Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Wow! I can't believe I am in the Philippines. It is great, but I won't
lie it has been really hard.  A lot different than when I was here
before.  I was never really homesick in the MTC because I was so close
to home and had so many friends around me.  Now I just have my
companion, sometime the girls in our apartment and sometimes the
elders in our district.  I miss home and the MTC so much right now.
There have been a lot of tears, but it is good.  I know I just need
time and I will love it.  I have to take it day by day because 18
months is too scary to think about.  Yesterday at church Elder Nelson
( A senior missionary in our area) came up to me and asked how I was
adjusting and if I was homesick.  I started bawling when he asked me
and couldn't stop for the rest of church.  His kindness and the fact
that he was American got to me.  No one had asked me how I was feeling
yet. And not to scare you, but I am kind of sick.  We ate at a members
house and ever since I have been sick.  The food was gross and I have
had stomach pain ever since.  Next time food doesn't look good I will
say I am sick or something.  I need time to adjust to the food.
 I am going to start buying my own.  We never have fruit or any
of the stuff I like, but we will go to the store today and I'll buy
stuff I want with my own money.  But don't be worried, I'm okay.  Just
pray for me and send lots of letters and emails haha.
So I'll back up.  So leaving the MTC was hard.  I really miss my
district and air conditioning and a comfortable bed, even the food,
and washing machines.  The flights were long, but good.  Flying into
Legazpi was absolutely beautiful!  So we got here and had orientation.
 I got my Companion and my area.  I am serving in the Legaspi City
zone in district 1A.  My companion in Sister Fienga.  She is kind and
hardworking. So after orientation I said goodbye to my MTC
district, that was VERY hard and we grabbed a tricey and were off.
That was a sight. A white girl in a tricey with 2 giant suitcases tied
on top of it.
So our apartment is nice for the Philippines...but still pretty
sketch.  It is safe though.  We live next to the Nelsons which helps
me feel safe.  The bathrooms are nasty, but everything else is in okay
condition.  It is pretty big.  The best thing is we have a view of the
Mayon Valcano from our porch! We have to buy water because ours is
especially brown even with the filter system.  And we have a rat that
lives of our roof and we can hear it very loudly 24/7. I really like
one of the other sisters in our apartment.  Her name is sister
Mataele. She is from Maui.  She got here 6 weeks ago so she
understands about struggling with the language and culture.  She is
very nice and lets me eat her food haha.
It is sooo hot! I don't remember being this sweaty and hot last time!
I feel so gross all the time. Hopefully my body will adjust. It
doesn't help that we have a brownout everyday and so our fans don't
work half the time. I felt okay about the language when I left the
MTC, and now I feel like I know nothing.  I sit there in lessons and I
really can't talk to anyone.  They talk so fast and speak way
differently.  My goal is to adjust to the culture for a week and then
work on the language.  I need to be patient with myself.
Everyone stares at me everywhere we go! They look like they have just
seen a ghost.  Everyone treats me like a princess and tells me I am
beautiful.  I defininely don't feel beautiful. When I speak Tagalog
they all look amazed.  They say I speak like a Filipino (my accent).
But I don't think they understand most of what I say.  So we get
around by walking, riding the triceys, or Jeepney.  We cover a variety
of areas.  Some right in the city, some in the mountains so we hike,
and some by the beach.  Mostly the living conditions are
heartbreaking.  Only a few of the people we teach have enough money to
have okay homes.  The homes are basically cement walls with patched
roof made of metal and the no windows with cloth to separate rooms.
The basically live in nature.  Bugs are everywhere and it is burning
hot because they are always cooking.  In the city they live on top of
each other.  No room between homes for miles. A little more spread out
in the mountains, but not much unless they have a rice field.  Very
few of our investigators do.  They are so dirt poor.  It breaks my
heart. They all are so skinny.  I can always tell the difference
between a member and a non member though.  Members are happier and
usually better off.  We have so many people we teach.  Many
investigators, Less active, part member families and new converts. I
haven't met most of them and we teach almost all day every day...so a
lot of lessons.  We keep very busy! I can't tell you about all the
investigators, that would take too long so I will tell you about a
few.  The first will be baptized on Saturday! She
is 17 and is so ready! She will be my first baptism.  The next is a family.
They are great! I feel bad because they are sooo poor, yet they
fed us.  They are less active, but all members.  The mom and son
usually come to church.  So while we were walking to their home the
dad was at his sisters at a party.  He was about to begin drinking
when he saw us walk by on the way to his home.  He told us he suddenly
felt the desire to return home and listen to our message.  What a
miracle! He was very interested in what we had so say.  I love their
son.  He was so interested in our message.  I think he is
15.  He asked a lot of questions and loved hearing the message.
The next is another less active family because they live so far from
church and they can't afford to come each week. After we taught them
though the 2 kids- one girl age 18 and one boy age 17 said they want
to serve missions.  It made me so happy! I couldn't stop smiling! What
a great thing! Their family referred us to an inactive neighbor. It
was a girl in her 30's. She had not been to church for 10 years.  So
we go to her home.  She started to cry as we talked to her.  I guess
her husband just left her and she has been having a hard time. There have been so many
instances in which the Lord has put us in the right place at the right
time! It really is amazing. It keeps me going knowing I can help these
people.  Even thought it has been the hardest week of my life, I have
seen miracles.
Right now my favorite place is Pacific Mall.  It is like the Mall we
had in Iloilo only bigger.  So it has all the placed I like to eat and
AC.  So I have had a few good meals.  I wish we went everyday!
This is the best news of all! So my companion is Sister Training
leader so we get to travel to some of the other areas and to
exchanges.  So tomorrow we go to Catanduarnes! The Island! We go until
thursday night! I am so excited! and Elder Benson from my district is
there so I will get to see a familiar face.  Then the following week
we go to Ligao so I will see Elder Manning, then Tobacco, so I can see
Sister Ianuzi there, and then Ligao again! I am so excited to see
their faces! It will be like seeing family! Then we have a zone thing
coming up so I will see Elder Wilcox- he is in my zone. And other
stuff combined with other zones coming up! So that is keeping me
going! I don't know when I will be able to see Sister Christensen.
She is in in Sorsogon which is far.  There is a training for everyone
that came in the day we did in August, but they might divide it in
half.  If not there is Mission tours or something in September I think
so I should see her then! I am definitely looking forward to
traveling! It will break up the time and I will get to see new places!
I was glad to see your pictures from Boston! Looks so fun! I am very
jealous! I didn't know I could miss you guys this much!  I have never
wanted to just hang out as a family so much in my entire life! I miss
it. I hope it gets easier to be away, but if not I just look forward
to the day I can hug you guys and spend time with you.  Eat good food,
watch good movies, and have lots of fun for me! Let me know all about
your trip and make sure you remember everything so we can go again in
2 years.  As far as letters. I have way more time to email here, so
emails are good, but I would love mail too so I have it to read.  So I
have no clue how it works. Maybe you can ask around or look it up. I
am Legazpi Zone District 1A in Legazpi Mission.  I would love to get
some letters or emails from people who have been on missions with
adivce for the first couple of months.
Mahal Kita!!! So much!
-Sister Gardner
Last picture with my MTC district

My Kasama Sister Christensen

On my apartment door when I arrived in Legaspi.

My apartment

Typical rain showers

Beach we walk by

Yes, its a jungle here!

The path take to our appointments

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