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.
Nauvoo Singer singing Sweet Violets
Sunset by the Mississippi – Orange Blossom Special with Elder Larsen
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.
(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.
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.
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
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!
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 with the Sisters
We didn’t get a mothers day phone call, but this beautiful song and picture sent were perfect.