Monday, April 4, 2016

Testimony Meeting

Hey there!

My monkey bite is doing great! I haven't had to wrap it for the past few days, it’s really kind of a bother anyways. But, if I wrap it then get lot's of sympathy - and it is also a good conversation starter :) But if I wrap it then I can't do the dishes or I have to be careful washing my hands to not soak the bandage. The wound has scabbed over and it looks great.  I think I will live. :)   I have heard SO MANY monkey jokes and comments this past week you wouldn't believe it haha. During the training of the 3 new missionaries there were probably at least 20 made.  I am now known as, "that missionary that got bit by a monkey". 
It's always an adventure especially in Russia! I am glad that you liked the video.  Elder Siebach wasn't even making a video when I first started playing with the monkey.   I asked him to turn it on and then 10 seconds later he munched me!  We almost didn't get it but I am really glad we did.  Dang, it really hurt bad. Monkeys have strong grips and really strong teeth. He definitely had a hold of me and wasn't letting go if I didn't stop him haha. 

The Perkinsons are so great, it feels like I was at home when I stepped into their house.
This week was good, we were in Vlad for two days and I got to work with Elder Bacon for a day. He is a great elder, and has a great desire to share the gospel. All three of the new missionaries here speak really good Russian. It's pretty cool to see! Elder Bates is my new companion, Elder Siebach went to Ussurisk. Elder Bates is a really great elder, he speaks awesome Russian just like Elder Tracy and it is such a blessing. It makes a big difference in the work.  In addition, Elder Bates has a very strong  work ethic which is terrific. I think this is going to be a good transfer.

At church we had 11 people. That is a lot more than we had last week and I think the whole meeting was really fabulous. We had a great testimony meeting, and the three new missionaries got up and shared their testimonies along with all of the other members. Maybe you hadn't thought about that before, but each month every member bears their testimony. That wouldn't work in a big ward but here in a small branch we have that great blessing. The new missionaries are Elder Bates and Sister Stevenson and Sister Jossie. Sister Stevenson was in Irkutsk with me for a little bit, and I hadn't met Sister Jossie before. She's from Kansas. Sister Stevenson is from Utah but has Polynesian roots. 
Speaking of Polynesia, we are having a luau on the 16th of April. Should be great! It is going to be a big party in Vlad and we are helping get set up, we are getting some Bob Marley songs and grass skirts.

The number of missionaries definitely fluctuates each month and it is a challenge to keep all the areas covered.  When I go home we will be getting 6 new sisters. Should be pretty great! Getting rid of some goofy elders and replacing them with really spiritual giants, the sisters, in here is never a bad thing. All the sisters that I have met on the mission are very dedicated and more spiritual as a whole than the elders. They are great, they make us work hard to try and be better.
That is so cool about Marshall! I am sad though that I won't get to see him when I get home.  I will have to wait 2 more years. It will be really weird to see him when I finally do see him.

We are watching Conference next Saturday and Sunday. I am very excited to see it all. Elder Sayers used to say that it was like the Super Bowl of being on a mission. It’s the best part of every 6 months. I agree wholeheartedly.
Not a whole lot happened this week. My studies were good though. I was reading this week about the Sermon on the Mount. I can't even imagine how it must have felt to sit at Jesus' feet while he taught the people. I can only imagine what his voice sounded like. I really love the bible videos that the church put out, especially the ones where Jesus is teaching. We often study the Book of Mormon as missionaries because it is our unique message to the world. We need to be experts in the doctrine because we can't expect the people on the street to know it already. With that said there is no way that we can get rid of the Bible. Often people say to us that we aren't right because we only teach about the Book of Mormon but I have a dear testimony of the Bible as the word of God. The Book of Mormon doesn't have the same writings about the Savior like the Bible does. A friend of mine once said that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are 2 wings of the same bird. That is so true. I am grateful for the many people who sacrificed their time and resources to translate the Bible and even some sacrificed their lives for the cause of the Christians.

I love you, and hope you all find time each and every day to make their sacrifices worth it. That is, don't let all their time and energy be in vain. Read the words of the scriptures and make them a part of your life.

Elder Gardner

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