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25 June 2012

Week 31: Routines

My dear family!

Well, tomorrow the 26th marks my 200 day mark… already. Don't think I'm counting down or whatever, it's just a cool milestone, and the time is flying by! It's been an interesting week, but I'll get to that in a second.

Mom - I have kind of felt like that too since I got to Guayanilla - the weeks are a bit longer here than they were in Caguas, I don't know why. Maybe it's because I spend most of the days just biking all over the place. This last week was just tiring though haha.. I remember yesterday I just had no desire to do anything, because this past week I got a cold. :( Ugh. Anyway, I had a nice runny nose and sore throat for a few days in there, so I think I was just a little bit more tired than usual when Sunday came around, and had absolutely no desire to go out in the heat. But we did, and it all worked out. :)  I love you Mom, and I hope you are doing great. :) And by the way, don't go too crazy on facebook… ;) Haha oh my goodness, sounds like you're having a great time with it!
Dad - That's really too bad about what happened there... That kind of stuff shouldn't happen, and like you said, especially not with a non-member there...Was the Avengers good though? What you saw? Because I've heard it's pretty good! And I'm glad that work is going well for you, and I hope it keeps getting better! Also, Mom is going crazy with facebook, huh? Haha goodness gracious, good ol' Mom. :) Anyway, I look forward to your mission experience next week, and know that I love you too Dad. :)
Marilee - I will email you separately.

Anyway, so a pretty interesting week! Besides getting sick, we had interviews on Tuesday. The way it works here, is it's basically like a Zone Conference, because Pres. Alvarado speaks to us, and then all the office missionaries and everyone speaks and stuff like that. So it was good. Originally we were going to go to Bayamón, but we ended up only having to go to Ponce for it. It was a good meeting, and my interview was really great! Pres. and I talked about a few things, and he said I was doing great, and that I was looking good. :) So it was a pretty good meeting, and a good interview. Also, Hna. Alvarado started getting everyone profiles, and since mine was already done, she talked about it, and now everyone in my zone knows I've written a book haha, so... publicity I guess? Anyway, if you haven't checked it out already, you can search my name at and check out my profile. :)

Besides interviews, it was a pretty rough week. We went up to Peñuelas a couple of times, and we contacted up there and stuff, but we didn't get any new investigators or anything. We're teaching the niece of a member couple up there, who is visiting from the Bronx. She's only going to be here for a couple more weeks until going to Ponce to be with her family, but she's really receptive, and said she'd read and pray about the Book of Mormon. She understands really everything we taught about the Restoration and Joseph Smith, and any doubts she had, we were able to clear up. Besides that, we're working with a part member less active family, but this past week they were too busy for us to talk to them, so now we have to wait until this Thursday when they're available again to teach. But yeah, it's just been a little frustrating, because we're not really getting anywhere with new investigators. However, the bishop said he'd help us out this week, and that he'd go out to visit with us to some people he knows, so that will be good!

Also, this week included "La Noche de San Juan," which is an event where everyone on the island, on Saturday night at midnight, went to swimming pools or went out to the beaches, and fell into the water 3 times backward, and then 3 times forward, to get rid of all their bad luck. Weird Puerto Rican traditions. Luckily we were back in our apartment and asleep by then haha.

Oh, and yesterday my back tire decided to go flat, bringing the number of patches I have used on my bike up to 3.

Besides all that, nothing too crazy happened this week. The main things were interviews, getting sick, the Noche de San Juan, biking to Peñuelas, and getting a flat tire. But I hope you're all doing really well, and know that I love you all very much and pray for you always! Thank you, as always, for your love and support. :)

With love and many prayers

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

18 June 2012

Week 30: Happy Pedaling

My dear family –

First off... WHAT?? Both my parents have a facebook account?? Wow. How are you liking it? ;) Haha...
Mom - Yeah, there's a lot of randomness on there, most definitely. Have you gotten the hang of it and stuff though? And thank you for the comics! Those are hilarious haha... I can picture both of them. But I'm glad the card got there. Did you get my package too? And yeah, I figured she'd be happy if I sent a picture. And the birthday sounds like it was good… lots of chocolate! Here (on Father’s day) we had another lunch thing after church for the fathers, so that was good.
Dad - I'm glad you got the card, and I hope you had a great Father's Day!! We stay pretty safe on our bikes. This week has been a bit crazy, because we finally found a way from Guayanilla to Peñuelas on our bikes, and the way down is down a windy hill road. It's not too windy, but we get going a little fast. :) We don't ride down that at night or anything, so don't be worried, it's a pretty safe ride. And thank you for cleaning out my emails! I was actually wondering about that, and how many I would have there. So thanks!
Marilee - I will respond to yours separately. :)
In Peñuelas

So… a bit of a crazy week with LOTS and LOTS of bike riding. Like I said earlier, we found a way to Peñuelas from Guayanilla on bike. It takes about 30/40 minutes of riding to get there, but we get there! We take water with us too because it's a good distance away. Anyway, so while we were there during this week, we passed by a lot of the members who we hadn't been able to visit, and also Ramón, the recent convert who baptized Zondy (news on Zondy to come shortly!). So it was good! The members up there like us a lot more it seems, because I think the members in Guayanilla get a little sick of us passing by all the time haha.. they're still nice, but it seems like the ones in Peñuelas are happier to see us, since they haven't seen us in a while, they're very receptive and very nice! Anyway, we're planning on working up there a lot more since we haven't been there for a while, and we've basically been through Guayanilla every day since I got transferred here and it's not all that big. Anyway, so that was the great discovery of the week!

We also picked up a new investigator this past week. She's from the Bronx and she's visiting with her aunt and uncle who live in Peñuelas, and so we started teaching her! We taught the lesson in Sunday School yesterday, and she said she liked it a lot and would like to learn more! So I don't know if we can baptize her here, but we can at least teach her so that when she goes back to New York in a couple of months she'll be ready for baptism. So that was pretty cool!

Also, news about Zondy. So I told you last week that he received the Priesthood and everything. Well, we walked into the chapel yesterday and guess who was wearing a suit?? ZONDY! We had also taught him about piercings, since he had the one in his eyebrow, and you know what he did? He stood up there on the spot, walked out onto his back porch, and THREW his piercing into the jungle! Amazing! So he was there on Sunday in his suit, without his piercing, and then he passed the Sacrament. :) It was so great to see, and he's only going to keep growing. Hopefully we can get him to the temple this November with the group that's going to Santo Domingo so he can do baptisms for the dead. But he's such a great guy and I think the ward will be able to help him out. :)

Anyway, besides that, it was basically a "get to know Peñuelas" week. It rained yesterday and we got kind of wet. Hurricane season is starting, and since I can't really watch the news or anything, maybe you could keep an eye out for any hurricanes coming our way? They say that since it's been so hot lately (it's been up in the 100's plus humidity), the hurricanes are going to be worse. We'll see. Anyway, other than that, we have interviews tomorrow up in Bayamón, but we're driving up there tonight. That'll be cool, but we lose a whole day of working, plus tonight, so we basically start our week on Wednesday. Oh well, it's all good. :) Puerto Rico is hot, but great, and I'm loving every minute!

Thank you my dear, dear family for all that you do for me and for all that you have ever done for me. Thank you for your support, and as always, I keep you in my heart and prayers! I love you all so so much!

Con muchísimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

PSthis picture is all for Dad for Father's Day! In Peñuelas I saw this train statue and immediately thought of Dad. And since it was Father's Day weekend, I had to take a picture. :) Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you!!

11 June 2012

Week 29: Baptism

My dear family,

First off, WOW! Elder Perry and two Seventies? That's incredible. It must have been a fantastic learning experience. It's interesting, I was actually just thinking about the priesthood activity of our ward and stake this past week, and wondered what could be done to make it better. I guess sending a member of the Twelve over there to rattle up the ward a bit is a great way! That's incredible! Wow. Just reading about the experience blows my mind haha.. wow.

Mom - So you got a facebook, huh? How do you like it? Once you get a hang of using it and stuff I may just let you take over my page until I get home. But we'll get there once you feel more comfortable with it and stuff. :) Anyway, that's so crazy. I can't get over the fact that you had Elder Perry speak in our ward. That's so crazy. And your new calling! Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate with that class haha... but I hope it is going well for you.
Dad - That sounds so intense. I can't even imagine what it was like to be instructed by Elder Perry about how to improve and rescue the priesthood holders. My goodness! I'm sure it was wonderful though to be able to listen to him and learn from his experience and everything. I hope the work progresses quickly back home and that the Stake is able to reactivate members and prospective elders.
Marilee - I will respond to you separately.

Well, getting to the week here, it was a little bit crazy, but I want to start off with the best news of all, I got my first baptism!! :) Zondy was baptized on June 9, which was also his birthday. :) It was a wonderful program, and he felt so great. What made it even better was that he was baptized by another recent convert, Ramon, and they have already started up a little friendship. On Sunday, Zondy was confirmed a member and received the Holy Ghost. Also, he was interviewed by bishop, and was found worthy to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, and that was conferred upon him as well. He called us last night and said he felt different, in a good way. :) It was amazing! Absolutely amazing, and I know that he's going to do great things, if he just stays on the path and remains active. He wants to help so much, and has been spreading the gospel among his friends and everything, so that's a great start! This Sunday we hope to have him bless the Sacrament, which would be amazing. So that was definitely the highlight of the week. :)

At Zondy's baptism
Besides that, on Wednesday we had our transfer meeting up in Trujillo Alto. The whole mission met and there were a few changes. Elder Mangelson and I stayed here in Guayanilla, though, so it didn't really affect us. It was cool to see the other missionaries though, and I was able to talk to Elder Hammer again which was really cool. Also, Tuesday, President Alvarado wanted everyone to stay inside to catch up on reading for the 90 day challenge I told you about. I was caught up and a little ahead, but Elder Mangelson was a little behind, so we spent a good portion of the day inside reading. So I basically just got more ahead. Right now I'm in Jeremiah 32 or something like that, which is a good 5 days ahead of schedule haha. It's been really cool to read the Old Testament, especially Isaiah. There's a lot of things in there about the Temple and everything that was really interesting to read about.

But basically other than that, it was just a normal week. A lot of contacting, riding around and stuff on the bikes. OH, I almost forgot. On Friday I think it was, we decided to ride our bikes up to Consejo Alto, which is an area here in Guayanilla. Basically, it's all mountain, and there's a member family with some less-active mission age boys up there, and we wanted to visit them. So we basically almost died because of the heat and the uphill struggle haha.. but we made it, and it turns out they weren't even there. :( So after our hour, hour and a half quest up there, we rode all the way back down in like 5 minutes. It was a bit crazy.

Anyway, nothing too cool besides the baptism and confirmation and everything, which was AWESOME!! But yeah, just a normal week with normal lessons and everything.
Oh, by the way, I did get your package! Thank you so much for everything. :) Just one little note... you sent the angel Moroni tie clip, and I was actually hoping for a Captain Moroni tie clip.. so I'll send a picture of it in another email. I just like it better because in my opinion it looks better. BUT I thank you so much for the angel Moroni one, and I have been wearing it too. :) I do like it, but I just like the Captain Moroni one a bit more. So if you don't want to buy another one I'll completely understand and use this one, because it still is really really nice. But yeah, thank you again so much for the package! You are definitely the best family ever. :) I sent home a package with a few things in it, and I may be sending home another one shortly.

Anyway, I hope you are all doing really well, and you are always in my prayers. :) I love you all and thank you so much for all your support and everything. I'd be nothing without you guys! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!

Love you!

Con mucho amor

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

04 June 2012

Week 28: Possible Transfers

My dear, dear family.

It has been a pretty interesting week, especially Saturday, and this week promises to be even crazier. I'll get to that in a second though.

Mom - First off, it is so good to hear that you made it home safe and sound. I'm glad you had a good time with your family down in Argentina. I bet it was great to see them all again! And I hope everything went well for you all. I was praying for the whole family down in Argentina, so I hope it was all okay. But I'm glad you made it home safe and that everything seemed to work out alright. I love you Mom, so much! And don't worry Mom, there are some really great members here that take care of us really well. The whole bishopric is always great to us, and they each usually feed us whenever we pass by them. There are some other members that are really great too, so we're taken care of here. :) And that picture... I'll be honest, it brought a tear to my eye when I saw the last box. Thank you for sharing that. :) But thank you for everything Mom. I wouldn't be the person I am without all you do for me. I love you.
Dad - She's from Ponce? Really? That's awesome! That's also where Pres. Alvarado is from, so that's cool. Ponce is huge though, so it doesn't surprise me. A lot of people are from Ponce. That's pretty cool though, that I live just 30 minutes away from where she's from. About the shirts though, the ones I have are good for right now, they're just going to be pretty ugly by the time my year mark rolls around I think. So I don't know, maybe if you want to wait until October-ish to send them or something? And do you need the sizes or whatever? And as always, thank you for your mission experience. It's great to read about every week!
Marilee - What?? No email this week? Why you little... GOOFNUT! :) You're a great little sister and I hope you have a great summer! Make it the best ever! And let me know how all your camps and activities and everything go! Love you!

So now on to the craziness. Almost. I'll talk about Zondy a little bit first, and then I'll talk about our crazy experience on Saturday. So Zondy has his baptismal date set for this week, on the 9th! That is really awesome. He has not smoked thus far, since we last asked him to stop, and he seems to be pushing forward strong with the faith that he can do it. We'll be reviewing the baptismal interview questions with him this week and setting up an interview with the Zone Leaders for him, and hopefully after transfers on Wednesday, we'll still be here to be a part of his baptism and confirmation! He is so humble and so ready to be baptized, and the ward loves him. I hope he can just keep pushing forward and reach his goal this Saturday. What's even cooler (I can't remember if I already told you) is that this Saturday is also his birthday. What better day is there to be baptized and born again than on the day you were born for the first time? :)

Anyway, NOW the craziness. So on Saturday Elder Mangelson and I went out to work after our morning studies, and then the Zone Leaders came to our house to drop off a car report, and called us to go home so we could just talk about that and stuff. When we get there, they were talking about how Pres. and Hna. Alvarado's kids were in the States, which meant that they are now full-time missionaries free to roam the island and that they would be doing interviews and apartment checks randomly. About 20 minutes after the ZL's left, Elder Mangelson gets a call from Pres. Alvarado saying he's outside the apartment. We all just froze and our hearts just stopped, because President is one intimidating man. So we go and let him in, and he walks in and then starts interviewing us. He pulled me aside first, and asked if I was happy, to which I responded that I hadn't been this happy in a long time, and he smiled and just said "that's all I needed to know." And then we talked a little bit about the state of the apartment (it's one of the worst in the mission), and he said that we could be doing better on keeping it clean. That is true, we aren't the most diligent on cleaning it all the time, but at the same time, the apartment is not a very nice place to live to begin with. Anyway, he interviewed everyone, and then said that we need to spend our P-day cleaning the house and everything. Also, I will be sending home my pink ties and some other stuff in a package soon, because President doesn't like pink ties, and kind of got after me for having them haha... oh well.
A view of a Guayanilla street

So yeah, that was the morning. Later that day, as we were going out to a part of Guayanilla, we passed some old lady who asked us to help her with her son who was out cold on the ground. Elder Mangelson ended up calling 911 while I tried to calm down the lady and talk to her, and then the ambulance and some cops showed up, and it just turned out that the guy was drunk and that the lady was crazy, and that the cops knew her really well haha. Goodness sakes. Saturday was probably the craziest day of my mission as of yet.
However, this could all change this next week. We got a call from the Zone Leaders this morning telling us that P-day is from 9 to 5 today, and that after emailing and "light shopping" (I'll explain that in a bit), we are to clean the apartments as if we were leaving them to the owners, because on Wednesday, the entire mission is supposed to be packed up and meeting in Guaynabo for a transfer meeting. The trainers will know either tonight or tomorrow and they will need to be up in Bayamón tomorrow night for the new missionaries, and then everyone meets on Wednesday for the transfer meeting. Talk about crazy. So I technically don't even know if I'm going to be staying in Guayanilla right now haha. I'll let you know everything next week though. Oh, and that's why we can't buy too much today, because it's very possible that we could be being transferred and whatnot this Wednesday.

Anyway, so that's what the craziness was and is. Besides that and Zondy, we also met a 13 year old kid named Esteban who has been coming to church all his life and now wants to be baptized! Basically, we just need his mom's permission, but he is so ready. He says he's received an answer, and that he wants to have the Priesthood so he can pass the sacrament and everything. Amazing!! Other than that, just a normal week full of contacting, visiting members and less actives, and trying to teach investigators. We'll see what happens as we move forward this week, and I'll make sure I let you know what happens this week!

Anyway, it's always great to hear from you all, and I love being able to read about what's going on back home and to write about the mission life here in Puerto Rico. I pray for you always, and I hope that you are all doing very well. :) I love you all so very much, and look forward to hearing from you again next week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission