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26 November 2012

Week 52: Metro Area - One Year Mark

Hey all, what a year it has been! It's been a pretty good one, full of crazy experiences and lots of growing. :) It's been great. Wow. I can't even believe it's been just about a year. It flew by, and the last half goes even faster they say. Wow. Anyway, so that's pretty crazy! 

Mom - Well it sounds like you guys had a fun Thanksgiving haha. I hope it all worked out well and that you were able to enjoy yourselves. The TSO concert sounded pretty sweet though, and I'm glad you all had a great time there! I did miss you a bit on Thanksgiving, but it was still a pretty good day- I'll get to that in a second.

Dad - The TSO night sounded like a blast! We did have something on common on Thursday - and it involved riding a train haha. It's a pretty intense new area, and I'll get to explaining it in a bit! But it sounds like you all had a good time in Salt Lake! :)

Marilee - I'll email you in a bit. :)

Well, I am now working in Santurce. I've officially been transferred from Guayanilla and now work in Santurce. It's a huge change. I moved from the most tranquilo pueblo on the island to the area of the island where a ton of killings happen each year. I'm now in the middle of San Juan haha... it includes Viejo San Juan (all the touristy area), and all the northern part of San Juan (excluding the airport). It's CRAZY! It's so much fun though haha, and a TON more people. In our area there are like 1.5 million people or something. It's intense. And on top of that, everybody is Dominican, so that's pretty interesting. It's a pretty sweet area, and I'm still really confused directions wise there, but it all works out. Oh, and we don't have a car. We live in Caparra, right by the office, and we catch the train every day for a half hour with our bikes and then we go bike around in Santurce! It's pretty sweet, and a lot easier to bike than in Guayanilla, as it's all flat and hardly any hills. It's pretty sweet. :)

Anyway, on Thanksgiving, we had two meal citas. The first one was with a member in Rio Piedras, and we ate Sancocho with him, which is a Puerto Rican stew. A bit later we ate with a member family in Santurce, and we had lechon, mashed potatoes, salad, and some rice. A different Thanksgiving dinner, but still really good. :) It was a good time, and I enjoyed it. Besides that, this week we had some really good lessons, and we taught a bunch of people. Santurce's got a lot of investigators, and a lot that are ready for baptism, so that will be sweet.

Then on Saturday night, some elders came and picked me and another missionary up, and we slept in the Riverside apartmentos for Sunday, because we were in the choir. On Sunday we went to Toa Baja, and then Arecibo, and we performed in those two sacrament meetings. It was really good. We then practiced a bit after, and then came back to the metro area. At 6:00, we met up at the office again and went to a funeral and sang there. (For all the performances I played the piano.) For the funeral, the Alvarado family brought a keyboard which was definitely NOT like a real piano, but I made it work haha. :) It was a nice service, and we left a nice performance there, singing "Nearer my God to Thee" and "Be Still my Soul", both in Spanish. And Pres. said a few words, and it was all really nice. The Spirit was definitely there. I'm a bit bummed I won't be able to visit my new ward until January, but it's really cool being a part of the Christmas Choir. We have another performance on Friday in Caguas, and then others throughout the month. We might even be going to the Islands!! Like Tortola, Antigua, St. Croix, etc. It'll be fun.

Anyway, that's about all I've got for the week. Lots of craziness, but we'll see where we go. Almost Christmas! Send me my Skype information ASAP. We still don't have anywhere to Skype yet, but I'll find somewhere before Christmas comes around. :) I love you all and wish you all the best! I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you're all doing great. :)

Con muchisimo amor,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

19 November 2012

Week 51: Transferred!

Well today has been quite the day, I'm here in Bayamon again haha.. but not for anything bad  but we had a choir practice and now I'm here emailing! I have like 10 minutes so I have to be quick. I won't respond to you separately since I don't have time, but I did get your emails and I hope you all have a wonderful time at the TSO concert and have a super happy Thanksgiving! Anyway, some interesting news before I go, I am being transferred from Guayanilla since I'm playing the piano for the choir, and I have to travel to the islands and everything, so that will be crazy. I'm moving to the Metro area which will be a big change from my beloved pueblito de Guayanilla. I'm sad, and it's not even sunk in yet. Guayanilla may end up to be my favorite area, so you better look forward to visit it and all its members. :) Bishop Nieves, Hno. Santiago, Hno. Caraballo, all of them. It's a great ward, with great members. Anyway, like I said, not much time, and I need to get going because I need to take an elder to the hospital and then get home to start packing up. Wow. It was a good week though, and we got 3 members of a family of 6 to accept a baptismal date. :) Changes happening, and it's going to be crazy.
I'm really sorry this email isn't longer, and I should have more time next week, but know that I love you very much! I can't believe it's already been a year!! WOW. ANyway, I love you all very much, and have a great Thanksgiving week. I'll miss you!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


12 November 2012

Week 50: Concierto Misional en Ponce

Hey there family, I hope you're all doing great! I'm going to respond to all your emails right now to save time, since I'm already over time. Whoops! But today Puerto Rico celebrated Veteran's Day, so everything was closed and we couldn't do email normally. Anyway, here we go!

Mom - I am also pretty upset with the election results... we found out Wednesday morning, and I was devastated. None of us missionaries were very happy. Also, here in Puerto Rico they elected the equivalent of the democratic party governor, and booted out the republican. Yet, they voted for statehood, which is the "progresante" or republican party stand. Interesting. But I wasn't happy with that change either, because I thought Fortuno would be better than Alejandro, but nothing. :( Oh well... life moves on, right? Anyway, I haven't been transferred yet! Haha I've been here in Guayanilla for over 6 months now, that's more than 1/4 of my mission by the time it's over. But it's been good. :) We'll see what happens on the 21st, the day of transfers! And that looks like it was a ton of snow! Anyway, I hope you're doing alright, and know that I love you!

Dad - Well, the Halloween pictures look sweet! I like the new hearse inflatable! Anyway, I'm glad the Jazz beat the Lakers and the Suns!! And that BYU finally won one, goodness. And the mission experiences sound great, and I'm glad you had a good time in Formosa! 4 baptisms is pretty sweet. And I honestly cannot believe that the year mark is just around the corner. Elder Paxman hit it this week, and mine is in a few days. Yikes!

Marilee - Well don't let the snow get you down too much! Go out and have some fun! It's still hot and sunny here, although it rains a bunch too. But anyway I'll just keep riding around in the hot tropical sunshine! ;) Haha anyway, have fun in the snow!!


Anyway, an interesting week. A lot of piano to be honest. The mission has put together a small choir to sing around the island (our first performance is the 25th in a Catholic church!) and I've been asked to be the pianist. So I spent half of Wednesday up in San Juan in a practice, and I am spending basically all of Thursday up in Guaynabo doing the same. There are some really cool songs, and one is a mix of Canon and the First Noel. In Spanish! Really pretty. :) Also, Friday we had a really cool thing that I wish you could have seen. We had a concierto misional en Ponce, and Elder and Hermana Tesch invited me to play for them, so I played for about half an hour. I played Fur Elise, Waterfall, the Pink Panther (and improvisation), a John Williams Medley, some song I made up, a Pirates of the Caribbean Medley, and then I asked for somebody's favorite hymn and improvised on it and tried to bear my testimony through it. After, all the missionaries there sang Called to Serve. It was really cool. I missed you guys a bit that night, but I still had a blast. :) I have a few pictures, but I left my memory card in the house. :( So… next week haha.

Besides that, we had a hard time with investigators this week, because there is this couple who said they'd be at the concert, but didn't show up. And then they said they'd come to church and didn't show up there either. :\ We'll keep working with them though, and I hope it all works out well.

This week though, we have a fun activity planned for here in Guayanilla, and we're going to do a Tree of Life activity. I'll try and take a bunch of pictures of that, because it will be super fun. :) Haha anyway, besides all that, not much to report, and I'm kind of short on time at that (I'm 20 minutes over... whoops). But yeah, thank you so much! Oh, and one more thing, my oil vial key chain that holds my consecrated oil broke, and I lost the part with the oil in it so... if you could send a new one, I would greatly appreciate it! I don't know, maybe it couldn't handle the encounter it had with the demon. Who knows. Either way, I do need a new one haha. :)  

Anyway, thank you so much for all that you do, and for all your support. :) I love you all so much, and can't believe that a year ago I was making those preparations to leave. Wow! I can't believe it. The time passes so fast. Pretty soon I'll be taking the next steps of life! Terrifying! Haha no, just kidding. Kind of. Anyway, thanks for everything, and have a great week! I love you all!!

Con muchisimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

05 November 2012

Week 49: Zone Conference and Noche de Brujas

Well it sounds like Halloween was a big success!! I'm glad the weather held out and everything went well, and it looked pretty good! I finally got the birthday package from you guys this week, so thank you so much! 

Mom - Well... I'm pretty sad I'm gonna miss the Hobbit, but that's what they make DVDs for, right? Haha I hope you guys enjoy it and have a blast! And I wish we could go to the temple here... I miss it! Like I said before, be ready to go when I get back, because I'm definitely planning on going as often as I can. I think that's great you're doing it once a week, and if my schedule allows when I get back to do the same, I'd love to do that too. 
Dad - Well it looks good, what I saw! And it sounds like it was great!! ah man.. I was definitely thinking about you guys on Halloween night! But I'm glad it all went well, even if some of the things didn't get out. Next year, right? And yeah, I'm hoping that the elections bring some change! I talk to a bunch of people here, and some people say Obama's gonna win again, and others say that Romney has a good chance at winning - we'll see! And yeah, I heard about the "Perfect Storm" going on up there, since so many Puerto Ricans have family up there. Crazy stuff!
Marilee - Still no email?? I hope you had a great Halloween and had a blast scaring people! Haha you looked good in your costume, so I hope you had fun. :) 

Anyway, so we had a week full of meetings this week. Wow. I'm still super tired as a result haha.. but Tuesday was a normal working day, and then Wednesday we had Zone Conference. We had to be in Caguas at 7:00, so we had to leave here from Guayanilla at 5:00. Elder Durfee and Elder Perez had had to sleep up in San Juan because they had to take another missionary from our zone up to the hospital, so we drove our car to Caguas to Zone Conference. It was a really good conference, and the basis of it was D&C 88:73, which talks about the Lord hastening His work. In 90 days our mission is going to double in size with 74 more missionaries coming in. Yikes!! But that's what Puerto Rico needs. Basically President talked about how it has fallen, and that 30 years ago the missionaries changed this island, and we can do it again right now. He taught about how to work with the keys in the Stake and wards, and it was really, really good. It ended at 4:00, and we were supposed to be back in the chapel at 6:30 for monthly planning. Since it was Halloween, or as Pres. called it, "La noche de las brujas," the mission department didn't want us out. But we were going to race back to Guayanilla and leave my car there and just use the one car for us and the Yauco elders. We were about half way and the ZLs called and said we had to be back by 6:00, not 6:30. So we had to drive all the way back haha.. crazy.

That night, we slept in Guayama, in the Caguas zone. We woke up at 3:30 the next morning for our mission conference in Bayamón, and I get a call from the ZLs that I'm supposed to be there at 5:30 for a song practice for the conference. What?? So we race up there and we make up this sweet version of "Be Still, My Soul", and then we had the mission conference. Pres. Larry M. Gibson from the General Young Men's Presidency (1st counselor) spoke to us. It was GREAT! He talked about the Duty to God resource, and how we as missionaries can help the young men in our wards to grow and use it, and prepare for their missions. He talked about the keys of Bishops, teachers quorum presidents, and deacons quorum presidents. It was really informative and really great. If you remember, he spoke in the 2011 October General Conference. He's a very intelligent man, and it was a pleasure to get to hear from him.

Anyway, so after that, we were able to come back and work in our area for the rest of the week. Nothing incredible happened this week really. A lot of citas fell, and our investigators couldn't meet with us very much. It was a bit disappointing, but I'm really hoping to do better this week. We had a couple really good lessons, but the problem is, our investigators won't progress! They won't come to church! Agh!! Haha but yeah.. so that's the problem we're having right now with our investigators. We'll keep working with them so they can progress and come to church, and hopefully we'll be able to get a baptism this month! 

Anyway, that's about all I've got for this week. I did reach my 11 month mark, so just a few days and I start the downhill slide! Yikes! It's all happening so fast! But thank you for the package, for your love, and for all that you do. :) I love you all so much and pray for you always!!

Con amor de Puerto Rico,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission