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30 July 2012

Week 35: Changes, Again!

Well my goodness, it has already been 8 months. Wow. Anyway, another crazy week with a bunch of changes (when will they stop??) and I'll get to them in a bit! But it sounds like you had a pretty good week and a fun 24th of July! I hope the Batman movie was great! Haven't heard a lot about it here except that it's really cool haha. Anyway, to reply to your emails:

Mom - First off, it appears as though facebook has made some changes, judging from that picture you sent me. Goodness. But yes, feel free to update my facebook, now that you know how to use the facebook, I think that would be fine. I like that idea of making the ocean picture as that background picture, and the other one there as it is. And maybe if you could post my address, maybe I'll get a bit more mail haha, so that would be a cool idea too. So yeah! Feel free to do that, just don't make any huge changes or anything. Anyway, it sounds like it was quite the adventure taking Sunshine to Bear Lake! Whose idea was that?? Haha.. oh man, I can only imagine. But I hope you have a great birthday and anniversary in Las Vegas! Did you get the package I sent home?? I hope so, and I hope you like what's inside! :) Anyway, happy birthday Mom and have a great week. :)

Dad - That's so cool about the Dibbles! And those notes on what Elder Bowen said.. wow. Powerful. I hope they helped people, and I hope we can start seeing some change back home! And for the package... some Argentine food? I don't know if you already sent some and I just didn't get it, but maybe some of that? Um... and just whatever you want to send haha, I don't know. Cereal? Cereal would be good. :) Anything you think I'd like or you think would be useful! Oh, and if you could start watching out for BYU football updates...? I think they start later this month, and all I want are who they played, if they won, and what the score was. :) Thanks!

Marilee - I will write you separately :)

Anyway, so another crazy week, like I said. Wow. It started out normal enough, and Elder Mangelson and I were contacting a bunch and actually finding some cool people. We taught a cool investigator last Monday, and she's the friend of a member in the ward. It was a good lesson, and I think she can definitely progress! The crazy stuff happened on Thursday. Elder Mangelson had a meeting up in Bayamon for the district leaders, and Elder Lopez from Ponce came to work in Guayanilla with me. That wasn't crazy, that was normal. We had a pretty good day, and picked up a former investigator again and taught a SWEET first lesson with a man named Ishmael and his wife. It was a GREAT lesson. It was afterwards that the craziness started haha... I get a call from Elder Mangelson saying that he needs us back at the apartment because he needs to pack his stuff. He's been transferred to Mayaguez to train. What?? So we go back, and he gets all packed, but now Elder Lopez needs to go back to Ponce, so the ZLs come to pick him up, leaving me with Elder Mangelson and his new companion. So they take me to Yauco with the Yauco elders and leave me with them, and Elder Mangelson leaves to Mayaguez. So since then and up until now, we have been working in a trio (one of the hardest things ever, mind you), and we are covering the 2 areas once again. No district leader again, and ... GAH! Crazy! We've been running all over the place again and we have felt scattered and disorganized and stuff, but it's all good. We had a good planning session today, and so this week should be a good one!

Also, we were supposed to move today to a new apartment, but there's no water or electricity in the new house yet, so it may be tomorrow or Wednesday. Also, one of the senior missionaries, Sis. Whitaker, caught dengue and has been in critical condition for the past couple of days. We've been praying and fasting for her, and she is doing better, but still not feeling too good. Scary stuff.

Anyway, we have a few good investigators who are really progressing or who have some really good potential. Yesterday we visited a younger guy named Josue with the bishop, and he could really progress. He has a desire to learn about God and to fix his life around. He's great! Also, in Guanica, we're still trying to make progress with Eric, and trying to help him, and there's 2 brothers in Yauco that we're teaching right now that have a sincere desire to learn and do what is right. Jose, one of them, came to church yesterday, so that was good (in Yauco). Jonathan, his brother did not though. :( OH! That reminds me! I gave my first talk as a missionary here yesterday in Guayanilla. :) I spoke on how to prepare for a temple, and talked about the principles behind each law that is learned in the temple, namely the Laws of Obedience, Sacrifice, Chastity, and Consecration, and applied it to missionary work. I think it went alright. Anyway, besides that, we just work hard and do our best to help people come unto Christ. We have a lot to do this week, and a lot of people to visit, and even though it's a bit difficult to work in a trio, the work will still progress!

I love you so very much my family, and I hope you are all doing great! July is just about over, and now we begin August. I remember this time last year I started working at Kohl's and I was just so anxious to leave, and now I'm here in Guayanilla helping the Lord's Kingdom to grow! Mom, I hope you have a super happy birthday tomorrow, and a great time in Vegas! I love you all so much! I look forward to next week!

With much love,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

23 July 2012

Week 34: Plenty of Work to Do

Well family, it has been quite the week, and it has really flown by! There have been some more changes haha, and I'll get to that in a second.

Mom - First off... WHAT in the world happened to Sunshine??? My goodness!! Poor dog!! That parade looks like it was great, though. I bet is really cool to see all those kids there! Thank you for the pictures, and I did get the one with Marilee in the garden haha... funny funny Mom! Sounds like you're really enjoying facebook now! And we didn't have a district leader until just recently, and I'll get to that in a second.

Dad - I got the package with the insect repellent and stuff! And thank you for the two new tie clips, those are great! I love them, thank you. Also, I don't know if you sent a package before this one with Argentine food or whatever, but if you did I didn't get it. So.. yeah. But thank you so so much for this one, I am definitely enjoying the gummy candy! And thank you for doing that for AOL. And Michael Watson is going to Taiwan? Wow! That's pretty sweet, he'll do great there.
Marilee - Also by the way, thank you for the picture of Rex! I love it! And I already wrote you back. :)

Anyway, so it's been kind of a crazy week! What President said about being a leader hit me hard too, and Elder Durfee and I worked hard this week to be exactly obedient and to do an extra hour of study and everything. We were really really busy, and we visited with investigators in all 4 pueblos of Guanica, Yauco, Guayanilla, and Peñuelas. It's been crazy! We didn't have a boring moment during the week all week, and we've been seeing the blessings of the Lord start to come.
The members are starting to care more about us and trust us, and we're really working to gain back that trust from them. Anyway, this week was pretty crazy, and on Saturday, Elder Durfee and I were in Ponce with Felipe, the High Councilor of the Stake over missionary work, because Saturday was Elder Durfee's birthday, and Felipe took us out to lunch at Ponderosa Steakhouse. :) It was great!
During that time though, we also got a call from Sis. Stecker, one of the office missionaries, and she was wondering if we could go open the apartment up, because there were two missionaries there waiting to be let in. Then who should be on the phone but... Elder Mangelson! He and Elder Morrison returned after 12 long days (especially for them, because they had been living on 3 changes of clothes for the whole time), and so they are back!

Elder Mangelson and I are now companions again in Guayanilla and Peñuelas, and working hard to help this area grow, and he is the district leader again. Elder Morrison is back with Elder Durfee in Yauco and Guanica, and we also received news that we are moving to a new apartment, probably next P-day. I don't know how that will work yet, so I don't know what will happen with emailing and whatever, but.. yeah. Poor Elder Mangelson just had the worst time haha... I guess he got a cold sore, his shoes broke, his socks wore through, he crashed the mission van, got sick and was throwing up in the mission office, and didn't talk with President until last Friday. Anyway, those two had a pretty rough time, but we are now all together again! And according to them, President said that he's moving us into the nicest apartment in the mission, and that it's basically a palace. We'll see next week when it happens.

Anyway, besides that, this week was pretty good, and I have really loved my time with Elder Durfee. We learned a lot together, and I was really enjoying being companions with him. He's a great missionary! We visited Eric and Erica, investigators in Guanica, and we picked up a few new investigators, one being the sister of a less active member! It was just a good week overall, and I'll miss being his companion. But yesterday Elder Mangelson and I had some success, we contacted some cool people, and I am sure that with some faith, we will be able to really help this area grow. Especially since Bishop wants Peñuelas to have its own branch.

Anyway, a lot happened this week, but it was really all a blur. There was a lot of teaching and a lot of work, and I have been learning and growing a lot. Thank you so much for all you do. :) You are so great, and I hope you are all doing well! I pray for you always!!

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

17 July 2012

Week 33: Good News

My dear family, 

Well, it has been quite the week. It has basically flown by. I'll get to why in a little bit, but it's been good.  

Mom - Mom, mom, mom. You fell down again? I'm glad it's nothing worse than a bru though! It could have been much much worse, I know. And I can only imagine the heat, I'm glad I don't have to deal.... oh wait, I do. Ha ha and the rain doesn't help at all here, it just makes it more humid. And that bottle looks great! So does Dad! Ha ha, but I'm glad you're doing all right, and thanks for the pictures! I love pictures of you guys. :) (Though I did not get the one of Marilee in the garden...?)
Dad - I was able to open July letter, but not the May one. I liked the July one, though! I'm sorry it's been kind of hot over there, but I feel your pain, just like I was telling mom. Everything's all right, and it's been quite the adventure! But know that I'm doing all right now.
Marilee - no email this week?? What?? Anyway, hope you're doing great little sis! Only a month and a half left of summer!

Alright, here we go. So last week I was in the mission office in Bayamon with hardly any sleep and writing to family. After that, we... waited some more. Pres. Alvarado didn't show up until about 5:00. And what happened was Elder Morrison and Elder Mangelson went out to work in Guaynabo with the APs. Elder Durfee and I stayed to talk to President. Basically in my interview we talked about how I needed to stop being a follower, and start being the leader he wants me to be, and the one Heavenly Father knows I can become. He also talked about that with Elder Durfee, who was Elder Morrison's companion. Then he talked to us together, and told us to pack our things back into the car (just ours), to take the car to Yauco, and then once we got there, to break down the bunk beds so that there were only two. So now, us 2 are working in Guayanilla AND Yauco. A ward AND a branch. 4 pueblos: Guanica, Yauco, Guayanilla, and Peñuelas. Wow. He also said we are to only speak Spanish to each other, and that we need to get up at 5:30 every morning to have an extra hour of study time for the 12 week in-field training program. So that's what we did. So this whole past week has been crazy trying to work in 2 units, especially since the Bishop of Guayanilla just got back from his temple trip this past weekend, and the ward mission leader moved to the States. So it's been kind of crazy!

Anyway, just know that President always wants to help us grow, and even though it was a big move and a big change, ultimately I think it will help. In the past week it really has helped. Pres. Alvarado is a great man, and I know that he holds the keys to this mission, and as we follow his counsel, we'll see growth and change.

But it's been a great week, because Elder Durfee and I have been learning and growing together. He's from Grantsville Utah. Oh, that reminds me, Pres. talked to us about that, and how he doesn't want us to just be another couple of missionaries from Utah. He wants us to stand out, because he knows we can. So anyway, we've been learning and the apartment is now spotless ha ha. Working in Yauco has been great, because there hadn't been missionaries there for like a year, and so in the past few months it has been exploding. Also, the members there want the branch to grow, and they help a TON. We have like 8 or 9 investigators. Here in Guayanilla, we are going to be seeing some growth also I think, and we're meeting with the Bishop Wednesday night to make some plans.

There's a man named Eric, and his daughter Erika, who live in Guanica, with whom we are trying to focus. He's a really cool guy, and we're trying to set a baptismal date with him.

Also, Efrain in Yauco is a pretty cool guy too. He's had the Book of Mormon for like 30 years, and knows it's true! All that is stopping him from being baptized is the fact that his wife is Catholic, and he doesn't want any problems with that.

There is a young man in Yauco named Yan Garcia who just came back from the States, and we haven't met him yet. But we've heard that before he left for the States he was really excited and at the point of baptism! Also, a young guy in Guayanilla is the same way, so we're hoping to work with the both of them. Anyway, there's so much going through my head at the moment with all our investigators that I can't keep them straight! But we now have a car, which is good, and next week I'll hopefully finally be getting my Puerto Rican driver's license. Oh and by the way, I was wrong about how no amount of cleaning could help the apartment. It looks much better now. :) It's still an ugly place, but having it clean has helped a lot. And it feels different. There's a more peaceful spirit in the apartment now, which is I think part of the goal.

Anyway, know that I am doing well. :) I love you all, and thank you all for everything. You are truly the best family ever, and I couldn't ask for any better! It's been a pretty good week, and really, really busy. There's not a moment where we're not doing something. It's good, and the work in Yauco is growing greatly, and will be soon also in Guayanilla. I love you all so so much, and I hope you're all doing well! I pray for you every night!

With much much love,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

02 July 2012

Week 32: Denghe and Other Illnesses

My dearest family,
Wow! 7 months! it's amazing how fast time is flying by. It's hard to believe, to be completely honest. I can't even think about how 7 months ago we were driving down to Provo. And then to think of all the changes I've made and how much my life has been changed for the better in just these past 7 months, it's amazing. Anyway, a pretty decent week this past week, and I'll get there in a second!

Mom - It's interesting... I've had that same discussion with people on facebook about trek. People just don't understand the point behind it. I really like what Dad had to say about it, and I completely agree. And the thing about the concentration camps, are you serious?? My goodness. As somebody who has actually tried Trek, and done it, it is one of the best things ever, if you do it right. Just like anything else in the gospel, we have to do OUR part. We can't just read the Book of Mormon and expect to get an answer. We have to read, ponder, and then pray. We have to act. We can't just ask God for something, and then just sit around waiting for it to happen. Like Pres. Alvarado shared with me last week, Gordon B. Hinckley tells us to pray, and then get up off our knees and go to work. I say this to tie it into Trek in the sense that we can't just go on Trek to just go. We have to go and do OUR part and remember what the Pioneers did, and we have to try and learn from it. Not doing so is like reading the scriptures while listening to rock music, or praying with a vain repetition, or going to church because it's expected. If you didn't get something out of trek, it's because you didn't try. Faith is action. There is no witness until after a trial of our faith (Ether 12:6). There's a reason faith is the first principle of the Gospel: because it is absolutely necessary for our salvation, and is necessary to bring to pass other principles (such as repentance), and ordinances (such as baptism). Thus, we must show our faith and always be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and always be wanting to learn, from ALL righteous and uplifting experiences (i.e. Trek), and that is when we receive revelation, and truly understand what we must do in this life to return to Our Heavenly Father. :) Whew. Anyway, that's my thoughts on all that! And I didn't know the date of your anniversary as a member, that's really cool. :) And Mom, I want you to know that I feel like I can stand with the 2060 stripling warriors in saying that "we do not doubt, our mothers knew it." I don't doubt either, because my mother knows it. :) I love you Mom! Thank you for everything. :)

Dad - your Halloween ideas sound awesome. I'm sad I'm going to miss it... but I can't believe it's only 3 months until October! I expect some pictures from how things are going, and especially from Halloween night! I would definitely love to see how everything turns out, and what everything looks like. And that would be great, having some goop. As far as other stuff I'd need... probably a couple cans of mosquito repellant, because they're wanting us to wear that stuff all day now, since three missionaries have caught Dengue. It's a pretty bad disease, and can be fatal. Not commonly fatal, but can be. It's basically like the worst flu/fever ever. Body aches, vomiting, all that good stuff. So, maybe some mosquito repellant? And if you're wondering about any food or anything to send... just whatever gummy candies you think I'll like. :) I have discovered a great love for gummy candy, like Lifesavers gummies and stuff, so anything like that would be great! Thank you so so so much! Also, what I said about Trek above also applies to what you said. I totally agree, and I will keep doing my best to keep building my foundation. Anyway, know that I love you too, Dad, and that I wouldn't be the person I am now without all your support and all your help. You've always been there to turn to, and I feel like I can compare myself to Nephi or Moroni, because while they weren't as clear as the stripling warriors, by reading their words, they had a deep respect and love for their fathers. Likewise, I love you very much, Dad. :)

Marilee - I will reply to your email separately, sis!

Whew! Long one today! Haha, but this week was just kind of normal, although I had the beginnings of an ingrown toenail... However, Elder Morrison, who lives in our apartment, has had them before, and so he helped me out. He lifted up the edge that was going into my toe, and put some cotton under it, so now I just have to wait until the toenail grows over that, and I should be good! Any tips, Dad? Anyway, besides that, we spent a lot of the week over in Peñuelas, because we worked a lot in Guayanilla. We finally found some cool people, who are willing to talk to us, so hopefully we'll be able to start teaching them soon!  

On Friday, we had tradeoffs, and I went with Elder Morrison to Peñuelas, and we found a cool kid named Hector. He's 19, and we asked him if he wanted to learn more about Jesus. He said yes, so we'll be seeing him on Wednesday! He seems like he could really progress. Besides that, my bike has been behaving better this week, and both tires are still pumped up. However, my brakes (in just 2 months!) on the back tires got a little worn down, so I had to buy new ones. Oh well, such is life.

To be honest though, we basically focused on contacting this week, since we really don't have too many investigators. We literally only taught one investigator lesson. The rest were recent converts or with members. We taught Radames and his family, and they are just full of confusion. They need the Plan of Salvation, especially the Atonement, and they need it bad. They are just so worried about what happens to people after death, and who are the people who are going to el infierno and everything, and it's just frustrating, because the dad, who was baptized 11 years ago, but wasn't truly converted, has a deep knowledge of the Bible, and uses it (to the best of his understanding), and it just confuses everyone. They won't read the Book of Mormon, or come to church, so it's just frustrating. Anyway, the Tesch's, the senior couple here, said they'd love to help us out, and Elder Tesch is extremely knowledgeable. I think that will be good. :)

Other than that... not too much has happened this week. :\ A lot of dogs chased us around, and I got a good kick in on one! We were riding, and this dog started chasing me, and I kicked it good right in the face. :) Victory. And lots of other dogs like to chase us, and there's seriously a ton of them here in Guayanilla. Goodness. Um... and that's about it!

I'm sorry, it wasn't the most interesting week haha.. OH, we did get wet yesterday, because we got rained on a lot. And we taught Hno. and Hna. Caraballo, who are amazing members. Truly converted. Incredible. They gave us a lot of food, too, so that was nice. :) Anyway, besides that, nothing too interesting. Keep an eye out for tropical storms and hurricanes for me! And know that I love you all so very much, and keep you in my prayers always. I thank you for everything you do for me and for all your support. You are the best! Have a great 4th of July, I'll be out working, but I hope you guys have a blast! Take pictures and tell me how it goes! Let freedom ring!

I love you all so very very much, and look forward to hearing from you next week!

Con muchísimo amor
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission