Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy P Day!

My week was good! I am happy and healthy! I don't think I have gotten sick yet. I had one bad day a few months ago. I had a warm head and was shivering, but I went to bed early and it was gone the next day:) The Lord doesn't want us to be sick, so all will be well with us missionaries!
Sounds like everything is going swimmingly in Phoenix! I am sad I couldn't help pick weeds or come to Megan Woods’ baptism but I am sure you all had fun:)  I think it is funny that you talked about the wanna-be hoodlums you found at the Mall. It seems like they are everywhere! They even have some in Russia.  

That is so exciting about Zade’s call! The Asuncion mission sounds familiar... who else was called there that we knew? I think maybe somebody got called there a few years ago:) 

My companion is great:) He knows Russian really well. Turns out his whole family was part of the sword fighting association! Family traditions are the best:) 

I am glad that you got my birthday video for Grandma Gardner! I wanted to do something for her but I didn't know what to do:) I am so glad to have great friends here who love to help. They are all so sweet:)
I am a bit jealous that Mom and Cameron are going up to Utah in a few weeks! But then again, it is colder there than it is here. Maybe I am the lucky one! We had some light snow 2 days ago and yesterday it rained. ALL DAY. We had a 5 minute walk to the church and I managed to step in enough puddles to soak both shoes and socks before getting to the church:) Luckily we take off our shoes at church so those could dry, and my socks dried quickly enough to not bother me:) Because it rained so much, the power went out during our sacrament meeting. Our piano is an electric keyboard so we lost our music during the middle of our sacrament hymn. We all kept singing, and went on with the meeting:) I think we even sounded better acapella.
One of the people who was supposed to speak yesterday, forgot that he had a talk so guess who gave one of the talks. ME! Our Branch President, Elder Veselov, asked me if I wanted to speak. I looked at him and said "Well..... if I have a choice... not particularly" Haha he just laughed at me. When he asked me to speak, he had already made up his mind. He told me I was going to speak and let me prepare for the next 5 minutes before the meeting started. Wonderful! I spoke about the power of the Priesthood and it ended up being about 20 minutes.  Not bad! I remember one time in Sacrament meeting Dad leaned over to me telling me that as a missionary I should always be ready to share a spiritual thought in church. Turns out he knew what he was talking about.  Maybe Dad isn't crazy after all!
We went out walking on a frozen lake this week with one of our members:) K______!  We visited his Dacha (little summer home/cabin) His is about 10 square feet but some of them are as big as real size houses! Pretty cool:) People live there sometimes, his is just for fun in the summers.  There was a ton of stuff frozen in the lake! This is a car hood! haha we found the rest of the car a hundred feet away:)

I am sad to hear about Sister Miller! That is so unexpected, I cannot even begin to imagine how her family must feel. My heart goes out to them. If there is any way I could possibly help, even from Russia, please let me know. If there is anything I know,  I know that God knows us and loves us. We are literally His children and He knows what problems we face in life. Jesus suffered for all of our pains and afflictions in this life. We must turn to him for help and he is there for us. Always. The 4th verse of How Firm a Foundation is one of my favorites:)

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

 I love you all and miss you! Stay frosty:)


Elder Gardner

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Always an adventure!

Hey there,
I am glad to hear from you! I am doing good. Please give my love to the ward, I miss them all.  I know you were teasing me about "the spirit" keeping me warm, but I heard of one missionary out here who served in -40 degree weather and only ever wore an overcoat, like something a businessman might wear... or maybe a flasher might wear that kind of coat. But that was all that he wore for his wintery stay in Russia! What a real man.

I have started to understand why you enjoy cleaning... or maybe I shouldn't say enjoy… Why you find it so necessary. If nobody cleans, stuff gets dirty. I can’t eat breakfast in the morning if I don’t wash my bowl, so that is very good incentive to wash the dishes.

Thanks for the photo of you guys on South Mountain.  I always enjoyed a good hike up South Mountain! The view is pretty great. Did you know there is a big rock house even farther up the mountain? I have never been to it, but I know if you get to the top of the trail and follow the road to the left, you can get to it that way:) I am happy to see the desert and dirt and rocks again.  I miss it.

I am very jealous of your weather! It sounds fabulous :) I hope Brent and Jodie are doing alright in upper NY.   Did they ever make up their minds if they were going to fly over here and move closer to the family? I faintly remember that being a possibility. 

Those chips I am eating are Crab flavor. The K is a K. The P is an R. The A is an A. The lower case B is a B:) Fun Russian language!

Those little burrito taquito thingies are bread with orange jam in the middle and sugar sprinkled on top! Super tasty:) The girl wanted my crab chips more than anything haha! I gave her some but she was insatiable. 

Russian Libraries have the covers of a lot of books flipped out like this. Weird.
The teaching is alright. We have been in a bit of a lull. There are very few people on the streets especially at nights. It’s okay, that just means we have to work more with less actives and planned meetings are our best bet. The weather definitely hurts our street teaching, but if they stop to talk with us it means they are very interested! It helps us weed out the weaklings and the less interested people who might waste our time. 

My companion is good. He played Magic the Gathering. It is kinda like Yugioh/Pokemon/Dungeons and Dragons. It is a card game based on monsters and magic and stuff:)  He explained it a little bit to me. Sounds fun:) He also was a part of SCA. It is basically medieval sword fighting. They give you real armor, or you can make it yourself and you go have full body contact sword fighting. If you get hit in the head then you "died" or if you get hit in the arm during the battle you can't use that arm. I saw a little video and it is pretty intense... like they go hard.. sounds pretty cool:) His name is Elder Murphy. He is from Tucson! 

We helped a babushka this week move some firewood and she gave us some bread and jam as payment.   Super tasty!  We also had some people yell at us on the streets.  This old guy yelled at us saying "You monsters! Mormons are the worst!"   I felt embarrassed for him; people were giving him weird looks. It is always fun here.   Always an adventure  Можно Сказать. (Translates to:  “you might say.” )
I miss you! Stay Frosty:)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Colder and Colder


 Dear Family and Friends,

Aww, I don’t have a Valentine this year! Oh no! It’s okay; my new companion will be my valentine.

Wow... 100 degree difference between Phoenix and Nakhodka is a lot! The wind is terrible ( So bad! Haha) Even though it has been cold, I have been plenty warm with just a regular suit and a big fluffy coat :) Some nights I put on my beanie but I look like a hooligan! I don’t like it.

I don’t want to say Pepsi is better than Coke, but I found a small vanilla coke for a higher price than a 2 liter of Pepsi.  whoops!
I fixed our broom with some ASU duct tape:) Good day!
I am so glad to hear that Michael and Carson and Chandler are all going out on missions. It is a fabulous experience! Michael told me today where he is going:) Way cool, I am sure he is going to have a blast.  I am glad to hear that Jean Hsu came back well. She was probably a big help in bringing people unto Christ. 

I got your package this week! Thank you so much for the tie! I LOVE IT! I am wearing it right now. I also love those taco seasoning packets. Those are the best gifts I could’ve gotten! Those will be very tasty.  Thank you :) 

Thank you for the pictures of Kreston playing baseball.  He looks great! I hope everything is good with them! Please send my love. My new companion reminds me a ton of Uncle Steve. My companion wears glasses, has spiked hair up in the front, and loves video games. He is very nice, very organized, and he speaks great Russian.  He is going to be fun to work with:)  Definitely different from Sayers but it will be okay. Elder Sayers is now serving with my companion from the MTC. Elder Hansen! Way cool. 
Beautiful View of Nakhodka
Dad, I hope your bills go well enough for you!  Wishing you luck from Russia! I am thankful for your wisdom that you share with me every week! It helps me:)

I don’t have a lot of time today:(  I am sorry!

I love you all!

Elder Gardner


Tuesday, February 3, 2015


It is so weird to think that 6 months is gone!  Already! Time seriously flies. I only get to write home about 75 more times. Haha,  weird. I am glad you enjoyed the stories!   I am trying to be better about writing home. Some of my emails in the past have been kind of LAME.

Would it be acceptable to wear this pink tie in front of Congress? I am actually curious:)  
I am glad that Ksenya is keeping you all so informed.   She showed me the text that you sent her about my hair. ha ha  I have been meaning to get a haircut for the past 3 weeks but we seriously don't have enough time - even on preparation days.  I got a haircut today, though and the lady after she cut my hair, shampooed it.  It was so weird.   I have never had somebody shampoo my hair for me. I got one haircut at the beginning of the Russia experience but that was about 3 months ago!  It was definitely time to get one. When I shook my head around I could feel my hair flopping from side to side. Fun stuff :)
I am so happy to be here in Russia. The people here are way nice, but some of the men here just stare at us. I don't know if they are intrigued, or maybe they are angry, or maybe drunk, or maybe just zoning out.... I can never be sure with these guys :) Nevertheless there is a lot I can learn from them! 

They don't have any high speed trains here in Russia, maybe 60 mph but that’s it.   The train took us past a way pretty frozen lake. We looked out across the lake to see people sitting on buckets with Sticks in their hands. They were ice fishing!  They sit there and fish through holes in the ice. Pretty cool!  I wouldn't wanna do it, doesn't sound like fun to go sit out in the cold.

I don't understand these prices. Both of these are 80 rubles. (About $1.17 U.S.)   One is a can. One is a jug! 
I am sorry about the police driving on our lawn, that is so dumb. They need to not be so rude. They sound very RUSSIAN. The Russian police do whatever they want. ha ha

Thanks for the update on our home teaching families.  I kind of miss home teaching.  We are like full time home teachers here on a mission. I hope they are doing well:) I am a little sad I haven't heard from any of them yet!

Mom asked why we were wearing socks at church.  It’s because everyone walks to church and our shoes would get the church muddy.  I love how we always take off our shoes:) It is very comfortable. Sometimes they even have soft slippers that you can wear around the house. They are called topichkee. 

I heard a way cool quote the other day, but I had to translate it from Russian so it might not be 100 percent accurate. It is by Max Lucado. He wrote that book "You Are Special". I remember Grandma Gardner gave it to me and she wrote a little note in it. That was so sweet of her, I used to always read it. Anyways the quote is "Any person who wishes to conduct the orchestra needs to turn his back to the audience". I thought of it in the sense that if we wish to be a leader and do something worthy of applause, we might have to go against the flow. We can't be blind sheep just following whatever happens. We also should try to avoid situations where the blind lead the blind. I am not sure exactly where I was going with this thought, but I hope it makes you think a little bit more about life, and our decisions we make every day. 

I love you all! I will be back soon enough! I miss you!

Ryan Gardner