Monday, October 28, 2013

10/28/13 Happy Halloween!

Mga Pamilya at Kaibigan ko!

So this week was not super eventful, but a couple exciting things happened! First, we got Taysan back in our area! I was happy about that. Many of my favorite families and investigators are up there, so I am excited to visit them again! I also had my first senior companion experience this week! We had exchanges and the Sister Training leader decided to put me with her companion who is new and also a foreigner, so basically I led as far as the language. It actually went fine though! We had fun and the language wasn't a major problem. We were able to tract a super nice couple that I am excited to go back to. I think their goal is for one of us to marry their son, but I think that will change when we start teaching them! They agreed to read the pamphlet we left with them and said we were welcome back any time!
Now for the best news of the week! I think this was the best lesson of my mission so far, and it was even during exchanges, so no fluent Tagalog speaker-except for the member present! It was with John! We were super bold in answering many of his questions about baptism and he really opened up! So first when we asked him how his reading in the Book of Mormon went, he said that he knows that the book is true!!!! Then when we asked him how he was feeling about baptism he said he is 50/50. He said he knows that this is a very serious decision and he doesn't want to make the wrong choice. He also said there is a lot of pressure from him parents to be a strict catholic. We asked him how he felt about our message though and our baptism and he said he feels this feeling in his heart like it is full whenever we teach him or he prays or he reads the Book of Mormon. He said is trying to get an answer, but doesn't feel sure yet. We explained that prayers are answered through the Holy Ghost and to keep praying. He also told us during the lesson that he tells his wife everything we teach him and she is supportive. We are going to try and get missionaries to go to their house because it isn't in our area. For now though President Guanzon said to teach John at their house because he is there during proselyting hours. At the end of the lesson we all knelt and he prayed so sincerely. He asked so many questions about baptism and the spirit was so strong!!! I know that Heavenly Father is answering his prayers and he is receiving answers! I can't wait to go back this week and teach him!
What else...Oh! I saw my first open casket! So our investigators that are all sisters- their dad died. We went to go teach them and they said their dad passed away and then I guess here it is common courtesy to pay your respects by walking through their house (where they keep the casket with the body in it for at least a week). It was a bit unnerving. But I did not want to offend I stood there with my companion and talked to the sisters and stared at the body. My companion said I will probably experience that a lot here!
This week I realized how fast the time is going and how thankful I am for the knowledge I have gained so far about the gospel. I am so thankful for how much my testimony has grown in the last 4.5 months. I know I would not be who I am right now without my mission! I really am so thankful for it. It may be hard, but it is happy and fun too and I learn so much each day! 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Here in the Philippines they celebrate 3 days of the dead where they sleep at the graves of their ancestors and eat a lot of food. Us missionaries have early curfew, so I will be making Chili for the other Sisters in my apartment and wishing they had pumpkins here. Anyway, have a good week and a Happy Halloween! Have fun watching scary movies and going to haunted houses! Two of my favorite things! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

-Sister Gardner


This week I really learned patience. Patience with other missionaries, patience with our investigators, patience with the language, and mostly patience with myself. I can't learn and do everything all at once, all I can do is my best and the Lord will make up for the rest.  As far as Tagalog, it is far more important to have the spirit than to get all your ng, ang, na, ba, and po's right. The scripture that got me through the week was "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us."  Sometimes a mission can feel like it is never going to end and you feel like you are going to be here forever (somedays that is a happy thought, somedays not so much), but if we are patient we can make it through each day and each stride and at some point we will look back and wonder how we ever made it to where we are. I also know from this week that happiness is a choice. Despite our circumstances we can choose to put a smile on our face and see the good. Despite the stress and pressure of the week, I chose to be patient and happy and even though some days pushed me to my limit, I made it through and still managed to keep a smile! This week during some down time due to my companion being sick I did two things- 1. Made a list of all the things I am thankful for on the mission and before the mission. It made me realize how much I really do have to be thankful for and how happy my life is compared to so many others. Many of those things were trials and things I have learned from them. It helped me realize trials are SUCH a blessing and so good for our lives, we just have to endure through them and do our best to stay positive. 2. I read many of the letters I received from the MTC and here in the Philippines and realized how amazing of a support system I have. Even though I miss all the people that wrote the letters, I feel so blessed to have so many people that care for me and will be there when I come home!
So we had a lot of really good lessons this week! We were finally able to reach Julie about marriage (our investigator who comes to church every week for 4 years, but can't be baptized because she isn't married). She said she really wants to be married and understands why it is important and we decided on December and planned everything from who will take care of food, ceremony, and of course I made her pick colors! She was so excited it was so cute!
So then John, he told us he knows that the Word of Wisdom is true and he has been trying his best to live it. Coffee has been his problem, but he said he has cut back a lot and will keep trying! Pero, he really wasn't understanding baptism and the priesthood authority that our church has. We taught him about baptism again and he said he had a lot to think about and that he would pray again to know if this was the ONLY true church.
Then Estrella- I feel so bad for her! She wants to become a member of the church so bad, but her husband is so against it. We brought 2 of the Sisters from relief society with us and they were able to really touch her and help her in a way that us youngsters can't. I hope Tatay's heart will soften!
So we went to visit Angelica and Martin again, but only Angelica was there- but it was such a powerful lesson and the spirit was so strong! We taught about the Book of Mormon. When I bore my testimony, I'm not sure I even knew my testimony was that strong about the Book of Mormon. I was full on crying and I told her I wanted her to know this book was true because it would change her life. She said she wants to know too. She told us that she is confused. She thought she knew which church was true, but now she is confused and doesn't know. That is a good thing for us missionaries! Now she will have to make a choice!
So we have been teaching Gino almost every other day to be ready for his baptism. He gets distracted too easy so we have to teach just a little each time. I think it is hilarious how distracted he is.  haha. Typical 9 year old. My companion doesn't think its so funny.
This week we kept going to appointments and they would fall through so we did a good amount of tracting in the neighborhood close to our church. We actually were able to find a lot of awesome people! A couple from Japan that we will teach in English! I'm excited about that! I love seeing people's faces when they look out and see a white girl standing at their gate yelling "Tao po!"
So for the sad news...Ella May's boyfriend said we can't teach her anymore. She said she was so sad and so sorry, but that she will keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying. I will miss her a lot! Pero, there is a happy side! She said she is moving to Manila away from her Uncle/boyfriend! YAY! We will try to refer her to the missionaries there!
So a total Rita moment this week that made me laugh. So we are at the mall for district lunch on Thursday and there is a store full of Teddy Bears and all the Sisters in my district (all Filipina) were dying- saying sooo cute and that they wanted one. hahahaha. I was laughing so hard. Rita would have loved that store. It made me realize that I truly am in Asia haha.

That is all I have! I miss you all like crazy- but the time is going to fly! Hopefully I will become fluent in the time and change a few lives in the meantime! MAHAL KITA!
-Sister Gardner

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Another week! Friday will mark 1/4 of my mission! I can't believe it! So I have a new companion- Sister Dumas. She is from Manila. She is a really awesome teacher and I know I will learn a lot from her! It is me and all Philippinas in the apartment now, so that means Tagalog 24/7 and lots of rice. It is a lot different than before, but it is good and I know I will start learning more conversational Tagalog now, which is for sure my weakness with the language.
Transfers are hard because you finally get used to everything and everyone and then it changes. I am leading the area now, so it is a lot of pressure to keep track of everyone in out area and plan the time wisely so we can visit them all, but it is a great opportunity!
So the lesson that stands out the most this week was with Angelica and Martin. They live at the top of the neverending hill and are an amazing couple with a darling baby. They are both super into running and are in really good shape- i'm sure part of it is due to the hill they have to climb to their house multiple times a day. Anyway, we were teaching them about the First Vision and the spirit was SO strong and then all the sudden a GIANT snake comes into the house. It was terrifying. But seriously, how ironic- a snake comes in in the middle of such a powerful spiritual moment. It is something I will never forget. After Martin attempted to kill the snake with his machete- the snake went back into the jungle and we continued on. I could tell that Martin was really feeling the spirit and he expressed such a sincere thank you when we gave him a Book of Mormon, and at the end of the lesson he gave an amazing closing prayer. Angelica on the other hand is a little more difficult. Her dad is a pastor for the Seventh Day Adventise church, so she had a lot of questions. We were able to answer each one though with proof from the Bible, eventually she was confounded and had no more questions to ask. She said she has a lot to think about. They both committed to pray about our message though, I can't wait to go back and see how their prayers went. They are so special, no wonder the "snake" had to interrupt such a powerful moment.
So by far the best thing about this week was General Conference. All of the talks were so amazing! My companion was sick this week and so I had a lot of time yesterday after conference to ponder the talks and I am just so uplifted and strengthened because of them. There were so many distinct themes through all the talks and so many things that the General Authorities are trying to tell us. Some of my favorite talks were Christofferson's about the role of women, Ballard's about missionary work and how we cannot fail if we do our best, Oaks about priorities, Eyring's and of course Monson's. They were all so good and I can't wait to get the Ensign and study them! If you didn't watch all of conference, go back and watch it! It was so inspiring!
Sorry I don't have much to say this week, transfer week is mostly just readjusting. It was a good week though and I am so thankful to have this time to completely give myself to service and love the people in my area!
I love you all so much! You mean the world to me! Have an amazing week! MAHAL KITA!
-Sister Gardner

10/7/13--Transfer Day is Coming

4 months down! Mabilis ng horas!
This week was so good! Definitely one of the best weeks of my mission so far! My companion- Sister Feinga is going home and I think her leaving made me realize how much I don't want to leave anytime soon. As she said goodbye to all the members and our investigators I was so glad that I didn't have to say goodbye. I didn't realize how attatched I am. So transfer day is tomorrow. I will get my new companion! I will be leading the area here in Legazpi! I am a little scared, but super excited. Our area will be split. Our teaching pool has become so big that we weren't having enough time to visit everyone, so the Elders took some of our area because their teaching pool was small. I am sad because that is where my first baptisms would have been. An 11 year old boy and the Malacad family, pero okay lang- the Elders will do a great job and we will be able to focus on our progressing investigators in the rest of our area and find more people to teach!
Sister Mataele will be transferred and so my buddy in the apartment will be gone. I think that is going to be pretty hard for me, but I am glad that we were able to become such close friends and it will be fun to see her later on in the mission! Elder Collado is also getting transferred out of our district. He will be missed for sure! He was the best district leader. I never though transfers would be hard in the mission, but is a lot harder than I though. You get close to people really fast in the mission and it's hard when everything changes.
Because Sister Feinga is going home and Sister Mataele is being transferred everyone in our ward wanted to feed us. We had at least one dinner appointment each day. Too much food this week! Last night we had 2 dinners in a row. The Nelsons took us to Sina Una on Saturday. They are so nice! I am glad I am staying in the same area. Then me and Sister Mataele made 2 legit meals because it was Sister Feinga's birthday. For breakfast we made crepes, hashbrowns, eggs, and fried rice and then for dinner we made mashed potatoes and ribs with this sauce and apples. Top Chef status. Mom, you would be so proud! I am learning how to cook actual meals!
So on Tuesday we had MLC and then Zone Training on Friday. They raised the standards of excellence, which I am actually excited about. I know we can teach a lot more lessons as a mission and find more investigators each week. I am excited to try and reach the goals. This week I really just gained a desire to work my very hardest.
This week we had an awesome lesson with John (Our investigator at the Guanzons). We taught him the Word of Wisdom. He was so thankful for the lesson. He kept telling us how thankful he was and how he would try his hardest to follow it. He is so amazing. He already has such a strong testimony. We are still working on getting him to church and figuring out his work schedule. He reads everything we ask him to and always participates in the lessons! GOLDEN! So then there is Ella May- I talked about her last week. She is so awesome!!! She always reads and she always tells us she wants to make it to the Celestial Kingdom- there is just one problem we found out this week...Her boyfriends is her that will be a fun one. Our Zone Leaders were making fun of us because we have the most complicated problems with our investigators. It would take me too long to tell about all of them. We decided though that there needs to be 'The District- Philippines edition' because nothing prepares you for a mission here. Just expect the unexpected. We got a lot of new investigators this week! My favorite in Ginolane- he is 9 years old, his parents are less active. Teaching little kids is so nice because I can just keep it simple. He will be baptized on November 9th! Probably my first baptism! This week I was on exchanges with a Sister that used to be assigned in my area. We decided to go visit someone she had OYMed to when she was here. I am so glad we did! First of all, the view was amazing, we climbed this neverending hill and then the view was of the Mayon and the city. But they were so awesome! They are anxious for us to come back! They are a young couple with a new baby. They are super nice and already were saying they want to cook for us. I am so excited!
So this week was super awesome! I wish I had they time to talk about all of our investigators and all the members each week, but there are too many of them! I miss you all so much! Love you!! MAHAL KITA!
-Sister Gardner

9/30/13--Don't Eat Balut!

Mga Pamilya at Kaibigan ko!!
This was the week of being sick- but it was still a good week, so that's okay! First I have a nasty ingrown toenail that is just annoying, but all the missionaries say it hurts worse to get them removed so I am trying to let it heal. Then we ate balut on friday- I forgot how nasty balut is. Last time I said I would never eat it again- then I was an idiot and ate it again. Now for real, NEVER again! I almost threw up so many times- you can tell how nasty by the lovely pictures. Then I got the cold that has been going through all the missionaries! So yesterday after church I laid in bed all day missing parents that take such good care of me when I am sick! Luckily the Office Elders came to the rescue with a package from home! The red vines were crazy delicious! All I needed was some Mr. Pibb (name that song). Then later on, our neighbors/ my second family- the Derosans heard I was sick and brought over dinner! I am so well taken care of here and I am so thankful to be surrounded my such amazing people! It makes the homesickness a lot easier!
So this week was family week in our Stake. They had activities all week for the families and that had an ongoing exhibit about family history at the mall with performances by members. We got to go one night and oh my gosh! This little chubby, short primary girls was shimmying- yeah I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! The families in our ward are so awesome though. It made my miss my cute family.
It has been super rainy this week! One day it flooded a lot of the streets in our area and so we were walking through rivers basically to get to our appointments. Only in the Philippines!
I am officially losing it. I think everyone knows how much I don't like David Archuleta's music. So he has a song- miracles- that we can listen to and me and Sister Mataele sing our hearts out. It is my favorite song right sad. It is the most upbeat song that we have in our apartment so I replay it all the time. We do the Mariah Carey/ Christina Aguilera hand motions while we sing it. It's pretty awesome...
We have a new investigator who is GOLDEN! Ella May! Holy Cow! She is so interested and has so many questions! Finally someone who wants us to be teaching her! She reads all of the assignments we give her and more! We taught her 3 times this week and she was upset because we couldn't go teach her everyday! She accepted a baptisimal date in November! Our lessons are soo long with her because we spend most of the time answering her questions. Better than the short lessons with no questions! I am so excited about her!
The other Sisters in our district had a baptism that we got to attend. Lenny. She is so awesome! She had only been being taught for 5 weeks. She already has such a strong testimony and is going to be such a strength to our ward. The spirit was so strong at her baptism and she was so excited! I want that for all the people we teach!
Today we had our district activity! It was so much fun! I love my district so much! We went bowling and guess what! I won! Out of our whole district...I thought I sucked at bowling. I guess not! Then we went to this was nice restaurant called Sina Una. Holy cow- the mango crepe was unreal! Next p-day I think we will be back.
This week I really noticed the power of prayer. Prayer is so amazing. When we think we can't go any further or when we just really need something or comfort we can get down on our knees and pray to our Heavenly Father, the person who knows us best and who loves us more than anyone. He ALWAYS answers. All it takes to know this church is true is a prayer. I am constantly amazed when I ask investigators how their prayers have gone and they tell me they know Joseph Smith it a prophet, or the Book of Mormon is true, or the church is true- simply because they were willing to humble themselves enough to ask God.
I have also learned a lot about the love of God for his children. The whole reason he has sent me here is because he loves me and he loves his children in the Philippines. He loves me enough to give me this change to go and he loves his children in Legazpi that he has sent missionaries to them to bring them happiness. I am striving to show that love to the people here.
I miss you all so much, pero alam ko po na ang Simbahan ni Jesucristo ay totoo at dahil mahal ko ang Tagapagligtas ko gusto ko na maglinkod yung mga tao dito sa Legazpi at magbahagi ako sa kanila paano pwede sila maging sobrang masaya dito sa mundo at pagkatapos ang buhay na ito. MAHAL KITA!!!!
-Sister Gardner