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

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.

ice cream in Nauvoo

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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