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29 October 2012

Week 48: Baptism!

Well can you believe it, almost 11 months! Wow! Crazy stuff happened this week, but I'll get there in a sec.

Mom - Well... wow, I can't believe the amount of snow that fell! The Tesch's told me that it had snowed in Liberty, but I didn't know if it would make it to Layton. Guess it did! Haha. And all that about the work... that's CRAZY!! First off, that's great, and it will be great to have a bunch more missionaries out. However... it will make my first responsibility when getting home a bit more difficult haha.. To have a bunch more missionaries out and helping the work will be great! And yes, I did know Elder Scroggins! I knew that he went to BYU but I didn't know that he had relatives so close to home. Anyway, thanks for everything Mom!!!

Dad - I look forward to the pictures from Halloween, and I hope it all goes okay! I'll try to remember and pray for good weather on Halloween so you guys can put on a good show. :) I hope that it all goes really well and that it's a huge success!! As for the CD mixing thing... there's not anything I know of that can do that.. :\ Sorry! But I'm sure Mom had a good time at This is the Place haha.. she always does even if she doesn't want to admit it ;) And Stake Conference sounds like it was sweet, and that it was really spiritual.

Marilee - What? No email?? Haha well you have a great Halloween!! Have fun Wednesday night!

Anyway, so the week! Kind of crazy, but it all worked out in the end. We are kind of short on miles because we were looking all over Peñuelas for this family of 9 that moved from Adjuntas, but we never could find them. And now we're paying the consequences of using all those miles haha.. Ugh. But it's all good, we still have enough to go out and get some member present lessons tomorrow and Wednesday. This week we finished off with 7. Still not 10 but we'll get there.

But Saturday, we did have a baptism!! Carmelo Borrero got baptized, and was confirmed Sunday. It was a nice little service, even though not many people came. But it was great, and he had a great experience, and received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday. He's a great guy and can really progress in this church. I have no doubt that he's really important to the Lord. He's really important to the enemy too, and he has tried to pull him down and I'm sure he was pretty upset to lose Carmelo. But he's going to go far in this gospel and become a great leader as long as he really does his part and learns.

Also, Thursday night this HUGE storm hit. My goodness. I guess it was the tail end of that hurricane that plowed through Cuba, and it was nuts. Not much wind, but LOUD thunder. BOOOOOOOOOM!!! I can't write it in words haha.. but the house shook, and it was like 2 or 3 in the morning, and there was TONS of rain falling. Then I got back to sleep, and then BOOOOOOOMMM!! Then I got back to sleep, and FLASH, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!! By the time we woke up, it was still kind of drizzling, but over by the time we left. It was intercambios, so I went to Yauco, but Elder Durfee and Elder Caal told us about what happened in Guayanilla, and then last night I saw pictures. Flooding! There was like 3 or 4 feet of water in the streets, because all of the rivers had overflowed. Wow. And that was just the tail end of the storm. Crazy stuff!!

Anyway, everything's going good here, super tired, but happy. :) I hope you're all doing great there, and that you have a happy Halloween!! I love you all and thank you for all that you do. :) Love you!!!

Con muchísimo amor,


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

22 October 2012

Week 47: What the Week!

Well, what the week haha. Wow. I seriously feel as if we've just been battling the adversary all week long, more so than usual.
Mom - I'm glad you're doing okay then!  And Christmas is around the corner, so I'll do my best to find you each something cool. :) But thanks for the happy birthday! My "golden birthday" as it's called haha, turning 20 on the 20th. And I hope you have fun in the next few days! HALLOWEEN!! Haha :) Love you, Mom. :)
Dad - the bridges look good! I hope everything ends up really great for Halloween! You should send pictures next week (or when you can) of all the stuff out. I'm excited to hear about how it all works out! Those Haunted Houses sounds great!! Hopefully they'll still be around when I get back, because I'd love to go and visit them. And darn, I was hoping BYU could pull it out against Notre Dame :( Oh well… they only have to be good when I'm there haha ;)
Marilee - I will be writing back to you shortly. :)

Anyway, WOW what a week. We did get a referral from the Elders in Adjuntas of a family of 9 that they had been teaching that moved to Peñuelas. NINE!! We were ecstatic! And then we found out that they live in this mountainous, hilly area called Rucio (each municipio has barrios in it, and one is Rucio inside of Peñuelas), and it's a little far. But we went there and we looked all over for them, and couldn't find them. :( I was pretty sad. We still haven't found them. And all week, we called members, and a few times actually set up times to go with them, but almost each time, they weren't there when we went to pick them up, or something else happened, or else the investigators weren't even there. Frustrating.

Then the adventure began on Saturday morning. We were supposed to have a baptism Saturday evening; the baptism of Carmelo Borrero. His interview was scheduled for Saturday morning, so we went with the Yauco elders to find him, and he knew we were coming, but he wasn't at his house. So we looked all over the place and finally found him. He said to come back at 3:00 to do the interview, because he was going to the clinic. Okay. So we came back at 3:00, with the baptism scheduled for 5:00. He wasn't there again!! We searched high and low, praying, being led by the Spirit, until finally Elder Durfee and I (our companions went to fill the font) just decided to wait outside his house. A few minutes later he walked by and motioned to us to go to his house. By now it's 4:50. He was interviewed and he passed, and then took a quick shower and we went to the church.

But wait, it gets even better.

Bishop's brother had had a heart attack, so bishop was in Yauco in the hospital and wasn't going to be able to come to the baptism. He was the one who was supposed to baptize Carmelo!! And Carmelo was pretty upset about that. On top of that, his girlfriend, the daughter of bishop, and him had broken up like, Friday night, and they were fighting and there was this whole big situation, and so he told us that it hurt him to look at her and he didn't want to be baptized with that kind of anxiety and sadness and frustration in his heart. So we let him go. The font filled, his girlfriend crying, and he just walked home. But the members that did come sang happy birthday and we ate some sandwiches and stuff. But it just wasn't the same without the baptism.
What's left of a cookies and cream cake.

So Sunday morning we pass by his house before church, and we're baptizing him this Saturday now, so we hope and pray that everything works well for that. Basically the way I look at this week is that the enemy worked really hard to just destroy everything, and basically won. It was tough. But Sunday afternoon made up for it, at least a bit. We went with the first counselor to that sweet family I told you about last week, and had a really great lesson with the Mom, daughter, and one of the sons. It was a great lesson, and she said she would try and come to church! So that was sweet. :) And then last night I went to the Santiago's house and they had bought a cake for me, and we sang and had a good time. :) So no worries, I had a decent birthday. :)

Anyway, a crazy week. I'm hoping that this week is a bit better. It looks better, and I'm really hoping that it turns out so! But I thank you for your prayers and for everything that you do. :) I love you all so much! Thank you for your support!! I love you!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

15 October 2012

Week 46: Great Blessings

Well, what a week it has been. Lots of running around and staying busy, and we saw some miracles yesterday. :)

Mom - Thank you for all the pictures, they were pretty funny. :) Seeing my little buddy Rex in a birthday cap definitely made me laugh. :) And also, thank you for the empanadas and alfajores :) I couldn't ask for a better birthday present than to taste Mom's good home cooking again!! Thank you! :) Sending you all my love from the Caribbean Sea! (HUGS)
Dad - It sounds like the Halloween preparations are going well, and it all looks good! All the Halloween stuff here is out, and the stores (Kmart, Walmart) are starting to put Christmas out already. Yuck. But other than that, I've seen a few Halloween houses here too, and I sure miss the haunted houses and everything! Apparently there's one here in Ponce, that they put in some old abandoned castle. It looks SWEET. But apparently Puerto Ricans don't like that stuff very much and so it's not as "bad" as the ones in the states. When I told some members that in Utah there's like 8 or 9 they just stared at me like I was an alien haha, and then even more so when I said the one "Rated #1 in America" was also in Utah. It was great haha. The new props look sweet, and that's too bad that BYU lost... :( Hopefully they'll be good when I get back haha. But thanks for everything, Dad! Oh, and interestingly enough, I also bore my testimony on Sunday during sacrament meeting.
Marilee - I already wrote ya back. :)

So now, the week! All this week it was pretty difficult to teach lessons with members present. By the time Saturday came around, we had only 4. Wow. The goal is 10. Yeah. But Saturday night we were able to get 2 more! Anyway, on Sunday, we left church with 2 more member-present lessons, and I honestly thought we were done after that. I thought we would just end with 8, and that would be that. But as we left the house, we said a prayer that we would be able to find a member to go out with us. We biked away from the house, and not 2 minutes later, we get a call from José Santiago, a recent convert in Yauco. He said he had called this family up in Macaná and said he could visit with us. Wow! So we pick him up and go to Macaná and find this wonderful family of 6. Humble. Prepared. They accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and also said they would try and come to the baptism we're having on Saturday. It was amazing. A great first lesson, and they are super humble and willing to listen. A FAMILY!! Of 6!! I was so excited. :) So that was number 9, and then we visited another investigator with José, and got number 10. But before we took José home, we passed by one more investigator and finished off the week with 11 member present lessons. We got 5 total yesterday. 5. It was truly a miracle, and the most member present lessons I've had in one week on my mission. :) I've been thanking the Lord in my heart ever since José called us yesterday. It was a truly great day. :)

Also, on Saturday, there was this guy putting on some activity in Peñuelas, and so we went because he wanted us to go and contact some people there. Hardly anybody showed up, though. It was supposed to be a "dia familiar" where people would come and sell their craftsmanship stuff. There was one lady there selling some pretty cool stuff, and I bought myself a birthday present haha.. I bought a SWEET Puerto Rican bottle thing that she made. It has a palm tree, "el morro", the beach, the three kings, and mountains on it. I'll send some pictures. :) But yeah, I'll be sending that home as soon as I can. What better addition to my bottle collection, right?? I really hope it makes it safely!! But yeah, so watch for that package soon and please let me know when you get it and if the bottle is still intact! Be gentle with it haha. But yeah, so that's pretty sweet.

For this week, we have a baptism planned for Saturday. :) When I found out months ago that my birthday fell on a Saturday, I said to myself: "Self, I want a baptism that day." And look now, we're getting a baptism on that day. :) He's the golden investigator, and he gave his testimony yesterday during church. It was great. :) His girlfriend, the daughter of Bishop, is super grateful for us and she told us yesterday that she hopes we can find somebody after our missions that has made her as happy as this guy has, because our teaching him has helped him change, and she's really grateful for that. It was a really nice complement, and it made me feel like I was doing my job. :) Also, Hna. Santiago, a member who gives us food every Sunday says she's going to call Pres. Alvarado to make sure I can stay over Thanksgiving so she can feed me that day haha. That also made me feel like I was doing my job, it was really nice. :)

But yeah, a good week, and we're praying for another week of success. We keep learning and getting better and making the changes we need to have more of the Spirit with us. Thank you so much each of you for what you do. :) God lives and loves us, and wants us to go back to Him. Thank you for everything, and I look forward to hearing from you next week!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

08 October 2012

Week 45: Conference Weekend and Previous Week

Well, today has been quite the interesting day, and I'll get to it in a second - but it's been a pretty crazy week, and I'll let you know about that too! But Conference was AMAZING and I loved it so much. Anyway...

Mom - I did hear about the new age for missionaries. Crazy! Such a huge change, and a great one. So many more missionaries will go out because they won't have that extra year to go cold. They'll just leave, which is exactly what they need to do. What hit me the most from that talk was when Pres. Monson said "effective IMMEDIATELY". Wow. That plus the fact that nobody besides him and the rest of the Apostles knew. Surprise to everyone! But that was great, and one part I really enjoyed. I want to say that I am proud to be called the son of Patricia Gardner, and I try now more than ever to live up to that responsibility. :) I love you so much, Mom! (Oh, and that pizza looked delicioso!!)

Dad - Well, it sounds like things are going good with the Halloween preparations and everything, and I look forward to more details! And Nightmare on 13th sounds great! I hope you two had a great time. :) Thank you for the GREAT news of BYU beating Utah State, that really made my weekend perfect. :) But Dad, know that I love you too and that you are a great example to me, and I look up to you in so many ways. You're pretty much my hero. :) Thank you for all that you've done for us as a family and for me personally. I love you Dad!

Marilee - I love you too little sis, and I'll write you separately. :)

But anyway, getting down to business "to defeat the Huns" ;), it was a crazy week because President gave us the challenge to get 10 member present lessons or we couldn't go to Conference. Wow. To some it may come off as crazy, and at first I didn't really like it, but then I repented and followed his counsel. He received that revelation for the mission, and to sustain him, it's my job to do what he says. So that's what we did. We took members out to all our lessons and taught some street lessons and everything and we did it. We got 10 member present lessons. For the first time in Guayanilla, and the first time in MY MISSION. It was great!! And then we were able to go to Conference! Yeah! We bought a ton of candy and then Hno. Caraballo lent us (Elder Durfee and I) one of his laptops to watch General Conference in one room in the church, while the Spanish speakers went to the chapel with his other laptop and a TV. It was great. Elder Durfee and I watched it with the recent converts from Yauco, Jonathan and José and had a great time. :) Might I say that 4 talks in particular really hit me?
Getting Ready

Elder Cook's talk. Wow. I have never seen Elder Cook so intense in my life! That was powerful.

Pres. Uchtdorf's Saturday afternoon talk. Also powerful to me.

Of course, Elder Holland's talk. I had seen one similar to that that he had given in the MTC a few years back, and it was just SO powerful. Do you love me? Then FEED. MY. SHEEP. Amazing.

And then Elder Bednar's talk about testimony and conversion was so mindblowing that I can't wait for the Liahona to come out so I can read it and mark it and everything. I loved that talk.
Watching Conference

But yeah, Conference was great, and I loved it, and was sad when it was over. There were a couple of glitches, because the power went out in Ponce during the Priesthood session and we missed the last part of Elder Christofferson's talk before it came back on, and then the laptop was losing power on Sunday morning. But it was still great and I really enjoyed it.

And then today was Super P-day! We went up to Caguas this morning for our district meetings and everything, and also had transfers! And... no changes, still in Guayanilla with Elder Caal. So at least one more transfer in Guayanilla! That's alright, there's a baptism planned for my birthday, so that's fine with me. :) But after district meeting and stuff, we got changed and then went and played sports all day until 3:00! It was great! Although I hurt my shoulder pretty bad on a fall during basketball. Oh well. :( But now we're here in Yauco doing our emailing and we'll do some shopping soon and then try and head out to work! Elder Hammer is back from his sickness, and Elder Mangelson goes home in three days. Wow! How fast time flies. But it was great to see all the other missionaries, and we all had a great time together. Oh, and I did get the package. Thank you so much! I was honestly not expecting anything like that haha, I didn't even know they made refrigerated packages. But thank you so much, and I'm sorry if that was a lot of money :S I really didn't mean for that to happen haha. But thank you very much.

And so that's about it! A crazy week, and I bet another crazy one ahead of us. I keep you always in my prayers. I hope you all do really well this week and that all goes well for you. I love you all!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

01 October 2012

Week 44: Not a Good Week

Wow. And I thought my week was rough.

Mom - It sure sounds like it was quite the adventure for you this past week, and I hope and pray that everything is okay! But know that I love you too, Mom, more than I can express in words, and thank you for your example to me, and for not giving up on me. :)

Dad - I can't believe it either, 10 months already. It still feels like just a couple weeks ago we drove into Provo together. Wow! And the longest wait between talking to you guys is almost over! Christmas is just around the corner! But I'm glad the Haunted Forest went well, and that BYU beat Hawaii. I'm hoping for some similar good news next week - I'm basically hoping that BYU thrashes the Aggies haha, and Elder Smoot from Adjuntas wishes the same. And that is a sweet missionary experience, thanks for sharing. :) And know that I love you too, Dad, and thank you also for your example and for being a person to whom I can always look up.

Marilee - I'll write you separately. :)
New PR driver's license

Anyway, it was a pretty rough week here too. It seems like Satan was just working really hard this week on all fronts. For us I think it's because we missed renewing our covenants last week because of Stake Conference, and thus didn't have that extra power and everything, and this week was just tough. Basically, every day the members cancelled on us to go out with us, which was no good. Also, when we went to the investigators' houses, they weren't there either! On top of all that, good ol' Elder Gardner here goes and runs his new car into the metal guard rail on the side of the road after turning! It was a sharp right turn, and I got distracted looking at the car behing me thinking it was our investigator, and I guess I kept moving even though I thought my foot was on the brake, and ran into the guard rail. Luckily I was going slow, and all that's there is just a dent and the bumper popped out a bit, but after I called the office, they told me I needed to send in an accident report, and I'll be having an interview with President sometime. Great. Just what I needed. I just got back on his good side and then I go and accidentally hit the guard rail. Just my luck haha. Ugh. Anyway, so then the rest of that day I couldn't focus because the car was dented and all that was on my mind, and the whole week was just hard to teach. We did teach Juan-José though, the less active that President wants on a mission, and that was a really intense lesson. But besides that, it was just hard to find people to teach. And then came Friday night.

We had scheduled a baptismal interview with Narayan for Friday night, but when we went to his house, he wasn't there. We had been told that he had gone to the hospital in San Germán because he might have had Dengue. Great, just what we needed, to have our baptism for the week go down with dengue. But we prayed and then went out looking for where he might have been, and after like an hour of searching, finally found his grandma, who called his mom, and we reset a cita for Saturday morning. I was spiritually drained after that, because we had just been following the Spirit that whole night. And then Saturday. Wow.

Saturday morning comes and we go with Elder Durfee to Narayan's for his baptismal interview. He passed! So that was great. But then we also had another young man named Brian who we had set a baptismal date for the 29th. We taught him with his friend there, Hector, who is a member and the grandson of the bishop. We hadn't taught him all week because he was always busy, but Saturday morning we went out with the determination to teach him and interview him for baptism that night. However, we had heard from Hector's mom that she had talked to Brian's mom and she didn't really want him to be baptized. But we went out anyway. So we go to their house, and Brian's brother comes out FINALLY after like 20 minutes of calling at the house, and says that Brian's in Ponce with his aunt and his mom is working at a baker in Los Indios, which is an area in Guayanilla kind of far away. So we go to the only bakery in Los Indios and ask for Karen, Brian's mom. She doesn't even work there; but they say there's another bakery in Barinas. So we go there and check, and it ends up that Barinas is in Yauco, and she doesn't work there either. As we started searching the bakeries in the pueblo, Bishop calls and Elder Caal tells him what we're doing, and I guess Bishop knows Karen and tells us where she really works - a bakery in Magas Abajo, which is much closer to her house than her son had told us. Whew. So we race over there and ask for Karen, and it turns out she doesn't even work that day! Agh! So we go back to the house and Brian is there. We talk to him a bit and ask him to bring out his mom. As I'm reparking the car so that cars can get past, Brian's mom came out and just flatout rejected us. Harshly, too. She said something along the lines of "I don't want him getting baptized in your church or ever going there again. I don't want you passing by here ever again, and I don't want to see you ever again. Thanks." (Lots of "ever agains" haha). And then she slammed the door. By the time I had gotten out of the car, it was all over. Heartbreaking.
With Elder Caal and Narayan

But then later that day we had Narayan's baptism, and I felt honored enough that he asked me to baptize him. :) So that was really special for me, and a great experience. And last night we had a conference put on by Elder and Sister Tesch for the youth of the Stake who are preparing for missions, and it was just amazing. The Spirit was so strong, and it was a great atmosphere. :) So that was a nice way to end the week. But it was just a week of ups and downs I guess for all of us! But I know that as we keep pushing forward and enduring to the end, everything will work out all right.

I love you all so much. Mom, Dad, and Marilee, I love you all. :) Thank you for all that you do and for your support, and I really hope that everything works out with you guys. I will keep you in my prayers as always.

Con muchísimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission