Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012 - Pau, France

Chasten my Soul till I shall be in Perfect Harmony with Thee

Famille et mes amis,

Bonjour!! So right now I am in Lourdes, which is this crazy Catholic city where the Virigin Mary appeared to this woman and now they have like a million shrines of her everywhere.. it's out of control. I'll send postcards because they are HILARIOUS! I shouldn't say that, but it is so true. And so wrong. lol. You will see. So Tuesday I had exchanges with Soeur Klingaman from Toulouse! And we came to Pau! But it was good. Weird, but good. Weird because I didnt have soeur bertolio and soeur Klingaman slept in her bed and everything!! But yeah. it was cool! She's really fun and goes to byu also!

So this week we had 6 tomber-vous. AKA cancelled appointments. yeah. Really bad. And it sucks because we like have been hyped up on goals and yet we keep on getting lessons falling through. But it is OKAY! Because we are trying and pushing forward, even when we are crawling, we are getting there! haha, and that was what was happening last week. But this week will be GREAT!!!!!!!! So on Saturday we had a "special" district meeting and we had the "super" missionaries come and teach us about what we were going to have, "e-day", which was yesterday. "e-day", we found out, was "endear day", aka endearing the members. We talked about how we should ALWAYS look happy and be really eager to talk to them but keep the message short so you can talk to everyone and just show you love! which for us is hard work, because we have so much to do, but it is so important! we have been trying to memorize everyones' names and what they like and ask them questions and just show our love like crazy! So Saturday evening a counselor to the bishop called and asked if we could both speak the next day, so we prepared talks and spoke! I decided to speak on the Book of Mormon, which was AWESOME!!! I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!!!!!!! But it sucked because I couldnt just speak for 10-15 min without writing the things out because I wanted to tell a story and blahblahblah, so soeur bertolio was basically my translator because we didnt have time for me to just write out a bunch of stuff that didnt make sense. lol. So! I spoke on that and soeur bertolio talked about the Restoration and about how blessed we are to have the restored gospel on the earth today! SO INCROYABLE! So yeah. Awesome! And she read the lyrics to the Spirit of God.. it was great. And so proud to call her my comp! And what was so great about us giving talks was us being able to express to everyone there how much we love them!!!! It was seriously a blessing. And the people felt our love like crazy, and it was so great. We have this family, the abadie's, in our ward (its an older couple) and they are both so nice and the husband is just so kind to me. He is like my dad or grandpa. Every time I looked up from the pulpit (like 5 times. lol. I was so nervous!) I would look at a few people and he was always watching and just beaming! It was so comforting. Really kind. His wife is a chiropractor who has helped soeur bertolio with her back, too! theyre just what we need right now. haha. 

So saturday we contacted everyone we saw, or could contact, after the district meeting! we have decided to be those kinds of missionaries because we really need new amis and we SHOULD be contacting EVERYONE!It is incredible how much I have learned in the last few weeks! We contacted this one guy who looked around 25 who doesnt believe in God, and soeur bertolio was like, would you be interested in meeting with us for like 20-25 min? And he was like, uhh...and I was like, 10 min! And he was, okay, right now. And we went at it! And i pulled out the Book of Mormon and had him read some from the introduction and he flipped through it and at first was saying that he isnt interested in what happens after death or like basically questions of the soul, but after a few min he began asking us them! It was so incredible seeing someone become more interested. Theyre answers that everyone wants, and its incredible to me that we have the answers!!! So this guy was moving to Marseille today so he couldnt meet with us and we asked if we could get his # for the missionaries there because we are EVERYWHERE, and he was like, so we just gave him a card and showed him the email address on it. But he was so much more interested in the gospel! It was incredible! And Soeur Bertolio told me after that she had prayed for a rendez-vous on the spot of contacting someone the night before because her friend who is a missionary told her about his experience. So. Our prayers are totally answered.

We wwent to visit Marie and Roger, the couple who arent married, yesterday evening. Her dad just died so she has been really sad and we havent seen her since then, so this time I flipped to in Alma when Alma the younger is teaching corianton about life after death and how everyone will return to the God that made them, and that every hair on our head will be restored. She was really touched, and Soeur bertolio was saying that you can be with your family forever through the temple and being able to go and I was like, but you have to be baptized. Then Marie told us that she had a dream that she was beign baptized but every time they were g putting her under, the water dissapeared, and marie was like, maybe its not the right time, and soeur bertolio was like, no, its because youre not married! and marie was like, maybe..and I was like, no! It is! You have to follow the commandments to get baptized, and youre not! and again she was like, maybe.. and I was like, It IS! me being my stubborn self. then after the lesson they offered to feed us, then gave us all this food to take home (we ran out of food yesterday after lunch) and gave us a ride home!! they love us so much, its crazy. So yeah. and earlier we taught this guy alex who is dating a sister in our ward (theyre gtting married) and he said he doesnt want to pray to know the book of Mormon is true, but that he just wants to have a sign, and I was like, you have to pray and ASK. and he was like, yeah but I want it to happen at the right time and I dont want to force God to give me an answer... and I had him read the last paragraphs of the intro to the BOM and asked him what he had to do (Frère LePretre) and he kind of skipped over it. And then I bore my testimony and told him that I knew that the BOM was true because I read it and I prayed and asked, and he needs to do the same. I told him that it's a promise given to us from the BOM and that it is true, and I promised him that if he prayed about it he would recieve an answer. It was CRAZY how bold I was, for both Alex and marie and roger! I just felt so impressed to tell them those things! And they werent rude or chase me out of their homes! they took it! Because they know that it is what they should be doing. And its because they know that we love them so much! And I felt so bold and the Spirit so strongly because we have been contacting like CRAZY looking for new amis! Its beautiful seeing miracles everyday. AHHH!!!! Miracles are happening RIGHT NOW! I love life!!!!

Okay? gotta go, but its been great! people loving each other, people rejecting the gospel, missionary life. You have just gotta offer it to everyone!! I was talking to soeur bertolio this week and was like, we totally planned to be companions in the premortal life. then i realized, we probably were friends who are in pau right now looking for the gospel, and what if they were the ones we walk past instead of contact? What are we going to do when we see them after this life and theyre like, I was sitting right next to you at the bus stop and you didnt stop me. Why not? Why didnt you give me a chance? I was searching for you. This thought makes me eager to talk to everyone I pass in Pau, now. I want to be able to tell them that I tried. That I opened my mouth and offered them the things that they have been searching for. 

I love my opportunity to be serving a mission and I am so glad to be here with the people I am with. I love you all SOOO MUCH and I am so grateful for all of you! Thanks for the letters!! Not this Friday, but next Friday we will be getting a call letting us know if we will be transferred or not; so I will let you know in 2 weeks, but I would not send letters after this week, because I may not be here? But I may be! Who knows! Rhetorical question!

Love ya and Keepp the letters comin!!!!

love always,
soeur gardner/devano

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20, 2012 - Pau, France


ma famille,

The Spirit of God, like a fire is burning! the latter-day glory begins to come forth! The visions and blessings of old are returning, and ANGELS are coming VISIT THE EARTH! This is a promise and it's happening all THE TIME! So yesterday was incredible. I agree with what Frère Wilcox said, that Sundays are the best days in the mission. You reap all the blessings and see what you have accomplished! Were we tired? Soooooo tired and we needed today, the day to rest, but were we totally still working? oh yeahh!! So first off! the reason for our hype were for so many things! We'll start with Harry.

Harry came to church yesterday! Who is Harry, you might ask; well, he is now our new ami. How he was introduced to the  gospel, a miracle. Honestly. We didn't contact him or anything; we didn't even invite him to church! We didn't even know who he was until we met him at church at the beginning of Sunday school. He told us that on Saturday he met this black woman who had a little girl around 8. They began talking and he remembers that she knew a LOT about the Bible and he was really impressed, so she gave him the address to our church and told him to come. He said that she told him that they moved down from Paris a few weeks ago. When he told us this, we looked at each other all confused, then began pointing out all the new members (which are few) and people who had children and he was just like,"no, that's not her. I haven't seen her here." Soeur Bertolio and I were talking about it when we got home and were trying to figure out who it would be but no one has moved down from Paris that we know of and we cant think of who it would be. She may be a real person in the ward, but I think she was our angel. and Harry's angel. He sat through our amis class and sacrament and really enjoyed it and wants to learn more so we have set up an appointment and I gave him a brochure and he is set. GOLDEN! He seriously was a blessing. We made a goal to have 6 amis at church and 2 of them had a death in the family so they are in Portugal, and 3 others are on vacation, so we were slacking on our numbers, but WE REACHED OUR GOAL! And Harry has been introduced to the church! and he wants to learn more!!!!!!!!!! The song, The Spirit of God really is a testament of the truthfulness of the fullness of the restored gospel. We really do have Angels that are visiting the earth, helping us in times of difficulty and leading people to Christ. Oh my goodness it is INCROYABLE to see the miracles that happen every day!! And to always be able to have the Spirit with you! It's so incredible!!

We also had a guy, Alex, come to church for the second time because he's dating one of our members who has 6 children!! She was converted maybe 2 or 3 years ago, and she is so sweet and is getting endowed in the temple this week!! But she brings him to church, and he comes to our amis class and he is always answering questions and agreeing with the things being taught and it is absolutely amazing to see how prepared he is for the gospel!! We went to visit them last night and gave him a quick lesson on Jesus Christ and the blessings that he has given us, like being able to repent, then I shared my testimony, that I'm here because I have recieved so many blessings from Him and felt His love in my life, so much so that I want to share it with others, to give them the opportunity to recieve the same blessings and be happier then they ever thought they could, and he was just like, oui, bien sur! shaking his head in agreement, then soeur bertolio asked if he would be willing to take the discussions and he was like, oui! bien sur! and was like, I want to go about it at my own pace, maybe 3 weeks, maybe 3 months! And we were like, whaaaaaa!!? 3  weeks?!! OKay!! haha. not really, we didnt say that. But he did say that! he is awesome!!!! 

We also have been doing "F.I.F.A", which is former investigators found again! we go through the area book in old amis and call em up and see if they or someone they know is interested in recieving the lessons again! And we have 2 new amis from it! yeaaah!!! I LOVE doing FIFA. I get to read about all these people, real people, who recieved the lessons and for one reason or another stopped. It's like, maybe they're ready now!!! We are giving them a second, sometimes third, chance of recieving the blessings of the Gospel! The chance to be completely PURE! Clean!! Oh my goodness, so incredible! And to have the Spirit of GOD with you at all times! What an incredible blessing to be able to have this all the time, and we are completely able to do so! SO GREAT!!!

Our ward has been doing missionary work! multiple people have given their friends Books of Mormon (which we need to follow up on) and theyre telling their friends about the church (like our Angel woman who got Harry to come to church), and are beginning to recognize the importance! We have been showing our love so much and have been visiting families left and right, and trying to get SPARKS! Our mission goal! SPARKS in english is basically touching their heart and doing a service for them. It can be with members or with contacts! So it's hard to be soeurs and to do services for people, because when we want to help they tell us no and make us sit back down or they wont tell us what we can do! So. My friend Colton gave me these cds for my birthday to take on my mission with me (obviously appropriate for the mission!) and one of them has this song, "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" on it. Have you heard it? If you havent, seriously look it up. HOLY MOLEY it is the most BEAUTIFUL SONG!! So in the MTC, a sister now in Albania sang it for Relief Society when Elaine S Dalton was there. It was incredible. I cried. And Sister Dalton talked about the words and the meaning behind the song and then had her sing the last 2 verses again for us. The Sister singing was crying!! Oh my goshhhhh it was such a Spiritual moment for everyone!!!!!! Wow. Here are the lyrics:

Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel./

2. Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word;
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.

3. O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

Holy moley. So I put this cd in for the first time on Tuesday when we were getting ready in the morning, and I was like, I know this song!! And the obsession began. during lunch I wrote out the lyrics from listening to it, and by the end of the day I had sang it probably 6 times. at least. And we went to visit a partially less-actif because she works in the hospital and ends up having to work a lot on Sunday. So we taught her this short lesson about forgiving others, and she thanked us and I got this feeling like I should sing for her and i was like, no, thats just me wanting to sing that song over and over! then we had the closing prayer but I still felt like I should sing; it felt like when you know you need to bear your testimony, like RIGHT NOW! So to Soeur Bertolio, I was like, umm..I feel like I need to sing her that song I've been singing.. and she was like, right now? and I was like, yeah...and so she was all, okay! and so we told the woman that i felt like i should and explained the lyrics (english lyrics) and then I sang that song and she was super touched!! and she told us all about how she has been feeling like she is losing the Spirit because she has to work on Sundays and how she hadnt wanted to meet with us but she felt like she needed to and how she was so grateful for us and the Spirit we brought to her home and it was just really cool. The Spirit teaches!!!!!! NOT YOU!! This is seriously true. She doesnt understand english!!!! But did she understand the feelings of the Spirit? YEAH!! And so that was our service to her, which I think is way more of a service (bringing the Spirit into her home) then washing her dishes or something. Though we can do that also. So we have visited...2 or 3 other families since then? And I sing for them. Haha. Soeur Bertolio is like, what should be our service? And after a moments pause of us thinking, she is like, you can sing for them! So.. I sing. And it is so incredible to be able to testify through song! Oh my goodness!!!! This week has been the first week that I have felt like I AM A MISSIONARY! I am able to testify exactly the way I want to through singing! It is the greatest blessing! And yes, I am learning the language and everything still, taking part in the lessons and teaching with soeur Bertolio, but to be able to bear my testimony through a song to these people in my native tongue and for them to be as touched as I am..that is a gift from God. I have stopped comparing my voice to the boys and whoever else, because it's not how well I sing (though that definitely helps), its the Spirit that I am singing with. Its sooooo INCREDIBLE §%.lJL38°13°)"éà()é"'ç&'!!!!!!!!!!!! So yeah. Oh man, so much left to say!!!
On Tuesday morning we had companionship study and Soeur Bertolio will get this look of sadness in her eyes when she begins thinking to herself, so I asked her what was wrong, and I was nosey and she finally told me that she is afraid that she will go home from the mission without feeling like she has accomplished everything she should have. So I thought of dad's letter to me and how he told me "successful people have many goals. Unsuccessful people usually don't have any goals" and then read that to her and we began setting goals! And I pulled out stuff Frère LePretre had said about goal-setting also! And a letter mom wrote to me about setting goals so I don't feel the way Soeur Bertolio is afraid of feeling! It was such a spiritual moment for us! Talking about our weaknesses and how we can overcome them through hard work, dilligence, obedience, faith, and prayer. Through God everything is possible if we do our part! SO TRUE! And we did our part trying to get people to come to church and getting new amis and we reached our goals for the week!! YESSS! The theme of the week has been the scripture "a song of the heart is a prayer unto me" or something like that. I don't remember where it is right now, but it rings true! Yesterday night soeur Bertolio and I were on a Spiritual high! Like, everything we said to each other was us bearing testimony. It was out of control! Then after we finished praying and were going to sleep, Soeur bertolio laughed and was like, "I'm testifying to myself in my head!!!!' hahaha. it was so great. It IS so great!!!! Ahhhhhh the gospel is true!!! Lets all be missionaries!!! "should we not go forth so great a cause? Courage, brethren! and on, on to the victory!!!" Oh Joseph Smith!!! What wonderful words! And when youre discouraged, think of the lyrics, "fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid! I'll comfort thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand!" AHHH!!!

Okay, I better go, but I love you all!!! I wish you could feel the joy I have right now! My heart is almost on fire!! It's incredible! 

Commitment: Listen to the song I have been singing nonstop!!!! "Savior, Redeemer, of My Soul"! and The Spirit of God! I know this church is sooooo true and it has blessed me so much! I pray that everyone who reads this will pray about the truthfulness of the words that I have spoken. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the Earth again today! We should be rejoicing every day, Hosanna! HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!!!!

Love always,
Soeur Gardner

study ideas: Doctrine and Covenants 84:88; 24:8; 64:33; Mark 9:23-24; Alma 13:22-25; Alma 48- Moroni=no words.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012 - Pau, France


ma famille et mes amis,

bonjour! I hope that you sang the title of this as you read it. I also hpe that this week has been great for you! It has been pretty darn hot here in these parts.. I am sure everyone in Texas are rolling their eyes at me, but the difference is youre not walking around all day in the Texas heat. Usually. If you are, take a break. Geez. Crazy. anyway! We didnt have to deal too much with the heat in Pau because Monday night we took a train to the wonderful lyon! It didnt smell as bad this time. I think my negativity towards the city was overanalyzed because of how tired I was at the time of being there. Hectic. Very hectic. This time it wasnt hectic at all! So that was great. I got to see my old DISTRICT!!!! Seriously it was soooo awesome!!!!!! Ah man. I love Soeur Harris and those elders. They're such sweethearts. haha. Little babies! aha, when someone is acting immature or is just acting super adorable, soeur bertolio goes, "awwww, baby!" with her italian accent and pets.. her hand??? I've realized that she does this action because she has guinea pigs at home! so when she is loving her guinea pigs (specificallly one, named boris, who actually died a few weeks ago. so sad!! hard day for her) she pets them in her hand, hence the petting of her hand. and I am assuming she says "aww, baby!" but in italian. Which I dont think is much different. 

So! She was saying that a lot about the "blues" at the conference. Aha, especially elder call!! hahaha. So he plays the piano super well, he's just a beast at the piano. We would have music nights on Sundays in the mtc and he would basically just play the piano for our district and we would listen. lol. I was like, elder call, play the piano!! during a break for blue conference, and Soeur bertolio was like, yeah, I heard youre great at it! Elder Call was like, nahhh! and kept saying no so I was like, okay whatev, and he walked away. Then soeur bertolio was like, I think hes shy about it, and I was like, "yeah he's so good at things but super shy. I didnt want to push him to play because he would've if I did. I wouldnt be surprised if he came over and apologized for not playing, he's just super nice" and before I even finished saying that last word, he showed up and kneeled in front of our table and was like, "I just wanted to tell you sisters that I'm really sorry that I wont play for you right now, I'm just kind of shy about playing in front of a lot of people" Soeur Bertolio and I couldnt hold it in; we burst out laughing right when he kneeled down and began speaking. He looked around a little confused, and we pulled ourselves together pretty quick and were like, it's nothing! and he finished what he had to say. I felt bad! lol. After he left Soeur Bertolio was like, "awwww, baby!!" Boy was that true. Good ol' elder call. Elder Smith (Canadian from my mtc district) was on the train with me from toulouse to montepellier the night before we got to lyon! We both got super excited and he told me about all these crazy things that happened to him and three random crazy guys told them that they wanted to kill him and his companion in like a 2 hour time span and just crazy stuff. I think that was one of the best parts of blue conference, hearing my old districts stories!! Hahhaha, on the train from montepellier to lyon, we were with elder gruber and his companion elder wilcox (like our teacher, frère wilcox!!) and we were talking about frère lepretre and then he was like, I LOVE Wilcox, too! and his companion had been getting super annoyed because apparently elder gruber quotes frère lepretre a lot, so elder wilcox was like, aww, and elder gruber was like, no, not you..hahaha. Pretty awkward. But we all just laughed. I think. 

I realized through all of these stories that as Soeurs, we dont have people throwing sandwiches (yeah, sandwiches! elder miller said he has had like 3 sandwhiches thrown at him! lol!!!) at us or telling us theyre going to kill us or that we're a sect; we have a lot of gross guys honking at us and accepting rendez-vous for the wrong reasons. lol. In a way I'm grateful, and in a way I'm like, I want exciting stories!! But no. I'm not a 19 year old elder, I'm a 21 year old Soeur! So I'll take what I get. And avoid the creepy guys. 

This week we  taught this little girl, Sarah, who is a foster child to the famille Barbaroux! She wants to be baptized and her dad has finally accepted her request!! She is turing eight in less then a month, so we have time to slowly teach her the lessons. And her dad sits in on the lessons, also!! So we have 2 new amis from that!!! And he prayed for the end of the lesson because she wanted him to!!!! Seeing the little girl and her dad together is so great; he loves her so much. it makes me miss my dad. :( dad, dont cry. I love you! Anyway, and he has read the Book of Mormon twice! And he will be reading with her as we go through the lessons so he's basically a second progressing investigator!!!!! AHH!!

We have had other things going on also, but I dont have TIME! NO TIME-NO TIME!!! I know that this church is true. I am so grateful for all of you in my life and I feel blessed to be in yours. You are all such great examples to me and I am so grateful for that. I know that the Gospel  can change lives. I see how it effects people here as we  talk to them about our message and how their eyes soften, Unfortunately many of them dont want to learn more, because theyre scared and may have had bad experiences with other churches (we're in Europe-the catholic church). It is so sad to me how lost some people are in this world. Especially here. People get caught up in the things of the world that they think that they dont need anything else. Dont get caught up in that. I pray I never get so caught up that I believe I dont need anything else, because we do. We all do. We all need the Savior in our lives. He suffered and died for each of us so that we can return to our Heavenly Father. It has been planned out since the beginning. He loves each of us. We have been a part of his plan since the beginning. We are each worth SO MUCH in His eyes, and I think we need to recognize that more. If you begin changing the way you are around people, begin showing them more love and begin being more interested in them, they'll feel that love and begin recognizing their importance in God's eyes. 1 Corinthians ..I want to say chapter 13 verses 1 through 3 says it all. Charity is sooo important! It's the most important!!! That's my message as a missionary, and that should be your message, too. Every member, a missionary!! 

Commitment: I commit you to read those verses and begin to apply them into your lives. Also (my family) read "Finding Joy in the Journey" by Pres Monson from General Conference in 2008, I dont remember if it was April or October. 

I love you all sooo much and thanks for the letters!!!

Love always,
-Soeur Gardner-

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Aug 6, 2012 - Pau, France



so! this week! I sent the famille a package on wednesday I think, so be expecting that hopefully this week. I put a lot of effort into it, so i hope you like it.

monday! we had a service activity which murdered soeur bertolio's back, because she had been in a car accident almost 2 yrs ago, messed up her back but was still able to go on a mission, then she thought picking up heavy things and carrying them down 4 flights of a spiral staircase would be okay. mm...not so much. Considering that dad and ben have super bad backs..I told her! but she wouldnt listen. Haha. but really. so she was fine until the next day when we were suppose to go contacting. she could barely walk because of the pain. So we ended up going home an hour early. :( so basically the past week we have been trying to do less walking and things that would hurt her back. geez. But anyway. we moved out soeur lestrade, the mother of our now-not-so-much investigator, steven. she hasnt been a good person. she has done a looot of bad things that effected innocent people and is just a very selfish person, so it was a  very hard thing to become okay with shortening our preparation day to help this undeserving woman the help that she needed. so I studied a lot about charity. it kind of sucks how you cant decide who to love, but that we have to love EVERYONE. This was a very hard concept for me. I figured out that I have a lot of love for the people in my life who I may not even know very well but seem like good people, but when it comes to people who I know their story and have done terrible things to people that I know and then want our help.. I have basically no love for them. Why should I? they are bad people who use others for their own benefit and dont even care about the other people! Through all of these mixed feelings of anger and the stupid question "why me" and the want to call her up and tell her, no way, I thought, because we are told to. Ah man. Because charity is the pure love of Christ. Would Christ have helped her? Duh. Then I thought,  but I'm not Christ, then remembered that I'm a missionary, and an example of Christ. We are here to serve those who despitefully use you, which I felt she was doing. Jesus Christ would have taken EVERYTHING she had in her apartment

(just sent that. these dang french keyboards!!! continue...)

and carried it down and then some! He suffered and died for her, too!! Man. So we went to her apartment and helped her move, carrying heaps of stuff down those darn spiral stairs in the sun for over an hour. my calves died that day, as did soeur bertolio's back. But! I loved her. I love her. She is a child of God and she did need our help. After serving her I seriously had a change of heart. Yes she has done terrible things and may or may not have used us during different times, but we are here to become like Jesus Christ. So yes, I served her, and I would serve her again. Preferably not carrying boxes UP four flights of stairs. So that was the Christ-like attribute I worked on this week and it was a workout (literally! ha..ha..).

lets see...wednesday we went to an ami's home to just check up on her and maybe teach, but she wasnt there. However, her sister in law was! she is super catholic but she wanted to know what we believed. So we ended up giving her a Livre de Mormon and getting her number! But she is from Northern France so we sent it to the mission office to give to them. even though we dont get to teach the people that we get the numbers for (our ami's sister in portugal, this sister-in-law in n. france), its sooooo cool to get the other missions refferals!!! Especially since  I have FRIENDS serving in the Portugal Lisbon mission and the  Paris mission!!!! So we are all basically serving together. its an awesome mindset. I am  totally waiting to get more for other missions where I have friends. Alma and the Sons of Mosiah!! AHHH!!!! soooo cool. Im in the process of reading the whole Book of Mormon again and Im in Alma. Can I just say that he's the most sensitive Prophet in the  Book of Mormon. He is so caring for his brothers and sisters in different lands! Oh man. He just cares so much. Its incredible. I want to be like him! Seriously charity right there. Instead of being like, dude, those Zoramites are out of control with their prayers; theyre going to burn! he's like, my heart pains for the iniquities of our brethren, and he just explains how sad he is because of it and Alma 31 he is just praying sooo hard for them!! I think yall should read it. So good. All of Alma, really. Oh mannnn!! I love the Book of Mormon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

oh yes, wednesday was also the birthday of Suisse, so happy birthday to them! Soeur Bertolio made sure to let me know during last weeks weekly planning. haha. We again had chinese buffet with S. Arrieus then right after cake with Cecille, but this time she gave us a lot less, and we ate less at the buffet because we knew she made something even though we told her not to. haha.

We made S. Tapis cookie dough for her birthday and were planning on just stopping by her apartment after we visited S. Toumazou in the hospital, so we took the dough with us. so we get off the bus to the hospital and guess who is in the parking lot and was getting out of her car! S. Tapis!!! And so we were like, heeeyyy we having something for you!!!! and gave her the cookie dough and she was super touched! Because we remembered her birthday, and because we remembered that she had said she wasnt good at cooking so we made her the dough to make it easy on her. (we had made her cookies a week or two before and she LOVED them, so I asked if she would like the recipe and she  was like, YESSS!! so soeur bertolio translated it into french. yeah, she's incredible, I know) then we took soeur toumazou these beautiful flowers (flowers are soooooo cheap here!!!!!!!holymoley crazzy cheap!!!) and taught her a leçon (she is less active and just found out she has breast cancer and had to get surgeory :-( ) and it went really well.

Saturday we had lunch with our amis, marie and roger. we have been teaching them leçons almost 2 years. But they wont get married. they were on and off, one wasnt into the church, then they were, then they didnt want to get married, so now we are like, seriously? Now they both want to be baptized but are iffy about marriage, but wont stop living together because they wouldnt be happy without one another..yeah. Stupid. A few lessons ago we only taught marie and I was like, I love you, but if not now, when? Dont let someone hold you back from recieving the blessings you get from being baptized. Dont wait for someone to decide, because they may never decide. Then on Saturday we taught them with the Abodie's, who are this reallllly nice couple who were in the same situation a few years ago!!! and marie and roger love them! So we taught them with this couple and it was sooo good!!!! I love teaching with members because they can really empathize with the investigator! they're real people! I mean, we are too, obviously, but not really in the investigators eyes, since we are missionaries. But yeah, it went reallllly well, and we committed them to begin reading their scriptures TOGETHER and praying together to get themselves ready for marriage, I hope. The Abodies were like, you cant stand on the fence! you have to have faith to do some things, like get married! You'll always have what-ifs, but you shouldnt let them hold you back. I love them. All of em. I ate rabbit! and duck! Not too bad! We also taught our new ami, David, with Jessica Barbarboux! It was not so great at first because Jessica and him began talking about prophets right off the bat when we were teaching leçon 1, so we start with our Loving Heavenly Father, then he started talking about the Kuran and it was crazy. Finally, we began talking about prophets again, and I almost butted in and was like, yeah, God calls prophets because he LOVES us! And we are here to be like him! then Soeur Bertolio took over from there and we were able to stop going all over the place. haha. The pros and cons of having members present. (and we HAD told her the lesson plan)

Sunday! we had 5 amis present!!!! David came!!! After we called a million people asking to pick him up since he doesnt have a car! geeez. He had a GREAT experience and participated and asked questions!! He said if he doesnt have his little girl next weekend he will come again next week! It was so cool. :))))Yesterday we had 2 meals with members! oh my goshhhhhhhh our stomachs!!!! We ate at the Wrights home, the American/Canadian family. Theyre so nice and we had spaghetti with meatballs and salad and snickerdoodles! We got to help cook with the family and it was really fun!! Then we taught a new convert and had language study and then ate again at Mishka's, this old lady who is the sweetest!! haha, she is like the woman in the ward who knows everyone's secrets. ("her hair is so big because its full of secrets!!" lol, movie reference). But yeah, she is so nice and thought dad was my brother in the photos ( ??..soeur bertolio and I were like, he has white hair...hahaha), which was weird, but whatev. Oh yeah, and Cecille thought mom was my sister in one photo? So.. I guess good job, mom and dad! keep it up? lol. Anywho, we had to ask if we didnt have to finish the lasagna that she made for us because we were still full from the other meal. Mind you, we ate more then half of it and the salad before! she was like, you dont like it? and we were like, no!!!! and explained ourselves. so she was fine with us stopping. :) But she is really kind. we were all wet from walking in the rain and she let us wear her socks because our shoes were soaked and set them near the oven to dry, and took our umbrellas and set them out to dry. She is like our grandma! So nice.

Tomorrow we are having a conference for all the blues!! meaning my OLD ZONE FROM THE MTC! IN LYON!!!!!!! So this evening we catch a train to Montpellier and are staying with the soeurs there, then going up to Lyon the next morning!!!! I'M SO freakin EXCITED!!! haha, seriously!!!!! cant waitttttttt!!!!!!! theyre so great and I cant wait to hear how theyre all doing!!

Oh yeah, we got the new missionaries this last week! Now our district leader is Elder Willet and his blue is Elder Wilson, who is my friend Elder Kunzler's companion from the MTC! I sang with them and my comp for sacrament the sunday before before we left! So thats exciting. Elder Kunzler is in aix-en-provence!!!! jerk. lol, jk! it's only for elders because its just a branch. Soeurs get sent to Wards only. At least thats how it was with Pres Murdoch and Pres Roney hasnt said anything about changing that. So yeah.

Anyway, life has been good! Missions are hard! Lots of rain this week, which i LOVE. Its sooo much better then the scorching sun. Id rather be wet from rain then from the suns heat. Much rather. haha. So shoes getting soaked? C'est la vie! I think of Ant in Costa Rica! This aint notin. ha. 

We had SIX mangez-vous with members this week! SIX. Last week we had THREE and we thought that was a lot! We visited 12 families! in our email each week from the mission pres, they keep a graph of how many people visit families in each zone, and the highest (not us) was 11.5, so we are setting our goals HIGH! Its awesome seeing the numbers raise! I love it!! Now I am seeing why Frère LePretre loves goal setting so much. haha. 

Alrighty, it is time to say goodbye! I love yall so much and I know the church is true!! It seriously has all the answers to the questions that people have about life. It just makes so much sense, and I want everyone to know that they can have the answers to their questions!!! I lllllooove this gospel and I love my opportunity to share it with others, en anglais AND en français!!

Commitment: Tell a friend about the Gospel and invite them to church sometime this month! Yep. I'm hoping to commit you to this. And I'll be following up, because it is important, and I want you to recognize that. :)

Love all of you!!

love always,

July 30, 2012 - Pau, France

Live like you were dying!

Bonjour, toute le monde!

How is everyone this fine morning? Geez I am fatigued. ha. Yesterday was good! usually sunday after church I feel like going into a coma because I am sooo tired, but not yesterday! So now I feel that way. Luckily I have today to rest. Well, until 4 because Soeur Bertolio signed us up to help someone move out at 4. Then we are having our second FHE at the church! yay!! last week we had our first annual FHE!! not annual, but it makes it sound cool. 

So for our first FHE last week, we prepared to do jeopardy with the members who came and it was like a bible/book of mormon jeopardy and not too hard but like the 500 pt questions were hard. So we had 3 inactives, 2 more recent converts, 1 member, and 1 investigator show up. lol. I swear soeur bertolio was going to die of a heart attack because she didnt think they would know the answers and things would go bad and blah blah blah, but  I was like, CALM THE HECK DOWN!! haha. Kind of like when mom gets super worked up about someone coming for dinner; totally innapropriate because the food will be great like it always is and the people came because they knew that they would have a good time. AND for us, we are missionaries!! The Lord will help us! So we prayed then started the game! and whadya know, the two inactives WON. hahaha. Priscilla and Benisson. Benisson is the brother of Oakeline, this girl I think my age who helps us teach sometimes. Her brother is 19 and has this "I`m so cool" attitude, but he started getting into the game after 5 min of sitting there acting like he was asleep, then he ended up getting second place! I felt bad for the recent converts, but hey! The other two that won came to church and Benisson really wants to teach with us now and all is well! MIRACLE! 

Last Wednesday our recent convert, Jeffrey, who is so great (!) had a bad reaction to allergies or something which resulted in his heart not getting enough oxygen and it actually damaging his heart and putting his life in danger!!! He went to the hospital because he started bleeding out of his nose and mouth last Sunday, then on Tuesday he was put into a self-induced (term for that?) coma so that his heart would heal  and stuff. Needless to say that S bertolio and I were super upset, because he is such an awesome member who is the only member of his family (his family hates the church and thinks we are a sect) and wants to start his papers as soon as he can to serve a mission!! So we prayed and fasted for him and let our members know and it was crazy. So he was suppose to be in a coma until last Thursday, but he was fully recovered by Monday and woke up that day!!!! MIRACLE!!!! Honestly, such a miracle!!!! I am sooo incredibly happy that he is alright! He texted us on Tuesday and was like, Im awake!! I want to see you all! and so we saw him after district meeting cause he came to the church and we had made him cookies and told him to share them with his family. He said that his parents are now wayyyy more open to the church because they were holding on to jeffreys phone and he was getting all the messages and calls from members (he has members in a folder on his phone so it says who is a member and who isnt when he gets calls/messages) saying that they were praying for him and asking how he was doing and everything. So now they are good with meeting us! Jeffrey now is is England for his holiday for two weeks, but when he gets back we are going to meet his parents and hopefully be able to teach them some LESSONS!!!! ahhhhhhhh!!!!! So GREAT!!!! Miraclemiraclemiracle!!!!!!!

For this week, we finished baking all the cookies, which we took to members that we visited this week and shared with them this little leçon that we were told by our to share, then we ventured out and learned how to make chocolate chip zuchini bread!!!! Since we have that GIANT zuchini. So we made 4 loafs and still have 1/3 of the beast. haha. But yesterday at church we handed out the bread to certain members we felt inspired to give it to, and got great reactions!! They loooved that we made them this bread! And yesterday I ran around with this sheet asking for members to sign up to teach with us and got more than I thought of people to signed up! The youth were actually the most willing, and a convert of three years (?) or so, who signed up for like 3 full days! crazy! So that was cool. and we had four investigators come to church!!! which is a lot for us. and our goal for the week!!! Oh, and we were invited to 5 MEMBERS homes this week!!!!!! FIVE! yeah. c'est fou. miracle.

We made two new amis de l`eglise (en français for friends of the church, or "investigators")! Maria, the woman who we have been trying to meet with since I have been here, who lives like five min from us. We had a lesson with her on Friday and it went SO WELL!!! It was just her and us, but it was great. She is allllll about families and I asked her what she thought of the idea of eternal families and she didnt want to believe it, I think because she wants it so much but doesnt want to get disappointed and get her hopes up, which is understandable but unneeded since we wont disappoint!!! we  taught her leçon 0, which is just telling her why we are here and the very basics of what we believe and how we can help her. We talked a lot about families. I showed her photos of you all, which she really liked. Then after the prayer, she cried!!!!!!!!!!! Just a tiny bit, but she cried!! and was like, you guys are coming again, right? It was SO GREAT!!!!!!!!!! She is leaving for holiday today I think, so we wont see her for a few weeks (the WORST! I HATE all of these ricidulously long holidays!!!!!!! they are soooo bad for missionary work!) but we gave her a Book of Mormon and told her that we know that families are forever but she needs to know and we invited her to pray and read and she really committed. It was cool. MIRACLE!!!! Our other new ami is named Fred. Yeah, terrible name, but he is a single divorced dad with two kids. Did I tell you about him? We contacted him when he was with his kids and he has buddhist ideas but his daughter (looks around EIGHT) loves Jesus and going to church. the cutest answer ever. So we met with him on Thursday and gave our leçon 0 also, and he just wants one church that serve others and just are happy and is cool with meeting with us again!! He seems to have really investigated a lot of religions and I think that he is soooo ready!!!! ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! MIRACLE!!!

Thursdays we now have Italiano class!! No more english class since only one person was coming. haha. But now I get to learn 2 languages on the mission!! Or three, if you include teaching with the Spirit! I really like italian. Its kind of ridiculous how alike french is to it. And Spanish!!! basically latin based languages. anyway. 

Friday was this little girl, Oceane's birthday and she turned 6! She's african, and lives in Saragose. S Bertolio really loves her (she knew her before I came to Pau), so she wanted to bring her something for her birthday! So on Friday we went and visited with the lady at the patisserie to get something for the little girl and to  visit the lady. two birds with one stone!! We showed up at the patisserie right before it opened, and she showed up and came around the front to talk to us, then went in the patisserie and let us in, then we talked to her about the brochure we gave her, "the family: a proclamation to the world" and she really liked it! But her husband is muslim. Not her, but that was her excuse. She has two sons and is really nice. she likes us. We havent seen her for 2 weeks but she was super eager to talk to us and when we were leaving we were like, "au revoir!"(goodbye) and she was like, "à bientot!"(see you soon) with a smile on her face. She doesnt know why she likes us so much, but she will!!! So at the patisserie we bought the little girl a little strawberry tarte! so cute. So later on we went to give it to her, in the evening! like 7:30 or so and we decided to walk there, which is about a 30 min walk but it was cloudy and so it was fine. Luckily we brought our umbrellas, because it began POURING halfway there. POURING. Like crazy amounts of rain falling from the sky, little rivers forming on the sides of roads kind of rain. And we were in our skirts with these little umbrellas. hahaha. It was soooo funny. we ended up taking off our shoes because they were soaked and we were stepping in water all over the place. Our skirts were drenched. Our shirts were all wet. Our HAIR was wet!! Crazzzzy. But it was so fun. I love the rain. We were at one point walking on the sidewalk with a cement wall on one side of us and the road on the other, and TWICE a car drove past and purposely drove into the little river to splash us!! It was like a movie! we were soooo drenched. Then we went to Oceane's apartment all wet. Roland (a new member but partially inactive/oceane's older brother) answered the door and was just like, whats a matter with you?" lol. after many times of him telling us to come in even though we were wet, we finally did and gave oceane her little cake and s bertolio had candles and we sang her happy bday with her brother and mom (her moms name is marie, this big african woman who I am so scared of. lol); They hadnt had time to do something for her that day so they were having a late lunch party for her the next day which they invited us to. But Oceane was sooo happy and it was sooo worth getting completely soaked!

The next day we went to their home and had an african dinner!!... Soeur bertolio prayed for our stomaches before leaving the apartment to go. Lol. It didnt taste as bad as the Lamumbas, but Marie (oceane's mom that Im afraid of) served us and so we had soooo much food!!!!!!!!! The first course was this mashed potato like stuff that was more sticky  and didnt taste as good, with this banana (?) stuff that was supppper oily and super sticky. It was weird. blegh. The second course wasnt as bad, cuse-cuse (how do you spell that??) with reallly good tomatoes and onions, and fish. eggh. and not like american fish, but fish that was a whole fish. And I ate all of it. And ate some of Soeur bertolios because she couldnt eat more fish (she HATES fish with a passion). AND starting at the second course I began eating with my fingers, like the rest of the people there. yes, we were the only white people in the whole apartment. lol. I watched how they were eating and they were literally sticking the bones in their mouths and sucking out the meat. So I did it. I was praying sooooo hard. the whole time. That the food would stay down. And guess what? they complimented me! haha. they said they appreciated how I was eating like an african, with my fingers and eating all of the fish! oh man. If they only knew how much of a miracle all of that was. Then we had regular cake. haha. And we shared a message about how we should celebrate God and our blessings and how thats what we are doing with Oceane! Then Marie cut in when s bertolio was thanking her, and told everyone how we came over the night before soaked just to bring a little 6 year old a cake, to make her feel loved. she said that we were like angels or something like that. Africans reallly are good with words; their prayers especially are so beautiful and sometimes realllly long, but thats okay! they love the missionaries!! so after this meal, we did not feel well. at all. It wasnt so much the food, more of the portions. egh. But for that family, it was worth it. MIRACLE!

Our beloved district leader is going home! Elder Kirkpatrick is now finished with his mission, Elder Willet is now our District leader, elder miller and elder james were transferred to Suisse (jealous), and soeur bertolio and I are the same! phew!! elder willet will be TRAINING, and elder loera is getting a new comp. alrighty, well I think thats it! Oh, and I WILL be sending the package by next pday. I am trying to get things together to send it out, its just hard to do with such a small amount of time!!! 

I love you all and am so grateful for this Gospel. Its sooo hard, but once you get into the groove it just gets easier to smile all the time and just to make people happy. I love it!!!!! We are doing this thing call SPARK, basically making peoples lives better, members and nonmembers and we are suppose to give them our numbers each week, and we sent in our number, like 24 or something, and were like, is this possible? do we understand this correctly? and the zone leader was like, yeeah thats possible and the highest in our zone by far!! So Im not sure if we did it correctly. But we are serving our butts off! we are trying so hard to make people happy and to ask to do service and whatnot, so I think we are doing it correctly. maybe others dont understand it, thats why their numbers arent as high. or maybe theyre not making food and cards for members and investigators in their free time. I dont know!

I loveeeeeee life! Yesterday I was thinking about that country song, "live like you were dying" and the words are soooo true!!! I felt lame at first relating life to a country song because thats ridiculously cliché, but it totally applies. "and i loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying". Inspired words! maybe, maybe not, but they are great words to live by. 

I loooooooove letters. let me just say that. I love them. A lot. And Ive gotten letters from...3 people since Ive been in Pau? Can we change that? Can I commit my lovely (and busy) family to write me at least ONCE every month? Even a short thing. Because I write hand written letters back to your emails and send photos and postcards, all during my short preparation day. I dont need it, but it would really help me out on a hard day. 

Thank you everyone for your prayers and your emails! Gotta get back to the mines!

Love always,
-soeur gardner-