Vol. 5 No. 4, 11 April 2001
Click here for ADDRESSES.
Fireball Paul Is Home!
Nancy Trunnell has been promoted to Associate Director of Clinical Operations at Alza, a pharmaceutical house in the Bay Area of California. (We think of it fondly as one of the best in the West.) She has been a valued member of Alza and of the Clinical Operations team for nearly 30 years and is well prepared for her new position. Nancy will continue to lead the ETRANS team.
1600 Villa Street #262
Mountain View, CA 94041
Grandma and Grandpa Gardner
The Wildest Day in Many a Year
(Editor's note: My apologies for not getting the following letter into the March issue.)
13 March 2001: Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the wildest day in many a year!
I've been 79 for about a day and 3/4, since I was born long ago at about 9:00 p.m. But I need to go back to the peaceable beginnings on Friday, March 9, which was Marti's birthday, but she was only in her mid-forties. All her days are pretty demanding, and she's geared that way. Grandpa and I went to the temple on Friday. Visits to the temple these days are relatively calm for me since I worry only a little bit about my condition and since we usually stay for lunch, which is soothing for me. So we got through Friday fairly quietly, and we did talk with Marti to wish her a happy cumpleanos.
Saturday followed a good night's sleep, and I knew Bari was coming down in the afternoon, bringing someone with her. Suddenly I had three things to worry about: How many were coming with Bari, what time would they get here, and would I could get this letter written for the Family Focus during the weekend?
I dealt with those unknowns by making chili (it's good, it's easy, two batches will fill the crockpot, and probably I could find time to write the letter). There was a partially made puzzle on the dining-room table, and I thought Bari and I could easily get it made before anything else happened. Mark called to see if it would be okay if he and Michelle and the kids came down Monday night to bring cake and ice cream to celebrate my birthday. I said sure. Brecon made it known to me that he had "met" a girl from Provo on the Internet, and he was eager to meet her in person (5' 8", junior at Timpview High, 16, Mormon).
Bari arrived in mid-afternoon with Caitlyn and Brecon, and I was made aware that there were complications: Bronwyn was arriving from England at the Salt Lake City airport about 11:00 p.m., and Bari was going with Caitlyn to pick up Bronwyn and Ardyn (Bronwyn's baby), and they would go to Caitlyn's apartment to spend the night. Caitlyn would drive Bronwyn and the baby to Afton the next day. Bari would come back to Orem. Brecon would (of course) be happily engaged with his new friend from the Internet, who would come pick him up that evening after running a couple of errands. We sorted out house keys, sure that Grandpa and I would be asleep at some time during all these activities.
Caitlyn and Brecon went to sleep downstairs. Brecon was muttering about how to pronounce Elisa, the new friend's name, and Bari and I worked on the puzzle but did not finish it; then in due time we and Grandpa ate the chili. Caitlyn and Brecon came upstairs, decided they didn't like chili, and went out to find a fast-food supper, figuring that Brecon's friend had decided not to take a chance on him. As soon as Caitlyn and Brecon were out of sight, the girl came with a friend, also a girl. I forget how that worked out, but they had a lot of fun, and he hadn't come in when I checked the door at 1:00 a.m. Bari, by then, had made it and was asleep. He came soon after. They had been watching a movie.
That gets us to Sunday, when our bishopric was changed during the same hours when Mark and Michelle's baby, Amelia Mallory Trunnell, was blessed in Springville, and we and all Michelle's family went to the blessing and then to the Trunnell house for brunch that was delicious. It was a fairly peaceful day, and we still didn't get the puzzle made. We hurried home to work on the puzzle until Bari and Brecon left to go to say good-bye to his new friend in Provo and then home to Star Valley, Wyoming. I usually get only one big thing done in a day, but all of that made going to bed on time easy. You need to realize that Brecon is one of the too numerous grandchildren whom I've felt I don't know very well. This trip changed that a little. One reason was his concern about meeting Elisa; another was that he's 16, and I haven't been much around 16-year-olds. As he was lying on the floor and the way-too-short loveseat, waiting for his mom to go, he kept making odd noises, one about every 10 to 15 seconds. No comment, just grunts and groans and sighs. It was funny at the time.
Yesterday, Monday, 12 March 2001, was my 79th birthday, and it was brimful of everything good. I told Wayne, who called today, that if one more thing had happened, we would have all exploded. I don't remember the exact sequence and will probably forget something and/or someone terribly vital. You have to remember that, because it was Monday, Grandpa and I were washing and folding clothes and generally picking up stuff to make things neat for Mark et al., to come at 7:00 p.m., and that I was constantly trying to get a letter off for Family Focus.
We had telephone calls; flower deliveries, both by delivery people and by the givers themselves; cards; letters; a session of working on the puzzle with my neighbor who has had cancer more recently than I, ovarian cancer, who brought me some balloons; chats with various neighbors who dropped in. The climax came some time during the evening when, sure enough, Mark's family came, complete with our whirlwind Abby; then, Robert's family, somewhat abbreviated since Jill is in Santiago, Chile, and Michael is married and in Mesa (he and Michele had dropped in earlier in the weekend on their way out of town, to give us a darling photo of Spencer). Ryan and Amber came too, and Amber was charmed with Amelia, and so was Kim, and, later Alisha Lemieux and her mother and sisters. Norm and Maggie came from next door, with the Lemieux girls, bringing a card that brought tears to my eyes. I think we hit 25 people at the peak, and, since Robert and Janice had brought an ice cream cake, I think we had something for everyone, including Abby, who got the last of our stale popcorn.
Abby's mother, Michelle, a whiz puzzler, finished the puzzle, 1000 pieces forming a gorgeous picture of a garden in Germany. I decided to leave it up to be admired for a while until Abby, standing on a chair, leaned over, resting her hand on it, and slid the two lower corners onto the floor. Grandpa, who was watching her, said she never changed expression, just tried frantically to pick up the pieces and put them back together without looking up, hoping no one had noticed. She never means to cause trouble. It just comes naturally to her. She wants desperately for everything to be all right, and she tries to make it that way.
It was a totally family day, and I loved it. I appreciated everything done for us. It felt like love in action.
After everyone had left, I took a deep breath and sat down at the computer, where I worked until 5:00 a.m. today, without having accomplished anything, trying to write a letter for Family Focus. Twice, with it almost completed, I somehow lost the letter. I shouldn't try to do anything when I'm that tired.
From 5:00 this morning until almost 3:00 this afternoon, I slept. I got up, ate the breakfast that your dear grandfather had left out for me, took a bath, put his supper out for him, sat down again at the computer, and wrote this, the story of my best birthday yet, the one I never expected to have. I thank our Heavenly Father for it and for the truly wonderful family of which I am a part -- all of you.
Grandma and Grandpa Gardner
9 April 2001: After not being with you for the month of March, when it was just our honorable missionaries who wrote to us, here I am in the springtime Easter season, and a happy time it is or should be for every one of us.
It's the season for flowers that died late last fall to come to life again (if they are perennials); trees to sprout green leaves on all those rattling empty branches; and in the country baby lambs, calves, foals, chickens, ducklings, and other birds and beasts to be born into the exciting world that awaits them. We can ride (or walk if it's not too far) to see all the new arrivals. I imagine that if we paid a visit to either the Bruce or the Brent Gardner family, we could just walk outdoors (or look out the window if we are very young) to see some of the new little animals or fowls. Spring is wonderful, the time of new birth or rebirth in the world of nature, but Easter is even more marvelous than spring.
On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, an exciting event that gives us a twofold Easter gift. Somehow, after he died on the cross and was laid in a borrowed sepulcher and a great stone was rolled over the doorway of the tomb so that no one could go in to take his body away -- after all that, somehow, he rose up and came out of the tomb. No one had ever done that before, but several hundred people saw him, and so we know that it happened. Before he died, he had told his friends that he would rise again, but they did not believe him or did not understand what he said because no one had ever done such a thing. But when they saw him and talked with him after they had seen him die upon the cross, after they had laid his lifeless body in the tomb, they realized that he had told them the truth. That was not all. He had also told them that he had power over death, and that one day each of them would be resurrected just as he had been.
Furthermore, he has let us know -- you and me -- that after we die and are buried, we too will rise again. It may not be right away, but it surely will happen. It is an Easter gift to every person in the whole world who has ever lived, who is alive now, and who ever will live.
There are Easter bunnies, pink or yellow, soft and fuzzy. There are little chickens, both real and artificial. There are Easter eggs, small and colorful, and large and chocolate. Such creations delight the eye and the taste buds. But compared to life eternal, the greatest of all the gifts of God, they amount to almost nothing. What do they have to do with Easter, after all?
We can live without fuzzy bunnies and candy Easter eggs, but without our Savior's resurrection, we would be dead forever when we die. He, as the first to be resurrected, gives to all the human inhabitants of this world the power to become immortal, with a bloodless body of flesh and bone. Thus, he gives to all of us that symbol of immortality, the empty garden tomb.
There is reason for hope this Easter season as, with increasing faith in our Savior, we celebrate his love for all mankind and seek to love as he loves.
Much love, Grandpa and Grandma Gardner
Paul: son of Marvin and Mary Gardner, arrived home from the Paraguay Asunción Mission on Friday, 23 March
I Have Learned . . . to Be Content
11 April 2001: Well, family, I'm not fireballing it like I used to. About three weeks ago, I set foot on an airplane and left the land I love. I don't walk around with the black name tag anymore. Actually, I hardly walk around at all anymore. The three weeks I have been home have gone by very slowly, and it has been difficult making the transition from Elder Gardner in Paraguay to Paul in Bountiful. I am truly enjoying doing temple work and see that as my mission now. I very much look forward to the day when I can attend the temple in Paraguay with my very dear friends there.
Last week I received a letter from my last companion. He told me the Chavez family came to church all by themselves for the first time on the Sunday I gave my homecoming talk, which was two days after I came home. He told me they are excited about the Church and want to be baptized very soon. My prayers continue in their behalf and in behalf of everyone I met in Paraguay. I wish I were there teaching and doing the work of the Lord, but I have a different mission now (breaking 80 on the golf course).
Last Sunday during the sacrament, I began thinking about where I had sat during the sacrament in the different areas of my mission. I pictured myself looking up at so many familiar, loving faces. I remember thinking that one day I would find myself back in Bountiful, wishing I were somewhere back in Paraguay. But then realizing I was in Paraguay on my mission, I would smile and have a great week looking forward to the next Sunday in Paraguay.
Then last Sunday it hit me: I am in Bountiful, I don't wear the name tag, and people call me Paul. Where in the world did all the time go?
That was two years. The party is over, the music has stopped. Here is a nickel's worth of free advice to the missionaries in the field: FIREBALL IT! Love what you are doing and just have fun. Don't dwell on the discouraging times. One scripture that has helped me out a ton is found in Philippians 4:11: " . . . I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
I have also learned that we are greatly blessed to have the restored gospel in our lives. I am thankful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, which allows us all to repent and be happy. I am thankful for our Father's plan of happiness. God our eternal Father lives. The resurrected Christ is His Beloved Son. They appeared to the boy Joseph to usher in this great work in the latter days.
I love the scriptures, and I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know President Gordon B. Hinckley is the living prophet of God who holds all the keys of the priesthood. I am most grateful for this testimony that is mine. I know these things are true, and I am thankful for this knowledge I have gained while serving my brothers and sisters in Paraguay.
I love the Lord and will serve Him forever. I love my family, and I know we can be together forever.
I am excited to keep reading the Family Focus and hearing about the wonderful experiences others are having. Thank you, everybody, for your support, prayers, and love.
Love, Elder Paul J. Gardner
Benjamin, son of Brent and Kris Gardner, is serving in the Brazil São Paulo East Mission.
I Kept Thinking of Pinocchio
7 March 2001: Well, here I am as a real missionary. I left the CTM [MTC] last Tuesday and went to the mission office. There I met Presidente Marques and his wife. They took us to lunch at a charrascoria. I ate a lot, and boy was it good. That night they ordered pizza for us. I don't think I have ever eaten so much in a 24-hour period. In the back of my mind I kept thinking of Pinocchio when he went to Pleasure Island; all the boys got loaded up in crates and sent to the salt mines. This is what I thought was happening to us.
The next day we had our interviews with President. They were short and he doesn't speak English. I only needed the translator a few times.
Finally we got our assignments. They had the trainers line up on one side of the room and the greenies on the other. The assistants to the president would call out two names, and the elders would run to the center and give each other a hug. My trainer is Elder Griffin from Georgia.
One thing that is great about my new area is the sky. I guess we are a little farther from the city center than where the CTM is located, but I can see the stars at night. Lots of them. Last night I think I found the Southern Cross, which can't be seen from the Northern Hemisphere.
I am finally figuring out what it is like to be a missionary. I get up at 5:45 every morning to study the palestras. At 9:30 we are on the streets making contacts or visiting new members or inactives. We eat lunch at a member's house every day. Mostly we eat some kind of pasta, a little meat, guarana (Brazilian pop) or juice, and always dessert. The members really like the missionaries. After lunch we proselyte for the rest of the day.
On Monday, we taught Junior, a 16-year-old young man, the second palestra. At the end we asked him if he would follow Jesus Christ and be baptized in His church. He responded, "Eu vou," or "I will," and later I saw him wiping his eyes. We have him scheduled for baptism on March 24. This sure made me excited to do missionary work.
I told my companion about Grandpa Gardner being the first Portuguese-speaking missionary in the Church and opening the city of Rio to missionary work. He has told this to pretty much everyone here, including at the pulpit on Sunday.
Sunday was fast Sunday and I got up to bear my testimony. Mostly I was introducing myself to the ward. It was a good thing because everyone came up and said hi after the meeting. They said they could understand every word.
The language is tough. Sometimes I understand everything, sometimes I understand nothing. I am confident I will do better soon.
I'm having a great time here. I am still a lost little greeny, but I learn something every day. Sadly, I must go scrub my clothes in the sink.
14 March 2001: I have passed my second week in the field. Everything is going great. I am learning more and more what it is like to be a missionary.
I can feel the language coming. Last time we gave the first discussion, I didn't use the pamphlet. I have officially passed off the first and second palestras and am desperately trying to cram the third into my head.
We taught a very interesting first palestra that lasted 2 1/2 hours. It was to three atheist communists. It was interesting, but in the end they still didn't believe in God and we did. We didn't set up an appointment to return.
I love you all and am working hard. I have started to have all the missionary experiences that Brent and Dad have had. This is certainly an adventure. Don't worry about me -- I am doing fine.
21 March 2001: It just started pouring outside. This is unfortunate because my laundry is out there. It is already cooling down here. Winter will be freezing.
We are continuing to prepare Junior for his baptism on Saturday. We will teach him the sixth palestra tomorrow, and his interview will be on Friday. He is ready for this step.
On Monday, I had my first zone conference. It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot, too. Towards the end of the program, all the new missionaries had to bear their testimonies. I was the first one to speak.
The House of Deputies of Brazil held a special session to praise the Relief Society of the Church on its 159th anniversary. They had Moroni Torgan, the only member of the Church in the House preside over the meeting. It was pretty neat, and I am sure it will be great publicity for the Church in this part of the world.
27 March 2001: One month ago today I left the CTM never to return. I cannot comprehend that I have been here a whole month. I thought the time at the CTM went by fast, but the time here has gone twice as fast.
Even though I am a veteran of one month in the field, I still don't speak very well. Clearly, I have gotten better, but progress is slow.
Despite the language barrier, Elder Griffin and I are having a great time. The first baptism on my mission was last Sunday. It was a great service. We baptized Junior -- and his parents, who are both nonmembers came. We are going to go after them now.
We spent P-day this week at the temple. I was able to understand a lot more of the session this time, so I guess progress is coming.
After we went to the temple, I got my first glimpse of downtown São Paulo. It is huge. I saw single buildings that took up a whole block. My reaction was similar to that of Wedge when he got his first glimpse of the Death Star: "Will you look at the size of that thing."
In the very center of the city is a road called Avenida Paulista. This is the Brazilian equivalent of Wall Street. It is very large and has many big businesses lining the streets. We also drove through a very long tunnel that went under a lake in a park in the center of the city.
The work is going good here. We are working with several more people and hope to get them ready for baptism soon. We also do a lot to keep new members going to church and reactivating people.
I am having a great time on the old mish. I am not a great missionary yet, but I am working hard and hope to reach that point some day. The way I look at it is I have another two months of being lost in language. I am looking forward to the day when I can be more than just moral support to my comp when answering people's questions.
Tchau, Your son, brother, etc., Elder Benjamin Franklin Gardner
Jill: daughter of Robert and Janice Gardner, is serving in the Chile Santiago East Mission
To See Someone Dressed in All White!
12 March 2001: Hello from pension #4 still! We were about to change, and the office called. They want to find an apartment for us -- instead of having us live with a family. So we're still waiting on the move to #5! This is great fun. Change keeps us on our toes and doesn't let us get too comfortable!
The wonderful news of this week is yesterday María Álvarez and her daughter Leyla Chavalos were baptized! Leyla has been so excited. We'd set dates for her baptism and something would happen (she hadn't attended church twice), then María decided she was ready for baptism and wanted to be baptized together! But every time the baptism date fell through, Leyla was disappointed.
Yesterday, after their baptism, Leyla bore her testimony. She was very emotional and said she had been looking for God, that she needed God. The Spirit was so strong during the baptismal service. It's so wonderful to see someone dressed in all white! I love this work.
Leyla's brother Roberto came to the baptism. We've been trying to teach him, but our appointments keep falling through. María and Leyla invited us to have lunch with them after the baptism. So we did -- had a great time laughing and sharing together -- and then we finally taught the first charla to Roberto. It was a powerful charla. So now we are on the path with Roberto.
The temperature is finally lowering a bit. This morning it was actually cold but made for great running weather. The stake of hermanas is wonderful! It really is a blessing. We go on divisions once a week to see how other sisters work and also to help out. Friday of this week, March 16, we have a sister's conference. I'm really excited for it.
I am so grateful for all of the time we have to study. I learn so much. I love this gospel. It is so true! Every day my testimony grows stronger. I am praying for all of you.
Love, Hermana Jilly!
Edythe: daughter of Bruce and Becca Gardner, is serving in the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission
Teaching "Two by Two"
15 March 2001: President and Sister Cook are great! As a mission, we are going through some new changes, and I can see a lot of inspiration behind them. The biggest change has to do with companionships. In the past, in a few circumstances, we were allowed to separate. If, for instance, my companion had to take a language tour, or if there weren't enough sisters to cover all the English tours, we would split. Now we are to stay with our companion at all times, even when taking tours in another language that we don't speak a word of.
I am so glad for this change, because the Lord says His word should be declared "two by two." I noticed that when I took tours by myself, it just wasn't as powerful. Now I can more fully appreciate, that without my companion, I'm not complete. Together we are a teaching unit.
Companionships really do generate strength and protection. It is a lot easier for people to thrash you and your message when you are alone, but when your companion is there to double testify and support you, people have a harder time tearing you down -- and I've experienced that.
I don't think many missionaries have the opportunity to experience, in quite the same way as I did, what it's like to proselyte alone. It makes me so thankful to have a companion and so glad that President Cook has asked us to never be alone. It also helps me more fully appreciate the Lord's counsel to preach two by two.
Even though I may be completely capable and skilled at taking a tour by myself, I now understand why the tour will always go better with my companion because "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I [the Lord] in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
The first few days of being a district leader have been challenging and exciting. The exciting part is figuring out ways to get the sisters to contribute the talents and skills they have. Sister Tavares, from Maceio, Brazil, told me that a leader doesn't work for 10 -- a leader helps 10 to work. I like that. There are 10 sisters in my district, including me. They come from Hawaii, California, France, Tahiti, Germany, Brazil, Korea, and the Czech Republic!
Well, it's 6:00 p.m. Preparation day is over! I love you SO much! So very, very, much!
20 March 2001: I just finished reading Family Focus. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, fellow missionaries, for your hard work and examples. It empowers me.
On Thursday we had a mission devotional with Brother Heaton from the Missionary Department of the Church. He told us about the new features that will be in the North and South Visitors' Centers when they are completed, which should be by October general conference. (Both visitors' centers have been under construction for several months in preparation for the Olympics.) He said that as nice as these new resources may be, the most valuable resources are the missionaries. The new features are designed to aid and not take away from the missionary.
He said, "How would you like to meet and greet guests in the lobby, talk with them about living prophets, and then walk up to a display and show them a video clip of what the prophet has said about this or that?"
I am excited about how we can incorporate these new features into our teaching. Last winter, when the visitors' centers were open, there weren't as many referrals as this winter, when they have been closed. I know the work moves forward no matter what.
Brother Heaton also talked about the promise in D&C 68:3 that the Lord's missionaries "shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost." He asked us, "Have you ever wondered, 'When will that happen to me? When will I have these wonderful spiritual experiences?'" He assured us that even though we may not always realize it, the Lord inspires us to say certain things. And just because we don't realize it, it doesn't take away from the fact that it happens. As I look back on experiences, I'm starting to see how true that is.
The other day while I was on the phone with a woman named Michelle, I really felt that the Holy Ghost gave me the words to say. At first she was real defensive and objectionable. "What do you want?" she asked rather indignantly when I introduced myself. I had called to invite her to receive a video her friend wanted to give her. She continued, asking, "Do you really know Jesus Christ? Do you have a Bible? Do you read it?"
I was scared at first, but I tried to build on common beliefs and love her and not treat her the way she was treating me. Through the Spirit, I felt direction on how to respond to her questions and how to respond to her.
After I responded to her initial questions, she softened and said, "So what is it about the Mormon faith that attracts you?" Again I felt directed in my answer because it was different than what I might have normally said. I told her that the Church embraces all the truths of every other church, and in addition, it contains more truths -- the fulness of the gospel. I told her that our purpose is not to take away the truths she has, but to give her more.
We talked about that for a while and about how the scriptures bring us closer to the Lord. I told her that's why I love the Book of Mormon. She said she had tried to read it once but didn't get very far. Well, we talked for an hour and at one point she even said a really nice prayer for us over the phone. I asked her if she would pray about the Book of Mormon and she said yes.
I don't know what will happen, but I know that the Lord amazes me.
I'm doing great. I now understand what the words "fireballing it" means, and I'm trying to do it all the time. I love you all!
27 March 2001: Temple Square will look beautiful for general conference this weekend. I am so excited for that. I get to attend one of the sessions in the Conference Center. I can't remember ever hungering for general conference quite this much before. I am so happy that I get to go to one session LIVE! During the other sessions I will be working on Temple Square.
We had a good week. I especially enjoyed our Thursday night assignment known as "Tab Doors." During and after the Tabernacle Choir rehearsal, we invite everyone who leaves by saying, "Before you leave, will you accept a free copy of the Book of Mormon?" It was so fun. I'm learning to love being open, direct, and to-the-point.
The missionaries will have to be that way pretty soon because more and more people are starting to come to Temple Square, and we won't have time to have long discussion tours, especially during the summer months. And it looks like I will probably be here this summer! I may not leave Temple Square until September, and rumor has it we may go for only two months -- instead of the typical four and a half -- because of the Olympics.
This good weather has also brought out a lot of anti's -- which is another good reason to work on being direct and to-the-point. I was talking to one in the Tabernacle the other day. He had some pretty deep doctrinal questions. I explained to him President Boyd K. Packer's "Law of Prerequisites" -- that he wouldn't be able to understand the answers to his questions without first knowing the answers to some basic, more important questions like, "How can I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet?" and "How can I know that the Book of Mormon is a true companion scripture to the Bible?"
You know how everybody says the Book of Mormon is the most powerful converting tool? Well, it is. And it's also a great weeder-outer! I love the Book of Mormon. I know it's true. And I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet.
3 April 2001: Didn't you just LOVE general conference? We had such an exciting and busy weekend here. We missionaries got to attend one session in the Conference Center. During the rest of the time, we worked on Temple Square. I went to the Saturday morning session. We sat on the side all the way in the front. Our seats were great because from that side many of the General Authorities came into the room -- including President Hinckley. Before the session began, some of the leaders, especially the women, came over and shook our hands -- like Sheri Dew!
The talks were exactly what I needed to hear. I couldn't help but listen from the perspective of a typical nonmember guest at Temple Square. It made me appreciate how open and bold the Church leaders are when they speak. After the session was over, I watched the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and their wives walk out of the room right in front of me. Can you imagine?! (I was bawling.)
We had a lot of success as we invited the members on Temple Square to refer a friend or family member anywhere in the United States or Canada to the missionaries. We received more than 2,500 names!
By the way, if anyone reading this letter has a friend in mind that they would like to give a Book of Mormon to, just give me their number, no matter where they live, and I'd be happy to call them to see if they'd like a free copy. It's a wonderful way to introduce the Church to someone!
We've got a lot of great sisters in our district. Sometimes it's challenging when they come to me with their problems and I have no idea how to help them. I'm learning to trust in the Lord, though, and to set aside some quiet time to think and pray for answers. I love and miss you!
Love, Sister Edythe Gardner
Bruce: son of Bruce and Becca Gardner, is serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission
Winter Can't Last Forever
14 March 2001: This is going to be a very short letter. I've got a ton of things to do right now. As usual, preparation days are about three weeks too short.
However, this is no ordinary P-day. You'll probably be interested to know that I am no longer in Arhus. I am no longer companions with *ldste Brown. I got a call yesterday afternoon from President Rasmussen saying there's an emergency transfer happening in the mission and that I had until 8:00 a.m. the next morning until I was leaving. Needless to say, I was very surprised. I said good-bye to William and Fatima. I sure do hate saying good-bye to investigators! It just seems like I know what's best for these people and nobody else does.
I know the Lord knows what He's doing, but it's hard anyway. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. packing and had to wake up at 6:00 a.m.. I'm now in a town called Aalborg. It's northern Denmark. The craziest thing about this all is that I am now senior companion! I've been in Denmark only four and a half months, and now I'm a senior comp! My companion got here just about two months ago. He's Danish. It'll be interesting to see how things turn out.
21 March 2001: Wow! This has been a very long week. My new companion, *ldste Ronnenberg, is very interesting. . . . I'm praying for the strength to get through this one and stick it out. It's only been one week, so hopefully things will get better.
All the little flower buds are coming out of the ground now. It's starting to look a little bit like spring. That is, it was starting to look like spring until we had another blizzard this week. Aalborg is much colder than Arhus was. I dread going out the door every day, because I know it will be about nine hours before I'm warm again. Oh, well. Winter can't last forever.
As far as missionary work goes, there's unfortunately not a lot to report about. We were left with one "kind of positive" investigator who is on pause right now due to school testing. So basically we're starting over from scratch. That means a whole lot of knocking on doors.
I realize that knocking is not the most effective way of finding people. We're trying to be creative and find people through the members, area book, media, etc. The key is just to stay obedient and work hard, and the Lord will help us out. They might not come easy and it might take a while, but investigators will come.
Being a senior companion/trainer sure is a lot different than what I'm used to. I'm starting to learn the city a little better. We don't waste as much time trying to figure out bus routes and where streets are. I'm looking forward to bike riding weather. It'll be a lot faster and easier to get to where we're going. I'm glad cars are so popular in America.
A couple days ago, I was walking down the street, and I heard some car engine behind me. I thought to myself, "That's no pansy European car!" Sure enough! I turned around and it was a 4X4 CHEVY(!) Z71 truck, extended cab, complete with a camper and a 2-inch lift! It was even DIRTY! That gave me enough American pride to last a long time!
Well, I'm doing fine. I'm going through some . . . let's call them "growing experiences" right now, but I can feel your prayers. Thanks for everything, and don't worry about me. I love you all!
28 March 2001: *ldste Ronnenberg and I have been getting the hang of things here in Aalborg. We know the bus routes pretty well, and it's not too difficult to find out where we're going and how we're going to get there.
Last Monday we had zone conference. I always look forward to them. It's a chance to see some friends again, along with President Rasmussen. However, I enjoy the learning and the spiritual boost that it gives me the most. As always, it was an excellent meeting. I had a wonderful interview with President Rasmussen. He is such a wonderful man. I hope he's still in Arizona when I come home.
I've noticed this week that my patience is growing. My companion is by no means an easy person to live with or teach with. I can take it, though. I'm becoming more patient, and I'm working with him. I don't get as mad quite as easily. I haven't tensed up lately. He's still alive, and there are no holes in the walls or doors. I'm trying to teach him the basics of the basics.
We're going down to Odense tomorrow for the new missionary meeting. That's where the trainers and their greenies meet and see how things are going. I hope it'll be a help to us. Other than that, things are going pretty good.
It's interesting to see my old companions become my leaders. *ldste Haibrock (my first comp and trainer) has been my zone leader for about two months. He's doing an excellent job. He's also a good friend. *ldste Brown became assistant to the president when we split up. He is by far the best friend I have in the mission. I hope we can stay in touch still. There are MANY wonderful missionaries that I've grown to be friends with.
A mission is such a wonderful place to go through trials and experiences together. After two people have been put through a certain amount of things together, they can't help but become friends.
Well, I love you all, and I really appreciate your letters, pictures, prayers, and support. You're the best fan club in the world. I'm doing fine, and I hope you are too!
4 April 2001: It sure doesn't seem like it, but I guess it's already April. I'm not complaining though. It can be April if it wants to. That's all right with me! I have noticed a slight change in the temperature The Danes are starting to stop wearing coats and just use sweaters. I'm still bundled up, but I have noticed a change. We had another snow storm this week, but the rain storm the next day melted everything. I think that's the last of the snow for the winter; however, in Denmark you never know!
Things are going well for me. *ldste Ronnenberg and I had a good week. We had zone conference on Monday, the new missionary meeting on Thursday (which seemed weird to be going to as a trainer this time!), and then general conference on Saturday and Sunday. My favorite had to be general conference. I listened to part of it in Danish, but it just wasn't the same. The prophet doesn't speak Danish (although that could easily be changed). So I switched to the mother language.
My favorite talk by far was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's. I love listening to him! Of course, that's not a fair judgment because we never heard the Sunday afternoon broadcast. As wonderful as technology is, it can't change time. It would have been past midnight if we were allowed to listen to the last session.
This past week I've started to realize the beginnings of my weaknesses. I'm REALLY striving and struggling to become more patient and understanding. As you all are FULLY aware, I'm terrible at it! Maybe someday I'll figure it all out and understand just why the world doesn't revolve around me.
I love you all -- always have and always will -- but I'm supposed to remind you about it or something. Take care.
Love, *ldste Gardner
Mandy: daughter of Wayne and Rowena Gardner, is serving in the Chile Santiago South Mission
Trying to Keep Up
11 April 2001: Hola! Hermana Ferghman found me yesterday! She is a lady from San Fernando that we really love! She made me a cake, brought me a stuffed bunny to sleep with (and to give to my first child) and a necklace (that she said was for my pink shirt) that she made, and earrings that are made of that blue stone that is found only in Chile and Peru (lapisazuli?), and also she gave me a doily to put on my piano. Her niece made it.
She also brought me a letter that turned out to be a song that a man in San Fernando wrote for me. A little history about him is that Hermana Anderson and I knocked on his door and he is a famous music writer in San Fernando and the surrounding area. He had a piano (the only one outside the church). He played some songs that he wrote, and I played the songs that I have written, and it was just fun to share. He then came to church to hear me play the piano and to listen to one of the youth choirs. Then I got transferred and apparently he went back to the church to give this to me. I am so honored. So yesterday I felt like it was my birthday or Christmas. I have received so many blessings lately.
Yesterday morning I was reading part of my journal, and I realized that is was exactly one month ago that Hermana Perez and I hit rock bottom in San Francisco. It had been one of the hardest weeks of the mission. After yet another hard rejection and loss of an investigator, Hermana Perez and I biked to our favorite spot and sat, or rather knelt, under a tree and prayed. We felt so lost and unuseful.
And now only one month later we are running ourselves ragged trying to keep up. This week we had five charla ones! This week we set a goal of progression -- and although with numbers we didn't quite reach the goal, we still had nine charlas of progression and 38 short charlas. That is a miracle here for us. On average we usually had about two charlas of progression. We also had three inactive members come to church. We set a goal as a ward to go to the temple, and people are starting to liven up --
realizing everything they have to accomplish if they want to enter.
We have five or more people working to get their patriarchal blessings. We also had 54 people come to church. Of course, six were stake leaders. They took over in the classes and basically said that we need to work harder and do more, and they drilled some areas that needed a lot of work. Now we just pray that the ward can humbly accept all the counsel instead of being offended.
We'll push through and grow. We are learning. We don't have any baptisms lined up, but they are coming and the word of truth is being spread here in San Francisco.
I love you all so much. You are always in my prayers.
Eternally, Hermanita Mandy Gardner
Wayne and Rowena: Wayne is president of the Chile Santiago East Mission. Rowena is the "Mission Mom"
Exciting to See This Miracle Happen
26 March 2001: Things here in the mission have been really wonderful! The Lord keeps blessing us with more baptisms, and it is a direct result of the faith and obedience of all of the incredible missionaries we have here.
Our baptismal statistics for the time we have been here are as follows: June, 46; July, 82; August, 85; September, 83; October, 129; November, 168; December, 212; January, 189; February, 205; March, 246.
It has been so exciting to see this miracle happen. As we show our willingness to be obedient and rely on Him in faith, He is blessing us with all these wonderful baptisms. Probably the most exciting part of all of this is that there are more men and families being baptized than ever before. Zion is growing!!!!!
Today we are having a mission celebration because everyone has been working so hard. We will be watching a couple of movies and eating popcorn, playing basketball and whatever else they can think of, and drinking homemade root beer. This month for zone conference, we are meeting with each zone individually and after the meeting taking them to see one of the museums here in Santiago. It is so difficult to see many of the cultural/historical sites here because they are all closed on Monday, which is preparation day. Hopefully, this way they will be able to see something of the country before they go home.
So far we have seen the Science and Technology Museum, Fine Art Museum, and Museum of Natural History. FYI: They have bones from prehistoric elephants and HORSES that have been found down here in Chile!!
Today people are burning tires in downtown Santiago to protest the new law that was just passed that certain license plates can't drive on certain days. I guess they haven't caught the vision of what clean air is all about, but they are trying. This is definitely the smoggiest place I have ever seen. Each year there are multitudes of respiratory illnesses because of the bad air in the winter. All of the missionaries have received (or will receive in the next week or so) flu shots that have proven themselves to be a "must" on the mission. Illnesses are way down if they have had one.
Hermanita Jill Gardner and a couple of the other hermanas put together a fireside on the life of Christ that was wonderful!!! PowerPoint presentations and beautiful music and all.
11 April 2001: We have had 23 new missionaries come and 11 missionaries complete their missions, and we have finished all 12 zone conferences and trips to the museums. We have been told that we are finally getting a house. And we have had two -- count them . . . two -- earthquakes in the last week. They were both quite large -- no buildings crumbling or anything like that, but good ones nevertheless. Does the thrill never end?
Love to all, Presidente y Hermana Gardner