Vol. 4 No. 11, 16 November 2000
Click here for ADDRESSES.
Grandma and Grandpa Gardner
14 November 2000:
Dear Family, Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and we're seeing paper and cardboard turkeys in store windows and on counters, together with little Pilgrims and a few Indians who probably wonder why they're there. These are the present-day trappings of a holiday that may have the core removed. If that core is gone, we've lost the meaning of giving thanks, and that is a very great loss.
The day itself has come to mean a trip to some hardworking relative's house, sometimes an energetic grandma's home proverbially over the river and through the woods, where we all stuff ourselves and try to remember the poor and the needy as we do so. There are slices of turkey, salads, pies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and other goodies for one and all. Sometimes we see relatives we haven't seen for a long time, or sometimes we're all alone feeling somewhat lost and disconnected. And there are all the in between scenes from Chuck-a-Rama to just the home folks who always eat together. Of course there are end-to-end football games on TV and cheering for various teams.
Generally "the family" get together, whatever that family may be this year, and there is an exchange of good wishes and gossip between members of it, especially if some haven't seen each other since last year or if anyone hasn't partaken of the wonders of e-mail and needs to be filled in in addition to becoming filled up.
It's a happy time of good will and friendly feelings, and often there's mention of being grateful or even a dramatization to remind us of the Pilgrims and Indians who may have come together on the first Thanks-giving Day in gratitude for having survived through the Pilgrims' first harvest time. Generally most of us agree that gratitude is a good thing and that we have a lot to be grateful for.
True gratitude should go deeper than this kind of lip service. Life on our planet is fragile, and yet it is maintained successfully amid all kinds of improbable circumstances that balance each other perfectly so that even though we "cannot say that [we] are even as much as the dust of the earth," an ancient king can truly remind us that "if you should render all the thanks . . . which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, . . . and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants" (Mosiah 2:25, 20-21). Since we are such unprofitable servants, how thankful we should be to that God who makes it all possible and keeps us going through lifelong generations.
How many of us serve him gratefully, with our whole souls? How often do we even pause momentarily to acknowledge his almighty hand? Do we render heartfelt thanks for each precious minute of life in the midst of loved ones, where our spiritual as well as our physical needs are abundantly met? I hope we do, not only on the official day of Thanksgiving, but every day because every day finds us in his debt. Every day he fills us full of blessings only he can give. Let us live thankfully, for that is to open our hearts to receive what he has in store.
With love, Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, G&GG
Jill: daughter of Robert and Janice Gardner, is serving in the Chile Santiago East Mission
3 November 2000: Laundry is done, so is the ironing. And I just finished reading missionary letters from the Family Focus.
What a humbling feeling has come over me as I realize what giants I have for examples what footsteps I have to follow, beginning with Grandpa and Grandma. Mandy's letter about "Welcome to the Team!" really started me thinking. And as I continued with Paul's and Brent's letters, I began to feel more and more impressed with their examples. I am impressed with how
much they love their missions, the people, and the work they are doing. I pray that I too can love my mission. I want to cry when the time comes to leave Chile and the people I love! Brent's desire to have someone come get him off the plane reminded me of a phrase that's been floating around in my mind for the past couple of weeks: "Let them bring you home on a stretcher!"
Right now that seems so far away and yet too close at the same time. Sometimes I can't believe I am already on my mission. This has been something that has always been in the future, and now it's for real I am one of the Lord's missionaries. And what makes it worse is that I don't even have the full 18 months to serve any more! Yet I still find myself imagining my "counting pyramid" at home, and it looks not so filled up I've got a lot of time left to be away from home. So I go back to focusing on the missionary I want to be and pray that I make it and honorably add to the ranks of missionaries from our family!
Today our district had quite the surprise. We were taking a walk during our afternoon class, and as we were coming around the main entrance, Elder Dallin H. Oaks walked out the door. He waved and smiled at us, and we were all staring. Then we passed the entrance and looked back just in time to see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland run across the street and climb into the van. It was a pretty exciting change from our eat, class, eat, class, gym, eat, eat, eat, class, eat routine. I now understand what Bruce meant by "all the food tastes the same."
Sunday we had some more excitement. The fire alarm went off. So we evacuated and waited right next to the building in the freezing cold weather. I couldn't help but laugh at the situation. We all evacuate, but we stand only 100 feet from the building. Some were taking pictures and some were a little more worried. A fire truck came with an ambulance and a policeman. When we got back in, it smelled like burnt toast. It was exciting.
Our trip to the temple this week was good. We had talked about doing initiatory work, and we three decided to do that. When we walked into the clothing area, a worker looked at us and said, "There are three of you! Would you like to do initiatories this morning?" I love going to the temple.
I got an e-mail from President Wayne Gardner yesterday. It was a quick hello to tell me about the mission's exciting month of October the highest number of baptisms for almost two years and to say they're getting ready for me! It was really fun to get a note from him (and Aunt Rowena). I think about Chile more and more each day. I can't wait to get down there! I want to start real missionary work. I love the MTC, but I want to start teaching for real.
I love you all very, very much. This church is true!!
8 November 2000: I got my flight plans! I leave the MTC November 27 at 8:30 a.m. My flight leaves Salt Lake City at 12:20 p.m. (United Airlines flight 1518 to Chicago.) I arrive in Chicago (O'Hare) at 4:08 p.m., and then leave at 6:50 p.m. and land in Santiago at 9:50 a.m. on the 28th.
Things are busy here. We've been teaching the second charla for a little while now, and I have had some good experiences with extending the invitation to be baptized.
Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke to us last night in our devotional. It was really good.
Love, Hermana Jill
Edythe: daughter of Bruce and Becca Gardner, is serving in the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission
Oh, My! What Have I Done?
14 October 2000: I love the MTC! I can see wisdom behind everything we do here. I have so many blessings.
We learn in class and then practice testifying to other missionaries all day. We're thinking about the Lord from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed. I'm amazed at how much He is willing to give us if we hunger and thirst for it all day long.
Needless to say, I've got a lot to learn. The other day at the Resource Training Center, where we are videotaped as we practice teaching, I really blew it. My companion and I did a door approach and were invited into an elderly couple's home to share a quick message with them. At one point, we mentioned something about living with Father in Heaven after we die. The man looked at us and said, "You mean we will live again after we die?"
I said, "Yes, we will! Let me share with you a scripture from the Book of Mormon that talks about it." I meant to have him read Alma 11:43*44, about how the body and the spirit shall be reunited again in perfect form, and "this restoration shall come to all."
But I was so nervous that I had him read 1 Nephi 10:20*21: "Remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever."
I just about died when he read that! I looked at my companion with that, "Oh, my! What have I done?" look. The man was a good trooper, though. I chuckled to myself about it the whole rest of the day. I'm just glad he wasn't a real investigator!
21 October 2000: Life's great here. All of the elders in my district will leave the MTC next week. My companion and I will stay an extra week for visitors' center training. So far we've just had regular English-language mission training with the rest of our district. We've been learning the discussions and how to teach effectively. I love what we're learning, but some of it is really challenging for me like helping others share their thoughts and feelings. I usually don't have a problem sharing my own thoughts and feelings, but getting others to do the same is what gets me. I love the challenge, though.
Today we took phone calls in the referral center for a couple of hours. We talked to people from all over the U.S. and Canada who had ordered a free book or video, and we tried to get them to accept a visit from the missionaries. Then we went to the Training Resource Center and taught the second half of the first discussion to an investigator from outside the MTC. This TRC experience was a lot better than last time!
Now it's Sunday night. Bruce leaves for Denmark tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. Tonight he gave me a priesthood blessing. It was one of the sweetest experiences I've ever had. I love Bruce so much, and I sure will miss him. I'm so glad we got to be in the MTC together. Even though I didn't get to see him all that much, I feel like I grew much closer to him while we were here.
I'm grateful for the power of the priesthood. Some of the words in Bruce's blessing answered concerns I hadn't told anyone about.
I'm grateful for families. I'm grateful for the blessings of the gospel that strengthen families.
29 October 2000: The elders in our district left for Canada and Nevada yesterday. It's kind of sad here without them, but Sister Carson and I are enjoying our visitors' center training. We are in a class now with several other sisters, most of whom are going to Temple Square. We have sisters from Italy, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, plus several from the States. A lot of the love I felt in the Holy Land regarding other cultures and the universal nature of the Church came back today as we shared our testimonies. I love working with these sisters.
I've memorized my first tour 11 pages. I've gained insight into what a visitors' center missionary does and am excited to serve on Temple Square.
We have firesides every Sunday night and devotionals every Tuesday night. They're great! I especially love singing in the choir. I love meeting with so many missionaries it's such a powerful feeling. The other night at a devotional, we all stood and sang "Army of Helaman" and "Called to Serve." I had tears streaming down my face as I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging to the Lord's army.
I have gym time most every day. I run a lot on the small inside track. Ten laps equals one mile. It gets a little tricky when I try to sprint at the end of my run, because the straightaways are so short. I totally bulldozed an elder the other day on accident of course!
2 November 2000: Hi! Here I am writing to you from my apartment, just north of Temple Square. Yesterday morning I left the MTC and arrived here for quite an adventurous day. We drove into Salt Lake a little before 8:00 a.m. and dropped our stuff off at the Deseret Apartments. Then we went to a room in the North Visitors' Center and met the mission presidency and their wives and were interviewed by President Winwood. I love them all so much already.
Then we went to lunch in a special room of the Salt Lake Temple. I guess it's the dining room of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles beautiful tapestry chairs and a gourmet meal. What a treat! After lunch, we went back to the North Visitors' Center to meet our trainers.
My trainer, Sister Roth, is from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. She's been serving for about a year now. I really like her. She and her twin sister are the oldest of 10 children five boys and five girls. Pretty much all of her extended family are members of the Church. Her English is pretty good. I'm continuing to learn about other cultures and about communicating with Sister Roth as my companion.
This morning, Sister Roth and I went running up by the Capitol Building. We ran laps around the parking lot and up and down the steps of the Capitol. Today is preparation day, and we went to the temple. I love the temple so much.
My apartment is really nice. Right behind our apartment building is a tiny cemetery where President Heber C. Kimball and others are buried. The area is really pretty. These apartments are definitely a step up from the apartment I lived in at BYU. We have our own washer and dryer, dishwasher, and everything! We live with one other companionship of sisters Sister Nickel from Tennessee and Sister Rosete from the Philippines.
I can't believe how tired I am by the end of the day, but it feels good. I'm learning more and more why I was called to Temple Square. I know the Lord is aware of each of us. He's in the details of our lives.
8 November 2000: I've now been at Temple Square for one week. It seems much longer than that.
Today was preparation day. This morning I had a couple of hours of Family Search training, and then Sister Roth and I did baptisms for the dead in the Salt Lake Temple. I love the Salt Lake Temple and, as Dad would say, "the pioneer spirit" it has.
Then we went back to our apartment, did some cleaning, went grocery shopping, and I made some soup. It snowed the other day, and it's bitter cold.
My roommates are wonderful. Sister Rosette is an amazing cook. She was complaining today about how bland and boring American food is. To prove her point, she pulled out some banana ketchup from the Philippines. No kidding! It's really good red and sweet and vinegary.
Sometimes I feel like I'm living in another country because of the foods my roommates make so strange and exotic to me. Heck, I'm happy with a bean burrito.
Work on the "Square" is pretty slow right now, so it's a good time to be new. Every day my companion and I have different assignments on the Square, in the visitors' centers, and in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. We also give tours of the grounds. We pray before and after every tour.
Every day I feel more comfortable and familiar with things. I'm also aware of the things I need to do better. You have to really be good to build a trusting relationship with guests, find out their needs, tailor the tour to their needs, and then testify in a way powerful to them all in a short tour rather than in their living room or something. So I have a lot to learn. But I'm realizing that as an ambassador of the Lord, I have no place to worry about what the guests may think of me. It humbles me that even though I may not do things quite right, the Lord puts people in my path for me to teach. He uses me weaknesses and all! That sure makes me feel loved, and it makes me want to be better prepared and better skilled. I love you family!
Love, Sister Edythe Gardner
Bruce: son of Bruce and Becca Gardner, is serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission
In the Dark
14 October 2000: This is my last week of classes. On Monday, at 6:30 in the morning, I'll leave for the airport to fly to Copenhagen. I sure hope I'm ready for it. It seems like I've lived at the MTC my entire life. I've sure loved staying here and learning so much, but I'm glad to start putting the teachings into use. It doesn't really feel like I've begun serving a mission yet. I can't wait to start talking to other people about the gospel.
This week has been an interesting one. Being a district leader has its ups and downs and requires a lot of self control at times when dealing with other people.
Well, my laundry's done so I've got to go. I love everybody!
1 November 2000: I am now beginning my second week in Denmark. I'm in a town called Tastrop, which is just southwest of Kobenhaun [Copenhagen] People here speak extremely fast, use a lot of slang, and clip out a lot of their words. I have absolutely no clue what's going on. None whatsoever. Everybody here also speaks English, so as soon as they realize I'm totally lost, they say it in English.
My companion's name is Eldste Heibrock. He's from Denmark. Actually, his home is about 20 minutes away. He speaks Danish faster than an auctioneer speaks English at an auction. It's frustrating not being able to understand what's going on in a conversation and just sitting there because you have no idea what they're talking about. I guess I just have to be patient. I hate being patient.
So what's Denmark like you ask? I wish I could tell you, but I have no clue. It's been dark and rainy the entire time I've been here, so I've never seen Denmark in the sun. I've never seen the sun in Denmark either. They do have lots of streetlights, though.
I guess Denmark is a typical European country. There are tiny micro-machine cars that everybody drives around, but they don't use them that often. Everybody rides bikes. They have bicycle parking lots. We also ride the train and bus around a lot.
Also, I don't know if it's just because I'm in the city or what, but nobody really has a house. It's just huge buildings back to back, with apartments jammed in there. As a matter of fact, the apartment that we're staying in has enough room for approximately 1/8 of a person to live comfortably, and there's four of us in there. There's an extra two elders staying with us while they set up a new district and look for a new apartment. Hopefully, they'll be out in a couple of weeks. Right now I've got all my suits, pants, coats, and shirts on four hangers because the closet is only two feet wide.
As far as missionary work goes, and as far as I can tell, we're doing awesome. We found a lot of contacts and set up teaching appointments. A couple of them are looking pretty positive. I've taught a couple of discussions already. We have one investigator committed to baptism on the 19th, and we hope to have at least one more. Hopefully we can keep things rolling. Unfortunately, a lot of times when we go back to appointments to teach discussions, nobody's home. That happened three times yesterday. That can be discouraging.
I met the ward members on Sunday. It was fast and testimony meeting because we have stake conference next week. It's really a small ward, and everybody seems really nice and friendly. I really enjoyed eating with a couple of members last week, and we have some more dinner appointments this week. The food here is really good, much better than at the MTC. I think I'm going to like it here.
Love, Eldste Bruce E. Gardner
Mandy: daughter of Wayne and Rowena Gardner, is serving in the Chile Santiago South Mission
Are You Happy?
1 November 2000: I want you to know that Heavenly Father has been taking care of me. I am learning to love the mission. I have been blessed with more energy to go and to do things. One huge motivator has been my temple experience. It has changed my mission outlook. That, and knowing that Elder Richard G. Scott is coming. The last thing he told me as I walked out the door from being set apart was, "And Mandy, be happy!" I've been thinking about it a lot and realizing that if Elder Scott were to ask me any question right now it would be, "Are you happy?" I joked with Hermana Anderson last week that I had one week to become completely happy so I could honestly answer yes to that question.
We've worked hard, and we've really tried keeping our spirits up. I've been dancing and singing in the streets. One of my best moments of laughter happened last night. First off, yesterday was one of the hardest days we've had. Every cita [appointment] fell through. People were literally hiding from us we could see them. We were rejected more yesterday than any other day.
Finally the evening had come to an end, and we were walking down a dirt road. As we were talking about the day, a boy on a bike came up from behind and skidded his back tire right by us. He was trying to startle us and boy did it work! Hermana Anderson screamed and jumped six feet. I jumped back and then hit the ground laughing. (I think Hermana Anderson's scream scared him more than anything!) The boy jumped off the bike and went inside a nearby store. When I learned how to walk and laugh at the same time and Hermana Anderson realized that she wasn't dying, we went over to the store. We decided this boy was going to be our next baptism! We waited outside so we could jump him when he came out. But his bike just looked so lonely, sitting there all by itself. With the prompting of my companion, I ran over (skirt and all) and jumped on his bike. The boy didn't have a choice but to come and talk to us now. Of course we were laughing so hard that I don't think he could understand us for the first five minutes. We held the bike up for ransom and got a referral out of him. (We are still working on the free-agency and Spirit part of our charlas!)
We are loving the work and are literally taking every opportunity to open our mouths. Thank you for all your prayers. I love you. I am growing every day. This gospel is the gospel of happiness and laughter and peace and truth!
Remember: The gospel is truer than we realize!!
6 November 2000: It is amazing here in Chile. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!! I really do. I have been here in San Fernando long enough now to know almost everyone on every corner. The kids literally flock to us from all directions. Occasionally we set our bags down and join them in their street soccer game, or we'll climb the trees to get the kites.
Our new favorite is to sing. The kids literally chant, "Cancion! Cancion!" until we pull out our hymnbooks and sing for them. While we sing, the little girls dance around. (Didn't know you could dance to "Count Your Many Blessings," did you?) It is great. Music has a power that is one thing I am learning here. I am giving piano lessons and music classes, and it is like gold to the members.
Music has also united our stake missionaries as we did a musical number together for a ward activity. The newest musical project is that we are starting a stake youth choir for Christmas. Music is bringing energy, love, unity, and the Spirit into the hearts of these wonderful people (and of my companion and me).
We are also working with the Primary every Saturday to put together their Primary presentation for next Sunday. About five children in the Primary that are not even members. In fact, after our Primary presentation we are going to have our first two baptisms two 11-year-old boys!!! These boys are really amazing. Especially Jose. He will be the only member in his family, but he has attended all the meetings faithfully, has an incredible testimony, and wants to be baptized with all his heart. His parents have been against it for the past couple of months. But he kept coming to church, and finally his parents gave him permission. I have never seen a big, tough Chilean boy smile as big as Jos* smiled as he literally ran to us to tell us the news. I guarantee he will be a leader of the Church in Chile.
I LOVE THIS WORK!!! Everything is wonderful here in Chile. I have never been so blessed. I love you all and thank you for your prayers. I really have felt them here this week. My family is amazing.
Love, Hermanita Mandy Ann Gardner
Paul: son of Marvin and Mary Gardner, is serving in the Paraguay Asuncion Mission
My Hands Were on Fire
2 October 2000: Last night I started reading about the cool battles of Captain Moroni and Helaman, and I couldn't stop reading. Those chapters are so intense! This morning I finished the book of Alma.
I love the scriptures. They never ever get boring. As I was reading, I remembered all the times our family used to read scriptures together. I remember struggling through long verses when I was little, always pausing before big, long words so Alicia could help me out. When I would finish the verse, everyone would rejoice and pat me on the back¯and resolve to give me a shorter scripture next time around. I remember listening to Dad giving long explanations of each verse that I never really listened to. I was too busy going over the next verse I would read. Those were good times.
9 October 2000: I am officially an old man. My old greenie has a greenie. And I got another greenie! Elder Sauser is a great guy, and I believe him to be the missing link to the success of the Sajonia Ward. We are working hard and have faith that miracles will happen.
On our very first day together, we shared the 4th charla with the Espinola family and set their baptismal date for October 22. Yesterday they came to the Sunday morning session of general conference!
Conference was so special. I saw every session in English, except for Sunday morning, which I saw in Spanish. I participated in the "Hosanna Shout" with you! I'm so thankful for a living prophet and apostles who speak inspired words of counsel and comfort to us. The Holy Ghost confirms the truth of their words. And now that their words are written upon our hearts, we must be willing to "go and do."
16 October 2000: YEE HAW! I'm loving life. We seriously fireballed it this week. We found a ton of golden people this week while giving 91 charlas cortas [short discussions]. We taught 13 charla ones, and a lot of them went extremely well. We were out there for 70 hours this week¯getting doors slammed in our faces, getting sworn at, getting called followers of the devil. But I seriously love it. I'm not afraid of anybody or anything. I love this work and never want it to end.
On Tuesday, we were walking down the street, and I felt impressed to talk to a young man working all alone in a repair shop. He gladly invited us in, and we sat down. After about 10 minutes, out came the dad, Pedro, with his Bible in hand. He wanted to bash. Two other boys¯visitors¯came and listened as Pedro yelled at us and tried to make us feel stupid. He told us stories of his many visions, of his visit to the spirit world, of the countless hours he spends praying, of continuous days he spends fasting, of the many Bible interpretations the Lord has revealed to him. Then he started telling us lies about Joseph Smith.
I stopped him and made him allow us to tell the truth about the Prophet, according to messengers of Jesus Christ. He acted completely disinterested and then totally disgusted at what I was saying. I bore a bold testimony of the truthfulness of Joseph's experience¯and felt comforted and strengthened. I did not have one ounce of fear of any sort. I know the truth, and I knew they needed to hear the truth.
But then Pedro verbally attacked me. He let me have it, yelling at me from about two feet away and pointing his finger at me. My poor companion didn't say anything the entire time, but he was praying silently the whole time.
As we walked away and were trying to gather ourselves, one of the boys who had been visiting in Pedro's home came running after us. He nervously gave us the address to his house and told us to come over and teach him more about Joseph Smith. Then he ran off. I couldn't believe it. We visited him later; he is excited to hear the charlas and come to church.
23 October 2000: This week we worked as diligently as possible but for the second Sunday in a row none of our investigators came to church. As I sat in sacrament meeting, I felt like a failure.
Then a miracle happened. In walked a lady with her four sons. I had seen her once, about two months ago, but I didn't know much about her. After sacrament meeting, we started to talk. She's a member but has had many serious problems. She asked us if we would give the charlas to her sons.
Last night we visited them. All four boys were waiting in the street to make sure we found the right house. Rodrigo said, "Hey, we want to be baptized. What do we have to do?"
It reminded me of Ether 12:6: "Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness [blessings] until after the trial of your faith." (In other words, "Don't feel like a failure because no one came to church.") So we're now preparing the boys for baptism.
After our first charla, the mother told us her situation and asked me to give her a blessing. I don't recall all the words I said as I gave her that blessing; they just came to me and I said them. After the blessing we started our long walk home. I looked down at my hands, and tears welled up in my eyes as I realized what I had just done. It felt like my hands were on fire. I realized how important it is and will always be to be clean and pure and worthy to act in the name of the Lord and use His true priesthood authority.
Love, Elder Paul J. Gardner
Wayne and Rowena: Wayne is president of the Chile Santiago East Mission. Rowena is the "Mission Mom"
Feeling Really Blessed
1 November 2000: We had 130 baptisms in October, the most convert baptisms the Lord has blessed our mission with in almost two years. We are feeling really blessed. We had baptisms in the 80s in July, August, and September, and then we went to 130 during October. The average number of baptisms from January through June was about 49. We really feel blessed, and we appreciate everybody's prayers in our behalf.
5 November 2000: We are coming down from a wonderful visit of Elder Richard G. Scott to Chile. It was a wonderful time for our missionaries. We were able to have a conference with just our mission with Elder Scott, and the Spirit was incredible. He is such a wonderful man, and he loves the Latin people and the missionaries so much.
At one fireside that we accompanied him to, we arrived about half an hour early. We asked him if he wanted to sit and study outside, and he said he wanted to go in and talk to the people. So we went inside and he got up to the pulpit and started telling jokes and asking the people if they knew any. They were really surprised at first, but then they relaxed and really enjoyed the extra time they had. He told "parables" experiences that he or someone that he knew had had and asked them what the meaning of each parable was. It really got the youth thinking about their lives and what they could learn from it.
On the baptismal front, we got 132 this month!!!!!! It is an all-time high for about the last
1 1/2 years. The missionaries are really getting excited about what they can accomplish. For a while there were too many baptisms; then they cut them back and were getting too few. We are on the way to having a balance, and they are all really great converts.
President Hinckley has told everyone to double their baptisms, and when we left the MTC we were told that our specific calling for this mission was to increase baptisms. We feel so good about what the Lord has helped our missionaries achieve. We are so blessed.
Today we attended a stake conference with Elder Signorelli, an Area Authority Seventy. He is a wonderful speaker and has a tremendous sense of humor. It was all in Spanish, but I am proud to say that I am to a point where I can understand about 75 percent of what is said. (Of course there are some days when all of it goes right over my head! But the overall trend is up!!!)
We are currently looking for another apartment that has a little more room. When we get more than about 5 or 6 people in it, we begin to feel like sardines. And having 200 missionaries, any of which could arrive at any given time, we decided we really needed more room. The Area Presidency told us to go ahead and look for something that had more room, so we are trying to do that. Finding the time to do the looking is the hard part.
We love what we are doing but can honestly say that nothing in our lives has ever been this hard or at the same time more rewarding. I go from being in tears because I'm tired and frustrated to being in tears because I love all the missionaries so much and the Spirit is so strong. There are some incredible young people down here! (There are a few real dough-heads too. Oh well, I guess if it were perfect there would be no challenge in this life.)
Wayne is almost constantly on the phone actually, he is on the phone right now so I get to be the one to pass the news along. We love all of you. Thanks for your support.
Love, Wayne and Rowena
Brent: son of Brent and Kris Gardner, is serving in the Brazil Recife Mission
When We Do What Is Right
28 September 2000: WOW! I was so excited to hear that Benjamin is going to Sao Paulo on his mission! I think that will be neat. Benj will learn Portuguese and will see more or less what my mission was like. I was also quite happy to hear that I will be spending six days with him before he leaves.
It sure seems weird that Benjamin is already old enough to go on a mission. I don't even feel old enough to be serving a mission.
This week has been good. We are working hard and trying not to waste a single second. We are seeing several people preparing for baptism. We are also seeing a change in the members. We figured out that the members hadn't been helping because they weren't asked or expected to help. We are asking for more help, and the members are giving it. We are also seeing many blessings as we trust in the Lord and do our own dirty work. As we do contacts or knock doors, we see many receptive people.
6 October 2000 (21 month anniversary in the mission): I still can't believe that Benjamin is going to Brazil. Benj, you will have a lot of experiences that will be very different from mine. S*o Paulo is the richer part of Brazil, and Recife is the poorest. You will probably work in the big city more, while I worked mostly in little agriculture-based towns. The people are the same and the language is the same, so we will both experience my two favorite parts.
On Saturday, we were walking on the street with nothing scheduled. Everybody was having beer parties. The temptation was to go home a few minutes early, but we decided to stay on the road and do contacts with the people who weren't drunk. As we walked along, a man named Alvaro stopped us and asked if we had a Mormon Bible. We got his address, and he is definitely an elect person. He is eating up the gospel. The Lord blesses us when we do what is right.
13 October 2000: I went to Moreno to visit on Monday. It was great seeing some of my best friends in the whole world and to see that they are still active. Even though that area was hard, it was rewarding. I am really going to be sad leaving these people I love. I think my companion is going to be transferred on Tuesday, giving me 14 comps on my mission. I am hoping for a greenie.
21 October 2000: What a week this was! I hope your week was as good as mine, because if it was you will be as happy as I am right now.
Elder Staker was transferred after one short month together. We had a lot of fun together, but he was ready to leave because he had been here for five months. Five months is a long time to be in your first area.
My new companion, Elder Cardosa, is a Brazilian from S*o Paulo. He has about seven months as a missionary and is a hard worker. I am glad I got a Brazilian for my last companion. We are working really hard and are seeing some progress.
Sunday was a low point of the week. We didn't have any investigators at church, not a single one. We worked hard all last week and we even called a couple of them on Sunday morning and they told me they were coming, but they never showed up. Oh well, that happens at times.
The highlight of the week was definitely yesterday, Friday. We had a mission conference in which Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to us. He is a really funny man. He is also a very powerful man. He is very proud of his mission and even shed a few tears as he expressed the love he had for his mission. He said that everything important that happened in his life was because of his mission. His talk was quite impressive.
Love, Elder Brent C. Gardner