lot of good perspectives about what it is like finishing a mission, and how she still loves it. It comforted me a bit. I think when I come back here I would love to tag along with the sisters again. If I lived here, it would be for that.

Donnersday: No problem, the part member family you have been trying to get in contact with since you came is home when you take the 45 minute bahn ride to get out to them. Just praying they will be there when you ring. Recommit papa to take the lessons… from the sisters. Sounds like a miracle to me.

Frieday: This one gets two. One for our mutig member J who took the courage to give out two copies of the Book of Mormon to her co-workers.. That is after decorating it with stickers and pictures of Jesus.. Whatever gets it done my dear…. Second. Setting two baptsimal dates for our new friends who will be taught by the elders in the international ward. We will find them and get them set up to prepare for baptism… You teach them ok? I am glad I got to be part of that little miracle.

flamingo

This sign just made me laugh

Saturtag: This is the day that look like it would not have any miracles. Canceled appointments, left I-pads, defensive crying less actives…. and to end it a wrong address after a hour and a half travel time… and then we missed the bahn home…. But then came the little tender mercy. Who should appear on the gleis as we waited for our next train home. But the Orbegroso Family! L, and his wife and son! We were so happy to see them, and he had been reading the chapters we assigned him, and they stayed and waited with us and rode the train with us… She hugged us. They make us feel like we are super heros or something. I like that. I need to see these people all in white standing in front of a temple… They deserve it.

Sonday: M came to church for the first time in years! It was raining and  the third hour of church is about to come. We head of to walk to her house. We wait at the door of the apartment building. Just when it seems like this master plan will fall out. She comes bustling out of the front door still trying to tie her shoes laces. She came to church. She took the sacrament. And S made it to church, and L with his family.. and one of our investigators who has not been able to meet with us since I got here, and has not come to church in three months. They all came.

So I suppose Sunday just was the icing on the cake.

I have started the Book of Mormon again this week… Studying about patience. Goodness, the first book of Nephi has a lot of that. ….the lion

So when you are feeling impatient remember you might not fully understand until more than 2,000 years later…

“Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should makes these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people….. Wherefore the lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.´”

I want to close this email this week with one more scripture..

1 Nephi 9: 6

” But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning, wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men, for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. and thus it is. Amen.”
And Thus it is. Amen.
Love you,

Sister Gardner

do you

Well, do you?

Wir Sind kinder Gottes‏

Dear Family, Friends, Potential Missionaries, or You people who
stumbled here by accident during a rather extended internet wandering.

Welcome.

Glad you made it.

It is sunny outside about 27 degrees Celsius. We had plenty of rain
this week, but that provides an excellent opportunity for all our
umbrella street side service to the door on a Sunday morning desires
that we could have.
I dont’ know exactly what to do with two wards at one time. I know I
have got nothing on those people serving in Utah with like three
stakes and a temple and a petting zoo, but it is something really new
for me. When I got this call I was thinking just Munich 1 but it is a
lie, and now we are singing in Munich 3’s Ward conference next week.
Freut Mich. and running up and down stairs to go to different sacrament
meetings and relief societies and trying to make sure we don’t forget
anyone.

Tubingen crew 1

Tubingen Crew back together in Munich

 

The week was good. Despite having two wards, our pool of progressing
investigators is very small, so that has been my goal this week and we
were able to find so many new people to teach. It was great. I love
that moment of stopping someone on the street and just teaching right
then and there. It is a beautiful feeling, to stop someone and
literally explain the importance of your message. Saying, I know you
are probably on your way to do something good, but this knowledge is
more important than that. So I have high hopes for this coming week

munich city3

Town Hall

We had zone training this week. Luckily it is not yet my last one. Or
so I hope. We shall see. We got to take part in zone training by
teaching a bit about how to work with the members. We did a little
object lesson which involved partly elder Jacobi ripping paper and
then attempting to rip a hammers guide. Ha ha. The basic idea was, the
more members (pages of paper) you involved in the progress of anyone
you are teaching. The more support and protection they will have for
when hard times come. I wish it worked like that all the time. But the
general idea supports itself.munich building 5

munich building 4We also wore our dirndles so that was nice. Talking to people in the
rain with an umbrella in traditional dress. I love that we are
actually allowed to proselyte in them. The elders are not so lucky in
the lederhosen. I think I will always try to find any opportunity to
wear it.munich city 5
Munich city
I also loved hearing the testimonies of the new elders who are just
starting their missions. I am so excited for them.
I am Running out of time so… Let get to some miracles this week.

We were on our way home from Munich Hauptbahnhof, we entered the train
scouting a place we could sit and talk with people. We see a four some
with two teens, a boy and a girl about to sit down. They sit down one
on each side of the foursome. As we sit, the boy gives us a bit of a
strange look in a sort of annoyed that we chose to sit with them, the
girl as well. It takes about forty-five seconds after the train
leaves. And suddenly this girl is practically rising out of her chair
trying to read sister Pugh´s Tag who is sitting Diagonally from here.
Her eyes are big and excited. And she says in her very German accented
German “Are you missionaries? From the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints?”
I was sitting next to her and she turns to me, her face with a sort of
strange excited smile.
She tells us she is doing a project in her school about our church and
that her Uncle is a member in Texas.
I ask, ‘Well, do you want an interview?’
She goes on to explain that she is planning on watching 17 Miracles.
We exchange emails. She starts her project in two weeks. They get off
two stops later.
All of Munich. Seven different train cars that we could have gotten
on. many, many fourmans… and one companionship of Sisters in München.
God led us to her, and we did not even realize what we were doing. He
is the master Craftsman, we are just his tools.

cleaning font

Cleaning the font

That was a great Miracle.

But I think the moment I really liked this week was seeing a young
woman crying going on the up escalator. and we were on the down. It
was late and we needed to catch our s bahn. But, I had one of those
moments, where you just feel like the Holy Ghost just say. Go! so you
do. Haha. I ran back up a fourth of the escalator. (there was no one
else on it) and met her up at the top. She is crying. I ask, are you
alright? She nods. Do you need a hug? She nods again. So I hug the random girl at the top
of the escalator platform. and then I fish the roses out of my bag
that the family who´s daughter got baptized yesterday gave us for
helping to clean up. Whip out two white roses and a hallelujah video
card. Sister Pugh was also a champ scaling the opposite going
escalator.
I don´t know exactly why she was crying, she did not say, but I felt
this care for this random girl, and I felt that it was a moment where
I got to be God´s hands literally hugging this little lady. I am glad
he lets me experience things like that every day.modern munich

Interesting fact that fits in with our title for today. We are all
enlisted is the title of the song in English. But in the German hymn
book they took out anything about war or battle. The title is We are
Children of God…. Happy are we
.

I am glad that a mission can help me to change my desires. When I
desire to be more like my father in heaven and Jesus Christ, he helps
me to have the right priorities and to overcome myself. Not change or
forget who I am, what I love, but help me achieve more of the
potential my father has for me.

1. Wir sind Kinder Gottes, laßt uns dienen dem Herrn!
Fröhlich sind wir, fröhlich sind wir!
Ja, beim Aufbau seines Reiches helfen wir gern;
Zion wolln wir bauen heut und hier:
Gib deine Gaben willig und frei,
hilf deinem Nächsten, stehe ihm bei,
in deinen Pflichten sei stets getreu;
so dienen, dienen freudig wir dem Herrn!

Wir sind Kinder Gottes, laßt uns dienen dem Herrn!
Fröhlich sind wir, fröhlich sind wir!
Ja, beim Aufbau seines Reiches helfen wir gern:
Zion wolln wir bauen heut und hier!

2. Unser Herr braucht Helfer heut an jeglichem Ort;
kommt, seid bereit, kommt, seid bereit!
Helft in seinem Weinberg, zu verkünden sein Wort,
fürchtet nicht, der Herr steht uns zur Seit!
Hilf einem Freund die Wahrheit verstehn,
freu dich, an seiner Seite zu gehn,
lehr ihn, die Liebe Gottes zu sehn;
so künden, künden freudig wir das Wort!

Wir sind Kinder Gottes, laßt uns dienen dem Herrn!
Fröhlich sind wir, fröhlich sind wir!
Ja, beim Aufbau seines Reiches helfen wir gern:
Zion wolln wir bauen heut und hier!

Got to go, love you!
-sister Gardner

I Know My Redeemer Lives

Coming to you… On a Monday…. In Munich…. In a three story church building. That certainly at one point was a whole apartment building. That is painted Yellow. and lives almost across from Theresienwiese which is where the biggest Bier (Beer) Festival in the World takes place.

Fitting place to have a baptismal font, eh? Are you looking for some people who need repentance… Well. Good thing I am a missionary.

Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg

music paper

This week feels like it is not actually a week long. The moment you are in a new area, the last one feels like it was a sort of dream even though on Monday you where walking on the bridge in Salzburg and now you running with a beautiful Merida look alike through Germany.

Sister Pugh

Sister Gardner with Sister Pugh

I had a great experience with the Atonement this week. As I considered choices I have made in my life, and things I have learned about myself, both strengths and weaknesses I am always amazed by the way that the Lord can shape me to something better. Without the Gospel, I would be a sad pathetic version of myself. I would be more carnal, and lazy, and quick to anger. The Gospel helps me have more peace in my life, and love in my soul. I am in no way perfect, but I know the atonement works.

I have met many new faces this week, most kind, many tired, few disgruntled, and some earnest. I have shaken probably one hundred hands, and I washed and dried dishes with happy little Hispanic ladies. I have Said goodbye and Hello, and talked with people from all walks of life on the Subway.

Oh, Missionary life, it is a fantastic Adventure. I LOVE IT

Everyone likes to bring up that it is my last transfer. Ok, yes. It is. I´ve got it, I´ve acknowledged it. But I am not going to dwell on it.

I have a lot to do. the church

Basically what happened is…

The Elders in Münich 1 are being Pink washed by us, But we are still taking care of the Investigators… and therefore Members of Münich 3, But there are also Elders in that ward. So Sort of like a 2 area 6 area book ( Munich elders area books are less organized than I would have hoped) Area.

My companion is Sister Pugh.

sister Pugh 2

Sister Pugh

She is kind, loves to tell stories. sings ALONG. Is our navigator, a good friend, from Washington…. and makes me laugh every day. I am so glad for the challenge of this last area, and that I get to have this grand adventure.

Also today I found out that it is the area that my Grandfather finished his mission in… In the same church building!!!! Wooo!blown glass

We had a wonderful lesson with a part member family. They are all members except for the Dad. AND they come originally from PERU, so I recognized the flag, and they were so excited that my little brother was there right now, and they have never been taught by sisters so I am really hoping we can soften his heart and help him make a date.

Then on Sunday we see this young woman with her little brother, we talk with her and find out she investigated two years ago, and now has decided to come back because…. she wants to GET BAPTIZED.

MLC June

MLC in Munich in June

Our GML is really cool, and it feels a little like when I first got to Wiener Neustadt with a young GML. but this time no elders. But that is a funny story. Elder Call went home this transfer, and as we were walking to the church we saw him and elder Bensig talking with a lady on the street doing the last bit of finding, and I have not seen that guy for about a year, and my face just bursts into a big smile when I realize who it was and his face gets all excited, but then he had to focus back on the lady. Ha ha.

We also got the Area book app. Oh my goodness. I am excited for the technology. But I feel like a grandma… Back in my day we carried our bibles in the granola bar box cover we made for our mini version. we brought our actual preach my gospel to district meeting… We updated the area book with our own hands and ink pens. Ha Ha

Isar river

Isar River in Munich

Over all.. things are going great. I am just enjoying the adventure.

I want to close by mentioning something I learned in my scripture study…

The idea of comparing Elder Abinidi and Elder Ammon…

Well Abinidi, he did not get to see the baptisms until after he died… Not just the end of 18 months death… and Ammon happened to get the best new member referral possible..

Both amazing missionaries. Both men spoke with the power of God and revelation from the Holy Ghost. Their “numbers” may have looked a bit different, but God knew they were giving their best, and all things happened according to his plan. in front of fountain

I am glad that I have a Father in Heaven, that I really truly can say, I believe that there is a God, that he is a person who loves us, a father, who has a son who really lived. Jesus Christ.

It is not some sort of vague Christian perspective or idea that is nice around Christmas time.

“I know My father lives, and love me to. The spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true and tells me it is true. ”

I also know that my Redeemer lives… That’s what we sang this morning.

And it is true.

Love,

Sister Gardner

Siegestor in Munich

Siegestor in Munich

Zone conf June

Salzburg and Wien Zone Conference in June

 

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.

Ten Things that Made Me Happy

  1. We sang hymns at a teaching appointment with a member, she was so happy and pulled out her little flower fabric bound hymnbook to sing along.
  2. Lilac trees are in bloom here
  3. Playing Uno with the random man on the train who decided it would be a good plan to stay in a compartment with 6 missionaries. He thought we where a bit strange but by the end was playing Uno and laughing. A little awkward when he kept shouting out english swear words whenever someone played a Draw Two.

    Train Training

    Train Training L to R- Elder Durrant, Elder Deleeuw, elder McArthur, Elder Anderson, Sister Poll

  4. Seeing my MTC district at the mission conference for Elder Bednar.

    MTC District at the Elder Bednar Conference. L to R- Elder Bolt, Elder ?, Elder ?, Elder Ficher, elder Gappmayer, Elder Liechty, Elder McArthur, Sister Burgess, Elder Mantle,Sister Gardner, Elder ?, Elder McDaniel, Elder Chilcutt, Elder Walker, Elder Erickson, Elder Clark

    MTC District at the Elder Bednar Conference. L to R- Elder Bolt, Elder ?, Elder ?, Elder Ficher, elder Gappmayer, Elder Liechty, Elder McArthur, Sister Burgess, Elder Mantle,Sister Gardner, Elder ?, Elder McDaniel, Elder Chilcutt, Elder Walker, Elder Erickson, Elder Clark

  5. A Lebkuchen Heart (a traditional gingerbread cookie)

    Lebkuchen Heart

    Lebkuchen Heart

  6. Fireworks we could see out the window of the hostel we stayed in the night before Elder Bednar´s address.
  7. Elder Bednar!
  8. Spending the night with the sisters in Salzburg and then going to church with them Sunday morning.

    Sisters in Salzburg: L to R- Sister Abram, Sister Fenton, Sister Gardner, Sister Poll

    Sisters in Salzburg: L to R- Sister Abram, Sister Fenton, Sister Gardner, Sister Poll

  9. Sister Poll got a camel in the mail for hump day, she is halfway through her mission. I got a package too!!
  10.  The sister training leaders for Sister Poll and I dropped off a little note and some doughnuts for us while we were having president interviews and a district meeting in Vienna.

And perhaps a sticky bun… or four…

And perhaps a sticky bun… or four…

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

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

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

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

Sister Gardner and Sister Poll in Munich

Sister Gardner and Sister Poll

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

So many missionaries here to listen to Elder Bednar.

So many missionaries here to listen to Elder Bednar.

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

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

View from a train.

View from a train.

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

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

At Castle Ruins in Graz

At Castle Ruins in Graz

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

Views from castle ruins in Graz.

Views from castle ruins in Graz.

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

a twist on the Austrian flag

a twist on the Austrian flag

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

Much Love…
Sister Gardner

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go Dear Lord

(This email was received Wednesday afternoon.  It was sent by her Mission President)

Dear Family of Sister Gardner –

We are delighted to tell you that Sister Gardner arrived safely in Munich this morning! She has been fed and trained, and is now in bed after a long day of orientation.

We thought you might enjoy this picture from our meeting this evening. Her new companion will be Sister Poll, and they will serve together in Graz, Austria.

We are thrilled that she is here and we are grateful for her preparation and enthusiasm. She will be a wonderful missionary. We love her already, and will do all we can to help her have a successful mission.

Your daughter’s preparation day is on Mondays, and that is when she will be e-mailing you each week. We also have a mission blog if you would like to see occasional pictures of what is occurring in the mission. The address is: alpinegermanspeakingmission.blogspot.de.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us. We know that the Lord will bless you and your family during the next year and a half as you support your missionary in her service.

Sincerely,

President and Sister Kohler

Alpine German-Speaking Mission

( We are so excited for Sister Gardner.  Can’t wait to her more from her.)