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30 December 2011

Week 4: Dominican Republic MTC

¡Hola mi familia!
Estoy aquí en la República Dominicana. It's great!

We just went to the temple here for a session which was as always, amazing! The session was in English, too. So that was nice. I'm still groggy-ish and kind of dizzy when I wake up because I'm still adjusting to the time zone here. Whenever I wake up it feels like I'm getting up at like 3:30. Which is about right since Utah is 3 hours behind us here. Anyway, the temple was amazing. The Celestial Room in the Santo Domingo Temple is gorgeous, and I had a great time there.

I was thinking about how I miss you all and everything, but then I remembered what the temple stood for: Eternal Families. And then I felt peace, because these next few months will fly by and they're but a small moment compared to the eternal scheme of things. I love you all and I'm so glad that we've been sealed together :) I also thought of Heavenly Father, and how He sacrificed His Son for me, and then I thought that if He can do that for me, then I can give two years of my life to Him. One of the speakers in Provo said that it's kind of like our "tithing" of life or something like that. After about 20 years of life, we give back 10% to Him (2 years). I liked that.

After we got here, and after the first night, I kind of started settling in. The cafeteria is WAY smaller, mostly because I think capacity here is like 60 or so missionaries. I don't know for sure, but there's only one floor of rooms. It's actually pretty nice, without all the crowds. And it's very warm :) Apparently this is the cool part of the season... I'm glad I'm here now to get used to the heat so that when summer comes around, I'll at least be a little used to it. Also, the Haitian missionaries came in last night, so there's a few more than just the 19 of us to begin with. I admire them so much, because they have to sacrifice more to be here, and they have such a great, warm, kind, genuine spirit about them, and I really like that. They're great people.

I got a new companion also. His name is Elder Dowell, and he's from Utah as well. He's a pretty cool guy and I think we're getting along well! We had our first "lesson" last night. I call it a "lesson" because it was only 10 minutes long and we really only got to know our investigator a little bit and kind of plant the seed of interest, but hopefully it will go better tonight. We have two investigators here, the first (the one we taught last night) is named José Cuevas, and the other, which we haven't taught yet, is named Kristal Araujo. I think we're teaching her tomorrow.

Besides that, it is very humid here. We had our first gym time yesterday and I was sweating horribly afterward (because the basketball hoops are outside). I was so tired! I wasn't tired from the running around, because being at sea level, I can run and jump and everything as long as I want. But the heat really took it out of me. However, it was a LOT of fun, because we were able to just play some basketball or volleyball amongst us from the USA, so that was really fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

My room here is much nicer than the one in Provo, but it's also much smaller. My 3 roommates are all BYU fans also, so that's pretty fun :) We figured out how to turn down the thermostat so we're not all dying at night. In fact, I actually have to use a blanket because it gets a little chilly! How 'bout that?

Anyway, I think I'm running out of things to say… Actually, no. I have my mailing address. Before I give it though, just know that if you're sending a package, make sure that the MTC Presidency will enjoy it, because it probably won't make it down in time before I leave. I think they said that letters should make it, but packages probably won't. They said something about too, but I don't quite remember. Anyway, that's the situation with mail for anyone who's interested. Here's the address:

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Dominican Republic MTC
Av Bolivar #825
Los Robles
Dominican Republic

I think that address should work, and like I said, probably don't send any packages because I probably won't get them . . . ha ha. But for anyone who's interested, try and send letters and they should get here :) And Mom, don't worry about sending the SD Card back just yet, I'd rather be able to receive it than have it sitting here in the DR, never to be retrieved by me again. I think we should wait until I'm in Puerto Rico for that.

Which reminds me!! Everything I've heard about Puerto Rico here has really made me so happy. Apparently it's "night and day" compared to this place, which is great. The water's no good and the power sometimes goes out. Apparently, in Puerto Rico, they have nice, clean, wide streets, and the power works and the MTC President, Pres. Glazier says that I could roll around in the water there. :) So I'm very excited to get there! It will be a great experience!

But I think that's about it. I miss you greatly mi familia, and I love you very much! I pray for you every night and every morning, and I keep you in my heart always. May the Lord bless you and keep you! Oh, and have a very Happy New Year!! My next email will probably be sent in the year 2012, so have a great New Year, and know that I love you!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Gardner
Alma 29:9
3 Nefi 5:13

26 December 2011


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I sure missed you guys last night and this morning, but I have had the most wonderful time here. I hope you are enjoying your presents from me and I hope the dogs are too! I hope you all had a great evening and morning together, and that you enjoyed Christmas on the Sabbath. I know I did! But I'll get to that in a second.

Anyway, I thought that today we would just be writing normal letters, but surprise! They let us email! :) So that's what I'm doing right now. However I will still mail off my SD Card tomorrow so you can have all my Provo MTC pictures. They're pretty good!

I don't know when my next preparation day will be, so I don't quite know when the next time will be that I can email, but once I get the chance, I will be sure to let you know how the Domincan Republic is and how I'm doing. Also, please keep an eye on my debit card money as I may have to use some while traveling, so… yeah, if you could just do that, that would be wonderful!!

Anyway, getting back to last night and today. It was amazing!! Last night we had a Christmas Eve Fireside where the Relief Society presidency (the MTC Presidency's wives) and some missionaries put together the Nativity Scene, and we all sang along some of the Christmas Hymns. It was really great and I could really feel the Spirit testifying to us that Jesus is the Christ and that He came to Earth to Atone for us. Also, last night I read from chapter 8 in "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage, which was great. It's the chapter about His birth, and it was wonderful. This morning we had the opportunity to watch the special Music and the Spoken Word by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and then we had the MTC-wide Sacrament Meeting.

Oh, and who should appear to speak to us? None other than ELDER DAVID A. BEDNAR!! It was absolutely incredible. The whole time I was just scribbling down notes and impressions and listening to him. He gave a magnificent talk on how we aren't here for ourselves, and that we're here to do the Lord's work and for Jesus Christ. He also talked about how our testimonies aren't enough to keep us active, and that we need become truly converted to the Lord. It was amazing. And when he bore his Apostolic Witness that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet, I was almost paralyzed. It was spectacular! His talk really was just great, and I absolutely loved hearing an Apostle of the Lord speak. It was something else. Being in the same room as him was amazing, and feeling of his spirit was great. You would have loved it, and I hope you can get kind of a sense of what I felt with him there.
We then had a good Christmas lunch and got our sack meals for tonight. Don't worry about that, the meals will be good. And honestly I'm glad that nobody has to work tonight, so they can be with their families. It will be good, because I think our district is planning on eating together.
Anyway, after lunch, we went on a temple walk (my last one!) and that brings us to now!
Anyway, I can see that you've replied to some emails so I'm going to send this one off and then email you back, but just know that I love you so much, and that I really have missed you last night and today. Christmas means family to me, so not being with you has been kinda hard these last few days. But I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. I know that the Lord will watch over me and protect me as well as you. I hope you're all doing well and that the Lord is blessing you. I love you all so much and I hope you have had a truly wonderful Christmas!!
Elder Gardner
P.S. Thank you for the presents, I opened them this morning :) You know me well!!

22 December 2011

Week 3: Last Week at Provo MTC

Hello there! It´s good to hear from you! And I hope the IB ceremony went well and everything. I am also upset that I didn´t receive the empanadas... I would have shared with my Argentine district elders! However I did pass along one of the alfajores to Elder Paxman. I sent it through to his mailbox so I don´t know how he enjoyed it, but I am sure he did. (By the way, the keyboard is in Spanish mode and for whatever reason can´t be switched back to English so please pardon the strange characters.)

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I just sent home a package with some stuff I didn´t need. I sent home some books, the tape recorder dad gave me and other things, so you can probably just throw the package in my closet and leave it there and it would be fine, unless dad wants his tape recorder :) Anyway, it cost me more money than I had, so I had to withdraw some money from the ATM, and therefore maybe if you could top off my emergency money? Thank you!

Also, concerning my travel plans, here they are!! I am flying with American Airlines, and I am thinking that I will call you while I´m in Dallas, so I don´t wake you up or anything. So it will probably be like 9 or 10 or so when I call you. I’ll be getting in the DR at about 9:20 their time. Also, to get to Puerto Rico I will leave the DR on Jan. 31 at 11:40 and arrive in San Juan at 12:53, so not a long flight! And I should be able to call you then too! However, my airport phone calls are limited to about 5 minutes, and NO LONGER than 10, so I won´t be able to talk for too long... :( sorry… but I will be able to talk!! :) I am also the travel leader for my group to PR (which is two other missionaries, and one Hermana), but I don´t know exactly what that means just yet.

I did receive your package with the presents, and I am excited to open them Sunday morning! Thank you so much. I will miss you very much that day, but I am excited to be here for Christmas, because the MTC President said that while it won´t be Pres. Monson, he guarantees we will recognize who is speaking to us at the MTC wide Sacrament Meeting! I am very excited for that, but I will be thinking about you and praying for you! Also, I got the newsletter, and it looks great mom!

On Christmas, I won´t be calling, but I will have some time to write you a letter, which I´ll probably mail off Monday before I leave. I will also mail my SD card that day, so when you mail it back you´ll have to mail it to me in the DR.

It´s kind of strange to think about leaving, because being still in Utah, I haven´t really left home, so it will be strange to leave.. and once I leave I will be out of the country for just under two years! It will be strange, but I´m excited for a new challenge!

For Christmas also, I hope you all enjoy your presents, and let me know how it all goes! I´m sad I won´t be there on Christmas Eve, but I know I´m where I am supposed to be. Oh and one more thing, I got myself some cool looking Spanish scripture cases made in Guatemala, and I will send you home some pictures of them on my SD card. So consider that my Christmas present to myself :)

Now speaking of my investigators and the work here, Elder Kerr and I really kind of had a breakthrough with Juana. The Spirit testified of our message, and she said herself that she wanted and needed to pray about our message and about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It was incredible! She even offered the closing prayer of our last lesson, which was the Plan of Salvation. It was wonderful! I was actually speechless after the lesson. Our other investigator, BJ, is kind of progressing, but not as much as we would like. We teach him tonight so hopefully we´ll be able to make some progress. We feel like he really wants to know, but doesn´t want to try. I think we are close.

I am learning so much here and the language is coming along pretty well. I can teach lessons alright, testify, and pray in Spanish now, so that´s pretty exciting. I hope to keep progressing! Spiritually, I have been learning a lot and I feel like my testimony has grown so much. We have some stellar teachers and they are so great.

Oh, and on a side note, I saw Elder Ulrich and we talked for a while. Turns out, he lives on the bottom floor of my building!! It was pretty cool.

Anyway, it´s good to talk to you, as always, and it is great to hear from you. You´ll have to let me know how the NBA season goes once it starts, and has BYU already played their bowl game? Anyway, you guys are the greatest, and while I do miss you, I am really enjoying it here and I have really settled in here. I love you all so much! Thanks for your support and for your prayers. I hope all is well for you and I look forward to talking to you, albeit for a few minutes, on Tuesday!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Gardner

P.S. If you could send me the address to Clearfield High, I´d like to send a postcard or something to Mrs. Ellis and a couple other teachers. Thanks so much! Love you all!

15 December 2011

Week 2: Still in Provo

Well I got all your wonderful emails, and thank you! It's so good to hear back from you and hear all about what's going on back home.
Anyway, I don't have much time to write or anything (just 20 minutes now!) so I can't quite address everything you wrote to me, but just know that I really love reading all about your lives and I think the newsletter looks great! Maybe send me one just because :)
Anyway, on to my points. First off, pictures. Here in the MTC I can't upload pictures onto emails, so I can't email any home to you, so I have a couple options for ya. 1. I can mail home my SD card, and you can take all the pictures off and then mail it back. I have others so we can kind of rotate that way. 2. I can print off some pictures in the MTC bookstore and just mail those home to you. Just mail me a little card or something to let me know what you prefer. I hope to have better luck in the field!
And once again, thank you for the Oreos and the other items I requested :) And I will watch for the next package! Thank you!
Also, I forget when the IB ceremony thing was. Was it the 9th or the 19th? Either way, tell me how that goes next time, I'd like to know when you get my hard-earned diploma!!
If you are going to be sending any packages for Christmas, be sure that they will get here before the 23rd. The MTC won't be accepting any local packages after that time, and I'm pretty sure you guys qualify as local. :)
Also, I'm very upset as well that I won't be able to call on Christmas, but like I said on the card, my departure date looks like it will be the 27th, so as far as I know I should be able to call then. If any different, I'll let you know, but as far as I know I should be able to call before flying out. And don't worry about the jacket, I'll be fine. :) I grew up in Utah so this is nothing!
Another thing, I was walking down one of the hallways here and saw a picture of Pres. Barney as one of the past MTC Presidents! I had no idea that he was once an MTC Pres. That was really cool to see.
This past Tuesday night we were privileged to hear from Sis. Elaine S. Dalton, the General Young Women's President! That was a real treat, and she talked about having a "different kind of Christmas." It will be one of asking for Spiritual Gifts rather than real gifts. It was a great talk!
Elder Kerr and I have picked up two new "investigators", Juana and BJ. They are just our teachers, but we've been promised that as long as we treat the role playing the right way, miracles can still happen. I think we're really progressing in teaching, and in both our first lessons with them, we were able to extend the invitation to baptism as well as leave them with the Book of Mormon and a pamphlet on the Restoration. It's a really cool learning experience and I really enjoy teaching. It's probably the best time out of the long hours in the classroom. (On a side note, Dad, what buildings were your dorms and classes? Mine are 6M and 7M respectively).
Over the past few days I've also gotten to see Elders Paxman, Ulrich, Snow, and Durbano! It's so good to see them, and I was happy to welcome Ian and Drew to the MTC. I see Jonny Snow all over the place, which is pretty funny. In fact, I saw him just this morning at the temple! Sadly, today was my last day at the Provo temple until I return home, because it will be closed until next year, at which time I'll be happily in the DR.
In all, I am glad to hear that you are all doing well. I love and miss you all, but I am happy here. You are the very best family and I wish you the very best! Enjoy the Christmas season and know that you are in my prayers every day.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Gardner
P.S. I was sick for the past few days with a cold. No fun. But I'm doing better :) Love you!

08 December 2011

Week 1: MTC Provo

Well I'm glad to finally hear from you! I'm glad everything is going well at home. I heard about that horrible windstorm that happened last Wednesday and I was worried, but I'm glad you're all okay. Tell me more about that windstorm maybe? I heard a lot of damage happened to Farmington, and I was pretty surprised by everything that happened.
Anyway, thank you for the support! About the typhoid shot thing, they gave it to me anyway because I guess the shot is only good for two years, and since my last one was already a year old, they didn't want to take any chances with me going to Puerto Rico and all.
And thank you so much for your prayers, you are in mine as well. I love you all so much!!
Anyway, last Wednesday until about Sunday was pretty long and kinda rough because I missed you guys. We watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional Sunday night and that really made me miss you a lot because it reminded me of all our Christmases at home, but since then time has really been flying and I've really adjusted here.
I am really enjoying the MTC! Or the CCM (Centro de Capacitación Misional in Spanish.) Elder Kerr and I have been teaching Hermana Carolina, and after a few lessons, she finally just stopped us in the middle of the lesson and became our teacher, and taught us what we could be doing better. It was truly a learning experience and humbling, but it was really great, because our next lesson went much better, and we were able to get a soft commitment for her to come to church. It was great!
We also had the privilege of hearing from Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy on Tuesday night, and that was really great. Also, today I was able to go to the Provo Temple, which was a great experience. It made me miss you guys because when I think of the Temple, I think of family, but it was a good experience.
It is cold here, and not having a jacket is kinda tough, and really makes me want to get to the DR sooner. And whenever I think of Puerto Rico, I just can't wait to get there! I really enjoy the MTC, but Puerto Rico sounds great right now. Also, I've seen Elder Paxman around a few times, and I will now be looking out for Elder Drew Durbano, as he came in yesterday.
As I said in my last email, Thursdays will be my Preparation Day from here on out, and that's the only time I'll be able to email or write you, as well as read your emails. So if you want to write me, I can get letters every day :) In fact, that would be great, as I haven't received any written mail from anybody yet :( I do love being able to email and everything, but getting mail during the week would be even better!

Anyway, I really hope you are all doing well. I hope you guys are having a good time getting ready for Christmas. I hope Marilee is doing well in school, and that the dogs are still doing well. Send everyone my love! I miss you but I know I am in the right place and doing the right thing. And in 17 days I get to talk to you all on the phone!! :)
With great love,
Elder Gardner

04 December 2011

Week 0: At the MTC

Querida familia,
Well today is Saturday, and the next time I'll be able to email you will be next Thursday. Thursdays will be my P-days from here until I get to the MTC in the DR, but I had a "half" P-day today and wanted to email you. :) Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how I'm doing.
Life at the MTC is pretty good. There's a lot of food and even more studying. My Spanish is coming back pretty quickly, and I'm even starting to think "en español." I'm still trying to focus on working and studying rather than thinking of home and you guys, but it's getting better.
My companion's name is Elder Kerr, and he's from Las Vegas. He's a pretty good guy! We started teaching our first "investigator" yesterday whose name is Carolina. She's really just a teacher here though. But it's gone okay, and this morning we committed her to read 3 Nefi 11 and Moroni 10:4-5 before our next visit, which is Monday. So that's some progress I guess.
Our district is great. We started with just 5 guys but we merged with another district and it's great being able to study and spend time with them. We have 5 élderes which are headed for Argentina, and one of them is going to Rosario!! Dad will be happy about that :) We also have 4 hermanas in our district who help bring the Spirit, and help with the Spanish.
I saw Elder Jonny Snow my first day here, but he was too far away to say hi. I looked for Elder Kody Anderson, but I think he's already left for St. Louis. I haven't seen Elder Neville at all, which is strange because two élderes in our district are going to his mission. Oh well. And I am very glad to say that I finally ran into Elder Paxman yesterday! It was really great to see him, and he seems to be having a great time here. He's coming along in Spanish, and he seems to be maturing well. I've seen a few other people I know and that's been pretty cool. Also, one guy from my district knows Elder Erik Hill really well, and he's even from Layton!
Anyway I'm just here doing my laundry, and kinda wishing I was in the DR already because it's getting cold here, but all in all it's pretty nice here! Elder Paxman told me that after Sunday things start to fly by, so we'll see about that. Anyway, I just want to say that I love you and miss you all. Send my love to the dogs. :) Thank you so much for your support and for being the very best! Sending you hugs!
Con mucho cariño,
Elder Gardner
P.S. I found a soap box thing, so you don't need to worry about sending me one of those. But I still need a USB cord and the dental floss threaders (2 bucks at Wal-mart) if that's okay. Also, I'll be sending home a few things I didn't need within a few days.
P.P.S. Also, my mailbox number here has changed to #145 instead of #142.
Thanks again! Love you!!

30 November 2011

Day 1: The Countdown Begins!

We went to the Provo MTC today and dropped off Elder Gardner. The goodbyes made us sad, but not for long. We know we'll see him again!
Go on Elder, conquer those mountains!