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24 September 2012

Week 43: Almost a Baptism

Well, a pretty crazy week! A lot of great things have happened this week, and we've been really busy. The car is an incredible blessing, one for which I am so so so grateful. It has helped so much, and we have been kept very busy.

Mom - I'm sorry to hear about all that! I do have a testimony that Satan has a great hold upon the world. I see it here every single day. Puerto Rico is just a breeding ground for Satan's power to flourish. It's crazy. We seriously are at war here, and it's intense haha. Wow. I'll just try and paint a picture for you. You know how there are just tons of chapels there in Utah? Imagine instead that every one of them is a bar. And then imagine tons of basketball courts where kids can just go and do bad things at any point of the day or night. Horrible. And I did get the pictures of Rex being up at the house. :) That's my buddy alright!!

Dad - Well I was really hoping BYU would beat Boise State. I can't believe they lost by 1 measly point. :( Oh well. But the Halloween season is upon us here in Puerto Rico too! I have a great picture you'll love which I'll send soon. :) I look forward to seeing pictures from your Halloween set up soon! And I'm glad you're losing weight, and I am too! I think I'm down like 25 since I started. And remember the list of ideas I sent a little while back if you're wondering for things to send. I'll resend the list in a bit. :)

Marilee - I just wrote you. :)

Anyway, a crazy week! We had the car, so a couple of days we took out members with us. One, Christian Rivera, a mission-age young man who isn't out yet, and he said he really enjoyed the experience! He said he had a great time. Also, we were able to finally take Zondy out with us, which really helped him boost his morale, and he loved it. He can't wait to go out with us again, so that was awesome! We also met a guy named Carmelo Borrero, who is the boyfriend of Bishop's daughter, and he is GOLDEN!! Finally! I have officially met a golden investigator. :) He says he knows the Church is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that he wants to be the next bishop of Guayanilla, and wants to be married in the temple. Wow. It was great to meet him, and he says we'll be taking pictures this coming weekend, so pictures to come!

But yeah, so this weekend was Stake Conference, and the Zone Leaders wanted each companionship in the zone to have someone baptized Saturday night by their unit leader. Well, we did our very best. Narayan Ortiz, a 14 year old, was and is ready to be baptized, and his dad would have been home on time to see it, but his mom decided that someone else's quinceañera was more important than her son's baptism, and so we couldn't baptize him for that sole reason. I realize that the quinceañera is a big deal in hispanic cultures, but come on, that over a baptism in front of Elder Cornish of the Seventy?? Oh well. We weren't the only ones who didn't get a baptism. Actually, Yauco was the only one with a baptism. But Carmelo said he was going to be there, so we go to Ponce with the Yauco elders, but Carmelo had to leave with the Bishop, so we didn't have an investigator there.. but it was a great service, and Pres. Alvarado ended up letting us stay so I could play the piano for the adult session. Wow. Elder Cornish's talk was AMAZING. He basically called the Puerto Ricans to repentance, saying how much the Mongolians, Haitians, and Dominicans sacrifice for the church, because "The Gospel is precious to them." It was great. Then the next morning, Carmelo was there, which was awesome, and I played the closing hymn for Stake Conference. Elder Cornish also gave another great talk about the Atonement during that session. It was just overall great. :)

Anyway, so right now we have 4 baptismal dates, and hopefully 2 of them will happen this week! It should be a good weekend, with a baptism and also the Tesch's are putting on a missionary work conference for all the Aaronic Priesthood and mission-age elders in the stake Sunday night, and all the missionaries are going to be there for support and to sing Called to Serve. It should be great!! :)

But yeah, that's about that! Loving the car and oh so very grateful for it, and working hard every day. I am really starting to love Guayanilla, and I hope I can stay at least one more transfer here. I love you all and thank you for everything that you do! I pray for you always!! :)

Con muchísimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

17 September 2012

Week 42: Good Progress and a New Car

Well, the crazy P-days just don't want to stop for Elder Gardner! Haha goodness... long day today, but I'll get to that in a second.

Mom - I'm sorry to hear about all that.. :( I guess all we can really do is keep praying and fasting. I love you, Mom! And thanks for the blood type haha. I got that today, and still don't have my license so… it all works out! Probably won't get it until next week haha... long story. And Dad's talk sounds wonderful, I'm sad I missed it. :)
Dad - I'm sorry I missed your talk! It sounds like it was great! And that's too bad BYU lost... I was hoping for some revenge from last year.... :( Oh well. Life moves on, right? And have you sent a package or anything yet? Just wondering to see if you had and just hasn't come yet, because (more explanation coming), I'm in Bayamon today, and there was no mail there for me. So just wondering. Anyway, I'm sad I'm missing the Halloween season, but I'm glad you two are having fun! And thank you for Elder Perry's words, I will study them more in depth when I get home.
Marilee - I just wrote you. :)

Well, an interesting week! We almost met our goal of 10 member present lessons, but just fell short, with 8. Interviews were actually really good. President and I had a nice talk about how different things are now in the area, and how I've changed for the better. He then asked me what he could do to help, and I worked up the courage and showed the faith to ask for a car... and he said yes! A ton of responsibility has come with it though, as he wants us to use it to reactivate an inactive mission-age young man and get him on a mission before he ends as President. Wow. But we'll do it. So that was interviews!

With Elder Caal in the new car. Happiness!

Today we had to come up to San Juan for Elder Perez, the companion of Elder Durfee, because he has kidney stones and he needed some tests, and then we had to pick up our car from the office. So now I'm here in some university in Bayamon to write you guys haha. And we have a car! I'll send pictures of it next week. :) I'm so happy! Now we can get to our whole area! But yeah, it's been a crazy day and we haven't done any normal P-day stuff yet besides email, and it's 4:00. Yikes. And we have to drive all the way back to Guayanilla tonight. Great. But it's all good, life will shortly get back to normal haha... hopefully.

Anyway, this week could be a week of miracles. This Saturday/Sunday is the Ponce Stake Conference, and the ZL's want us to be able to have our bishops baptize someone Saturday night and be confirmed Sunday morning in front of the entire stake, and a general authority. That's eleven baptisms (one for each companionship), and it would be incredible for the stake, and I think it's a great idea. So hopefully I'll have some great news for you next Monday!!

But yeah, this past week was pretty good, we were able to have some good lessons and help a couple of investigators keep progressing toward baptism. We had a good lesson yesterday with a couple, named Carlos and Rosie, and they seemed pretty interested. He was reading the Book of Mormon before we had even left, and she said that she was definitely going to pray. They seemed a bit confused, but as they read and pray, the understanding will come.

And so I guess that's about it! I don't have a ton of time today, because we still have a lot to do, but it looks to be a great week! Working in Peñuelas, Macana, and Consejo Alto will be great. :) But know that I love you all! I'm so thankful that we are sealed together for time and all eternity as a family, and that as long as we keep doing what we need to do, everything will work out. Thank you for everything that you do and for all your support. I love you all so much!


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

10 September 2012

Week 41: Doing Fine

Hey family! Another week has come and gone, and this week was a pretty good one! We've definitely been seeing some success, and things are going good. I've seen some great changes since I first got to this area, and it's been incredible to see the growth and changes here in Guayanilla.

Mom - I'm sorry to hear about all that.. :( All I can say is that through much prayer and fasting, miracles can happen! Thanks for the pictures; I'm sure you're real happy to see the Halloween stuff coming out! It's weird to think that that is next month. Wow. September's here and almost half gone, and then it's the best month of the year! October! That's crazy. The lawn mower looks much smaller than the last one, so that's kind of interesting. But know that I love you so much Mom, and that I keep you in my prayers always, and I thank you for everything you've done for me. :)

Dad - Go Cougars! I can't believe the U lost to Utah State... that's weird. Does Utah State have a good team then? In any case, I hope BYU destroys them when they go up to Logan. But yeah I look forward to hearing what happens this weekend! It sounds like BYU hasn't really had much of a test, and I don't know how good the U is, but I guess I'll find out next Monday haha. Anyway, it's great to see all the Halloween stuff coming out, and I hope that all goes well! And thank you for Elder Perry's notes and comments and stuff; they are very interesting and enlightening. And that's cool that Brigham City is all ready!! That's great! When is Ogden going to be done?

Marilee - I will write you separately.

Anyway, I know I didn't write much last week - things were crazy. But nothing really happened with transfers, besides the fact that Elder Morrison is gone, and Elder Durfee is the new DL. I'm still here in Guayanilla with Elder Caal to finish up his training, and we'll see what happens after! But it's been a pretty good week, and we have 3 investigators with a baptismal date! 2 are young men, ages 15 and 13, and one is an older guy. Narayan, the 15 year old is super prepared and is pretty much ready for baptism. He's the son of a member, and it's great to teach him and everything. Brian, the 13 year old, is the friend of a member young man in the ward, and we had a good lesson with him too. Both of them want to be baptized, which helps a lot. The older guy's name is Isidro Castillo, and we're not entirely sure if he's completely on board haha. He loves listening to us, and reads the Book of Mormon inbetween visits and stuff, but he said he's open to everyone, no matter what religion. I don't know with him yet. But we'll have the faith that baptism can truly help him, and that he'll be ready for his date on the 12th of October. The other 2 by the way have a date for the 29th of September.
Picking quinepas
We've been able to really work with the members here, too, which has been great. They're really starting to show a greater desire to work, and poco a poco we're starting to see some great changes here. :) When I first got to Guayanilla, we had just Zondy and a couple of other weak investigators. After Zondy was baptized, we had hardly any investigators. But after we started showing our faith and truly working with all diligence, with all our "heart, might, mind, and strength," we started seeing miracles. It's been a wonderful experience, and in an area where I used to think "get me out of here," I now think "I love this place." It's still a hard area just for the fact that it's a biking area, and a lot of hills and everything's so far apart, and we can't go to Peñuelas or Macaná anymore (more than half our area), but we have a bunch of people to teach and the members are really starting to work now. It's great. :)

Speaking of bikes though, my bike has decided to start being dumb. Only 9 months in and it's already starting to fall apart! Part of it's because I was riding super fast and then hit a pothole and my back tire was just destroyed, and since then the axle piece broke. I had to take my bike to Yauco and get it fixed, but it's still giving me problems. The wheel won't go on straight, and the gears are off now. So that's a pain. But other than that, everything's good! I learn more and more every day, and my testimony is strengthened all the time.

Anyway, that's about all I've got for this week. This Friday is interviews with President, so that should be an adventure- it always is haha. So I'll be letting you know next Monday how that all went and if I survived ;) No, it will all be good, and I look forward to hearing from you next week! I love you all so much, and I hope you all have a great week. Keep sending the pictures, I love seeing what's going on back home! Love you all!

Con muchísimo amor,


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

03 September 2012

Week 40: Too Busy

Hey family, I don't have a ton of time today.. Labor Day and everything was closed, so now it's 10 after 5:00 and I have to write you guys and President still! Agh! So it may be a bit shorter today :( Sorry!

Mom - Well it sounds like it was a pretty good week, and that you have been keeping busy! I hope everything works out between those two, and a new lawn mower?? That lawn mower was new just a couple years ago! But that's pretty cool. And Halloween mom, it's coming! I am going to miss fall... :( Oh well. But I hope you're doing great, Mom! Love you!

Dad - Thank you for the BYU score! I hope they keep up the good work! they play the U pretty soon, right? This weekend or the next weekend, right? Anyway, thanks for Elder Perry's notes- I didn't read them yet, but I took a picture of them so I can later. :) And I want pictures from the Halloween stuff!! Anyway, I hope you are doing great too!

Marilee - I already wrote back!
With Bro. & Sis. Tesch, couple missionary.

Anyway, a pretty busy week, and we were actually able to teach this week. It was pretty good! We didn't teach a lot of investigators, but we did teach less actives, and we were finally able to talk to Zondy, who had been avoiding us for a little while. He was sad and everything, and we talked to him and asked why, and he hadn't been coming to church, and he told us that he had started smoking again, and that he was scared that his priesthood was going to be taken away. We taught about repentance and forgiveness and it seemed to help, but he didn't come to church again, so we passed by with the bishop, and they had a good talk, which was sweet. We have a cita with him tomorrow, which should help.

Yesterday though we had a pretty good day, because the members actually wanted to work with us. We went out with the Bishop and the 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency, and we went and visited some people, including an investigator! So that was pretty sweet. That was a really good evening, and I wish all Sundays were like that haha. But a lot of time this week was dedicated to finding people, and we were able to find a few.

Update on the dog bite, it's getting better. I keep it covered and everything, and it's getting better! So no worries there. :) If anything gets worse I'll be sure to let the mission nurse know, and the next time I write, I'll let you know. But for now it's getting better and stuff, so it's all good.

Oh, and something cool the mission is doing, is that we have all asked our unit leaders (Bishops/Branch Presidents) to find 5 Part Member Families to work with, and then we were to ask them for a blessing so that we can work under their keys and authority. A really sweet idea, and we had a good experience with Bishop Nieves yesterday with everything, and it was really great. :)

Anyway, I really don't have a ton of time to write, and not much to say as it is.. I'm sorry. Next week should be better! Anyway, I love you all so much and I'm glad I could at least write you this little letter! No time to send pictures either... sorry. :( Next week! Next week! Anyway, I hope you're all doing great, and you're always in my prayers. Thank you for everything!

With much love,


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission