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30 April 2012

Week 23: Transferred!

My dear family, today marks officially my 5 month mark here in Puerto Rico! Crazy, eh? It's been quite the crazy week, and I'll get to all that in a minute, but I do want to say that I did get your package, thank you! I appreciate everything that is in it, and thank you so much for your love and support. Anyway, to reply to your emails first.

Mom - Well I must say, your news about Elder Reed is great. I bet he's doing great up there. What you were saying about the ballroom festival/event thingy sounds pretty crazy. I hope Braydon decides to go on a mission, because no matter what happens, the mission will make things so much better for him. There's an elder here who got a scholarship to play basketball at Duke University. DUKE. That's like, one of the best basketball programs in the nation. And he came on a mission. I hope that Marilee makes it to the DC Ballroom, that would be really great for her! And thanks for the tips for the rust stains, I'll be trying that as soon as I can haha. Also, thank you for sending me the parts from my setting apart, that was really cool to read through again, and helpful as well. So thank you Mom, I love you. :) And a week from this coming Sunday I'll be calling!
Dad - Thank you for the answers to those questions, and I will watch for the package! Thanks for that, it will help a lot I think. And I hope you enjoyed your stay in Park City and that your conference went well, even if it wasn't too enjoyable haha. And I can't believe the Jazz actually made it! It's too bad that they ended up playing the Spurs, because they always lose to the Spurs, but maybe they'll pull off some kind of miracle... but I doubt it. I'll look forward to next week's update on them! And good luck with the garden, I hope it does well this year and that there's a good harvest this fall.
Marilee - I'll respond to your email separately.

And now the craziness of this past week!
I'll start with last Monday. That wasn't too bad. We didn't go bowling or play basketball or anything, and kind of just cleaned the house and did a few other things until we went out to work. We then visited the Gonzalez family, and then came home to some interesting news! The Zone Leaders, who lived with us, got the transfer information from the AP's, and so told us everything. We knew that Elder Hammer was going to San Germán to be a district leader, but I figured I would stay in Caguas to keep the area going and everything. Nope. I got the word that I was being transferred to Guayanilla, an area in the southwestern area of the island, next to Ponce. Basically, I was being moved to one of the hottest parts of the island. Ponce is the hottest, and Guayanilla is pretty close there. Also, one of the ZL's, Elder Campbell, was being transferred back to Ponce as well, so he's still one of my ZL's. But since we don't live with the ZL's anymore, I won't have easy access to the mail anymore unfortunately... so I'll get my mail whenever I can now. Besides that, the Ponce zone is far away from the office in Bayamón, even more so here in Guayanilla. But it's all good. More details in a bit about Guayanilla.
Tuesday though, I was still in Caguas with Elder Hammer, and we started out the day with studies and everything, and then had our ward correlation meeting. After, Elder Hammer and I went out and basically said goodbye to all our investigators, and passed by and either gave them the new missionaries' number in person or else wrote it on a card and left it for them. That night we went out with the bishopric and everything, and then came home to pack up. That's how the night finished.

Wednesday was transfer day, and I spent my morning packing everything else up. Around 10:30 we met at the Caguas Stake Center with a bunch of other missionaries, and transferred. My new companion is Elder Mangelson, and he is great! He's from Sacramento California, he's been out a year and a half, and he's the district leader here in Guayanilla and Yauco. He's a great missionary, and I think I'll be able to learn a lot from him. We also live with Elders Morrison and Williamson, who have been out 9 months, and work in Yauco. But we got here to Guayanilla (we also cover the pueblo next to us, Peñuelas), and then went out to work. What's cool is, I finally got to use my bike! However, since I hadn't used it, my rear end has been sore since Wednesday haha… but it's getting better. We also don't have a car in this area, which makes it hard to visit Peñuelas, because the only ways to get there are up twisty, curvy, mountain roads that are really skinny, which makes it dangerous to bike up. We walked most of the way on Thursday, and then got a ride from a member the rest of the way up, but it's hard to work over there without a car. Anyway, still with Wednesday, we visited the ward mission leader, and then took our investigator, Zondy, to institute that night. He's a really great guy, and he's got a baptismal date for the 12 of May! He is trying really hard to quit smoking, and once he gets that done, he'll be ready. He's a really great investigator, and is more proactive than any other investigator I had in Caguas. But yeah, that's basically how Wednesday was.
Thursday, like I said, we walked most of the way to Peñuelas, and then got a ride there from a member, after feeding us some Chinese Puerto Rican food (really weird stuff). We visited a recent convert up there, and then visited some of the members there. Then the high counselor over missionary work gave us a ride back down to Guayanilla, and that's basically how that day went.
Friday, we walked for most of the day, passing by some investigators and less actives and such, but nobody was home for whatever reason. So that day was kind of long haha... We went back out on the bikes later that night, and passed by a few more people, but weren't really able to teach many lessons.
Saturday was kind of the same deal, although we did go biking up in the hills at night for a little while, and found a pretty cool guy named Miguel. He couldn't really meet that night, so he said to come back on Sunday.
Sunday, we had the Ponce Stake Conference, so we had our meeting over in Ponce, where Pres. Alvarado was and everything. Also, we heard him speak, as well as the Ponce Stake President, and from the Santo Domingo Temple President. So overall, it was a good meeting. Afterward, we came home, ate, and then headed out to work. We passed by some people, and then later that night, we were able to visit with Miguel. We taught him a pretty decent lesson, but he said he wanted to learn "poco a poco" and didn't want to rush anything. So... that will be interesting to work with. But he's a pretty cool guy, and I think there's some potential there. Then we biked back in the dark! Don't worry, I have lights and everything, and the roads aren't too busy here, especially at night. And there are street lights, which help.
And now today. We found out from Salt Lake that there's going to be a delay on putting money on the cards, which means that today, after transfers, when none of us really have food, and we need to do laundry, we're all pretty much completely out of money and can't buy food or do laundry or anything haha. So... that will be an adventure. We'll hopefully get money soon though, and we may go shopping on a day that isn't P-day because we're going to need food. We'll see what happens though!

Anyway, Guayanilla is pretty crazy. It's definitely different than Caguas. Caguas was a big city, and Guayanilla has one main road. The rest is campo. It's a pretty agricultural area, with orchards of banana trees and such. We're close to the ocean, but we can't really see it from where we typically work. There's an urbanización called "La Playa" where we did some service the other day from where you can see the ocean, but the beaches aren't very nice or anything. It was cool to see the ocean though. Also, it's pretty dang hot here, and it's going to get hotter as we move into summer. However, I'm getting a nice tan, so that's a plus. :) It's definitely different biking everywhere, since before I was always just in the car because Elder Hammer couldn't ride; but it's been good, and it will help me lose some weight I hope.

But thank you again for the package (I can't listen to the CD's right now because we don't have a car... we have a DVD player in the house though, so I might listen to them there), I really appreciate it. The ties are great, and it's good to have a few more pairs of gym shorts and everything. But again, thank you so much for all your support, and it was so good to hear how you're all doing! I love you all very much, and pray for you every day. I hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to hearing from you again next week. I love you very much!
NOTE: So I forgot to mention that during my last day in Caguas, the sister missionaries wanted us to help them with a project that President had asked them to do. He wanted a statue or something of Jesus sitting on a bench with a sign next to it that said "This seat is for you" with underneath, so people could take pictures with it. A pretty cool idea if done right. So we show up to the Caguas plaza that morning to help them, and I guess they had a less active lady help them out, and she had sculpted the head, hands, and feet out of clay. To be honest, I think it looked a little creepy. So then they made the body out of boxes, while Elder Hammer and I made the sandals haha. And then when it was all put together, we all got pictures with it. So that's what that is supposed to be.

From Puerto Rico with love,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

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