Monday, February 1, 2016

Fluffy hat and oversized jacket

Hey there. This week was a good week. We had a chance to go to Vladivostok on Tuesday for a zone conference.

I got a letter from the Sutherland family – yeah :)  Please give them a big hug for me!
In the letter from the Sutherlands they wrote "I can imagine you reading this letter right now wearing a big fluffy hat and an oversized jacket."  I was actually wearing both of those things at that time. I had to take a picture  :)
The other days of the week we spent meeting with less-active members, learning about their lives and families. With some less-active members you have to really become their friend before moving into the gospel. People here get pretty weird pretty quick if you say "We have a message about Jesus Christ!". They will shut you down right away.  Sometimes we start with "Hey! We are volunteers here, do you know where any food banks or homeless shelters are?" That piques their interest and then we can move into the gospel "Yeah we are here as missionaries and we are looking for ways to serve people like Jesus taught. Do you believe in Christ?"
This past Sunday we had a big special class in 2nd hour about how we can follow these new goals better. We had members teaching parts of the lesson and it turned out very well. I am so pleased with our members. We have some very special people here. One woman testified about how she used to have problems all the time with her husband and ever since he started taking the missionary lessons they have been fighting less and less. The teachings of Jesus Christ can change people’s hearts. It is true!

The branch is good, lots of people are getting sick and can't make it to church and it is pretty frustrating. People here get sick all the time... like ALL the time. It is a problem. They have very cheap healthcare but for that it goes down in quality. I think that is what Obamacare was supposed to be right? I never really understood that whole concept.  J

I think people accept me as a leader - but while Elder Anderson is still here they still see him as President Anderson because that is what he has been for the past year and a half haha. I don't blame them. I am sure it will even itself out soon enough. Thank you for the leadership advice. I always appreciate it :)
We have a member here named ‘S’  who has been slowly moving away from the church. He has been struggling for a few weeks now but he is doing better! As a matter of fact, he said that he wants to come back to church. He has been talking to a girl in another town farther west and she has been helping him keep the faith. Also, the missionary who baptized ‘S’ did a lot to help him. He specifically mentioned that thanks to them he is starting to come back. It really isn't anything that we did as missionaries. Of course we have been praying for, studying for, and trying to meet with him but we weren't the reason his heart was softened. It is just so great to see him start to believe again.

Don't worry about my weight, I am looking and feeling fine!  :)  This week I made some tasty soup and some crepes, some tasty eggs and also some cookies. I got a new recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies and they are very tasty.  My favorite thing to cook is probably cookies because I normally give them away to people on their birthdays and that makes them happy that someone remembers their birthdays :) I like that.
However, soup is really the way to go, you can throw everything you want and need into it and it’s so simple. Hot water, bouillon cube, taters, pasta, carrots, onions, frozen veggies, chicken chunks, salt and you're in business! It saves fairly well and can be put on top of rice or more noodles or mashed potatoes as a nice gravy. The possibilities are really endless!

The apartment is really nice. A big tv and I have a big queen size bed. Elder Siebach wanted to be on the bunk bed so he gets the top bunk and I am across the room on my queen :) The beds are great! No complaints haha
Our Apartment
The zombie homes are kinda rough, but the more you spend your time in them the more comfortable it becomes. I always keep a flashlight in my bag because you never know what might happen in the day. I have used it a lot on my mission actually!
I didn't feel any earthquake... haha I wish I would have felt it! That would have been cool :) We don't have any missionaries out there for now. We have plenty of work to be doing here for now, our hands are full!

You asked about any good stories from this week?  Hmm... It was Sister Springers birthday this week and we got her a cake and some cookies and chocolate and after church on Sunday the whole branch sang to her and we ate snacks :) It was good. We are planning a Valentine’s day party but it is kinda hard to get people on board with it. Not enough people come to church early enough to plan all together, and not enough people stay until the end of 2nd hour to plan afterwards :) It’s okay, I am sure it will be really great.

Sister Springer's Birthday
I love you all, I know that the Gospel is true. It truly will change the hearts of those who hear it if they will let it. Like what is written in Alma 42:

 22  But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.
                23   But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.
24  For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and alsomercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

There is a law given and a punishment affixed, but we don't have to answer for that on our own. Mercy claimeth the penitent and if we turn to God with all of our hearts then we will be claimed by mercy at the last day. Repentance. We stop doing the wrong thing and we continue to do what is right. It’s really simple and I know that it works!
Have a great week this week, and when you get a chance you should read one of President Perkinson's favorite chapters. Alma 42.

Thank you for all the support, I love you

Elder Gardner


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