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27 August 2013

Week 91: Transfers!

Mom - Well that is good news! I'm glad Marilee is back! :) It sounds like you had a bit of a hectic time getting everything ready and stuff, but its' good to hear that she's back. I'm glad that you're going to be able to spend some time with her, and I hope everything is going alright!
Marilee - Hey!! I'm so glad that you're back! I'm not yet, but I'm glad you are! :) Just let me know if there's anything I can do for you!
Dad - Today we were in Wal-Mart and I saw a cardboard stand covered with jack-o-lanterns and filled with Halloween candy and I thought "What? Already?" It's hard to think that October's just around the corner! Time really just disappears lately... I don't know what happens to it haha.
Well yeah, this week is transfers, and the last couple of days we've been announcing to the mission all the changes, and there's a lot. Elder Mello is being let go as AP and is going to Dominica, and I'll be getting a new companion tomorrow, Elder Turbovsky. He's a great missionary and we're going to have a good time this transfer I think. :) Lots of other changes are happening in the mission, and it's gonna be a fun next couple of days haha...
Goodbye Elder Peacock - with Elder Mello & Elder Gardner

But yeah, this past week was pretty chill and normal. We taught our investigators, and they're doing great.
This week we've spent a lot of time with member families, who have invited us to eat. We've been sharing scriptures and stuff with them in hopes of rekindling that fire that they felt at baptism (because most all of them are converts), thus increasing their desire to share the gospel with their friends and family. It's been a pretty great week for that reason.

Also, Elder Mello and I this week spent a day in Lares with the ZLs over there. That was a blast! Lares is on the eastern side of the island, and is really really mountainous. Well, the mountains are more like hills, but you know what I mean. I tried some weird fruit called guamá, which is this big black seed covered in white hairy fruit and is found in a weird long green shell - pictures on the way. It was pretty good though! But yeah, that was fun!
Anyway, just another week on the mission. :) I said I'd bear testimony of something each week from here on out, so here we go. I know that the scriptures are the word of God. Like it says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." I know that the Book of Mormon is true, with all my heart. It's changed my life and has made me a better person. I also know that the Bible is the word of God, and I have been studying it more in-depth lately. Both of these sacred books guide us to God, and help us to really come to know our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that as we live the principles contained in these books, we will find peace in the life and joy in the life to come.

Thank you for everything that you do, and I truly hope that all is well with you and that you have a fantastic week!


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

20 August 2013

Week 90: I Love Puerto Rico, I Can Feel I'm Going to Miss It

Mom - Well... I'm sorry you had a rough time at the thing. It'll all get better with time, though. I know that's not much consolation, but... that's all I've got right now haha.. :S Anyway, I love you Mom and I hope you have a better week.
Dad - Well it sounds like Utah has gotten pretty hot… wow. Knowing my luck it'll be like 30 below this December. I'm resigned to the fact that I will be basically crippled the first few days back home haha... It gets down into the 70's here and I get a little chilly, so... the 20's of winter may be the death of me ;) Just kidding haha... I'll get used to it again.
Elder Gardner, Pres. Smartt, Sis. Smartt
Anyway, a rather normal week. We had a few really cool lessons, and there's this one investigator who is preparing for baptism on the 31st! We had a cool lesson on the Word of Wisdom, and we invited her to give us all her coffee to throw away, and she did! We then fasted this weekend so that she would have the strength to overcome that addiction. That was pretty cool. Other than that, we pretty much just need to find new investigators. The next couple weeks will be interesting, and we'll know the transfers this weekend, so I'll let you know those next week. I probably won't be going anywhere, but Elder Mello's been AP and in Guaynabo for a little while, so there might be changes there. Hopefully not though, he's awesome!
I don't really know what else to say... it was a rather uneventful week haha. Oh, Elder Peacock is going home, so you may run into him haha. But I think I'm going to try and end all my letters from here on out with a short testimony of some gospel truth.

I guess this week I'll testify of the power of the Holy Ghost in our learning. I didn't take it seriously before, even though I did it, but scripture study and prayer have become one of my favorite things. I love the morning hours to study and search the scriptures. I learn so much, and it's all little by little. "Line upon line and precept upon precept." The thing is, if we don't show the Lord that we treasure that light that He gives us, we can't continue to receive it - He won't provide it any more. I testify that the Holy Ghost truly can teach us the truth of all things (John 16:13-NT, Moroni 10:5-BoM), and that if we really try to listen to His voice, He can guide us and teach us. He gives us light, and He keeps us safe from the darkness. I know that revelation is true. There's nothing that separates us from the source of all truth, Our Heavenly Father, and we can turn to Him always to help us.
I love you all so much, and the time here on the mission has gone by so fast. Too fast. I love Puerto Rico and I can already feel that I'm going to miss it so much. It will always have a piece of my heart (especially Guayanilla!), because this people have touched me in a way that I can't explain. :)

Anyway, thanks for everything, and know that my prayers are with you always.
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

PS: I have a picture with Pres. & Sis. Smartt!

13 August 2013

Week 89: Time Keeps Moving

Well, a relatively normal week I guess.

Mom - Well now that I understand the situation better, I guess it wouldn't be the worst thing not to go to the beach... I'd be pretty bummed but it's better than not going at all haha. But just know that Dad would have to go everywhere I go! I'd still be a missionary, so... yeah. Anyway, I'll let you guys talk to President about that and see what he tells you. Whatever the Lord wants is what will happen. I feel confident that He wants us to spend time here in Puerto Rico, but it's the how that I'm not so sure about. He'll let us know though. :) Oh, and still no emails from anyone - try and post it on my facebook and if nothing happens then... it's been a year and 8 months and I'm used to it by now haha ;)
Dad - Well I'm sure the Lord will prepare a way for it to happen. Like I said, I feel like it's supposed to happen, but I'm not sure how. I really hope that Marilee starts to improve though.  And I did start looking through the BYU stuff, and I'm a bit confused (…)but maybe if you could call them and talk to them about that? Anyways, thanks!! :)
So... before I say too much about my week, I want to share with you guys some thoughts I've been having, and some personal revelation I've received this week with respect to my future. For most of my mission I've been thinking that I know myself pretty well, and I am going to need a career that will help me keep studying and to keep on the path to eternal life. I've also developed a great love of teaching the gospel here, and to use the scriptures to unfold the doctrines of the kingdom. All that being said, this past week it's occurred to me that a definite possibility for me would be to find a career in the Church Educational System teaching either Seminary or Institute (obviously institute would be the goal there). The great thing about it is that they ask you to get a degree in whatever field, meaning I can still pursue my English major, thus keeping other doors open. In any case, I feel really optimistic about this, and I feel good about it. Elder Tesch, a senior missionary out here was an institute teacher, and he once told me that there wasn't a day of his life where he didn't wake up looking forward to his job. That's the kind of job I want; and what better career to have than to study the gospel every day, all day? I can still play the piano and maybe record some music there too. I don't know, but I feel really good about it. I'll definitely pray about it, and there's a lot of time, because I can't get into that program without a degree in something, so that won't be for at least a couple of years - but I think I'd really love it. :)
Well, this week was pretty uneventful. We went down to Ponce one day to do a companion exchange with a couple of elders down there (by President's invitation), and we had a blast! It was great, and I enjoyed being back on the southern side of the island again. We ate quinepas and everything, so that was good. :) It was pretty hot though.

Other than that, we spent a lot of time this week trying to find people. We've been working in the campo of Guaynabo this week, in an area called Caimito, and it's been pretty fun. We have also been helping to teach our recent converts, and it's great to see them keep growing and progressing in the gospel.
New Car
We switched out our Corolla for a new 2014 Chevy Cruze - it's a pretty nice car. No, I still haven't had the chance to get a picture with Pres. Smartt yet, but we have meetings together all day on Thursday, so I'll be sure to get one then. :) Sorry!

Anyway, I love you all so much. It's unreal how fast the time has gone - it's already almost halfway through August... and we just started!! Agh! But yeah, I love you all so much and look forward to hearing from you next week!
Con mucho amor

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

05 August 2013

Week 88: Two Baptisms, A Wedding and a Testimony

A good week this week. :)
Mom - Happy birthday!! I'm glad you liked the card :) I hope you had a good day, and it looks like you had a good time in Yellowstone! That's pretty cool that you got to see a bunch of elk and stuff - I love Yellowstone. I remember still that 50 mile hike we did in scouts - that was a blast! I'd like to do it again. :) Anyway, those condominiums looked real nice! Oh, and I haven't been bombarded at all haha... I guess a year and 8 months of not writing isn't much incentive to do so, right? ;) Haha no worries though, life's good :)
Dad - That is a pretty incredible experience, thanks for sharing it. She'll be okay. I'm sure of it. :) In any case, I'm glad she had a good time at Yellowstone and everything. :) It looks like you had fun!
Anyway, before I tell about the week, in our weekly office staff meeting, Pres. Smartt actually talked about parents coming to pick up missionaries, and here's basically what he said: that it's highly discouraged by the Church, but that if you choose to do so, you must plan the lodging and traveling and stuff. Also, on my part, I will need to dress and do all things according to the missionary handbook still. To be honest, I'd much rather be able to do normal things like go swimming at the beach and stuff during your visit here - that's like half the benefit of coming to Puerto Rico haha... but yeah, so just some food for thought.
With Kate and Berto's family
Kate and Berto's wedding

Anyway, we had a pretty great week, even though it was filled with trials. We had two baptisms this week though, and there was a wedding so that one of them could do so!! It was great :) I also was blessed with the opportunity to perform the baptism of our convert yesterday, and I'll send pics of that. It was a good week, and we really saw the hand of the Lord in the work. Oh, and I was able to play the Wedding March at the wedding - it was a blast. :) Good times!
Other than that, life just keeps on plugging along - really quickly, but it just keeps going! We don't have a ton of investigators, so our goal is to find a bunch this week.
Eridania's baptism
Berto's baptism
I don't really have much else to say, so I guess I'll just share how grateful I am to be here on a mission. It's been a humbling, learning experience to serve, and it's really helped me to figure out who I am, and more importantly, who I want to be. My goal now in these last four months is to figure out the "how": How do I become who I want to be; and then it'll be up to me to put it into action when I get home. I have ideas, and I know that the Lord will help me with that. I know the Savior lives, and that through Him, all our sins, griefs, pains, afflictions, and sorrows can be taken away. I love Him and thank Him every day for the Atonement. Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw, I know it. And I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It has changed my life. I know that Pres. Monson is a prophet, and I can't wait to hear from him and the other apostles in a couple of months. :) Anyway, I love you all so much, and I hope that you have a happy anniversary this week. Thanks for everything you do, I love you!!
PS - Remember what you did for Elder Caballero? If you are planning on sending a package, I know that Elder Mello would be ecstatic to receive one. He's more of a sweet tooth, so I think whatever will be fine. Maybe talk to Erik, since Elder Mello's from Peru, maybe Erik can help out with stuff that he'd like, I don't know haha. Anyway, thanks for everything! Love you!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

01 August 2013

Week 87: Another Week Gone. They Go By so Fast Nowadays :S

Well family, another week gone. They go by so fast nowadays... :S

Mom - Well... it's been an interesting first week as AP, but I'm sure it'll start to feel more normal soon haha… Anyway, it's been fun, and Elder Mello is great. But I'm glad you have been having fun in Yellowstone! It looks like it's a good time of the year to go, so I'm glad you're enjoying yourselves up there. :)
Dad - Well I'm glad the garden is doing well! Honestly I didn't realize how great of a blessing that really is to have a garden, and one of my goals for when I get home will be to help out with that more, and then to have my own once I can. I need to stay busy though, with whatever I can. That's pretty much the main goal for me I think.
Celebrating E. Ortiz' 1 yr Mark
E. Caballero, E. Ortiz, E. Gardner
Anyway, before I write anything else, I do want to clarify that the rules for email have changed, and it's a lot more open now to family and friends, so pretty much anyone can email me now if they want. :)

But yeah, so it was a pretty good week. Kind of weird just because we had training meetings all over the island on Wednesday and Thursday, and all the missionaries that I've known for a while were all asking me what it's like and how it's been since I got the assignment and stuff, and it was just kind of weird. But the meetings went really well and I liked them a lot!

We're also having a great time teaching our investigators. There's a guy getting baptized this weekend, and he's really cool! There's also this other lady who is going to get baptized on Sunday, and they're both progressing super well and they're pretty ready I think. :) But one of the best pieces of news I heard came from Guayanilla. Elder Hammer, my trainer, is finishing out his mission and training a new missionary down there for his last transfer, and he told me about one of the people that I had taught there... he's now the EQP!!! :) I was SO happy to hear that. :) 

But yeah, so other than that, not too much going on in the life of Elder Gardner. Hopefully we'll be trading out our Corolla this week for a new Chevy Cruze! (It's crazy how much things are changing since the Hastening the Work of Salvation Broadcast.) All missions are now going to use the Chevy Cruze.  Also, the iPads are going to be coming out soon. President has ours and is configuring it right now, so we'll get it soon I think. Anyway, I love you all so much, and it's always great to hear from you. :) No pics this week because of the computer, but I'll try next week! :) Anyway, love you all so much!!!

With love,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission