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25 November 2013

Week 104: The Last Week is Here (or Happy Thanksgiving)

Well, it's unbelievable. It's here. The last week. I honestly can't believe it's here.... wow. 

Mom - My heart reaches out to you, Mom. I am so sorry to hear about that... It's at these times where we see how fragile life is here on the Earth. I know you know, but I just want to share with you my testimony that death is not the end. Jesus Christ suffered everything and will help you and all those affected by this to get through. That's what He does. But how about I just give you a great big hug in a few days, sound good? :) I love you, Mom. I look forward to seeing you next week!!
Dad - Well it's good to know I have somewhere to live! It's a bit pricey but we'll make it work haha. I do not know anything about when to meet on Tuesday... I'll probably find out on Monday. We have zone conferences and stuff this week, so President's pretty busy. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing you next week. :) I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!!

Anyway, this week was pretty good. We had transfers and 13 new missionaries came to the mission this week! That was an adventure in and of itself. We had a fun time with that, and then this Friday we had a sweet activity in the church! It was "Una noche de peliculas y postres" and we had a great turnout! It was a lot of fun and we watched Legacy with a bunch of the members and a few investigators who came. It was great! You'll get to meet a lot of them because the Guaynabo Ward's Christmas activity is on the 6th! 

Oh, I did give a talk this Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. When the bishop found out that I was going to leave soon he put me up on the program. It was great. Speaking of, do you know if I'm speaking anytime soon in our ward? Just curious. Anyway, I spoke on my mission experience and what I'm going to change or do different. I think it went well. It's gonna be tough though... wow. Such a great ward. I'll miss them for sure!

Anyway, then Saturday we had our first of 4 zone conferences with the San Juan East and West and Toa Baja zones. Pretty good stuff. Today we had a Mission Leadership Council in Arecibo with Elder Cornish, which was way good! We talked about a lot of great things on how to increase baptisms here. Awesome meeting.

But yeah, that's that. This week has 3 more zone conferences, and Thanksgiving and we have like 3 dinner appointments haha... going out with a bang! 
With E. Turbovsky and Caguas West ZLs
I love you my dear family. I couldn't have done these last 2 years without you. It's been a great testimony to me about the importance of the family. Thank you so much for all that you've done, for all the letters, the words of encouragement and love. It's meant more than you may ever know.

I testify, as a servant and representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He lives! He loves us. He wants us to return to our Father in Heaven. He is our Advocate with the Father. Only by obedience to His Gospel can we find peace in this life, and eternal life in the world to come (D&C 59:23). He has overcome the bonds of death (1 Cor. 15:55), and has redeemed us from sin (Hel. 5:10-11). He called a prophet named Joseph Smith, and I know that through him was restored the true Church of Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true, and that it leads us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and that our greatest safety lies in following his words. This is the true Church of Jesus Christ, I know it. Nowhere else can we find the authority to validate the ordinances of salvation. 

God lives. The Savior lives. They love us. Of these things I testify to all who may read this words, in the sacred name of Him who has redeemed us from the Fall, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

"The hardest thing I've ever loved to do
was getting on this plane and coming home to you.
In a million ways completely torn apart,
as a land so far away still owns my heart.

"And in the most sincere prayer I've ever prayed,
I thank my God for each and every day,
for the blessing of the man I've come to be,
as I walk up and kiss my momma's cheek."

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

19 November 2013

Week 103: 1 for the Little Bitty Baby Born in Bethlehem!

Well family, it was a pretty good week I think. :)

Mom - Well I'm glad to hear that things are going pretty well. People will be people, that's all I can say. Compassion is, after all,  a Christlike attribute. But then again, it's not really possible to make people learn that either; it's all personal and up to them.
Dad - Just a preference of mine for the housing - I would prefer a private room haha.. I don't mind sharing the kitchen and the bathrooms or whatever, but after 2 years of sharing a room, and before sharing a room for the eternities, it'd be nice to have my own room. Anyways, just letting you know. :) I'm glad to hear that the Jazz finally got a win! Every team goes through this, and they'll be fine in a few years. That's a pretty hysterical story you shared... funny people. It's good to hear though that BYU's doing really well! J

Anyway, it was a good week. :) 

First off, we had a baptism!! The oldest son of the family we've been teaching was ready to get baptized, and so we did! It was awesome. Before I share the next thing, let me share a bit of how we found this family. We had been contacting for a couple of hours in this caserio, and we got to a point where we didn't know if we wanted to keep contacting or not, because we had been rejected all morning. However, we decided to knock on a couple more doors. With that being said, here's a story that Elder Frampton (the missionary who did the interview) was told by this kid during his interview. So on that same day we were contacting, the whole family got into a huge fight. Everybody was basically at each other's throats, and he just walked out, went to his room, and knelt down and said a prayer. He asked God to send help, because his family needed help. When he walked out of his room, we were sitting there in their living room.

It's interesting, these are the kind of stories that you hear about all the time from missionary work, but to actually be a part of it, is really a great blessing. I'm so thankful that we were able to be a part of that, and it's truly been an incredible experience to work with this family. They're golden, and he is really progressing well. His mother and sister will also be baptized, but that will come with a bit more time. We're hoping to get his sister baptized this weekend, so that's our goal there.

Besides that, we've been working with this less-active for a while, and we took a leaf out of Ammon's book, and just have been serving him. We've painted probably about half of his house for him, and he's really been very grateful for that. He promised us that he'd come to church, and he finally did this past Sunday!!! It was SO awesome, and he was so happy to see all the members that know him and remember him, and they were so good to him and greeted him and showed him love. I really hope and pray that he'll remember how that felt, and that he'll come back consistently. He's a really great guy, and I'm so thankful to have gotten to know and serve him and his wife. They're awesome.

Also, there were a couple of jovenes that got their mission calls this week! One is a Dominican and he's going to Des Moines, Iowa! CRAZY! Poor kid is going to freeze to death haha. The other one is a sister and she's going to San Diego, California. 

But yeah. :) Transfers this week, and it looks like I'm staying in Guaynabo until the bitter end! It'll be a blast. Transfers are bound to be crazy, they always are. Then we start zone conferences this weekend with Elder Cornish in town. Fun stuff.

Thanks for everything. :) I hope you're all doing well. I love you all! Stay true to the gospel!!

See you soon.
"The hardest thing I've ever come to see
is a Man down on His knees in agony.
A drop of blood falls down on olive leaves,
And for a moment, He suffers there for me . . ."
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

12 November 2013

Week 102: Time Is Flying at Me Like a Freight Train

Mom - Sounds like things are just great haha… hang in there mom, you're doing great! Yeah. Everyone keeps telling me how many days left too, so join the club! ;) It's pretty crazy... it's pretty close.
Dad - Any news on housing yet...? Yeah, all that looks great!! It looks like you had a fun time this year, and it looks like it was a big success. I'll be sending a separate email with some stuff we can do, and it's gonna be a blast!! At least, I hope. Anyway, let me know what you think and if you have any ideas, I'll see where we can fit it in. 

ANYWAY. A pretty decent week this week. We spent a day down in San German with the ZLs there, and we had a pretty good time! We spent most the day there painting a house of a recent convert of theirs, and then I went with Elder Gasu and we rode our bikes up this HUGE hill... goodness. I got some pics from up there though and I'll send 'em to you. It was crazy haha.

View from Top of Hill

San German Sunset
However, we had some really sweet lessons with that family that came to church last week, and they came again this week! We had a great lesson with them last night, and they're pretty much committed to being baptized this next weekend!! We have planned to visit them every day this week to make sure they're ready. They're really wonderful, and I think they're going to do great. It'll be a pretty intense week, but it'll be a good one.

In other news, our ward finally got a bishop! We had a sweet meeting with him yesterday morning, and he's just gonna make this ward explode! He's ready to work and he's willing to help us get referrals from the members. Awesome.

But yeah, so a pretty good week, and things are going well. Time is flying at me like a freight train right now... we'll just take this a day at a time haha… Anyway, I love you lots, and I hope you're all doing great. We'll be seeing each other pretty soon, so no worries there. Stay safe and true to the gospel!!!

I know that the commandments are here for a reason. I know that they help us stay on the gospel path. They're not here to restrict us, but to help us fly high. Just as a kite cannot fly without the string connecting it to the earth, neither can we stay high above this world without the commandments, the string. Many people think they hold us down, but in reality, they're what keep us afloat. I know that if we obey them, we will find peace and happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come.

"The firmest hand I've ever loved to shake
was my trainer's with that big grin on his face.
He grabbed my bag and put his arm 'round me
and whispered, 'I'm gonna work those Mr. Macs right off your feet'.

"And the hardest words I've ever anguished for
came just before some lady slammed the door.
And my trainer left me hanging out to dry,
as a minute of painful silence rode right by.

"But the hardest tears I've ever loved to cry
came as I opened up my mouth and testified.
Between the tiny walls of a stranger's living room,
the Spirit told their hearts my words were true.

"And the most wonderful sound I've ever heard
is the sound of water running in the church.
As the one I'd come to love got dressed in white,
my eyes caught that first glimpse of heaven's light..." 

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission

05 November 2013

Week 101: I Wish It Would Just Go On and On

Well, the last month. Unbelievable. November already. 

Mom - I think that's a FANTASTIC idea! I really hope it works out, and I'm touched by what you told Marilee. Thank you. :)  Anyway, I'm glad you survived another Halloween, and it's good to hear that you're doing alright. :) Love you!
Dad - It sounds like it was a success! Sounds like you had a good time. Thank you by the way for getting me all registered and stuff! When I saw the schedule it hit me... I'm going to BYU!! It'll be a blast haha… And that's too bad about the Jazz… hopefully they'll start winning some games haha… in the meantime I've decided that Brooklyn is going to be my number 2 team, mostly for Deron Williams. I hear they're doing pretty good! Anyway, just let me know about housing. :) Love you!

Anyway, a pretty good week, although something crazy happened... So we were on our way down to Barranquitas to do trade-offs with the ZLs there, and we're passing through Cayey, and there are no speed limit signs or anything, and it's not a residential or business area, and there's like 4 lanes of traffic, so I'm driving at a pretty good speed, like 50 mph. I thought that on a major highway like that, that'd be a good speed. Also, I was going the same speed as everyone around me. Anyway, we get to the top of this hill and boom, there's a cop there, and he doesn't get in his car and tell me to pull over, but he waves me over, so we stop and ... long story short, I got a speeding ticket. :( Apparently the speed limit was 35, but we could not find any sign that said that. However, it's too big of a pain here in PR to fight tickets, so I'm just going to pay it. So don't be surprised if in the near future a large chunk of money is missing from my account haha... Anyway, I figured I'd just tell you that. 

Besides that, we had a great week. We had a blast in Barranquitas with the ZLs there, and had a good time with their investigators and stuff. It was a lot of fun. :) We played this sweet basketball game with their investigator family of 12! It was fun. 

With the ZLs from Caguas West
Halloween wasn't all that great, we had to stop work at 6:00, so we came to the church and just hung out until 9:00 and then went home.

However, we had a GREAT day on Sunday!! We had 5 investigators in church!! We had a family of 4 (only 3 are investigators because the 4th is a 4 year old little girl), and then another man and then another investigator. It was SWEET! And they all have  baptismal dates. :) It's been a sweet week and we had a lot of really spiritual lessons. It's been a real blessing from the Lord, to be sure. 

Anyway, that's about it for the week I think. I know you're all just counting the days, and in about 2 weeks and a half, after transfers, I may join in on that. But for right now, ¡pa'lante! 

I know that Jesus Christ taught His Gospel the way He wants us to live it. He wants us to have faith in Him, to repent of our sins, to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and then endure to the end. That is His doctrine (2 Nephi 31) and there is no other doctrine of salvation. He is the way, the truth, and the life; He's the only way back to the Father (John 14:6). I know that He lives and loves us, and He died to make us whole. 

I love you family. :) The end is near, just hang on a bit longer. Don't get too trunky either!

"The hardest thing I ever loved to do
Was letting go of everything I ever knew.
19 years of dreams left in my room,
as I buttoned up the jacket of my suit.

"And the hardest words I've ever loved to say
were goodbye to my mom and walk away.
Choking on my tie and on my tears,
as I walked down the hall into those years.

"But the sweetest song I ever loved to sing
filled the MTC on angel's wings.
And the chorus filled my soul 5,000 strong,
and I wished it would just go on and on..."

Elder Kimball Ray Gardner

Puerto Rico San Juan Mission