Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! 
I keep telling people about how it is Arizona's birthday but people either don't believe me or don't care haha  That’s okay, I will celebrate on my own. They have Valentine’s day here in Russia, and flowers are a big thing. There are flower shops every 100 yards on the street. They are everywhere. It is actually like that all year round though.  I like it :)
Thanks for the love today! Yesterday was our Valentine’s day, and right now it is yours :) I am wearing a pink tie in honor of Valentine’s day. On Saturday we had a big party for the occasion. We had a heart making/decorating station, food, games and music and it was really great! We had plenty of people show up.  Yeah.  It wasn't awkward and empty.  The best part is that maybe half or almost half of the people were less-active members and/or non-members.

Our investigator is doing good. We were planning on teaching a lesson about the importance of Church attendance and scripture study but we got sidetracked and he wanted to know about why we don't drink black tea. So we spun the lesson to the Word of Wisdom and it turned out really well. He didn't accept to live it yet, but he is hopefully going to pray for an understanding of the principle and a confirmation that it is something that he should do. He isn't ready for baptism yet but we are praying and hoping.
In answer to your question about the broken leg - if you break your leg then they take you to the hospital and set the bone and then they put a kind of clamp on your leg to hold it all in place. Then you sit in a bed for a few weeks while it heals. They don't really have a hospital food company or entertainment or anything. They leave that up to the patient’s family to come and take care of the patient. It is the same thing with fresh clothing. We have been doing a very minor part of it all. I am not sure if the family visits the lady in our branch but we have been trying to help a bit. She loves sudoku and cookies so that’s what we brought. Maybe next time we can bring something else. Maybe not sweets, but real food :)

Crazy kids - feel the burn.

Shorts with a big fluffy jacket.
I am glad to hear that Kyle Greenwalt is getting his Eagle project done. That's so great. Maybe he could add as part of his project to get some people to go spend with the kids in the hospital. I am not sure how that would work out, but I have realized how lonely it can get. We visit people at the hospital and we realize that although we bring them Liahona magazines, cookies and maybe we show a small video to them, it isn't a whole lot. I have realized that although that stuff is really good and fun sometimes, as soon as we leave that apartment there won't be another visitor for another week. Can you even imagine? Just sitting at home, your sight is going bad, you know how to make wonderful food but you have nobody to share it with, and you have stories from your lifetime but again nobody that you can inspire with those stories. So you sit at home, waiting for someone to come talk to you, maybe you talk to the mail lady as they drop some mail off, or you can watch the TV but how long will that last you? It’s kinda sad. Time is probably one of the most precious things we can give to someone, because it can never be repaid. That time spent with the person can't come back and it lifts a person from sadness better than any material gift in my opinion.
I hope that didn't sound too sad or gloomy. But maybe this Valentine’s day we could focus on spending time with those who would benefit from it, and not just with those who are the most fun to be around!

Oh and by the way, don't forget! Grandma Gardner's birthday is coming up soon :) It’s the 17th right? I hope I am not mistaken.
Our week was good, we had some ups and some downs. Some people we visited asked us to leave and not come back, some slammed the door, some didn't answer the door but shouted that we should leave and if we didn't then they would come down and beat us with a stick. Haha.  Maybe I should have been afraid? I think Russians are mostly bark and little bite. That is my experience with them.  

My high for the week was that we had 24 again at church! Really big numbers. We are having a lot of people come. We are very blessed.  That is even more than last week. That’s 2 weeks in a row of great attendance. I couldn't tell you what it is, but I am glad that I get to be a part of it. We have some great members here and they really strengthen each other more than the missionaries can. I am blessed to be able to be serving here among great people.
This transfer has gone by very quickly.  The missionaries in Artyom will stay the same. I will still be with Elder Siebach and the sisters are staying the same.  However, the Andersons are now officially moved out. We got to spend some time with them today, helping them close up the apartment they were renting and pay the landlord and move some things out of their apartment. I will miss them, they really are a wonderful couple and they really help the people here see that the Gospel works for young people and for old people. The members here only ever see happy young Americans so they think that that’s all there is to this church, when in fact there are wonderful people of every age and every nationality. The Andersons will never be forgotten here in Artyom, they have done a lot of wonderful work here. 

I didn't get the package yet, but I have a Visa trip in 2 weeks and should be getting it then hopefully. Thank you for the love and support, especially the packages. They are a very big plus every time we get one. Every missionary loves to get a package.
I hope you have a great week and I hope you have a chance to spend some of your precious time with those who don't often have special visitors. I know that they will appreciate it.

I love you lots!

Elder Gardner


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