This is the last email you will receive from me from the Dominican Republic! I cannot believe that in just 5 days I'll be packed up and flying east for an hour to get to San Juan Puerto Rico. I'm nervous beyond belief. But I'm also so excited to finally get to the place where I have been called to serve, and to meet the people there. I have enjoyed it here in the DR, but I know that I'm going to love Puerto Rico even more. I really can't even believe it's already time to leave for the field though . . . it's incredible.
Now for the weekly report!
Nothing too interesting happened last Thursday after I wrote you, so nothing to report there.
Friday was pretty normal, so nothing too interesting there either.
Saturday was kind of a long day, just because we had a lot of teaching and everything, but it was good.
Sunday, as always, was a great day! After very nice Sacrament, District, and Priesthood meetings and lunch, we watched a devotional by Elder Bednar from 2005. He talked about Pres. Hinckley and everything! It was a bit strange. But he gave a great talk on how to become a great missionary. It was incredible. I loved everything he said. He told a story about how he was in Indiana, and a couple missionaries came to his home and basically wasted an hour and a half of their time and the Lord's time. And Elder Bednar let them know about it. So they came back a few weeks later and did it right. It was such a good talk! That night, we were privileged to hear from Pres. and Hermana Hernandez. Pres. Hernandez is the President of the East mission, so that was pretty cool. I think my Spanish is really coming along, because I could understand a lot of what they were saying.
Monday and Tuesday weren't too different from usual. A lot of teaching and a lot of practice. We've taught the people here many times, which I think has been beneficial, and it has helped us better understand how to make lesson plans for each of the lessons. I started feeling kind of sick (with a cold) on Tuesday night, and I had a pretty bad sore throat yesterday, but through prayer as well as gargling some salt water, I think I've averted the worst of the sickness. :)But that brings me to yesterday! We once again were able to go have a great experience in the field with some of the missionaries out there. I went again with Elder Hawks. On our way to our first destination, we took some pictures of the ocean. Don't worry, we were not breaking any mission rules. I asked him and made sure. The beaches aren't really beaches in this area, they're just rocky coral cliffs. You'll see what I'm talking about in the pictures. :) We had 4 citas (appointments) scheduled, but none of them were there, so we contacted for about an hour. I did a few of the contacts, and that was a pretty good experience! It was so hot, and I was sweating. But I'm much happier here than I would be in Russia. :) It's such an interesting feeling, walking down the street and wearing that name badge, and working hard to bring people to Christ. These experiences have really helped me get excited for the field. After we contacted, we tried a couple more citas, but nobody was there either. :( So it was about time to go back to the capilla (chapel), and Elder Hawks took me to get some ice cream. It was way nice of him! The ice cream here is different, because they don't really have real milk that's cheap, but it's very, very good. I got some pictures of that too. So I enjoyed myself yesterday. :) And then last night I was just exhausted (I don't know how I'll last in the field one day!), and I just collapsed in bed ha ha.
And today we have planned some service in the morning. :) We're going to be going to an orphanage and reading to kids for an hour! I'm pretty excited, especially since I have a bit of experience with this from Guatemala. I'll also get my new scripture cases today, so I'll send some pictures whenever I can. :)
Anyway, like I said earlier, I leave for Puerto Rico in 5 days. However, I don't know if I'll be able to just call you because I don't know what time I'm leaving the CCM and what time I'll be arriving at the airport. I don't know how well the pay phones work and whatnot, or what kind of connection they will have to the States.
Also, I don't know when my next P-day will be. I think the standard for missions is to have P-day on Tuesday, but I don't really know. So I don't know the next time I'll be emailing. Another thing, the emails there won't be this long. They give us an hour here in the CCM for emails, so that's why they've been longer. I'll be back to a half hour I believe once I hit the field, but I'm not sure. A lot of unknowns at this point! However, I have the address for the mission home, which I'd imagine will be where you'll send any mail. If that's different, I'll let you know in my first email from the field, especially if I have the luck of being assigned to one of those little tail islands like the Virgin Islands and such. However, here's the address for the mission home:
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission
Urb. Jardines de Caparra
#500 Calle Marginal Norte
Bayamon, PR 00959
Well, that's about all I have now. The next time you get an email from me, I'll (most likely) be in "La Isla de Encanta"; "La Estrella del Caribe"; and the island that I'll be calling my home for the next 22 months. :) I'm so excited, and so thankful I have this opportunity to serve my Lord. I miss you much, but I love you even more. I pray for you and think about you all, and wish you the best. I don't know if I'm in much of a position to counsel, but as a representative of Jesus Christ and as a special witness, I just want to testify to you that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that we weren't the best at reading it before, but as a missionary I can promise that as you make that effort to read, ponder, and ask God if that book is true, He will answer you. Even if you know it's true already, ask Him again, and He will give you an added witness. I did, and I know, without a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that the Book will bring happiness and peace, and that our home can become an even stronger refuge from the world. I encourage you to read it together as often as you can. I understand the challenges that come with that, but I know that He will bless you for your efforts. I love you all so much, and I thank you for your support, and the kind words every week.
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission
3 Nephi 5:13