Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 29, 2012 - MTC

Hola, ma famille,

     This week has lasted for forevvvvvvvvverrrrrrrr. I don't even know what has happened. Lets see...
     -I play volleyball with the Elders instead of with the Sisters now. Haha. It's just a bit more fun because they try. Ha
     -Tomorrow we're getting 45 new missionaries into our district, and only 6 of them are Sisters and only one of them is going to Lyon that I know of. I'm a "host" tomorrow, which means I take the new missionaries from their families, get them their books, take 'em to their rooms, then take them to their classroom. THEN tomorrow night and Thursday night I'm talking to the new missionaries (with the district leaders) about the rules, what we do..etc. Ya know. Anyway. Yeah, so busy next few days.
     -Ummmmm...oh!! Thanks for the sparkling cider, mom and dad!!! GREAT story about that. So I got it right after dinner, and the Elders do a package dance for us if we're lucky, and this time they made up a new dance, which is based off of the "haka". They call it "the paka". It's pretty epic. and I don't use that term loosely. Anyway, so it was awesome and then after class I opened it and found the bottle, tried a lot of different ways of opening it and not succeeding, so Elder Brent had the idea for me to put it in the door where the door closes, like the metal part is a perfect spot to open the bottle. So I put it in the crack, and right when I pushed it so the top would come off, the Elder was like, but be careful, and then I got completely sprayed in the face by the martinelli. And I got it all over Sis Harris because she was standing next to me, and I got it all over Elder Call's desk (which I helped him clean). It was sooooo funny. I couldn't see but I was laughing so hard and so was everyone else. Good times.
     -so that same day (Saturday? Friday?? Je ne sais pas!) we taught Eric and asked him to be baptized and he accepted!!! We taught him about the first 3 principles of the gospel, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement (reviewed since we already talked to him about it), repentance (which we made a notecard for him with the five R's and a scripture to back each one up), and then baptism! We had the best object lesson where we took ziplock bags into the cafeteria and collected a lot of gross, slimy foods. We asked the custodians for some plastic gloves, then collected a few trash bags. So we when we had him sit down on the floor with us and put the glove on, we asked him how you can sin. Then we put the food on his hand for everything that he said, then asked if he'd want to shake the Savior's hand with that hand. He said no, because it was dirty and we said exactly! That's why through repentance we can be cleansed. Then I had him read 3 Nephi 31? The whole chapter is about baptism, and I had him read a scripture that says something like if the Savior had to be baptized, how much more then do we, and then I had him read a scripture a few verses down from that that says for us to follow his example, then I asked him how we could follow his example and he said to repent of our sins and be baptized and i was like, so will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized? (En francais: Suivrez-vous l'example de Jesus-Christ en vos faisant baptiser? Not sure if it's completely correct, but it's the basic layout of the sentence). And he said yes! Then we ended it and when we were going through what to improve and what we did well with Frere LaPretre (btw if you didn't remember Frere LaPretre is our teacher and our "investigator", Eric. He's playing himself 6 years ago), and we went over like 30 mintues, and Frere LaPretre said, "It was my pleasure to sit and be taught by you two for 30 extra minutes. That was really really good!" It made us feel realllly reallly good!! And then I sprayed myself in the face with a martinelli! Partyyyy! But yeah, great night.
     -Sunday we watched Legacy after the fireside, and Sis Hurrell and I were like, oh yeah! When Joseph Smith showed up because he's pretty good looking in the movie, and then we started laughing so hard because we were checking out Joseph Smith. She said, "Geez, just shows how desperate we are. Instead of comparing actors, we compare Joseph Smith's!!" Kind of pathetic..
     -We got a new Elder yesterday from some random island by the Fijian Islands, and he's really black and doesn't speak much of any english, and E. Smith and E Hilburn (zone leaders and they're in our district) coudn't find him anywhere! So they told us to look out for him and so I'm leaving the cafeteria and see this really dark black guy who I'd never seen and I ask him if he's new and he's like, uh...non..lskjflsdferdfkd. He started speaking spanish to me, trying to be funny I guess. I aws like, oh..nevermind. It was awkward. Oh yeah, they found him like a few hours later. He was randomly in a classroom with 2 other companionships on the bottom floor of our building. They were like, HEY!! We've been looking for you!! And there was a Sister in there who looked at them weird and was like, he's fine.. haha. Awkward moment for them also, apparently.
     -Yesterday night we taught Eric again and he was telling us he didn't want to be baptized because his family didn't want him  to and they thought the Mormon religion was a cult (sect en francais). So we had to read him scriptures and give personal experiences, so I talked about how my parents (holla!) were both converts (it would be wayy too difficult for me to explain dad's situation en francais) and it was hard for them, but it blessed their future family so much. I asked him if he wanted a family in the future and he was like, yeah! and I told him that through being baptized you would be blessing your future family as well as yourself and bless his family now, even though they weren't being baptized, and that I'm an example of that. I told him that through him being baptized, he could recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost and always feel the way he does when we are with him. Then we asked to meet with his family so if you guys have any great scriptures or personal stories that I have forgotten, shoot me up! You know where to find me. I'm not goin anywhere..for 3 weeks, at least.
     Sunday I think me and 2 Elders and my comp and I will be singing a hymn during church. I'm not sure what song we're singing, yet. We're practicing for the first time today.
     So I'm sorry I haven't written anyone back, preparation days have been getting soooo busy it's kind of crazy!! if i take a nap I don't have time for anything else. Blah.
     Anywho, I love being here. I mean, the food is okay, the classrooms are alright (it kind of feels a bit like home now, since we're there 90% of the time), but it is incredible how amazing you can feel here. It's honestly through the Holy Ghost. This week I was reading a lot from the Bible Dictionary, and it is actually very interesting!! Without the Atonement, there would be no point to the Restoration. There would be no point to anything. I know that's kind of common knowledge, but it was just a thing that was much more emphasized on this week. Incredible how that works. The Church is sooo true it's INSANE. Like honestly. There are so many times that I wish I would've shared the gospel to a friend or a random person that I met in the airport or something. It's so important to share the Gospel with others because we were given the gift of being born into the Gospel and they didn't. They don't have that knowledge. some people are just waiting for the truth. How incredible the Gospel is, and how important it is for us to share it with others. It's like the talents or whatever, the person who hides his doesn't get anymore or something? I don't remember the whole thing, just the jist, but what I do remember is that if we're given soemthing, we should share it with everyone that we can! Some people don't want it, but some really do. You can just tell! The gift of the Holy Ghost is real, and when we testify we are giving the nonmember the power of the Holy Ghost, which gives them a testimony of Jesus Christ. Read it in Bible Dictionary, "the Holy Ghost". It's awesome. I didn't realize that there are two different things. I knew, but not really. AHH!!! SO COOOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!
     I love each and every last one of you, and I hope that yall are doing so great!!!
     Write me! I leave in 3 weeks from yesterday! June 18th I'm shippin out to Lyon! Well..we'll get there on Dad's birthday, June 19th. (dad, I think someone's pulling a lot of jokes on you..first my mission call to France, now I get there on your birthday? Haha. Start lovin' some frenchies or I'll be married to one soon! ;-) )

Love always,
devano (Sister Gardner)

May 22, 2012 - MTC

Bonjour, ma famille!!

     How art thou? Oh man, so I have quoted "oh brother, where art thou?" like 5 times since being here, and NO ONE knows what I'm talking about!!!!! It's the worst!!!!!!!! Because they're good quotes!!!!!!! Oh goodness. Someone will be like, "Oh, well, I wrote it in the letter" and I'd be like, "Well I ain't got no letter/radio" in that accent and they'll just look at me weird. It kind of sucks. My old district leader, Elder Call (it switched just this week to his companion, Elder Gruber. They switch it halfway through the time spent in the mtc; I don't know why. He was the best district leader ever!! Sooo sweet and just wanting to make others happy. Sooo hilarious. Pretty dang naive, too, but not too much I guess.) Always knows what I'm quoting, but alas, he's never seen the movie. Which is weird cause he would really like it. So even my movie-quoting friend here doesn't know it. Dissapointing. But we DO quote Madagascar and Madagascar 2 together! So hilarous. He is one crazzzzzzzzy amazing piano player. Like you give him a few notes and he'll create a song. Or you give him a tune and a minute and he'll recreate the song you were humming. Ex: Lord of the Rings. Uh-may-zzzzing. Sundays after dinner we all as a district go to a room and have music time. The best time to chill and have fun.
     So! We went to San Fran. It was pretty exciting, waking up at 4:15 to be at the travel office at 5 and at the airport at 6:30 with a flight that left initially at 8:30 but got pushed back to 10. And I was the group leader, of the 6 elders, and my comp. Lame. So I was given this packet that had a piece of paper rubberbanded to the front. It was the funniest thing (it may have also been so funny because I was tired), because the paper seriously resembled stuff you see on the movies for secret agents and stuff. Example: the paper said:
"Sister Gardner, In the packet you will find passports, visa information, a cell phone....etc etc....When you arrive at the airport, call 2034029332. Ask for the blahblahblah and tell them we are the private group. The name of the group is Mormon Travel."
It was just super sketch sounding and I was laughing so hard reading it. The end it even said "Good Luck". Hahahaha. Still makes me smile.
     So the elders started out by being really smart at the airport and, for breakfast, mind you, got huge Cafe Rio burritos covered in hot sauce. Yeah. I got a tortilla and some chips and salsa to share with my collegue (what we call our companions in french. Best not to call them our "companions"..I think you understand why) and we didn't even finish it. In fact, I gave the rest of the bag of chips, which was a lot, to this random guy at the food court and took the rest of the tortilla with me for a snack on the plane. A few of the elders couldn't keep in their breakfast and had to go to the bathroom for quite a while. There was me, Soeur Harris, Elder Gruber and Elder Hilburn (both in my district), Elder Truman (from St George and super cocky but kind of funny..I can't decide), Elder Harris, Elder Johnson, and another Elder that I can't remember his name. I'm terrible. Anyway, these other Elders were from a district that's only guys and by the end of the longest day ever we were verrrrrrry glad we had our Elders. They're just such good Elders!!! All of them are going to Lyon except E. Nomaaea and E. Davis. Umm...anyway, so we watch their stuff for over an hour while they walked around the Salt Lake Airport. I honestly have no idea what would be fun about that, but whatev. When we got to San Fran I called the travel people, we got a van, we went to the french whatever even though we knew it would be closed for their lunch break but did it anyway because the lady in Provo told me to after I told her it would be closed, went to lunch with Elder Hilburn's parents (his parents were already in San Fran for their anniversary) and they were so nice and paid for all of us!! geez, right? cray crayy. ;-) Anyway, so then we went back, got photos and fingerprinted, then we talked to the security guards while we were waiting for the others. I asked them if they went to church, and one of them was muslim and very religious (he was from Sudan I think. He looked kind of like Jafar from Aladdin but with the genie body. lol. No I was not attracted to him, I just thought that would be the best way to describe him) and the other didn't really go to church (he was born in Guatemala but raised in the states). I got this super overwhelming feeling that we needed to talk to the second guy about the church, so after trying to get the elders to talk to him about the gospel (they were just having casual convo without inviting him or testifying or anything!! I was a little annoyed), I got up and went over to where he was standing and began asking him what he wanted to know, and then gave him a brief explanation of our religion, that we believe that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and that we believe that it goes along with the Bible, that we believe in Jesus Christ and that he is a huge part of our religion and other stuff, then I bore my testimony and promised him that if he looked into the church and prayed (we gave him a pass along card) he would recieve blessings and he could be with his family forever and that he would recieve an answer to his prayer. He looked sooooo interested!!!!!!!!!! He was like, "wow, yeah I will look into it! I'm really interested in learning more" GOLDEN! So he I went and sat back down for a bit, then we left and when we were walking out the second man was shaking our hands as we left, saying thank you, and when he got to me he took both of my hands in his and said, "Really. Thank you." and I just smiled and it was crazy and oh mannnnnn the church is true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He had the light of Christ in his eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really hope and pray that he looks into the church because it really will bless him soooo much!! I wish I could have taught him the lessons and made him that much happier and I can't wait to do that in less than a month in France!!
     Oh man. So..last Wednesday was our half-way mark and sunday we had a little party with some of the people from the zone with some brownies Sis Hurrell's mom ordered for her earlier in the week. I am getting to the point where I feel like I'm plateauing and so I'm trying to push myself even harder!!!!! It's so important! AHHH! I only have 4 (?) weeks left to learn this stuff and have it down before teaching and speaking only in the language! AHHH!! So I'm trying, along with the district, to speak french a LOT more then we have been (we are the best in the zone; no lie. so we're trying to keep improving instead of slowing down). I'm getting alright in it; it's so exciting looking back a month ago and seeing how much more I can speak!! The gift of tongues is real. It's sooooooo freaking real. Ha, Elder Nomaaea is rubbing off on me; he says freaking all the time! Like..way more than I have ever said that. Luckily you can't really say freaking in french. Ha
     I love my Elders so much. They're just an amazing group of Elders and they make me so happy. I know that Heavenly Father put us all together for a reason, so we can bless and strengthen one another and I can truly testify that they bless and strengthen me! So a few weeks ago I got an eye infection, and after a day or two it went away, then I got it again a week later but in the other eye (it didn't itch, it kind of hurt a little when I put pressure on the lid near the tear duct, dad), and I had gone in to the health center and they gave me some eye drops that I don't have the name of on me(sorry, dad), but I used it as often as I was suppose to and wearing my glasses which was super annoying because they're crazy thick, and it wasn't getting much better, so Sunday I had Elder Call and Elder Gruber give me a blessing. It was so cute because I asked Elder Gruber if he and Elder Call could do that and he was like, yeah, yeah, okay that would be great, then they went into a room for like 20-30 min and I guess planned what they were going to do or something; I have no idea. But they finally came out and asked if I was ready and I was like, are you ready?? And so Elder Gruber blessed the oil and Elder Call gave me the blessing and it was just so touching how much they cared about doing it perfectly (it was the first healing blessing Elder Call has given) and I think it helped all of us, not just me.
     So by that night my eye was doing much better, and by the next day it was gone! Gone!!!! G-O-N-E!!
I know that the Holy Ghost is real and that the Priesthood has been restored on the Earth again. I never recognized how important the Priesthood was until this last week, like I knew what it was and what it could do, but not really. The Priesthood connects us to our Heavenly Father. Without the priesthood, we couldn't baptize, we couldn't recieve blessings, we couldn't do anything. The Temple would cease to be a Temple of God. I know that Heavenly Father hears everyone's prayers, no matter where they are, physically or spiritually. I know that He loves us and knows us individually. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows how He can bless us, even if it's from a trial. Trials can help us build our faith if we choose to rely on Him. That's what I Iearned this week with my eye being all crazy. I realized that I wasn't being as sensitive to what I was asking for in my prayers and I really had to humble myself and give all that I had to Him. I gave two of the best Elders in the MTC the opportunity to strengthen me and themselves through my own trial.
     I love this gospel and I am so proud to call myself a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
     J'aime l'Evangile retabli et je suis tres heureux pour moi etre(wrong) un missionare de l'Eglise de Jesus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours!!
     I'm sorry I dont have much time to finish this, but I plan on writing everyone back who wrote me!! Thanks for the letters, everyone!

Shelb- I got yours! wooo!!!
Mom-what is the Jones' address? I sent them a letter and it came back to me!

I love you all and I hope that you will remember that our Heavenly Father loves you soooo much.

Love always,
- Sœur Gardner

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 15, 2012 - MTC

     This computer is SO STUPIDDDDDDDD. I started writing this email and it shut me off then wouldn't let me on. and I tried it with four different computers. Then a worker came in and told my companion and I that we couldn't be on the computers in our preparation day clothes. I'm kind of reallly peeved right now. Anyway. So this is my letter..hopefully it goes through this time.
     And I'd really appreciate hearing from people. "Air boxes" more than once a week sort of suck when we're studying all day and get our mail at 9:25pm (air boxes=when no one gets any mail all day). As Sister Harris says, ANY mail is like gold. I guess it makes it easier writing people back when you have a min amount of people to write. I'm kind of cranky, I just woke up from a nap and had to change computers three times to get one to work, then it shut me off! So. Here we go.
     So tomorrow we go to San Fransisco!!!!!!! We plan on wearing flowers in our hair (*bud-um CHING*!) They gave us ten whole dollars to travel with and buy ourselves three meals! haha. At the airport.. that would get you a sandwich. Luckily I have money (thanks to mom and her letter! :-) ) We're leaving at 5am and will be back around 8-9pm the same day, so quick trip! Yep, dad, the same day! I wonder how that'll be. Pretty crazy, I'd assume. So lately I've been doing well. Very roller coaster-y. We teach my teachers, Frère Lapretre and Frère Wilcox. Frère Wilcox plays the part of an investigator he had who agreed to baptism the first lesson; his name is "Jean-Paul". We have him committed to baptism and we're teaching him about the commandments. Frère lapretre plays himself 6 years ago (we call him by his first name, Eric, while teaching), before he joined the church. Mind you, he's the hardest investigator because he asks questions about EVERYTHING. He investigated the church for 2 years! So in one lesson we were talking about the atonement and I began telling him about Eric and how losing a cousin was really hard and how I know that Heavenly Father had His son die for us and how I couldn't imagine doing that and I just started sobbing! It was so out of control. I felt embarrassed because we were teaching a lesson and I got super emotional over Eric and couldn't stop for a few minutes! Frère LaPretre broke from his character and was like, "Do you want to talk about it?" and I was like, "Désolé! Non! Non!" (sorry! no! no!) Oh man. But yeah. I felt that it wasn't inappropriate...but it kind of was. Anyway, we didn't get everything accomplished at all during that lesson in my mind because everything else that I was planning on saying just slipped out of my mind and I was focusing on pulling myself together. So afterward he gave us feedback and I was trying to talk to him and was just not doing well controlling myself and he was like, "Are you okay?' and almost gave me a hug, like had his arms out and was walking toward me and I just stood there, then he remembered I was a missionary and just rubbed my arm sympathetically for a little bit. haha. Geez the MTC can do all sorts of things to you. So that was a lesson ago, and we had another lesson yesterday with him and it went SO WELL!! We had an object lesson regarding the Fall and Adam and Eve. We had him lay on his back and do the motions you do for a pushup, and asked him how many he would have to do to become strong, then had him do real pushups and asked him why they were different and he said because there's resistance and we were like, exactly! With the Fall of Adam and Eve we have opposition in all things! After the lesson during our feedback he said that we did really well and that he enjoyed the object lesson. The next lesson on Thursday we're going to have him wear a backpack full of rocks during the whole lesson. Our lesson with him are becoming his exercise time also. haha. We collected rocks today and had a pretty good time doing so.
     When we taught at the TRC this last week, Sœur Harris and I had to teach this guy who was like a grammar freak. Seriously. He would fix everything that was said if it wasn't correct, and for me it wasn't correct. So every time I said something, he corrected me. Eventually after he would correct me I was just like, "Oui" and continue instead of re-stating my sentence. That was annoying. I cut half of what I was going to say because I was so annoyed. I need to practice patience.
     I have a friend, Elder Wilson who is taught by my friend from before the mission, Pat! He teaches Fijian, and I have become friends with Elder Wilson because we were partners in a workshop together a week or two ago and because I visit with him in the hall when my comp is in the bathroom (his classroom is across from the bathroom). He's leaving Thursday, and it's the first person to leave the MTC (other then people I already knew like Alison and Alex) that I'm actually sad about leaving!
     So we got a picture back from when the ambassador and his son came and I'm standing next to the ambassador and am in my grey suit jacket and everyone else is wearing black and my elders (my district elders) were saying like I look like his young beautiful wife. Eghhh. lol. So gross. I think I'll send it to y'all but I may just keep it in my journal cause I had the district sign it. Nah. I think I'll send it to y'all. Just keep it in safe keeping, cause it's a good photo of us (minus me looking like an old guys young wife) and our teacher Frère Lapretre is in it also!
     Court, I got your letter!! Sounds like having two kids is twice as hard as having one. Haha. Go figure. I called it! I knew Asa would be jealous of Tyler. Poor Tyler!! He's only four weeks and already getting beat up by his older brother?? Sad day. I don't mind you sending me shorter letters; better than nothing! Court, you're so hardcore. I hope I'm as good of a mom as you are when I have babies. (IF I have babies after all the gross stuff you've told me about pregnancies and giving
     Ant-I'm just lovin your weather reports and updates on the baby (Isaac? What name??) and poor Angie. I'm sorry for your discomfort, Angie!!! Hopefully that baby comes out soon so you can be feeling better!
     Ben- your letter was so great. I loved it. In fact, I have it in my bag and have read it probably three times. And I read parts of it out loud to my roommates cause I thought it was funny. In fact, I read parts of everyones letters out loud! Not the personal stuff, just the funny stuff. It's great. I loooove it.
     Shelby- Why haven't I heard from you?? There's a sister who's one of my roommates, Sœur Lucas, who is Guatamalan and reminds me so much of you because she's a little reserved and is your height and your hair and skin color and looks sort of like I have a soft spot for her. haha. Write me. This is an order, not a suggestion. Thanks, shelbywoo.
     dad- I got your letter and I love it also. And I could totally read it! AND that thing that you always say, "Expect the worst and hope for the best and take whatever comes" or something like that, I have said that like 4 times already being out here. Everytime we're preparing a lesson (daily) I think this. Crazy how it helps me prepare, having this mindset.
     mom- I'm sorry I couldn't call, but I hope you enjoyed the photos!! And the jacket thing! I really appreciated the three little cards and laughed so hard at the man/woman that Monet painted and how you were like, geez, at least Monet could have put a hat on her to make her look more like a woman! lol. So Good.
     Nancy- You are such a sweetheart for sending me all of those cute postcards!!! I love them!
     The Jones'-  Thanks for the lovely card!!! And I'm keeping you in my prayers, Susan!
     Well, this week has been so long/gone by so fast. The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days, as people here say. And it's so true.
     I've been playing sand volleyball during "sport" (what aussies call athletic/exercise time) and it's been so fun! I've become closer with a lot of Elders in the zone, which is important to me because a lot of them are going to Lyon also and they might end up being a leader over me! ha
     In two weeks we're having 49 new missionaries coming in to our zone! HOLY MOLEY! This is a ridiculous amount. When I came in, there were maybe 25. So we're preparing for a bunch of new missionaries.
     This is my fourth week here! On Wednesday I think it's the beginning of my fifth week? I don't even know. ahhh. Time flies. I was sort of slacking last week because I just got sooo tired!! But this week I gave myself a pep talk and know that I need to work harder to reach my goals. (Frère Lapretre is rubbing off on me!! He's a goals-freak. haha) But seriously!! I'm studyin studyin studyin and I'm praying that it will come up in my mind when I teach lessons! I love this gospel and I am so grateful to be serving a mission!!!! I get so happy thinking that in a month I get to go out and preach the gospel to everyone!!! I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that He has a plan for us to be happy; happier than we could ever be without it. I love this gospel and I love you guys. I love this country, I love France, I love Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ for dying so that I can return to live with Him again. The Atonement is real. We can be clean and pure even if we've done bad things.
     I love you, family, and I pray for you in all of my prayers..which are a LOT.
     Thank you to everyone who has written me! I love the letters!!
I love you all,

Sœur Devan Gardner

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 8 Email

guess who's back! back again!
ha. I dont even know that song, only that line. or two lines. whatever. anywho. Guess who just met the Dominican Republic Ambassador and his son, Carlos, jr? THIS GIRL! or..sister!! ha. Yeah, my teacher is amazing and they were giving him a tour of the mtc and we were the "chosen ones". (*toy story reference, anyone?*) It was pretttty crazy. lots of guns and burgers. lol, jk. no guns. or burgers. Now I don't know why I was so excited.. haha. so that just happened and we met Richard Hinckley, Gordon B. Hinckley's son! he was nice. so they just asked us who we were and where we were from, then sat in class with us for 5 min while f. lapretre spoke french to us and acted like we knew everything he was saying. we went over the lesson last night. :) so that's what went down literally 30 min ago. I wore my suit jacket and they took a few photgraphs of us so it may be in the church news, im not sure.
so next wednesday I'm going to san fransisco to get my visa for france!! we have to all go out there to get a finger print or something stupid but hey, I get outta the mtc for a whole day!! Not that the mtc is bad, but being in any consolidated place for over 2 weeks is a little crazy, and I've been here for at least 20 days...cabin fever! (*yeahh!*) lol. umm..yeah so I just got that letter. Me and most of my district is going out there. ahhhhhh my district is AWESOME. I love them. even the annoying, negative ones because they can be really fun and positive sometimes! i think out of all of the districts in my branch (the french speakers), we are the most united. we seriously are crazy. literally. insane. ;-) nah, we just have cabin fever sometimes, i think. pour l'example:
yesterday night we got mail. sounds regular, right? not in our classroom. we were first joking about how we would ask carlos jr for a burger or tell him we're his biggest fan, then we began (we mainly being the elders with me adding in and sis harris just shaking her head and at times laughing) saying that the ambassador would walk in and we are sacrificing our smallest elder (who is coincidentally also the only foreigner-he's canadian. yep, lots of canada jokes. lol) and begin chanting "the field is white and ready to harvest!". I said we should chant it en francais. lol. this is what we do for fun. and when our brains begin feeling like they're mush. I can't spell any english words very well anymore, so sorry to people I write handwritten letters to. i can't get french yet I'm losing my english! blah. anyway! so after we finish joking about that and chanting and circling the canadian and elder call and elder gruber, we (btw, this is mainly alll done by the elders. I just laugh and join in, and sis harris joined in on the chanting and circling thing also) began making up some weird song that the guys had already started, which circles around "saturday night" to a made up tune. It's a little on the broadway side..anyway, so elder call, our d.l stands on a chair and begins tossing letters to people while chanting and yeah..people in our hall were standing in the door recording us.. hahaha. oh geez.
So I love our elders. as weird as they are..I think they're hilarious. 90% of the time.
So french is going alright! I have learned sooo much in the past 20 days! seriously! We can give lessons en francais without notes and I don't have to flip out and study every sentence that i want to say; I just think about it and know the jist of what I want to say and learn the verbs! geeez lou-eez the gift of tongues is realllll. oh yeah, over a week ago sis roney woke up early and heard me reciting "our purpose" en francais in my sleep!! lol. yeah, I study hard. So hard I take it into my dreams, apparently. I love french; It's so beautiful! It's hard sometimes, but I just try to relate it to english and the way it's laid out majority of the time, then I begin understanding it.
My teachers are great! Frere LaPretre is a get-down-to-business sort of guy who works the crap out of us until we are almost in tears..then builds us up. well..he's not as hard on the sisters most of the time, but he expects more out of us than we do, so we get pushed pretty far. I love it, though. It's weird. Even though at times I fall on my face and feel like dying, I realize that I learned more than I would have if I hadn't of done that. C'est tres interresant(e?)! Our other teacher, Brother Wilcox, is from Colorado/California and is totally chill. I mean, he still expects us to learn and work hard, but he's a LOT easier on us. It's funny how it balances out so well. We are, we are the best district in the branch. that sounds cocky, but I'm just trying to give you an idea of how hard we work and how hard the push us. and I'm not that good, either, we just have been pushed since the beginning. It's hard!! hard like I try to wake up extra early to study BEFORE personal study!!! It's ridiculous.
Dad-I miss you, too! Things are going great here, as you may have read, and I'm doing really well. As long as I don't think about not being home for a while I am totally fine, plus I've been gone from home for long periods of time before so I guess it just hasn't hit me or something. some of these poor elders have never been away from home before so they get homesick. It's sad. so I'm doing great, don't worry about me. I'm saying that even though I know you still will because you're my dad. :) and regarding the sunglasses? hmm..well I would like sunglasses because we walk up to the temple twice a week and it's super bright, but my sunglasses aren't the best and they have scratches on the lenses so just leave em there. Thanks, though! oh, and another way of saying bye in french is "a bientot!" which means "see you later!", or the classic "au revoir" which means "bye!"

Ant- I LOVE the weather!! it just makes my day!! And I laughed so hard when you were like, speaking of babies,... in your dearelder. lol. so good. Oh and btw, funny you should bring up eric in your letter. On saturday evening, I don't know why, I began thinking about him and played "come, come ye saints" a million times on during our french computer thing. I got this super good feeling and just began writing in my journal and bore my testimony and I will again, that I know that eric is in an amazing place is so incredibly happy. The plan of Salvation is real; God loves us so He has a plan to bring us happiness, that's why we also call it the plan of Happiness!! I can't wait to go out and let people know how they can be happy and why they're here on earth. I dont know what I would do without the Church. My teacher, frere lapretre was kind of athiest before he joined the church, and so he is one tf the "investigators" we teach and he acts the way he did before he joined the church. he was investigating for 3 years. yeahhhh. so it's hard and he asks a LOT of questions and it's sooo hard. But I've learned from this that you're not teaching lessons, you're teaching people with lives and with family, with concerns and emotions that you can't just teach from a book and expect them to follow along. it's crazy how much I learn from each "lesson" with him.

Mom- (and dad), thanks so much for the cupcakes!! My roommates say thanks, also! we had a party last night with them and it was fun. and I'm so sorry to hear about grandma! Is she doing better? I'll keep her in my prayers and tell others too, also.

Court-send me pictures of your baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ben-thanks for the postcard! It was wonderful. :) send me more about you!!

shelb- wtw (what the what)?! why no talk? :( I feel excluded.

claire- I got both of your dearelders and I'm soooooooooo excited for you/super jealous that you and aud will be in the mtc together!!!! I sent you a letter to singapore last week, so..i have no clue when you should be getting it. lol.

aud white-write me!!!!!!!! I haven't heard from you! no bueno!!! yes, that was spanish. i'm reaching out.

mads- i miss you and your strange humor that corresponds with mine.

nancy!!- thanks so much for the postcard! I love it!! c'est tres beau!!!!! I have it on the ceiling of my bunkbed along with ben's postcard. :)
AND TO EVERYONE ELSE: I love letters. any kind. dear elders come the same day, so that is seriously great. I love hearing from everyone!!!!!! so please!!!!! It makes me super happy at the end of a long day hittin the books.
The church is true. I am so proud to be on a mission and have the ability to preach the gospel to those in search of the truth. How important it is for us to recognize who we are, what we're here for, and where we're going. I love knowing the Truth and having the gospel in my life. We all can invite others to come unto Christ, you don't need a nametag (though it helps). Faith in Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. This is my purpose; to teach these things to others and help them return to our Heavenly Father. I LOVE THISSSSS.

Love you all and pray for you at every meal and every morning and night.

Love with all my heart,

devano (soeur gardner)

Second email on May 1

oh yeah, I've been called as the coordinating sister in our zone. haha. basically i'm in charge of making sure the sisters in our zone are doing alright and Im the only girl in the branch council meetings! i would. lol

May 1 Email

     I'm back!!
     So every tuesday we have preparation day, which is when we go to the temple at 9:15, email, write letters, do laundry, etc. at 7 we have a devotional where usually an Apostle comes and speaks. yayuhh. last week Soeur Harris and I sang in the choir that performed before M. Russell Nelson Spoke. crazy, huh? yeah. things are flying by, now. And now we have two teachers, one in the morning, Brother Wilcox, and one in the evening, Frere LaPretre. It's so weird being taught by guys literally younger than your sister/brothers. Bro Wilcox just turned 23 and LaPretre is 25. So I guess the same age as Court. anyway, so we've been learning sooooooo much my mind doesn't feel compatable to fit all of the information that I throw at it! We've been having to teach lessons without notes to our teachers who are our "investigators". It's hard. yesterday I made Frere LaPretre and my companion laugh during the lesson because I tried to say "We want to teach you about the Spirit". Basically no one knows what I said. lol.. it was embarrassing. Especially since I got Frere LaPretre to fall out of character. lol. But whatevs, that's what I'm here for, right? To fail until I succeed. Heavenly Father really does listen to prayers. I don't think I would have stuck it out and stayed at the MTC if it weren't for my testimony. Geez it's HARD!!! I seriously have never studied so much in my entire life. Your whole day is planned out to a T, then you barely get sleep and I've been trying to wake up earlier than I already was waking up so I can study more!! ahhhhhh!!!! It's so worth it, though. It's weird, because I'll be like, I have been spending all my time studying and studying and studying just to embarrass myself?? but then you get these huge pumps of the Spirit and I get super excited and I'm like, guys, this is happening! (*reference to madeline rupard! and the other ladies. love yall!!*) and then I go on and am like, we get to go out and preach the gospel and change peoples' lives and make them so happy!!!!! It's weird the roller coaster I'm on. lol. but yeah, it's cool. majority of the time I'm just loving it, only a few times a week I get discouraged a little, then I remember that Satan is behind those feelings and I throw myself back into gear. That's really important, to stay happy and to just have faith that Heavenly Father is looking out for you. If you're having trials(ME), it's for a purpose. He loves us and won't give us anything we can't handle if we've been doing what we should be..and I'm pretty sure I'm where I'm suppose to be, doing what I'm suppose to do. :)
     I know that I was called to serve a mission for a purpose, and I am so grateful for the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. I know that He sent His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. How little we are, yet how much we matter to Him! I'm grateful every day for the things that I've been blessed with; to be blessed with a loving family who makes me laugh all the time (I love fun things in letters that make me laugh!!), I'm blessed with wonderful friends who deal with my weird personality and love me for it, and I am blessed with a loving Heavenly Father who forgives me for all the things that I've done wrong and I can't even pay him back, no matter what I do. The least I can do is give up eighteen months of my life to serve Him! I have a testimony that all the things that I've said are true, and that everyone can come to recognize these things if they pray and ask Him.
Once again, I love getting letters! Dearelders are great cause we get them THAT DAY, and of course snail mail is awesome. I can't send you a letter back unless you send me your address (Court and Ben and Ant!!!!)!!!!!!!!!!! So please, send me your addresses. And I need addresses for my friends on missions! I forgot to get them before I left. So much to do and so little time.
     Mom-the shoes are a little big, so I think I'll get some thing to put on the end of them or could send me something if you'd like? haha. And hte skirt fits great! The slit is a little bit too high, but I'll fix it up today. umm...Oh, and I lovvvvve the chocolate and gum!! They don't sell gum here. I was talking to some of the elders, and we were joking about how gum packs are like cigarettes in prison. hahaha. I was like, I brought 3 packs in with me and my mom just sent me 4 more packs! hahaha. so dummmmmb but hilarious. it's weird how long I've been here..cabin fever! yeaaaaaah!
     The food isn't THAT bad, but it's not good. haha. 1 out of 10..4. and you have to watch what you choose; I avoid creams of any kind. that just is a no. and mexican food? ha. yeah right. well...I think that's it. I got the Woods' letter! that was so nice of them! Tell them that I said thank you sooo much!!!!
      So what I'd like right now are letters and prayers!! Haha. Speaking another language is kind of hard. ;-)
      I love you all and I pray for you all the time!!
Love always,
Soeur (devan) Gardner
P.s: I've been messing up so much with saying my first name this week!!!!!! It's bad. haha