Vol. 5 No. 1, 18 January 2001
Click here for ADDRESSES.
Welcome Home, Brent!
Brent Gardner, son of Brent and Kris, has completed his mission to Recife, Brazil. He arrived home to Mesa, Arizona, just in time for Christmas and a few days with Benjamin, who left for his mission to Brazil on 26 December. Brent is now studying at BYU.
Provo, UT 84602
Kent Gardner, son of Marvin and Mary, will marry Kristin Allsop in the Salt Lake Temple on Friday, 8 June 2001. A reception will be held that evening in Salt Lake City.
781 East 550 North
Bountiful, Utah 84010
Julianne, daughter of Marvin and Mary Gardner, is 12 years old and is in the seventh grade.
The Best Gift
On Sunday, 31 December 2000, the Salt Lake Tribune, page F-4, included an article entitled "Gifts of Love and Service Beat Pokemon Any day, Many Utah Students Say":
"What is the best gift you have given? Most of the 150-plus Utah schoolchildren responding to this question in SpeakOut said gifts from the heart are the ones they remember most." Fifteen responses were printed, including the following:
" 'The best gift I've ever given is when I did humanitarian service. I sorted canned foods for children who are starving. I worked with my friends for at least 10 hours. The whole time working, we all felt like we were saving the lives of hungry children.' Julianne Gardner, 12, Bountiful Junior High."
Grandma and Grandpa Gardner
No Yawning Gaps
14 January 2001: Dear Family, We're already two weeks into the second year of the new millennium, and lest I deserve and receive the dread dunner from Marvin, here we go with some thoughts on New Year's resolutions. He probably says, "I'll give her until halfway through the month. I won't remind her until Monday, the 15th." Although he always speaks gently, I think he hates these telephone calls as much as I do. So I'm writing this on the afternoon of January 14.
There are many platitudes concerning the beginning of a new year. Of course, we procrastinators know that a new year could be said to begin every day, and we've all heard some scary mention of what the road to outer darkness is paved with. It's not the feathers from angels' wings. The idea is that it's not good to put things off, and it is said to be commend-able to go for it, whatever it is, promptly, without hesitation or procra... I would rather not think of that other word.
When I was a child, one of the things I dreaded doing was to make an obligatory telephone call. Into even the best regulated lives there come times when a telephone call is absolutely necessary. We do not speak here of the chatty kind of call made behind closed doors to one's friend whom one saw all day today at school, but rather a call to make an appointment, to apologize for some oversight, to ask for a ride, to thank some adult for a kindness, to invite a boy anywhere you know the kind of duty call I mean. Or maybe you don't. That was a long time ago, and I understand that times have changed. I disliked doing it, and my mother never forgot. "Have you called Mrs. Gordon?" she would ask, or, "What did Jay say?" as I was quietly leaving the house. She could always tell. It would have been better if I hadn't been able to bribe or threaten my younger sister into doing it for me because then I would have had to call, and I would have gotten used to it. As it was, my sister would usually oblige, and I would usually escape one more time, making the obligation even more painful when next a telephone call would be required.
To this day, would you believe 60 years later?, I dislike making telephone calls. No need to put yourself through something that simple for such a long time. And it started with procrastination, chicken-hearted procrastination. I should have resolved, at the new year or any time, to do my own telephoning. Actually while I was working and had to call someone, I did it, but at home I tried to find some way out of telephoning every time.
It's a good idea not to make too many resolutions. You could get bogged down. I concentrate on one at a time. I just read somewhere that making and keeping a resolution is repentance. Of course it is. Repentance is changing for the better, whether you do it at the beginning of the year or in the middle of any week. Change is often (always?) difficult, but it's necessary. From a personal standpoint, it's what life is all about. With the help of our Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, we are building ourselves to be like Them. Our part is the best we can do, and They make up the difference. It is enough. As the poet has said:
With love from Grandma and Grandpa Gardner
All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing worthless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our todays and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.
Truly shape and fashion these,
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.
Build today, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall tomorrow find its place.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Benjamin, son of Brent and Kris Gardner, is in the MTC in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
I Will See You in a Very, Very Long Time
27 December 2000: Well, my first day at the CTM [Missionary Training Center] is almost over. I am just waiting in line for an interview with my branch president, President King.
Today has been the longest day I can remember. It seems like one continuous day since I left yesterday. I am very tired since I am operating on about four hours of sleep in the past two days.
The flight was very long, and I was not next to anyone I knew after Chicago. When Elder Crump and I arrived there, we discovered about 25 other missionaries heading down to Sao Paulo. But I wasn't near any of them for the 10-hour flight.
Sao Paulo is a huge city. Buildings everywhere. I don't feel trapped yet, though. But it will take a bit of adjusting after rural Lehi. The humidity down here is killing me, but I will get used to that quickly.
All the missionaries that have been here for a few weeks keep trying to talk to us in Portuguese even though they know we don't speak any. I can't wait to get started on Portuguese.
I love you all and miss you a lot. But I'm doing the Lord's work. I guess I will see you in a very, very long time.
2 January 2001: This first week has been rough. Dad, thanks so much for writing that letter two weeks before I left. It was very comforting to have a letter from home as soon as I got here. The first few nights I had trouble sleeping due to jet lag and, surprisingly, homesickness. I am pretty much over that now, though.
On Sunday, President Palmer declared a holiday for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. We stayed up late until midnight to hear a Brazilian fireworks display. I say hear because there were few bright-colored fireworks. Most of them just made a huge boom. Those shook our building well into the night and were still going off when I got up the next morning.
On Monday they showed various movies all day. My favorite, of course, was Star Wars: Episode One. But we also watched Home Alone 2 and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was kind of surprised they played that last one. In between movies they had huge tables filled with all sorts of fruits. They were good but different.
At the CTM, it is not all partying and games, though. Classes are very long each day, with only short breaks in between. The teachers speak almost no English, and we speak no Portuguese. So that makes it especially difficult. I keep throwing in Spanish words whenever I try to speak and don't know the Portuguese word (which is very, very often). My teachers keep correcting me on that, but sometimes the words are very similar.
Another problem is the pronunciation. Spanish pronunciation is very different than Portuguese. Spanish has helped me tons with conjugating verbs, though, since those are pretty similar.
This morning we went to the Sao Paulo Temple. It is much smaller than the Mesa Temple, but it is still the same. It is a beautiful temple, outside and in.
Don't forget to send me Bruce's address. I also need more money. Just kidding.
I love you and miss you. But I'm doing the right thing.
Your missionary, Elder Benjamin Franklin Gardner
Jill: daughter of Robert and Janice Gardner, is serving in the Chile Santiago East Mission
In the Middle of Everything
4 December 2000: Wow!, here I am, right in the middle of everything! My trainer is Hermana Heiner. She is from Salt Lake (Kearns) and is so wonderful. She is so sweet and encouraging. She is a hard worker¯every chance she has she is introducing the Church to whomever we are talking with. She is great!
President Gardner transferred us both into this sector, La Reina. So we are starting sort of from ground one because neither of us knows the members or anything. The elders that were here talked with us about the investigators, etc. But we're still out meeting the bishop, the mission leader, and many other members.
Yesterday we had stake conference, so I got to see President and Sister Gardner. The members here are so kind, so excited to meet us,big smiles, warm hugs, and handshakes. It does a lot to help out.
Right now we have only one investigator, Ely. She has been investigating for about a year now, I think. She is really sweet. Her hang-up is that she smokes, and when she joins the Church she wants to be completely committed. She just needs to make the decision to join the Church. She is so strong¯just do it!!
There are many others we have ideas about. We have been visiting the members, sharing a scripture, and asking for references. We got about 11 references last week.
My sector is quico, or pretty well off. It's a very beautiful area. There are trees lining both sides of the streets. All of the houses here have fences around them and locked gates, with bars on all the windows, etc. But I guess that's how it is with all of Santiago.
When we come to a house, we have to ring a bell and hopefully someone answers on an intercom system like ours. If the bells don't work, we yell "Halu!" to get their attention.
My pension is pretty nice. Hermana Heiner says it's the best one she's seen with the most space, except that our mamita's washing machine doesn't work. So I had to wash by hand today, which took a lot of time.
I live with six dogs! Yes, that's right, six. Our mamita lives alone, and so she likes some company.
I have listened to some of the Thanksgiving tape that Uncle Marvin coordinated. Thank you so very, very much. It has been such a help.
I love you all so very much. I am so thankful for my family, for the love and support that I have. Thank you for your encouragement. I wish I could say more about how much you mean to me. Sometimes words don't seem to do very well! But I love you!!
11 December 2000: I have a bit more time today than I did last week, so I'll see if I can tell you more of what it's like down here. . . But where to start.
We got another dog this week, bringing the total to seven!! Wahoo! I don't know if this dog will be permanent or not¯we're waiting to find out.
The pension is great though. Our mamita, Monik, is very kind. She is always helping us out by bringing us clothes hampers or other things of the sort. I think she likes sisters better than elders¯we're more organized! (Sorry, elders!)
But we don't see a whole lot of the pension as expected. We get up at 7:00 a.m., study, shower, etc. and leave at 10:00. We work until 1:00, when we have lunch with the members, a different family every day.
We eat so much. The Chileans eat a huge lunch, it's their main meal. And then they don't eat until really late. They call it once (which means 11:00).
I really like the eating schedule because we burn what we eat while we're out working the rest of the day. And then we usually don't eat once because we get in between 10:00 and 10:30 and then lights are out at 11:00.
After lunch, we study in our apartment until 3:30, when we leave again for the rest of the day. It's a blessing not to be out in the middle of the day in all the heat. Our sector does have a lot of big trees, though, which helps a ton!
The ward is wonderful, especially our bishop. He is so excited about helping us. He's thought of a program he wants to start with the ward members to keep a running list of references for the missionaries.
The ward mission leader is helpful too. We know that working with the members is a lot more effective than our own efforts. We're praying for results.
I got to talk to the other two Hermana Gardners this morning. I called Aunt Rowena to talk to her about a bag. She was with Mandy for a dentist appointment. So Mandy and I talked for awhile about what the mission really is like, how things are going, etc. It was fun to talk to her.
Now I have to end, because el Presidente Gardner just called, and he and Aunt Rowena are going to come pick us up to take us out for ice cream! I think I can handle that. It has been so wonderful to have them here. He calls every couple mornings to make sure things are going all right. Tomorrow I have my interview with him. And we get to go to the temple on the 19th!
The language is coming along really well. I am understanding more and more.
I love you all so very much! Have a very Merry Christmas.
18 December 2000: My first letter from la micro (the bus). The mass transit system here is crazy.There are hundreds of numbers for the micros, and the numbers are supposed to mean something. I'm not sure what!!
This past week, we had interviews with President in another zone. So we had to take the micro. We kept asking the drivers "Do you pass by Pasadero Diez?" We got so lost! One driver, after we had been on the micro for longer than we knew we should have, replied, "Pasadero Diez? I thought you said Pasadero Tres!" Pucha!! (which is "shoot!")
This past week has been great, but hard too. We taught only four charlas, and a lot of our citas (appointments) fell through, and none of our investigators showed up at church. But we have been involved in quite a few other things.
Primary did their sacrament meeting program yesterday. The daughter of a recent convert wanted to participate, so we took her to the practices, and I accompanied the Primary. It was a lot of fun.
The bishop wants us to help with a ward choir because it will help establish good relationships with the members and help us get more references.
And Aunt Rowena is going to start working more with us to help us in teaching the members how to lead music and also teach piano lessons.
So we're trying to work on lots of things with the members. The program we're doing already is helping us, we've gotten 50 to 60 references, and we are working on them.
Yesterday the stake choir sang Christmas hymns in the plaza of one of the apartment complexes in our ward. We listened and passed out The Living Christ pamphlets to those who were listening. The singing really brought the Spirit, especially when they sang "Silent Night."
I talked to one girl, Barbara, for awhile. She said she is in a period of trying to find the truth. She wants to come to church first, and then we'll see about setting an appointment with her.
Last week we also passed by a reference we got from our "sector slam." (All the missionaries in our district came to our area two weeks ago and knocked doors all morning to help us.) The lady we were going to meet wasn't home, but her granddaughter talked to us for a bit. Just as we were leaving, two men came up and one told us to enter. We weren't quite sure at first. It ended up being the father and his brother, Rolando. We went in and taught the first charla to Rolando. We invited him to come to church. At the end of the charla the lady came and joined us. When we finished talking about Joseph Smith she asked, "Why don't more people know about this?" Well!! Then as we were leaving she said "There is something different about you two. There is something about you!"
Unfortunately, Rolando was really sick when we called Saturday to remind him about church. But we have an appointment with them tomorrow. So we keep working and praying and working and praying.
I talked to Teneal this morning! That was pretty fun!! She just got here about three hours ago.
Things are going well. I love my companion. She is a great example to me of how to work hard and how to utilize most effective methods first. We laugh a lot at the funny things that happen.
I love you all so incredibly very much!!
All my love, Jill
Edythe: daughter of Bruce and Becca Gardner, is serving in the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission
It Went So Quick!
15 December 2000: We had transfers this week, so I now have a new companion, district, and zone. I also moved to a different apartment. My new companion is Sister Hachon from Paris, France. She is an awesome black sister who is also the new district leader of my district, so I guess that makes me the district leader assistant. I'm really excited for this transfer and the opportunity it brings to serve the sisters in our district.
I can't believe that my training with Sister Roth is over! It went so quick! I really learned a lot from her. I know I'll learn a lot from Sister Hachon, too. I learn so much from working with such wonderful sisters. They are seriously top quality, and they all bring such a unique culture with them. I am honored to serve with such valiant people. I've never seen such hard, hard workers.
The work is going well. I talked with some "golden" people this week who were very receptive and wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon. Others were not so receptive, but I guess that's how it goes.
I love this mission! I love the Lord. And I love you!
1 January 2001: Happy New Year! I thought last night would be the first time I didn't stay up past midnight to welcome in the New Year. As it turned out, yesterday (New Year's Eve) was Sunday. To encourage Church members to participate in Sabbath-appropriate activities, Temple Square remained opened until close to midnight. Local artists performed in the Tabernacle, and lots of other activities were available, including the Family Search Center; so people got to celebrate the New Year while looking up their ancestors.
What a memorable holiday season this has been. For Christmas, we went to the Lion House for a homemade dinner served by the mission presidency and their wives. Afterwards we had a Christmas program in one of the theatres of the North Visitors' Center. The sisters from each country performed a short skit. It was so fun.
Starting tomorrow both the North and South Visitors' Centers will be closed for remodeling. Mission headquarters will be relocated temporarily to the tunnels underneath the Tabernacle. We now have access to all the tunnels underneath Temple Square that connect to all the surrounding buildings. It's pretty cool to be able to use the tunnels for awhile, although it will be more difficult to give tours without the Visitors' Centers.
We also make a lot of telephone calls in the translation rooms underneath the Tabernacle. During General Conference these rooms are used to interpret the talks into many languages.
It was so good to be able to talk to all of you at Christmas and to also talk to Bruce and Brent. Heavenly Father gave me a Christmas present when you got disconnected with Bruce because he called me then, right at the perfect, and probably the only, time we could have talked.
I love you. I love this work! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
5 January 2001: Here on Temple Square things have slowed down a bit and it's pretty cold again. But the work of the Lord still continues, and we're actually having some great experiences.
Yesterday, for example, my companion and I took two tours back-to-back with people that were absolutely wonderful. We took the first tour with a couple from California, the Bentleys. They didn't know a lot about the Church and the man, especially, wasn't bashful about asking a lot of questions. They weren't asking because they wanted to debate like some people do; they really wanted to know. So we answered their questions; we got to really testify. In fact, we got to give the account of Joseph Smith's First Vision to them, which we don't always get to do on tours. It's
such a treat if the appropriate opportunity comes up to tell of the First Vision because the telling of the experience in Joseph Smith's own words brings the Spirit into the tour more powerfully than anything else. The Bentleys really opened themselves up to listen to what we were saying on the tour. Many of the guests put up walls like you wouldn't believe. It was cute to watch the Bentleys listen to us and then try to explain to the other if one of them didn't quite understand something. I don't know how to explain it; there was just a really good feeling between us.
At the end of the tour, I shared Ether 12:4 with them. After the man had finished reading, his wife pointed to verse 6 and said, "Read that one. It's good, too." After he read it he said, "Isn't that the truth!" We invited them to have the missionaries come by and share more about the Book of Mormon with them, and they accepted!
Sister Hachon and I were scheduled for the tour immediately after that, so we walked straight to the flagpole. On the next tour, we had four guests, a couple from back east, a Jewish man, and a man from Texas, who was Catholic, named Arthur. Arthur was especially receptive. In fact, we got to share the story of Joseph Smith again on this tour. Arthur's interest was sparked right at the beginning when he learned that even though we have temples and lots of "extra" things, we still believe that only through Jesus Christ can we make it back to the Father. After we built on that common ground, he became so receptive to everything we said, not just because he was genuinely curious like the Bentleys, but because he agreed with what we were saying. In fact, after we explained how members of the Church prepare themselves to enter the temple, he said, "Well, I live a chaste and virtuous life, so I could be a Mormon, too!" "Yeah, you could be a Mormon!" we said.
In the Tabernacle, we shared the Family Proclamation. It actually caused a little bit of a debate between the couple from back east and Arthur on why or why not the great morals talked about in the proclamation should or should not be embraced by the government. My companion was quick to read a scripture from the Book of Mormon and finish up the tour. The couple from back east left pretty quickly after that, but we got to talk to the Jewish man, who was interested in having a Book of Mormon. He said he would let the missionaries drop the book off!
Arthur accepted also. Actually, we didn't have to invite him at all. He just indicated on his comment card that the missionaries could come by any day, any time. On the card, where the guest indicates what they want the missionaries to share, Arthur wrote, "All revelations, or in other words, everything you've got." In his comments he wrote, "Sister Hachon and Sister Gardner are truly blessed by the Lord. I will keep them in my prayers." It brought so much joy to take those two tours yesterday.
We're learning to be a lot more creative now with our tours because we have no place to take tours with both visitors' centers closed for remodeling. We really have to rely on the Spirit. Not all of the tours go as well as the ones we had yesterday. I haven't had too many experiences with people who are anti-Mormon yet, but I have had a few. Poor people. So many of them are just mis-informed and they buy into what others have told them. Unfortunately, not all are willing to listen as I tell them the truth about what we believe. They would rather argue their point. But I'm grateful for every kind of experience. I'm learning how to recognize situations and to answer in a way that shows love and lets the truth speak for itself.
We had a mission conference this morning with President Winwood. We won't have him much longer. He leaves in February. I sure do love that man. He talked about how limited and precious the time is that the Lord gives us. We should serve each day with a clear understanding that our mission will end . . . sooner than we think! It was a reminder of the urgency of this work and the necessity of giving 100 percent. I'm amazed at how well he knows the missionaries. One of my favorite things that he said was, "Never doubt the ability you have to be better than you are."
I love you, family! Love, Sister Edythe Gardner
Bruce: son of Bruce and Becca Gardner, is serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission
They Do Have Bing Crosby
13 December 2000: We got a lot of new referrals this week. We were also gone for a lot of the week. My companion is the district leader, and we've gone on a couple training splits outside our area. We've got only four companionships including us, but that's the biggest district in the mission.
Right now Ældste Haibrock and I are focusing on working with some of the inactives. There are about 70-80 regular members that come to church every week. There are 250 inactives that we have records for. We're trying to figure out who these people are, when was the last time they came to church, why they stopped, etc. We're trying to update the records. Some of them just need a little help and support; some of them want their names taken off Church records.
One of the contacts we got this week came from the mission office. He called up asking where he could buy more Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD's. He's been to Salt Lake and saw them in concert because he loves them so much. He's not so interested in the Church or having the discus sions, but we told him where the LDS bookstore was. We've also got a few more teaching appointments this weekend.
I got the Family Focus this week. It's interesting to see how drastically different the missionary work is going in South America. I wish some of those investigators would move over here! I've had one investigator at church one out of eight times. Our appointments get burned out 60*70 percent of the time. We're lucky if we teach three discussions to nonmembers a week. It can be frustrating, but I just try to keep my wits about me.
20 December 2000: This week has been another good one. On Thursday we had a zone conference. Those are always good. Well, at least both of the ones I've been to were good. I also got to pick up my mail from the mission office. I got a tape from Uncle Marvin with a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles and Grandpa and Grandma Gardner on it. That was a lot of fun to listen to.
I met a guy who served with Teneal in London. His name is Elder Colvig or something. I also met another guy who will be reporting to the MTC in January and will be in Uncle Wayne's mission. It's just so awesome to know that the Gardner family is all over the world! (Even if the headquarters are in Santiago.)
The Christmas season is nice yet frustrating. Sure, it's Christmas and all that, but the work seems to be slowing down with everybody being too busy to make appointments. It's kind of ironic. People are busy "celebrating Christ's birth," but they don't have a few minutes to talk about Him.
This past week we've had some awesome first discussions. One was a lady who was a neighbor to some ward members. They came together to church last Sunday just to see what it was like. She used to be Muslim a long time ago. She doesn't know anything about the Bible, but she's searching for the truth. We can tell by her questions. She really listens to what we say and tries to understand it. When people do that, it's impossible not to feel the Spirit. Another lady heard about the Mormons from a friend on the Internet. She called us and wants to learn more. The Spirit was really strong in that discussion, also.
Well, the next group of missionaries is coming in next week. That means I'm all done being trained. Theoretically I'm a full-fledged missionary now. I'll also be transferring. I'll be moving from Brondby to Arhus. It's in the middle of Jutland, all the way to the east. It has the second largest ward in all of Denmark, but the members aren't cooperative at all. The previous missionaries weren't too great, so the members have absolutely no trust for them. It takes a lot of work to gain trust and repair damage. I'll really miss this area and ward. The ward is so awesome and friendly and helpful. It was an awesome area to start in. Hopefully, my new companion and I will be able to turn things around. Happy holidays from across the ocean.
P.S. Christmas in the U.S. is way better. Nobody here puts up Christmas lights, even though it's pitch black outside most of the time. They do have "Christmas trees," but they're really sorry looking. They're only three feet tall. However, they do have Bing Crosby.
3 January 2001: Davs til jer! Well, here I am; sitting in my new apartment, in my new area, with my new companion. There's a lot to say, but I don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start with the location. Arhus is located on the center of the east coast of Jutland.
To make things a little easier, I think I'm going to just give you some "random thoughts" in this letter . . .
* We live in a pretty big apartment complex.
* Danish is a little easier to understand over here.
* Our apartment is pathetic. It's small, dirty, and smells. We cleaned it.
* My new companion's name is Elder Brown. He's awesome. He's from Centerville, Utah. HE'S AMERICAN! This will be a good companionship.
* We've got an awesome district.
* There are SIX elders in this ward! I've never heard of so many missionaries in one area. Two of them just came from the MTC. They can't speak Danish. I think that's funny. They all live in Herlev, which is about a 10-minute car drive away.
* They have a car. Elder Brown and I will be bussing it and walking again. Still don't have a bike.
* New Year's was awesome! I wish I was still in Copenhagen for it, but it was pretty terrifying over here, too. Arhus is a huge city, but we spent the evening in Odder with a lady. She lives out in the boonies. At 12:00 a.m. everybody ran outside and started lighting off rockets. Fireworks are like candy in Denmark. I couldn't believe how many there were! They're huge, too! I felt like I was in the middle of a war!
* It was hard to sleep because the complex where we live is very ghetto, so there were bombs going off all night.
* The ward seems to be a good one.
* Elder Brown and I both transferred here. I'm new, and this is his first time being senior companion. So we have no clue what's going on. We don't know any people or where they live. It's going to be a rough start.
* It was sad to leave Roberts and Cecilia because they are SO close to baptism!
* Elder Brown is cutting my hair today.
* I just finished reading the Doctrine and Covenants.
* President and Sister Rasmussen are going home in June or July. Invite them over for dinner or something. (They're from Gilbert, Arizona.)
* My Danish is coming along pretty good. I hope I can keep working on it with Elder Brown. Learning and speaking Danish doesn't seem to be a big priority for most of the mission. I hope I don't get corrupted.
* Thanks to everybody for the Christmas package. It was nice to talk with everybody on the phone for a while.
* GODT NYTAR! (Happy New Year!)
10 January 2001: This week our district did something really fun. It was Elder Rodriguez's birthday so we went and had all-you-can-eat pizza! It was wonderful. I ate for a full two hours! I was eating every minute! Oh, I stepped on a scale last week. I weigh 93 kg! That's about 205 lbs! It's wonderful! I don't look fat, though.
Right now I'm looking outside our liglehed (window) at the sky. It's completely blue with not one cloud in the sky! I think this is the first time I've seen blue sky since I've been in Denmark.
As far as the area goes, it's still a little slow. We're still trying to find our way around town and figure out who is who. We do have a couple of teaching appointments though. One of them is tonight, so I hope it goes well.
It's a little frustrating trying to be as obedient as I want to be and should be, when other missionaries just don't have the same vision as I do. They are excellent missionaries, but they lack faith and desire. They just work because that's what they're supposed to do. They accept things the way they are and are satisfied with that. I want to do more, but I just feel like it's me against the rest of them. I've decided just to do what I want now. There's more people that the Lord has prepared to teach than we're teaching now.
Anyway, Denmark sure is a beautiful place to be. I grow to love it more and more each day. I'm beginning to understand more and more Danish each day. It's so fun working with the new "greenies" and feeling like I know what I'm talking about. I hope I wasn't as dumb as they are when I came. I have a feeling I was, though.
Well, I'm doing great, feeling great, and am doing all I know how to start "fireballing" it! I love you all and appreciate the great support you are to me!
Love always, Ældste Bruce E. Gardner
Mandy: daughter of Wayne and Rowena Gardner, is serving in the Chile Santiago South Mission
I Wanted to See the Explosion
14 January 2001: This week has been so full that I feel like a month of my mission just passed. Yesterday I had my first changes! Now I'm in San Francisco de Mostazal. My companion is Hermana María de los Milagros Pérez (yes, that is actually a name). She is from Argentina, a LATINA! I am so blessed.
The change came as quite a jolt to my system. NOBODY thought I was moving! I was positive I would stay in San Fernando until the end of February. I was so shocked. Everyone was. People were crying. The bishop told me (jokingly) that I should warn President Hoopes not to come visit San Fernando anytime, because he would have to have "a little talk" with him. I love Obispo Osorio. He is an incredible bishop. We became really good friends.
So it was hard to leave. To me, the sector was breaking open, and I wanted to see the explosion. This past week we had two reactivations, and on 13 January a family of three is being baptized. They are so focused and excited that I know I'll see them in the temple at the end of my mission. We found them through the program that we were doing with our stake missionaries (visiting members with láminas (illustrations) and the presentation.) They are vecinos of la familia Venegas.
Well, así es la misión. Changes happen and we "grow" and move on. Now I am here, and my ward needs desperate help. We don't have leaders, and it's a ward of contention. But I know that if we bring the happiness and the spirit of this gospel back into this ward, things will grow and change. The people don't realize how incredible and special this gospel is. I'm still learning! But I am excited to grow with this sector.
So that is the update. I am so happy to be a missionary*a representative of Jesus Christ.
Love, Hermana Mandy Ann Gardner
Paul: son of Marvin and Mary Gardner, is serving in the Paraguay Asuncion Mission
Something Huge Is Bound to Happen
11 December 2000: Last Sunday, Hermana Bordenave's two sons, whom we recently baptized, participated in the Primary program. The theme was baptism. It was great to hear them talk about it.
This past week we seriously fireballed it and completely wore ourselves out. We have a gigantic teaching list, and it's almost impossible to fit in everyone's needs. And just let me give you a few examples of the work of our dear enemy, Beelzebub [Satan]. Ramón should be baptized this Wednesday, but he lacks two discussions. We would have given him the charla 5 yesterday, but apparently his nephew lost all control and began punching people at a Relief Society activity last Saturday. Here it is Monday afternoon, and we haven't seen them since.
As for the Franco family, everything was running smoothly until Saturday, when 10 minutes before we arrived, the dad, Julian, received a phone call from a really old friend. He hadn't heard from this friend in 18 years, but the friend calls and invites the whole family to his wedding he decided to have out of the blue. The wedding would be Sunday at 10:00, which means Mirtha and Dalma wouldn't get their second attendance at church*thus postponing their baptisms again. But much worse, Julian couldn't resist the temptation, and after three weeks of giving up alcohol, he drank at the wedding. Unbelievable. He promised us he wouldn't do it. So the fight goes on.
The Espinola family will not make the effort to come to church Sunday mornings, so they're not progressing, despite all the charlas and promises.
And then a friend of an inactive sister who has received almost all of the charlas was going to come to church, but her husband who left her six years ago showed up at her house Saturday night.
Something huge is bound to happen, because everything fell apart last Saturday and Sunday. We did have one investigator at church, though. So despite the rough weekend, everything is going well.
I love being a representative of our Redeemer. I'm thankful for the huge change that has happened in my life that comes from Christlike service. I've never been happier in my entire life because I'm anxiously engaged in a good cause. I'm happy because I'm fighting for the good guys. God's hand is in this work. His plan of salvation is simple, but we must be willing to follow it. His Son taught us how to follow it by His teachings and example.
The devil would have us follow his road*or even our own road*to misery. But as Christ taught us, we are here to do the will of the Father, not our own agenda. Satan is smart. He is clever. He is working so very hard against our investigators. My testimony was strengthened last weekend as we went from house to house that had been ruined by Satan. It seemed like he beat us by about 30 minutes at every house. Elder Sauser and I had to chuckle and say, "Let's go see what Beelzebub did to so and so . . ." Well, we're not going to let Satan win. We are not discouraged, and we're ready to fireball it next week. Something wonderful is going to happen. I can smell it.
18 December 2000: We had a Christmas zone conference today, and it was great. For lunch we went to a churrasquería, a restaurant where you eat lots of good meat. I ate too much and broke my diet. Then your packages arrived. I've decided to suspend my diet until the new year!
Ramón was baptized last Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! He was golden from the beginning*and so is his sister, who will be baptized by the end of the month. Also we're teaching a new young family, Hugo, Carolina, and their two babies. Hugo and his three-year-old boy came to Ramón's baptism and absolutely loved it.
The Espinola family is not progressing anymore, and neither are the Franco family and lots of others. But the work of God continues. I love this area.
My health is superb, despite the fact that I eat too much meat. I swear I can eat anything and it won't make me sick. I know the Lord is blessing me through your prayers. Thank you all so much, family, for your grand support and love. I love you all!
25 December 2000: MERRY CHRISTMAS! I just got off the phone with you, and you all sound wonderful. I love you all so much, family. You give me so much strength and support. But even though I miss you all, I think I could be a full-time missionary forever. There is a lot of work to be done here in Paraguay, and the fact that I'll have to pack it all up and fly home some day makes me sad.
I'm so thankful for the true gospel in my life and for my testimony of the Savior. For companionship study, Elder Sauser and I are reading the book Jesus the Christ. What a masterpiece! We lack only two chapters more. I feel so close to my Faithful Friend right now, and that is what brings peace and happiness to my life. It's what puts a smile on your face every day. It's what pushes you up a steep hill in 110° F. humidity. It's what urges you to keep the commandments of God because of the trust and love you have for Him. It's what makes you hunger and thirst for a baptism, a charla, a golden contact. It's what pops you out of bed early in the morning, no matter what time you went to bed. The gospel truly does make us happy.
"And this is the gospel, the glad tidings. . . . That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteous-ness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him" (D&C 76:40-42).
When I read these verses, I get a little better perspective of why Christ was born into this evil world. I'm thankful for the Christmas holiday, to be able to remember Christ and all He did for all mankind. I love my Savior, and I know that He lives. I know this is His work and that He is with me. He even told me so in Acts 18:9-10: "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee." (You did name me after Paul the Apostle, right Mom and Dad?)
I had a wonderful Christmas. I thought we wouldn't have a white Christmas. But on Christmas Eve, Manuel, Dalma, my companion, and I all dressed in white and they got baptized! I love you all very much. Happy New Year.
Love, Elder Paul J. Gardner
Wayne and Rowena: Wayne is president of the Chile Santiago East Mission. Rowena is the "Mission Mom"
14 January 2001: I guess the word has gotten out that we had 215 baptisms last month!!! Quite a change from the 40's when we first got here. The Lord has really opened up this area, and we are so excited to be able to "touch the work of the Lord." Just to watch how the missionaries are changing and growing is exciting all by itself.
We were able to have Teneal and Mandy (thanks to a wonderful mission president) here for Christmas. Mandy was without a companion for a couple of days because her trainer had finished her mission and had gone home. So she was working with a local sister. When the local sister went home for the Christmas holidays, Teneal went down to San Fernando and was Mandy's companion for a day or so. Then they both came back up to Santiago for a couple of days.
It was such an incredible opportunity for the two girls to get together under those circumstances, both missionaries and loving the work!! Mandy went into the MTC before Teneal got home from her mission in London, so it was a special time for both.
We served Christmas dinner to ALL the missionaries, turkey and all, and gave out polo shirts to everyone and other presents sent by many generous parents (thanks, Robert and Janice) for missionaries who weren't going to receive anything and who hadn't heard from their parents, some since they arrived in the mission. Most of these were Latinos, and they were so touched to receive ANYTHING at all. The "old" suits were especially appreciated!!!!! We don't realize how blessed we are!!!!
We continue to be blessed with wonderful weather. Oh, before I forget, I FELT MY FIRST EARTHQUAKE!!!!!!! We were just lying in bed about to get up for the day when suddenly the bed started moving, you know, like when your beloved one pushes it with his/her knee as a subtle reminder that it is time to get up. Because I had my eyes closed at that point, I chose to
ignore it until Wayne said, "Wake up! It's an earthquake!!" It was perfect. Not too strong but just enough to say that we lived through it. I quite enjoyed it actually. I am looking forward to the next one!!
We love you all. Wayne & Rowena