Where there’s Promise there is Peace

 

 

And in the fullness of Your Heart Exclaim Oh Fair Nauvoo

This week our director Elder Schultz declared the Week of Happy!
It was a week of happy, but it was also the week of, Sister Gardner gets a cold and a cough and a giant spider bite, but still tries to be positive and was really successful…..mostly.

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The Promise – with Elder Tate

It is hard to believe how the time has flown here in Nauvoo.
We see miracles most everyday, some times the miracles are smaller, sometimes they are enormous.
It was different this week to have my companion doing the Anna Amanda show instead of Nauvoo singers, but Sister Welch is great. She was a technician missionary who served as a performer last year. She has been able to step in and fulfill some of the gaps left by the loss of our dear Sister Wadsworth.

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Sister Hammond and Sister Greenwood – Youth of Zion

We had a rehearsal on Sunday where we put the new people into The Promise. It was a speed through and lots of funny things happened. It made me really appreciate the people around me.
I have been thinking a lot about The Promise this week. Trying to figure out how to tell the story more and as I have talked with my fellow actors we have made new discoveries that have helped to make the story more meaningful. I am so grateful for my Promise cast. H89A2977-77-76
We added a sort of ending to The Promise this week. After we bow we come down on the front steps of the stage, take off our bonnets and put on our missionary tags. We then sing one more song for the audience. It has been so spiritual for me.
I loved having my family here again for a while. I was surpised to see my mom. Other missionaries also had their families here and it was so nice to talk with them and get to know them. Elder Sykes’ family was here and his little nieces were so sweet and I got to talk with them a lot.
We have added a few new songs to our Nauvoo singers group. I love singing to testify. I can teach through the words of the songs. So even though I am not really set apart to teach preach my gospel lessons, the music we make testifies of those principles.
I have loved being part of the Nauvoo and British pageants. They tell inspiring stories, and it is so unifying to be with all of the performing missionaries.H89A3211-164-163

ONE VOICE
Sister Hammond rewrote some of the words so we could sing it.

This is the sound of one voice one spirit one voice the sound of one who makes a choice to follow God and in Him rejoice this is the sound of one voice
This is the sound of voices two. The sound of me singing with you helping each other to make it through To spread His light and proclaim the truth. This is the sound of voices two.
This is the sound of all of us. Singing with love and a will to trust. Leave our fears behind and press on we must with faith in Him who gave all for us this is the sound of all of us.
This is the sound of one voice.

We had a little pause this week during Nauvoo singers and we decided to have a devotional.
We talked about the atonement and then Elder Muncy posed the question of why Obedience is the first law of heaven . It started a great conversation. If we can choose to be obedient then everything else goes easier. We gain the desire to follow God and our Hearts are changed.

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Saying goodbye to my brother before he left on his mission to Barcelona, Spain

I am so glad that the Lord has allowed me to serve here. I love seeing the people feeling the spirit from the music we sing. It is the most rewarding part.

All is wellllllll

Love, Sister Gardner

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Elder Cottom, Elder Muncy, Elder Sykes, Sister Welch, Elder Larsen, Sister Hammond, Sister Gardner and Sister Greenwood

Old Fashioned Day in Nauvoo

 

The weeks fly so quickly here. I remember them flying by in Germany too, but really here I feel like I am always so shocked because it is Sunday again.
I am really getting excited for pageant. We got to do our first rehearsal with the family casts. It was a lot different to do the dances when there were little kids running around and probably about a hundred more people on stage.

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Nauvoo Emergency Alert System

The Promise has been going well. I had a show this week where I felt like my voice was almost at full voice.. of course I feel again like I am still only at 75 percent, but it was a tender mercy to be reminded of what My voice can do…
I am pleased with the way the day goes. I feel most at peace when i am talking with people after a performance.

 

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Dance Scene in The Promise

There have been some hard times this week. Satan is really good at making me feel small. I am always having to pray for strength and in so doing, I have started to communicate with my Heavenly Father more and more.
I was reading in the Book of Mormon about Alma the older when he is found by his old co worker Amulon outside of the main city. Amulon knew Alma when they were both priests to King Noah and he makes their lives very difficult. When the people pray he even puts guards to stop them from praying physically. But they continue on praying in their hearts. God helps them make it. They are able to endure and are then freed.
I was so excited this week when the elders who serve in one of the Nauvoo wards brought their investigator to our show! We got to sing for her and I felt so happy to be involved with her journey to God.

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Sunset By the Mississippi – Grandma’s Feather Bed

I know that these notes are short. but I am learning and growing. I am being humbled all the time. And I see how God is teaching me all the while.

Love You!
–Sister Gardner

Feel Free to Shout Out

“Feel free to shout out “over and under as you run.” I wind the long tail of the massive maypole ribbon around my wrist and prepare to take off to start the weaving. the stage is at a slant and the enormous lines of fabric stretch out across the whole stage. I am helping to create the beautiful dance inspired by Preston, the place of my MTC.
It was a good week, besides running and polkaing down dangerously slopped stages, we had a wonderful week of performances.

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Singing in the Visitors Center

 
It has been a focus for me this week to really recognize what does and does not bring and invite the spirit, and then change my behavior and attitude based on that. We are not perfect human beings, we make mistakes, but the important thing is how we handle the mistakes;  if we really truly try to improve from them and keep a growth mindset of learning.
This week we sang at the commemoration of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, both at the Community of Christ Church and at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They were both wonderful programs. It is interesting to think how the work of this prophet has influenced so many people. you look at Nauvoo and think that it is a lovely town and everything, but the saints had no idea how this faith would spread forth across the whole world. There is still much work to be done. My grandparents and aunt and uncle came to visit with their children. She shared with me that she really feels that Nauvoo is a place of healing for me.
I think that she is right. Each day of course has its own trials and difficulties, but over all, I am feeling like I am healing from being back from Germany. I am adjusting to the realization that my whole life, through the arts, I will be able to testify of my Savior. I will be able to invite people to come to Christ.
I am so grateful for the temple here. I love going inside, but also just the beacon of light it is up on the hill.

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The Promise

Last night we had a pre- fourth of July celebration. The band played with the Nauvoo community band. They had a concert in front the of the temple. We went to watch and started talking with some families. Then we went down to the river where trail of hope ends and watched the fireworks being launched across the river in Montrose.
I love how the stories I tell in the promise become alive as I learn more about the history of this place, and the geography. It is truly splendid to see how my theatrical presentations fit in with the world I am living in. It is not just a story we are telling. it is truly what happened.

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Nauvoo Singers – Youth of Zion

We have been working on a song to sing for Nauvoo Singers. It is I am a child of God set to the accompaniment of Blackbird. I love the song and the idea created through their juxtaposition. I will try to send a recording. I love how music speaks to the people here. I also loving singing ‘Whenever”: “I know that my heavenly Father loves me” outside as the birds sing and the wind is literally rushing by. Nature is god’s theater.

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The Promise

I am filled with hope despite my insecurities of the future and my feelings of inadequacy I face daily.
As I turn to prayer and the Scriptures and most importantly to serving others, that is where I find my solace. That is where I find the strength to overcome everything I face.

All My Love,
Sister Gardner

 

There’s Something in This Place That is Different

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

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

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

Sister Gardner

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Nauvoo Singer singing Sweet Violets

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Sunset by the Mississippi – Orange Blossom Special with Elder Larsen

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“Along Came Jones” – Melodrama

Whenever I Feel the Rain on My Face

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

Another Nauvoo Miracle

This phrase started out sort of as a joke and has perpetuated itself a multiplicity of times. Whenever something goes right that probably should not have, the phrase “Another Nauvoo Miracle” pops out. From found granola bars to beautiful sunsets, costume malfunction repairs, and a whole myriad of escapades, Nauvoo has this way of making everything work out. It is a joke, but it is also true.

As you all know I have been struggling with my voice. On Sunday I fasted that it would get better and planned on starting a medication i had received to help it on Monday.
The next day we had the performance of The Promise. And For the first time since the day they cast the show, the high note I sing came out! I was actually able to sing the high note, it was clear and not as strong as It has been in the past, but I was able to do it. My voice has been improving since. I really believe it was a little miracle for me because of the faith and prayers and fasting… and now as it has been strengthening, the medicines of man that has helped me to work on this healing process.

I tried to make everyday this week a good day and I am glad to report that they were all good days.
I live for the times after a performance when I get to talk to the people. It is interesting. Three years ago, I would not have said that. I was not the biggest fan of talking to strangers. I love to see how my missions have helped me to progress in this area.
Sister Curtis, the director of the promise and the other shows was talking about how each show has something it testifies of. Anna Amanda: Self worth, Sunset by the Mississippi: JOY, Trail of Hope: Faith and The Promise: Jesus Christ. We don’t ever say that, but I think that is what comes across. I have loved helping to form The Promise with my own ideas. I have loved how Sister Curtis has listened to my perspectives with my character and how we have formed this show as a cast.
Something really wonderful happened Friday night at Trail of Hope.
As I was delivering my lines to the people who came down Parley Street. My mind was filled with images of my mission. People and places that I had not remembered or been able to think about. situations or lessons where brought to my remembrance. It was so beautiful. It was like finding an old journal entry. I was just filled with this enormous feeling of gratitude and joy for the service I was able to give.
I realized that since coming home from my mission I have often mourned the fact that it came to an end. I thought, oh, why would my Father in Heaven have me be finished if there was still more I wanted to give. As I stood out in the clover field after Trail of Hope, I saw thousands of fireflies. and I realized that it was not me that was giving, but rather my Father in Heaven who gave me the blessing to be there. He is the one who made it possible for me to have those memories. It is i who should have gratitude for that which he gave Me. The time and the year and the months in his service, was actually serving me. I knelt down and for the first time I really really thanked Him. For my mission in Austria. It put it in a good perspective. Nauvoo is healing me in ways I did not know I needed. I am so glad to be here and serving and singing and loving.
I invite all those who will come to Nauvoo or who study about its stories to do so with an open heart. This place changes lives.
I know that the gospel has been restored. I know that the temple ordinances are God’s gift to help us return to Him. I know that my God has a plan. And I am so grateful for that.
-Sister Gardner

 

Riverboats a Comin’ Up the Mississippi

Greeting from Nauvoo!
I have started calling people folks and I am afraid to say I have even thrown out a few “Ya’ll”s They are infiltrating my vocabulary!
This week has been so quick. I can hardly believe I am writing you again. I am always tired, but it is a wonderful feeling to be exhausted. My voice is still just taking it’s own sweet time getting better. That is really hard. But everyday I see how I am still able to bring the spirit and fulfill my duties and desires as a missionary despite my limitations.
I have had an amazing miracle this week of meeting someone almost every day who speaks German. Sister Greenwood had forgotten her tag, so I let her use mine and slapped on my German tag I had in my backpack. I was talking with a family after a performance. The kids were shy and it was not going as well as it usually does. Then the teenage daughter noticed my tag, She smiled and I was a little embarrassed because I had forgotten. Her mother comes over and she points it out to her and then her mom starts rattling off in German! She was German and also served her mission in Austria. She is from my mission. The Freiburg zone where I did not serve, but she knew all these places that I knew. We ended up talking for a good 20 minutes about her conversion and her mission and her children. All in German. It was a wonderful emotional experience. She was so glad to speak in German.
and I felt so glad that The Lord was letting me use my language in the middle of Nauvoo. I have run into people in other places too, but that was a big miracle for me. promise 4
I have loved seeing the youth groups that came in this week. It was nice to perform for a full house, and then at Sunset by the Mississippi there was a huge group from BYU I. I love doing The Promise and even though my voice is a struggle in Nauvoo singers, I love that too. Just walking around and singin for people. Or doing the little play by the tree called “Youth of Zion”
Today we will perform our first Sunday Concert. It is a new idea that I think is wonderful.nauvoo singers 2

Amid feelings of Stress and inadequacy and sometimes wondering if I fit in over here. I find that the best solutions to “old man Satan’s” brew of trouble and negativity is to serve. When I look outside myself, I am always rewarded with someone to love and inspire.
I love when we get to sing at the visitors center next to the Christus statue. I feel privileged to be able to share my testimony of Christ.
I know he is our courageous older brother, and the bringer and supplier of peace… In deed he is the Prince of Peace.
Till next week

All My love! -Sister Gardnerpraire diamond

Sunset By the Mississippi

This week marked the beginning of putting my hair up in to 1840’s hair styles every night. I am glad to say I got a lot of good practice from doing Christmas Carol because it is exactly the same. Well, that is to say, the hair is the same, but the humidity and the vast amounts of sweating I do make it a little more difficult out here in Illinois.

I am feeling so happy every day, There are hard bits every day, but then I feel good too. We have finally been able to start talking with visitors who are coming! Last night we had our opening night for Sunset by the Mississippi. It is a great show, but there are literally only about 7 minutes when we are changing shoes and costumes that we are not on stage. I am excited to see how my body handles a whole summer of this high energy. But I feel good, I feel stronger. the promise may 2017

Unfortunately, my voice is still just trudging along. I no longer feel sick, but my tone and range is shot. I am so sad. I have felt worried, and wondered why God would let this happen when he was the one who called me to be a performing missionary. I was pondering this during my scripture study one night when I read in Nephi 16. This is the part where the bow breaks and everyone is starving. God called Lehi and his family to leave. They were obedient and did as they were asked. They worked hard and followed the directions of the liahona, but despite their valiant behavior they still where faced with suffering and affliction. I was reading how they began to murmur.

And I realized, even though I was trying to wait it out and be strong and not worry, I was murmuring. I need to learn to be humble. I need to find away to make things work, even if I am having to make a different bow than I am used to. Even if it is course and made of wood rather than steel. I know that it will still serve it’s purpose to bring light and salvation and needed nourishment to my loved one and those I serve on this mission. I cannot promise that my voice will be as clear as it has been in other performances, but I know just like Nephi’s wooden bow, it will serve its purpose by the gift of the Holy Ghost. the promise may 2

We have had a choreographer here with us, he is really good and has worked with lots of big professional artists. He is a member of the church, but it was simple to see that the world was taking its toll on this son of God. I felt the prompting that we needed to write in a Book of Mormon for him. All of the YPM’s writing their testimonies and favorite scripture along with a thank you note in the back. as the time has progressed, we have seen him change and feel the spirit. And yesterday after watching The Promise, he had been crying and told us that he felt like he had been re-baptized and now had the courage to go back on a good path and return to his closeness with God. We saw how the spirit of Nauvoo brought to remembrance the things that he knew but had started to forget. I presented the Book of Mormon to him at his little good bye meeting we had. nauvoo singers

I don’t know what is in store for him, but I do know that he was mean to be helped by the missionaries of the 2017 YPM’s. I could talk about so many wonderful conversations I had yesterday with visiting families. But just know that the missionary work is alive and well here along the Missississippi.

With the Temple in View

(a note from Sister Gardner’s mom.  There was a bit of a problem with the email when she finally had a chance to email home. She was not able to open her account and ended up sending her letter with another email. So, don’t feel bad if you wrote and didn’t get a response. She hasn’t been able to open or read anything sent to her yet.  Snail mail works great. Hopefully it will get worked out soon so she knows we are writing her. Thanks for you support.)
From the green Mississippi riverside I send you a hello from Sister Gardner.

Within a week so much has happened.

One overwhelming feeling I have is that God has put this cast together and he is the one fueling the amazing progress we have made. I have never been in a show where we were given the script, parts and music and then performed it the first time through, from beginning to the end, in three days. We have learned so much music and blocking and  now even dancing within this time.

companion Sister Meikle

Sister Gardner and her companion Sister Meikle

I suppose I should start from the top.  Nauvoo is wonderful. It is fun to see this place that I came to as a child and to know that now I am part of the experience that I had while there. I see all of the missionary force here. The Seniors and the Visitor’s center sisters. I feel this connection to them all. I love to see the similarities of my mission in Austria to this one here. I still get to talk with people if I put myself out there and I was even able to give out a copy of the Book of Mormon and get and email from someone to send her missionaries while at the Airport in St. Louis. I felt that familiar confidence when you are inviting someone to read the Book of Mormon for the first time. It was so wonderful.

I am serving with Sister Miekle as my companion. She is also from Utah, and is studying musical theater at UVU. She is so great. We have been bonding a lot and I love having her around. I am going to switch to bullet points because I have literally seven minutes .

  • I have been given the responsibility to drive the 12 passenger van. Wow that was a little scary at first but I am getting the hang of it and I help to keep everyone on time for when we need to leave for various rehearsals and meetings.
  • We basically live in the theater in the visitors center which is where I feel right at home. I actually really like it. It it is like being in shows like I love, but  I know that I am doing it for God so it is even better and more focused.

    Rehearsals

    Rehearsal of the play  “The Promise”

  • They have already cast all of the shows. I am so excited to have been cast as  Julia in the  “The Promise” She is the girl in the love triangle, so I am excited to be portraying such a wonderful faithful character. It means I have lots of lines to learn and many chances for little solo parts.
  • The hardest part about this week has been losing my voice completely. I have been on vocal rest since Tuesday/ The day they announced the casting.  It started to ago a way and then I could not sing anything in my high range. I got a blessing finally yesterday and it is starting to get better. It has been good because it made me listen and have to exercise faith in God. I know that it happened so that He could teach me.

    first temple trip

    First Temple Trip

  • I love being a missionary again. So even if there are hard things that push me and times when I do not feel adequate to perform this role or to perform as a missionary enough, He can comfort me and lift me. I love the fact that I get to reach out to so many people. I am not perfect and I am realizing more and more my shortcoming, but I feel God is molding me just as before.
  • I love Nauvoo it is so green and beautiful.   Sister Miekle and I got stuck with the single bedroom in the basement, we felt a little sad at first, but it has turned out to be a blessing , because we always get to talk and it is  the coolest room in the house.

Pray for my voice. I love you guys. Sorry this email is so short. I hope we can get it all figured out so that I can actually receive emails from all of you. Thank you!

-Sister Gardner

Where two or three are gathered in my name… There shall I be in the midst of them. The midst of them that love me.

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Ice Cream with the Sisters

We didn’t get a mothers day phone call, but this beautiful song and picture sent were perfect.

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