Monday, May 25, 2015

A Visit From Elder Nelson

This week was good!  It is hard to measure success sometimes here. We had less lessons than normal, and not as many new investigators but we were able to set a baptismal date with a man named V____. He is about 50 and lives alone here in Angarsk. He is way cool. So far we have only had one lesson with him but he seems very ready to accept the Gospel. 
The weather has been good, but we just found out this weekend that we should be wearing suit coats all the time unless the temperature exceeds 27 Celsius. (About 80 degrees F) 25 degrees Celsius is pretty warm so I think we will be getting a lot hotter here in the future. Thats okay though, just a tiny thing. Nothing to worry about.
We are moving into the last week of May! Wow... Then it will be June and Elder Brown's and my birthdays are soon :) His is June 3rd just like Jared. We are planning on having Sushi and Coke and watching some videos from "The District" as a special birthday treat :)
The sun is up all the time nowadays. I haven't seen the moon in a few weeks haha :) Right now the sun sets around 9:30 at night.  That's good though, because there are a bunch of hooligans running around.  Hopefully the sunlight will keep the hooligans from being silly.
Yesterday was the 24th here and was the 23rd for you guys. We had a pretty special day... I mean I don't want to brag but we spent the whole day with a pretty cool guy. He was with us for our Sacrament meeting and we had a missionary meeting afterwards.  At the end of our meetings, he said "Please tell your parents that I love them"... You may be wondering who it is... Oh, it was just my close and personal friend Russell M. Nelson.  He came down to say hi :) Haha yeah I am not too sure why he came down but it was way cool. I shook his hand 2 times!  It is pretty weird to see him from the side or from the back. Normally we only see his face when he speaks at General Conference. His wife is actually really cool, I never knew! She spoke to us for about 15 minutes before Elder Nelson spoke and she had great ideas. Really cool. For both of their talks during sacrament meeting there was a translator and that was cool being able to understand both in English and in Russian. Some of the sentences I would have translated a different way, but it was a cool experience nonetheless. It was a very sad weekend though, Since they leave in July, this weekend was probably the last time many of us will see President Brinton and Sister Brinton. I am sad to see them go but I am excited to have a new Mission President coming in. 
I am excited to hear about the new Lakewood Presidency (*He means Bishopric, but he has been dealing with Branch Presidencies)! I thought they just recently did some reorganizing.. maybe I am mistaken but I thought changes recently were made. 

Last week was a good week, but this week was pretty good too:) We go to feed homeless people every Tuesday, I don't know if I have told you. There is a church here called "Harry Krishna" or something like that, I don't know how it would be spelled in English. They are way nice people but they are a mix between Bhuddist and Christian and Hindu and its a bit weird. Super nice people though. They make good food too. Each week they feed us some soup, oatmeal, and tea and then we feed homeless people for an hour. Normally the homeless people are nice but sometimes they are SUPER impatient. They often bring jars with them and we can fill them up so they will have extra food for later in the week. Normally we will grab two jars from a person and go to fill them up but on the way we will get at least 5 more people shouting and holding jars up "Fill mine up!" We have to say "Hold your horses and we will be back in 2 minutes after we fill these jars". Some are very kind and thankful and that is such a blessing. It is always wonderful to work with nice people.  Those are the best kinds of people in all aspects of life :)

Serving the Hare Krishna
Oh and by the way, the jacket that I am wearing in the picture of me palming a basketball is new. I bought a cool track suit with Russia written on it. All the cool kids and hooligans here wear track suits so I got one!

By the way. I got my birthday package!! Super cool:) Thank you so much! I opened it up early I hope you're all right with that. We have a member here who was asking us the difference between a burrito and a taco. They don't have those here. He has never seen either one and we told him that we would make some. Now I've got that sweet taco shell gadget and some El Pato and we are making tacos this week:)

Elder Cluff saw the El Pato and asked "Why did your parents send you a random can of sauce?" And I was trying to explain to him that it was super good and we ate it often at home. Then Elder Brown came into the room, saw the can and got very excited "Elder Gardner! Do you know how much I love this stuff?! This is home for me! I ate this ALL THE TIME!" Hahah Elder Brown was very excited to see it again but Elder Cluff just didn't get it...  Thank you for the sauce:)   

This desk has a lot going on!
Korea will not be this week. We should have Kristina's Baptism later this week. She is doing good even though the Sisters are now teaching her. She still loves Elder Brown though... haha.  And I am not going to Korea the week after that. That is our birthdays. I think I have to go the next week:) That is my guess. 

Making Dinner in a bag! Chicken legs with vegetables and seasonings and cook it for an hour:) 
Real quick to end this letter, I heard a great joke from a Russian this week. What is similiar about a divorce in the Southern States of America and a tornado in the Southern States?  Both will take your trailer away from you:) Hahaha.  Those Russians think they are funny.  :)
I miss you all and hope you are doing good! You're in my prayers, and I hope youre all staying frosty.

Elder Gardner

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Warming up!

This week was a good week:)   I am so glad we got the chance to talk last week:) It was great seeing and Skyping with you all! A well deserved treat if I do say so myself. I am super happy. 
I had a busy travel week last week.  I left Monday night at about 6:30 pm.  I took a train to another town about an hour and a half away - that's where the airport is. At midnight we caught a flight to Khabarovsk, then had a few hours of layover before our flight to Vlad. We got there about 6:30 am. We expected to meet the other elders in the airport but they didn't show up until about 11 am -  haha - so we did some people watching :) There were about 100 sailors that marched into the airport with their rucksacks and uniforms and stuff. Pretty cool:)

Ironically, I never made it into the city of Vladivostok. From the airport I took another train to Artyom (the small city about an hour away from Vlad). I still don't know if there were any packages waiting for me at the mission office.  But when I called there I was told that there wasn't anything waiting for me. Hopefully next time! President Brinton is flying out to visit us this week so hopefully he will bring some mail if there is any. If the president doesn't bring anything then I can check again in 2 weeks when I go to Korea.  
Anyways, I worked in Artyom from Tuesday until Thursday and then Thursday night at 8 pm or so we started our flights back to Angarsk. This is probably all superrrr boring to read so I will stop there! Haha but you get the point. 9 hours of flying each way plus layovers and no real food to eat. Only Kit-Kats and Coke. Terrible: p

Crazy 4 am sunrise from the plane:)
Our work in Artyom was pretty average. We were on the street most of the day in the rain. Good thing I brought my blue jacket. It isn't waterproof but it helped:) We met a big guy who was probably 30 or so. He told us ALLL about his days in the Army and how he was the best shooter and this and that and we listened very intently. Russians tend to be able to talk... and talk... and talk.. hahaha it is really quite impressive I dont think I could talk for a long time about nothing like they do:)

The second day in Artyom(Wednesday) while I was getting dressed one of the elders told me that I had a rip in my pants. I took them off to look and it turns out I had a GIANT rip in my pants. Probably a foot and a half long. This went all the way along the back of my pants from the belt line and down. ahahaha I dont know how long that has been there! I hope not too long... I was wearing a jacket the day before, but who knows what the people walking behind us saw! Hahaha whoops:) There was a seamstress close by though so she fixed them for 100 rubles:) (About $2.00)

Ripped Pants!

I had to go to the seamstress dressed like this!
I am super jealous that you met with President Perkinson. He seems like a great guy! It is super weird to think that a ton of the people with whom I have been working will never know him. There are a lot of missionaries going home and they won't have a chance to meet him. Pretty crazy to think about.  I will have almost exactly a year to work with President Perkinson. I am excited!  Without any time to learn the language, I am sure they will be relying on us missionaries to help them understand what is being said.   I have been practicing my translating skills! Hopefully I can keep up and be a blessing instead of a burden:) 
You are right, there are not a lot of missionaries in our mission. I heard one time that our mission has the smallest ratio of missionaries per square mile. That means we have the most area to cover per missionary out of all the missions in the world!  I think it is great that President Perkinson is thinking about opening up Yakutsk.  I have heard the city is kinda like the Yeti. We hear stories about it from time to time but I don't know anybody who has ever been there. Of course everyone wants to go there and open it up but in reality there are little chances of it happening. I would love to go hahaha I have no clue what I would do if they asked me to go - but it sounds great!
We met a cool girl this past week too. Her name is Kristina and she is about 19 or so. We started teaching her the gospel and she was super interested. She was asking questions, coming to church, always asking when the next time we could meet was. Then we got the bad news. She loves Elder Brown... dang it:( Now we can't teach her. We gave her over to the sister missionaries and they teach Kristina now. Oh well, she still is super excited about the Gospel and has a desire to get baptized:) Hopefully she wasn't meeting with us just to get close to Elder Brown. We will find out!
Elder Brown and I went to Papa Johns today! Soup with tea and a calzone for 220 rubles:)  (About $4.50)  Great deal!

That's me palming a basketball haha.  I am super short but I kinda got big hands


Anyways, that is about it for this week:) I hope all is well at home, I miss you all <3
Stay Frosty 

Elder Gardner 


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mother's Day Skype!

*We got to Skype with Ryan for longer than we probably should have for Mother's Day!  His sister, Megan joined us on the call from Utah, so we were all connected, and his aunt Susie and cousins Kreston and Conner came over for the call. 

Ryan was calling from a library in Angarsk.  He looked and sounded great!  He said he's lost 20 lbs since arriving in Russia, but he is working very hard, and he is really enjoying his experiences there.   It was wonderful to see and speak with him!  We can't wait until Christmas to do it again. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Crazy Week!

I am doing good! This week was a pretty crazy week:) We sent home Elder Pack last week and this week a new missionary flew in from Vladivostok. His name is Elder Brown. I hate to say it but he isn't an Eagle... He is a Rough Rider! (Do you understand that reference Mom?)
He grew up in Pima, Arizona! Pretty cool guy. He played against Joseph City in football and he probably played against Austin at one point:) Small world!  

After we sent off Elder Pack, Elder Cluff and I cleaned the house and rearranged the furniture! It looks a lot better in our apartment:) We were alone for a few days and then Elder Luekenga (pronounced Lookingay) and Elder Brown came back. We got about 3 days of work in before Elder Luekenga received a call from President Brinton telling him that he got transferred. Random:)  Anyway, now Elder Luekenga is gone and I am with Elder Brown and Elder Cluff  is going to be with Elder Lusk. Everything got switched up, but President Brinton knows best:) I am sure we will find success despite the chaos!
Send my love to the Nakhodka branch! I miss them, it feels so weird. I was there for about 6 months but time just flew by!
Thanks for the photos of family.  I noticed Donna's arms in that picture! She is ripped! I need to work out harder here, maybe she could send me a workout plan:)
I have been bragging to everyone that my parents know the new Mission President and are going to breakfast with him:) Everyone is jealous! Haha that is so cool.

The weather this week was bad.  One day it was super hot, but we had to wear our suit coats and jackets. Our rule is that we wear jackets as long as the majority of people are still wearing jackets too. Super lame. Some of these old ladies wear their big heavy jackets literally all year round. They never take them off. Ever. Ha ha ha So one day it was hot, the next day it was raining and cold and windy. The next day it rained all night, the rain stopped in the morning and snow came down. Then it stopped snowing and it rained again. After that we had small snow balls, they looked like BB gun pellets. Almost like hail, but it didn't hurt. We were just sitting there thinking... "What the.... hail? (Read it quickly and it becomes funny:)) Hopefully the weather evens out pretty soon, we have been in the cold for long enough!
I can't wait to skype you for Mother’s Day! Hope everything works out! I miss you all and love you too:) Happy Mother’s day to all.

Elder Gardner