Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Half Way Mark

It is weird that I am half way through my mission this week!  
I might have written that we were struggling to find people to talk to, but I don't actually remember if our weeks were rough two weeks ago... I honestly can't. I remember we couldn't find anyone to meet with us but if thats my biggest problem then I have life pretty easy:) This week we had lots of people to meet with which was cool but I guess not the most important thing in life.
Elder Gray is no longer training so he is officially a real missionary now! In our mission, being Zone Leader and District Leader and such isn't a big deal. People get switched around all the time. I don't expect to be Zone leader for long, and I don't care too much haha. I feel like there is just a higher standard that every one is held to around here. Everyone should be ready to do what it takes to ensure the success of those investigators we know and love and even those we don't know or haven't yet grown to love.  
 President Perkinson is great:) He has a good way of running things.  He helps us all understand our goal and shows us what we should go to achieve it.  He is trying to cut down on expenses recently. Apparently we spend a lot of money out here haha with Zone meetings and flights all across the eastern half of Russia and stuff. I am not going to Vlad this month for Missionary Leadership Council. So the only Zone leader responsibilities I have fulfilled recently... well two weeks ago I got a call from President asking how the West Zone was doing. We had a 10 minute talk about that and thats it:)    It really helps that all the missionaries know what needs to get done and they don't need a whole lot of correcting, they just do it. 
We are currently serving in a tri-companion companionship. Elder Gray, Elder Sitton and me. Elder Sitton is from Arkansas and is going home in 3 weeks. While he was on his mission, his family moved and when he comes home to give his homecoming talk, he won't know anyone haha.  After that, Elder Gray and I will probably be training 2 new missionaries. There are a lot coming in soon. 
This week Elder Gray went to Korea and I went back to Angarsk for a day to work with Elder Brown. This week was kind of crazy. All the missionaries who fly from Vlad to Angarsk/Irkutsk/Ulan Ude come through Irkutsk. We had a lot of people sleeping over and stopping by as they were getting into their areas a week into the transfer. Fun stuff!
As far as I know, we don't do any crazy things like burning shirts or anything like that to celebrate year marks. We will probably make a fruit smoothie or something to celebrate my year mark haha. Elder Sitton goes home soon so we will probably be celebrating in a few weeks all over again! 
This week it rained a lot and we got soaked a few times. No big deal, at least we didn't get splashed by a bus again:) 
I hope this week will be good for you all! Stay safe and cool and most of all stay Frosty!
Elder Gardner

Visiting Lake Baikal:) Our taxi driver was a big smoker haha go figure!

Lake Baikal

I wore a hole through these brown shoes. They cost 1000 rubles back in Nakhodka! (About $17)  They lasted pretty long I was surprised!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rough Week

My week was good but it is always a challenge here in Russia! My year mark is on the 31st... pretty soon! Then we are on the downhill stretch :)   

I miss you. I hope all is well.  This week in Russia was a rough week. We didn't meet with anyone. Nobody answered their phone and we were kinda just stuck on the street trying to talk to people all day... and nobody wanted to talk with us:)  Although today we went to Lake Baikal and had fun. I got some rocks. Do you want one? They are real Baikal rocks. 
The Russians here are SUPER superstitious... Like I wouldn't say that I am superstitious, just a little 'stitious.' They say if you drink Baikal water then you accept the lakes energy into your organism and you are healthier. haha they are weird... oh yeah that's where the hooker tried ensnaring me! And we saw a couple topless chicks... they might have looked hot... you know... maybe 75 years ago!! Hahaha it was so gross;) Baikal was way cool though, I would not recommend visiting. It isn't worth going all the way to Russia. 
We went in our suits and ties and got the stupidest looks from some people.  Can you just imagine some stupid Americans wearing white shirts, ties, and dress pants walking along the beach with Nakey old ladies picking up rocks and putting them in their pockets :) I thought it was pretty funny. I almost bought a samurai sword but decided against it:) This week I also made a cat friend. She was 3 weeks old and probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. We also got rained on but that wasn't the best part. We were out walking in the rain when Mr. Schoolbus drove through a puddle and splashed us with muddy water:) Beep Beep! haha  We went home and changed after that, good day! I love you and miss you! Tell me about your week
Elder Gardner

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Hey there! All is well here in Russia. We have been blessed with rain the past few days. It has been hot for a while now, about 35 degrees (95 f. for those of you in America). It isn't that bad, when compared with your 110! I am feeling pretty comfortable :)
The stuff that falls from the trees, called pookh, isn't too fun:p We were playing basketball last P-day and as I went up for a 540 behind the back slam dunk I inhaled some pookh and got a piece stuck in my throat! Hahah it was horrible:) We also saw some people lighting big piles of it on fire. They think it is easier to burn it than to sweep it out of the way. This rain is helping keep it down though. I am thankful!  
This week our pianist didn't show up for Church and I was the lucky individual who got to play for sacrament meeting. I wouldn't say I am good yet, but definitely improving:) I would reccomend that to all missionaries present and future. Learn to play the piano! It is such a dissapointment having to sing without accompaniment because most of the time, people don't sing very loudly or very proudly. But as we know, you should always Sing Loud and Sing Proud! Music is probably one of the best ways to invite the Holy Ghost too. We like to sing sometimes at the beginning of our lessons when we meet with people and that is always fun:)
This week I didn't get to go to Ulan-Ude. The plans didn't work out because they are coming to Irkutsk this week. There will be a big conference with President Perkinson so us going to Ulan-Ude last week would have been excessive.  
It is great to be here in Russia, not much happened this week:) We met with some less active members of the Church and they are going to their old Church. They don't like our Church because its boring and they said they like their old Church because there they get to dance and sing and basically party haha... interestingggg:p 
We tried explaining to them that there is one true church on the Earth. We showed them the verse in the Bible in Ephesians Chapter 4 verse 5. And it felt just like in the Joseph Smith video. "If there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism then why do the churches all differ in their teachings? Shouldn't there be one answer that is correct?" That is a really big problem here. We talk to people all day, and nearly every person tells us "All churches are true." We ask how that can be true and if they all teach something different. For example, in the Pravoslavnee (Russian Orthodox) Church they say that babies need to be baptized because of Adams sin. Sometimes it is called original sin. In other churches they say that babies don't need to be baptized because they haven't sinned. They are clean. We ask people which teaching is true and do you know what they reply? "Both are true. You can't say that one Church is wrong and one is right. It just depends on what you believe." That doesn't make sense in my head. Do babies need to be baptized or not? They don't seem to think there is an absolute truth in this world.
It reminds me of the talk given by D. Todd Christopherson in the October General Conference of 2014. He said "To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice."
I don't know how to better explain it than that:) There is one true church of God on this earth. I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay healthy:)
Stay Frosty,
Elder Gardner

Thursday, July 9, 2015

New Mission President

It was a good week this week:) I flew to Vlad Wednesday morning at 3 am and worked there all day with the Assistants to the President. On Thursday we had MLC and got to witness first-hand the leadership style of President Perkinson. Interesting:) Very different. We flew back at 4 am on Friday morning and I might have another trip this week to Ulan-Ude to do a training for the missionaries there. It isn't set in stone though.

President Perkinson is a great guy. He is full of love and shows it more than President Brinton. Maybe that’s because that is his style, or maybe because he is sleep deprived and it was his first day in Russia when we met haha. We will find out in a few weeks which it was. President Brinton always promised us blessings if we were obedient and did what was expected of us as missionaries. We focused on what we were allowed to do, and what we weren't allowed to do. When President Perkinson got here, he talked about how he didn't think that is the best way to go about it. We had some questions about what was allowed and what things we shouldn't do. President Perkinson brought all the questions back to doctrine. We shouldn't worry about all the little minute details. If we are doing what we should and working hard then we won’t worry about all the little tiny details and we won’t be worrying over every little dot on the page. This doesn't mean that we are throwing the rules out of the window. We have the scriptures, we have the Missionary Handbook to help guide us, we know what we should do and what we shouldn't do. He says if we make a little mistake and wake up 10 minutes late, he isn't bringing the hammer down on us. We know when we should get up and that mistake will be between us and the Lord. This leadership style is different. I think it will work out really well :) 

I am jealous of the time you got to spend with the family over the 4th of July! I hope everyone is doing all right:) I am glad to hear that dad went and talked to the missionary he saw standing alone in Hawaii. I love talking with people. Especially when they just come up to me! It is just a pleasant little thing and definitely makes me smile every time someone wants to talk to me! Oh yeah! I met a member this week :) He came up and sat on a bench next to where we were talking with our friend Charles from Ghana. The man just came and listened for a little bit and then started to talk to us. Turns out he is from Novosibirsk and was just passing through. Pretty cool! He was a way cool guy too. 

This week there was a baby blessing in church and it was super cute! It was my first one in Russian that I got to see. It is way cool to think that there is a family here in Irkutsk where the kids are getting to be raised in the gospel :) I have seen how the Church has blessed our family so much and I am so grateful for that strong influence in our lives. I love you all:)

Stay Frosty! 

Elder Gardner

Thursday, July 2, 2015

11 Months

Hey! I am glad to hear that all is well in Arizona!  All is good here in the Motherland! We are working pretty hard and its pretty hot right now:) There is this kind of poof/ snow/ cotton everywhere. It is falling from the trees and this kind of tree is planted everywhere in Irkutsk.  It is pretty annoying, it sticks to your face and gets in your nose and tastes SUPER bad. haha But it’s not a big problem, there has been worse and will probably be bigger problems in the future:) No worries.

Life is good! Our Korea trips are always short.   We are always in Korea for less than 12 hours. We fly in at like 7 oclock p.m.  We go to McDonalds then straight to the Temple and then sleep and then fly out 6 am the next day:) I haven't seen any Korean missionaries yet, but hopefully one day I’ll run into Calvin!

It’s it awesome that you met a lot of people this week. I love meeting people! This week we didn't meet a whole lot of foreigners. Some people from Germany who were trying to exchange their money, and that’s about it:( Sad.   I also got a message from a mom of one of the incoming missionaries:)

This week we had some good success:) We met a man named V____  who has a family and wanted to meet with us. He asked a lot of questions and some of the things he told us, some of his beliefs sounded a bit silly but he was super nice and he came to church and seemed to enjoy it:) Hopefully he comes back for more. There was an argument going on our whole 3rd hour about what to do in life. What do we put on the top spot, God or material possessions?  Our president of the branch said we put God on the top spot. A member said if we put God on the top spot we need to put material possessions right there with him. That took up about the whole time and I felt so embarrassed that they were arguing the whole time when we had investigators at church:( Next week hopefully is better.

There is a member here who has cool Soviet era military clothes:) We went over and did a photo shoot at his house:) I will send some pictures although most of them are on Elder Gray's camera.

I am going to Vladivostok Wednesday Morning at 3 am:) We will be having the MLC meeting with the new President! Pretty crazy:) :)  President Perkinson will be with us on July 2nd at MLC. His first or second day here he will be leading us. Hopefully all will go well, I will also have an interview with him on Thursday! No pressure. : p

This week we had our district meeting but our 2 sisters were in Angarsk. They couldn't come over to Irkutsk so we had to Skype them into the meeting which was pretty interesting:) I played the piano at church too. I like playing.  I know, I didn't think I would ever say that!  Back in the day I didn't see a reason to practicing but now I practice because I want our members to have a good Sacrament meeting. It gives me a reason to practice and its cool getting to play for them.

We made Peach Cobbler this week:) Not SUPER tasty, gotta improve our recipe if possible. Wish me luck!

I hope you have a good week:) I love you all!
Stay Frosty,

Elder Gardner