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23 July 2013

Week 86: New (and Maybe Last?) Assignment! (Or Out of Left Field)

Well fam, I survived; but just by the hair of my chinny-chin chin! When I said that there were rough waters ahead, I didn't think it would be like this... haha funny story to come. 

Mom - Yes I've had mofongo, but I think only once in my entire mission. :( It's really really really good, and I wish people would make it for us more often haha... however I have had mangú a lot, which is a really good Dominican dish, and it's kind of similar. And yeah, it's weird knowing that all this is happening like this, but I think it's all going to work out just fine. In any case, I hope you all have a blast in Yellowstone!! :)
Dad - It's been pretty hot here too, so at least we're on the same page for this part of the year, right? And are you serious, Elder Reed is done tomorrow???? Wow... that was quick. And Elder Hill... holy cow that's unbelievable. That was fast. Then Elder Gillespie and then Elder Harward and Elder Snow and then Elder Paxman and then.... me. :S That. Is. Unbelievable. My goodness haha... wow.
E. Gardner, E. Mello
Anyway, so here's the funny story for this transfer: last Monday night we get the info, and I'm told that I'm going to Rio Grande to open the Rio Grande zone with Elder Patiño, a new zone leader. I was sad to leave Santurce, but I was super excited to go to Rio Grande! I had visited it before, and I had loved it, so I was looking forward to that. However, on Tuesday, I get a call from a different elder who told me that he was going to open a new zone in Rio Grande with Elder Patiño and he needed some information. I was really confused and told him that that was what I had been assigned to do, and he said "No, the APs just told me 4 minutes ago."

Uh oh. 

So I called Elder Peacock to ask what was going on, and he said he'd call me back in a bit. 45 minutes later, he calls and says that he's got my answer for me, and asks if I'm ready. I say yes, and then out of nowhere, Pres. Smartt starts talking, and he asks where I'm serving and if I'd like to go serve in Mayaguez. I say that's fine, and then he says he's joking. He then asks those fateful words: "Elder, are you willing to accept the assignment to serve as assistant to the president?" Um… what?? Was not expecting that, nor did I ever want to hear those words. However, I did accept, and so now Elder Peacock is happily training in Vega Baja, and I have been assigned to work in Guaynabo with my new companion Elder Mello (from Perú), and we are serving as assistants to the president. He's been AP for a while so he's helping out, and he's pretty much the best. :) We developed a good friendship while I was ZL when I'd call for stuff, so it's been a pretty easy transition companion-wise. Crazy, eh? So yes, I survived the transfers, but just barely ;) These will be some pretty interesting last 4 1/2 months, eh?

Oh by the way, mile marker moment: July 20 was the 2-year mark of receiving my mission call. Remember that day? Wow. Remember how long the wait was? Yeah... not gonna be that long this time I don't think.

Anyway, we had a pretty cool experience with an investigator this week. His name is Berto, and he's living with a less-active member named Kate. He's had a smoking problem for a while, and so when we got there, Elder Mello asked for the left over cigarette butts. He brought them out, and Elder Mello asked if we could blend it all up. They were pretty confused at first, but they let us do it. So we blended up the cigarettes with a bit of ice and water, and made a cigarette shake! The goal with this was to have him drink a little bit and create a bad reaction to the taste so that whenever he smoked again he would just feel sick. We brought it out and he just looked at it and said "I never want to smoke again". We then had a sweet lesson talking about how Satan disguises harmful things and makes them look good. We also talked about agency and how there's only 2 real choices: liberty and eternal life, or captivity and death. So now they have a wedding date for the 3rd and his baptism is set for the 4th. It'll be a struggle, but I'm confident that it will all work out. :)

Needless to say, I'm excited to teach with Elder Mello! He's a great guy, really humble, and we get along great.

Anyway, like I said, it'll be an adventure! It already has been haha... but know that I love you all so much, and thank you for everything you do for me. :)

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

15 July 2013

Week 85: Rough Waters Ahead

Well before I say anything, I must say that I APPROVE of Marilee's jersey! YES she's a Jazz fan just like her old brother! ;) Or else she at least wears the jersey haha... Anyway, you traversed your dangerous waters, and this week will be one of rough waters for me, but I'll get to that in a second haha ;)

Mom - I totally agree we should all go rafting next summer! I remember going with the scouts down to Moab on the Snake River and it was a BLAST. I loved it, and I think it would be a ton of fun. Make the arrangements and we'll all go. :) We could do that and just have a blast down in Moab. It would be great. In any case, congrats Mom, I truly am proud of you for what you did! I'm glad you had a good time. :)
Dad - You know, I haven't had real noodles and sauce since I left either haha. I've had pasta and stuff, but no real noodles and sauce. I'll see what I can do about BYU from here then, hopefully it will all work out.
With Elder Caballero
Anyway, when I say rough waters this week I mean... TRANSFERS!! Our first transfers with Pres. Smartt and Elder Peacock says they're absolutely crazy haha... It will be fun to see what happens. Maybe I'll be let go as a ZL and be able to go and focus on my own area again! We'll see what happens though. I hope I stay in Santurce because we FINALLY have an apartment in Santurce (we found one Saturday) and I'd love to finally live in Santurce while working there, because for the past 8 months I've been living in Caparra and working Santurce. Not ideal haha ... but whatever. We'll see what happens and I'll let you know Monday!

Besides that, we had a pretty good week this week, and found a bunch of new investigators. One of our investigators, Cassandra, is doing great, and has a pretty firm baptismal date for the 28th! We'll see who gets to stay and see it all happen. :) 

It's crazy to think how fast the time has been flying. Elder Gillespie is either home or else coming home soon... and Elders Hill and Reed finish next month. Holy cow. In 5 days I'll have had my mission call for 2 years. It's unreal, to be honest. 

Anyway, I don't know what else to say haha... it was a good week, but not much I can say in words. Pretty crazy at the same time. But I'll send some pics so yeah. :) Anyway, I love you all so very much, and thanks for everything you do!!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

11 July 2013

Week 84: 4th of July

Well mother, I hate to say it, but... your hair looks a LOT more gray now haha... wow. 

Mom - Well it sounds like it was a pretty eventful week for you. I’m glad that Marilee is reading the Bible. The Bible is a powerful book, and it's interesting that this week I've decided to learn more about the New Testament, so I can better teach about Christ's ministry and the ministry of His Twelve Apostles. Oh, and also about the beginnings of the Great Apostasy. She'll feel the Spirit as she reads it because it's true, and it will lead her to have faith in Christ. It'll all work out, just you see. :) It'll be tough, but it'll all work out in the end. Anyway, it looks like you had a normal 4th of July haha... oh the fun, right?
Dad - Well I would have loved to watch you all running around trying to capture the flag. No videos Mom? ;) Haha no, I love capture the flag, so that's cool you got to play it! It sounds like you had a good 4th of July though, and don't worry, no fireworks on this end, either :( Anyway, that's a really cool testimony, and I feel the same way. Thanks for sharing that. And have fun with the noodles and sauce, that sounds really good right now haha. I haven't eaten noodles and sauce since I left Guayanilla, so… it's been a while! 
American missionaries in PR
Anyway, I never realized just how much I loved the 4th of July before, but man, when I can't celebrate it, that's when I realize haha... I felt very patriotic that day. That morning my two American compatriots and I sang the Star Spangled Banner and wore red, white, and blue. :) However, there was one part of the day where we rode through Ocean Park looking for an investigator, and EVERYBODY was at the beach, and they all had their barbecues and everything... AGH!! The smell was so good… and I just wanted to party haha. Needless to say, we left that area in a heartbeat. However, a member family was so kind as to cook up some hamburgers and hot dogs for us, so we went there, and I at least had my traditional 4th of July hamburger. :) So that saved the day. 

However, I had been looking forward to seeing fireworks at night (because we live in Caparra really close to Fort Buchanan - you'd think a military base would do something on the 4th?), but I was sorely disappointed. I think there was smoke in the air from the fireworks by the time we got home. Goodness. Haha but it was a good day, and it will be good to party like a true American next July 4th ;)

Anyway, besides that, we had a good week teaching our investigators, and there's this one lady, Cassandra, who's the mother of a recent convert in Trujillo Alto, and she's golden!! She's a great person and she's progressing so much. She loves the Book of Mormon and she’s enjoying the lessons, and said she'd get baptized! There's also a few other investigators that we're teaching that are doing really well right now too, so life is pretty good. :) I'm kinda sick right now, but doing alright. It's crazy to think how fast the time is going. It doesn't feel like it's been all that long, but when I look at the pictures you send, especially of the cousins, it's easy to see that it's been a while. Everyone looks so different. I don't know if I look different at all, but everyone else sure does haha... older, that's for sure.

So yeah, I love you all so much, and thank you for everything. :) Love you!!

Con muchisimo amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

01 July 2013

Week 83: 5 for Alma Who Came Back Alive! (Oh, and Welcome Pres. Smartt!!)

Well, what a week! It's been pretty crazy and pretty emotional, but it's been a good one. :) The transition week, and right now we have a new mission president, Pres. Smartt!
Mom - Well I hope that Marilee can get through whatever it is that is stopping her from progressing. I know that through faith in Christ, everything will work out. She'll get better, and she'll find her way home. If we just keep praying and doing all that we can, she'll be alright. :) Anyway, on a lighter note, the new flag pole looks great!! I love seeing that Utah flag there, and the retention pond looks cool too haha (corner of 3200 W and Gordon).
Dad - Well... that is really HOT. Holy cow. 105 degrees?? Blech. At least it's not humid, right? Haha but still… that's HOT. I think we're in the high 80's down here right now, so it's still pretty nice. I hope the lawn is looking better and stuff, hang in there Dad!! Oh, and have you had a chance to look at my stuff for BYU?
With Sis. & Pres. Alvarado, E. Stout
Anyway, like I said, a bit of a crazy week. We had a meeting on Thursday with us and all the DLs, and that was pretty intense. It was really good though, and an emotional goodbye from Pres. and Sis. Alvarado at the end. I got a picture with them though, so that was good. However, that wasn't the end! Elder Stout and I put together a bit of a "private concert" for the Alvarado family, and on Saturday night we went to their apartment in Guaynabo, and he sang a few songs while I played the piano, and then I played a few solos also. It was a special night.

However, we didn't finish, and so they invited us back after church. We actually did a special musical number in the Guaynabo ward, and then we went back to their apartment and did a few more songs, including Waterfall, a special one I made for them, and then of course, God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again. Talk about emotional. It hadn't really sunk in yet that they were leaving, but it was still touching. Last night it sunk in more, but wow... very sad. But at the same time, I’m happy for them as they move forward in their lives. :)
At El Morro
After that, Elder Caballero and I went to the Stake Center because Pres. Alvarado had scheduled a meeting for Pres. Smartt with Pres. Rosa, the Stake Pres. So we went there and met Pres. Smartt! He's a young guy full of energy, and he's pretty intense also. It'll be fun to get to know him and to work with him, and I'll let you know next week how that all goes haha... we have a Mission Leaders' Council with him on Friday I think, so that will be fun.

Anyway, so that was that, and it was just a crazy week haha… Wow. Anyway, I hope this week is a bit more normal, and I'll send you some pics from this last crazy week, and some from the fun P-day last week. :) Anyway, I love you all so much, and thank you for everything! I hope you are all doing great!

With much love from sunny/rainy Puerto Rico,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission