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27 August 2012

Week 39: Isaac and One Angry Dog

My dear, dear family!

Well, it's been an eventful week, to say the least haha... lots to say!

Mom - Thank you so much for your testimony and for your words of support and strength. Thanks for all that you do, mom. I love you!

Dad - Well I sure look forward to seeing what you've got planned for Halloween this year! You'll have to take pictures and everything and let me see how it all works out. It's just around the corner! And thank you for the notes on what Elder Bowen said, that is really enlightening.

Marilee - I will write you back separately.

The sky the night before Isaac was supposed to hit.
Well, what the week. Wow. Ups and downs and... kind of tough. But this last week Puerto Rico was put on "Storm Warning" for Tropical Storm Isaac. We were told to make sure we had enough water bottled in the house, that the car had gas in it, and that our phones were charged. I was excited to see this storm, since I'd never seen one. There was a big hulabaloo about everything, and... the storm never hit. It was out like 80 miles haha.. we caught the tail end I guess and got a ton of rain and a little wind, but it wasn't at all bad. Ernesto, from a month ago, was worse than this and we hadn't even heard about that storm. So that was a bit of a let down haha.

Well, our investigator with a baptismal date, Josué, is no longer living in Puerto Rico. :( We passed by on Saturday to teach him and follow up on his baptismal date, but when we got there, his grandma told us that he had moved to New York with his parents. I was just crushed. We finally, after all our work, got a little success, and then he moved away. Oh man... it was rough. But it's all good now, and we pushed forward and keep pushing forward, and are working with some other investigators to help them progress. But that was that.

And then yesterday. Mom, be warned, what you're about to read may contain material upsetting for missionary mothers. So we were riding our bikes through the pueblo, or the main area of Guayanilla, and were about to cross this bridge. There's always a dog there that likes to chase us, and we're usually fast enough to outrun him. Sometimes I'll try and kick him away because he's close at my heels and is trying to bite. Well, this time, we were stuck behind some cars and could therefore not move at all. I was actually completely stopped, and this dang dog just stares at me for a minute, and then attacks! Before I could react it had bit my leg. Wow. So I kicked it off, got another kick in its face, and then rode away as fast as I could (the cars had moved by this time). When we got to a stopping place, I called Hna. Visker, the mission nurse, as to what I should do, and she helped me through all the steps on what to do and everything, and that she needed someone to send a picture of the bite to her and Hna. Alvarado to see if it needed stitches.

So we went to this one lady's house, Rosie, to see what she could do for us, because she had offered to feed us. Her husband wasn't home though, so we had to stay outside the house. But we got it all cleaned up with the hose and some soap, and then we took a picture and sent it to Hna. Alvarado. Rosie then cleaned it with some alcohol and then put gauze on it, and then she gave us food, by which time her husband had come home. Anyway, long story short (too late, right?), no stitches, no rabies, no nothing. Just an ugly looking wound that a member, Hno. Caraballo, said would leave a nice scar. :) I've got a picture of it I'll be sending soon, and we'll see what Dad thinks about it.

Hna. Visker just said to keep it clean, keep it covered, and then to keep her updated on everything and how it goes. Her biggest concern is infection, so we'll keep an eye on it. But no worries, I'm fine, and actually have felt pretty good since then. I'm in good hands, and everything is going okay. :) I'm happy, content, and really, loving the mission. Even with dogs chasing us and (in my case) biting me, it's all good. I'm doing great. :)

Besides all that, we had some really good lessons with our other investigators, Ishmael and Edison. Ishmael is amazing, and is SO close, but has that one little doubt. And with Edison, we taught about church attendance, and we were so close to having him come, but he didn't show up.

Anyway, things are going great, and the leg is healing up. It's not too bad, really, I was pretty lucky. :) Transfers are on Wednesday so I'll let you know what happens next week. Thank you for everything and for all that you do. I love you all so much and keep you in my prayers always. You are GREAT and just think... 4 months and we get a phone/skype call! :) Take care my dear family, and I look forward to next week!

Con mucho amor

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

20 August 2012

Week 38: Nothing Short of a Miracle

Mi querida familia,

Well, another week has come and gone here in Guayanilla! And boy was it another tough week haha.. wow. But a great experience, especially yesterday. Basically nothing short of a miracle to me. :) We'll get there in a second though.

Mom - I'm sorry about your braces situation and for what happened at Kohl's haha, but I'm glad everything worked out okay! It's weird to think that a year ago I was walking around in Kohl's as an employee. Whoa. But I hope that all worked out for you! :)

Dad - That is a great talk, I enjoyed it! It really applies to the members here, too, because in this ward at least, they have a hard time wanting to do missionary work. Ugh. So that talk was really interesting to me. And yes, keep me posted on the Halloween stuff!! Oh, and let me know how the BYU Football team does!! If I'm right, they start this weekend, yes? Anyway, just the scores and who they played and stuff. :) Thanks!

Marilee - I will write you separately.

Well. This week was also kind of rough in the sense that our investigators just couldn't meet with us, and we therefore couldn't get many member present lessons. As a mission, the goal is to have 10 each week, and it was just so hard to even teach our investigators, let alone with a member present. Basically all week we were contacting and trying to find people, and we did finally find a couple of people to pass by and start teaching this week. There's this one guy, named Antonio, who really seemed interested and seems pretty prepared already. He wants his family to be raised in righteousness and wants to follow Christ, and that's exactly what we're here offering! So hopefully we'll be able to teach him more about this Gospel and how it can help his family.
Sign at the beach: Entering Danger Zone - Tsunami

But really, the great stuff happened yesterday. At church, after a couple of weeks without an investigator in church, we had some there!!! One was the husband of a member, who we haven't taught yet, another was Rosa, an investigator we've been teaching for a little while, and then Doel and Narayan, the husband and son of a member in the ward. It was awesome!! Then after church, we went to go teach Josué, another investigator. And it was a really great lesson. We read 3 Nephi 11 with him, and at the end, after he had told us that he wants a new beginning and to start over, we promised him these blessings through baptism and repentance, and then invited him to be baptized. And he accepted!! He has a baptismal date set for this 15th of September!! It was great. :) Then we went and taught another guy the first lesson, and he was really accepting and open, although he didn't want the Book of Mormon just because he doesn't read much. We'll work with that. But overall, it was a great lesson, and he accepted pretty much everything! So yeah, yesterday is when all the success came, after much prayer and pleading with the Lord. I had been feeling pretty down because we ride our bikes around all day every day looking for people to teach, and trying to teach our investigators, but it just feels like sometimes we're not doing anything. Nobody wants to listen and nothing happens. So when yesterday happened and we finally had some fruits of our labors, it was really nice. It was an answer to my prayers, and I was just so happy and thankful to my Father in Heaven who has heard my prayers and is giving us success now in Guayanilla. Like I said, nothing short of a miracle. :)

Oh, another interesting thing from this week, we had a FHE at the bishop's on Friday, and you know what movie they showed? 17 MIRACLES! And they don't make it in Spanish, so it was in English with Spanish subtitles. I was in heaven. :) I love that movie SO much, and to be able to see it here reminded me about everything about the pioneers from back home, especially Trek. Such a powerful movie, and a powerful message. It was great to be able to watch it here. :)

Anyway, a bit of a difficult week, but we're starting to see progress here in Guayanilla. We are getting a bunch of investigators now, and I'm hoping to see the members help us out a bit more in the coming weeks. It's hard hard work, but it's so rewarding. :) Oh! And I got the package with the slime and stuff, thank you so much. :) I put the slime in my tires, so they're good to go now! Anyway, thank you so much for all that you do, and for all your support and love. I love you all so very much, and hope that you all are doing great!!

Con mucho amor,


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

13 August 2012

Week 37: Zone Conference with Elder Zivic

Well well well, here we are, another week later! This week was really long for whatever reason. Wow. But it's great to be here, emailing and reading all about everything that's going on back home. :)

Mom - Thank you again for all the updates on the Olympics!! I did hear that the USA basketball team won from Zondy, but the medal count was something I was hoping for, and you bring glad tidings of great joy by telling me that the States pulled back ahead! USA! USA! USA! USA! And yes, it was Eric ha ha... oh man. Speaking of which, Elder Hill has already been out for like a year now! Crazy! Anyway, I'm glad you're doing great, and that you had a fun time watching the Olympics! I'm sad I missed it, but the Winter Olympics will start shortly after I get home, right? Where are those at? Anyway, love you Mom, and I'm glad you're doing great. :)

Dad - Hawaii?? Sweet! I've heard that Hawaii is a lot like Puerto Rico, just with less people and they speak English haha. But I'm glad you're having a good summer, and that you are all doing well. Your adventure with the lawn mower in the marsh sounds like it was fun haha. And all that information from that meeting was great! I took a picture of the email so I can review it in more depth later, thank you!!

Marilee - I already wrote you back. :)

Anyway, finally a normal week. And my goodness was it long! It just wasn't our week this week haha… all of our investigators basically fell through on us, so we hardly taught any of them. We did teach one, named Doel, who is the husband of a member. He's a great prospect, and I have a lot of hope for him! He and his son are good prospects to be baptized I think. Besides that, we didn't have too many other lessons... :( We did a lot of contacting and we taught some other less active members and whatnot, but our investigators just were too busy. We have some hope for this week, and Bishop Nieves is really pushing the work here. He's doing such a great job, and is inviting families over to his house for FHE and everything, and is inviting us over to meet them and stuff before we start teaching them so that they feel more comfortable and stuff. He is amazing! He is really bringing about a great work here, and is probably the best part about Guayanilla. This week has some promise, and we have a member present lesson set up for tonight with another promising investigator.
In Yauco

Anyway, today was a different day. We all went to Ponce, from both the Ponce and Mayaguez zones, and had a special zone conference with Elder Zivic, the second counselor in the area presidency. He is from Argentina, and he is a great man! He is a great teacher, and we were all uplifted and edified much by what he taught. He helped us know what we need to do to become Preach my Gospel missionaries, and gave us the steps and everything we need to take. He helped us to see that the mission goals help us to better ourselves and help our areas grow. He's just a very flowing teacher, and reminded me a lot of Pres. Dibble.

Well, I wish I had more to write, but honestly like I said, there was a lot of contacting done this week. I'm really hoping that this week brings a little more success, and I have a good feeling about it. We keep doing our best and working hard and having faith, and I'm sure we'll see success soon.

Thank you family for all that you do and for all your support! I love you all so much, and it is always so wonderful to me to hear from you and know you're doing great. :) Again, I'm sorry I don't have much more to say.. but just know that I love you all very much. Send my love to the dogs, too! Thank you for everything. :)

Con muchísimo amor


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

06 August 2012

Week 36: Training? What?

My dear family!

It's a bit later than usual as I begin to write this email, but it's all good. :) It seems like the craziness doesn't want to stop following me around! Haha but no, it's been a pretty good week, and a few changes! I'll get to 'em in a second though.

Mom - THANK YOU for the Olympic updates! It sounds like it's a pretty sweet Olympics this time around! What's the medal count? And keep your eye out for a Puerto Rican track/field athlete named Javier Culson - he's their highest shot at a gold, so everybody here loves him haha. But it sounds like the basketball is going great, and I actually did hear about the Nigerian blowout from one of our investigators. Wow.
Dad - Well it sounds like you and Mom had a great time in Vegas! Happy Anniversary in a couple of days, by the way (It is Aug. 8, right?). Anyway, I'm glad you had a good time, and I hope that fire doesn't get any bigger! I will keep that in my prayers, and I hope that it gets contained and everything soon. And wow. I loved that about the Articles of Faith. That's amazing. Thank you for sharing that!
Marilee - I wrote to you separate. :)

Anyway, another crazy week! So if you remember last week I was with Elder Durfee and Elder Morrison, and we were in a trio. Well on Monday night I get a call from President Alvarado asking me if I'm ready for a companion. I say yes, and he tells me that my new companion's name is Elder Caal, that he is from Guatemala, and that I need to love him. He also tells me that we're moving the next day (Tuesday).

So Tuesday morning comes around and we're all packed and stuff and the beds are taken down and ready to be moved, and at around 10:00 the Icelys (the Senior Missionaries in charge of houses/cars/etc.) come to help us, and the Zone Leaders bring my new companion! He's pretty cool, and I have a picture of him I'll send next.

New companion, Elder Caal
Anyway, so we moved apartments, and it is beautiful. It is a very very very nice house, and I have pictures of it to show you! The house is beautiful, and so so so much better than the last one, and it's been good having to talk only in Spanish all day, it's definitely helping me learn. Also, Elder Caal got to the island on June 20 and is still a part of the 12 week program for new missionaries, which technically means I'm training. However, he has 5 months on the mission because he had to wait in Guatemala for his visa. So... I'm not exactly sure what the situation is, but since he's doing the 12 week program for the first time and has to do the extra hour of study, I think I'm training. Wow.

But yeah, investigator wise it's been an alright week. We talked to this one guy named Edison, and he's pretty cool! He's a Dominican, and we talked a bit about baptism the other night because he seemed really interested in baptism.  I sure hope he comes on Sunday! Anyway, he's my favorite investigator at the moment, although we do have another one right now who has some promise because he is looking for the change we have to offer. He told us that he wants the happiness that he sees in our faces, so I hope we can help him with that! His name is Josué and he seems really sincere, so I really hope he can progress.

A funny story this week haha... so Friday we talked to Walter, the guy who made those things for you (you did get the package, right???), and he told us that on Saturday there was a big storm coming through Puerto Rico. He was right. Saturday, we were blessed to go out with the Bishop for the first part of the day, but we were left to fend for ourselves at about 4:00, and OH MY GOODNESS it was raining!! Holy cow! We were riding our bikes basically through rivers. The streets were rivers and the rain just kept on coming down. Hard. We were SOAKED for the whole rest of the day haha... oh man... holy cow. Basically it was as if I had jumped into the river. It was a lot of fun. :) Kind of a pain when we got home, but it was still fun. But yeah, so then we came home and got changed and stuff.

So yeah, it was an overall good week! We work hard and we do our best to help other people come unto Christ. :) Next week is going to be really different because on Monday Elder Zivic from the Area Presidency is coming, and we're going to be in Mayagüez for that meeting until 2:00, so I don't know what's going to happen with our P-day and stuff, if it's going to be those last 4 hours that day or if they'll give us Tuesday and whatnot. I don't know. So don't panic if weird things happen next week! :) Haha, that should be a good meeting. Anyway, I'm glad you're all doing great. I pray about you always, and it's always a pleasure to read about what's going on back home! Thank you for your support and for everything you do. :) I love you all so very very much!

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