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30 September 2013

Week 96: 2 for Alma and Amulek

M0m - It sounds like you're having a fun time back home with all the drama and everything haha... Marilee did write me; hey, it's better than nothing, so it's a step in the right direction! :) Haha anyway, I hope you're doing okay Mom. Hang in there! Hopefully soon you'll be able to get away a bit and enjoy some Caribbean sunshine. :)
Dad - Well, I looked at the BYU website and I'll try and get it all organized. THANK YOU so much for talking to a counselor haha.. they know better. Please stay in contact so I can get this all figured out and stuff.  Anyway... yeah! The Lord knows better than all of us, so hopefully He'll help us out here.

Anyway, it was a pretty sweet week this week. We had a lot of cool lessons and stuff. We spent a lot of time just out, talking with everyone, and we got a bunch of new investigators as a result. The Lord really helped us out. We prayed to see miracles and to be able to recognize them, and He really blessed us. We were contacting in a caserio and we found this guy. We found him last week but went back this week, and as we taught him and his wife, we discovered that she is a member of the church, baptized years and years ago! He is a really cool guy and he says that right now he doesn't have a religion, and that it is very possible that he may decide to join our church. He's got great potential, and we're hoping to visit him a few times this week and invite him to be baptized on November 2.

We also had a great lesson yesterday with an investigator we've had for a while. We took a member with us, and we invited her to choose her own baptismal date. We gave her a calendar and asked her which day she would like to be baptized. She said November 2, and then we started to make plans so that she will be ready by that day. It was a great lesson, and she now has a pretty solid date for the 2nd! So that's awesome.
The sign says: "It's our right to decide who we're accepting into our home.
No to Jehova's Witnesses."

We had a lot of other great lessons with some other investigators, but I want to talk a bit about a less active that we are teaching. He's possibly one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. He went out of his way to get us some ceviche this week. He's just... awesome. We taught him in the church one evening, and we're hoping to bring him to General Conference this weekend. Also, with respect to recent converts, Berto was interviewed and found worthy to receive the Aaronic Priesthood!!! I was pretty ecstatic about that. It was just a good week I think.

We also had the wonderful opportunity of teaching the ward for the 5th Sunday, and we talked about family home evenings, the Atonement, and then Hastening the Work of Salvation. The Spirit was so strong and I wish we could have had more time, but I think we got what needed to be said out, and the ward members really enjoyed it. It was great.
Anyways, I love you lots, and I try not to think too much about going home... the world is a scary scary place, and I don't know if I'm ready to face it just yet. Still got time. :) Thank you for everything you do! Have a great week. :)

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

24 September 2013

Week 95: It's Because I'm Closer to the Bermuda Triangle

Well, the time just keeps on flying here... I don't know if it's because I'm closer to the Bermuda triangle, but man, time just is flying right now ;)

Mom - I love you Mom! I got to spend some time with some Argentines this week and I definitely thought about you.  More on that below. Love you!!
Dad - Well darn it... I was hoping BYU would win. Oh well, life moves on like it always does. :) I sent you an email about the classes and stuff, so if you could just take a look at that. I tried to plan them out a bit better today and stuff, so hopefully that looks better. Thanks!
Holding weird fruit
So it was a pretty good week this week, and Elder Turbovsky and I had a lot of great lessons. We had a really intense one last night. We took a member up to visit a less-active in Caimito, and we basically dropped pure doctrine on this guy. He got defensive but then the member, his friend, started talking and he was silenced. It was amazing! It was a really powerful lesson, and I'm really enjoying teaching with Elder Turbovsky. Some of my most powerful lessons are coming in this time we've been together. It's been great!
I also had the great privilege (for the first time on my mission) of going to an Evangelical church. This guy we talked to said he would only come to church if we went to his, and Elder Turbovsky said okay. So we went and it was definitely a different experience, but it was a really great learning experience. The next day as a result I studied the chapter in Preach my Gospel about recognizing the Spirit, and a goal I have now is to help the Puerto Rican people truly understand how the Spirit works and speaks, and how to feel it.
District with Ward mission leader
Friday evening we had a surprise missionary come in from Argentina, and it just happened to be the day that we were on companion exchanges with the ZLs in Toa Baja, and I was with one who was Argentine! So there were 2 1/2 Argentines in the car that evening haha. But yeah, so we got to pick him up from the airport and then we were told to take him to dinner by the office staff, so we took him to Sizzler. The next morning after we met back up with Elder Turbovsky, we went out and taught, and we discovered that this new missionary is AMAZING! He's a fireball and he set a baptismal date with one of our investigators. Awesome!! He's going to do great, and it's been a blessing to be able to know all these great missionaries. :)
Anyway, I'd like to testify of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. It testifies of Jesus Christ, and it truly helps us come unto Him. I love some of the final verses in Moroni, verses 32 and 33, where Moroni invites us to come unto Christ and to be perfected in Him. He is our Savior, and wants us to succeed. He loves us. I am so thankful for the Book of Mormon, and I echo the words of Joseph Smith, "that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book". I have drawn nearer to my Savior because of this book, and I know that it can change lives.
I love you family! Don't get too trunky! We've still got a little while, so just hang in there. :) I love you very much and I'm thankful for everything you do.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

16 September 2013

Week 94: Time Keeps Flying!

Well this week just kind of flew by, and I don't really remember much haha…
Mom - It sounds like you're having success in your canning exploits! Besides injuring yourself, of course. I bet Marilee just loves riding the horses. Anyway, I hope you are doing great!
Dad - When you talk about rain and it being mid 80's, you're describing what it's like here every day haha.. we got pretty soaked one day this last week. I mean, drenched. It was great. Then the sun came out. Ugh. That's really cool though, about what you said in Priesthood, and it's so true! And I will definitely look forward to letters from Marilee! I'll finally get mail!!! ;) Anyway, just let me know about everything with BYU and classes and stuff!
With Hato Rey members.
Well... another fast week. Like I said, one day we got drenched in a downpour. That was great. 

We also moved today, and are now living in Guaynabo instead of Bayamon. That helps a lot, since now we are in our area. Other than that, we had some cool experiences this week, and there was one kind of crazy one haha. We went to go visit this less-active in an urb, and he lives in an apartment behind this house, and the owners pretty much abhor Mormons, and so when we get there, this lady comes out and we nicely ask if the less-active is there. She yells "NO!" and so we're just a bit startled and so we ask again, and she just starts throwing a fit and tells us to get off her property. So we get off her driveway and onto the sidewalk, and say "this is public property, we can stand here." She didn't like that at all, but there wasn't much she could do, so we call the less-active and he's there and so he comes out, but while we're waiting, she sprays my companion with a hose! She was watering her grass, but she made a point to spray him a bit with the hose. I was standing a little bit behind him, so I missed it, but he just turned to me and said "well that's a first". I just laughed. :) It was a fun experience, and we had a great time with the less-active, and he's showing signs of progress.

Besides that, we were able to have a few good lessons with investigators and other less-actives, and had some cool experiences in a caserio and also playing basketball. In all, it was a pretty good week I think. :) Lots of fun, and being a missionary is a blast!
I do bear testimony of the Plan of Salvation, and I know that God has a plan for us. He loves us and wants us to have success in this life. He wants us to be happy, and in this life we're supposed to be happy. I know that true joy and peace comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ and applying the Atonement. He lives and loves us. I know that.

Anyway, I hope you're all doing great! I love you so much and look forward to hearing from you next week.


Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

10 September 2013

Week 93: Rise and SHOUT!

So for church we meet in the same building as the metro ward (the English ward) and one of the members talked to me at their linger-longer and asked me if I'd heard about the BYU game. I said no, and then he told me that they SMOKED Texas!! Ranked 15th in the nation! YES! Anyway, returning to normal Elder Gardner mode.

Mom - Thanks for the pic :) Sounds like you're working hard with the canning! I've been thinking about food and how fun it will be to cook you some real down home arroz y habichuelas Puerto Rican style! And tostones and all that stuff. It'll be great. That's pretty interesting that Matt and his friend Aryn leave the same day. It's great though to hear about all the missionaries coming out to join the ranks! I heard we'll be topping off around 100,000 in the field by the end of the year!! Awesome. :) There's a kid here who just sent in his papers, so we're all guessing where he's gonna go. :) I remember those days...
Marilee - Hey! Now I have your email address so there's no excuse to not write me! ;) I'd love to hear from you and how you're doing. Love you!
Dad - Oh man… the best time of year: Halloween, football, and basketball seasons starting. That's really cool about that missionary fireside! It sounds like you had a pretty good experience with that.:)

A Utah plate in Puerto Rico

Anyway, it was a pretty sweet week this week. We did a lot of contacting, and we had this great experience. We were contacting in an urbanization in our area, and we saw this guy sitting outside his house. We talked to him and found out that he was a less active of a few years! We talked a bit more and he invited us over again later in the week. Then, not 3 minutes later, we talked to his neighbor, who is not a member, and he said he'd love to hear our message! Oh man that was really awesome. We were both super happy, and we were able to teach that less-active again. His neighbor was home but then had to leave for an emergency, so we'll hopefully be seeing him again this week. We also talked to the less active's neighbor on the other side, and she was really cool and so was the guy that was visiting her there. Besides that, we had some really spiritual lessons where we just taught pure doctrine and saw peoples' hearts start to change. We taught a less active about covenants and repentance, and he just straight told us what was stopping him from coming to church, as if it had been bothering him for a while and once he understood the doctrine, he decided to move on. It was really great. We had similar experiences with our investigators, too, and it's been great to be able to find some new people to teach this week.
It's really fantastic to be a missionary. :) I'm thankful that I have had this time to serve and that I have a little bit of time left. It's been a great adventure, and this week I want to testify of the Restoration. I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. After Christ's death and the death of His Apostles, the authority was lost, and for the children of God to return to Him, there needed to be a restoration of the authority. Without the authority, no ordinances can be done. I know and testify with all my heart that in the spring of 1820, a young man's humble prayer was answered, and Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. They told him that none of the other churches were true, and so in time, the priesthood was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, along with the ability to receive general revelation for the children of God. 12 apostles were also called, thus reestablishing the Church of Jesus Christ once more upon the earth. I know that this is true. Joseph was a prophet. He translated the Book of Mormon, which is the convincing evidence of the divinity of his calling and this church. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He leads and guides His church today through President Thomas S. Monson. He loves us. :)
Thank you for everything! I enjoyed the package, and I'm sure Elder Mello will love his once he gets it out there on Dominica. It's here in the office for right now, but it'll get out there at some point haha. Thank you, I love you all so much. Talk to you soon. :)

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

03 September 2013

Week 92: 3 for the Tree in Lehi's Dream

Well family, tomorrow marks the official 3-month mark before my release date... :S It's come too fast.

Mom - It looks like you're having a fun time with the sewer stuff haha... looks lovely. I'm glad things seem to be looking up. I think it would be super cool if you worked for JetBlue. We met this lady that does that and she and her family get discounts or can fly free or whatever, and she does that same thing, working at home for JetBlue. So that's pretty cool! It's weird to think about home... it's going to be totally different coming back. Wow. Anyway, I love you lots Mom!
Marilee - Hey you! Send me an email or something so I can respond to ya! The email address I have for you is your aol one, but it's not working because I get a message back saying that you don't get it. :S
Dad - Well, I hope you had a good Labor Day - I know here it was a pain because all the libraries were closed, so we had to share a computer between 4 elders. Ugh. Oh well, it all worked out. :) But I hope Halloween goes well! Oh and btw, keep me updated on BYU football... I don't know how good they are this year, but let me know!

Well, a kind of crazy week. We had transfers and I got a new companion, Elder Turbovsky. He's super cool and he came to the island the same day I did, but wasn't in the MTC for as long, so his release date is a bit later. Tuesday we helped out with the new missionaries coming in, and that was awesome! Lots of work, but it was super cool. In the evening we took a couple elders up to Santurce, and there was a baptism there - of a lady that Elder Caballero and I had started teaching! So that was a real nice surprise to see her, and she was super happy. :) That was a good night. :)
At the baptism, Elder Gardner, Elder Caballero

Thursday and Friday were zone conferences, so we were all over the place for those. Not to mention Elder Andersen from the area presidency was there, so we were all a bit more on our toes than usual haha. Then on Saturday we had a special Mission Leadership Council, and that was awesome! I learned a lot this weekend from Elder Andersen about leadership in the church and about ordinances and covenants. AWESOME stuff.

But yeah, a pretty good week I think. They're all going by so fast now... it's unbelievable. Lisa told me Matt's off to North Carolina on December 4th. Hopefully I'll get to share a few tips with him and see him before he leaves. Wow. :)

I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that He has provided His gospel for us, and it is the only way back to the Father. D&C 45:3-5 teaches us His role as our Advocate, and it is true. He will only do this for us if we follow His example and follow His gospel like it says in 3 Nephi 27:13-16. Faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, along with enduring to the end is the ONLY way. I know that that is true. I know that Christ sacrificed Himself so that He could be this intercessor between us and the Father. He lives and loves us, and wants us all to return to God.

I love you all so much, and I hope you have a great week. :)

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission