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, ,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.