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31 December 2012

Week 57: More Transfers & A Surprise

Well, the craziness doesn't stop coming. I'll just cut to the chase before I respond to your emails. A new zone opened in the mission today, the Metro Zone; and Elder Peacock and I have been assigned as Zone Leaders. Wow. So that's that haha... one month as DL and out of the blue, Zone Leader. Great… more responsibility. Anyway, I really LOVED seeing you all on skype on Christmas! It was great to talk to you all and I had a grand old time. :) I'm glad you had a decent Christmas and that the trip was at least somewhat enjoyable.

Mom - I really enjoyed Christmas and I had a great time talking to you all. :) It looks like you all had a good time in Vegas! I hope it all worked out all right and that you had a good time. :)
Dad - Those are some interesting changes that you told me about in the ward, and I hope it all worked out okay! Bro. Andreason is a great guy and a great fit there, that will be good. :) But we are still in the Evans Meadows Ward, right?
Marilee - Hey you! You're not sending any emails anymore, what's goin' on?? It was great talking to you on Christmas, and I hope you enjoyed/are enjoying your time off from school. :) Love you sis, and hope you're doing alright.

Anyway, this week has been crazy. I remember this time last year, I was in the DR! How crazy is that? Tomorrow is 2013 and thus begins the year in which I will be returning home, which is so weird to think about. I remember passing New Year's Eve in the DR and everything, and it's just odd to believe it's already been a year since then.
With President and Sister Alvarado

In any case, this week was really good, and I already told you what we were doing in the Mission Home for Christmas Eve and Christmas. On Wednesday we did a little more singing and stuff, and then finally went to our areas. I was able to work in Santurce for a couple days, and then we were back together to go to Cabo Rojo on Friday night for another presentation. That's when the transfer changes started happening, and President pulled people from the choir aside to talk to them. Saturday morning we sang at a baptism, and then in the afternoon went to Ponce and performed there, and then came back and did some more stuff. Sunday morning we went to a couple other wards, and then met back at the mission home, where President finally talked to me about this new assignment, and then announced all the transfers that affected the choir.

My old companion Elder Taylor, is gone to St. Kitts, West Indies. My new one is Elder Peacock, from Kaysville, Utah. He's great, and I'm super excited to work with him. Also, a couple other changes happened in the district, and now we're ZLs over a pretty small zone. So yeah, it's pretty crazy, and a lot of changes and stuff, but I'm excited and it will be good. I also feel slightly overwhelmed and quite underprepared, but I know if I just have a little faith, it will all work out.

But yeah, not much else to talk about, and it's a bit crazy here today trying to email since it's another holiday, and EVERYTHING closes on holidays here, so there are others waiting to write on this computer and I can't stay on too much longer. :S But there's not much else to say anyway besides... I love you! It was great to talk to you on Christmas, and we'll be talking again very soon on Mother's Day! But thank you so much for everything, and I hope you are all doing great. I love you all so much. :) And darn it, I just remembered that I left my SD card back at the house with all my pictures from the islands... :( but I have a few pictures I took this week on my new SD card, and I'll try and send them to you. But thank you again for everything and for the new socks and ties. :) They're great! Love you all so much!!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

24 December 2012

Week 56: ¡Feliz Navidad!

Hey family! Not much time today either, but a little more. I'm in the mission home today and I will be tomorrow, since the choir is singing for all the zones that come in for their meals. It's pretty cool, and I'll be skyping from the mission home!

I'll be opening the packages from you tonight at our dinner here in the mission home, so I'll be able to talk about them with you tomorrow! Also, be prepared for only 45 minutes of talking... President is really being tough about that rule this time around, so we won't have a ton of time like last time, but it will still be great to be able to talk and see you guys! 

Anyway, things have been CRAZY the past couple of weeks, and last week was so short because it was the mission conference and the whole mission had to email, and we only had 5 minutes each to do so, and I got stuck with the iPad, so ... yeah, it was rough haha. Anyway, the past couple of weeks the choir has been traveling the Islands of the Sea, so I've been on St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Kitts, and Antigua. It's been nuts!!
It's been really great though, and we've seen a ton of miracles and blessings and everything. Besides that, we have been traveling around PR, and it's been really great seeing all the things we've been able to do. Anyway, we'll talk more tomorrow, but it's been a really different Christmas, but a really great one. :) I miss you guys of course, and that part has been tough, but it's been wonderful really getting to know my Savior even more. I'll be mailing my gift to Jesus as soon as I can, so you can put it in the tin. :)
I don't really know what else to say haha.. but I love you all and look forward greatly for our talk tomorrow! Have a wonderful Noche Buena tonight, and a great Christmas  morning! Talk to you tomorrow! (Oh and by the way, our zone got lucky enough to get Christmas Eve dinner... just like back home!) Love you all!!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

10 December 2012

Week 54: Touring with the Choir

The craziness never stops for Elder Gardner! Haha it was a pretty adventurous week, I'll say. But it was good. I'll get to it in a second, though. 

Mom - Well I must say, the village setup is quite different from years past, but it looks good! That's sweet that Gage is headed to Colombia! It'll be a good experience for him down there. That's great that all these missionaries are heading out now from our ward!! ... I love you!
Dad - Just remember, we're supposed to come back to Puerto Rico and stuff in about a year from now! ;) That's cool about the choir, we're doing some pretty cool stuff here with the mission choir (details to come shortly), so that's cool!
Marilee - No email again?? Why you little..!!! Haha just kidding little sis, hope everything's going great and that you're enjoying life. :) Christmas break is coming soon!! 

Anyway, so it's been a bit of a crazy week, and this week should be even crazier. I'm supposed to be strengthening my area and stuff, but I have spent more time out of my area than in it. I don't feel like I've even worked there at all. I haven't even been to a sacrament meeting in my ward yet! Goodness. But it's all good, because I've been seeing a lot of cool things in the mission choir. This week we started Friday afternoon, and we sang in President's chiropractor's office in Plaza Las Americas. PLAZA LAS AMERICAS. That place is HUGE! It's this gigantic mall, and normally we're not allowed into malls unless there's a store (like JCPenney) with an outside entrance. But Friday we were allowed in and that place is enormous! Wow! So yeah, we sang there and I had my little electric keyboard to accompany the choir. Then we went to the Pontezuela ward and performed there, and then all slept together in the mission dorms, the Riverside apart.ments.

On Saturday, we woke up and after studies and stuff, went all together and all got in the urban train and started singing. Again, I had my keyboard, and we just rode the train to the end of the line and then back! Then we did a flash mob type thing with singing, in a food court in this other mall close by, and then we met up with the Alvarados in another mall and ate at that food court, and then sang again after. :) By the way, we got kicked out of both food courts for the singing haha, it was great. Then we went to a couple of hospitals and sang there, and then performed for the San Juan Stake Christmas Concert. That was a lot of fun. The songs are way a cool, and a couple of them we perform with a bell choir, and sounds awesome! Anyway, Sunday morning we drive over to the other side of the island (and by the way, I'm sick with a cold.. blech), and we sing in the San Sebastian and Aguadilla wards, and then do a quick concert for the Isabela ward, and then go sing in a Marriott hotel there in Aguadilla, and then finally drive back home. Wow. Long few days, but a ton of fun.

Also on Thursday, we had a leader.ship training meeting, which was not as intense as I had been dreading haha. It was actually way good, and I learned a lot. I'm still learning how to be a district leader, and every day brings new challenges and stuff, and I don't think I've ever been so tired in my life, but it's all good. :) It's good to learn and stuff and progress.

Anyway, I'm trying to think what I did teaching-wise. We did teach a few investigators, but they're all having some problems right now, and not wanting to be baptized. That's definitely going to be our focus for this week, to make sure that these people can progress toward baptism. I wish I knew more members and stuff, and I wish I knew the area better because I feel like I would be able to do more good and help out a bit more if I did.


Anyway, that's about it for the week. This week I'm going to the Islands of the Sea (some of the Virgin Islands) with the choir to perform there. The choir needs the piano player, so I get to go to all the islands to perform. :) It's pretty sweet, and I'm grateful for this talent that My Father in Heaven blessed me with. It'll be an adventure, because after that we have another weekend full of performing again haha.. wow. But at least this next Sunday we'll be in my assigned ward here in Hato Rey. But yeah, that's about it! Mom, just make sure to coordinate everything and send it by next week. I won't have a ton of time to write, but I'll be able to look and see when I'll be calling you guys. I love you all, and soon we'll be talking!! Love you!!

Con mucho amor, 

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: so sorry I had to cut some words in the letter, or change them in some way, because Google links them to something else. For example c-a-r gets linked to a site that's trying to sell you those items.

03 December 2012

Week 53: ANOTHER Crazy Week. And One Year!

Well, here we go! On the downhill slide... wow. It's crazy to think that a year ago today I was sitting in the MTC. I can't even believe it. Craziness!  Anyway, to your emails:

Mom - The decorations look great! I must admit, I miss normal Christmas stuff, and it's cool to see our decorations up. :) They put lights up here and stuff, and it's cool, but there's no snow and it just feels different.  I love that cool nativity scene you've got there! It looks sweet! Also, that's great to hear about Tosh and Madison, it's good to know I won't be the only missionary out from our ward haha... so that's good. Tell Tosh to look for a kid named Vernon Yazzie who probably lives down in that area. He's a Navajo, and I gave him a Book of Mormon already, so there's a seed planted there! I'll keep praying for you like always.

Dad - I will definitely be watching for those shirts! I bought a couple already, but it'll be good to have a full new array of white shirts. :) Also, I appreciate the thought about the Hostess stuff! It'll be good to keep a piece of history haha... or eat it, rather. And the oil will be greatly appreciated, thank you. I don't know what's happening with the Skype yet, I'm not entirely sure what's going to happen there. We haven't yet found a place to do it, but we'll continue our frantic search! But I look forward to talking to you all also, and it will be a great experience. :)

Marilee - Still no email?? Haha I'll write you in a second :)

Anyway, I don't know if the mission lets the parents know or anything, but this week, if you don't already know, I was called as district leader of the Hato Rey district. Not anything I wanted, and it's been a bit of a challenge. But it's been a good learning experience, and it's been crazy. Last week I was at the office when President comes bursting out of the office, shakes my hand, and basically pulls me into the office haha. We had an interview and he called me to be the district leader. He told me that he wanted Hato Rey to shine, and that he wanted 2 wards there. Wow. He said the metro area would be a zone in March, and I had to strengthen it before then. He said a ton of other stuff too that was pretty intense, and I left that office feeling like I had a ton of bricks on my back. Needless to say, I prayed hard that night. Oh, and he gave us 72 hours to fix up our apartment. It's right by the office, and pretty big, so a lot of missionaries visit and stuff, and a lot finish their missions there. Thus, lots of junk and stuff. So we repainted it, cleaned out really good, reorganized everything, and now it looks fantastic. :) President still hasn't seen it, but the senior missionaries in charge came by today and inspected it. Anyway, that's basically what we did Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We also went out to work and stuff, and we had some good lessons with some cool people, but we spent some time cleaning and painting and stuff. It looks really good.

Also, we had a choir performance Friday night, in CAGUAS!! So I got to go back to my first area on my year mark. :) It was really cool to go back and see all the members again and to talk with them. It was a cool performance too, and it was just a fun time. On Sunday we drove down to Ponce and then to Adjuntas afterwards and sang in both of the sacrament meetings. Then we came home.

But yeah, other than that, I feel like I haven't had a ton of time in my area, and I also feel quite inadequate to be a district leader. But something that Elder Stout, a sweet missionary and another district leader in the area told me is that the Lord qualifies those He calls; so if I just have some faith and do all I need to, the Lord will qualify me, right? Anyway, lots of stuff going on, and December is quite the busy month haha... it'll be crazy. Anyway, I just hope I survive to see 2013, and keep serving the Lord! I really hope to see changes here in Hato Rey. I'm already seeing some in the missionaries here, so that's good. But I saw tons of miracles and lots of changes in Guayanilla, and I'm confident that they can happen here, too. The key this time is that it has to all happen much quicker. But yeah, that's about it for the week. I'm really really tired, but I'm happy. :) It rains a lot, and we get wet a lot here, but it's all good. It's a great time here, and I can't wait to show you around here. I'm visiting all the best areas basically, to get to know the whole island so that when we all come back after my mission, you'll get the best tour experience of Puerto Rico ever. :)  

Anyway, I love you all, and I hope you're all doing great! I pray for you always, and I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful Christmas season. :)


Con muchisimo amor,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

26 November 2012

Week 52: Metro Area - One Year Mark

Hey all, what a year it has been! It's been a pretty good one, full of crazy experiences and lots of growing. :) It's been great. Wow. I can't even believe it's been just about a year. It flew by, and the last half goes even faster they say. Wow. Anyway, so that's pretty crazy! 

Mom - Well it sounds like you guys had a fun Thanksgiving haha. I hope it all worked out well and that you were able to enjoy yourselves. The TSO concert sounded pretty sweet though, and I'm glad you all had a great time there! I did miss you a bit on Thanksgiving, but it was still a pretty good day- I'll get to that in a second.

Dad - The TSO night sounded like a blast! We did have something on common on Thursday - and it involved riding a train haha. It's a pretty intense new area, and I'll get to explaining it in a bit! But it sounds like you all had a good time in Salt Lake! :)

Marilee - I'll email you in a bit. :)

Well, I am now working in Santurce. I've officially been transferred from Guayanilla and now work in Santurce. It's a huge change. I moved from the most tranquilo pueblo on the island to the area of the island where a ton of killings happen each year. I'm now in the middle of San Juan haha... it includes Viejo San Juan (all the touristy area), and all the northern part of San Juan (excluding the airport). It's CRAZY! It's so much fun though haha, and a TON more people. In our area there are like 1.5 million people or something. It's intense. And on top of that, everybody is Dominican, so that's pretty interesting. It's a pretty sweet area, and I'm still really confused directions wise there, but it all works out. Oh, and we don't have a car. We live in Caparra, right by the office, and we catch the train every day for a half hour with our bikes and then we go bike around in Santurce! It's pretty sweet, and a lot easier to bike than in Guayanilla, as it's all flat and hardly any hills. It's pretty sweet. :)

Anyway, on Thanksgiving, we had two meal citas. The first one was with a member in Rio Piedras, and we ate Sancocho with him, which is a Puerto Rican stew. A bit later we ate with a member family in Santurce, and we had lechon, mashed potatoes, salad, and some rice. A different Thanksgiving dinner, but still really good. :) It was a good time, and I enjoyed it. Besides that, this week we had some really good lessons, and we taught a bunch of people. Santurce's got a lot of investigators, and a lot that are ready for baptism, so that will be sweet.

Then on Saturday night, some elders came and picked me and another missionary up, and we slept in the Riverside apartmentos for Sunday, because we were in the choir. On Sunday we went to Toa Baja, and then Arecibo, and we performed in those two sacrament meetings. It was really good. We then practiced a bit after, and then came back to the metro area. At 6:00, we met up at the office again and went to a funeral and sang there. (For all the performances I played the piano.) For the funeral, the Alvarado family brought a keyboard which was definitely NOT like a real piano, but I made it work haha. :) It was a nice service, and we left a nice performance there, singing "Nearer my God to Thee" and "Be Still my Soul", both in Spanish. And Pres. said a few words, and it was all really nice. The Spirit was definitely there. I'm a bit bummed I won't be able to visit my new ward until January, but it's really cool being a part of the Christmas Choir. We have another performance on Friday in Caguas, and then others throughout the month. We might even be going to the Islands!! Like Tortola, Antigua, St. Croix, etc. It'll be fun.

Anyway, that's about all I've got for the week. Lots of craziness, but we'll see where we go. Almost Christmas! Send me my Skype information ASAP. We still don't have anywhere to Skype yet, but I'll find somewhere before Christmas comes around. :) I love you all and wish you all the best! I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you're all doing great. :)

Con muchisimo amor,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

19 November 2012

Week 51: Transferred!

Well today has been quite the day, I'm here in Bayamon again haha.. but not for anything bad  but we had a choir practice and now I'm here emailing! I have like 10 minutes so I have to be quick. I won't respond to you separately since I don't have time, but I did get your emails and I hope you all have a wonderful time at the TSO concert and have a super happy Thanksgiving! Anyway, some interesting news before I go, I am being transferred from Guayanilla since I'm playing the piano for the choir, and I have to travel to the islands and everything, so that will be crazy. I'm moving to the Metro area which will be a big change from my beloved pueblito de Guayanilla. I'm sad, and it's not even sunk in yet. Guayanilla may end up to be my favorite area, so you better look forward to visit it and all its members. :) Bishop Nieves, Hno. Santiago, Hno. Caraballo, all of them. It's a great ward, with great members. Anyway, like I said, not much time, and I need to get going because I need to take an elder to the hospital and then get home to start packing up. Wow. It was a good week though, and we got 3 members of a family of 6 to accept a baptismal date. :) Changes happening, and it's going to be crazy.
I'm really sorry this email isn't longer, and I should have more time next week, but know that I love you very much! I can't believe it's already been a year!! WOW. ANyway, I love you all very much, and have a great Thanksgiving week. I'll miss you!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


12 November 2012

Week 50: Concierto Misional en Ponce

Hey there family, I hope you're all doing great! I'm going to respond to all your emails right now to save time, since I'm already over time. Whoops! But today Puerto Rico celebrated Veteran's Day, so everything was closed and we couldn't do email normally. Anyway, here we go!

Mom - I am also pretty upset with the election results... we found out Wednesday morning, and I was devastated. None of us missionaries were very happy. Also, here in Puerto Rico they elected the equivalent of the democratic party governor, and booted out the republican. Yet, they voted for statehood, which is the "progresante" or republican party stand. Interesting. But I wasn't happy with that change either, because I thought Fortuno would be better than Alejandro, but nothing. :( Oh well... life moves on, right? Anyway, I haven't been transferred yet! Haha I've been here in Guayanilla for over 6 months now, that's more than 1/4 of my mission by the time it's over. But it's been good. :) We'll see what happens on the 21st, the day of transfers! And that looks like it was a ton of snow! Anyway, I hope you're doing alright, and know that I love you!

Dad - Well, the Halloween pictures look sweet! I like the new hearse inflatable! Anyway, I'm glad the Jazz beat the Lakers and the Suns!! And that BYU finally won one, goodness. And the mission experiences sound great, and I'm glad you had a good time in Formosa! 4 baptisms is pretty sweet. And I honestly cannot believe that the year mark is just around the corner. Elder Paxman hit it this week, and mine is in a few days. Yikes!

Marilee - Well don't let the snow get you down too much! Go out and have some fun! It's still hot and sunny here, although it rains a bunch too. But anyway I'll just keep riding around in the hot tropical sunshine! ;) Haha anyway, have fun in the snow!!


Anyway, an interesting week. A lot of piano to be honest. The mission has put together a small choir to sing around the island (our first performance is the 25th in a Catholic church!) and I've been asked to be the pianist. So I spent half of Wednesday up in San Juan in a practice, and I am spending basically all of Thursday up in Guaynabo doing the same. There are some really cool songs, and one is a mix of Canon and the First Noel. In Spanish! Really pretty. :) Also, Friday we had a really cool thing that I wish you could have seen. We had a concierto misional en Ponce, and Elder and Hermana Tesch invited me to play for them, so I played for about half an hour. I played Fur Elise, Waterfall, the Pink Panther (and improvisation), a John Williams Medley, some song I made up, a Pirates of the Caribbean Medley, and then I asked for somebody's favorite hymn and improvised on it and tried to bear my testimony through it. After, all the missionaries there sang Called to Serve. It was really cool. I missed you guys a bit that night, but I still had a blast. :) I have a few pictures, but I left my memory card in the house. :( So… next week haha.

Besides that, we had a hard time with investigators this week, because there is this couple who said they'd be at the concert, but didn't show up. And then they said they'd come to church and didn't show up there either. :\ We'll keep working with them though, and I hope it all works out well.

This week though, we have a fun activity planned for here in Guayanilla, and we're going to do a Tree of Life activity. I'll try and take a bunch of pictures of that, because it will be super fun. :) Haha anyway, besides all that, not much to report, and I'm kind of short on time at that (I'm 20 minutes over... whoops). But yeah, thank you so much! Oh, and one more thing, my oil vial key chain that holds my consecrated oil broke, and I lost the part with the oil in it so... if you could send a new one, I would greatly appreciate it! I don't know, maybe it couldn't handle the encounter it had with the demon. Who knows. Either way, I do need a new one haha. :)  

Anyway, thank you so much for all that you do, and for all your support. :) I love you all so much, and can't believe that a year ago I was making those preparations to leave. Wow! I can't believe it. The time passes so fast. Pretty soon I'll be taking the next steps of life! Terrifying! Haha no, just kidding. Kind of. Anyway, thanks for everything, and have a great week! I love you all!!

Con muchisimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

05 November 2012

Week 49: Zone Conference and Noche de Brujas

Well it sounds like Halloween was a big success!! I'm glad the weather held out and everything went well, and it looked pretty good! I finally got the birthday package from you guys this week, so thank you so much! 

Mom - Well... I'm pretty sad I'm gonna miss the Hobbit, but that's what they make DVDs for, right? Haha I hope you guys enjoy it and have a blast! And I wish we could go to the temple here... I miss it! Like I said before, be ready to go when I get back, because I'm definitely planning on going as often as I can. I think that's great you're doing it once a week, and if my schedule allows when I get back to do the same, I'd love to do that too. 
Dad - Well it looks good, what I saw! And it sounds like it was great!! ah man.. I was definitely thinking about you guys on Halloween night! But I'm glad it all went well, even if some of the things didn't get out. Next year, right? And yeah, I'm hoping that the elections bring some change! I talk to a bunch of people here, and some people say Obama's gonna win again, and others say that Romney has a good chance at winning - we'll see! And yeah, I heard about the "Perfect Storm" going on up there, since so many Puerto Ricans have family up there. Crazy stuff!
Marilee - Still no email?? I hope you had a great Halloween and had a blast scaring people! Haha you looked good in your costume, so I hope you had fun. :) 

Anyway, so we had a week full of meetings this week. Wow. I'm still super tired as a result haha.. but Tuesday was a normal working day, and then Wednesday we had Zone Conference. We had to be in Caguas at 7:00, so we had to leave here from Guayanilla at 5:00. Elder Durfee and Elder Perez had had to sleep up in San Juan because they had to take another missionary from our zone up to the hospital, so we drove our car to Caguas to Zone Conference. It was a really good conference, and the basis of it was D&C 88:73, which talks about the Lord hastening His work. In 90 days our mission is going to double in size with 74 more missionaries coming in. Yikes!! But that's what Puerto Rico needs. Basically President talked about how it has fallen, and that 30 years ago the missionaries changed this island, and we can do it again right now. He taught about how to work with the keys in the Stake and wards, and it was really, really good. It ended at 4:00, and we were supposed to be back in the chapel at 6:30 for monthly planning. Since it was Halloween, or as Pres. called it, "La noche de las brujas," the mission department didn't want us out. But we were going to race back to Guayanilla and leave my car there and just use the one car for us and the Yauco elders. We were about half way and the ZLs called and said we had to be back by 6:00, not 6:30. So we had to drive all the way back haha.. crazy.

That night, we slept in Guayama, in the Caguas zone. We woke up at 3:30 the next morning for our mission conference in Bayamón, and I get a call from the ZLs that I'm supposed to be there at 5:30 for a song practice for the conference. What?? So we race up there and we make up this sweet version of "Be Still, My Soul", and then we had the mission conference. Pres. Larry M. Gibson from the General Young Men's Presidency (1st counselor) spoke to us. It was GREAT! He talked about the Duty to God resource, and how we as missionaries can help the young men in our wards to grow and use it, and prepare for their missions. He talked about the keys of Bishops, teachers quorum presidents, and deacons quorum presidents. It was really informative and really great. If you remember, he spoke in the 2011 October General Conference. He's a very intelligent man, and it was a pleasure to get to hear from him.

Anyway, so after that, we were able to come back and work in our area for the rest of the week. Nothing incredible happened this week really. A lot of citas fell, and our investigators couldn't meet with us very much. It was a bit disappointing, but I'm really hoping to do better this week. We had a couple really good lessons, but the problem is, our investigators won't progress! They won't come to church! Agh!! Haha but yeah.. so that's the problem we're having right now with our investigators. We'll keep working with them so they can progress and come to church, and hopefully we'll be able to get a baptism this month! 

Anyway, that's about all I've got for this week. I did reach my 11 month mark, so just a few days and I start the downhill slide! Yikes! It's all happening so fast! But thank you for the package, for your love, and for all that you do. :) I love you all so much and pray for you always!!

Con amor de Puerto Rico,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

29 October 2012

Week 48: Baptism!

Well can you believe it, almost 11 months! Wow! Crazy stuff happened this week, but I'll get there in a sec.

Mom - Well... wow, I can't believe the amount of snow that fell! The Tesch's told me that it had snowed in Liberty, but I didn't know if it would make it to Layton. Guess it did! Haha. And all that about the work... that's CRAZY!! First off, that's great, and it will be great to have a bunch more missionaries out. However... it will make my first responsibility when getting home a bit more difficult haha.. To have a bunch more missionaries out and helping the work will be great! And yes, I did know Elder Scroggins! I knew that he went to BYU but I didn't know that he had relatives so close to home. Anyway, thanks for everything Mom!!!

Dad - I look forward to the pictures from Halloween, and I hope it all goes okay! I'll try to remember and pray for good weather on Halloween so you guys can put on a good show. :) I hope that it all goes really well and that it's a huge success!! As for the CD mixing thing... there's not anything I know of that can do that.. :\ Sorry! But I'm sure Mom had a good time at This is the Place haha.. she always does even if she doesn't want to admit it ;) And Stake Conference sounds like it was sweet, and that it was really spiritual.

Marilee - What? No email?? Haha well you have a great Halloween!! Have fun Wednesday night!

Anyway, so the week! Kind of crazy, but it all worked out in the end. We are kind of short on miles because we were looking all over Peñuelas for this family of 9 that moved from Adjuntas, but we never could find them. And now we're paying the consequences of using all those miles haha.. Ugh. But it's all good, we still have enough to go out and get some member present lessons tomorrow and Wednesday. This week we finished off with 7. Still not 10 but we'll get there.

But Saturday, we did have a baptism!! Carmelo Borrero got baptized, and was confirmed Sunday. It was a nice little service, even though not many people came. But it was great, and he had a great experience, and received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday. He's a great guy and can really progress in this church. I have no doubt that he's really important to the Lord. He's really important to the enemy too, and he has tried to pull him down and I'm sure he was pretty upset to lose Carmelo. But he's going to go far in this gospel and become a great leader as long as he really does his part and learns.

Also, Thursday night this HUGE storm hit. My goodness. I guess it was the tail end of that hurricane that plowed through Cuba, and it was nuts. Not much wind, but LOUD thunder. BOOOOOOOOOM!!! I can't write it in words haha.. but the house shook, and it was like 2 or 3 in the morning, and there was TONS of rain falling. Then I got back to sleep, and then BOOOOOOOMMM!! Then I got back to sleep, and FLASH, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!! By the time we woke up, it was still kind of drizzling, but over by the time we left. It was intercambios, so I went to Yauco, but Elder Durfee and Elder Caal told us about what happened in Guayanilla, and then last night I saw pictures. Flooding! There was like 3 or 4 feet of water in the streets, because all of the rivers had overflowed. Wow. And that was just the tail end of the storm. Crazy stuff!!

Anyway, everything's going good here, super tired, but happy. :) I hope you're all doing great there, and that you have a happy Halloween!! I love you all and thank you for all that you do. :) Love you!!!

Con muchísimo amor,


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

22 October 2012

Week 47: What the Week!

Well, what the week haha. Wow. I seriously feel as if we've just been battling the adversary all week long, more so than usual.
Mom - I'm glad you're doing okay then!  And Christmas is around the corner, so I'll do my best to find you each something cool. :) But thanks for the happy birthday! My "golden birthday" as it's called haha, turning 20 on the 20th. And I hope you have fun in the next few days! HALLOWEEN!! Haha :) Love you, Mom. :)
Dad - the bridges look good! I hope everything ends up really great for Halloween! You should send pictures next week (or when you can) of all the stuff out. I'm excited to hear about how it all works out! Those Haunted Houses sounds great!! Hopefully they'll still be around when I get back, because I'd love to go and visit them. And darn, I was hoping BYU could pull it out against Notre Dame :( Oh well… they only have to be good when I'm there haha ;)
Marilee - I will be writing back to you shortly. :)

Anyway, WOW what a week. We did get a referral from the Elders in Adjuntas of a family of 9 that they had been teaching that moved to Peñuelas. NINE!! We were ecstatic! And then we found out that they live in this mountainous, hilly area called Rucio (each municipio has barrios in it, and one is Rucio inside of Peñuelas), and it's a little far. But we went there and we looked all over for them, and couldn't find them. :( I was pretty sad. We still haven't found them. And all week, we called members, and a few times actually set up times to go with them, but almost each time, they weren't there when we went to pick them up, or something else happened, or else the investigators weren't even there. Frustrating.

Then the adventure began on Saturday morning. We were supposed to have a baptism Saturday evening; the baptism of Carmelo Borrero. His interview was scheduled for Saturday morning, so we went with the Yauco elders to find him, and he knew we were coming, but he wasn't at his house. So we looked all over the place and finally found him. He said to come back at 3:00 to do the interview, because he was going to the clinic. Okay. So we came back at 3:00, with the baptism scheduled for 5:00. He wasn't there again!! We searched high and low, praying, being led by the Spirit, until finally Elder Durfee and I (our companions went to fill the font) just decided to wait outside his house. A few minutes later he walked by and motioned to us to go to his house. By now it's 4:50. He was interviewed and he passed, and then took a quick shower and we went to the church.

But wait, it gets even better.

Bishop's brother had had a heart attack, so bishop was in Yauco in the hospital and wasn't going to be able to come to the baptism. He was the one who was supposed to baptize Carmelo!! And Carmelo was pretty upset about that. On top of that, his girlfriend, the daughter of bishop, and him had broken up like, Friday night, and they were fighting and there was this whole big situation, and so he told us that it hurt him to look at her and he didn't want to be baptized with that kind of anxiety and sadness and frustration in his heart. So we let him go. The font filled, his girlfriend crying, and he just walked home. But the members that did come sang happy birthday and we ate some sandwiches and stuff. But it just wasn't the same without the baptism.
What's left of a cookies and cream cake.

So Sunday morning we pass by his house before church, and we're baptizing him this Saturday now, so we hope and pray that everything works well for that. Basically the way I look at this week is that the enemy worked really hard to just destroy everything, and basically won. It was tough. But Sunday afternoon made up for it, at least a bit. We went with the first counselor to that sweet family I told you about last week, and had a really great lesson with the Mom, daughter, and one of the sons. It was a great lesson, and she said she would try and come to church! So that was sweet. :) And then last night I went to the Santiago's house and they had bought a cake for me, and we sang and had a good time. :) So no worries, I had a decent birthday. :)

Anyway, a crazy week. I'm hoping that this week is a bit better. It looks better, and I'm really hoping that it turns out so! But I thank you for your prayers and for everything that you do. :) I love you all so much! Thank you for your support!! I love you!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

15 October 2012

Week 46: Great Blessings

Well, what a week it has been. Lots of running around and staying busy, and we saw some miracles yesterday. :)

Mom - Thank you for all the pictures, they were pretty funny. :) Seeing my little buddy Rex in a birthday cap definitely made me laugh. :) And also, thank you for the empanadas and alfajores :) I couldn't ask for a better birthday present than to taste Mom's good home cooking again!! Thank you! :) Sending you all my love from the Caribbean Sea! (HUGS)
Dad - It sounds like the Halloween preparations are going well, and it all looks good! All the Halloween stuff here is out, and the stores (Kmart, Walmart) are starting to put Christmas out already. Yuck. But other than that, I've seen a few Halloween houses here too, and I sure miss the haunted houses and everything! Apparently there's one here in Ponce, that they put in some old abandoned castle. It looks SWEET. But apparently Puerto Ricans don't like that stuff very much and so it's not as "bad" as the ones in the states. When I told some members that in Utah there's like 8 or 9 they just stared at me like I was an alien haha, and then even more so when I said the one "Rated #1 in America" was also in Utah. It was great haha. The new props look sweet, and that's too bad that BYU lost... :( Hopefully they'll be good when I get back haha. But thanks for everything, Dad! Oh, and interestingly enough, I also bore my testimony on Sunday during sacrament meeting.
Marilee - I already wrote ya back. :)

So now, the week! All this week it was pretty difficult to teach lessons with members present. By the time Saturday came around, we had only 4. Wow. The goal is 10. Yeah. But Saturday night we were able to get 2 more! Anyway, on Sunday, we left church with 2 more member-present lessons, and I honestly thought we were done after that. I thought we would just end with 8, and that would be that. But as we left the house, we said a prayer that we would be able to find a member to go out with us. We biked away from the house, and not 2 minutes later, we get a call from José Santiago, a recent convert in Yauco. He said he had called this family up in Macaná and said he could visit with us. Wow! So we pick him up and go to Macaná and find this wonderful family of 6. Humble. Prepared. They accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and also said they would try and come to the baptism we're having on Saturday. It was amazing. A great first lesson, and they are super humble and willing to listen. A FAMILY!! Of 6!! I was so excited. :) So that was number 9, and then we visited another investigator with José, and got number 10. But before we took José home, we passed by one more investigator and finished off the week with 11 member present lessons. We got 5 total yesterday. 5. It was truly a miracle, and the most member present lessons I've had in one week on my mission. :) I've been thanking the Lord in my heart ever since José called us yesterday. It was a truly great day. :)

Also, on Saturday, there was this guy putting on some activity in Peñuelas, and so we went because he wanted us to go and contact some people there. Hardly anybody showed up, though. It was supposed to be a "dia familiar" where people would come and sell their craftsmanship stuff. There was one lady there selling some pretty cool stuff, and I bought myself a birthday present haha.. I bought a SWEET Puerto Rican bottle thing that she made. It has a palm tree, "el morro", the beach, the three kings, and mountains on it. I'll send some pictures. :) But yeah, I'll be sending that home as soon as I can. What better addition to my bottle collection, right?? I really hope it makes it safely!! But yeah, so watch for that package soon and please let me know when you get it and if the bottle is still intact! Be gentle with it haha. But yeah, so that's pretty sweet.

For this week, we have a baptism planned for Saturday. :) When I found out months ago that my birthday fell on a Saturday, I said to myself: "Self, I want a baptism that day." And look now, we're getting a baptism on that day. :) He's the golden investigator, and he gave his testimony yesterday during church. It was great. :) His girlfriend, the daughter of Bishop, is super grateful for us and she told us yesterday that she hopes we can find somebody after our missions that has made her as happy as this guy has, because our teaching him has helped him change, and she's really grateful for that. It was a really nice complement, and it made me feel like I was doing my job. :) Also, Hna. Santiago, a member who gives us food every Sunday says she's going to call Pres. Alvarado to make sure I can stay over Thanksgiving so she can feed me that day haha. That also made me feel like I was doing my job, it was really nice. :)

But yeah, a good week, and we're praying for another week of success. We keep learning and getting better and making the changes we need to have more of the Spirit with us. Thank you so much each of you for what you do. :) God lives and loves us, and wants us to go back to Him. Thank you for everything, and I look forward to hearing from you next week!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

08 October 2012

Week 45: Conference Weekend and Previous Week

Well, today has been quite the interesting day, and I'll get to it in a second - but it's been a pretty crazy week, and I'll let you know about that too! But Conference was AMAZING and I loved it so much. Anyway...

Mom - I did hear about the new age for missionaries. Crazy! Such a huge change, and a great one. So many more missionaries will go out because they won't have that extra year to go cold. They'll just leave, which is exactly what they need to do. What hit me the most from that talk was when Pres. Monson said "effective IMMEDIATELY". Wow. That plus the fact that nobody besides him and the rest of the Apostles knew. Surprise to everyone! But that was great, and one part I really enjoyed. I want to say that I am proud to be called the son of Patricia Gardner, and I try now more than ever to live up to that responsibility. :) I love you so much, Mom! (Oh, and that pizza looked delicioso!!)

Dad - Well, it sounds like things are going good with the Halloween preparations and everything, and I look forward to more details! And Nightmare on 13th sounds great! I hope you two had a great time. :) Thank you for the GREAT news of BYU beating Utah State, that really made my weekend perfect. :) But Dad, know that I love you too and that you are a great example to me, and I look up to you in so many ways. You're pretty much my hero. :) Thank you for all that you've done for us as a family and for me personally. I love you Dad!

Marilee - I love you too little sis, and I'll write you separately. :)

But anyway, getting down to business "to defeat the Huns" ;), it was a crazy week because President gave us the challenge to get 10 member present lessons or we couldn't go to Conference. Wow. To some it may come off as crazy, and at first I didn't really like it, but then I repented and followed his counsel. He received that revelation for the mission, and to sustain him, it's my job to do what he says. So that's what we did. We took members out to all our lessons and taught some street lessons and everything and we did it. We got 10 member present lessons. For the first time in Guayanilla, and the first time in MY MISSION. It was great!! And then we were able to go to Conference! Yeah! We bought a ton of candy and then Hno. Caraballo lent us (Elder Durfee and I) one of his laptops to watch General Conference in one room in the church, while the Spanish speakers went to the chapel with his other laptop and a TV. It was great. Elder Durfee and I watched it with the recent converts from Yauco, Jonathan and José and had a great time. :) Might I say that 4 talks in particular really hit me?
Getting Ready

Elder Cook's talk. Wow. I have never seen Elder Cook so intense in my life! That was powerful.

Pres. Uchtdorf's Saturday afternoon talk. Also powerful to me.

Of course, Elder Holland's talk. I had seen one similar to that that he had given in the MTC a few years back, and it was just SO powerful. Do you love me? Then FEED. MY. SHEEP. Amazing.

And then Elder Bednar's talk about testimony and conversion was so mindblowing that I can't wait for the Liahona to come out so I can read it and mark it and everything. I loved that talk.
Watching Conference

But yeah, Conference was great, and I loved it, and was sad when it was over. There were a couple of glitches, because the power went out in Ponce during the Priesthood session and we missed the last part of Elder Christofferson's talk before it came back on, and then the laptop was losing power on Sunday morning. But it was still great and I really enjoyed it.

And then today was Super P-day! We went up to Caguas this morning for our district meetings and everything, and also had transfers! And... no changes, still in Guayanilla with Elder Caal. So at least one more transfer in Guayanilla! That's alright, there's a baptism planned for my birthday, so that's fine with me. :) But after district meeting and stuff, we got changed and then went and played sports all day until 3:00! It was great! Although I hurt my shoulder pretty bad on a fall during basketball. Oh well. :( But now we're here in Yauco doing our emailing and we'll do some shopping soon and then try and head out to work! Elder Hammer is back from his sickness, and Elder Mangelson goes home in three days. Wow! How fast time flies. But it was great to see all the other missionaries, and we all had a great time together. Oh, and I did get the package. Thank you so much! I was honestly not expecting anything like that haha, I didn't even know they made refrigerated packages. But thank you so much, and I'm sorry if that was a lot of money :S I really didn't mean for that to happen haha. But thank you very much.

And so that's about it! A crazy week, and I bet another crazy one ahead of us. I keep you always in my prayers. I hope you all do really well this week and that all goes well for you. I love you all!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

01 October 2012

Week 44: Not a Good Week

Wow. And I thought my week was rough.

Mom - It sure sounds like it was quite the adventure for you this past week, and I hope and pray that everything is okay! But know that I love you too, Mom, more than I can express in words, and thank you for your example to me, and for not giving up on me. :)

Dad - I can't believe it either, 10 months already. It still feels like just a couple weeks ago we drove into Provo together. Wow! And the longest wait between talking to you guys is almost over! Christmas is just around the corner! But I'm glad the Haunted Forest went well, and that BYU beat Hawaii. I'm hoping for some similar good news next week - I'm basically hoping that BYU thrashes the Aggies haha, and Elder Smoot from Adjuntas wishes the same. And that is a sweet missionary experience, thanks for sharing. :) And know that I love you too, Dad, and thank you also for your example and for being a person to whom I can always look up.

Marilee - I'll write you separately. :)
New PR driver's license

Anyway, it was a pretty rough week here too. It seems like Satan was just working really hard this week on all fronts. For us I think it's because we missed renewing our covenants last week because of Stake Conference, and thus didn't have that extra power and everything, and this week was just tough. Basically, every day the members cancelled on us to go out with us, which was no good. Also, when we went to the investigators' houses, they weren't there either! On top of all that, good ol' Elder Gardner here goes and runs his new car into the metal guard rail on the side of the road after turning! It was a sharp right turn, and I got distracted looking at the car behing me thinking it was our investigator, and I guess I kept moving even though I thought my foot was on the brake, and ran into the guard rail. Luckily I was going slow, and all that's there is just a dent and the bumper popped out a bit, but after I called the office, they told me I needed to send in an accident report, and I'll be having an interview with President sometime. Great. Just what I needed. I just got back on his good side and then I go and accidentally hit the guard rail. Just my luck haha. Ugh. Anyway, so then the rest of that day I couldn't focus because the car was dented and all that was on my mind, and the whole week was just hard to teach. We did teach Juan-José though, the less active that President wants on a mission, and that was a really intense lesson. But besides that, it was just hard to find people to teach. And then came Friday night.

We had scheduled a baptismal interview with Narayan for Friday night, but when we went to his house, he wasn't there. We had been told that he had gone to the hospital in San Germán because he might have had Dengue. Great, just what we needed, to have our baptism for the week go down with dengue. But we prayed and then went out looking for where he might have been, and after like an hour of searching, finally found his grandma, who called his mom, and we reset a cita for Saturday morning. I was spiritually drained after that, because we had just been following the Spirit that whole night. And then Saturday. Wow.

Saturday morning comes and we go with Elder Durfee to Narayan's for his baptismal interview. He passed! So that was great. But then we also had another young man named Brian who we had set a baptismal date for the 29th. We taught him with his friend there, Hector, who is a member and the grandson of the bishop. We hadn't taught him all week because he was always busy, but Saturday morning we went out with the determination to teach him and interview him for baptism that night. However, we had heard from Hector's mom that she had talked to Brian's mom and she didn't really want him to be baptized. But we went out anyway. So we go to their house, and Brian's brother comes out FINALLY after like 20 minutes of calling at the house, and says that Brian's in Ponce with his aunt and his mom is working at a baker in Los Indios, which is an area in Guayanilla kind of far away. So we go to the only bakery in Los Indios and ask for Karen, Brian's mom. She doesn't even work there; but they say there's another bakery in Barinas. So we go there and check, and it ends up that Barinas is in Yauco, and she doesn't work there either. As we started searching the bakeries in the pueblo, Bishop calls and Elder Caal tells him what we're doing, and I guess Bishop knows Karen and tells us where she really works - a bakery in Magas Abajo, which is much closer to her house than her son had told us. Whew. So we race over there and ask for Karen, and it turns out she doesn't even work that day! Agh! So we go back to the house and Brian is there. We talk to him a bit and ask him to bring out his mom. As I'm reparking the car so that cars can get past, Brian's mom came out and just flatout rejected us. Harshly, too. She said something along the lines of "I don't want him getting baptized in your church or ever going there again. I don't want you passing by here ever again, and I don't want to see you ever again. Thanks." (Lots of "ever agains" haha). And then she slammed the door. By the time I had gotten out of the car, it was all over. Heartbreaking.
With Elder Caal and Narayan

But then later that day we had Narayan's baptism, and I felt honored enough that he asked me to baptize him. :) So that was really special for me, and a great experience. And last night we had a conference put on by Elder and Sister Tesch for the youth of the Stake who are preparing for missions, and it was just amazing. The Spirit was so strong, and it was a great atmosphere. :) So that was a nice way to end the week. But it was just a week of ups and downs I guess for all of us! But I know that as we keep pushing forward and enduring to the end, everything will work out all right.

I love you all so much. Mom, Dad, and Marilee, I love you all. :) Thank you for all that you do and for your support, and I really hope that everything works out with you guys. I will keep you in my prayers as always.

Con muchísimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission