Ten Minutes

Ten minutes to write down the results of a week of life and experiences and hundreds of people and interactions and sideways glances in passing at a little black badge representing something far greater than the person writing this all down.


I finished the Book of Mormon this week. In German. I was worried I would not get it done in time, but I did it, which was a goal of mine during my mission. It was a beautiful moment, because I really realized that I was able to get just as much spiritual strength and learning form it as when I read it in German. I mean of course it is at a different depth, but I love it. I love the process.


I remember sitting on my couch at home with my friend, I was marking my scripture mastery, he was studying a script. That book of Mormon in German was given away long ago. But I remember trying to read that first chapter. I got to the I Nephi of Goodly parents and that was about it.

When I read it I feel the spirit. I understand the stories, and I feel of their truth.

Ich weiß dass Das Buch Mormon wahr ist. Ich wieß Das es uns helfen kann, neher zu Jesus Christus zu Kommen. Es ist ein Zeugnis dass er wirklich da war, Dass er Leute geholfen hat und das er kennt uns. Wenn Mann in Das Buch Mormon liest, und diese tut, mit ein offen Herz wird Mann wissen das Gott liebt sein Kinder.reflections

I just want to close this short, short email by telling about a certain experience we had this week.

Last week, we stopped a lady on the street, we had five or so minutes before our next appointment and I just stopped her to use the time as best I could.

We talked to her very briefly, but the conversation ended with her giving an address so we could come by and bring her a Book of Mormon.

The day comes. We take it on by she accepts it smiling and we make a new appointment because she does not have time to talk about it.

Well this week we had our second appointment. She welcomes us in and then begins to explain. How when we left last time, as the door closed she just started to cry, and remember a dream that she had had a month or so ago.


She dreamt that two young woman where going to come to her and teach her about God. The spirit was so strong as she shared this and she started to cry. I know that God prepares people always everyday to hear the message of the restoration. I know that he loves his children. He knows them. He is so aware of us.


pray for Germany

Pray for Germany

This last week as many of you may have heard there was a shooting in Munich. As I contemplated on the lives that where lost, finished the book of Mormon with the record of millions of lost lives, and today walked on the grounds of the concentration camp only a city or so away from where I live. I contemplated a lot about the souls that die. Not in an overly morbid way, but just thinking about it. It is of course part of the plan of salvation.



Dachau Concentration Camp

dachau 3

dachau 2dachau 5I thought about the scripture in Alma 40:11… It talks about the state of spirits after they die… “are taken home to that God who gave them life”… Everyone is going to get to go back to his arms. We will all be able to see a father that we love so dearly but have not seen for so long. That is what can bring us comfort in times when we see the world becomes more and more evil.

dachau 4dachau 6

dachau 7dachau8dachau 9dachau 10I am still loving this work. I am living and breathing it, and trying to hold on to every chance I can. We are working hard and giving our best. It is not perfect, our work, But through Christ’s atonement we get better every day.

Just in closing. I also wanted to mention the excellent Tausch I had this week with sister Abram. It was so great to work with this woman who is in the same place as me, One foot in the grave another on the banana peel. It helps me remember all that I have learned all that I am learning… and all the many millions of thousands of things I am still going to learn. …

Well. Folks. I suppose I leave you there.

The song of the day seemed to be Have I done any good in the world to day…

So. Sing it through and then do some gooooood.


All my love,

Sister Gardner




they came to get us

Being Saved by the office Elders

 (from Mom) Answers to a few questions I asked her:

Tell us about the terrible shooting? where were you? What has the atmosphere been since?

Luckily we were at the very end of one of the subway lines on the other side of Munich. We had been at an appointment and stopped for a bite to eat instead of going to the main bahnhof to eat. We went down to take an s bahn to head to the church and there was just a loud speaker repeating down in the station that the police had shut down all public transportation. U bahn, s Bahn, buses and Straßen Bahn. All public transportation. By talking with people we start to figure out what is happening. I call the zone leaders to ask if there was any word from president. Everyone seemed shocked and confused and scared. Everyone was on their phones calling family members or taxis. The zone leaders said there had not yet been an order to go home. So we were trying to figure out how we would get there. But then we realized here was no logical way we would be able to get there and we looked how long o would take to get home by foot. Four hours, according to the map. Well that was obviously the worst case scenario. So we just start figuring out how to go straight home. We walk away from the station a block or so and find a taxi, but he is in his break so he won’t take us. We have called our GML for ideas how to get home. We try to look at buses because there were a few running, but not going through Munich. The taxi line was busy, and of course it was because basically everyone was on their phones trying to call them. Anyhow. That is not working. We call the senior couple in Munich they are willing to help but waiting for a visitor that was supposed to be coming, they said it would be an hour or so. Then this member who is super rich and takes care of all the missionaries even though he is not so active calls and asks where we are because he is going to come pick up any missionaries that don’t have a way home. Well that is fine, we get permission from president, but he is still about 45 minutes out because of the traffic of everyone trying to get home. The Hansons call us back and say that they have found a solution… Who was on their way to save us but …. The office elders. That’s including elder Maw. We have to walk a ways because they are getting through slowly. We finally find each other and then they start to drive, but the traffic is stopped on the highway and we saw probably 25 ambulances and police cars and the like. It was intense. But the elders where light hearted and we all got home safely. The next day bahnhof was empty and everyone we talked to had angst. We talked with a lady who had been there. She was so scared and we talked with a lady at the waffle stand and she was so scared to be working. And then at the little concert we helped at the music teacher asked for a minute of silence and then asked me to pray. And at church everyone mentioned in their talks and such. It really shook this city. But luckily we are the ones who bring the message of peace and we are protected. I know it.

One Short Day

One short day in the city of Salzburg 

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

Cause we’re closing and saying goodbye now.

There’s members to visit.

We will really miss it,

But what can you do?


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

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

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

 rain 2

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

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

 salzburg 2

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

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

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

singing with nuns

Singing Sisters in Salzburg

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

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


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


We are so famous…..

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

I have to go.

Love Sister Gardner

No One’s Gonna Bring Me Down…

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

Stadplatz in Wels, Austria

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

Salt Mine tour on P-day with the district

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

Sister Gilmour in Wels

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

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

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

field White and ready to harvest

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

Mozarteum – University of Performing Arts

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

Good News

He lives! Jesus Christ, He lives! The son of God, the Prince of Peace,
the friend to all, his love shall never cease. Goooooood news. He

(If you are confused take a look at the opening song of the musical
not about Dorothy.)

From the moment this new transfer started we have been seeing a lot of
changes especially with the people. Wednesday morning was eaten up by
being at bahnhof, helping all the missionaries get their luggage where
they needed to go and being there to be companions for the sister
waiting on her new companion. Salzburg is the point, much like Munich
that many, many transferring missionaries have to go through on
transfer day. It was exhilarating to see new faces and old.
Bittersweet to say goodbye to friends, and inspiring to welcome those
who are brand new on the mission.

I envy these freshly bloomed missionaries, they have their whole
mission ahead of them. Would love to have a whole new set of eighteen
months ahead of me, I have wanted this time since I was 14, why would
I want it to be over any time soon. This was the big goal, the big
dream. It still is, I am still living my dream every day. Talking with
random strangers and trying to help them remember that we are actually
brothers and sisters.

This week two people that I love very much went on their missions.
Reading their first letters I felt so, so glad for them. A mission
is the most wonderful thing. I am so excited to hear about their ups
and downs, successes and failures, disappointments and victories, the
mere adventure and amazing learning process.


Sister waiting in Salzburg

Anyhow on a note of what is happening in Salzburg…

I have been trying to work in unity with ward members and leaders. We
had a great meeting with our relief society president, just talked
about some sisters we could be supporting in the ward and she also
told us her conversion story, it all happened just because her friend
invited her over to watch a presentation from the missionaries, she
was too shy to say no, and did not want to go alone so she brought her
brother and two friends. … Guess who are all members of the church
now? Boom. Member missionary work.

Then later that week there was a relief society activity. I loved
looking around the room and realizing I had done something to either
work with or serve each lady in the room. We have a sweet Italian lady
in our ward, she is married to an Austrian and they just had their
first baby. A few Sunday’s ago she and her baby had a bit of s fall,
there was a glass that broke, and the poor little thing had stitches,
just a few weeks old. We were all very concerned and an ambulance had
to come to the church after the third hour, anyhow, we made her a meal
and it made me so happy to see the little baby feeling ok, and the
hair starting to grow back where they had to shave it away.

We also had the wonderful opportunity to go to ward council this week
because our ward mission leader had to work. I love being a part of
ward council, it helps you know what worries the ward members have,
and you find ways you can help more than when the GML himself goes and
just reports. But our GML is great so I am not complaining. Just you
know me, I like to be in the behind the scenes, the ( (employees only)
if you will) and part of what makes it all happen.

We have got our children’s dance class and singing class all set up
for these next weeks and a concert lined up for the first of July. I
am glad we have a small stage, now I just need to figure out how those
lights work. 🙂 this is all for our activity in combination with the
relief society and the primary children. The idea is they can invite
their friends to participate and then also the teacher of those who are
learning a musical instrument, Just pray that we will be able to pull
it all off, the ward is worried about having it later because if I or
elder Erickson gets transferred than the engines powering things will
be dead.   Well, not dead yet, just, somewhere else. So now it is in
three weeks and the ward members hardly know anything. But if I can
make this into something, then my name is not sister Gardner. We
already had a nice response from the moms that we spoke with on
Sunday. The theme is “singende klingede sommer” or roughly translated,
” singing the songs of summer.” Just pray I can handle the class of
little children and that we will have enough Olafs for our “In sommer”
choir. If anyone can put together a number with little boys, it is
elder Erickson. The kids love him and he is so patient with them. I am
excited to also see how it goes with elder Apel.
transfer waiting
Elder apel is from Freiburg, I love that he speaks in German all the
time. He has a strong personality and he looks like someone you would
not want to mess with, in a good way. He has served in Switzerland his
whole mission and now he is in Austria for his last twotransfers. We will go
home the same time. Haha,…… when we go home……. which is still really far
away. He likes his meat, and loves to go finding. He is great. Our
district now also has a golden, being trained by elder Jensen. I am
excited to get to know him more.

We have many people preparing themselves for baptism but they are not
keeping the commitment to come to church. Every time we visit they
say, oh yes, I want to go, and then we ask how we can help them , and
make a plan and then… Sunday. No one.
Sorry folks, no matter how bad you want to get baptized you need to
actually go to the church you are wanting to join… Logical? I think
so. But I am patient. We keep trying and committing.

donut day

Artistic treat or donut day?

Many other lovely things happened this week. I don’t know how to
explain my whole week. Which is sad because a missionaries day is
actually very interesting to read about. My experience is rather
different than someone serving in say Nigeria, USA, Argentina, or Hong
Kong. Buuuut. It is all the Lords work. I wish I could just keep going
on different missions all over the world, I could learn every
language, try every strange food cooked by the members, wear pants as
missionary clothes or street contact in a giant city with enormous
high rise buildings that touch the sky. I could get to know all
people, and come to love even more than I do all cultures. I could do
service projects in a swampland, or translate a sacrament meeting into
sign language, talk with people who already know tons of Mormons
because they live in a neighborhood full of them, or try to teach in
Tibet without a translated copy of the Book of Mormon. Oh my goodness
the possibilities are endless. I mean I would not trade my mission for
the world. But what I am saying is all over the world, missionary work
is uncomprehendingly amazing.

And the work of Him who gives us life.
And part of a perfect plan with a happy ending if we choose it.

How are you doing with your part?

To close I just want to give my testimony that Jesus Christ knows all
our pains, he understands our struggles and every time we cry out he
is there. He performed the atonement that we might not be alone. So
weather our pain is deep and penetrating like the loss of a loved one,
or something more for the all days, like a habit we want to break, or
keeping our words and thoughts cleaner, the pain from a life saving
seatbelt burn from a car that stopped to fast, or not know exactly
what you want to do with your job, child, investigators, lack of clean
water, choosing a major, broken heart, testimony, loneliness… He is
there that you may not face it alone. Take advantage of this blessing.
He will wipe away your tears. He will not leave you comfortless.

All my love,
Sister Calee Gardner


Package from home


The Hills…..

The Hills…..

(dramatic Pause)

are pretty much getting up and dancing with the sound of music.

The last few days since I left Tübingen have gone by at a breakneck speed. My mind has been working to dive into this place. .. and it has been working of course. There is much to do and a whole never ending supply of souls to bless. I loved going to the new relief society activity the first day. And I am just looking around this room, thinking. OK. Deep breath here we go. Got to make new friends. I tried to play it cool as I used my lack of scrapbooking skills to make cards while chatting in German and English with whoever I could.

Sis Hofmockel 2

Sister Gardner and Sister Hofmockel

But that did not happen until the day of traveling and goodbye saying and new adventure starting was over. Transfer day got moved from Thursdays to Wednesdays this transfer. It was quick I am not going to lie. But also nice to get started sooner in the new area.

Thursday morning we went out to visit a new investigator in the middle of the mountains. really. We took a train and a bus and then met a surprisingly springy older woman at the bahnhof who walked us to her house in the middle of a dorf. It was raining and looked about as typical Austrian postcard that you can picture. We teach her the plan of salvation, and at the end ask her if she would be baptized when she finds out this is all true… She said yes and that once she did she wanted to do it as soon as possible. It was beautiful. She has been searching for the truth her whole life and recently her nephew in Croatia got baptized and referred his aunt to us. She is so prepared and was so excited to hear about how this is really Christ’s church.


Salzburg Cathedral


I am grateful for sister Strihavka´s help with German, because I feel more confident and people have made comments that they think I have good German. so that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. But for people (future missionaries) reading my blog, you don´t need a native companion to do it. Just talk with your companion in the language.. Always. You can do it.

I got to meet V our sweet young woman age investigator who can speak Russian and Hungarian and German. I was able to share a testimony of the ward missionary back in Wiener Neustadt that I had saved on my  ipad, written in Hungarian. She stayed with us after church on Sunday and ate lunch with us and then came that night to the Storrers for family home evening. (The Storrers are the Senior couple serving in Salzburg.)

I am running out of time. Sorry about this week. It is short. But some highlights.
J and L are some fantastic new friends. Both college students… and both with a knowledge about a certain time traveling blue box. 🙂 that was a nice hapensatnce. We had a really good conversation about God being our Heavenly Father. Very spiritual.


Statue of Mozart ( this is the birthplace of a master)

Riding bikes again.. you know I always read in missionaries emails about them going to insta-care and thought. wow. what on earth were they doing…. well….. heh, heh. Karma…. I suppose. But the knee is healing up nicely and I have been taking the turn coming off the bridge onto the construction zone dirt road a loooooooot slower.

We are planning for an amazing minute to win it activity coming up.

I found a potential in Reutlingen back in wow… I think end of November or beginning of December. J… I sent him as a referral over to the Salzburg area… Guess who is still taking the lessons and coming to church every week…… It was a pretty funny moment to have him come to the family home evening and being like… Soooooo, do you need another sign from God. ha ha. Last time I saw him I was very bold with him on the street challenging him to meet again with the sisters and read in the Book of Mormon again. Go back to church. Keep going with what he had already started to learn 10 years ago…. I guess it worked.


Snakes…….and a smile

Well. There has already been a lot of singing going on here. and I will be glad to let you know what next week’s adventure brings.

Lots of Love,

Sister Gardner

Slipped Through My Fingers

(From Sister Gardner’s mom:  She will be transferred to Salzburg, Austria on Thursday.  Change is always filled with many different emotions)

This week just seemed to sneak on by. Slipped through my fingers to be honest.

Slipped through my fingers… Who may you ask. Well maybe things like people who have been your best friends for more than the last half of an entire year. There are many things that are needless to say about how I feel about leaving, but then there is a wind in my hair, and grass covered with little blue and white flowers.  I can imagine myself climbing the peaceful hills and it calms the twinges of sadness that come with goodbyes.

Goodness, you think I would be better at it by now.

Will I ever learn?

The week started, a whirlwind of trying to make sure my little darling Sister Strihavka, was all ready to go.  ( She was heading to the Provo, Utah MTC) Finding last minute things tucked away in corners, and giving any contact numbers she might need or money for a Jamba Juice at the airport. As we loaded up her suitcases into the back of brother H’s car, I could not help but feel anxious. And then actually saying goodbye seeing her get on the train, a way by which I could not go. I felt like I was sending my kid on a mission. Now, I cannot compare with the real mama Strihavka, but I suppose In a way it was true. I hoped her companion would treat her nice and she would make friends in the MTC and get there safely and have enough to eat…. Und so weiter. She was my little girl and now she was off to go change more people’s lives… Just like she did mine and all the people she came in contact with.

sister on a conference call

Sis S will be missed

I couldn’t run any faster and I was already sprinting nearing the end of the train platform, the pen had flown sometime out of my coat pocket and the bag had been thrown down sometime before. Smiling on the inside from the ever present concern on her face I know so well, pointing the pen that was already meters behind me lying forgotten on the cracked cement. I gave one last look to the Austrian looking on from a small train window of the train speeding away faster than my legs could carry me. And then with one last wave. I slowed, watching the DB zug move on past, I kept waving even when I am sure she had moved back from the window taking care of the two stuffed suitcases. As the train pulled further away, to my surprise the tears did not come. Just a sort of empty feeling for a moment. Like when you realize you lost something, and there is no way you would find it. Joining after a few moments, or what felt like a few minutes, a few minutes of watching and wondering. A arm comes around my shoulder, putting the blue and black pen in my hand. I turn clutching the G2 and take silently the bag also offered from the serving hands. Then sister whiting and I go back, arm in arm to my two brothers waiting all the way back at the loading platform .

She is gone. But I am not alone.


Yes, Spring!

Three tender mercies for you.

The first.

It came through a phone call. Which came to reality in half of a shared apartment bedroom over salted peanuts and vitamin c juice. D had a dream you see. A few times in the same night, after a day filled with General Conference. Something along the lines of inspired words from a prophet entering a heart through the power of the Holy Ghost. And being in the church with the missionaries and everyone, standing in the lobby just down from the font. With a feeling of needing to be baptized.

But repeated until there was no denying it. I mean, I have really received so much revelation from dreams, but you read it in the scriptures. I know it is possible. I think the amazing thing about decisions that we make with the Lord is that suddenly we know that we will do anything to get to our goal of baptism or endurance. Even commit to keep the word of wisdom… This coming from the man who on our first visit ask most pointedly, is it a sin to drink alcohol and then quickly left before explaining had reached much of a conclusion. That is D. candy tuft

Second. Zwei.

I hate when things fall out. Ok? Here’s the thing, they don’t usually. There are many challenges of teaching German culture people but keeping appointments is not one of them… But living in Germany does not exactly mean you live the culture.

Anyhow, we stood facing the grey fortress before us. Glass and metal and some desert plants In an upper story window. We stared more expectantly at the small typed names and little buttons with a wonder of what is behind klingle (door bell) number 5. We did the whole building. Some answered most did not. No one invited us in. Having finished the building. We started to walk away when we are surprised by a opening glass door and a very tall man… And as the story continues…. We sat drinking mineral wasser in an posh modern apartment living room with the newspaper reading would have been actor R P and his wife strawberry blond C of Deutschland. Turns out, as we found out from our quick conversation in the lobby floor of the apartment building in and out of the glass door, that good feeling I had while pressing a doorbell for a certain here P was not just me. P got to know the church in Portugal where his friends and even sisters joined the church. He was the one who asked if we where Mormons when we explained further what on earth we were doing there. That is not the usual response…. But then again coming down five flights of stairs to talk to someone is not normal either. He is about to dismiss us, but then pauses, asking why on earth we decided to klingel. He goes outside jesterimg to the array of small metal buttons…. “There are a lot of names here, why did you pick mine, he points to it, And which name out of all of them but THE name. P… I say it to him plain. Explaining that as I read the name, I though. I want to meet these people, I felt that I needed to do it. Boom, the Holy Ghost comes diving in like horses sprinting at the bell, or swimmers when that whistle blows. Like posed technicians the moment we have black out. I can feel it, he can feel it, it is like a tangible substance in the air….  “Everywhere I go,  you (the missionaries) are there, on vacation, a year ago at a train station,… Why do I keep meeting you people.” … “Maybe you should ask God that.”

A soft sort of chuckle… ” you might be right about that.” So a bit more negotiating… Saturday 16, but only because of what you said…

And so  Saturday… 17, after coming back to give a bit of time to clean up research newspapers and actually tell his wife who was coming to visit. We were sitting drinking water, talking about family history and Jesus Christ. Getting to share the video  that we had so plainly explained standing beneath a rising collection of lives and homes… To start.-Well not start but rather continue- the journey of this man to finally accept the many second chances that the lord has given. look up

The third.

On Wednesday we planted seeds that would become a Garden, on Sunday they where spindly little beginnings sprouting up to a sun accessible through a window view sitting quite contently on plastic plates and propped up by old worn pass along cards. The miracle of seeds planted in faith… I can’t ask for anything more.

Next time I write I will be writing from the hills alive with music.

Have a good week. I will keep praying… And singing you can be sure of that. Your job, keep that song in your heart and the prayer that it is… Good luck. Break a leg this week.

I say that In an entirely true theater person way. Much love.

Sister Gardner

spring flowers

Sister Gardner and Sister Whiting.  She is going to miss Sister Whiting.  She says they didn’t have enough time together…. and this is a huge spring blossom.


Something From Millie

(A Note from Sister Gardner’s mother – This post is actually last weeks email 3-1-16 that because of wifi trouble didn’t come through to me for several days.  I was so glad when it finally did come through.)

Another transfer has slipped by me, and I am getting a bit older

I’m looking over this last week here in my planner and I can’t help but wonder how two whole transfers with my dear Sister Strihavka and I have gone by in the blink of an eye.

I use that phrase very pointedly, for in the blink of an eye, usually things still look rather similar, the sky is often still the same color and the apartment is still there with the two bags of apples purchased in preparation for the coming sister. And the Necker River still runs under the bridge and the pigeons still pick mindlessly at soggy cigarette butts on the sidewalk, the empty journal page still needs to be written on, and there are still phone calls to be made. Not much changes in one eye blink.

But of course things can. Traffic lights, the status of four stacked ice cream cones when faced with gravity, heart beats, stubbing your toe, popped balloons and I think most importantly opinions. Life keeps living amid the blinking eye, what helps it to seem less futile is to look at what really happened during that time. The time goes ever fast, “on wings of lightning” But The Lord proves that lightning bolt speeds are just fine, for he works in moments.

The moment of decision or mouths that open and are filled with the words spilling out that had stayed packaged In a neat little, ” open when you are brave” box on the never ending shelves of gifts to give if we only take the courage to speak. Moments of coming out of the water clean and sealed His through baptism, moments of sincere prayer and undeniable answer, moments forgotten that are later remembered and
the flinging of seeds to a currently fruitless field in hopes that some shall take root and grow to the giants they were always meant to be. The lord works in moments, but also perspective, a knowledge that a blink of an eye is often just the start of more than we as his learning, striving, forgetful children can comprehend. He
lives in moments and as I am his daughter and his handmaiden. That means I give my best to live in moments too. And that I can rejoice in every blink of an eye that I am so privileged to live and love and try to hold on to. Looking ever forward to the moments, I am so privileged to experience.


Sister Stihavka and Sister Gardner

I’ve got a song for you.

(roughly to the tune of Girl from the Beatles)

Is there anybody going to listen to my story
All about the boy who went to pray.
It’s the kind of work you love so much it makes you weary
But you don’t regret a single day
Oh joy-y this boy-y-y

He knew when he was young that faith would lead to answers
So he went and tested just to know.
A light came down and rested upon his shoulders
His eyes were filled with a heavn’ly glow
Oh joy-y-y this boy-y

It’s the kind tale that makes you glad when you are blue
Blue, blue, blue
It happened in a grove a trees when Joseph kneeled down on his knees
It’s true ooh true true
oh Joy-y-y this Boy-y

Some of you probably appreciated it more than other, but I think I can forgive that.

and so the “Augen Blick” goes forward. This week was a all leading up to the musical concert at the end of
the week on Saturday, rehearsals, writing the program, cleaning, setting up, practicing and calling people to invite the masses. The other time was spent running from town to train to bus to appointment
to bus and back again. We really did get to meet with many this week, some that we have just started meeting, some that are old favorites and some that have been a bit missing in action for a whileTübingen district and Felix

J is our sweet little Chinese gal that we are teaching, she came to church for the first time and we are meeting up twice this week. She is working on understanding or receiving answers to prayer. She said she would be baptized if she felt the feeling, so she had been praying for an answer this week and was very glad to report that. The troubles was that she prayed that for her answers a Chinese song would start playing. And it didn’t. I am all for clear signs and direct answers but we have got to work on the learning to feel answers.

Something sad. J has disappeared. He had a meeting to decide if he would be a loud to stay in Germany. We called and called and of course missed the one time he called back because we were in a lesson. He
left no message and then was not able to come to our lesson. Usually he calls if he will even be late, but this time, he just did not show up. We really fear he was deported. Which means he is now in Africa,
despite having been here for more than 15 years. I try not to think about the reality of it, but it is very possible I will never see or hear from him again. Please pray for him. With everyday of silence, the possibility that he is still in Germany gets even smaller.

And then of course that bit with R and her answers about the God head.

Saturday was almost a whole day event from studies in the morning to working madly to finish the program. Sadly that morning three people canceled. That was pretty frustrating, but elder Erickson played Claire de Lune for the concert because I knew he played that song, (one of my favorites). We had a nice mix of modern and classical, and then some bits of rock, alternative and of course a blasting addition of astonishing. Who would have thought that this song would get to see the light of day anywhere but my apartment on my mission, I am glad for that. It was a successful Evening of Music.

And now I have to go.

I love you all, have a good week.
Sister Gardner

That Thing Called Love


Give me years and I´ll want more time.

Give me give me that thing called love.

Now of course I am not talking about the running around looking for roses or the strains of Sinatra and folded up sneakily placed torn out notebook pages with rain splatter ink written “I love you ´s”. That was a different part of Valentine’s Day, and I do wish you a Happy Valentines. I am talking about a most lovely kind of love, the missionary kind.

The kind that compels you to paint little water color hearts and then write John 3:16 on the back, that kind of love.Come on inlooking out


I have had a good week, filled with plenty to do and a continuous feeling of how on earth are we going to get it all done. But that is the best.
Some unique things that happened this week

  • Church tours for our new investigator J, her prayer was simply lovely. When we told her she was a daughter of God she really took that to heart. She said a sweet prayer and she is excited to learn more about God and our church.Sis G and a castle
  • We had another lovely International food night at the S’s. We gave them all copies of the Book of Mormon so that they could write their testimonies in them and then have them either give it to someone or give it back to us so that we can give it out and tell them how it goes. I think having a testimony and even a few marked scriptures is a really personal touch. R was reading the title page to us on the train ride back with the others. We could not understand the Arabic but you could still feel that sort of quite feeling of the spirit.
  • We had interviews in Stuttgart with president and then for training we finally where able to watch the world wide missionary broadcast. I loved it. It helped me with many brainstorming sessions I have been having lately. I know it was inspired from the spirit. I felt it so strongly.tubingen 2
  • We finalized the flyers and some more of the details for our musical concert the 27th of February. We met early before church to practice the choir song. We have a lot of good songs we just need to figure how we can get them all to fit together in a logical artistic way.in the mist
  • There is a church in Tübingen that has been doing a free lunch as an opportunity for people of different religions and backgrounds to get to know each other. Our GML recommended that we stop by. I was a little skeptical at first, but it turned out to be a really effective use of our lunch hour, we had some great conversations and met people who are interested in coming to the concert.misty day
  • We had a family home evening with P and her two sons. It was really nice and she also made us fufu, think thick mashed potatoes that you roll into a ball and then dip into sauce with meat. It was good. I am just a weakling that cannot devour the African spice but it was really good.Castle wall
  • We had an appointment with a part member family. Sister A is the wife, she is a convert and has an amazing testimony. She is a super missionary, but her husband is a very headstrong Austrian guy. But he committed to take the lessons. Sister Strihavka and I sang the first vision song, Oh, How Lovely was the Morning, and it really brought the spirit. I am always grateful for the spirit.Welcome home

That is the message that I want to leave with you this week.

The spirit confirms truth. You can bring any question, any concern, any doubt to God in prayer and if you feel the spirit when you ask you can trust that it is true. Or that it is still true. I am glad for that knowledge I have gained through countless times on my knees asking or in my heart pondering.I see it

There is power in bearing testimony. I was reminded of that this week.

I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that he has a plan for us. He has restored his church to the earth that we may partake of blessing and return to him. Jesus Christ understands us perfectly and welcomes us to find peace for ourselves.

I send my love,

Sister GardnerSis S and Sis Gtubingen ceiling

Bands are Getting Jazzier…

Bands are Getting Jazzier…

“And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.

“And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace, they did publish good tidings of good, and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.”

Mosiah 27:36-37tubingen

I feel blessed this week. I feel blessed because of the people I am so privileged to know and serve and love. I am truly glad to be an instrument in the hand of the lord. I hope I provide the right sort of blare when I play the trumpet part, or the sweet sincere sort of slide when I am called to be his violin. I try to be a piccolo in the morning when I want to be a deflated bag-pipe, and a harp even when the thoughts inside of me want to go shooting out with an electric guitar. I try to follow the conductor. I try to follow my Heavenly Father to create the music that he wants me to make.

I think the most important thing is that I do play my part, even if my part is a small little ding of a triangle on a bus or while waiting for a train, that little chime could be the first chime in the start of the music, or at the start of a beautiful serenade.

I don´t know exactly what my efforts will mean today. I don´t know the whole plan, the whole musical score that my Father in Heaven has so beautifully composed. I can only trust that I am an important part of this grand symphony of the plan of salvation. I can trust that as I try to be the best instrument I can, the Lord who is the master musician can play whatever I can give as beautifully as possible.

I am sure I have already mentioned it in a letter and you already know about it but I think again on that poem the touch of a masters hand….

The Touch of the Masters Hand

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?” “A dollar, a dollar”; then two!” “Only
two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
dollars twice; going for three..” But no, from the room, far back, a
gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
pure and sweet as caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; “What am I bid for the old violin?” And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make
it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
gone,” said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not
quite understnad what changed its worth.” Swift came the reply: “The touch
of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
“mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. “He is
going” once, and “going twice, He’s going and almost gone.” But the Master
comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.

-Myra ‘Brooks’ Welch

Why may you ask are things getting jazzier, I think that would be because of our five new investigators we got to know this week, for that feeling that there is always something, or someone new around the corner.. sometimes literally.pday

Tubingen group

Elder Ewell, Elder Petty and Sis Strihavka

This work is exciting, it is a big band with shiny brass and a big finish, It is a lullaby, and  few simple cords, It is an art song in the lazy afternoon, and satisfied round of applause at the end of the concerto.

I am glad to be part of this symphony. … ( it´s like a symphony… just keep listening…. ) common, you know you started to sing that in your head.
and pretty soon you´ll start to figure out your part…… oh  it´s glorious.

Love you all,

Sister Gardnerthat blue sky

the light at the end of the tunnel

Sis S and the light at the end of the tunnel.


Answers to some questions I (her mother) asked: (I had to share her great stories.)

1.How are your investigators doing?  We pray for them.

We have about 19 investigators right now, and those are people we have met with in the last week or the week before. It is awesome.

J we were not able to meet this week. that made us a little sad. But he has finished the book of Mormon. He is trying really hard to just be able to stay here, so he is still making great progress, but this week was a bit of a pause.

S and M and J: I called president and he is totally in support that the kids can get baptized. J is so excited. we are going to set a date next appointment. the really good part is that because we talked with S she is really committed to helping them prepare for the baptism, so when we teach them, we get to teach all of them. and of course they come to church each week. J is so cute and loooooves primary. M is also so, so sweet. S has been doing family prayer with her family. She is so perfect. So ready to accept the gospel. We are on the way to eternal families.

L had her test for her German certificate, she said it was really hard. She is still so sweet and our relationship with her is growing but she is not reading and not coming to church. She needs members at her appointments, but it is very discouraging when we try so hard for a joint teach even a week in advance and no one has time for us. In this area we are more on fire than ever before and yet, I am feeling the biggest struggle to get the ward to work with our efforts. We have investigators in church every week and yet we are not always able to get joint teaches. But I know everyone has their own busy lives. It is just sometimes I wish they where paper dolls and I could pick them up and put them where I need them and make them play nice with the new kids. Don’t get me wrong I love this ward.

D and G: she was supposed to come to the relief society activity for sewing but she got sick. Hopefully it works to meet with them this week. I love them so much. They also really need members.

Y: he has gotten busy. But he is still really nice.

T: These Chinese students study, study, study. But I think he is considering coming to church again.

We have a lot of new investigators this week. I will let you know if they start progressing a lot.

2.Stand out moment of the week?

Probably meeting the little family on the street that was trying to find a hotel out in the middle of Betzingen at the Asylheim when we were going to teach O. The elders where already inside and we were going to be coming in just a bit. But this dad stopped us and asked us in English if we could help him. He was there with his wife and little girl. They were standing with bags on the ground around them. He explained that they had just come from Stuttgart and that they were supposed to be in a home but it was not yet ready so they had to stay here. ( mom note: the Asylheim is a refugee center from what I was able to find out). It is not the best conditions and he did not want his wife and daughter to have to stay there. So he asked for our help to find a hotel. Of course we have no idea where one would be. I find two on my i-pad map. But of course we think of R. He is our go to guy when we need something goggled or a train time and we have no internet access. Of course he is extremely excited to help. The family is from Syria. Cool. They are journalists and used to be working for television before everything started going wrong in the middle east, and they had to flee. We got a plan and then the elders came out. Turns out the lesson only went 20 minutes because O had to go early. So we felt bad that we had missed our lesson, but It was ok because the elders where able to teach it, and I had really the strong feeling that we needed to help them.

We end up riding the train with them and helping them find a hotel and then the next one when that one was full already. I tried to talk with the mom who spoke little English. The cute little daughter is 8. She was kind of cold and tired so I was trying to make her smile as we walked to the train station. I was trying to ask if she liked to dance she did a little ballet plié and then I just took her hand and did some little slide skips. She suddenly is just so happy and we are dancing with each other. I show her the picture of Breesa and say my little sister. She is excited and shows her mom and then points to me. I take the photo back and she just hugs me as we are walking. We are pantomiming different instruments and then she is just really happy and says, “I love you” she was singing anything she could in English. It was so sweet. We were with them for probably about an hour. At one point she sticks her arm through my elbow with my hand in my pocket, we are singing the Frozen songs. Goodness she is a cutie. I was just glad that there happened to be one little child that did not hate me. (Sister Gardner thinks children don’t like her. Ha Ha It is not true. It is kind of our joke.) That was good. She is sweet. Sister Strihavka had a good conversation with the dad, and eventually we helped them find the hotel. The hotel man was nice enough to take off twenty euro.

We met with them that next Wednesday. The mom and dad. They told us their whole story. They have been wondering where God is, they are excited to learn everything and have invited us over for two times this week. Wahooo!

3. Favorite thing about riding the train?

Really easy to contact people. and they cannot leave you because they need to ride all the way to the next destination. Muwahaha. Also earlier on my mission I liked looking out the window. now I am usually just focused on the people inside.


Sisters, Sisters…There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

Sisters Sisters
There were never such devoted sisters.
Never had to have a chaperon no sir,
I´m there to keep my eye on her.

Sharing caring every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain Wi-lkes left for home,
We wore the clothes she left “home”
( I have no time to be clever today)

All kinds of weather we stick together
The same in the rain or sun,
Two different faces, but in tight places
Think and we teach as one.

Uh huh

Those who´ve seen us
know that not a thing could come between us
closing doors have tried to split us up
but no one can.
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
( but really, I will put him in the hospital er. uh. I mean a very firm, very scary handshake)
Lord help us, sisters, to find people to teach the plan.
Hello all, all the way from Tübingen, Deutschland. I am bringing you the news of the work of salvation. You keep working on yours

The dritt

The Fearless Dritt before Sis Wilkes left on transfer day.

Goodbye sis wilkes

Sunny transfer day.

This week our fearless dritt became a equally fearless duo. It was strange to say goodbye to sister Wilkes. A) because it did not really feel like she was leaving for home b) She was leaving for Lindon. For my home town, my people. I kept telling her, “you get to hug my mom”. And then the next day again. You are actually going to be there. You get to hug my mom.

(Note from Sis G’s mom: After Sister Wikes homecoming I went up to her and said, can I just give you a little hug, you were just with Sis G. She was holding her scriptures and as I went to hug her she said, Oh no. She put down her scriptures and then proceeded to give me the biggest bear hug. You know, the kind that make happy tears come out of your eyes because you know that hug was a long distance hug from your daughter. A wonderful hug.)

Heh. heh. maybe that sounds silly, but It was this reoccurring thought, and now she is back. And now it is team Gardner and Strihavka. It has been really fun to learning from her as I am working to teach her. She really is amazing and I am loving speaking German with her all the time. However in the morning right when I wake up my German is pretty funny to listen to. We are still going running every morning. Yeah for bodies that are now used to waking up at 6 :20. I never would have thought it was possible. ha ha, No, it is possible.

Christmas market and Sis G

Christmas Market in Esslingen

market 4

Medieval Archery?

Something I have noticed these last few days is how when I am falling asleep I am thinking about the people I am teaching, or about certain questions Sister S asked me, or how I am going to talk with people tomorrow. I still think about things like music and my friends and families, but more and more the people here are becoming my family.

I felt that especially last night as I was riding home from Stuttgart with our GML and two of our new converts R and R. R had her arm around me and was trying to remember the words of a song in English. Bruder H is following his navigator device. R is playing with his phone and I am trying to tell stories about the tradition of going through tunnels on road trips in German. I tried to start up a sort of conversation about the Christmas devotional, I loved hearing about all of their different perspectives. I just really felt a feeling of comradery among a few lovely people who have found their place to fit in among the gospel.

(Link to Christmas Devotional): https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/archive/christmas-devotional/2015/12?cid=HP_SU_12-6-2015_dPFD_fMLIB_xLIDyL1-C_&lang=eng

I read this story this week that I think fits in with this. A young man watches a bag of seeds fall off of a truck into some drying asphalt. frustrated and not having time to pick all of the seeds out the driver leaves. The young man seeing the worth of the seeds goes and gathers them despite their now dirty exterior. He plants them and takes care of them, and these thrown out seeds yield a glorious harvest that benefits his family the whole year. It did not matter that they had been forgotten before, now they where a gathered treasure.

This fits in with missionary work perfectly. Obviously. Because the people we find and love and support, they are often like these seeds, with so much potential that just needs cultivation. and luckily… I am a Gardner.

The lady teaching the class on Sunday asked the question ” what do you think of when I say the word Gardener” Some great answers….. Spiritual. Then me ” I think of my name.” silence and then suddenly a bunch of giggling German ladies. I went on to back that all up with relating it to working in the Lords garden, but I was happy it made them chuckle.Esslingen 3EsslingenEsslingen 4

This week was filled with hellos and goodbyes and lots and lots of Christmas songs. I was happy to help prepare the Christmas party and then enjoy it with the members and investigators and new converts and everyone who came. I got to sing there and again at the stake Christmas Concert in Stuttgart. I am so glad that we can come together and worship the Lord through music and song.

Ward Christmas Party

Ward Christmas Pary

Keep the savior in your hearts. And the words of an amazing teacher.

” May the beautiful lights of every holiday season remind us of him who is the source of all-light.” -Elder David A. Bednar.
Have a Lovely Week,
Sister Gardner

The Nativity Video:  https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-10-067-the-nativity?lang=eng