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26 March 2013

Week 69: We Had a Baptism

Hey y'all, we got a baptism this weekend!! Yay!! :) Anyway, I'll write to you all now. :)

Mom - I can't believe Easter is already here again! It was just barely Easter! I hope you have a great weekend with the Easter Egg Hunt and stuff - we're trying to pull off some kind of activity here for the investigators and stuff to come to; it'll be cool. Anyway, I pray for you always Mom, and just think - it's almost Mother's Day! :)
Dad - It seems like the whole theme of reach out and rescue is churchwide, because that's what our focus is as a mission. No more proselyting - we find the less actives and then we find investigators through them, and then we bring back the less actives and baptize the investigators. It's really cool to see how it's working so well here in Puerto Rico. But yeah, I'll keep my eyes out for the package, and thank you! That's really cool about the missionaries from the stake though! That's really amazing actually. And thanks for everything Dad, I keep you in my prayers too, as always! 
Marilee - Hey you! I hope you're doing alright! Tell me about school, about anything so I can write you back! I'll be sending some stuff for your birthday soon, so keep your eyes peeled. :) Love you!

Anyway, moving to our area, we had a really great experience like I already said with R… and his baptism, and he's already wanting to go out with us! He's going to come with us Tuesday evening with the nights of rescue, and he said he'd come with us on Thursday. He's so great!!! 

We had a really cool experience also with C…, who was sick. She asked us to come by and to give her a blessing of health, and she loved it. She came to church yesterday, and she said she loved it! She already knows it's all true, but for whatever reason she's a bit weak on her commitment for baptism.

We also want M… G… to accept a baptismal date this week. We had another great lesson this past week with her, and her friend accepted a Book of Mormon and said she'd go visit the church in the DR, because she's moving back there. Oh well, it was a cool experience. Anyway, M… said that she'd get baptized, but that she won't commit to a date until she really feels like this is the true church. We focused on her reading the Book of Mormon so that she can know, so we're really hoping that that will all work out for her.

We had a good lesson also with N… A… on the Word of Wisdom. We definitely have the support of his future wife, who said that she hates drinking and doesn't like that he does it. We're not sure if he totally understood everything about the Word of Wisdom, but we'll be following up on it, and I think M… will really help out with that.

And finally we have A… S…, a guy who just kind of found his way to the church and asked us to go teach him! He plays the accordion and is pretty cool. However, he's a bit hard to find, so hard to teach. We still need to sit down and go through how to begin teaching and the Restoration with him, so those are our plans for him this week.

Talking about less actives now, there was a cool experience this week where a man named J… M… just showed up to church out of nowhere, saying he wanted to come back! I remembered what you said during the meeting with Pres. Rosa about how because of the efforts of the members, the less-actives come back, even if it's not those who they visited. He's just a guy who came out of nowhere to visit the church! He has some problems with his mother not accepting us, but he says he's going to come every Sunday, so I'm really excited to start working with him and helping him on his way back.

Also, on Sunday, we went with Pres. Reyes, the EQP to Hno. Feliz' house to give him a blessing, because he had been sick. It was a really great experience, and I know that there was a friendship forged there. They were talking and getting along great, and who knows? Maybe a future counselor to Pres. Reyes? Not my call, but I could see it happening. It would be great for the both of them, but the Lord knows and whatever He wants is what'll happen.

Anyways, that's the week, and I'm going to try and send some pictures now. :) Love you and look forward to hearing from you next week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

18 March 2013

Week 68: I've Never Been Happier

Hey y'all, it sounds like you've been having a pretty interesting week haha. I hope everything's all right, and that you're all doing great!

Mom - Well it sure is interesting to see how things are and have been changing back there. I hope you're doing all right. I'm glad you had a good time with Marilee at the movie. We've seen the posters in the streets here in Santurce, so I know what you were talking about. It looked weird. Anyway, Puerto Rico doesn't celebrate St. Patrick's, so Elder Durfee and I were the only ones in green on Sunday haha ... it was interesting. Know that I love you very much! And know that I keep trying to send pics, but the computer won't let me here at the university... I should be able to next week. :) Anyway, I love you Mom!!
Dad - I haven't gotten a letter from the Stake in forever haha.. like 8 or 9 months. I've only gotten like 3 in all. In fact I don't get much mail at all, but I don't mind - it's less for me to have to reply to haha. Anyway, so that's that. :) But yeah, moving to what happened this week...

We still are teaching R… who is preparing for Saturday to be baptized!! :) We had a great lesson with him last night with the bishop, and he is still committed for that date, and he says that he has been preparing for this day for a lot longer, and that he's been guided to us at this time so that he can change his life. I'm humbled and grateful that the Lord has been so merciful to me that I've been able to be a part of this process in teaching R…. He's a great young man with a very bright future. He will be a very firm member as he continues learning and growing in the gospel.

Also, M… G… is SO close, and we had a great lesson with her as well. We invited her to pray specifically about the Book of Mormon, and as we finished the lesson, she offered one of the sweetest, most sincere prayers I've ever heard. She asked in such a humble way to know if the Book of Mormon was true, and I was praying right along with her so she could get her answer. After the prayer, we sat in a silence for a few moments, and she said she felt great. She still doesn't feel as though she's gotten her answer, but I know that she will. She'll be faithful once she does get baptized. She walked to church because her car broke down! If that's not dedication, I don't know what is. 

We had a really great lesson with the Familia B…, and they're wonderful, and they're really receptive, but they just don't have a way to come to church. They don't have a car, and they don't live all that close to the church; and the bus that goes out to where they live doesn't serve on Sundays. Go figure. That makes it difficult for them to come to church, but we are going to be focusing on that particularly this week, on finding a way for them to come to church.

Also, N… A… came to church with his future wife M…l!! They're working toward marriage right now, and little by little he's coming along. We want to find out a way to help him progress faster, so we're probably going to help him focus more on the Book of Mormon.

It was a pretty good week, of course with its challenges. I'm exhausted, and feel more tired every day, but I've never been happier and more content in my life. :) There's a peace that comes from the Gospel, and I just feel good about life. I'm optimistic again, which is something I wasn't before I left, and so I really am thankful for everything that's happened here in my mission. :) I just have this feeling that it will all work out in the end. :) I love you all very much.

Sending you hugs also, con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

11 March 2013

Week 67: Keep Pushing On

Well family, another week goes by and we just keep pushing on! This week was alright, we had a lot of meetings, and I'll get to that in a second. But it was still pretty good I think. :)

Mom - I do try to eat my veggies haha, so don't worry. Oh, you'll be happy to know that I ate broccoli this week. So ha! I love you. :)
Dad - It is pretty crazy to think how fast time has gone, and to think that it's just ticking away faster every day. Yikes! It's good to hear that things are warming up a bit over there - that means it's gonna start getting hotter down here too. Hurricane season's just around the corner, so we'll see what happens there! Anyway, I hope you're all doing well. :) I love you too Dad!
Marilee - Hey there! I love you too Marilee! I hope you're doing great, and I'm still looking for a llama! They're not really into them here in PR, so I'm having trouble with that haha, but I will keep looking! :) 

Moving to our area, we are still seeing miracles with our investigator R… D…. He's just an incredible young man, and has been prepared by the Lord. If he is the only fruit from the train contacting, then it was all worth it, because he will be such a strong member as the years go by. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to get to know him and teach him, and I am really looking forward to his baptism on the 23rd!

We also had a good experience with G…, the daughter or daughter-in-law of another investigator. She came in late to the lesson, but she was really impacted by it. She was really pensive, and promised to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We are really hoping that her husband will start to listen as he sees the changes in her, because that would be a complete family, and they're a very sweet family. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better and love them even more.

The B… family couldn't come to church again for whatever reasons they came up with, but this week the dad is supposed to get a car, so no excuses for this Sunday! We had a good lesson with them about the Doctrine of Christ, and the mom said she'd prepare for the 30th. They need some more work with the Word of Wisdom, so I think that's where we'll be focusing this week. 

Besides that, we weren't able to teach N… or A… this week, but we have appointments for both of them this week, so we're hoping to help them both with their marriage situations right now, so they can both set some firm dates to get married.

We have some pretty sweet investigators, they just need to act.

Other than that, we had our Interviews zone conference and also our zone leader's council this past week (2 meetings in a row..), so that was interesting. They were both really good, and I learned a lot from both of them on how to be a better missionary, so.. that's good, right? :) Haha anyways, I'm really tired, but I'm really happy. I'm glad to hear that spring is coming. Things are always better when it's sunny outside. :) Love you all so very much, and I look forward to hearing from you again next week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

04 March 2013

Week 66: 9 for the Miles we Ride Our Bikes!

Hey family! It sounds like you've been having a pretty good week, and I think it helps with the weather turning for the better, right?
Mom - Mom! Hey mom! Little by little (by small and simple things) things will keep getting better. Marilee’s  room looks great by the way! It looks very soothing to the soul. I love blue so much, because I think it's just so peaceful. That's why it's so nice here, especially when we ride past the ocean on a nice sunny day, because the ocean is a beautiful deep blue, and then the sky is its normal sky blue.
Dad - Dad! It's good to hear about the things improving, including the weather! Hopefully things will be nice and thawed in time for Easter haha. :) PR is gearing up for Holy Week again (it feels like that just barely happened), so that will be an interesting time haha. 
Marilee - HEY!! :)  Your new room looks great, including that great looking TV you got from somewhere familiar ;) Haha. And I like your llama! There aren't any here in PR but I know there are in Peru where Elder Hill is serving! However, if I see anything that has anything to do with llamas while I'm here, I'll make sure to get it for you, alright? :) Anyway, hope you are doing alright Marilee. Love you!

With Elder Durfee
Anyway, we had a great experience with a man named R... D... this week. He is SO receptive!! He is a fruit of the train contacting project, and he is just amazing. The sisters found him in the University, and he lives in Santurce. We taught him in the chapel twice this week, both times with members, and he's just so receptive to what we teach, accepts it all, and accepts him finding us as a miracle and a sign in his life that he should change. He has a baptismal date for the 23 of March, and he's set to go. He's already leaving drinking coffee and everything, and he's just so fantastic! I'm so grateful and excited to work with him!

We did have a cool experience on Sunday though, as we got off the train going to church. This guy named Mark started talking to us around the Las Lomas station, and he talked with us the whole way to Santurce, and then as we got off, he said he'd come to church with us! So he walked with us up to the chapel, and he stayed there and told us to pass by again on Tuesday! He's a pretty cool guy, but I don't know if he's really willing to hear things that aren't his opinion; but we'll definitely be passing by to see what we can do for him. He's already got a great testimony of the Atonement of Christ, so if we can help him see that His Gospel is how we can apply that Atonement in our lives, he'll come around.

We also had some other great lessons this week with investigators, such as N... A.... He and M... said they would get married, but didn't tell us a date in specific. However, they did say that they wanted it to be soon, so we're hoping for the best there! M... won't be here this week, but we're hoping to still teach N... .

A... G... also came to church this week, and we have a cita with him on Thursday. It's been a while since we've taught him, so we'll be verifying how their marriage plans are coming, and if he's been reading the Book of Mormon.

Other than that, we've been passing by some other new investigators and starting to teach them. There's a lot of potential, and a lot of great things happening in Santurce!

And PS, a fantastic coming home present for me would be a new quad of the new 2013 edition of the scriptures!!!
They look fantastic, and so (hint hint) maybe a birthday/Christmas present? I'd like it in blue and silver if you can. :) Anyway, that's not for a little while, but look into it - it looks pretty sweet!!

Anyway, love you all and I hope you're all doing well. I pray for you always!
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission