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16 December 2013

Week 105: Last Post

Well... that's it. The last week came and went in the blink of an eye. (Sent on Dec 2)

What a way to go out. We had a mission leadership council on Monday with Elder Cornish in Arecibo. A great meeting, and we learned a lot. That evening we had a sweet lesson with that family we've been teaching, and we taught about tithing. The mom committed to live it, which was the only thing holding her back from baptism, and so we set the goal for this past Saturday. On Tuesday, we were in Ponce for their zone conference, and then likewise Wednesday in Mayagüez, and Thursday in Caguas. Finally, on Friday we could go back to work. We visited some less actives, but our focus was on the mom of that family.

She was baptized on Saturday, November 30, 2013. In case you don't remember, that is exactly 2 years from the day I set foot in the MTC and began my mission. That's pretty incredible.
 
Baptism!
It was a sweet baptismal service, and we all felt the spirit. It was wonderful. Not many missionaries have that joy of being able to baptize their last week in the mission.

Yesterday was also a wonderful day. The confirmation was sweet. Saying goodbye to the members was sad, but knowing we'll see them on Friday made it not so hard. They have no idea we're coming, it'll be great. :)
 
I sold the Black Pearl
Yesterday this man just showed up to church, looking for God. We set an appointment with him for the afternoon. We taught him and he accepted a baptismal date for Dec. 21st.  A different man had called us on Saturday, and wanted us to visit him. So we went up to the campo way up in the mountains and taught him. He accepted a baptismal date for Dec. 28th. A good way to go out I think. :)

When I think about my mission, it's impossible not to smile. It was incredible. It was a blessing. I saw miracles before my eyes, and witnessed the hand of God working not only in my life, but in the lives of those that I love.

My testimony has strengthened. I'm still not perfect; far from it, actually. However, I at least know where the path is that I need to follow. 

Jesus Christ lives. He is the path. He is our Savior and our Redeemer. He atoned for our sins that we may repent and be clean. He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet, and through him, the Lord restored His church and His authority. The Book of Mormon is true. President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and those who deny it or say otherwise will suffer the consequences that come from persecuting God's prophets. This is the true church. I know it, and I love it. :) In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I'll see you tomorrow. Get ready for some big hugs. :)

I love you all.

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


Hello little sister, Mom and Dad
Note from the Editor: We arrived in Puerto Rico on Monday 2 Dec, Elder Gardner took us all over the island and we visited with some of the most amazing people. We've seen how much they love our son. We are very thankful that they took care of him. We go through life with the hope of meeting some friends we got separated from when we crossed the veil: we met some of them during this trip. We won't forget them. Thank you again.

25 November 2013

Week 104: The Last Week is Here (or Happy Thanksgiving)

Well, it's unbelievable. It's here. The last week. I honestly can't believe it's here.... wow. 

Mom - My heart reaches out to you, Mom. I am so sorry to hear about that... It's at these times where we see how fragile life is here on the Earth. I know you know, but I just want to share with you my testimony that death is not the end. Jesus Christ suffered everything and will help you and all those affected by this to get through. That's what He does. But how about I just give you a great big hug in a few days, sound good? :) I love you, Mom. I look forward to seeing you next week!!
Dad - Well it's good to know I have somewhere to live! It's a bit pricey but we'll make it work haha. I do not know anything about when to meet on Tuesday... I'll probably find out on Monday. We have zone conferences and stuff this week, so President's pretty busy. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing you next week. :) I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!!

Anyway, this week was pretty good. We had transfers and 13 new missionaries came to the mission this week! That was an adventure in and of itself. We had a fun time with that, and then this Friday we had a sweet activity in the church! It was "Una noche de peliculas y postres" and we had a great turnout! It was a lot of fun and we watched Legacy with a bunch of the members and a few investigators who came. It was great! You'll get to meet a lot of them because the Guaynabo Ward's Christmas activity is on the 6th! 

Oh, I did give a talk this Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. When the bishop found out that I was going to leave soon he put me up on the program. It was great. Speaking of, do you know if I'm speaking anytime soon in our ward? Just curious. Anyway, I spoke on my mission experience and what I'm going to change or do different. I think it went well. It's gonna be tough though... wow. Such a great ward. I'll miss them for sure!

Anyway, then Saturday we had our first of 4 zone conferences with the San Juan East and West and Toa Baja zones. Pretty good stuff. Today we had a Mission Leadership Council in Arecibo with Elder Cornish, which was way good! We talked about a lot of great things on how to increase baptisms here. Awesome meeting.


But yeah, that's that. This week has 3 more zone conferences, and Thanksgiving and we have like 3 dinner appointments haha... going out with a bang! 
 
With E. Turbovsky and Caguas West ZLs
I love you my dear family. I couldn't have done these last 2 years without you. It's been a great testimony to me about the importance of the family. Thank you so much for all that you've done, for all the letters, the words of encouragement and love. It's meant more than you may ever know.

I testify, as a servant and representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He lives! He loves us. He wants us to return to our Father in Heaven. He is our Advocate with the Father. Only by obedience to His Gospel can we find peace in this life, and eternal life in the world to come (D&C 59:23). He has overcome the bonds of death (1 Cor. 15:55), and has redeemed us from sin (Hel. 5:10-11). He called a prophet named Joseph Smith, and I know that through him was restored the true Church of Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true, and that it leads us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and that our greatest safety lies in following his words. This is the true Church of Jesus Christ, I know it. Nowhere else can we find the authority to validate the ordinances of salvation. 

God lives. The Savior lives. They love us. Of these things I testify to all who may read this words, in the sacred name of Him who has redeemed us from the Fall, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.


"The hardest thing I've ever loved to do
was getting on this plane and coming home to you.
In a million ways completely torn apart,
as a land so far away still owns my heart.

"And in the most sincere prayer I've ever prayed,
I thank my God for each and every day,
for the blessing of the man I've come to be,
as I walk up and kiss my momma's cheek."

--
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


19 November 2013

Week 103: 1 for the Little Bitty Baby Born in Bethlehem!

Well family, it was a pretty good week I think. :)

Mom - Well I'm glad to hear that things are going pretty well. People will be people, that's all I can say. Compassion is, after all,  a Christlike attribute. But then again, it's not really possible to make people learn that either; it's all personal and up to them.
Dad - Just a preference of mine for the housing - I would prefer a private room haha.. I don't mind sharing the kitchen and the bathrooms or whatever, but after 2 years of sharing a room, and before sharing a room for the eternities, it'd be nice to have my own room. Anyways, just letting you know. :) I'm glad to hear that the Jazz finally got a win! Every team goes through this, and they'll be fine in a few years. That's a pretty hysterical story you shared... funny people. It's good to hear though that BYU's doing really well! J

Anyway, it was a good week. :) 

First off, we had a baptism!! The oldest son of the family we've been teaching was ready to get baptized, and so we did! It was awesome. Before I share the next thing, let me share a bit of how we found this family. We had been contacting for a couple of hours in this caserio, and we got to a point where we didn't know if we wanted to keep contacting or not, because we had been rejected all morning. However, we decided to knock on a couple more doors. With that being said, here's a story that Elder Frampton (the missionary who did the interview) was told by this kid during his interview. So on that same day we were contacting, the whole family got into a huge fight. Everybody was basically at each other's throats, and he just walked out, went to his room, and knelt down and said a prayer. He asked God to send help, because his family needed help. When he walked out of his room, we were sitting there in their living room.

It's interesting, these are the kind of stories that you hear about all the time from missionary work, but to actually be a part of it, is really a great blessing. I'm so thankful that we were able to be a part of that, and it's truly been an incredible experience to work with this family. They're golden, and he is really progressing well. His mother and sister will also be baptized, but that will come with a bit more time. We're hoping to get his sister baptized this weekend, so that's our goal there.


Besides that, we've been working with this less-active for a while, and we took a leaf out of Ammon's book, and just have been serving him. We've painted probably about half of his house for him, and he's really been very grateful for that. He promised us that he'd come to church, and he finally did this past Sunday!!! It was SO awesome, and he was so happy to see all the members that know him and remember him, and they were so good to him and greeted him and showed him love. I really hope and pray that he'll remember how that felt, and that he'll come back consistently. He's a really great guy, and I'm so thankful to have gotten to know and serve him and his wife. They're awesome.


Also, there were a couple of jovenes that got their mission calls this week! One is a Dominican and he's going to Des Moines, Iowa! CRAZY! Poor kid is going to freeze to death haha. The other one is a sister and she's going to San Diego, California. 

But yeah. :) Transfers this week, and it looks like I'm staying in Guaynabo until the bitter end! It'll be a blast. Transfers are bound to be crazy, they always are. Then we start zone conferences this weekend with Elder Cornish in town. Fun stuff.

Thanks for everything. :) I hope you're all doing well. I love you all! Stay true to the gospel!!

See you soon.
"The hardest thing I've ever come to see
is a Man down on His knees in agony.
A drop of blood falls down on olive leaves,
And for a moment, He suffers there for me . . ."
--
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


12 November 2013

Week 102: Time Is Flying at Me Like a Freight Train

Mom - Sounds like things are just great haha… hang in there mom, you're doing great! Yeah. Everyone keeps telling me how many days left too, so join the club! ;) It's pretty crazy... it's pretty close.
Dad - Any news on housing yet...? Yeah, all that looks great!! It looks like you had a fun time this year, and it looks like it was a big success. I'll be sending a separate email with some stuff we can do, and it's gonna be a blast!! At least, I hope. Anyway, let me know what you think and if you have any ideas, I'll see where we can fit it in. 

ANYWAY. A pretty decent week this week. We spent a day down in San German with the ZLs there, and we had a pretty good time! We spent most the day there painting a house of a recent convert of theirs, and then I went with Elder Gasu and we rode our bikes up this HUGE hill... goodness. I got some pics from up there though and I'll send 'em to you. It was crazy haha.

View from Top of Hill

San German Sunset
However, we had some really sweet lessons with that family that came to church last week, and they came again this week! We had a great lesson with them last night, and they're pretty much committed to being baptized this next weekend!! We have planned to visit them every day this week to make sure they're ready. They're really wonderful, and I think they're going to do great. It'll be a pretty intense week, but it'll be a good one.

In other news, our ward finally got a bishop! We had a sweet meeting with him yesterday morning, and he's just gonna make this ward explode! He's ready to work and he's willing to help us get referrals from the members. Awesome.

But yeah, so a pretty good week, and things are going well. Time is flying at me like a freight train right now... we'll just take this a day at a time haha… Anyway, I love you lots, and I hope you're all doing great. We'll be seeing each other pretty soon, so no worries there. Stay safe and true to the gospel!!!

I know that the commandments are here for a reason. I know that they help us stay on the gospel path. They're not here to restrict us, but to help us fly high. Just as a kite cannot fly without the string connecting it to the earth, neither can we stay high above this world without the commandments, the string. Many people think they hold us down, but in reality, they're what keep us afloat. I know that if we obey them, we will find peace and happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come.

"The firmest hand I've ever loved to shake
was my trainer's with that big grin on his face.
He grabbed my bag and put his arm 'round me
and whispered, 'I'm gonna work those Mr. Macs right off your feet'.

"And the hardest words I've ever anguished for
came just before some lady slammed the door.
And my trainer left me hanging out to dry,
as a minute of painful silence rode right by.

"But the hardest tears I've ever loved to cry
came as I opened up my mouth and testified.
Between the tiny walls of a stranger's living room,
the Spirit told their hearts my words were true.

"And the most wonderful sound I've ever heard
is the sound of water running in the church.
As the one I'd come to love got dressed in white,
my eyes caught that first glimpse of heaven's light..." 

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

05 November 2013

Week 101: I Wish It Would Just Go On and On

Well, the last month. Unbelievable. November already. 

Mom - I think that's a FANTASTIC idea! I really hope it works out, and I'm touched by what you told Marilee. Thank you. :)  Anyway, I'm glad you survived another Halloween, and it's good to hear that you're doing alright. :) Love you!
Dad - It sounds like it was a success! Sounds like you had a good time. Thank you by the way for getting me all registered and stuff! When I saw the schedule it hit me... I'm going to BYU!! It'll be a blast haha… And that's too bad about the Jazz… hopefully they'll start winning some games haha… in the meantime I've decided that Brooklyn is going to be my number 2 team, mostly for Deron Williams. I hear they're doing pretty good! Anyway, just let me know about housing. :) Love you!

Anyway, a pretty good week, although something crazy happened... So we were on our way down to Barranquitas to do trade-offs with the ZLs there, and we're passing through Cayey, and there are no speed limit signs or anything, and it's not a residential or business area, and there's like 4 lanes of traffic, so I'm driving at a pretty good speed, like 50 mph. I thought that on a major highway like that, that'd be a good speed. Also, I was going the same speed as everyone around me. Anyway, we get to the top of this hill and boom, there's a cop there, and he doesn't get in his car and tell me to pull over, but he waves me over, so we stop and ... long story short, I got a speeding ticket. :( Apparently the speed limit was 35, but we could not find any sign that said that. However, it's too big of a pain here in PR to fight tickets, so I'm just going to pay it. So don't be surprised if in the near future a large chunk of money is missing from my account haha... Anyway, I figured I'd just tell you that. 

Besides that, we had a great week. We had a blast in Barranquitas with the ZLs there, and had a good time with their investigators and stuff. It was a lot of fun. :) We played this sweet basketball game with their investigator family of 12! It was fun. 

With the ZLs from Caguas West
Halloween wasn't all that great, we had to stop work at 6:00, so we came to the church and just hung out until 9:00 and then went home.

However, we had a GREAT day on Sunday!! We had 5 investigators in church!! We had a family of 4 (only 3 are investigators because the 4th is a 4 year old little girl), and then another man and then another investigator. It was SWEET! And they all have  baptismal dates. :) It's been a sweet week and we had a lot of really spiritual lessons. It's been a real blessing from the Lord, to be sure. 

Anyway, that's about it for the week I think. I know you're all just counting the days, and in about 2 weeks and a half, after transfers, I may join in on that. But for right now, ¡pa'lante! 

I know that Jesus Christ taught His Gospel the way He wants us to live it. He wants us to have faith in Him, to repent of our sins, to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and then endure to the end. That is His doctrine (2 Nephi 31) and there is no other doctrine of salvation. He is the way, the truth, and the life; He's the only way back to the Father (John 14:6). I know that He lives and loves us, and He died to make us whole. 

I love you family. :) The end is near, just hang on a bit longer. Don't get too trunky either!

"The hardest thing I ever loved to do
Was letting go of everything I ever knew.
19 years of dreams left in my room,
as I buttoned up the jacket of my suit.

"And the hardest words I've ever loved to say
were goodbye to my mom and walk away.
Choking on my tie and on my tears,
as I walked down the hall into those years.

"But the sweetest song I ever loved to sing
filled the MTC on angel's wings.
And the chorus filled my soul 5,000 strong,
and I wished it would just go on and on..."

--
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

28 October 2013

Week 100: Have a Good Time with Halloween

Well... it never stops! The craziness doesn't stop!

Mom - Well the sign looks great! I like it a lot. It's gonna be weird going back to a Utah ward... but it'll be fun. :) Sounds like Stake Conference went well! Did they talk about Hastening the Work?? I bet... that seems to be a pretty overarching theme these days, as it should be. Anyway, I hope you survive the week, Mom! Have a good time with Halloween and everything, I know that it's pretty much your favorite holiday ever. ;) Love you!
Dad - Yes, please send pictures!! I'd love to see how it's all going. And yes, I'd be happy to make a movie for ya. YES, I'm so happy BYU beat Boise State!! That's awesome!! It'll be a blast to have you here!! And don't get me wrong, I am excited to see you, but it's just sad to know that it's all coming to a close here... but at some point it has to happen and then it's time to move on in life, right? It'll be a fun time here in PR, and I'm starting to think of how to get things all set up. :) Anyway, have a good time with Halloween, and be safe!! Love you!

So... yeah, another crazy week. This week we had a great week in teaching people here in Guaynabo. We were contacting in a caserio and we found this great, humble family! They let us in right there and we taught them a little bit about how to have a more united family. They were really receptive and they really enjoyed the lesson. We had a great experience with them on Sunday. We left church during Sunday school and went over to their apartment and invited them to come to Sacrament meeting at 11:00. They said they would! The mom and oldest son got ready and came with us to church! We had a member meet us out front and he drove them to the church and they seemed to really enjoy it. It was an awesome experience!! We're really hoping that this family can progress and feel and experience the blessings of the Gospel in their lives.
 
E. Gardner & E. Turbovsky with friends
at the ward Halloween party
Besides that, we also had a Halloween activity in our ward, and we had a few investigators come to that also!! It was such a great blessing to see them enjoying themselves and having a good time. They got to know a few of the members, which is awesome! That was a good step for them I think. It was a fun activity, and made me think a lot about activities back home haha... it was combined with the Metro (English speaking) ward, so it was a big dinner and then a trunk-or-treat. We bought candy and we gave it out to the kids. It was a blast. :)

But yeah, things are going great. Life's good. Puerto Rico is hot and humid. It rains a lot. But the work is priceless. I know that God has prepared a Plan, and it is His Plan of Salvation. He loves us and wants us to go back and live with Him. He's prepared the way, and all we have to do is follow Him (because Jesus Christ is "the way, the truth and the life". He lives and loves us.

Thank you for everything, I love you all!! Stay strong! :)

--
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

21 October 2013

Week 99: Speak Like a Puerto Rican

Well... that's probably the most emails I've gotten my whole mission! Again, thanks to everyone who wrote me. :) 

Mom - I just have to say that I love you Mom! You and Dad pretty much just crack me up :) Anyway, it was alright, kind of hot. No cake, but I don't really care anymore. :) I'm glad that you're doing well Mom. Please try not to can any of my things... I'd really appreciate that. Speaking of, I'll be sending home a package with some stuff (for me) that won't fit in my luggage. So if you would be so kind as to place that package in my room,that would be great. :) And don't can it! Te amo mamá, y será un gran día cuando nos reunimos de nuevo. Trato de no pensar mucho en aquel día todavia, porque me falta mucho tiempo! Pero el tiempo se está acabando. Te amo mucho! :)
Dad - Well, I counted 17 emails... but that's still a record high!! Thanks again :) I'm sorry the Halloween things aren't going as well as planned haha... but I'm glad you're still having fun, especially with Marilee. :) Your line about the socks made me laugh so hard! That's pretty funny. Well… wow, I can't believe time is going by so fast... October's almost over... :( WHERE did all the time go?? Anyway, I probably won't know what time to come get me on the 3rd until probably December 2nd haha... Anyway, I love you Dad. Thanks for everything you have taught me. :)
 
Guacamayo

ANYWAY so the highlight of yesterday was getting told by this Puerto Rican lady we contacted that we should come back when I had learned to speak in a Puerto Rican accent. Charming, right? Little does she know that I can indeed speak in a Puerto Rican accent, but she wouldn't be able to understand me if I spoke in it ;) Hehe no, we did have a good lesson and dinner with this sweet member family yesterday, and that was pretty cool. 

It was actually a pretty normal week, even though we had a few meetings. We had two on Tuesday with the new missionaries and trainers, and then one on Thursday morning with some of the zone and district leaders. They were pretty sweet meetings, and we learned a lot! 

Anyway, I just want to close with my testimony that I know that this church is the only true church on the face of the earth. It is the Kingdom of God which has been established in preparation of Jesus Christ's Second Coming. It's true that other churches have parts of the truth, but there is, as there was when Christ was on the earth, only ONE church that has every last tiny piece of truth that there is, and it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is not a church formed by man, and it's not a reformed church - it is Christ's church here on the earth and it is lead and guided by Jesus Christ Himself through His prophet, Thomas S. Monson. His authority is here. Revelation is here. A prophet and 12 Apostles, just like it says in Ephesians 2:19 and 4:11-14. It's all here just like it was when Jesus walked the earth. I know it with great surety, and I know that He lives.

Well, we'll just keep plugging along. Thanks for everything you guys. :) I'll be seeing you pretty soon! I love you!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


15 October 2013

Week 98: Time Is FLYING By...

Well wow... another crazy week gone by way too fast haha.

Mom - Honestly I'd rather be released in person haha... and I'd like to stay a missionary for as long as I can, so I think it can wait 'til we get home. I like the sign with the one M, I think it's a cool idea. However, I would add something about donating the food to the Utah Food Bank, just so people don't think that we take it and eat it haha. In any case, I'm glad it's all worked out and you'll be able to spend some time here in the sunny Caribbean! :)
Dad - Well I must say, that's a pretty sweet addition to the Haunted Hollow! I'd like to go shoot zombies with a paintball gun haha... that's pretty sweet. It sounds like you're having the usual headaches that come with October... sorry. And all I have to say to people who have that doubt about no proof is Alma 30:44. Basically just what you said. 

So yeah, it was a crazy week. We had transfers at the beginning of the week, and had to do that. There were 18 incoming missionaries, so … yeah, just think about that! We drove around the whole island on Monday, picking up missionaries to take to the islands, and then on Tuesday night after helping get all the new missionaries in, we had to drive to Arecibo taking 2 missionaries there haha... so yeah, it was kind of crazy. :) Besides that, we had a pretty good week! 

Cool experience of the week: we were contacting in a caserio here close to the church, and we talked to this lady who said that she had been looking for a church for a long time. We talked a bit about the Restoration, and then left her a pamphlet to read, and we set a return appointment for the next day. Sadly, we weren't able to get a member to come with us, so we couldn't teach her, but when we went back, the very first question out of her mouth was "where can I get a copy of the Book of Mormon?" We were ecstatic! We immediately gave her one and invited to read and pray about it. She said she would do so and teach her 4 children from it. Amazing! The Lord truly is preparing the hearts of people out here - we just need to be able to find them.

We've also been able to teach other investigators, and to see progress in them. There is one man who is progressing really well. While we teach, it appears as though he's not understanding, but when we ask follow-up questions, we realize that he's understood every word! He said he'd be baptized on the 9th of November, so our goal with him is to get him to church this Sunday.

One thing we've felt impressed to do in our area is to visit all the active member families and share the message of the Restoration with them, and then talking a bit about Hastening the Work of Salvation, and then inviting them to pray about somebody with whom they can share the Gospel. This past week we had a couple of really great experiences in teaching the member families, and the Spirit is always so strong with them, because they add their testimonies, and they really realize how important this message is to them. We have a few more appointments like that set up for this coming week, so we're looking forward to that.
So yeah, it's been a good week, good times. :) Something I want to ask you to do though; I was thinking that it's about time to start recording piano music. I don't know what connections you may have or anyone you or others might know who would be willing to record music and sell it, but I have about 4 or 5 songs right now in my head that I think would be ready to record once I got home. So just something to think about. :)

Anyway, I love you! Thanks for everything. :) Look forward to hearing from you next week! 

¡Echamo' pa'lante!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission


08 October 2013

Week 97: Well I Absolutely LOVED General Conference!!

Mom - well I don't really know how you did it, and it must have been the Lord, but that's great that it all worked out! President hasn't said anything about it to me, but it's kind of a busy week with transfers and everything going on. We'll see what he says in the coming days. That's awesome though! It's really interesting you mention working at the MTC, because that's been my plan for a while. I would LOVE to work there and help out new missionaries and continue to teach the gospel. I'm hoping that I'll be able to!
Dad - If you could send me Matt's address, there's a couple things I want to send to him. I was planning on giving them personally, but I can send them, that's fine. The classes look good, so do whatever you need to now. And it's crazy that Halloween is just around the corner... wow! And thank you for the GREAT news that the Cougs threw down on Utah State!! YES! :)

Anyway, like I said, I loved conference!! I can't write too much because we have to go around the island today and bring in a couple missionaries for transfers, but I'll just say this: we have to follow the words of the prophets. If there's anything that I've learned on my mission, it's the importance of following their words. It's INCREDIBLE to me how many talks were given about Hastening the Work of Salvation! Absolutely incredible. There were also a lot of talks about the dangerous times in which we live, and the importance of women and their divine roles as mothers. I counted like 4 or 5 different times for each of these topics. It was SO good. I don't know how much more animated I can be about it haha, it was GREAT! :) I can't say I had a favorite, but if I did, I'd probably say Elder Ballard's. Unite and Hasten the Work!! Look up, not down, go forward, not backward! Up and forward, not down and backward! Awesome conference indeed.
We also had a pretty good week, but I can't really go into details because of time. Also, to all who wrote me this week, I will write back next week when there is time... sorry! But thank you so much for your letters and kind words, they do mean a lot. :) 
I bear my testimony of the importance of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. They are called of God, and though they may make mistakes as human beings, their words are God's words, and as we follow them, we will not be lead astray. It isn't really an option: we must follow their words. I know that they will tell us what we should do. I know that God has always used prophets to guide His children, since the days of Adam to right now, Thomas S. Monson. Jesus Christ lives and directs His Church through these prophets.
Anyway, I love you all and thank you for everything!! I look forward to hearing from you next week. :)

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

30 September 2013

Week 96: 2 for Alma and Amulek

M0m - It sounds like you're having a fun time back home with all the drama and everything haha... Marilee did write me; hey, it's better than nothing, so it's a step in the right direction! :) Haha anyway, I hope you're doing okay Mom. Hang in there! Hopefully soon you'll be able to get away a bit and enjoy some Caribbean sunshine. :)
Dad - Well, I looked at the BYU website and I'll try and get it all organized. THANK YOU so much for talking to a counselor haha.. they know better. Please stay in contact so I can get this all figured out and stuff.  Anyway... yeah! The Lord knows better than all of us, so hopefully He'll help us out here.

Anyway, it was a pretty sweet week this week. We had a lot of cool lessons and stuff. We spent a lot of time just out, talking with everyone, and we got a bunch of new investigators as a result. The Lord really helped us out. We prayed to see miracles and to be able to recognize them, and He really blessed us. We were contacting in a caserio and we found this guy. We found him last week but went back this week, and as we taught him and his wife, we discovered that she is a member of the church, baptized years and years ago! He is a really cool guy and he says that right now he doesn't have a religion, and that it is very possible that he may decide to join our church. He's got great potential, and we're hoping to visit him a few times this week and invite him to be baptized on November 2.

We also had a great lesson yesterday with an investigator we've had for a while. We took a member with us, and we invited her to choose her own baptismal date. We gave her a calendar and asked her which day she would like to be baptized. She said November 2, and then we started to make plans so that she will be ready by that day. It was a great lesson, and she now has a pretty solid date for the 2nd! So that's awesome.
The sign says: "It's our right to decide who we're accepting into our home.
No to Jehova's Witnesses."

We had a lot of other great lessons with some other investigators, but I want to talk a bit about a less active that we are teaching. He's possibly one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. He went out of his way to get us some ceviche this week. He's just... awesome. We taught him in the church one evening, and we're hoping to bring him to General Conference this weekend. Also, with respect to recent converts, Berto was interviewed and found worthy to receive the Aaronic Priesthood!!! I was pretty ecstatic about that. It was just a good week I think.

We also had the wonderful opportunity of teaching the ward for the 5th Sunday, and we talked about family home evenings, the Atonement, and then Hastening the Work of Salvation. The Spirit was so strong and I wish we could have had more time, but I think we got what needed to be said out, and the ward members really enjoyed it. It was great.
Anyways, I love you lots, and I try not to think too much about going home... the world is a scary scary place, and I don't know if I'm ready to face it just yet. Still got time. :) Thank you for everything you do! Have a great week. :)

-- 
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

24 September 2013

Week 95: It's Because I'm Closer to the Bermuda Triangle

Well, the time just keeps on flying here... I don't know if it's because I'm closer to the Bermuda triangle, but man, time just is flying right now ;)

Mom - I love you Mom! I got to spend some time with some Argentines this week and I definitely thought about you.  More on that below. Love you!!
Dad - Well darn it... I was hoping BYU would win. Oh well, life moves on like it always does. :) I sent you an email about the classes and stuff, so if you could just take a look at that. I tried to plan them out a bit better today and stuff, so hopefully that looks better. Thanks!
Holding weird fruit
So it was a pretty good week this week, and Elder Turbovsky and I had a lot of great lessons. We had a really intense one last night. We took a member up to visit a less-active in Caimito, and we basically dropped pure doctrine on this guy. He got defensive but then the member, his friend, started talking and he was silenced. It was amazing! It was a really powerful lesson, and I'm really enjoying teaching with Elder Turbovsky. Some of my most powerful lessons are coming in this time we've been together. It's been great!
I also had the great privilege (for the first time on my mission) of going to an Evangelical church. This guy we talked to said he would only come to church if we went to his, and Elder Turbovsky said okay. So we went and it was definitely a different experience, but it was a really great learning experience. The next day as a result I studied the chapter in Preach my Gospel about recognizing the Spirit, and a goal I have now is to help the Puerto Rican people truly understand how the Spirit works and speaks, and how to feel it.
District with Ward mission leader
Friday evening we had a surprise missionary come in from Argentina, and it just happened to be the day that we were on companion exchanges with the ZLs in Toa Baja, and I was with one who was Argentine! So there were 2 1/2 Argentines in the car that evening haha. But yeah, so we got to pick him up from the airport and then we were told to take him to dinner by the office staff, so we took him to Sizzler. The next morning after we met back up with Elder Turbovsky, we went out and taught, and we discovered that this new missionary is AMAZING! He's a fireball and he set a baptismal date with one of our investigators. Awesome!! He's going to do great, and it's been a blessing to be able to know all these great missionaries. :)
Anyway, I'd like to testify of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. It testifies of Jesus Christ, and it truly helps us come unto Him. I love some of the final verses in Moroni, verses 32 and 33, where Moroni invites us to come unto Christ and to be perfected in Him. He is our Savior, and wants us to succeed. He loves us. I am so thankful for the Book of Mormon, and I echo the words of Joseph Smith, "that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book". I have drawn nearer to my Savior because of this book, and I know that it can change lives.
I love you family! Don't get too trunky! We've still got a little while, so just hang in there. :) I love you very much and I'm thankful for everything you do.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission