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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm now 21! Fun week!

Family and friends,

I want to thank you for your birthday wishes on my behalf! I can't believe I'm 21 now! We thought about what things I am legally allowed to do now, and all the things are either against Missionary rules or our Commandments. Well, glad to know as you get older, you are allowed to sin more, as Elder Mitchell says. Puts a new perspective on things.

So! Monday was our Zone Pday, where all the Missionaries gathered together. We arrived and a woman came up to me and said she had some surprises. I knew someone was coming but didn't know what the surprises were. So she shows me a video of my mom and family, then took a photo with me and the Sisters there. Then I was shown our cupcakes and got a video of myself saying thanks. Then everyone else showed up and we had a ton of fun chatting, seeing each other again, 

I gave two Sisters my last planner and challenged them to make pictures for them. So they did, and so I got a photo with both of them and the planner pictures they made. Also got a photo with Sister Shell, a visa waiter who is leaving soon.

Tuesday we had a good day, and taught several people at our ASL class! Wednesday we had a miracleWent to a Less active member's home and explained, once again, about the importance of going to church. I felt prompted to show him a General Conference video about your 4 seconds (sat afternoon session) on Earth, and as I went to do that, his friend shows up. So it became a member present as we watched the video and Testified of the importance of following the commandments.

Thursday we went to Court and tried to resolve Elder Oleson's case. We met a YSA girl there who was caught speeding. So we spent 3 hours there. Then visited some people, then correlation. I love the new Branch Mission Leader, Brother Mealey. He's very sarcastic but has a sincere heart. Friday was District Meeting, possibly my last one. We went to the Galleria and tried to mall sign. The mall is very long, feels like forever walking back and forth! Then went to a deaf social. We saw an inactive member there, awkward!

Saturday morning we went to a baptism. So background, E. Erickson contacted a man and gave the information to the Sisters. They taught him, he accepted baptism, wanted E. E to baptize him. SO, we went to their ward building and he baptized him. Then got an oil change, then did family history. I LOVE FAMILY HISTORY! It's so much fun finding names and connecting my tree!

Sunday was a good day at church, felt the spirit. Went to Galveston again, tried to contact the referral, but not home. Oh well. :(

Anyway, have a great week!


Elder Gardner


Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter!
Family and friends,

I hope ya'll have a happy Easter and can enjoy and remember our Savior Jesus Christ and what He's done for us to help us live with Him and our Heavenly Father again!

We have the opportunity now as Missionaries to read the full Book of Mormon and highlight passages which talk about how we can use the Atonement. It's hard for me to read a book and progress well without getting distracted. However, I have been able to keep up with my reading and have been doing a good job with the Book of Mormon so far. I do hope to learn a lot as I find passages that relate to how to USE the Atonement.

As far as the Branch and work is going, we are trying to help our investigators get to church through whatever means we can figure out. We tried to get a member involved to help our investigator's van get fixed, but he suggested we go to a local shop. So now we need to encourage her to use family or friends to help get funds so she can become more independent.

We finally received a new Branch Mission Leader. The Mealey family. They are fantastic and are trying so hard to learn sign language as fast as possible. He is amazing, has sarcasm and humor but knows when to be serious.

Friday we went to the Temple to do Baptisms for the dead with our Branch. It was fantastic seeing Brother Speckhard again, as well as watching members of our Branch help do family names for us. I've been doing a lot of family history and have been trying to fix up my tree as well as do the ordinances for those whom haven't been done yet.

Unfortunately, a member passed away last week on his birthday, so we attended a birthday party funeral for him.

Saturday was exchanges, as Elder Mitchell had the awesome opportunity to go team interpret with Brother Tuck at a Stake Youth activity way far up north where Book of Mormon characters come to life. Then we had dinner with him when they came back down, and had a fun Gospel discussion with them.

Sunday was good, talked about and learned more about Easter. I taught Sunday School, Elder Erickson taught Priesthood. Sacrament meeting was good. Then Skidmores for Easter Dinner.

This week will be good as we continue to work hard and bring souls unto Christ.

Have a great week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, April 14, 2014

Transfers, interviews, Temple and my birthday coming up?

Family and friends,

Last week we said goodbye to some members. I will miss them! Then had exchanges and Elder Erickson went South and Oleson north. The following day we visited a member, a deaf and blind man, who went to the hospital again. He was not doing well. In fact, he passed away just after his Birthday. :(

Thursday after we planned, President called and says he wants Elder Erickson to go South by Saturday. An emergency transfer, halfway through this transfer! This is on purpose and I will explain more as my time comes to an end.

The weekend was an exchange and Temple trip. Then we ate Dinner with the richest member in our Branch.

Following that we did family history.

Sunday we went to church. Our Stake President came to speak with us, as it was Branch Conference. It was good. I also spoke with many of the members to make sure everyone will still be here and not on vacation in June, when my family picks me up. We then went to Galveston to try a contact a referral, who wasn't home.

So that was my week. We shall see what happens this week!

Oh, and yes I hit my 22 month mark this week. And apparently my birthday is next week? I've been on a Mission too long and don't remember that stuff easily. But I will when I get presetns :D haha

Anyway, have a great week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, April 7, 2014

General Conference Weekend!

Family and friends,

This past week was General Conference weekend! Prior to that, we had some interesting experiences. First, after emailing home we went to the stake center and sister king and shell was there. We chatted for a while when our phone buzzed in a text. Turns out one of our progressing investigators was sent the hospital because of a heart problem and wouldn't be released until 3 weeks later. Saddened by the problems Satan throws at our Deaf people we try to help, I started to lose hope. Sister King said to have faith, and said we should pray. So the four of us knelt down and prayed for her to recover fast. Last that night Elder Oleson suggested we Fast for her the next day. We texted the zone and asked them to pray as well. Just a few days later we got a text that she was released from the hospital and was recovering! We were so happy that it worked!

We had some good lessons this past week, most of them focused on General Conference and encouraging members and investigators to watch it. Thursday night before heading home we tried a referral that I've lost some hope with, but he was home and we taught the Restoration lesson on his doorstep and he accepted a book of mormon! Friday we had zone meeting. In the past, the Saturday morning before General Conference we would go to iHOP, however we decided to go to Red Robin instead Friday afternoon. Then after checking facebook, we found a Deaf social and went to a mall. The mall was huge and a ton of worldly distractions were present. I avoided them as much as I could! We ended up seeing a group of HS girls who were taking ASL classes. Awkward... we spend about 20-30 minutes introducing ourselves and then decided to just leave, haha.

General Conference weekend was fun! But sadly, we missed half of it! Wouldn't you know, Saturday morning the computers and projectors and everything is setup, when just as it starts, everything goes down. The satellite receiver fails. So the other Ward's tech guy and I frantically resetup everything so it could play in both asl and english. Afternoon session we went to a member's house, but they were late by 40 minutes. Sunday morning we resetup things better, but the one projector died, so we had to depend on ASL only. Afternoon was the best, we got a TV to work. I was very happy I could use the little technology skills I could still remember to help out.

(Priesthood session , the man interpreting the songs was my Deaf MTC teacher!)

That's the past week! I am excited to see what happens this week! The Hausman family is leaving in a few days and won't return to Houston until I leave, so we will say goodbye in about 30 minutes.

As Missionaries we have planners that we use to keep track of schedules and stuff. We put pictures on them for fun, sometimes. So for my last planner, I gave the covers to two Sisters that I'm friends with, trusting that they can use their skills to create a fun surprise for me :)

Anyway, that's all I have! Have a wonderful week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, March 31, 2014

Transfer week, my goals and hopes

Family and friends,

Transfers happened. Elder Mitchel is now North again, and I am with Elder Oleson in the South. I'm probably going to die South, I think.

After transferring Elder Mitchell, we went to an investigators home. He was sent to the Hospital because of sudden sickness and needed emergency help. He's mostly blind and deaf. We gave him a blessing. We had our asl class that night. Guess how many people showed up? 14! Two moms with children, the English Elders whom serve in the area our church is in, and two YSA girls. Also a guy from a ward came as well. It was so exciting to have a full row of chairs filled!

Because I have two transfers left, I have decided to set a goal THIS transfer to baptize four of our investigators who are the most promising. One is a 20 year old girl. She lives near one of our member's homes. She is still in school, I guess had educational problems or something. Her mom doesn't seem to like us, as she doesn't allow us in her home, so we teach her outside. We had a fantastic lesson with her Wednesday. I was trying to help her understand the differences between God's church and other churches. I grabbed out our picture book and showed her Joseph Smith and his first vision. Then she started looking through the pictures and found the Salt Lake City Temple. I told her that's where we can be married and sealed for eternity, never to be separated. She started to become excited. We kept showing her more photos in the book and then she stopped and said he was attracted to the church and wanted to be baptized! So we committed her for April. She accepted!

Another investigator is an older women whom has been interested for a while. We need a man with us to enter her home. Finally Thursday we were able to enter, and teach her the Restoration. She was very interested and wanted to be Baptized! Same with our other investigator, female. Our problem with these investigators is they don't have rides, or their cars are broken down. So we have to figure out what to do to help them get to church.

Saturday became a small mess. We originally planned to have an Elder's Quorum exchange, where the other three Elders go and teach and we do home teaching assignments. However, our EQ President had a rough week and needed the day to do other things. So we still did exchanges, but didn't have many backup plans decided. So we did some home teaching stuff and checked Facebook. I felt bad, because I knew we could have had a more productive day if we planned better. Oh well.

Sunday was good. Taught our ASL class, then I taught Sunday School. Then we had a combined Relief Society and Priesthood meeting and learned about registering accounts on LDS.org. Sacrament was good, with Fast and Testimony meeting. Then Skidmore's for Fast Sunday Dinner, as always. Wonderful! It's a tradition to wear aprons there, so Elder Erickson's mom made each of us matching Texas Houston Mission ones, and we got to wear them there.

This week will be great! We will teach our asl class, we have three investigators, with one potential. We have general conference coming up, which I am excited about! I cannot wait to hear the Prophet speak to us again! This will be my last one on my Mission, so sad! But the church is True!

Please pray for the above investigators that their hearts may continue to soften AND that their situation can improve so they can all get to church and be Baptized next month!

I love you all! Have a great week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blessings of the Lord because of Obedience

Family and Friends,

Since I last emailed, we have had a typical week and a few miracles happen. We have one investigator  whom is interested in church and we have taught her the first two lessons from Preach My Gospel. She is very interested and wants to be baptized next month! We hope she can figure out her ride situation so she can get transportation to church. We went to Chick-fil-a to find this one worker there who is learning sign language and we hope to invite her to attend our class Tuesdays.

We had a fun PDay last week with all the Zone in the Stake Center. We got special permission. It was fun, I got to meet a few new missionaries and chat with old friends. Sister King still knows ASL, impressive!

Thursday and Friday we attended the Temple. Great experiences! Friday Elder Mitchell got his boot off and now can walk in normal shoes. He cannot jump, bike or swim until next month. Which is okay, considering we don't do any of that as ASL Missionaries anyway, haha.

Sunday we met with a Deaf young man who's 17 and a member of the church. He is going to serve a Mission next year and wants to join us in lessons. We are excited and will try to get him involved with us as soon as possible.

That's this past week. Tomorrow is transfers! Elder Mitchell is transferring. Most likely going North. I am staying south with Elder Oleson.

I need a haircut... guess I know what I'm doing Tonight!

Due to my struggle trying to wake up 6:30a every day, I have a few friends from our Zone as well as my ASL District to join me in a Fast Yesterday. I hope to improve the morning schedule and I hope these last two transfers I work as hard as I can. I be as obedient as I can.

General Conference is coming up and I'm excited! My last one as a Missionary. I can't wait to hear the living Prophets on the Earth talk to us about things we need to prepare for. I hope we can be ready!

Have a wonderful week! Love ya'll!


Elder Gardner

Monday, March 17, 2014

Progress in the Branch!

Family and friends,

It's been a crazy week! Our ASL Class we host Tuesdays at 7 wasn't successful last week. No one showed up! So we hope someone comes this next week.

We had an Elder's Quorum exchange Wednesday. Elder McGill and I had a meeting as a Presidency and got a lot of progress done. Thursday was fantastic. We visited an investigator names Kaitlyn. The background of this story, first. A week ago Sunday we visited a referral by the name of Kaitlyn. We had a powerful introduction of ourselves as Missionaries and she was very interested. We visited her a second time last week and she had problems with her grade at school and her mom wasn't happy so we asked if she was reading her scriptures and she said she gave them to her boyfriend to read. So we gave her a second copy. Then just before Sunday we texted her and asked if she was coming to church. Turns out she had already started to read the Book of Mormon AND prayed about it AND knows it's true AND wants to be baptized. She came to church with three guy friend, one being her boyfriend. He told me he was smoking and wanted to quit and she was trying to help. His deaf church has problems so he wanted to find a new church to go to. He said he wanted to be baptized in our church. So I told him the requirements. He wants to quit smoking and I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ will help him! So we have two progressing investigators who want to be baptized!

We had Dinner at a member's house who is a true cowboy family. They cooked us the best steak I've ever had on my Mission! Wow. Friday we did exchanges again, I went North with Elder Erickson and McGill. Good day. My two companions found a new investigator! Saturday we went back to member's home and we helped build shelves in their garage and do sanding to their stairs. Good time! Then we tried to contact a few people ad then went to a member's home for dinner.

Sunday was good. Not a lot of people showed up, many of the leaders were gone but I taught both Sunday School and conducted the Priesthood meeting. Sacrament was good. Two members gave talks before they get released. We did family history afterward and the APs and YSA Sisters showed up and we chatted and stuff.

It's been a good week, and I hope we can progress and take advantage of the possible last week we have together.

Oh and 3 months 1 day left. I'm not trunky. ;)


Elder Gardner.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Miracle Week

Family and Friends,

We have started an ASL class for all interested. Unfortunately, only three people showed up! So we ahve changed the date and hope things will improve!

Two Spanish Speaking Sister Missionaries from the Texas Houston East Mission found some Deaf girls and gave us them as referrals. However, the girls didn't feel comfortable with three random 20 year old guys (Elders) going over. So with permission from our Mission President AND their Mission President, we got to have them join us in two contacts. The first was in their area. The girl was excited to meet with us again. The second one was outside the Sister's area. So we met them and taught the second referral the Restoration on the spot. Very smart girl! The Sisters were so excited to watch us teach a lesson in sign language. Now we are all friends!

Saturday we had the opportunity to help the M family do service in their backyard. They are a part member family whom has had many struggles and has a Deaf son and a Hard of Hearing husband, not member. We setup a playset for them (thankfully doing that with my dad before my Mission gave me the experience I needed, thanks dad!) and we spent 6 hours doing that. Crazy!

Sunday we had church. Former Missionaries Alder and Kauo came to visit. I think they need a haircut! Then met the other referral I mentioned earlier.

Today we were invited to join the Magnolia District in celebrating two Missionary's birthdays. Tons of fun hanging out at the park. Got to play card games and one of the Sister's names is Schellhous, however she likes to cheat, so we all call her Cheathous. Then i joined in cheating and they called me Mr. Cheathous. That became awkward, since it implied we were married, haha.

Anyway, that's this past week! Thanks for the prayers, keep them coming!


Elder Gardner

Monday, February 24, 2014

A long week with slow progress, but lots of faith

Family and Friends,

This past week has been a bit slow due to the difficulty accomplishing all of our goals. We have been working on getting one of our Investigators baptized. We have been struggling because he lives about 30 minutes away and despite the 750 miles allotment we receive weekly, it's still difficult to save miles and visit him daily. However, we were able to meet with several people.

On the positive, one of our less active member came to church! He has been struggling for a few years now because of multiple jobs and messed up priorities of girls and cars instead of church. After meeting with him multiple times for the past many years, (many of those simply attempts to contact him but with no success) we were able to not only meet with him, but he thanked us sincerely for visiting him the many times we have, and he said he promised to go to church. We got the Ward down in the Texas Houston South Mission to provide a ride for him weekly, and now he has the possibly opportunity to serve a Mission!

One thing we were able to do this week is discuss the problems in our area and figured out solutions and magnets to solve them. One is for all the Deaf to receive enough money to take the bus to CRR, a place in downtown that we go serve Tuesdays in the afternoon. There, they can learn English and apply for jobs. Then with the Church's permission to affiliate LDS Employment website, we can use their database to connect with the volunteers and skills at CRR to give the Deaf jobs more easily. Then they can make money and not be bored or whatever. The other idea is to have a class at Fallbrook every Wednesday night at 7 for the full Stake to attend, as well as non members. We can teach ASL there and help everyone connect with the Deaf better. It will help Inwood connect more personally with the Deaf. It will be a source for the Inwood Missionaries to contact and teach non members. It will be a way for us to find those whom wish to join the Branch and help interpret or just be a member. It will help make our problem seen more. It will give us more reasons to talk with hearing people on the streets. There are so many benefits and I hope we can get it setup next month!

On Monday last week while driving in the direction of home from shopping, Elder Mitchell felt impressed to ask our dear Sisters from church if we could visit her and her husband. They have been residing in a hospital for the past month about, because he has been struggling to breath and has been on 100% machine. This sister has been one of our interpreters for our Branch and has been involved with the growth of it for many many years. We love her so much and were saddened to find out that he had just recently passed away, prior to our text. We all attended the funeral services, which were held on Saturday. It was a sad but peaceful service, as many old Missionaries from 10 years ago who served here came, including a Sister from 10 years ago! (back when we had 10 Missionaries, 4 Elders, 4 Sisters and a Senior Couple) We got to connect really fast and gave them updates on how we were doing.

One of our struggles has been with a member and her boyfriend.  She is Deaf, he is Hard of Hearing. One of the commandments we LDS members follow is the Law of Chastity. One rule in this law is that a man and a woman cannot live together in the same house unless they are married. They aren't married, she is a member and he is not. We struggled with them on Thursday to try and help them understand that right now they are breaking a commandment. We said they should get married in March or separate. He argued with us saying he didn't want to hear about marriage or separation. We struggled to help him and have felt frustrated and sadness because of his lack of desire to follow the commandment. However, we ahve faith that he can change.

We were able to meet with a referral. He is a very smart Deaf person and lives near one of our members. We hope to meet with him this week and start teaching him.

That's been the basic highlights of this past week.

I know that with only 4 months left, I don't have all the time in the world to do stuff. I hope to work as smart as I can with the time I have left, to help those whom are Deaf learn about the Gospel and receive Salvation through Baptism and Temple work.

Thanks for all of your prayers, I will continue to pray for all of you as well!


Elder Gardner.


Monday, February 17, 2014


Family and Friends,

We had a fun week! Transfers happened and now I'm with Elder Mitchell and Oleson in the South, with Elder Erickson and McGill in the North.

We have been trying to figure out a way to have a place called CRR and the LDS Employment Center affiliate with each other.

Most of the week was visiting members and trying to setup exchanges and stuff.

Saturday we taught Sister King and her new companion Sister Shell sign language. We had a EQ meeting. Then went to the Branch activity. They had a photo booth setup and costumes and fun wigs and stuff for the Deaf us others to dress up in and have fun with. So we took advantage of that and have some rather funny photos!

Sunday was good as we had many meetings and then church.

We found out that Kauo and Alder are coming back to Houston in March 8th to 13th! So we are excited for them to come and we hope to try to get a baptism setup so that they can witness it, if possible.

Anyway, that's about it! I hope you have a good week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A GREAT Baptism!!

Family and Friends,

On Tuesday we went to visit a man named Louis whom has been a member for a few years but has been the most dedicated person we have EVER seen! He went to the hospital recently because of bad food but due to family problems has been stuck for almost 4 months. Upon entering to visit once again, we found out he was taken to a city far south! So now he is no longer here... but hopefully he will show up in a month or so.

Wednesday was Temple day for the Missionaries. President Pingree joined us! Wonderful session! Then found out a member had a heart attack and went to the Emergency room. We visited him and gave him a blessing.

Friday was Zone meeting in the morning. Sister Loo prayed in ASL, which was really cool! We then had Temple baptisms for the Branch and I got to witness our members do my family names for me. :)

Just found out literately 2 seconds ago that the above member Louis passed away this morning... 1am. Just received a text. That is very unfortunate but we know he is in a better place.

Anyway, Saturday went to teach the Sisters more sign language and am very impressed by how much they are remembering so quickly! Then headed off to the Temple to continue to do work there. Then witnessed Sherman get baptized.

Sunday was good as well.

Found out transfers! I am staying South, Elder McGill is North with Erickson and Elder Mitchll and Oleson are... well... not sure! Three rumors! Both will go south with me, Elder Mitchell will become AP, or Oleson is going English. We will find out Tomorrow!

Anyway, that's about it. I made the mistake of not eating a lot before coming here so my energy is low and I'm hungry! So have a good week!


Elder Gardner

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ONE of the BEST weeks EVER!!

Family and Friends,

This past week has been the most interesting and life experiencing weeks of my Mission!

After Pday last week, we went to chick fil a and had dinner there. A worker comes up and starts SIGNING to us! We are surprised and find out she's actually a college student who is becoming an interpreter and so we took advantage and offered to teach her ASL (and eventually the Gospel) and got contact info!

Tuesday we had some time before doing exchanges to visit someone, so we focused on Elder's Quorum work and visited a member in the North area for an hour. Then we went to meet the other Elders for exchanges. However, we got busy and it didn't happen.

Wednesday we visited a few members and got to see a less active whom I haven't seen in over a year. He's had many difficulties and I'm glad I got to talk with him. Then checked up on a few members and talked with an investigator who has struggled to progress. Then after traveling around visiting people, we got a text asking if I could interview one of their (the other elders) investigators. I accepted.

My first interview with anyone of my Mission. She was an adult who had many struggles in her life and needed to start again. Elder McGill was in the same room, but of course couldn't hear, so invasion of privacy wasn't disturbed. W. O. W. That was the most spiritual interview ever! She opened her heart and I fully depended on the spirit to help me know if she was worthy and ready. It was wonderful to hear her Testimony and to feel the spirit. Of course, at the end I followed the promptings and felt she was worthy. So I congratulated her and the flood gates came. What a wonderful experience! Then after approving her baptism, I hung up and chatted with the other Elders via VP. They told me that they had one more investigator who was going to be baptized the following Saturday.

Who was it? Someone I had basically worked with since I flew here. Tried everything with him. Went to the Temple! Dropped him! Tried teaching him again! Dropped him again! They picked him up and worked more. So, I am happy to announce that Sherman has accepted a baptism date and his mom will also be there to witness it! I broke in tears when I found out. That night was the best night ever. I have never felt happier!!!!!!!

Friday was an opportunity to unify the District again through a very powerful District Meeting on the Atonement. Following that, we went to the Mission Office and found out we were due for a new car... like, right now! So we switched! Got a Ford Fusion. Interesting car. A lot different than the Chevy Cruze. It can connect to the phone and read text messages. And I can press a button and basically talk to the car and tell it what to do with the music, phone and other basic things. Makes life easier! Then celebrated both Elder Oleson and a member's birthday, then to Speckhards and home

Saturday we went to a member's home to do Elder's Quorum business. Then Sister King and Loo, whom I talked about last week, came and we taught them ASL for 2 hours. I didn't use my voice once, but depended on their knowledge of finger spelling. Near the end, we told them to stop talking and signing at the same time and to only sign. They got awkward at first, but then started to like it and even helped each other through signing instead of voicing. We got really excited! Here's a video of us signing happy birthday to Elder McGill (belated birthday cupcake from the Match family). Sister Loo is on the left, Sister King on the right.

Then we took a member with us to visit an investigator and then went to the Baptism service of the women I interviewed. She changed! It was amazing!

Sunday was great as well, church was good as usual. Got to go to a member's home for Dinner.

Thanks for your support and prayers! I feel them! Wanted to share that the two Sisters we have been working with will NOT be transferred in our program. The Lord has other ideas in mind for them. HOWEVER, President Pingree called me Today and we talked and he agreed to call SLC Utah, again ,and this time make (deafism warning!) TRUE BIZ sure that they send us not TWO, but THREE Sisters! And we hope they come BEFORE Elder Mitchell and I leave, so we can help them with the Branch situations we are in. So I will call him Wednesday to see what updates we have. President is working hard with me to get Sisters, and that makes me happy. :)

Anyway this week will be super busy, as we will be doing three exchanges AND have THREE Temple trips AND a Baptism. Also, we committed Sister King and Loo to pray in ASL at our Zone Meeting. We are going to encourage the Missionaries to start to use ASL more so Elder McGill can feel more involved.

That's about all I have! Hope you have a wonderful week, as I am now having!


Elder Gardner.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A busy week with progress!

Family and friends,

This past week we were able to spend a lot more time focusing on the members of our Branch and helping them to progress. On Thursday we had a women help us go through the family search website and we were able to find names that hadn't been done in the Temple yet. We printed them out and are excited to do them next month! Some of my names are female, so I've asked one of the women in our Branch who recently served a Mission named Adrianna to help me with those. Friday we had interviews with our mission president. We also had training. While the meeting was happening, one of our interpreters stepped out of the room and found out her husband was sent to the hospital and was struggling to breath. So we all knelt down right then and there and Elder McGill offered a prayer. The spirit became strong. She decided to stay and interpret as it was service and she knew the Lord would bless them for that.

Interviews went great! Got good guidance help for my last few months in the program. Saturday we were asked to provide three blessings for three sick kids in a family we visit. We came over and gave all three blessings, then we got to chat for a little bit. Two boys, one under 12, the other around 15 and one girl recently turned 19. I've been well connected with the boys as one is deaf, but never really got to talk with the girl. So we all chatted for a bit and then headed home

Sunday was wonderful. Had meetings all day! Great spirit! The asl class I am teaching has been going well so far. I have been explaining the differences between hearing and deaf culture as well as ASL and such. Sacrament was good. We only had one interpreter show up, and she was still new and wasn't fully experienced. So after the first Sacrament talk, she looked tired and I decided to go up to the stand to interpret the second talk. That's the first time ever a Missionary has interpreted a Sacrament talk on Sunday, because normally there are interpreters there. So it was cool and felt different interpreting.

Then we visited a few people afterward. Got to provide the Sacrament to an old deaf man named Louis Vasquez. He is over 80 years old! He's amazing and the most humble and dedicated to the Gospel man I've ever met. Always positive. Always happy. Got a picture with him (you can see below).

Monday was Elder McGill's birthday, 28! I got Sister King and Sister Loo (two on the right) to help setup a surprise birthday for him. We got cake, ice cream and balloons and got the full zone to memorize how to sign happy birthday. We got to the stake center and went to the gym. Then the sisters came in with the cake and everyone signed happy birthday in asl. Sister King dumped balloons on his head. It was funny! Then we played card games and had fun! (other pictures). That night Speckhard family invited us for dinner because it was his birthday. So we got fed!

We have been working with President Pingree to try to receive ASL Sister Missionaries. It's been a challenge for whatever reason to get them, however. So our plan be is to bring in two sisters from English. The two we are working with are Sister King and Loo. They have been learning ASL and Sister King's personality is awesome in my opinion, haha. So i talked with them and we will start teaching them more asl and soon might have them join us for a day and teach members and see how it goes. If all works, then they may get transferred in!

Anyway, that's this past week! I will tell you what happened Yesterday NEXT week!

Have a great week!


Elder Gardner.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Slow week, but much progress

Family and friends,

This past week has been slow as not a lot has happened, teaching and lesson wise. Our focus was on finishing our Branch Testimony DVD project. A member named Brother Butts gave up his time this past week to help us create and burn copies of the dvd. I am happy it is complete, as this week we can focus more on the members and investigators and help them all to progress towards baptism or Temple, etc.

Tuesday in the South area is the day we do service at a place named CRR, or Careers and Recovery Resources. It's a place that provides free services to help those who cannot find a job. It has a department that focuses on the deaf and we volunteer there. A year ago when I was first transferred South, we would enter a room with computers and helped the deaf go to different websites such as sears.com, walmart.com ,etc and show them how to apply for a job online through those websites. Often we would go through the full process and explain concepts they didn't understand. Then as time went on, we shifted and have been in another room where the deaf learn English and have been helping them with basic English understanding.

However, ever since the leadership in CRR changed last year Spring, the activity has started to decrease and it's become less and less busy. We go there and haven't had a much to do. So hopefully we can find a way to help them receive more activity, or find a new place to do service. I'd rather the former, since our Branch and them are affiliated very well.

Wednesday was a great day for us, as we took Brother Brown with us to see Sister Mendez, a recent convert of a year ago. After teaching her, and teaching and dropping him off, we headed down to Galveston. This is an island that's connected to SE Houston. It's literately in the ocean! We had a deaf referral the Missionaries found there, and so we went down to meet up with them. It's so cool seeing a different area than city or country. Beach. Hearing seagulls, seeing the beach and sand, and smelling the water. Elder McGill gets trunky as his home town in LA is the same.

Friday we had an excellent Zone Meeting taught and lead by Elder Mitchell, who is doing a great job as a Zone Leader. You may ask, what did he teach? Good question. I can only remember something about goals, being productive and depending on the Lord more. Why? Because I was interpreting, haha. We had a new member recently moved in the Branch also there, helping team interpret with me.

Sunday was good. We were able to continue to teach our ASL classes at church and they have been going well. I teach the grammar and culture, more advanced class. I have been explaining the difference between ASL and SEE, as well as deaf culture and the difference with hearing culture. We had a good Sunday School lesson and Priesthood was good. We have a member, whom President Skidmore recently interviewed and found worthy to soon receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. We are excited by this milestone and will be working with him to help prepare him to become worthy to receive it in the next month or so.

Our member, Brother Vasquez,  has been stuck in a care center for a few months now, due to his age and his body's reaction to food that wasn't good. He's doing well and is studying his scriptures every day. I'm very impressed because he's deaf, and don't know English too well, but still takes the time to study. We attempted to provide him with the Sacrament Yesterday, with permission from President Skidmore, however Brother Vasquez was asleep and we didn't want to disturb him.

Anyway, our Branch is doing great and we are excited for what happens this next week.

Missionary wise, we have recently been given information on our new Mission President, replacing President Pingree July 1st! His name is Mark A. Mortensen. He's from California and has a wife and 6 children. I may or may not have the chance to meet him, as June is when my release date is, however I'm going to guess that he will arrive early to be trained.

We still don't know who is replacing Elder Mitchell and I, or who the ASL Sisters will be, but I will update you as soon as I find out (on PDay, of course!).

Anyway, that's about all I can think of sharing for this week!

Have a great week!


Elder Gardner

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Family and Friends,

Happy 2014! This new year and I have a "new" companion and 'new' area. Elder McGill and ASL South. Good thing I've had experience with both, or I'd be very nervous!

The branch is growing strong. Our area is slowly rising in activity again. We just had a member receive a Temple Recommend and another one will soon get his as well. Then they can get married in the Temple! I am so excited! So many members will be able to enter the Temple by this Summer. I hope they can all enter before I leave.

Everything is going decently well. Elder McGill and I have cleaned out apartment so much that it's spotless basically. We have organized everything. There is little to no mess. We need to take our member and investigator lists and organize them soon, though. I haven't been able to teach a lot of people, especially investigators, for a while now. But that's because of our many projects and our responsibilities as Elders Quorum. I know the Lord is pleased with us, though.

I hope everything is going well with yall. Hope you all have a good, new year and that you can setup goals you can actually keep! I'm used to goal setting now that i'm a Missionary. We set goals for everyday activities, weekly goals, monthly goals and yearly goals as well as transfer goals and mission goals. Sometimes we even have hourly goals. It's important to setup a goal that's realistic, but still stretches your potential.

Anyway, I hope yall have a good new year! Attached are three photos. One is a young adult named Taylor (with all of us in a line by the stage). She's helped us so much the past 6 months. She's interpreted a lot, we've taught her, and have become good friends. Hence the photo. She's gone to Utah for school now and we all miss her (because she would interpret our meetings of course!) but we wish her luck.

The one with me and a sister is during the Christmas Conference. Prior to that, i was in ASL North and would go to a place called SOS on tuesdays to do service. The english district would go there and so we asl missionaries decided to join. It's a food bank so we do a lot of stocking there as volunteers. Anyway, beause we are asl often times the missionaries ask us the signs to the food or just how to sign in general. Sister Barnes was one of them who really likes asl but struggles to learn it. So I started to teach her ASL while doing service. We became friends and so we got a photo together.

The last one is me at a member's house the week before Christmas. They let us have christmas dinner and make gingerbread houses/trains/whatever. So I made a train.

Anyway, hope yall have a good week!


Elder Gardner.