Monday, June 29, 2015

Korea again

(Dad's note:  This letter was from last week.  We were late in posting) 

I made it to Korea all safe and sound! I was only there the regular time. We didn't have any time to do a session or anything.  We got McDonalds like always :) One elder here bought 27,000 won worth of McDonald’s... like 2 Big Macs, 2 drinks, 3 fries, 3 wraps, a milkshake and he ate it all! Wow... haha pretty impressive :) We walked the streets of downtown Korea though for a few hours and that was nice. We met a couple cool people. Some French people and I said hello and asked them how they were doing, and then we had to go :(  We met a German lady in the airport and had a wonderful conversation with her :) I met a young couple from Florida who were coming back from an international college study abroad program kinda thing. They were pretty cool. We met a Russian lady who was interested in talking with us just so she could impart of her wonderful knowledge and enlighten us so that our souls weren't lost hahaa.
Everyone in Korea wears masks - so we got some, too.
Back in Russia later this week we also met a German guy who didn't speak Russian so we helped him find his restaurant that he needed. Not much happened though :(  Yesterday at church we had an older couple from Texas join with us.  They were in town for a few days and came to church. Apparently they follow some of the missionary’s blogs and are big fans of Russia. They said they are hoping to fly on out here and be Senior Missionaries when everything works out. That would be pretty cool! They were really great members. Although they didn't speak much Russian they sure tried! They have been studying for the past 2 years and it’s pretty cool. I can't remember their names but hopefully they come back soon enough. Not much else happened this week :(  It feels like I didn't do anything this week because I was in Korea for 2 days. Hopefully next week I can make something up to entertain you! I miss you all:)

 Our dinner 2 nights ago. Pasta, Rice, Chicken, Red pasta sauce

Happy Father’s day! I am so thankful that you are my dad! You’re a phenomenal example for me and you lead by example which is great. There are some parents out there who lead by saying "Do as I say, and not as I do" but you are different and that is fabulous :) I am grateful for the love you always show me and the support you give. It means a lot! I miss you and your tid-bits of wisdom each day. I always use phrases that you use like "Now were cooking with gas!" Or maybe I would quote the wisdom from that book you made for each of us kids. Very helpful :) Thank you! I love you and miss you! I am glad to hear that your throw up wasn't too much for you! I am kind of jealous that you had such a cool experience –ha ha.
I definitely want to go back with you all when I get off the mission.  Wreck dives sound like so much fun! I hope all is going well in Hawaii and hope you aren't missing me too much. I am not sure if I need anything from Hawaii! I don’t wear T-shirts very often... if at all. I think the chocolate might melt but if you want to send me something please feel free :) I miss you all! Hope everything is going good and you don’t get too sunburnt!
I miss you all,

Elder Gardner

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Hi!  My week was good! First week in a new city with a new companion and new opportunities! The transfer was a good transfer, pretty straightforward and simple!  Pack up my stuff, hop on a bus, ride an hour and a half to Irkutsk and start anew. I settled in pretty quickly and now the work begins. I feel like I didn't do enough in Angarsk!  I miss it already. I really wish I had the chance to stay longer in Angarsk, like Nakhodka. Oh well! Life goes on and the work keeps moving forward. 

Elder Grey - My New Companion
My new companion, Elder Grey is from Orem Utah and is doing really good. This is his 2nd transfer in Russia and he is getting a hang of the Russian language very quickly. It is always good during a lesson if I am not too sure what to say, I can turn to him and he testifies about what we are teaching and it is a really good team we have going here. As a Zone leader I don’t get a phone, only the Assistants to the President get a personal phone. I am in Irkutsk and the other Zone leader, my co-zone leader, is in Angarsk. It is weird being in two different cities but it works for now:)

Personalized Coke in Russia
 The coke bottle said that the coke was "For Good Guys" or maybe it could be translated "For Good Dudes". People always call us that name on the street. So that is how they refer to two weird-looking young guys in suits and ties.... I hope that helps clear it up;)
Picture taken at 10:00 p.m.  The sun is still up. 
I am going to Korea on Wednesday. Our flight leaves at 4:45 which means we have to be at the airport at 2:45... oh yeah... I forgot to mention that we are leaving 4:45 AM! Hahah should be a fun flight. The way the flights are scheduled, though, we should have enough time to actually be there for a little bit. Each time we went before, we flew in late at night. Hopefully we get to Korea early this time. 

We are losing about 10 missionaries this month. Quite a big drop in the missionary population but it will be alright. We are getting more missionaries in August or so! Sounds like a big party will be happening in August.

This week we were pretty successful when talking to people about the Church. We met a man on Wednesday. It was early morning as we were doing "C Schedule" and we were running low on time. We had to start heading back to our house and as we were walking back we saw a man who looked a bit darker. He didn't look Russian and we thought maybe we would talk to him, but when we looked at the time we saw that we didn't have enough time. As we were walking past him, I don’t know why, but I said hello. He had a blank look on his face and just said to us "English?" Haha We were super excited to hear that, we told him we spoke English and he was so relieved to hear it.

His name was Santiago and he was here for a week on vacation but he didn't speak any Russian. He was happy to speak to us and asked what we were doing here. We explained that we were missionaries and he said to us "Hold up, you are never going to believe this.. I was baptized into your church when I was 8 years old because of my Grandmother" Haha he lived in the Dominican Republic then moved to Europe to teach Spanish at a school and was on vacation in Russia when we met him. He had to go shortly after that, but we told him to find the missionaries wherever he is in the world because we are always ready to help him. We met a couple of other foreigners and spoke to them in English, which they thought was a big relief. There was one man from Peru, a young man from Switzerland and an old German couple also. They were all happy to find someone who spoke English and we even helped some of them find out which way they needed to go. It was a good week.

I am thankful for the chance to be on a mission and I hope you are all grateful to be where you are as well. There is a reason why you are where you are. Find that reason. Awaken every morning with a grateful heart and get some work done:) I miss you much! And hope everything is going good in the ‘Tuke!   And don’t forget to...

Stay Frosty,

Elder Gardner

Monday, June 8, 2015

19 Years Old!

I had a great week! Thanks to everyone for the Birthday wishes:) We ordered Papa John's Ranch Chicken pizza for lunch on Elder Brown's Birthday. We had some sushi for dinner and watched Mormon Messages. For my birthday, we had leftover pizza and sushi and it was a good couple days. We made some biscuits and gravy for breakfast and threw the left over hard biscuits out the window. Some birds flew in and tried eating the bread. I don't know who got the idea to fill up water balloons but before I knew it we had 3 or 4 balloons filled up and we were standing at the window overlooking the big groups of pigeons gathered around the bread. That's all I am going to say about that.... :) 

For our Birthdays, some pizza and some music:)

Sushi and Mormon Messages with Elder Brown
I have a bit of news. It is actually kind of sad. I am leaving Angarsk! It's alright though, because I am not going far. I am going to be serving in Irkutsk. That is the big cool city and I am very excited to be going. Elder Brown is staying here in Angarsk with Elder Lusk. Elder Cluff is going to Ussirisk, far away eastern Russia. Another bit of news, I am going to be serving with Elder Grey. He is new and I will be training him. I will also be a zone leader over the west zone of our mission with Elder Lusk. It isn't a big deal:) Zone leaders are regular missionaries still, they just travel more and have to communicate with more missionaries from all around the area. Elder Grey is a good elder, he has been in Russia a few weeks already and I will be taking over the last half of his training. Wish me luck! I have a lot of work coming up:) Oh, and Elder Grey is like... 6 foot 4 haha; he's a big guy:) Maybe I can get some tips on growing from him

Mom said President Perkinson talked about a group of people here, we call them Buryatskee people.  The Buryats are veryyy spiritual. They are mainly in Ulan-Ude (a city in our mission). That city is one of the best for missionary work. They are very faithful and they have one of the strongest branches there:) Great people!  But what you heard is true.   I have heard some pretty wild stories/ rumors about heavenly visitations in this part of the world. Pretty crazy:)

It is bitter-sweet to be leaving Angarsk. There are really special people here. They are full of faith, they love the Lord and serve in their callings with all their heart. I have made more friends here than in Nakhodka, so it is definitely harder to leave. I would willingly go back to either Nakhodka or Angarsk any day though.
I accidentally broke my red pen!  :(

 I am not too sure what to write this week! I miss you all:) I think I will send some pictures now! 

The Church is true and I Love You. 

Elder Gardner

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hey! What’s up? It is so weird to think that my birthday is in 3 days! I don’t feel any older:)  I feel still young and vibrant! It feels like I don’t have a birthday. We are always hurrying somewhere and rushing to do something. We don’t have a whole lot of time to think about birthdays and stuff :) Haha  
Yellow water coming out of our shower.  Yuck.  :)
I am glad you liked the pictures! I haven't sent any in a while :(  The Hare Krishnas are SUPER nice people. They are definitely a force for good in the world I just don’t really know what they believe in. They have interesting beliefs but strong morals and I think that is great. I didn't know their church was a worldwide thing! Pretty cool, if you see them make sure you say "Hare Krishna" as a hello. That is how they say hello to each other :) 
I had the pop rocks in my sumka (my bag) because I wanted to give the poprocks to some Russians on the bus ride over there. They have a form of pop rocks here but it isn't the same. All the people who tried them think they are the coolest thing :) 
At the Elder Nelson conference last week we all sang a version of "I know that my Redeemer lives". "Я знаю жив искупитель мой"  or Russian/English  "Ya znayoo zheev eeskoopeetel moi". It was really pretty! I decided the day before the conference that I didn't want to be bothered reading the words off a paper... so I memorized it :) Oh and I didn't know this either but Elder Nelson speaks a bit of Russian. He could bear his testimony in Russian. Pretty awesome!
I am not too sure why Elder Nelson was in Russia. After our meeting he flew on out to see Lake Baikal with President and Sister Brinton. Luckyyy! Elder Nelson was really complimentary of us. He finished his talk and stepped down from the podium and right before he walked out the doors he said two things to us. "Tell your parents I love them, and tell them thank you for sending us the very best". At most every zone conference or big training that we have with the missionaries and President Brinton they tell us how great we are as missionaries and they tell us we are the best. I don’t know if that is a common thing in missions, where the president and wife praise the missionaries openly :) But sure does help to keep us enthusiastic about the work... I kind of like it. haha   
We made cake.  Yum.
My week was overall pretty good. We had a baptism! Kristina, the one who loves Elder Brown, got baptized. She was making comments this whole week about how she was scared of the water and how she wasn't too pumped about being under the water for a long time. We kept assuring her that it would be quick – just down and up quickly and there would be no problems. When the member who was baptizing her put her under, her leg popped up. As you know, if she isn't completely underwater then you have to do the dunk a 2nd time. The member held her underwater hoping that one of the missionaries would push her leg down.  She started freaking out and came up gasping for air. She got all the way under on the first try but also was really scared. I am sure that now she is VERY scared of water! Wonderful.  hahah. All is well, she is baptized and next week she will receive the Holy Ghost. Missionary work continues in the Motherland. 
We also had a big training thing this week for the Presidency of our branch. There is a program on the computer called MLS and it is how the church keeps track of Tithing funds and so forth. We had to set that up this week so we went to Irkutsk, got the computer, brought it back to Angarsk, set it up, hooked up the router and got everything installed and yesterday was the training. A senior couple flew out from Novosibirsk to help us but the only problem is that they don’t speak Russian. Yesterday Elder Brown and I were at the church for 9 hours working nonstop trying to set up for the baptism, do some training, work on the tithing and stuff on the computer, take down the font for the baptism and so on... All the while translating for this senior couple. They are wonderful but boy was it a lot of work :) During the training the Russian people kinda just talked over one another and we had to try to translate their questions and conversations to English for the Senior couple and then translate the answer or instructions into Russian for our members and it was pretty hectic:) I love it!! Yesterday was a really good day:) 
I just have one bit of advice to give this week. We had some news come up within our branch, and now missionaries won’t be playing games with the members each Friday. It will now be the members’ responsibility to run our Game Night. As soon as we told our members, a few of them freaked out. They got very upset that such a change could be made without their permission and they were starting to make rude comments. It was kind of sad to see how quickly people could get insulted and upset - especially over such a small thing. Another example happened when we were setting up the baptismal font. We set it out and filled it half way up with water on Saturday night. If we tried to fill it all up on Sunday we wouldn't have enough time. We would fill it halfway on Saturday night and Sunday morning we would fill the rest with warm water to keep it from being too cold. One of the members came in all upset Saturday night. They demanded to know why we were filling it up a day early. It would get cold overnight they explained to us. They asked if we were trying to freeze Kristina and it was just a bit rude how they spoke to us. When the member heard the rest of our plan, they calmed down and all was good. These experiences reminded me of 2 scriptures in the New Testament:  James 1:19 and James 3:5
I hope we always are keeping our ears more open than our mouths. I can learn something new from EVERY person that I meet. I know that is true for each one of us and I urge each one of you to remember that:) I know we can be more happy and we will avoid contention a lot easier if we listen to the whole story before we talk.
I love you all! I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true Church of God on the Earth today. I miss you all :)

Stay Frosty

Elder Gardner