Monday, September 23, 2013

9/23/13--I Got to Dance

Mga pamilya at mga kaibegan ko! Namimiss kayo (siyempre) pero, sobrang masaya ako at mahal na mahal ko ang Philippines at mga investigators namin.

This week was crazy and great! I just made sure I was enjoying every minute! So let's start off with the miracle of the wallet! So if you remember, my wallet got stolen. So last Monday when I was done emailing and I was paying this guy walks by and said, Mary Gardner? (He couldn't even see my name tag). I was scared but said yeah...then he asked if I had an ID. I said no it got stollen and he told my companion and me to go with him. So we go next door to some detective place and they had all the stuff that was in my wallet besides the money and credit cards, pero I was sooo happy! How does that even happen?? It was stolen not even close to where we were and I guess someone left it in some random clothing store in Legazpi. MIRACLE!

So this week I had a different companion each day of the week. Two sets of Sisters from Guino Batan came to do exchanges with us and then the Masbate Sisters got stranded here after a meeting because the weather was bad and so they couldn't get back to the island so they stayed with us. It was super fun, but super crazy! So many Sisters in one apartment! So I led the area all week and had to plan lessons and where we would visit on my own. Preparing me for when my companion leaves in 2 weeks! I got to be companions with Sister Lang who is an American, who hasn't been here too much longer than me! We had so much fun! She is awesome! Sure the language was a struggle, but we figured it out. Everyone wanted to talk to us and everyone was calling out at us as we walked around. I have never had so many stares in my life. I thought it was bad before with Sister Feinga...Nope when whities unite you get the most attention. 
I got to dance quite a bit this week! One morning Sister Mataele taught me how to Tahejan (butchered that spelling I'm sure) dance. I suck at it, but it was fun! Tapos, I taught some of the sisters some ballet haha. It was a good time! I miss dancing soo much! I also tried strait up sugar cane. It was interesting. Basically you suck on piece of wood and it tastes like sugar. A less active member gave us a ton, pero we don't own a machete, so it just sits there haha. 
So now some updates on investigators, so JOHN! He is soo astig! He has been reading so much in the Book of Mormon and understands it and wants to be baptized really bad! Pero, the problem is he works as the Guanzons security guard while they are church so we need to figure that out. Also, he told us he is afraid to tell his wife that he has a baptisimal date because she is a very devoted Catholic. He is just so happy and he understand it all! It makes me so happy! He is really gaining a testimony! It is so cool to see someone change as a result of you teaching them! Tapos Jovalyn! So we visited her last week and told her to start reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and to just read a little bit each night. Keep in mind she is only an 11 year old part member. So we go back and she is on page 90! Only after a week! That is more than I ever read in a week until I came on my mission. She is so adorable I can't handle it! We are seeing so many miracles in our area! We have so many investigators that are progressing and we have SO MANY less active members that have started to come back to church!
I have really been able to see the difference between testimony and conversion. Those with just a testimony may have desires to come to church and desires to follow the commandment, but without action that testimony just stays a testimony, but as they act and submit to the will of the Lord that testimony becomes true conversion. As I see less active members and even investigators come to church, read their scriptures, pray, and serve others they become converted to this gospel and converted unto the Lord and they become HAPPY! The people here have so many problems and trials, yet as they rely of the atonement and live the gospel they are happy and have the strength to endure. It is truly amazing! 
I can't even describe how amazing it is to a missionary! Sure it is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is a time I would never want to take back! First of all mission humor is great and the funniest things happen with investigators and just when you are with the other missionaries. I have experiences so much growth in such a short amount of time, and I just love living HERE in the PHILIPPINES! The most beautiful and crazy place in the world. Now that I can understand what the people we teach are saying and what they are going through, I love and care for them so much. I am anxious to go out and serve them each day! I am just happy this week and there are so many moments that happen each day that make me realize I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. Like when 15 year old Job is so sick and needs a blessing and the family first thinks to call Sister Feinga and me and we get to rally the troops and get Priesthood holders to his home to give him a blessing. It's moments like that that I am able to see the importance of being a missionary and how our service is able to bless others.
I am so happy to be a missionary! I know this church is true and I know that people NEED to hear the gospel. It is seriously so amazing to teach people about the gospel. I really feel like I am at the point in the language that I can actually say something meaningful. It is just exciting! 
So yesterday I spoke in sacrament meeting about strengthening families. I had thought about it at the beginning of the week and then things got so crazy that it slipped my mind, and lets just say being a missionary has really helped me be able to talk about something without a plan. At least I had scriptures memorized from teaching about families all the time! haha I felt so bad that I had barely prepared, pero it went fine! I talked about how family scripture study, family prayer, and family home evening and how that is the foundation for strong families. As I thought about family I was just so thankful for my wonderful family. I miss you guys each day! I miss the smallest things that we would do and can't wait to do them all again, but I know that this year and a half apart will make all those things even better! 
Anyway, I miss you all and I love you all! Have a great week! MAHAL KITA!
-Sister Gardner

9/16/13 Be Happy!

Mga Pamilya at Kaibigan ko! Namimiss ko kayo!

So this week was Mission Tour! The Area President and his wife (President and Sister Neilson) came and spoke to all of us missionaries! It was so amazing and just made me excited to be a missionary. I realized what short time I have to take this opportunity to learn and grow and help the people here. So first, Sister Neilson spoke to the Sisters about how much our mission will bless the rest of our life and our families. She cried as she told us what powerful women we would be. It made me so thankful to be a Sister missionary. She then focused on holiness, something I hadn't really thought a lot about before. She said we should make our lives a pursuit of holiness. We are trying to become like our Heavenly Father, or become holy. He appreciates beauty and knowledge and happiness. She said we should do things that make us happy, learn all we can and she said we should make the things around us beautiful (I loved this because of Interior Design). I finally felt like my passion for design was important. She shared D&C 123: 16-17 with us and said we just need to make small adjustments each day. She said missions are hard so just do your best and don't ever feel bad about what you can't do! President Neilson talked mostly about the Atonement. He focused on the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement. He said there is NO WAY missionaries could do what they do- be away from everything that is familiar, learn a language, learn a new culture, live in hard conditions, deal with the heat, eat weird food, be with a companion 24/7 that is completely different from them, walk all day, teach all day, and get so little sleep without the enabling power of the atonement. We have to rely on the Atonement to strengthen us each day and help us change into who we need to be. I have for sure felt this each day on my mission. It is hard and sometimes I'm not sure I can do it, but I just keep going and somehow I am always okay. It is because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is not something I could do on my own. I am so thankful for the words of President and Sister Neilson. They really lifted my spirits and made me just happy to be a missionary.

Last Monday I watched the Mormon message "Our Daily Bread." Watch it! It is so good! But it really helped me this week. I had a few rough days, but I just kept remembering the video and how it talked about during hard times just wake up and pray to Heavenly Father to give you what you need for that day- whatever you need to get you through and be happy for just that day. The next day you do the same and day by day things get better. I have done this each morning. Prayer is so powerful and I can feel the influence of Heavenly Father giving me strength for each day. 

So on Tuesday the Neilsons spoke at a devotional for the members and investigators in our stake and the missionaries were able to go. The devotional was all about families. It was so good! After the devotional our Bishop comes up to me and Sister Feinga and said the Malacad Family was there! We ran out to find them! They had come to the devotional! I was soo happy! We introduced them to a bunch of the members and they were so happy to be there! Pero, they didn't come to church which is a bummer. Hopefully next week! 

We did have 2 of our investigators come to church this week that we were about to drop because they have been investigators for so long and have never come to church. It is a grandma and her son. They are really shy and we were worried they would be overwhelmed by the people greeting them and especially when they split for priesthood and relief society, but they texted us after and said thank you so much and that they had a really good experience! I realized we don't need to be so worried about our investigators experience at church, we just have to trust that they will feel the spirit.

On Tuesday we visited the Alanis family (I have talked about them before- part member). So Omar is a less active member and his wife is an investigator. We went to visit them and are talking to Omar and he starts talking about Stake Conference and what he learned there. We were were at Stake Conference??? Him and his wife came!! She is a very mahirap investigator. This time we visited them though she was super friendly to us and they were talking about Stake Conference and how good it was! I was so happy! I love their family!
Then the 4 investigator sisters told us that they tried to go to the primary activity we invited them to with all their kids, but the tricey driver didn't know where the LDS chapel was and he drove them to another church. So that sucks, but at least they tried to come!!
So basically miracles are happening! It has been our biggest struggle to get people to come to church and church activities! Now that is changing!
I miss you all so much, but am so thankful to have this time to give my all to serving the Lord! It is such a blessing to be a missionary and bring people true happiness! LOVE YOU ALL!
Got to go and make the stairs in our apartment into a mattress slide before p-day is over (me and 
 Sister Mataele's genius idea).
Mahal Mahal Kita! -Sister Gardner

9/9/13-A Robbery and a Recipe

Well the big news of this week...I got robbed! I was minding my own business this morning just walking around in a store and next thing you know my bag is unzipped and my wallet is gone. So that's good! No money on P-day! We had to review the security cameras, but the angles were bad and we figured we wouldn't be able to find the person anyway. It sucks, but its a story and hopefully they put ALL my personal, mission, and security money to good use.

Other than that this week we were mostly on exchanges. We first went to Tobaco. I got to teach one of the investigators that I taught when we were on exchanges there before! Sister Heikee. I was able to teach her the first lesson last exchange and it was so cool to see her progress from just a couple of weeks! She told us that she had been reading the Book of Mormon and praying about the message of the missionaries. She said she felt good each time she prayed and read the Book of Mormon and kept pointing to her heart. We were able to tell her that that was the Holy Ghost. Then we had an interesting experience. We were going to visit a less active member, but got stopped by her Nanay. Her Nanay was very harsh and asked Why are you here? Then she started going off about all the untrue things about Joseph Smith. Each time we would try to explain to her why we were there or respond to her she would cut us off and say we needed to leave. So we left without being able to talk to her daughter. I just felt bad for her and her family. She was so closed off to her message and by the things she was saying it was clear that she didn't even understand our message. She sure thought she did though. I have been amazed so far on my mission at how important listening is. The people who listen to our message and seek to understand it, always accept it, but those who are not humble and who think they already know everything will not receive our message because they are not willing to listen.

We next went to Ligao! Yay! My favorite! So the areas in Ligao just got all split up and so me and Sister Cacares worked in a SUPER far area that used to be the Elders. One of the people we taught was a recent convert. She was the first baptism of an Elder from my MTC district so it was really cool to teach her. Sister Caceres told me the Elder had been really homesick, but after he was able to extend a baptisimal date to her he felt better! I'm sure he realized the importance of the work and the joy that comes from it. So the farthest area took about an hour to walk to, but it was so beautiful! We got punted though- so then we had to walk the hour back. We had extra time and so Sister Caceres told me to pick a house to tract at. I picked this way nice house with a big gate in front. She told me to take the lead- so I say "Tao po" and all these kids come- so I asked for the Nanay and she came out and was so nice and let us in and told everyone there that they had guests. She was so happy to have us there...until we started telling her we were missionaries...then she totally closed herself off. She said all religions are the same because we all pray to God. She said her and her sisters and grandchildren go around each night and pray at the homes in their neighborhood at 6 o'clock. She told us her grandchildren have the prayers memorized. I told her we don't want to change her beliefs or take away from them, but rather strengthen her relationship with God. I gave her a Restoration pamphlet and invited her to read it if she wanted to simply just understand our beliefs. She told me to take it to someone who needed it. She said I should take it next door and then tell them she would be over to pray with them later. I just told her we wanted to give it to her, she didn't have to read it. She accepted it and just set it down. Her granddaughter started looking at the pictures and was reading and Nanay grabbed it away and said that is not for you, that will just confuse you. Poor kids. I feel so bad for these people. They are so dedicated to their faith- which is so awesome, they are trying to have God in their life, but they are so unwilling to listen to us. We don't ask them to be converted to our faith. We just ask for them to listen because it will bless their life. It is their choice to accept it or not. We simply invite them to pray to know if it is true. If they will just listen and pray- their lives can be changed. It is hard to KNOW something is true and then have people reject your message, a message you know will change their life!

After exchanges nothing major happened in Legazpi. I was super exhausted and a little homesick and just not feeling so great. I spent a lot of time during the morning and before bed reading conference talks. I found a lot of comfort and strength in the words of the Prophets. We got punted or people weren't home a lot this week and so it just felt slow. I read a lot of talks about enduring through hard times and there always being something good ahead if we will be faithful. I know during the slow hard times if I keep working hard and having faith we will see miracles in Legazpi. We definitely saw a miracle yesterday when 27 less active members showed up to church from our area! They just kept coming! We were so happy! We don't know why they all came on the same day, but it really was a miracle. People who haven't come to church in months or even years. I was happy to finally see a result from our visits!

We weren't able to visit the Malacad family because of exchanges and then they were gone this weekend because of their sick grandma. BUT they promised the Bishop they will attend the devotional with us this week and church on Sunday. He said he talked to them and they are just excited about this new component of their lives and are anxious to learn more and progress! AHH I love them so much!

I have one more story-
So this young German man came to church with some members on Sunday and were confused why he was there. I guess he is vacationing before he goes to work in Vietnam. I guess he is just sorta wandering around the Philippines and didn't really even plan to go to Legazpi. He stopped by the canteen of the members to ask for directions and ideas of where to go while he was here. I guess they fed him and were really nice and helped him out. He kept going everyday to ask for directions and they started talking to him about the gospel and was super interested so he agreed to go to church with them on Sunday. He came to the class for investigators and recent converts that the missionaries also go to.  It was such a wreck... people kept asking the DUMBEST questions and the spirit was not present! I felt so bad, but after the class he asked if he could have the gospel principles book and of course we said yes! After Elder Nelson told him sorry that class was so bad and had a really long talk with him about the gospel. He is VERY interested. He was leaving today or we would teach him.
What a miracle though! I don't think stuff like that happens by chance! There are like 20 canteens next to each other where he went and he happened to choose Joanns!

Okay, try this recipe! It is heaven. Me and Sister Mataele make is every joke.
-Graham crackers
-condensed milk
-whipping cream
(We make it in a square tupperware that is tall as it is wide. Maybe 10 inches in every direction.)
-Mix 1 can condensed milk with 2 cans of cream.
-layer graham crackers then milk mix all the way up the container. Use all the cream so it will soak into the graham crackers.
-Put sliced mangoes in the middle layer and on the very top.
-Put it in the freezer until the cream get icecreamyish, but you don't want the graham crackers or mangoes to freeze.
Hopefully that made sense? It's so good and super popular here. That and fruit salad are my favorites.
Hope everything is good with all of you! Miss and think of you guys everyday! Mahal Kita!
-Sister Gardner
p.s. figure out what this means-
bababa ka ba?

Monday, September 2, 2013


Lahat mga astig pamilya at kaibigan ko!
This week was a little slower than usual, it had its ups and downs...but of course the good times made it all worth it! First of all...MERRY CHRISTMAS! Yes, it is officially Christmas is the Philippines! There is Christmas music playing everywhere! We are going to try and find a christmas tree for our apartment! All the 'ber' months are considered Christmas time here. It's wonderful!
One of the best things about this week was that the Derosan family- they have us over for dinner every Monday- they got a new puppy! So now they have 3 puppies for me to play with! President Guanzon said all the missionaries need to cut their dinner appointments down to under an hour though, so the Derosans told me I am going to have to multitask and eat and play with the dogs at the same time.
Wednesday was an amazing day! We got 8 new investigators out of one lesson! We had OYM'd to these 4 woman at a tindahan last week and said we would come back the next week. They didn't seem to interested, so we weren't expecting much. We figured they would be too busy to listen. Never have expectations! So we go to the the tindahan and the first girl went and got one of the others, then they went and got the 3rd and then come back and get us and take us to the house of the 4th lady and we taught all of them and all of their kids there! Turns our they are all sisters! They are so awesome! They had so many questions and were really trying to understand. That is rare here usually when we ask if people have questions they just say 'wala'. One of the sisters was especially interested and kept asking what she needed to wear to church and what happened at church. So we have 5 new Investigators. The 4 sisters and 4 of their kids are above age 8. How awesome would that be if they could all support each other in the gospel. 4 families!!! They said they want us to teach their husbands too- so we will go back and teach everyone this week!
On Thursday it was our district leaders birthday so we had the best surprise ever! We planned it with this family in our ward. They invited him and his companion over for a dinner appointment. He had asked us Sisters were going and we said no, but we were there with decorations and the family made all this food and we bought a big cake! So he walks in and all the lights were off and Brother Derosan (there are 4 Derosan families in our ward) he said it was a brown out. Then we come out with the candles all lit on the cake singing and he was so surprised! It was so fun and a way to get closer to the members! The whole day we pretended we had forgot his birthday. It was great!
I just have to talk about the Nelson's. They are the senior couple in our ward that are on a welfare mission. They live next door to us. So on Friday they were taking this really really old member of our ward around and just spending time with her. She is just skin and bones, she can't walk at all and so she hasn't been to church for 6 years. She wanted to go to the church and so they brought her there and we were there for our district meeting. They had us sing to her and she was crying and was so happy to see missionaries. She is one of the pioneer members of the church here. Then we saw them later in town while we were getting lunch and they had taken her to lunch and bought her groceries. They were on their way to buy her mangoes because they are her favorite. They just spent all day taking care of this woman. They are so kind! They were talking to us and saying how lucky they were to be welfare missionaries and serve and get to know such wonderful people. Elder Nelson starting crying as he told us how much he loved this woman. He would lift her out of her wheel chair and into the car. I want to be as giving as the Nelsons!
Saturday was soo hot, but so beautiful and sunny! We went to Lamba- one of our far areas. We go past this long stretch of beach to get there and holy cow! It was stunning! The water was glistening and so many people were on their boats in the water and all the huts along the beach were open! Man, I can't wait to go swimming there in 15 months! I was just thinking how I really can't believe I get to live somewhere this beautiful!
One of my favorite less active families that we visit is the Bongon family because of their son Mark Joseph! He is 15. We visited them on Friday and we asked him if he had been reading the Book of Mormon and he said yes. A lot of the time the people here just say that- so we asked him where he was and he opened up his Book of Mormon and showed us right where he was and he had it marked. I was so proud of him! His mom told us that He always reads and that he is top of his class at school! Me and my companion want to get him a bookmark for his scriptures just to show how proud we are of him! Him and his mom came to church yesterday and we got to sit by them! We were so happy! Mark Joseph comes to church pretty often, but his mom hasn't come for around 3 months.
We had Stake Conference yesterday and Elder Hawk of the area presidency came and spoke! He was awesome! He told the story in more depth that he told during October conference about when the officer found his Book of Mormon while he was in the marines and therefore was the only Marine that didn't get ridiculed. He talked about how thankful he was for the Mormon that had been the good example to the officer. It is so important to be a good example to everyone. You never know who is watching and the chain of people that your example will affect. He was such a good speaker and there were so many people at the conference it was awesome! We got to meet a group of the new missionaries from the last transfer. They are awesome! It made me feel 100x better about the language! They were really struggling. It made me realize how far I have come since I have been here!
I've been feeling really exhausted and worn out the past few days, but it is all worth it! Exhausted is an understatement, but so is happy. They joy that comes from missionary work is unreal! When you see someone walk into church that you didn't think would come, or when someone accepts a baptisimal date, or when people keep their commitments, or when someone sincerely wants to hear your message. It is a joy that can't be experienced in any other way!
Okay...I saved the best for last! The Malacad Family!! We extended the baptisimal date to their 18 year old son this week and he accepted! We were able to teach the son and daughter this week and they were sooo astig!!!! Kuya (what we call youngish boys) had read the pamphlet! At the end we asked if he would pray and he knew how because he had read the pamphlet. He grabbed it turned right to the page and reviewed it quickly- then gave an awesome prayer. Ate (Youngish girl) is shy, but so sweet and always smiles when we come by to teach or just to say hi. So Sunday was a rollarcoaster of emotions with them. The night before we texted Kuya and the mom about church. Kuya texted and said what time and then said they would all be there! They know the Bishop and he told us they told him they were coming! So we texted them and they said they were on their way, so we said text us when they were close and they say okay. I was so excited!!! I was almost crying I was so happy! So we wait, and wait, and wait, and conference is almost over and they weren't there. Then we get a text that says they found out their grandma got sick while they were on their way and they had so rush to her. I was heart broken to say the least. At least they tried though and I really hope that means they will for sure be there next week! This family is seriously so awesome! I have never prayed so hard for something in my life. I want them to have the gospel in their lives so bad! I think of them constantly and look forward to their baptism!
I love you all so much! Thanks for the constant support! Miss you like crazy and hope that all is well!
Mahal Kita!
-Sister Gardner

At the Derosan family home


Legaspi view at sunset


Grabe! Mabalis ang oras! Marami na ng yari sa linggo ito!
I finally got a camera! So I have pictures! Where to even start? So I have been reading a lot of different books that we have lying around the apartment whenever I have time. I just keep getting insight after insight and it is really helping me with so many aspects of the mission! One thing I have read about is that missionaries don't abandon their dreams, but rather put them on a shelf so that they can put all of their focus on serving to the best of their ability. Then when they have served an honorable mission they can come back to those dreams and see which ones are still important and which ones don't matter any more. I have been trying to not worry about the future too much, but rather focus on letting myself grow now so that I can have a better future. The second thing that has really stood out to me is that a good missionary doesn't necessarily feel like going out each day and working their hardest, but they do it anyway because they know it is what the Lord needs them to do. I had been feeling bad because some days I wake up and am so tired and the last thing I want to do is pour freezing water over my head and go walk for miles and teach tons of lessons, but I do it anyway because I know it is important. I have realized that that doesn't make me a bad missionary just because each day I don't feel perfect. Even Christ himself ask Heavenly Father to relieve his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, but he did it anyway because he knew it was Heavenly Father's will and he knew it was important. A lot of what I have been reading is about Joseph Smith. Each time I read about him and read his story I am so amazed by him! I have such a strong testimony of Joseph Smith! I always ask my companion if I can talk about him when we teach the Restoration. I love bearing testimony of him and telling others about the marvelous work he performed on the earth. It is because of him that I have the gospel in my life and am so happy!
So this week we traveled to Tobacco for most of the week. We had 3 companionships to exchange with and I was exhausted by the time we were done! All of their areas are really far and therefore a lot of walking, but it was okay because the views of the Mayon were amazing! Tobacco was okay, it is pretty but overall a really hard area. The members aren't really willing to help and the branch isn't very strong. There are a lot of less actives because when people are baptized the ward doesn't do a good job of taking them in because it is so weak. The people there just weren't as friendly with the missionaries.  I feel bad for the Sisters there. They are doing a good job though and they all said there has been a lot of progress lately with the arrival of more missionaries! The best thing about Tobacco was in one neighborhood we had 10 kids follow us everywhere we went. We ended up asking them to introduce us to their families and now one of the companionships has a few new families to teach!
It was one of the Elders in my Districts birthday this week and so we had a surprise lunch for him at the chapel. The Sisters in our apartment made food and we got decorations and cake and then set it up at the chapel. His companion told him they had a meeting and took him to the chapel and we all surprised him! He was so surprised and said it was the best birthday he has ever had because his family doesn't really celebrate birthdays at home. This week it is our district leaders we have to somehow surprise him and think of something different to do.
The real joy from this week came from the lessons we were able to teach in Legazpi! It was only Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday...but we worked hard! So we were able to teach John, the Guanzon's security guard, twice this week. One time we got merienda and the other we got to sit down and eat dinner with President and Sister Guanzon. They are sooo nice! I am glad I am in their ward and go to their house so often so I can really get to know them! But anyway John in so awesome! He is such a happy person and always reads what we give him. He is so involved in our lessons and is just excited to learn about the gospel. He really wants to come to church, but has to work for the Guanzons while they are at church because their other guard is a member so he comes to church. We are going to try and talk to the Guanzons and see if they can figure something out because...HE ACCEPTED to be baptized in October! So he really needs to come to church!
Our next golden investigator is Manny! He was an OYM from 2 weeks ago- I might have already mentioned him, but anyway we FINALLY found time to go and visit him! I'm telling you this guy is just so dang happy and kind it is unreal! He said he has been waiting for us to come and visit. We felt so bad, but he was just happy that we were there! He was SO interested. We only got half way through our lesson because he had so many questions and just wanted to know so much!  Half way through the lesson he asked us if there is a Baptism to be a member of our church. We were like ummm..YES! Then he asked where our church is and said he would try his hardest to come tomorrow, but he didn't know if he could, but for sure the next week. Sadly he didn't come yesterday, but I really hope next week! I have never had an investigator ask to come to church. It usually takes like 10 invitations and a member picking them up and going with them. I am SO glad that we talked to Manny 2 weeks ago. We had walked past him and then felt like we should go back and talk to him and what if we hadn't?! He is so ready for the gospel!
Then there is the Malacad family- Arnel and Josaphine. I talked about them last week, but this week we were able to also teach their 18 year old son. He was so interested in our message and was super excited about the pamphlet we gave him. Their family is super awesome! They read the pamphlet we gave them last time and read in the Book of Mormon! I am so excited for all of them! I just love all of our investigators and hope that they will keep progressing!
It probably sound like everyone is receptive because I only really talk about the receptive people, but we have a lot of really hard situations here is Legazpi. One of the hardest things that we see all the time is with people who are really strong in other faiths. We have had 2 Investigators tell us that they KNOW that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church and the know the Book of Mormon is true, but they just aren't willing to give up their life in their church. That is their life- their friends, their job, its what they do and they don't want to give that up. It breaks my heart.
Best thing ever! So do you know the Gentleman song and dance? It came out after I left, it is really big here and i'm sure you all know it and have seen the video and I just sound like an idiot. But all the kids sing it and do the dance here. So we stopped by a members house on Tuesday to ask where a family lived and I got their two adorable little boys to do it for me and then they got these tennis rackets and did a performance for me! They sang some song I didn't know and did air guitar! SO CUTE! I videod some of it! I'll send a picture of them too!
One of my favorite people here is Brother Eddie. He is the President Guanzons brother and he lives with them right now. He is a recent convert to the church. He is halarious and is always joking around with the missionaries. He drove me and Sister Feinga home from the Guanzons the other night and we made this whole plan how I am going to design a house here in the Philippines for my vacation home so I can come back and visit all the time and he will live in it and be the groundkeeper when I am not there! We made a "pangako" so now its legit and it has to happen!
So we get fed all the time! On Tuesday we had two dinner appointments in a row and then tonight the same thing! Then the Guanzons feed us every time we go there! Then the Elders took us to lunch today and ordered us all this food and payed for it all! Good thing we walk a lot, or I would be huge! Too much food here in the Philippines.
We got transfer announcements this week and Sister Marila will be leaving our apartment tomorrow. I'm going to miss her so much! So we will be getting a new sister for Sister Mataele's follow up. Hopefully she will be as fun as Sister Marila!
I figured out that I have taught 123 lessons since I have been in the Philippines! I still struggle to say exactly what I want in Tagalog, but each day it gets a lot better! Each day I improve a little more. I have so much to learn, but I just have to look at how far I have come! So many phrases are becoming natural and I hardly ever speak strait English. In fact when I talk to the Senior Couple missionaries, who don't know any Tagalog I have a really hard time because I can't use any Tagalog and some words have just become so automatic.
Now I know what a Typhoon feels like! It hasn't stopped raining today and yesterday! The streets by our apartment have turned into rivers. It just POURS. It is crazy. I love it, except for when we have to walk through the mud in the jungle to teach. It is fun to watch though when we are in the apartment. It has been pretty cool because of it and I was cold when we were outside earlier. I am going to die when I get back to Utah in the winter. I'm pretty sure it was still 70 degrees and I was cold.
I really love my mission so much! I have just been happy to be here this week! I love the growth from the hard times, I love the appreciation I am gaining for friends and family at home, I love the Sisters in my mission, I love all the missionaries, the culture, the people, our investigators, the ward members, the food, the rain, and just everything! I can't believe how fast the time is going!
I love you all so much! Thanks for all the support! Magmiss kayo!!! Mahal Kita!!!
-Sister Gardner
Getting ready for Bday party in our apartment

Elder Bday Party

Mayon Volcano

Doing the Gentleman dance


Magangang mga pamilya at kaibigan ko!!
This week was overall really good...I still miss all of you so much, but I am so happy here and loving every minute! I have just had to realize that it is okay to miss all of you and enjoy my mission at the same time! My ear is better! Sister Guanzon told me some medicine to buy and once I took it, it went away within 4 days. Lets see... so I have become the designated chef for our apartment! I love cooking! I cook breakfast, lunch or dinner whenever I can for the Sister's in our apartment or help Sister Marila. They love your recipes mom! I am going to need some more! I am also teaching myself how to play the piano. We have a piano in our apartment so after planning at night I get ready for bed really fast and then practice the piano for 15 minutes. I really bad...but at least I am learning. I feel bad for the other Sister's in the apartment that have to listen to the awful sounds coming from down stairs.
This week we had trainer and trainee workshop. I got to see my entire batch! It was so good to be all together and talk with the people from my MTC district. We were laughing about all the good times at the MTC. We seem to all be experiencing about the same things. That was good to know. One thing about the workshop that really stood out to me was about just loving your investigators. President Guanzon said that if you ever feel inadequate as a missionary, just think about what you can do to help your investigators. That has really stuck with me this week.
After the workshop we traveled to Oas for exchanges. Definitely the nicest apartment I have seen so far...they have hot water. I didn't know that existed in the Philippines. Oas is really far from everything, but so beautiful. They are just rice fields for miles with beautiful views of the Mayon. While we were working with the other Sister's, we mostly did contacting referrals because it is a new area (open area). That was fun because it really gives you a chance to talk to a lot of people. They aren't really addresses in the Philippines- so finding specific people is just basically walking around and asking if people know them and where they live. My favorite moment in Oas was the sunset! So me and Sister Dumas (my companion in Oas) were sitting outside teaching a less active member and the sun was setting over her rice field. The sky was hot pink and orange and SOOOO MAGANDA! I was freaking out...but still I only have a broken no picture. Those moments make me so thankful that I am serving my mission in the Philippines. The sunsets are worth the brown outs.
So now about some of the people we are teaching. First the Alanis family! They are so awesome! The dad is less active and the mom is an investigator. They have 2 kids- 9 and 3 years olds, both girls. They live in a home that is on stilts over the water- I get nervous every time that I am going to fall through the floor, but it is awesome! The mom is very difficult! She is very stubborn and has so many questions. She believes that our message is true, she just wants to know everything before she even considers being baptized. Then the dad has amazing desires for his family. We asked his what he wants for his family- he said he wants them to be sealed in the temple. He told us he wants to become active again and be a better example for his wife. His actions just aren't at all in line with his desires. I really hope that we can activate Tatay and the heart of Nanay will be softened. They are sooo nice and fun! The Tatay loves it when we visit them.
Then there is Josaphine and Arnel Malacad. They are another couple. They have 3 children that are 14, 16, and 18. They are soooo nice! They were a referral from our bishop. My companion and her old companion had taught them once, but hadn't gone back- so me and Sister Feinga went back yesterday. We taught them about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They were so receptive. We invited them to be baptized if them come to know that these things are true on September 28th. The dad, mom, and youngest daughter accepted! The dad has been sick and just got out of the hospital, so he said as soon as he can he wants to come to church. They live very far, but I am so glad that we went to visit them! The spirit was so strong the entire lesson!
On Saturday we went to teach a 9 year old boy who is a recent convert, Mark Joseph. We taught him on the roof of his house! So beautiful. He lives on the top floor of this really tall house in the middle of rice fields. I died when we went on the roof. You can see all of Legazpi. It was so beautiful, again, wish I my camera worked!
This is the best thing ever...but also kind of scary. So we have 2 new investigators at the Guanzon's house! Their cook, Millet, and their guard, John. So we get our Mission President and his wife as our member's present in our lessons! So we went there for the first time on Friday. They live in this crazy nice nieghborhood while the mission home is being built. Their house is on this hill that has views of the Mayon on one side and then the beach on the other. It is unreal! So we went there thinking we were teaching the guard and got all prepared for our lesson with him and then he wasn't even we taught Millet. We taught her lesson one. I was terrified! We just sit down and Sister Guanzon is sitting with us. So scary! It actually went really well! It was far from perfect, but by far the best I have ever taught lesson one and the most Tagalog I have ever used! I guess the pressure was good for me. Millet is very shy so we couldn't get much out of her, but she came to church on Sunday with the Guanzons! We were so happy! We will go back and teach John and Millet on Tuesday. So one lesson with Sister Guanzon...and one with President. I'm already preparing! After the lesson they fed us a Merienda (snack)- so I am thinking there will be a lot of those in the next couple of weeks.
So today we had a district activity for p-day! We went to the Zoo and then to lunch and shopping. The zoo was pretty lame. The only cool thing was the Tiger and Crocidile. But the cage for the tiger was tiny and he was it just made me depressed. I'm going to think of something was more fun to do next transfer. Hopefully it will be a zone activity. Our zone lost this time for a zone activity by one point to the Tobacco zone. So you people with google...if you ever find anything fun to do in Legazpi let me know! It was nice to just go out and have fun though (and wear normal clothes). Oh and while we were grocery shopping like an hour ago, we got a new investigator. I asked one of the workers where the eggs were and he was so amazed that I knew (some) Tagalog and he started following me was weird...but I talked to him and found out that he has siblings that are members of the church. He lives in Sister Feinga and my area so we are going to go visit him and teach him next week! It pays to be an American.
So this week I started to read "The Fourth Missionary" again. It has really helped me. I am trying to work on just becoming a better missionary overall and giving all my time to this work. Some of the things in the fourth missionary that have really stood out to me are- That I have a choice with everything- how my day goes, how I feel, how successful my mission is, and who I am. If I choose to be happy now- I will be happy in the future. I doesn't do me any good to think I'll be happy next transfer, or in a certain area, or once my mission is over, or once I know the language. I can choose to be happy now and then no matter what I will be happy in the future. That can go with any quality. It there is something you want in the future- you have to work on that quality now. Dilligence, patience, etc. The next is that my heart has to be in the work for ME to benefit. Others may benefit from my message, but if my heart is not in it, I am just going through the motions and I will not be changed after the year and a half. I am really trying to make sure I am constantly thinking about my investigators and what I need to learn in order to teach them. "For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God." There is no point in being a missionary if you are not going to put your whole heart into it and do it with a smile on your face.
Let's see what are some cultural things- I will try to include some every week. I have had wayyy to much Jolley Bee for my own good. Whenever we go on transfers the Sisters want to go out for lunch and of course we got to Jolley Bee and then there is one really close to our apartment- so when we are out of food we go there. They measure kilometers by how close the next Jolley Bee is. When we are going far to exchanges the signs on the side of the road tell you how close you are to the next Jolley Bee and that is how you know there is a city coming up. Everything feels normal here already, so I can't think of anything weird. Basically everything here is bizarre and wonderful! We are eating balut as an apartment on that should be fun and nasty. Maybe I will like it this time...not very likely.
Mahal kita! Until next week!
-Sister Gardner

Pday at the Zoo.

Pday at the Zoo