Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas and New Year's

Christmas and New Year's
Family and Friends,
This past week was good! We had a great Christmas and I was able to skype with my family again. I was able to see everyone in our District skype with their families and it brought joy to my heart. We have some struggles in our district and seeing the Elders happy was the best Christmas gift I could get.
Sunday was crazy. No early morning meetings so we went to church later. There, almost no one was there anyway. Then Elder McGill taught Sunday school for an hour and a half. Then I had five minutes to explain how to do home teaching. Then we went to Sacrament meeting. It was a good Sunday. I got to help interpret for Brother Speckhard while he interviewed members of the Branch. I got to witness some very special moments while he talked with some families that were struggling.
Transfers this week! I am going South with Elder McGill and Elder Oleson is most likely going North with Elder Mitchell and Erickson. I'm not a fan of the South area because it's mostly less actives and ghetto and traffic all day long, but I know the Lord wants me to stay strong and Elder McGill needs help as well. Plus we are both in the EQ so it makes it more easy.
Our Branch is doing good. Some members are gossiping and spreading bad rumors. Some members are wanting to quit the Branch because of this. All we can do is love them and show them our support.
Our District is doing alright. We aren't fully unified yet but I know that the Lord wants myself and Elder Mitchell to keep it strong and I'm honored and willing to do so.
This is the reason I may appear to be more tired and stressed. But I know the Lord will help me out as I work hard and am obedient to the rules.
We just found a family with a deaf 2 year old son and a hard of hearing husband. The wife is trying to learn sign language and had three kids. Two boys who are teens and a girl who's about 12. We are excited to teach them sign language and help the husband become baptized, as he isn't a member. I'm seeing so many opportunities to help out people here!
Can yall continue to pray for Sherman and his mom, that they may soften their hearts and accept a baptism date?
Thanks for all of your support and love! I will continue to pray for yall as well!
Have a happy new year!
Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Got sick, improved our planning and went to the Temple

Family and friends,

Last week after pday was finished we visited a Less Active member and ended up getting a nice jacket from them. It's a mexican family who loves the Missionaries. I told them I already had one but they insisted so I got one. Most of the week was dedicated to trying to film testimonies from the members. Wednesday I started to feel not so good and was distracted and felt a lot more tired than normal. It's one thing to feel exhausted due to 300 million things you gotta do as a Missionary, but when you get sick, it becomes worse. I slept in the next few days and took medicine and finally Sunday recovered. Thursday we had a specialized training and President Pingree taught about how to plan more effectively. I learned a ton and it motivated me to work harder these last 6 months.

Friday we had Temple Baptisms and got to see the Ashton family show up. Very happy and excited! Sunday we filmed tons of testimonies, and have a total of 59 now! We are ready to make the DVD!

This week should be great! We are going to produce a short film that explains our asl program and what we do as asl missionaries. I'm excited to film and help edit this. Also get to enjoy a Christmas dinner at the Match family's home.

Anyway, hope yall have a Merry Christmas!


Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Temple and Christmas!

Family and friends,

This past week we were able to attend the Temple twice. Very spiritual experiences! Also, Christmas is coming soon so we are working hard to complete our testimony dvd project as well as obtaining Christmas music!

We found three new investigators this past well who are all prepared to receive the Gospel! Very excited.

I enjoyed the Christmas Devotional last night. It was very good, felt the spirit a lot and have some good ideas for our District.

Our District is struggling right now. So as District Leader I decided to host a district meeting at the Temple. We went there and felt the spirit strong. I spoke with President Pingree about the situation and we have solutions to make this work. I have 6 months left to help our District and Branch grow.

It's crazy how fast time flies! In just 6 months I will be home and working and preparing for school and so on. I can't believe it! This is the most important and can become the most dangerous time also. The reason is because of the knowledge that you are almost done and can soon go back to watching movies, tv, listening to the radio, dating girls, going to work and college, and so on. But I'm seeing it as a time to stay strong because of the opportunities the Lord is presenting me with. I know that the Lord has put me in this Deaf Branch for two years for a reason. I am so humbled to have the opportunity to meet so many amazing Deaf people here as well as church leaders and Missionaries.

I ask yall to pray for a few people. First, Itzel as well as Arnold and Andrea. These are our most recent investigators and I hope they are prepared to receive the Gospel.

Also, please pray for me. I'm about to hit 6 months left and I know that if Satan wants anything, it's to have his strong Missionaries become weak. Thoughts of home have started to come back. The natural man in me is starting to fight. I want to be spiritually prepared and ready to resist the temptations and to work hard. I have 6 months left to do the Lord's work and to represent Him. I love this and don't want to mess up.

I love yall so much and hope you have a good Christmas season!


Elder Gardner

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Family and Friends,

Last week I watched a movie named Ephraim's Rescue. It was amazing, and I cried at the end. Got to see many Missionaries I haven't seen in months. Tuesday we went to do service. A member that joins us each week, Kristel, is leaving on her Mission Dec 3rd and so that was the last day we'd see her. We had all become good friends. So we went to a taco place and ate tacos, took photos, and said goodbye. We received a referral from ASL missionaries in another state, this referral was from Riverside Texas. Over an hour from Houston. Furthest I've been. So we went there but it was dark so it was hard to see. Very cool to see non city. Saw stars!

Wednesday I went to the Mission Office to get working on our testimony movie. I feel honored to have permission to use my video editing skills to help make a project for our Branch.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. Went to the park and played ultimate Frisbee, then got changed and enjoyed the rest of the day at the Speckhards. Great to see AJ and Emily again, the kids of Brother and Sister Speckhard. Got to hang out and have fun, enjoyed a DELICIOUS and WONDERFUL dinner. (Reminds me of home every time) and then had pie and played games. Brother Speckhard made me trunky though, turns out his family is going to their summer cabin in Wisconsin in July 2014, when I'll be home, and he invited me to join them if I wanted. Awesome!

Friday had Zone Meeting. Taylor came to team interpret with me again. Saturday we checked out the referral in Riverside again, but this time in daylight. Met the man we were looking for, and now have a person for the Missionaries to meet!

Sunday was great! Church was pretty good. A little smaller attendance than usual, but still acceptable. I ended up teaching the first hour class, and Elder McGill taught Priesthood. Sister Skidmore was there to interpret Sacrament meeting testimonies, and she asked for me to help her (since she only comes once a month). Afterward we were taught how to act out the Restoration lesson without signing thanks to our member Adrianna (who Taylor helped bring back). Then we went to the Temple, with plans to film my testimony. However, it was too dark, so we just hung around for an hour and took photos. It was great to feel the spirit! Then Skidmores for Dinner and home.

I've been having very good spiritual experiences this past week. My testimony has improved and become very strong. I know the church is true and I KNOW God loves us so much. I know He speaks to us Today through the Prophet, Apostles, and the Holy Ghost. Read the Book of Mormon, it will change your life forever!

Have a great week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ashton Family

The Ashton Family
Hello family and friends,

This past week we drove all the way up north to Willis Texas to visit a family that wanted to meet with us. Their name is the Ashton family and honestly that's one of the best appointments I've ever been to! This family has been through so much. They are all hearing, but their son cannot speak. He got in a crash a decade ago or so and immobilized his tongue and left arm. He's been struggling to communicate with people and has desired to learn sign language. I guess the Lord decided now was the time. We have been invited to teach the family how to communicate better. This family is awesome. They have a blog and a facebook page. You should read their story. It is amazing. I cannot help but tear up when I think about their family. We are going to help them forever.


The boy's name is Travis and he's very cool and smart. Just can't talk. He can hear fully. His brother is a return missionary who has baptized tons and has helped so much with the family. The mom is amazing and a total Texas. We are excited to help them out!

I had the opportunity to give a member who is blind and deaf a blessing of comfort. He has been struggling and I was able to use the power of God to help him.

Friday was fun. We had a YSA activity that Taylor invited us to. We invited our few YSA members of the Branch and went to it. It was a bonfire and the fire was huge! We came and socialized with the deaf ones because we were the only ones who knew asl. We all had fun and I'm so happy Taylor is working with us.

Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference. Very good, learned a lot and helped interpret. Got to teach Taylor how to act out the Joseph Smith story. Got to see a soon-to-become-Sister-Missionary Kristel Mondragon and we all plan on writing her and encouraging her to keep going. She's cool!

Now Today we will be watching Ephrame's Rescue. We will be having Thanksgiving at the Speckhard's house. It's going to be a great week and I feel so good right now. :)

Soon I will have the opportunity to film my Testimony in asl next to the Houston Temple for a video project. I will update you on that later. :)


Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Miracles are happening!

Miracles are happening!
Hello family and friends,

This past week has been intense with miracles. We gave elder mcgill a blessing, I fixed two people's computers, we went to the Temple and had a good show up, and got to do exchanges. I got permission to create a dvd movie of the member sharing their testimony in asl and am very excited for this special opportunity to use my skills and experiences to help the Branch.

Sunday we got a good show up of 65 people! That hasn't happened in a long time! I taught priesthood and it was a good lesson. A women who only knew spanish came with a sister who was deaf and only knows MSL... so we are very excited to learn MSL and teach her! Also, a member, who we used Taylor to help bring back into activity, wants to join us, so now we are going to teach her the lessons again and then have her help us act out stories and sign in MSL with our investigator. Very excited!

Exchanges are happening and no one is moving. I get to have Thanksgiving with the Speckhards again! I am so happy right now. I couldn't be in a better place!

Could yall pray for our investigators. Several are really close. And pray for elder mcgill, because he has had bad headaches recently because of his cochlear implant which broke. we need to give him a new one but they cost thousands. but he can't focus and is taking a lot of medicine and is having very high and low moods. prayers will help!

Love you all!

Love, Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We got a baptism!

We got a baptism!

Family and friends,
This past week has been one of the most strangest weeks ever! Let me explain. Last week after emailing and shopping and stuff, our appointment fell through. So we prayed and all felt inspired to go visit a certain member. We did, and that member had many others visiting their home, so we got to chat with a lot of less actives. Then we taught the member a good lesson and committed him to prepare to receive the Priesthood.

After many weeks of skipping service, we finally found ourselves the opportunity to go! We go to a food bank and help out with the food organizing and stuff. The once the day was over we went on exchanges. Myself went south with Elder Oleson, and Elder McGill went North.

Wednesday night we had a shock. That night while planning our vp rang. We answered and it was our investigator. We had been teaching him the Restoration and Plan of Salvation. I guess he watched the Restoration video and felt the spirit confirm to him that the church was true. So he called and asked to be baptized! I was shocked! Elder Mitchell fainted and fell on the ground and Elder Erickson performed what we are now coining the 'baptism dance'.

So we had just a few days to setup this last minute baptism that he wanted on Saturday. So Thursday we had a meeting in the early afternoon which was good, then we announced it. Had a few other appointments. Friday morning we met with Taylor and had her voice interpret her Testimony. She did a good job. We have been using her to help us with the single women in our Branch. She's been doing a good job! Then we picked up the Zone Leader who would interview our investigator, and had him interviewed. It went well!

Saturday we exchanged again and I and Elder McGill planned elders quorum business while the others setup the baptism. The baptism was great! It worked out and we had enough people show up!

Sunday was good. We had a few meetings then had the normal classes. Had one less active show up at random and wanted to share his testimony, however he read from wikipedia about the Mormons, so that was interesting. But we had a good rest of the day!

I am very happy about this past week. Strange and unusual things have happened. A baptism, a testimony, and so on. But things are working out and I'm very happy!
I hope you all have a great week!
Elder Gardner

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Halloween... but better than that were the miracles that happened!

Happy Halloween... but better than that were the miracles that happened!

Family and friends,
A good week once again!
Monday night last week we had a lesson with our investigator named Shirley. Her uncle recently passed away so we taught about family history and Temple work and we encouraged her to read the book of Mormon. That was a very powerful lesson.
On Wednesday we had the opportunity to learn about family history and found out that I'm related to royalty!

Halloween day we visited some people then learned some Mexican sign language,then went home and took advantage of the time and video phoned many people. It was very good!
Friday was great! We had a zone meeting got Taylor to team interpret with me since Elder Mitchell was teaching half of it and Elder Erickson and Oleson aren't quite ready to interpret. It was a relief because without someone else team interpreting with me, I would have interpreted for 3 hours straight... my poor hands! Haha. Also had an elder's quorum exchange and went to red robin and talked about the things we want to setup. We have an awesome elder's quorum president who is willing to do anything for us.

Saturday was spiritual experience after spiritual experience! Cleaned the building in the morning. Found a wallet on the group belonging to a Mexican who's over 200 miles away. Then after studies went to the Temple and had a great session! Then attended a baptism of one of our member's daughters. I helped interpret, then Bro. Tuck (the one who interpreted General Conference) team interpreted with me.It was cool! Then we went on exchanges for a moment and taught our investigator Eric about Testimonies and really got connected to him.

Sunday was great! We committed Taylor to voice interpret our Testimonies so she came early to church and we reviewed some asl. I helped teach Priesthood and explained the importance of home teaching. Then Sacrament meeting. It was good! Taylor interpreted mine and Elder McGill's testimony. She and Sister Skidmore were voice interpreting and some of the members sign really strange so I had to help them out a few times. I'm very happy we are having success with shorter Testimonies and Taylor being willing to interpret a lot more.

Then we eventually had fast Sunday dinner with the Skidmores and they gave us their old TV which was a lot bigger than ours. So we switched TVs now. We use our TV to video phone our members.
Anyway, that's about it for this week!
I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Elder Gardner!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wonder Miracles are taking place in the Branch!

Hello family and friends.

I have to go soon so I'll summarize the highlights!

Last week we have a dinner appointment and home teaching lesson with our home teaching companion and member. He's very well off and took us to an expensive restaurant which served cheeseburgers a foot and a half tall, and we tried to each them all before we left but it was impossible. haha

We also taught the Missionaries in the Mission how to use ASL to contact deaf people. And it turns out that one of the Missionaries then found a deaf person the next day and used the asl we taught her to communicate and give us the person's information! I'm happy the Sisters were able to give us the referral.

Saturday we have a Halloween activity in the Branch and it was very successful. We got many many non members and less actives to come. And we have involved Taylor, our young interpreter we have been teaching for a month or two now, to help us with a less active, who showed up. Everything worked out perfectly! And Sunday was awesome as well. I was asked at the last minute to give a talk. So I talked about the Priesthood. Good thing I'm ready on the spot to teach almost anything.

Anyway, I need to take off now! So have a great week! More stuff and photos next week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Wonderful Sunday!

A Wonderful Sunday!

Hello family and friends,
This past week was a little slow, trying to find and teach. Trying to help the Branch. Many appointments falling through. Thursday we had district meeting and Friday we had temple and I helped interpret for Elder McGill. Also, Elder Erickson has a new gps now so we are using his and retiring ours. It's been put to good use but needs a break.
Sunday was the most amazing day this week. We came and taught our Sunday school class. The young women we have been teaching how to interpret, was coming to interpret. She shows up and I taught her the branch member's name signs. Then we had a combined Priesthood, Relief Society Young Men and Young Woman meeting for second hour. We talked about family history and how the deaf can look up their ancestors. I continued to help the young women with asl. At one point, the door opens and one of our super less active members shows up! Hasn't been to church FOREVER. We have tried to contact him again and again. Never home. We all gave up, but he, on his on will decided to show up. Instantly everyone started to gasp and Bro. Speckhard, who was conducting with Sister Molen interpreting, stopped the meeting and pulled him over. Elder Mitchell and i were the only ones in the district now to know him, but we were shocked! And two of our investigators came to church!!! YES!!!
Then Sacrament meeting came. Sister Molen grabbed T and told her she was going to interpret. She was freaked out and didn't want to, but all of us encouraged her. This has been our goal for a month now. I sat near her and reviewed the talk she was to interpret. The time came and she went up and interpreted. W.O.W. Improvement! She did very well, I only had to help a few times. It was awesome! She is also helping us with a less active young adult who wants to quit the church.
This week we will be showing the Missionaries in our Mission how to sign in ASL. We got permission to have 20 minutes with different groups. We are excited about that!
That's about it. I am very happy. This transfer will be amazing. Elder Erickson is awesome. Elder Mitchell and I are training very well.
Until next time,
Love Elder Gardner.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trio Training, District and Zone Leader, Elders Quorum...

Family and Friends,

Well... hi! Sitting here in Houston Texas in a college with my new trainee and other companion. I'm never been more exhausted in my life. Trio training and leadership responsibilities. Gotta love them! I'm happy I have a strong testimony of the church, or I wouldn't be doing this. The church IS true!

This past week Elder Erickson flew in and we greeted him and he threw himself directly into the work. He wants to work hard, more hard than I have. He's pumped up and ready to get people baptized, which is exactly who we need. He knows asl very well and has already been leading lessons. I'm excited for this Elder.

As District Leader now I have to make decisions in the District, teach meetings and go to meetings. It's a lot of fun!

We have a TON of new Missionaries and a ton of new trainers. Some of them just few in a few months ago and are already training!

We are such a big family in the Mission!

Updates on our investigators and members:

Sherman's mom has a wall now, isn't changing. So we are using the Match family to involve her in the Branch. That should soften her heart and encourage her to allow Sherman to be baptised. HE IS READY! Please pray for them, that she might open her heart and allow him to be baptized.

Taylor has been progressing good. She's the member we have been teaching asl to. She will be at the branch next Sunday so we will have her interpret. She's awesome! Very excited and is helping us with another member...

Adrianna is a less active return missionary. She has had emotional problems and wanted to quit the church. I spent an hour trying to convince her to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to heal her wounds. She is very scared and I bore a powerful testimony to her. I even mentioned a super personal experience where I had pondered quitting the church myself and used the spiritual experience I had to comfort her. We asked Taylor, who's the same age, to get her involved. Become friends. Do stuff together. I hope that she will come back to church and not quit.

This week will be busy with meetings and Temple. I will probably have the opportunity to help interpret there, which will be a super unique experience.

That's about all I can think of. I hope everyone has a great week!


Elder Gardner


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Transfer week and guess who's training AND district leader!

Transfer week and guess who's training AND district leader!
Family and Friends,
Well... that's right. Just Today President Pingree called and asked if I were willing to become the District Leader AND Train Elder Erickson along with Elder Mitchell. Yes, we are Trio Training.
So... things are going to be very busy around here. And Today was crazy because we were swamping cars. So we didn't have time to email.
And now Elder McGill needs to pack because he's going South now. And I still need a haircut...
So sorry for the late and short email. I will try to sneak in a letter to my family soon.
With more responsibility comes less time to do emails and other things. The Lord is giving us so much trust and I don't want to disappoint Him.
Watching General Conference was the best thing I have ever done. You should all watch it on lds.org. It's recorded so you can watch it again and again. The messages on there are inspired from God. They are the things we need to know TODAY right Now, from a LIVING Prophet, just like Moses, Noah, Abraham, Joseph Smith, and Jesus Christ Himself. God loves us and wants us to be happy. So we need to pay our tithing, DON'T GIVE UP IF WE ARE DEPRESSED, repent, follow the Savior, don't prioritize other things over going to church on Sunday, and so on.
These messages will help you, I promise. They are helping our members in our Branch. They are helping me. They will help you.
This Saturday we hope to have a baptism... the mother of the son is struggling to approve, so I ask for your prayers for Sherman that his mom might open her heart. We met with her last week and I was led by the spirit and Testified of the truth of the Gospel. The spirit was amazing in that house. The spirit led me to say what I needed to say. The mom is slowly changing, but we hope she can change soon so we can baptize her son. He needs it.
I ask for you to also pray that we might change the heart of Eric, an investigator who wants to be baptized... so he can receive food from the Bishop Storehouse. We will need to work with him about that.
Also pray for a young women we are teaching sign language to. Her name is Taylor. Shes 25 and is trying to learn sign language. She got called as an interpreter, but is really nervous. We are working to help increase her confidence in interpreting, so I ask for prayers to give her that confidence that when I say 'time to practice interpreting' and start talking to her, with the intent of her to sign to us in return, that she won't look nervous but do so confidently.
I think that's about it for now. Have a great week! I love you all!
Elder Gardner.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Filming Testimonies and prepareing for the new Elder

Hello family and friends,

This past week, as usual, has been crazy. I find myself always busy doing something, from driving around Houston, to teaching members, to teaching investigators, to helping interpret at church, teaching members ASL, and so on.

Tuesday Elder McGill had a doctor's appointment to check his ears. He has had ringing in his head since his cochlear implant broke. Doctor says he may have some kind of tumor or something in his head. That's scary! We have an appointment in October to check his head and ears.

Later that afternoon we went to be interviewed by President Pingree. Good meeting, good interview.

This past Tuesday was one of the most spiritual experiences I've had with a particular investigator. His name is S and he's been strugging to accept a baptism date. Or, at least we thought. Invited him and his mom to come outside and walk around the Temple, around 7-8pm. They came, we taught him, and she came to pick him up. I spoke with the mom and tried to figure out, once and for all, why we are struggling. She revealed many concerns, which now make sense. She said she's willing to allow him to be baptized once he shows that he understand what he's promising to do. So now we need to work with the mom to try to allow him to be baptized.

We have been working with a recent convert, trying to help her gain the confidence she needs to interpret. She's really nervous and is afraid she will make mistakes. So we have been meeting with her and signing with her and practicing interpreting with her. Her name's T. Recent convert of a year, 25 years old. Our goal with her last week was to film her Testimony. She was super nervous about it, but we practiced and practiced. On Saturday we went to the park and studied there, then she came along around 10am and we just chatted for about 30 minutes. Our goal was to help her become comfortable with singing and no talking. Then we asked if she was ready, and she said she'd try. She did a great job, and attached is a still from the video.

We've been collecting Testimonies from everyone else as well. Some hearing, some deaf. I have stills from all the videos we have filmed thus far.

Sunday was busy. We went to church early to have an Elder's Quorum meeting, then Priesthood Executive Meeting, then taught Gospel Principles. Then when I thought I could take a break and hide in the back during combined Relief Society and Priesthood, the hearing ward (that meets at the same time as us) Primary Presidency came in and asked for me to interpret. One of our deaf families brought their non member primary age friends again, so I spend the next hour interpreting singing time and sharing time. Many new songs in Primary I didn't recognize and had to interpret by ear instead of memory!

Sacrament was good. I shared my Testimony of the important of my responsibility and how the members can help. Then we headed off and visited our Branch President, who was sick. Just a quick visit to show we loved him and missed him. Then came home early to prepare for today.

So now it's Today! Yaaay! Elder McGill and I are going to try and take advatnage of what may or may not be our last full week together, and try to find and teach as many people as we can. So I'm going to be super busy.

So enjoy your week and Happy October (Tomorrow, anyway)!


Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Busy is now my middle name!

Family and friends,

Wow. This past week has been so crazy! So many things happening now.
With permission from our Mission President, we have been filming the members share their Testimonies. We will put them together in a DVD and distribute that to all the deaf we meet. We have also been including hearing members as well who know sign language.
Friday we went to the Temple with the Branch. Small group, but we enjoyed it. One young adult woman recently has been called as an interpreter in our Branch, and still is awkward with sign language. So we met her last week Friday. She's a lot more comfortable with people her age (she's 24) than with adults or other settings. We were one on one with her so she was able to receive direct feedback from us as we helped her. We are now teaching her sign language and practicing interpreting two times a week. She's a recent convert and is really cool.
We fasted for one of our investigators, S. He's READY to be baptized. He KNOWS the church is true. Yet he still hesitates. He's still nervous, not taking that last step. Last week Elder McGill led the lesson and we felt the spirit so strong. We proved to him that he was ready. We reviewed the baptism questions with him without him knowing what they were, and he beleives EVERYTHING about the church, yet still doesn't want to be baptised. So Tomorrow we will take him to the Temple and walk outside and allow him to feel the spirit. He wants to enter the Temple and see his friends from the Branch there. We hope we can figure out how to help him.
We've also been setting up home teaching. Our Elders Quorum President is resonsible for all of this, however he works and is super busy, which is probably why two full time Missionaries were called, meaning my companion and I. So we were given the task to setup home teaching, figure out how to teach Priesthood class better, and help supervise the Branch's temporal needs. Sunday was crazy. We had a meeting with him at 9am, we reviewed our home teaching list we stayed up the night before preparing. Then we had a special meeting where we and another leader with two different lists tried to combine and unify them. Then after a long heated discussion we finally agreed and setup home teaching.
Then the hearing ward that meets at the same time had a Primary program, so we watched that and supported them. Then taught our Gospel Principles class, then fell asleep during Priesthood because I have a small cold that's making me exhausted. Then Sacrament meeting, very good.
Today we took control of PDAY. We had a picture scavenger hunt and it was fun. Will have to explain later.
Anyway I need to go! Take care!

Elder Gardner.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A lot more responsibility

Hello family and friends,

This past week has been more and more busy. I am finding less time to email again. With two callings now, Missionary work and Elder's Quorum 1st Counselor, the things I need to do everyday have doubled. And we are trying to find more opportunities to teach during the day, so that's less time to email.

But real quick, we have a new investigators in Dallas. We have decided to incorporate tracting into our work. If an appointment falls through, we knock on the surrounding houses and ask if they know anyone who is deaf, and if they want to learn more about our church. This way we can help the Engish and Spanish missionaries, as they help us a lot.

I am excited for our new Missionary coming in just a few weeks. He is going to have a ton of fun.

I hope you are all having a great week!


Elder Gardner.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Good week, traveled to new town and got spelling calling in Branch!

Good week, traveled to new town and got special calling in Branch!
Hello family and friends!

This past week was great! Just after I emailed a week ago, the fire alarms went off in the building. We were informed it was not a test and we were all required to leave. So we all went outside and firetrucks came. Turns out that it was just a kid who pulled the red lever. Gosh! I have a photo of a member, T, with Elder McGill and I. He goes to school there and happened to be with us during the alarm so I interpreted what was happening.

We visited a lot of members and investigators this past week, one of them moved to a very nice upgraded house. Used to live in a trailer home, then moved, now to a nice one story house.

We are using our young man named M now with us for a few investigators, including S. S still doesn't fully accept that he needs to be baptized to progress. He believes that he needs to know everything before he's baptized. So we are encouraging him to come to church and learn every week. Maybe someday he will feel confident and satisfied enough and be willing to be baptized. He's ready!

We also have another investigator, J, who we are struggling to communicate well with. He doesn't know a lot of sign language, and it's hard to act out and classify a lot of the principles and concepts we teach, such as pre-mortal life or life after death. We try to teach him sign language but that's hard as well. We are hoping to meet with Brother Tuck, the one who helped interpret the ASL General Conference in April, he was the one in glasses. He is pro at interpreting and we hope he will be willing to teach us how to teach the gospel with acting and not sign language.

On Sunday we got a surprise. We had a member from the high council come. This only happens if we have changes in the Branch or new callings, etc. He pulled Elder McGill and myself aside and asked if we would be willing to be called as first and second counselors in the Elders Quorum Presidency. We accepted. So we got set apart and now I have the following callings:

Transportation messenger
1st Counselor in Elders Quorum for the Branch

I think this is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of and try to work hard. I will be doing a lot of normal member stuff now, but it's worth it. I want this Branch to grow and I'm willing to accept the extra responsibility.

Also after church we went over to Dayton Tx, near Houston. An hours drive. Have a few photos of that. It was neat seeing not-Houston. Seeing more Texas, wild west country kind of stuff was cool. Of course the less active we were meaning to visit wasn't there so we hope they will call us on the vp.

Anyway, that's it for this week! Hope you all have a great week!

Love, Elder Gardner.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Labor Day is everyday for us!

Hello family and friends! This week has been busy as always. Labor day the library was closed so we didn't have a chance to email until now. So here it is!

A cool experience we had with one investigator. We were trying to get in contact but were failing. Just as we were about to leave, I was literately pulling in reverse when Elder McGill said there was someone standing by the car. I looked over and there was our investigator! We were able to setup an appointment with him!

We've also given a baptism date to our other investigator. Prayers that he will be able to continue to progress!

We have been focusing on the less actives now, trying to find out why they aren't coming to church and how we can help them. So we have a list now and we will be making rounds trying to contact them and stuff.

Anyway this email will be short because we are lucky we have permission to email on a non pday. so have a great week! I'll work on the other emails next week!


Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another good week, with more to come!

Family and friends,

This past week was good. We were able to visit many members as we always do. We had the opportunity to teach one of our investigators in McDonalds. Despite the distractions, we were able to feel the spirit. We have been taking a young man from the branch, our 17 year old member, with us to appointments now so that we can have him fellowship with the members and investigators we have. Friday night we had exchanges and I went with the new Missionary transferred from English to Asl, Elder Olseon. He's pretty cool and is willing to learn the language. So Saturday we gave other missionaries the keys to the baptism room because we forgot to after our baptism last week. When we arrived a member saw us and was confused why we were there. We explained we were asl and that just triggered the chatterbox. For two and a half hours we stood there while he talked about his experiences serving in the Branch a few years ago as well as his many Mission experiences. Finally we got out and went to support one of Elder Oleson's previous investigator's baptism. After that we went and saw a member, contacted a referral and visited a less active. Then we made pizza at the apartment and exchanges ended.

We have new callings in our Branch. A new Relief Society Presidency as well as an Elder quorum president. These callings will help the Branch grow with home and visiting teaching assignments and more!

Anyway that's all the news for Today.

Thanks for the prayers and hope everyone has a wonderful week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two Baptisms, the Branch is Growing!

Two Baptisms, Branch is growing!
Hello family and friends,

This past week we were able to witness the baptism of the couple that got married. That was awesome to watch them both make covenants with our Heavenly Father and to watch them, the following Sunday, received the Holy Ghost. Elder Oleson confirmed the man, in full sign language, which was really neat to see. What a great first real experience signing a special prayer! Also, another one of our investigators showed up to the baptism, a little late but the fact that he was willing to use the bus to get over to the stake center was amazing.

I think there are miracles waiting to happen. We have some good people to focus on. We have another male to help him try to progress toward baptism. The problem with him is that he only know a few signs and doesn't know english that well. So it's going to be a slow process for him. We've met with him a few times but mostly our lessons will be trying to help him understand one principal at a time. We gave him a copy of the book of mormon in both English and ASL as well as the picture book versions. He's watched a little bit of it. The problem is his father is against the church and I think he abuses his wife. The mother doesn't care for the church but is allowing him to be independent. He's willing to come so we are having the one of the branch families, recently moved in, help support him through giving him rides.

We are going to focus also on the couple right now. The sister needs to be taught about the Ordinances now, such as Temple baptism for the dead, as well as missionary work and family history, etc. His next goal should be Priesthood, since he doesn't have it yet. So we will work on that with him. We also have a young man, doing what I did before my mission, to help him prepare for his mission.

The work is going along! We also had a Temple trip this past week which was great. And we got to attend a youth vs missionaries dodgeball game again.

I hope you all have a great week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Marriage and a Baptism, what more could a Missionary Want!

Hello family and friends,

This past week has been incredible! We have been anticipating the marriage of one of our members and his non member girlfriend for YEARS. And on Saturday, they got married! It was a very wonderful moment! We also got to see Brother Alder and Brother Barker, two former Missionaries, come back. The whole week's focus has been on that. Unfortunately the computers here don't like my camera, so you will have to wait until a future time to see the photos, unless you find them on Facebook or through my SD card, etc.

Sunday night we went over to our Branch Mission Leader's house and discussed our ideas for the Branch. Alder and Barker were there and they helped us as well. We really felt the spirit and received an increase in our testimonies as Bro. Speckard explained his views and opinions and testified.

This week we will have two baptisms, one of which is the lady who got married to the member on Sat. Very excited about that!

One of our investigators came to church again! His mom isn't interested in our church but she is still willing to bring him. So please pray that she might be interested in the future so we can have the sister missionaries continue to teach her. The sister and us have been working together to help their family.

Two of our investigators aren't really progressing now.

Another investigator is not progressing either. He is following his mom at the moment, so please pray she might open her mind to allowing him to be baptized. He's ready, just scared of family rejection.

We have a family, who hasn't been to church in a while. Please pray that they will be alright and that they will come back to Houston.

Other than that, there's not a lot of new stuff. Missionary work and more work. It's worth it though. without a shadow of a doubt. My life has changed in so many ways I cannot believe it. The members have told us we have changed since we got here a year ago. I am trying to become more like Jesus Christ, who I represent. This is God's church. We have a living Prophet on the earth Today. The Book of Mormon is true and it changes lives. It's changed mine, and it's changed member's lives here as well as investigators. Without the gospel, it's impossible to find true happiness. I am convinced.

I hope you have a wonderful week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A very busy week, with another on its way.

Hello family and friends,

This past week has been busy as we have continued to work hard, finding people, teaching our members, and setting up things for the Branch. Starting off with last week Monday, after all of our PDay activities, we visited one of our male investigators. Had a good lesson with him. I want to try to think about and focus on our members and investigators more on PDAY, because I'm still a Missionary. I'm still called to serve on Mondays. So it's important to never let any opportunity go to waste.

Tuesday we did service and visited our recent convert. She's doing really good. We also worked with our member the couple investigators  to make sure the wedding plans this Saturday and Baptism next Saturday were all good. Wednesday was very successful as our original plans were not going well. But we prayed, and names were popping in our heads, and so we ended up meeting a new family at the right time. They have a deaf and blind husband who was sick and needed a blessing. So we were able to give him one. Then we visited another member, she's been having some difficulties with her family not being the best support with church. So we chatted for a while. Then visited one of the branch members again. We then tried a less active I have never met before, and he ended up being home and was willing to let us teach him. So we setup an appointment with him Tonight.

Thursday... Zone Conference! We were struggling to find interpreters for Elder McGill, but at the last minute we received one. A woman, early 30s or late 20s. We were very happy she was there. Elder Mitchell, herself and myself would rotate every little bit. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aqn9tgOSmnI/UfsF9AVxN4I/AAAAAAAAGf4/8rVzDNVukEg/s1600/Mission+Pictures+081.JPG This is us and the interpreter is facing away from the camera. Very good meeting though, learned a lot! Then we did weekly planning and have great plans for the next week!

Friday we visited a referrals that Spanish Sisters gave us. They wanted to meet us there. We did and the referral was a 20 year old man who is deaf and has a spanish speaking mom. We entered, the sisters taught the mom and we taught the man. We invited him to church. Saturday we went to the Temple and enjoyed it. Then visited another member, before heading home. Sunday was awesome. Our new investigator came to church! So we were able to setup an appointment with him.

We had one interpreter for Sacrament meeting, and she only comes once a month, so all the drama and news that we Missionaries get from visiting them, she doesn't. So I helped her voice interpret whenever she would miss something. Then she ranted to me after Sacrament about interpreting and how it's hard sometimes when the deaf don't get to the point but go off into sharamonies and such, Haha.

So this up coming week we have the couple that is investigating, getting married. Very excited about that! We also get to see Elder... erm Bro. Kauo and Bro. Alder and an older Missionary Bro Barker, all three coming to visit for the marriage. Very excited, we get to see them again!

So thanks for the prayers and words of encouragement! We really need them. A lot of our investigators are struggling, and a few less actives are as well. So please pray that we will know who to visit and how to be more effective.

I love this Branch. I am so excited to be here. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

So until next time,


Elder Gardner.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The end of a wonderful month, with a new month on it's way!

Hello family and friends!

This past week has been a little slow but still worth it. Last week PDay was crazy with appointments and stuff so I didn't have time to write. This week we are safe, for now! Let's see how far I can go with this email!

Now in the North area we have a few investigators. One is a guy 24-26 or something. He lives with his mom. We found him from a referral text or something, I forget. Last year fall Elder Kauo and I taught him. We started to progress and he seemed interested, then he revealed something about himself that make it difficult to continue. So we dropped him. But recently he's been coming to church and church events again and wanted us to visit. So we have been. Last week Elder McGill and I taught him. We have been trying to find the exact problems he has so we can help him. He believes he needs to know everything BEFORE baptism. He is scared that he will make a mistake and sin and not be able to repent (that's what the Sacrament is for, but I guess he doesn't understand that). So we have been working on trying to help him understand that we aren't perfect and make mistakes. But he's just scared, and we don't know if his mom supports us or not.

We have been working with a recently moved in family. They are awesome. They are exactly what we need to get the Branch to grow. Spanish family with a very smart deaf son who's 17. The family wants to help. They love the deaf. They will do anything. We are taking full advantage and already have a FHE activity setup every Sunday after church for the deaf to meet and do. We want the deaf to do the little things that we take for granted. FHE, fasting, etc. I'm so excited for this family.

We went on exchanges Friday. I went south with Elder Mitchell. As he's traning Elder Olseon, who knows no sign language really, and is super new to Missionary work, Elder Mitchell has been feeling the pain and struggle of traning. So he was happy to have me for the day, since we both ahve the same experience now, and we are both training. It's funny, we went to a place called CiCis, a pizza buffett after district meeting so we could try to strengthen our district, and we got there first since we know the roads well. The other two were late and took forever. I have a new perspective now. I remember almost a year ago when I came here, how Elder Kauo and Alder looked at us and wondered when we would learn and catch on to everything. Suddenly that perspective's changed and I see from theirs now. I am learning to have a TON of patience as Elder McGill tries to understand how Missionary work, works.

Saturday we were able to have Elders meet with our member and her family. They are less active an dh hearing, she is deaf and active. We hope to get her two teenage daughters and husband back to church, reading the scriptures and praying. The problem is I need to interpret the lesson, voice interpret her, and still try to help the hearing english Elders out with their lesson and have Elder McGill get involved. So we will need to figure that out.

Sunday was great! Elder McGill prepared a talk for Sacrament and prepared Sunday School lesson last minute as well. Church was good. After church we decided that whoever doesn't show us, we visit. We were able to meet with a sister, who's a returned Sister Missionary and has been struggling a little. Then we went to the member's home for dinner. They are a young couple with a daughter who's 2 I think. They are awesome, the father is a returned missionary so he know how we feel. He lets us have fun and we always help them prepare their dinner. We play games with them and with their daughter. They are super politically aware and always talk about their views on politics. We really can;t say much of course. haha

That leads us to Today. Another PDAY. As my time on my Misison goes by, I've focused less and less on myself and more and more on others. When I first started, all I honestly wanted was to make sure I was comfortable and that my trainer was nice to me , and so on. On pdays I would always want to play all day and have fun with the other Missionaries. But now I've really stated to change. I don't really care as much if I get all of the fun things done. I shop, I email, I write a fefew letters, I hang out with the missionaries and do have many friends, but my mind is always focused on the members now. I'm alwyas trying to figure out who we can visit on pday.

We have a baptism and marriage coming up. He is a member, she is not. She is going to be baptised soon after she is married. The marriage is going to be the most exciting thing, because not only are they getting married, but I get to see Elder Alder and Kauo again! They will be visiting, along with Elder Barker, one Missionary who left when I flew in. I'm very excited to see them again.

I asked my family to pray for a few people. One couple isn't progressing and have asked us to stop visiting now. So keep the prayers going that their hearts and minds might be softened and they will have a desire to learn more about God and his Gospel again. One investigator is going to be baptised soon! He is ready! His friend isn't. Unfortunately he says he will go back to his catholic church after the friend is baptised. So I ask for prayers that his heart might be softened and he will, after seeing his friend get baptised, realize the truth that he can have for himself, if he so desires.

A prayer for a couple please, because they are super stressed with the marriage coming up. Also a lot of deaf are against their marriage for some reason, but they are showing faith and are willing to still go with it anyway. So I want as many prayers as we can get that they will be able to do so successfully. And prayers for Sherman, who I mentioned at the beginning. He knows the church is true, but is scared he needs to be perfect. We can only do so much. I hope and pray his mom will be willing to let us meet and discuss that we are only here to help. I also pray and hope he will open his mind and eventually decide to get baptised.

Our Branch is growing. It's about to hit a spike. I just know it. Us Missionaries need to work smarter. As Elder Mitchell says, work smarter not harder. I love the people here so much. Tears come to my eyes and I see deaf people understand the truths of the gospel and accept Jesus Christ. I know that God has a plan for everyone of His children. I am so happy I am here at this time doing what I'm doing. There is no better place in the world for me to be, but right here, right now.

Have a wonderful week everyone! God bless you all! Keep our investigators in your prayers. In the end, it's their choice and God's will, but with faith, miracles happen. As Elder Holland said in the April General Conference:

" first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe." http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng

I know that is true. With faith, our investigators DOUBLED. We followed President Pingree's instructions (which are really the Lord's, not his) and our investigators DOUBLED. With ONE planning night following it. Imagine doing it every night. We could get this Branch to become active and strong. Members with testimonies. I am so excited for this next year, but am also sad that i only have less than a year left. I have one year to do everything I can within my ability to help the deaf who are willing to listen, to come closer to Christ. It's going to be hard, but it's worth it.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!


Elder Gardner.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Transfer Week!

Family and friends!

This week has been insane! We had transfers and now I'm with Elder McGill in the North area. He cannot drive so I do all the driving.

I think my emails will be a little bit shorter for a few weeks because we have a lot of things we need to get done and not enough time to email as much.

Plus Today we have appointment at 2:30.

So I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Gardner!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Transfer Week!

Hi everyone,

This will be a short email because of the lack of time we have. Transfers week and Today is the last day for Elder Moody to get ready. So next week should have more time!

We had a rather busy week with two new investigators and a lot happening!

We have three potential investigators who may be baptized in the next few weeks, which is really exciting!

This week is transfer week and we will see what happens!

I hope you all have a great week!

Again, sorry for the super short email, we have a ton of things to do.


Elder Gardner