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30 April 2013

Week 74: 7 for the Prayers We Send Up to Heaven

Well my dearest family, I am so thankful to hear good things coming our way. I like it that’s in spring, when light comes back into the world, and things feel great again. Winter is always a hard time in my opinion. It always was for me. It's just all dark and cold... that's one reason I love Puerto Rico so much, it's never dark and cold. 

This week the mission got like 20 new missionaries or so, and I was put in charge of a training meeting for the trainers, so that was pretty intense. It went well though, and we had a good meeting. Other than that, we had some pretty good lessons with some great investigators, one of which committed to baptism for the 18th of May! He's a sweet 18 year old kid, and he gave up a baseball game to come to church on Sunday, which was sweet. Also, like I mentioned last week, there have been changes in the zone, and though I'm still in Santurce, I'm with Elder Caballero, from Panama, and Elder Durfee went down to Adjuntas. There are 4 new missionaries in our zone, 2 from the States, one new sister from Panama, and a new Elder from Colombia. It's pretty sweet, I love new missionaries. :)
With President and Sister Alvarado

Yesterday we got a flat on our car, so we have to fix that today, so that's what I'll be doing most of today haha... sitting in Pep Boys. Ugh. But yeah, that's about it!

My last Zone Conference with Pres. Alvarado tomorrow... that will be intense and sad. And unbelievable.. he's done in two months. :S Anyway, I'll let you know how that all goes. And this week I will find out where I will be skyping/calling for Mother's Day to let you know next week. :)
 I love you all so much, and my prayers are with you always. Things have to get worse before they get better. We wouldn't know joy without pain. The night is always darkest just before dawn. It always gets better when we live the Gospel. :)

With love bigger than the universe,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

22 April 2013

Week 73: New Companion

Well howdy y'all! It sounds like things are just ... well... plugging along like you said haha. It's too bad the Jazz are out, but that's alright. Better a lottery pick than a first round sweep I think. I pray for you all the time!

Anyway, it was a bit of a crazy week, and transfers have just hit. I'm still here as ZL in the Metro Zone, but with a new companion, Elder Caballero. He's from Panama, and President's asked me to train him as a new zone leader. That will be an adventure for sure! Besides that there were a bunch of changes in the zone, and a lot have been transferred, and we're getting a bunch of new missionaries tomorrow, so that will be a lot of fun! Haha but yeah... this past week was pretty crazy.

I went to another area, Caparra and Levittown on Tuesday on my assignment from President to work with the new missionaries, and that went pretty well. It was a cool experience, and it was pretty fun. We had a leadership training meeting on Thursday, which was pretty intense. There's a big push for planning right now in the mission, which is really good, because it will help us stay focused and use our time better.

Then for the weekend, with what time I had to work in Santurce, we had some cool lessons, including a really powerful one with a part-member family about the Book of Mormon. They've been pretty unwilling to read it, but they said they'd read and pray about it afterwards, so.. yeah! That was good. When I wasn't in Santurce though, I was at the Celebracion Latinoamericana, and we had two more performances: one in Arecibo (our best one yet, at a super cool theater there), and another in Caguas. That was at the Stake Center (my first chapel!) and LOTS of food. :) Our last one will be on May 10 in Ponce, and I'm really excited for that one, to hopefully see more members and converts from Guayanilla again! :) 

Anyway, that's about it for the week. Transfer craziness, and we'll see how it all works out! Thanks for everything you do, and thank you for the package - the Girl Scout Cookies were a great touch! "This ain't no girl scout cookie! Roger out!" :) Love you all, and I hope everything works out for you this week. I look forward to your words next week, and I'll try and have all the info about what time and how we'll be talking on Mother's Day. :)

I love you all so very much,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

15 April 2013

Week 72: ¡Echamo' pa'lante! (Let's go forward)

My dear family! I'm so happy to hear that things are going well. As I heard the talk from Elder Cook, something clicked in my head, and I felt like he was giving the talk that we needed to hear. I've really come to understand on my mission the importance of the prophets, and what their role is in this life. I've come to appreciate them more, and to love their words. Before my mission I didn't really follow them as much. I thought of them as more "guidelines than actual rules" ;) ... but I've come learn and know for myself that the words that they speak are the words of God. I love Conference, and I just love hearing from them now. :) It's pretty great, right??

This week on top of my zone leader responsibilities, I had a special assignment to go to the Toa Baja zone (our neighbor zone to the west) to go and visit all the new missionaries and their trainers and to see which new missionaries could train. That was a really cool experience, and I had a great time. I witnessed some really fantastic miracles, and I was privileged and blessed to be a part of helping a companionship work out their differences and start working together as a team. :) It was really great. And that area of the island is beautiful! I'll try and send some pics if I have some time. :) 

Also this last week we had our first 2 performances of the "Celebración Latinoamericana" which has the Mission Choir, el Coro de Campanas, and a dance group from the church here. It's a cool program and includes a bunch of songs and dances from all over Central and South America. There's a SWEET song and dance from Argentina that I think you'd both love, and I'll try and record it at the next one so I can show you someday. :) Way cool. There's stuff from Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, the DR, and of course, Puerto Rico. It's a lot of fun, and we had our performances in San Juan and Mayagüez this week. 

Also, at the second performance, I ran into Carlos, Rosie, Gladys, Pedro, and their family down there!! They were investigators that I found and taught in Guayanilla before I got transferred to Santurce!!! They have all been baptized since, and Carlos and Rosie have been married. :) :) :) I was SOO happy to see them, and I got a picture with them too. :) YES!

Anyway, that's about it for the week, not too spectacular, but a little crazy. :)

Know that I pray for you always, and keep you in my heart. I love you all so very much :) I love you Marilee and hope you're doing great!

Until next week my dear family, I love you! ¡Echamo' pa'lante!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

09 April 2013

Week 71: Conference!

Well, I think it was a pretty good Conference, don't you? I think there were a lot of talks that applied, like Dad said. I went in with some questions I wanted answered, and some guidance, and I got it! Each one of the talks highlighted something that I wanted answered, some doubt that I had, and I really, really loved it. There were a lot about hope and peace, but Elder Cook’s was one I particularly enjoyed. :) I love Conference so much now, and I was just so sad when it was over; but it was good to hear the talks and all they had to say. :) And thanks for your experience Mom, that's really incredible. That's what the words of the prophets do. :)

It sounds like you had a decent time there in Four Corners area, and I hope you were all able to enjoy yourselves! It was a pretty crazy week, with a crazy Zone Leaders' Council on Thursday, Marilee's birthday. Some weird changes coming up, and I'll probably tell you next week when they all happen, but... yeah! Haha anyway, still in the Metro zone, and still watching great things pass. Each day I come to love Puerto Rico more and more, and it's amazing to see the miracles in some peoples' lives. For example, we had a great lesson with M… G…, who came to Conference for Sunday morning. She loved the message from Pres. Monson, and when we asked her if she believed that he was a prophet, she said yes! We then also taught about the Word of Wisdom and everything, and invited her to live it, and she said that if it's a commandment, then she has to live it. That was amazing to me, and her faith is what is going to help her through this process. She's so close to accepting a baptismal date, and I'm confident that she'll accept one shortly.
Easter Egg Hunt at the church
We also had a great lesson with N… and M…; we watched the Restoration video and kind of reviewed it with him to help him really understand it, and he loved it. We left it with him and he said he'd watch it again and again.

Also, we got some new investigators, who are actually old investigators, and it looks like they're going to be getting married this coming week! They have a weird situation where he went to jail for a bit and now they can get married and baptized like they wanted to before. We are also going to set a goal for them to come to church 3 times again before they're baptized, just to see if they're committed.

With less actives, Hno. F… came to Conference and even fellow-shipped Marta a little bit! That was really great, and he gave her a ride back home. We also taught J… H…, and he said he'd be going to Conference, but again, didn't follow through on his commitment. I'm not really sure what more to teach him. We've had a lot of really powerful lessons, but he hasn't really showed many fruits of repentance. We'll keep working though, and hopefully take the Elders' Quorum President to our next visit with him.

Anyway, that's kind of what we did this past week, besides Conference.

Anyway, just know that I love you all so very much, and I know that everything will work out for the best. Just remember what one of them said (I can't remember which) that the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the ability to find peace even when everything seems to be going wrong. I love you all so much, and I look forward to hearing from you again next week! :) And Mom, if I can, I'd like to skype on Mother's Day also, but I'll get back to you on that when I know. :)

Love you so so much!!

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

05 April 2013

Week 70: Testimony

I've seen and felt what the light and truth and the cleansing power of the Atonement can do for people. It changed me. This weekend helped me to understand even more about Christ and what he's done for me. I'm so thankful for everything that He did, and I know that if it worked for me, it can work for anyone. I don't know what it's going to be to finally break through the darkness – there is that gall of bitterness that Alma talks about, and we don't get out until we do our part. Joseph Smith wasn't freed from the influence of Satan on a whim - he had to work for it. Same with Alma in his gall of bitterness: he had to cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness. At some time or another we all need to cry out. Cry out for help, for guidance, or for that light. We need faith not only in Jesus Christ, but in His Atonement.

Everybody has their own time in their lives where they figure out who they are. Who knows? In any case, I'm confident that it will all be okay, and the Lord will keep watch over us.
Anyway, talking about my week, I didn't spend much time in my area haha... too much running around doing zone leader things. We also had our Easter Conference last night and today, and it was pretty cool. We stayed at some campsite in Aguas Buenas, which was really pretty, and then we woke up dark and early to do some pioneer activities, including some handcarts! That was fun. We also had some breakout sessions to help us all learn how to be better missionaries and plan better. It was really good, and then afterwards we had a choir practice for some celebration thing happening in April, so... yeah! That was about it haha. :)

Oh, and before I forget… Happy Birthday Dad!!!! The big 5-0! ;) Haha just kidding, that's next year, right? And if you can pass on my "Happy Birthday" to Marilee also, that would be great!! Tell her that I love her very much. I sent you both birthday cards, so look for those!! :)

I love you all so much, and I know that through this Gospel, everything will be okay. :)

With all the love of my heart,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission