I Know My Redeemer Lives

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

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

Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg

music paper

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

Sister Pugh

Sister Gardner with Sister Pugh

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

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

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

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

I have a lot to do. the church

Basically what happened is…

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

My companion is Sister Pugh.

sister Pugh 2

Sister Pugh

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

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

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

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

MLC June

MLC in Munich in June

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

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

Isar river

Isar River in Munich

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

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

The idea of comparing Elder Abinidi and Elder Ammon…

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it is true.

Love,

Sister Gardner

Siegestor in Munich

Siegestor in Munich

Zone conf June

Salzburg and Wien Zone Conference in June

 

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?

Yes.

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. 

 thanks

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 

famous

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

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
lives.

(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.

transfers

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

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

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.

mozart

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

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

Snowball Throwing…That’s What I’ll Do

Snow snow snnnnnnooooooowwwwww!
Finally the skies have opened and rained down their sweet white freezing manna of winter time. We were quite excited. Because we all know that cold without at least a little bit of white blanket beauty is probably a bit better than still seeing the dusty broken down leaves of the fall of yesteryear.
We worked hard to end this transfer with a bang. It was really a busy happy transfer, I think the time just keeps going faster and faster. “Time flies when you’re having fun”… or was it, “Time flies when you are having lots of appointments each day and running around trying to talk with people and learn scriptures and smile and keep your hands warm and your German sharp.” Maybe that is how it is.

snowman sister

A Snowy Sister Gardner

Auch So! I did not tell you what happened with transfers. I am staying here to finish out the training with Sister Strihavka and we are welcoming into the land of Tübingen another Sister. Sister Yaursch. She is from Germany, and has been serving in the Switzerland part of the mission. I have never met her before. Sometimes Sister S and I try to imagine what she will be like. It does make sense that she is coming. Sister S could leave this transfer and then I would be without anyone. No one wants their area to close for a week. I cannot imagine a week not being able to meet with my people. So Sister Yaursch will be here and then she will be finished with her mission. So my forecast….. A lot more Tübingen.
I hope you guys still like brightly painted houses next to a river. Because you are going to get more of it.
F got confirmed this week! He seems happy. There is a change in his eyes. We met all together on Thursday, and watched the hour long restoration film. It was a different cut than I was used to. But really good. F shared his thoughts about it and it was so sincere and beautiful. Then he said this prayer and was just thanking God for his baptism and for this new start and that he was back with his team. It was so good. He is awesome, he has a girlfriend who lives near Graz, he has sent her a Book of Mormon, and says he will send the Graz sisters to teach her. He is awesome. Funny how my ‘hometown’ is coming into play again.

zone sisters

Stuttgart Zone Sisters

Elder Maw will be leaving and so will Elder Mcdaniel. I am sad because they are two really, really fantastic friends, but I am also excited to see what this new chapter brings. I am happy to welcome the new and help them learn to love this place just as I have. I think back sometimes on my old homes, remembering my fear of opening my heart up and then I just smile thanking God for giving me the opportunity to let my heart love so many people.

District members transfering

Elder Maw and Elder McDaniel are transferring to a new area.

Sister Strihavka and I have a great time with each other and she says my German is really improving. That is good to hear.
Fantastic story time: We went to go visit S and her kids, we had to start out basic like I said earlier, with God and how to pray. But today we started to teach the restoration. Who prophets are… how they help us know God´s will. I asked J, the daughter, and she knows a little bit about Noah, and I say let’s think of others. We think of Moses, and then she pipes in. “Hey, there was that one prophet, the young one who did not know which church to join, and then he prayed and God and Jesus told him that none of them where the right one.” I seriously feel the spirit come in so strongly, I can tell S can feel it too.
” Genau J, Du kannst Diese Lektion Lehren” ha ha. exactly J, you can give this lesson. and that is what she said. As a fact, as faith, as a knowledge, a testimony.
This girl has been going to Primary for a few weeks now. She is learning these truths while in her youth, I have seen her already learning so much.
I think what it did for me was remind me that I know that this church is true. I have building my testimony ever since primary. There have been times that I feel I have grown up a bit and I start to ask questions or not hold so fast to the rod, fingers still touching, but maybe only just. Then I remember on this testimony I have been working on since I was small. Then I remember that we are to be like children. To trust our father and the songs we learned in primary that are still a part of our heart.

IMG_3695

“Tree of Life” by Kazuto Uota –One of Sister Gardner”s favorite pictures.

Anyhow, at the end of the lesson we asked if she had any questions. She said she had one.
(translated for your viewing pleasure) “I would really like to be baptized, how do I do that? Who do I need to talk to about doing that?” oh my. goodness.
” and My children,I want that for them too.”

The milli second of silence before I get it all under control and smooth it as I pull out the list for the lessons. The one hic-up is her and her boyfriend need to get marriage papers figured out, but besides that, she is simply so prepared. She loves the church, She makes comments in relief society and acts as if she was already a member. On Sunday she brought her oldest son.
They are a miracle.
So pray for miracles for me, for us, for them this week.
That G and S will be able to get the papers so they can be married,
and that J will be able to stay in Germany.
Pray for these people’s hearts. I love you very much. all of you reading this. Thank you for still reading.
All my love,
Sister Gardner

Church in the snow
Fun moment this week:
Sister Strihavka lost her badge in the morning, And we did not have time to look for it. Later that night we were able to find a little time to look for it. We are looking in the snow with no luck. for a good 10-15 minutes. I take a pause and say a pray and then keep walking. She is a ways in front of me. Probably about 6 seconds later. again, translated for your viewing pleasure.

“found it”
“What? I literally just said a prayer.”
“me too”
God. Is. There.
He answers prayers. The end.

sis s in snow

Sis S in the Snow

sis's in snow

Better…Than This Dazzling Plot

Better……Than This Dazzling Plot

How fitting that I should start my new adventure in Germany with the story of Jo March and her German Professor. I know that this place is the new chapter of my story and this story will be a good one. Filled with exciting people and places and new experience and a forecast of fall leaves and smiles.

I cannot lie, I shed a few tears as I left Vienna, but more importantly my Sister Pratt, but Sister Ahlm was there with a hug and an excitement for my new area. She has served there and during the ride she told me about people I needed to take care of and people in the ward. She gave me finding tips and ideas and left me with a stack of envelopes to give to her old friends and a Chinese bible that needed a new specially selected home.

Goodbyes before the train leaves with sister Pratt.

Goodbyes with Sister Pratt before the train leaves.

I was pleased to meet a lot of new friends and lots of old ones. My birth brother from Graz (Elder McArthur) was also talking the trek across country to Deutschland and Elder Call with his guitar slung across his back. I rode among friends and laughed and said goodbye and marveled at how the time is passing. I was with many of my MTC brothers. We can’t believe that we are already as far as we are now on our missions. It is good to know they are all doing well and off to continue this fantastic work.

WN Family's last outing.

WN Family’s last outing.

On the Transfer Train.  It's Elder Erickson.

On the Transfer Train. It’s Elder Erickson.

Tübingen is a college town; seriously, there are so, so many young people here. There is a beautiful river and brightly colored houses. Sister Wilkes and I go running in the morning through a leaf-covered path in a streetlight lit park. Sister Wilkes and I have actually know each other for a long time, we played on a soccer team together when we where small and she is in my stake at home. It was funny to surprise members with that fact when they asked where I was from. She knows my home, I can describe exactly where the places are that I tell her about and she lets me know about those who I have not heard from in a long time. It is nice, we now have he chance to get to know each other better. She is an awesome missionary, I am just going to try and soak up all of her missionary knowledge that I can.

Sister Wilks and Sister Gardner

Sister Wilks and Sister Gardner.

On Saturday we went with our GML (Ward Mission Leader) and two ward members to go do an Austellung in…. Reutlingen! It was my first Austellung. We set up a table and a display and were able to give out 13 copies of the Book of Mormon in one day. I met a girl named C who I really hope calls us back, she was very hesitant, but we had such a quick connection and even friendship. At the end of my discussion with this young Romanian, English and German speaking student with the snowflake earrings and the long black hair, I asked if I could hug her. She smiled saying she had been just about to ask me that too. She is someone I wish and I could get to know, because I am sure that in some sort of incomprehensible way, I was able to meet an old friend in the middle of a crowded street market atop the great cobble stones in a land in which my Grandfather served.

In Reutlingen

In Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

Austellung in Reutlingen

I felt a sort of energy and drive when I realized that Reutlingen was the place my grandfather started his mission 56 years ago. It helped me feel that I am indeed supposed to be here.

I am also excited to start building my new family. Elder Maw and Elder Petty, Sister Wilkes, Elder Erickson and Elder McDaniel are my new district- New family and a good mix of family reunion.

The first Sunday went all right, I taught lesson number 27 in the gospel principles class. It was an interesting one to do in German, but I feel like it went pretty well. I am excited for this new challenge. I am going to keep things rolling in this ward, working to take care of everyone.

Tubingen Family Elder Petty, Elder Maw and Sister Wilks

Tubingen Family – Elder Petty, Elder Maw and Sister Wilks

I just wanted to share a lovely experience from my first Sunday eating appointment.

There is a family in this ward that recently lost their daughter. We were able to help comfort them. The father wanted me to sing for him once he found out I sang. He sat down at his old piano and after playing a selection of Bach for us, started playing Christmas hymns, which I sang gladly in German. The last song he played was ” Be still my Soul” the song that was played at their daughters funeral. He wanted me to sing it in English. As I sang, tears filled the eyes of the mother and her husband and the spirit entered as a warm strong feeling of comfort and longing. I finished, he played the last few chords and we all pondered in silence. I hope you know that breathless quiet the spirit can bring. He wiped his tears from his eyes and closed the music book on the piano; we were able to give them comfort on this day when they missed her greatly. We bore testimony about the plan of happiness and they finished by saying that they know they will see her again. I wish that all pains and sorrows and worries could go away when we want them too, but the fact that we have them helps us to rely on the saving grace and love of our Redeemer, and the Atonement.

….

Be still my soul: thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as he has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below…

Well, we are going to go catch a train to chocolate heaven now, so I will catch you next week.

All my love,

Sister Gardner

Tubingen, Germany.  Love the colorful building.

Tubingen, Germany. Love the colorful building.

On my way to Tubingen, Germany

On my way to Tubingen, Germany

Out Balcony.  Sister Gardner says she can't wait to get at the remaining plants and fix it all up. This is one of her favorite thing about the new apartment.

Out Balcony. Sister Gardner says she can’t wait to get at the remaining plants and fix it all up. This is one of her favorite thing about the new apartment.

I’ll Play it the Missionary Way

I’ll play it the missionary way,
Whatever the Lord asks me I’ll obey.
Wherever he needs me there I’ll go, supposing say Deutschland, I will go
Ooooh, Oooh, Oooh
The future is gleaming with missionary time,
I’m working to conquer that fear inside.
I’ll go where you want to go dear Lord, I’ll open my heart and make if full.
….

So big news for this email.
Sister Gardner had been part of the Vienna Zone since her first moments as a missionary in the field. She had grown apart from many of the others in her lovely green land of Graz, she would see them when she gathered with them, faces becoming familiar and watching slowly as all those familiar faces left, but not sister Gardner. She instead went to a new land, the land of Wiener Neustadt. Now closer to those who worked with her for her cause, she felt a renewed sense of support and a knowledge of what was happening across the entire zone. Still she remained as old faces left. Then for a glorious few weeks, Sister Gardner got to live a dream of hers, she loved and cared for every bit of the zone that she could touch. Her knowledge growing, she felt that she would be quite content and happy to stay in the Vienna zone her whole mission life, or at least stay in the land of red white and red. She felt that there were things to do, people to love. One day however, as her loving sister and she sat next to the phone, eating breakfast and nervously putting together a puzzle to calm the Amazonian butterflies, she discovered that she would be leaving. Leaving to the land of black, red and yellow. She found out that she would be joining forces with a fellow “Lindon-ite” in the land of Tübingen, Germany. The Lord had different plans than she had for herself, as He so often does. So now was the time for the Sister to follow with faith despite her surprise. A feeling of anticipation was prominent, penetrating, even with the flood of so many emotions that she would feel among those last few days in Wiener Neustadt.

The two flags of Sister Gardner's Missionary Heart.

The two flags of Sister Gardner’s Missionary Heart.


It has made me think about hearts. We are always told to bring to the Lord a broken heart and a contrite spirit. A heart that is to be broken to be healed again, to become stronger.

I have felt to Sing, ” I Left my Heart in Wiener Neustadt.” But as I thought about it more, I felt that it sounds a bit selfish, my heart has been letting me know that it is willing to break a little bit more to let in more people.

Or maybe a whole country.

Austrian Hillside.

Austrian Hillside.

When I left on my mission I left behind loved ones, but oh how I have been rewarded with more people to love, and here I go again. I shall fall in love with these people that I do not even know yet.

Yesterday I went up to a mountain called Schneeberg.
I was the most beautiful thing to be back up in the mountains, with the trees and the mist and the rocks and the earth and the leaves. I could not help but feel my soul swell with thanks and joy to be in Gods creation. We climbed through many different sorts of paths, my favorites were the ones that required me to cling to the rocks in front of me. Just steep enough that it required me to look for good hand hold in the rocks, testing first the section to see if it would hold as I continued up. We laughed and told riddles, throwing snowballs gleefully at each other, waited for those who needed our help in certain sections, gazed hungrily at the vast landscape marveling at the clouds below us. We lived as beings in an entire unpopulated, uncluttered section of the earth. Sometimes the mist covered the peak and our goal was out of sights, but the wind would blow giving us a temporary view of our end destination. The air was clean and fresh.
A member of our ward was our mountain guide, he brought a lady in one of the wards with him, and it was the Wiener Neustadt missionaries, and our favorite Hungarian RM. Wearing borrowed hiking boots and using sticks supplied by W S we ascended safely.
When we finally reached the top a vast field rewarded us with the wind roaring and other bright dots of color from the few other hikers also on the top. We stopped for lunch.
But I wanted to share my main thought of this whole purpose of relaying this story of our trip.

On top of the mountain, I went a few yards away from the group still in their sight of course. I lay in the thin mountain covering looking up into the blue cloudless sky. The wind pushing my hair about as I opened my arms and glazed up, feeling very, very close to my Father in Heaven. I had brought a Book of Mormon along. I started to read and as I did a feeling of peace settled upon my heart. I could feel the love of my Father. After a few pages, I just sat enjoying that feeling, enjoying this glorious beautiful moment of my life.

Schneeberg, Alps

Schneeberg, Alps

Now, I am back in a computer room, paper and printers and mouses and appointments and planners. All good things too, but as I think back to that mountaintop, I can feel again that peace. That peace of knowing my Father was there aware of me, as he is aware of all his children.

I am grateful for God’s children I have loved in this little bit of the earth. I am grateful for the missionaries I have worked with, for my dear Ecuador families, for leaders in the church, for the young people, for the old, for the S and K’s family. I am grateful for K’s mother even if she did call me, Elder Calee. Ha. Ha.
I am grateful for those I have spoken to on the street or in trains, grateful for the regulars of my little city. I am grateful for little tri-lingual girls, and German classes filled with Hungarians. I am glad for rehearsals and butterfly loving ladies. I am grateful for maps of Vienna that help me not get lost. For sassy friends who turn out to open up their hearts and let you heal them a bit before you go. For too large cheese filled pieces of fried meat at Herbs, and shaken up Traums (dreams) on long train rides. For inspired prayers and kept commitments. For faith being built and testimonies strengthened. For all the on the floor belly laugher in between. I am grateful for all of the miracles I have seen, all the moments when everything worked out with the help of power beyond my own.

I am grateful for my companion Sister Pratt, for the love and music she has shared with me. She, for being a true friend. I am so glad to have reopened this area, and though I must now leave it, the very world I have worked with my heart and soul to build up, I find comfort in my confidence of the Lords plan for us.

I have confidence in sunshine. I have confidence….

So here is to you Austria, to how much of my heart you have won, I will leave you now to take care of your brothers and sisters.

” But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.”

I love you.

Sister Gardner

Sister Gardner, a missionary in the rain.

Sister Gardner, a missionary in the rain.

Today While the Sun Shines

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught, “Music can set an atmosphere of worship which invites [the] spirit of revelation, of testimony.”

I loved this quote I read this week in a talk by Elder S Gifford Nielson.

(This is the part where Sister Gardner had written this lovely little opening paragraph and introduction to her week. This paragraph fell victim to technology. I realized this as she sent one last little email saying, “ if the beginning of the actual letter doesn’t make sense, it is because I believe the whole first part didn’t send… and is lost now…I cant find it…. and I’m out of time. I don’t love technology. I think I am a quill pen and paper person. But, then again if that were the case you probably would not hear this message for three months. #oceanvoyage  So…..write something for me”. Ha Ha! I cannot in any way do justice to her writing style. I can however, fill you in on some of the information she would love to share that is not included in the letter.)

Mom’s note: This last Saturday the transfer call came and she is being transferred to Wiener Neustadt, a city just 30 minutes south of Vienna (Wien). Her companion will be Sister Pratt from Maine and they will be reopening this area. She is excited and…..nervously excited. She is really sad to be leaving Sister Smith and all those she had come to love so much in Graz. A part of her heart will remain with those beautiful people there. I know she found the peace felt when you are home. Now it is time to grow again. Sister Smith is staying in Graz to train a new Golden (the term for a brand new missionary).

Imagine that last paragraph and the tie in of the aforementioned quote of President Packer as her introduction and I will turn the writing back over to Sister Gardner.

It has been wonderful to see the progression of E from staying upstairs when we would come to now joining in, listening and giving feedback about our Father in Heaven and also her older brother Jesus Christ. I have seen her go from not being willing to be with us at all to now coming to church often and giving her own feedback and observations during lessons. I know her mother is grateful and I just feel happy and safe and so loved when I go to their home.

With the Bishop holding up his matching red umbrella.

With the Bishop holding up his matching red umbrella.

I was able to meet with E. again before I left and we hope we can see Sis B tonight.

I have loved having the AIMS (American Institute of Musical Studies) students here; they help me remember that even though Americans are usually loud, I do love them too. Ha Ha. W is such a good missionary even now; she has worked to be a good example. She simply invites. I hope I can be able to apply that to my own work.

I was reading today about Oliver Cowdery wanting to translate the Book of Mormon. I know I have been in places like that before where I wish I could be given the certain responsibility or I wish things would go the way I have planned the. But God always has a plan. I need to be willing to give myself over to his will and plan for me. I have my own gifts and talents and callings that I can contribute to this work.

I also read “Today While the Sun Shines” after finding in it in my scripture study written on my margin of Doctrine and Covenants 6:3.I also read “Today While the Sun Shines” after finding in it in my scripture study written on my margin of Doctrine and Covenants 6:3.

6:3 Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.

It is a little different than Doctrine and Covenants 4 but I really like it. We have only this one-day. All the work we do, all the love we share on a mission or at home adds to that harvest. But also we are able to build up our own reservoir of spiritual strength. I am committed to work hard during my time here; I am looking for more ways to love.

1.Today, while the sun shines, work with a will;

Today all your duties with patience fulfill.

Today, while the birds sing, harbor no care;

Call life a good gift; call the world fair

2.Today seek the treasure better than gold,

The peace and the joy that are found in the fold.

Today seek the gems that shine in the heart;

While here we labor, choose the better part.

3.Today seek for goodness, virtue, and truth,

As crown of your life and the grace of your youth.

Today, while the heart beats, live to be true,

Constant and faithful all the way through.

I am seeking these treasures better than gold; the “better” treasures that endure beyond today or tomorrow but help us always.

In my new dirndl by the tree at the church.

In my new dirndl by the tree at the church.

I think the part that really touched me as I read it was “Today while the heart beats, live to be true. Constant and faithful all the way through”.

Looking at it with more of the eternal perspective, our life is really so, so short. I have the gift to be here, to have a beating heart, to be alive, to be joyful and I am so grateful. I will stay constant.

I am not doing this all perfectly. I am still learning so many things every single day. Sometimes people just look at you weird when you start to talk to them, sometimes they have invited you to teach their whole family but then disappear, sometimes they stay awhile, sometimes they are ready, sometimes they are not. I am glad however that I am the one who invites and in doing so I invite myself as well.

The One True Church

The One True Church

On another note: Well, I discovered that the wall in our closet is actually wallpaper and it does not react well to you taking off things that you taped there for inspiration, but that is what glue is for. Especially glue that you both bought two off because you thought it was a stick and it turns out is super glue, so you are both gluing in pictures to a tusch (exchange) book with super glue. Heh, heh. Oh well, the pictures are not going anywhere. Sister Smith and I have worked hard together and had lots of fun. We have found more potentials during this time than I have ever before, and we are continually helping people to the light.

And won’t it be fun to do it all again.

Man, I love this and I love you too.

Sister Gardner

Following is part of the talk by Elder Neilson that Sister Gardner loved so much this week. Following the excerpt is the link to read the entire talk. It’s a great one.

At the end of a cultural seminar in Greece, author Robert Fulghum asked the organizer of the event, Dr. Alexander Papaderos, “What is the meaning of life?” Dr. Papaderos responded by pulling a small, round mirror from his wallet. Then he said:

“When I was a small child, during the war [World War II], we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

“… I kept only the largest piece. … I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine–in deep holes and crevices and dark closets.”

Reflecting light into inaccessible places became a game for him. But when he became an adult, Dr. Papaderos realized that his childhood game was a metaphor for his life’s mission.

“I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light–the light of truth, understanding, and knowledge–is there, and that light will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

“… I can reflect light into the dark places of this world … and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

When we encounter people who are struggling, can we reflect the Savior’s light to encourage them? The Apostle Paul taught the Romans, “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

Art outside the Opera House and a beautiful sky to match.

Art outside the Graz Opera House and a beautiful sky to match.

http://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/03/put-on-the-armour-of-light%3Flang%3Deng&sa=U&ved=0CBQQFjAAahUKEwjQm6CKgY7HAhVHlIgKHZSxC8c&sig2=V7jJnzqoci0u08QdfXKdpQ&usg=AFQjCNHMqQ1FDpT02V6321qYYqC7JBaCNw

Visiting opera and music friends to the ward. Elder Wise, Elder McArthur and Sister Smith are in this group as well.

Visiting opera and music friends to the ward. Elder Wise, Elder McArthur and Sister Smith are in this group as well.