LuvDigiScraps's Awesome Mission Pics album on Photobucket

28 January 2013

Week 61: Oh, I'm Gonna Send Thee 10 by 10

Howdy y'all, while you're up there freezing, I'm sitting here enjoying the Caribbean winter: 70's and 80's. :) I'm sorry to hear that it's so cold, but it sounds like you're at least having fun!

Mom - Well it sounds like you had a good time dealing with the weather haha. It's interesting to think that the school district gave a snow day AND a late start. Wow! I don't think I ever got a snow day in my life! Haha And yeah, that lady (Sis. Snow) was visiting at the San Juan Stake Conference, and she took a picture of all the missionaries there to send to the moms because apparently her son doesn't send her any pics from his mission, so she was just helping out all the moms. And I must admit, it's a good thing, because this week I didn't take a single picture... :S Sorry!! I'll do better this week though.
Dad - WOW. I must say, I'm glad I don't have to drive on that nightmare that is black ice. Yikes. Sounds like you're having a good time with that ;) But that concert with George Strait sounds like it would be fun. His last tour, huh? Well I hope it was a good show, then! And at least you still have the Bushes to keep you on your toes, right?

Anyway, this week was a blur to be honest. I know we did a lot of stuff and I tried to write some of it down, and I'll try and fill you in right now. :) One fun thing we did was we rode with a bunch of professional bikers on Friday morning. There was this thing here in PR called "La Vuelta de Puerto Rico," which was a bike ride that started in San Juan and went all the way around the island in 3 days, and President (the eccentric man that he is), wanted all the missionaries that were in the pueblos they passed through to ride along with them (pretending they were going to a cita or something), so the cameras around would catch the Mormon missionaries and we'd get some exposure that way. It was a great idea, but it started at 5:30 a.m. in Old San Juan. So Elder Udall, Elder Peacock, and I, went to Santurce at 5:30 in the morning and started riding along with them! It was crazy!! They were all Americans haha, and they were all saying stuff like "Watch out boys, there's a bunch more of us," and all that jazz. One guy looked at us and in this macho voice said "Join us! We're going 155 miles! There's 450 of us! Join us!" Haha it was hysterical. We rode for a bit and people got pics and then we ate at Kasalta, this little bakery where apparently Obama ate when he came to PR. We actually sat at the same table (there was a plaque that said so), so that was interesting.
With Elder Udall
With Elder Peacock
On Thursday I did my first baptismal interview, and on Saturday, she was baptized! That was a cool experience. Saturday was also a wedding of two ward members, and I was asked to play the bridal march. So… I played the Bridal March. It was fun, and I'm realizing that I'm getting some good training in to go and play the piano at like a hotel or something, since I've been playing the piano so much lately haha. But that was good. Other than all that, we had a few good lessons this week, and we taught this really sweet lady named Martha. She's really open and is really receptive to the lessons. She'll definitely get baptized once she knows it's all true. :) She's great! There's also this one other lady named Juberkis I think it was, and she's really great too. We have some really great investigators - they just need to act and do their part and they'll feel the Spirit and get baptized.

Anyway, that's about it for the week, I think. I love you all lots, and pray for you always! :) I'm sending a package home just with extra stuff I don't need here, but will use when I get home. You don't need to open it at all, but if you want to you can. It's easiest if you just put the package in my room as it is for when I get home.
But yeah, I love you all very much! Have a wonderful week, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

21 January 2013

Week 60: How Will I Send Thee...?

Well, another week comes and goes, so fast. I'm amazed at how fast the time goes by, and it's hard to think that January's almost over when it just barely started. 

Mom - It seems just like you to need some more air ;) Just kidding! Kind of! I know that the gospel holds the answers to many problems. If there's anything I've learned while I've been on my mission, it's how much the Atonement really offers us. Whatever the problem is, Christ has gone through it, and through faith in him, and faithful endurance, He blesses us with the way out, whatever it is. Just know that you have someone in Puerto Rico who loves you. :) ("Someone from smiling airplane loves me"... remember that shirt?) :) Thank you for being a great mom.
Dad - And you too! :) You are one of my greatest role models, and I'm thankful to have you as my dad. Anyway, I'm glad that your talk went well! I really loved that talk by Elder Bednar - in fact, it's along the same lines as the one he gave in Provo last Christmas, so I've kind of heard it twice. I love that talk so much, and there's so much we could discuss if we were in person. Lots to learn about it haha. :) And thank you for the info on the TMJ, I'll keep that in mind as I keep stretching my jaw - it's been helping, so I'll keep it up. :) Oh, and the Jazz beat the Heat?? What?? Anyway, love you much!!
Marilee - I'll write you separately. :)

Anyway, another crazy week. On Tuesday we had a leadership meeting with all the ZLs and DLs in the mission. It was really good, and we learned a lot of how missionary work is going to change in Puerto Rico. We're also going to be working a lot closer with the people with the keys (a.k.a. the Bishop and Elder's Quorum President) to help build the wards. It's a great plan, and it was a great meeting all about how to do it and stuff. But yeah, things are getting kind of crazy with Elder Andersen coming in a little less than 3 weeks! 

Besides that, we had a few really good lessons this week, including one with Luis and Vicelis, this couple we've been trying to get married for the past couple months. They're all ready to be baptized, they're just not ready to get married yet - so it's a bit frustrating. But we set some goals with them, and I think they'll start to progress. At least I hope so! 
At St Thomas during Choir trip in December 2012

But something that was really cool was that yesterday we had a special Stake Conference. We all went to Trujillo Alto, and the stake conference was transmitted in via satellite from Salt Lake City. It was for all the stakes in the Caribbean area, so that was way cool. Elder Russell M. Nelson presided, and Elder Craig Zwick conducted. Also present were Sis. Wixom from the general Primary Presidency, and Bro. Beck, the General Young Men President. It was a really great conference, and they all spoke to us. We were in the English room with the Metro Ward (the English speaking ward), and it was funny because both Bro. Beck and Elder Zwick spoke in Spanish, so for once we were having to listen to the translation! It was really great though, and they all talked about paying tithing and being faithful. They talked about the beautiful temple in the DR, how they needed to pay tithing, how their kids need to learn English and math, and how they need to spend their money on wise things. It was really great, and I just love listening to the prophets and apostles speak nowadays. 

Also, another interesting thing to mention, this weekend was the Fiesta de San Sebastian, and so a bunch of Puerto Ricans from the whole island came up to Old San Juan (which is in our area) to party. Luckily Old San Juan is way out on the western part of the area and we don't get there much anyway because I hear it was just nuts. The Tren Urbano only comes to where Santurce starts, so from there they had to take the busses, and HOLY COW was the train station full and the busses PACKED. Last night we were heading home and the station was so full and rocking with music and dancing and (I imagine) drugs and alcohol, there was no way we were going in there. So we rode 40 minutes from Santurce to Bayamon haha.. crazy. But it was fun, and not a bad ride at all. But yeah, we made it back to report numbers and get ready for today. :)

So yeah, that was the week. :) I'm glad I got to finally write a decent email! I hope you have a happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and that your week turns out to be better than the last. I love you all so very much, and I wish you the very best. I look forward to hearing from you in a week!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

14 January 2013

Week 59: "Children, Go Where I Sent Thee"

Hey y'all, that's a lot of snow!! I'm just here enjoying life in San Juan where it is a balmy 80 degrees. :) Haha oh man, that is one thing I do not miss about home, the snow and ice. Yuck. Anyways...

Mom - You know, dad said you'd tell me a lot about a lot of stuff, and... you didn't. ;) Haha that's okay, it sounds like things are pretty crazy back there! That's way cool that they have a new Texas Roadhouse by the mall!! That's awesome. That's also cool that you saw Taylar. I thought he'd be out by now, but that's good that he's saving up and getting ready to go.
Dad - Well I can't believe that Rex is now overweight, after being skinny and underweight all his life! I guess he's just lost the spring in his step now and can't burn off all that food. :( Poor guy, I hope he is doing alright even though he's starting to get old. :( That's also sad to hear about Bro. Judkins, but I'm sure he's happy where he is now, enjoying a "rest from all his labors" in paradise. :)

Tortola - traveling with the choir for Christmas 2012

Anyway, I actually have a few minutes to write you today! Yay! Anyway, it's been a pretty crazy week, and having zone leader responsibilities on top of everything is a bit obnoxious, but it all works out. Oh, and by the way, I watched the CD from Thanksgiving, and it was great. :) Also, I did get a keychain from the Alvarados for Christmas, for the whole choir thing, so if you don't find any ornaments, I'll just use that as my ornament for last year. :) It's pretty cool, so I'd be fine with it.

But yeah, so this week was really good. We taught a lot of investigators, and I am really loving it with Elder Peacock. He's a great companion, and I honestly feel like we're having some fantastic lessons. I feel like I've had the best lessons with him, so it's pretty good! We have had to do some crazy stuff like picking missionaries up from the airport and stuff, but it's been good, and I've been learning more and more about my responsibilities as a zone leader. 

We have another leadership training meeting tomorrow, so that should be interesting haha. But yeah, besides that, we found this crazy less active guy over in Condado (the rich part of Santurce), and we finally had a return appointment, and he brought somebody to teach! so that was really cool. Her name is Cruz Mercedes, and it was really great. She is super receptive, and very prepared for the gospel. She still doesn't understand all the way, but she'll get there. :) We also had another cool experience where we went to teach an investigator, and she wasn't there, but her neighbor was out, and we were able to teach her and she definitely felt the Spirit. She was actually crying by the end of the lesson because the Spirit was so strong. :) It was great! Also, on a tradeoff with Elder Udall, we found another way cool lady to teach. So it's been a good week for teaching, I think, and I really enjoyed it. :) We don't have any baptismal dates, sadly, but we'll get those soon.

Oh, and I almost forgot, the reason I didn't have much time last week was because we as a choir went out to eat at P.F. Chang's at Plaza Las Americas. That was pretty cool. Mom and Marilee, you would LOVE Plaza Las Americas, and I plan on taking you there when you come to visit Puerto Rico. :) Dad, you'll still like it, but you'll have to guard your wallet ;) Haha. But yeah, anyway, that's most of the week, I think! I'll try and be more organized for next week with my thoughts, just right now I'm all over the place still figuring things out. But I love you all so very much, and I hope that you're all staying safe, healthy, and doing great. 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

07 January 2013

Week 58: Dia de Reyes (Sunday)

Sigh... I don't know when I'll ever have a normal Pday again. :( It's frustrating. I only have 10 minutes today to write you guys, so probably no pictures, unless I can swing some kind of miracle. Anyway, to respond firstly:

Mom - Thank you so much for sharing that post from the blog, that really touched me. Guayanilla is a great area, and it will probably end up being my favorite one. :) I can't wait to take you there when we can go exploring the island together. :) Anyway, besides that, the changes sound interesting, and I hope everything works out all right.

Dad - Well, I can say I do not miss the cold! Here it averages about 80 degrees right now, so it's pretty nice in balmy Santurce haha :) I hope you are doing great with all the changes going on. And yeah, a journal is pretty sweet, and I've been trying to keep mine going on since I started, and I've only missed like 3 days in all, so I'm doing pretty good I think. :) Anyway, I hope everything works out and things start looking up. :\

Anyway, my first week as a zone leader, and we had zone council (meeting with all the ZLs) on Thursday. It was really good, and I learned a lot, and it was a really spiritual meeting. We talked a lot about how things in the mission are changing with all the current leaders getting ready to go home, including President in 6 months, and how we have to get ready for what's coming. It was really intense, but it was really good. It helped me open my eyes up a bit as zone leader. I still have a lot to learn, but it's been a good learning experience so far, and we'll see what happens as things keep changing and moving forward. 

Besides that, Elder Peacock and I have been having a really good week, and we have had some really good lessons. Sadly, our investigators haven't really wanted to progress, and we've been having some problems with them.

Also, last night we had the closing devotional for the choir thing, and it was SO spiritual. I was seriously just left weak afterwards, and then had to come back to the office to do numbers for the week. But it was really great, and that's the reason I don't have much time today to write you, because we have to be in the mission home at 1 for an activity to close the whole choir things.  But yeah, I'm supposed to get off right now, but I may have a bit more time in the mission home, I don't know yet. But know that I love you very much and thank you for everything! Things will start looking up I'm sure, if we just trust in the Lord. 

Anyway, I love you very much, Happy 3 Kings Day, and I'll look forward to hearing from you next week. :) Love you!!!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission