Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Mission is Complete! (sorry so late)

Sorry so late in posting this, but we were on vacation picking up Elder Gardner, that I forgot to post.

Family and friends,

Two years ago I entered the MTC with excitement and wonder. Ready and prepared to feel the spirit so strong and to learn a lot about Jesus Christ's Gospel. With the addition of American Sign Language, I have ventured into a new world. Made friends and gained respect for those whom we don't fully understand.

Flying to the Mission field, I became thankful that we don't ride horses because of the distance I would have to travel to visit the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and invite them to come closer to Christ. I have received many responsibilities while providing service for the Deaf, including District Leader and Elder's Quorum 1st Counselor. I have gained many skills and talents, including interpreting and I have become more social and more easy to approach people. I have learned a ton about the Gospel.

I have read through the Book of Mormon front to back and have gained more understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and of his role as Savior and Redeemer. I have come to love His Atonement and have changed because of it. I have grown to appreciate the pains and tribulations that Joseph Smith has gone through to help restored Christ's church on the Earth again, through proper Priesthood keys and authority, as well as restored truths and doctrines such as Baptism and Temple ordinances.

I have learned to rely on the spirit when in doubt, or fear, or uncertainty. I have gained many experiences on my Mission that I hold dear to my heart. I know that Heavenly Father is our loving Father in Heaven. He watches us every day, listens to our prayers and encourages us to follow His Son, Jesus Christ, who set the perfect example for us as he walked on this Earth many years ago to setup His church and authority. I know that he died for our sins and was resurrected so that we can live with God again someday. I know that Joseph Smith was the first Prophet to help restored His church on the Earth, and through the Book of Mormon we can read about Jesus Christ and come to appreciate Him better.

All of this I know, because I have read the Book of Mormon, and prayed about it. That is why I served for two years, away from home and family. That is why I cannot watch TV, go to movies, date girls or listen to worldly music. That is why I cannot do these things for two years, so I can focus all of my time and energy on preaching His Gospel.

I thank you for following me as I have served my Mission. I hope you have come to learn something from my emails and will continue to stay in contact with me as I go throughout life, college, marriage, family, and so forth.

May God bless all of you with whatever you need!

Sincerely, with love,

Elder Gardner.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wait, what? I only have a week left? How is that possible?

Family and friends,

6:25 this morning I woke up to my alarm and realized; wait a minute... I only have a week left as a called and set apart Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to focus 100% on inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them to receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end? That's alright! Keep working, keep praying, keep showing faith, keep teaching, keep inviting, keep committing, keep following up.. His work isn't over, and one week or one year left makes no difference to me!

The Lord has provided us with miracles. Ever since the new year, we have been teaching an investigator named Beatrice Fey. She lives in Pasadena which is far. She showed an interest in the Gospel and we have tried to visit her weekly. We have taught all of the commandments and lessons and had accepted everything we have taught. Sunday we committed her to baptism, and she accepted! She will be baptized June 21st! We are excited and will work hard to keep her strong and ready.

While teaching the Pascalin family Wednesday, their daughter asked me to help her more with her family names. So we helped her fill out Spanish names. Wow, they are long! The chain of bye-bye-Elder-Mitchell-and-Gardner Dinners started that night at the Gudino's home. Delicious!

Thursday was a little bit slow but we tried a hit-and-miss meetup with an inactive member of our Branch who has been struggling to come. As we were teaching, one of our members from the opposite side of town showed up to visit. We were excited and taught a lesson that honestly wasn't very productive, but I felt the purpose of the visit wasn't for the inactive member, but for us to learn that the other member should be their fellowshiper.

Friday was a very good day. I had asked Elder Mitchell to give me a lesson assignment for Zone Meeting so I can stay focused and not distracted while on my last few weeks left. So I was able to tech about how to resolve companion's concerns without involving our Mission President. I felt the spirit and taught very well. We also had a short skit to show what President maybe feels and goes through day by day as different Missionaries have different situations they are not sure how to solve.

We visited one member who is an interpreter and used to come to our Branch weekly. Her husband recently passed away a few months ago and she has been trying to stay as strong as possible despite troubles. We went to visit her and had a very neat spiritual experience. As Missionaries, we cannot enter a home if only a Woman is there. We need a man 18yrs old or older present. When she opened the door, she invited us in. I hesitated at first because we shouldn't unless a man is there. But then I felt the spirit say go ahead, you are fine. Nervous as I entered, we sat down. I immediately felt her husband's spirit's presence in the room and tears came to my eyes as I felt the spirit Testify to me that he was in her home and the Lord was pleased that we were there. We spent some time talking, and she vented on her experiences and troubles leading up to and since his death. I promise you, his spirit was there and it was powerful as she shared sacred experiences with us. We left her home almost in tears, knowing the Lord needed us there and provided us with a man, even from the other side, so we wouldn't break the rules. That was a testimony builder!

Saturday was physically exhausting. The Match family (father is Elder's Quorum President, Mother is in Relief Society, son is Deaf and other son is hearing) bought a house in a nicer and safer part of town and we spent 6 hours helping them load boxes into a truck, driving there, and unloading. In the Texas sun, almost 100 degrees. But it was worth it. It was a ton of fun!

Sunday we were blessed to have President and Sister Pingree visit our Branch and provide talks. Sister Pingree felt impressed to speak on family history and told me she was very nervous about the talk but I told her we as a Branch have been getting involved with family history recently, and she was relieved. President Pingree spoke on talking with everyone and always finding Missionary opportunities. We encouraged our Deaf members to find opportunities to invite their Deaf friends to learn more about the Gospel. We were also blessed to have Dinner with a struggling part member family.

I am very excited for our investigator's baptism. I also know that this work is real. The Lord is hastening His work in these Latter-days. He needs our help and we need to be willing to do whatever we can with whatever talents, skills, interests and abilities we have.

I thank you for all of your prayers! Have a fantastic week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stake Conference and Miracles!

Family and friends,

Last week it flooded a little but all was well. Had a Temple trip Thursday, that was good! Saturday was Stake Conference as well as Sunday. I got to see the Boyer family there. Then we visited a family in Katy.

This week is going to be awesome! Hopefully we can solve a vehicle problem with a member and help her progress to baptism before my Mission ends, I'm hoping!

Shorter email, sorry. A lot of things to do this week, a lot of my mind.

Thanks for all your support, love, patience, etc.


Elder Gardner!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Family History, Zone Conference and last time at Skidmore's, oh my!

Family and Friends,

Last week was great and busy! Friday we had a Zone Conference. The difference between a Conference and a Zone Meeting is that Conferences usually have 3 or 4 zones together. So, we had 4 in ours, I believe. Got to see all of my friends again, since our zone split. Was able to say goodbye to a few I won't see again. All of the Missionaries who will be leaving this transfer all shared their departing Missionary testimonies, including myself. The spirit was very strong and powerful. I love hearing Testimonies from those whom have served and are about to head home!

Saturday we went to the Stake Center with a member, another member joined us. We went because two Sisters in our Zone have been struggling with their family history and asked Elder Erickson and I to help. It was good! I felt the spirit as I helped Sister King find names and we felt led and directed to certain people through searching on Google. I know family history is such a great way to introduce non members to the Gospel because the spirit of Elijah is always present. Sometimes the spirit will hit you and you will feel where to go.

Saturday evening we went to Pearland texas and met with a referral that the South Mission sisters found. One of them knew just enough sign language to communicate with their neighbors and so we came to start teaching. It was great! Four deaf people who are smart and educated! The sisters have an interpreter and ride setup for them too!

Sunday I had the opportunity to share my Testimony, as it was Fast Sunday. It was the last one with the Branch, so Elder Mitchell and I went up to share ours, followed later by Elder McGill and Erickson. The spirit was very strong. Then we enjoyed dinner at the Skidmore's one last time! Last time eating spaghetti and salad, plus blue bell and brownies. :(

Yesterday was PDAY, and memorial day. So libraries were closed and thus I couldn't email. So with permission, we are emailing Today. We were going to head to the park, but it rained hard core and we ended up with a bit of flooding, but we are alright mom and dad! Don't worry! We stayed in the Stake Center instead and hung out there. Then had dinner at a member's. A woman recently moved into our Branch to learn and use sign language, and we became friends with her, so whenever her parents are home she invites us for Dinner.

Today is a good day! We are emailing, then we will go to CRR then visit a member in Sugarland and then teach our ASL Class tonight, hopefully people will show up!

Have a great week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, May 19, 2014

Temple, Miracles, and Family History, oh My!

Family and friends,

How was your past week? We had the opportunity to attend the Temple and witness many miracles! One example is this past Tuesday. What happenedWe planned on going to CRR to do service but as we pulled out of the parking lot we realized that our back left tired was slowly deflating. So we headed for a shop, got it fixed. While waiting, a man came up and offered to pay us lunch. So we went with him to a nearby fast food and talked for about 30 minutes. Then we got our keys back and were told the service was free. Thanked the man, then headed to our first appointment, which we arrived early to. Decided to knock anyway, and felt we should wait. 1 minute later the member we were trying to meet drove in the driveway, so we got to teach him! Then off to an investigator. When we arrive, and knocked, he happened to just wake up and feel the knock. So we taught the Restoration, but then Elder Erickson had to use the bathroom bad, and the investigator's plumbing wasn't functioning. So we went to a fast food, and then drove to our ASL class and despite traffic, arrived just in time. The Lord was in control of the day and everything worked out perfectly!

Wednesday we go to go out to eat with a member and their local Missionaries. After the local ones left, we had recently had a conversation with the family about doing family history and their lack of knowledge and experience with it. I offered to help them with family history and they accepted! So now I'm helping the family get family names ready for the Temple.

Friday we attended the Temple together as a Branch and help do Baptisms and Confirmations for the dead. Elder Mitchell and my last ones here! Then we met with other Sisters whom were working on their family history but were stuck, and we helped them with theirs.

Saturday was more of a difficult day. We had a few appointments planned but most of them fell through, so we ended up with nothing to do most of Saturday, which sucked. We ran out of miles to drive far and had visited everyone. If we were English we would tract, but that's not effective for our Branch, so we headed home and cleaned up and did other to-dos which we hadn't done for a while.

Sunday was good! I taught Sunday School and Elder Erickson taught Priesthood. Then Sacrament meeting Elder Mitchell interpreted and Brother Tuck as well. We ate food, then went to Kleinwood but it was packed so we went to the park and walked around, enjoying nature and getting exercise, then went to the Temple, then home.

This week is Zone Conference week! So excited! And 4 weeks left! But I'm still strong, still obedient, and still hardworking. Ask my companions, Branch President, and Mission President. :)
Anyway, have a great week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day, 6 investigators and 5 weeks left.

Hello family and friends,

Happy one-day-late-Mother's Day!

The past week we said goodbye to Elder Oleson, then went to the Zoo, with permission of course. We went with the plan of helping the Deaf in downtown Houston learn about the animals in the zoo and also how to apply for jobs at the zoo. We have been cleaning our apartment like crazy and trying to be as organized as possible. Elder McGill gave me a haircut and kind of screwed it up a little, but that's the beauty of hair... it grows back, haha.

District Meeting Elder McGill taught, why? He's now the District Leader. So he taught about talking with everyone whenever we can. So later that day, when we went to try and visit one of our member's who feel through, we went to Sonic and met a Deaf woman and man there! We contacted them and hopefully they will contact us back soon. :) Also went to Texas Road House for Dinner that night. :)

Saturday was an all Temple day! It was great doing Ordinances for our deceased ancestors. Sunday was good, President and Sister Pingree came to speak in InWood and will speak in Fallbrook soon. Church was good. Then we went to Speckhard's to Skype home. I enjoyed it. Planned our trip a little and just chatted. I'm excited to see my family.

Anyway, I hope y'all have a great week! Enjoy the Summer!


Elder Gardner

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Transfer week, my LAST transfer on my Mission, and guess where I am now?

Family and friends,

This past week has been very interesting. I needed to do exchanges with Elder Mitchell and be with him for one day, and at the same time he needed to do Zone Leader exchanges with other Missionaries. So I was asked to stay up North, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So half the week I was up North. It was fun, being able to relax and enjoy different companions and the North area for a few days.

Friday was Zone Meeting and it was good, followed by a Deaf social at the Galleria and saw a member there, so we chatted with her. Saturday was an all service day. We cleaned up Fallbrook, then we helped a part member family weed their garden. Then our investigator who was planning on moving, postponed the move to next week, so we went to eat Dinner at a member's house, then to a graduation party from a recent convert.

Sunday was good. Had a rough morning but got to church and had a good day. Testimony meeting. One woman, who has almost hit a year since baptism, shared a long but powerful testimony on resisting temptation and no matter what others say about the LDS church, that you have to stand strong and be brave with your beliefs. Sunday School I asked a member to teach it, and she did a great job! Priesthood Brother Match taught. Had Dinner at the Skidmore's house. Only one more left. :(

Last night while waiting for transfer calls, President Pingree calls us. I answer and he asks to speak with Elder Oleson. I hand the phone over, and a minute later we find out he's going to be transferred back to English on Tuesday. Sad! But it's the Lord's will, so we helped him pack. Thus, Today we will eat together as a District. Crazy, my last transfer call ... full two years ASL...

So, one more transfer left... crazy! I still remember when we went to the MTC for the first time, and now I'm about the go home... but I have more adventures and plans to go through after my Mission. Until then, however, I will continue to find those whom the Lord desires for me to find and teach and baptize! 6 weeks left!

Have a fabulous week!


Elder Gardner.