Monday, April 16, 2012

Last Words from Honduras

Hey Fam,

Its here! The day has come and I've been thinking all week about what it was that I wanted to say you all today being my last time to write from here in Honduras. Ive slowly been writing this all week for you guys for my last email... I got the idea from a poem I have read in the mission.

I think I found out what the mission is.....

Its impossible to describe a mission, but rather its the moments, Its sending in your papers. Its opening the call that is signed by a prophet of the lord. Its the 3 months of time before the MTC that seems like its never gonna end. Its the hug from parents and brothers and sisters and walking away in the greatest adventure of a life time. The MTC, the rules, the packages, the classroom, the firesides and devotionals (actually being disappointed when it's a Seventy speaking). Its flight plans, tons of food, testimonies, and cabin fever. Its the airport, a phone call sharing your first wanna be testimony in Spanish to your family as tears run down your face. Then out of the little swimming pool and into the ocean of uncertainty.

Its the mission presidents, trainers, realizing your didn't learn hardly any Spanish in those 9 weeks but loving it all at the same time. Its new food, new people, new culture, new language, new currency, new form of transportation, new routine, new everything under the sun (which is really hot). It's a lot of first that change: First district meeting, first contact, first lesson, first letter from home, first email, first Latin companion, first cold shower with water your not so sure you can touch and survive, first morning of trunkyness, first Sunday in church, first time a kid speaks and if and you turn to your comp to ask if that was Spanish and he only laughs, first First vision, first baptism... unforgettable, no matter how disorganized it is.

First changes come and it's all a blurr after that. Its being anxious for your companion to leave then to your surprise you miss him when he is gone. Its 99 contacts.. and nothing. Its shaking fingers, lying children (my mom says she's not here), and barking biting dogs. But its the hope that contact number 100 will be the one. The one that wants to change. The one who has been crying for help to a God that he or she wants to follow, but doesn't know where to find him. The one that seems perfect: perfect questions, perfect work schedule, married, perfect kids that don't scream during a lesson and most importantly, a desire to make it work even if everything isn't perfect. It's the hope of finding "the one" that gets you up every morning, gets you out of members house in 100 degree plus weather and when everyone is sleeping, and gets you to open your mouth and speak even though you don't speak well and don't like leaving your comfort zone.

Its finding the one, one convert, future priesthood holder, or better yet, one golden family. It's making plans, working with members, a lots and lots of prayers to help find that family. Many are found, but few choose to be chosen. It's thousands of disappointments as the family´s commitment falls to doubts, gossip, weather, or anything else clever that Satan comes up with on Saturday night. It's getting the family to church for the fist time and helping them feel at home. It's showing them the Church, presenting them to the bishop and other leaders, as well as the cute, outgoing teenage girl so that the young man in the investigator family will enjoy the experience as well. It's praying that the bishops 2 year old wont make too big of a fuss, that the speakers won't teach too much false doctrine, and that they will feel and recognize the spirit in spite of it all.
It's when that family gets baptized that the reality of what you are giving them hits you. It's the hope of having and eternal family. It's the hope of a better life, without pain and suffering. It's giving that hope which brings you the greatest satisfaction and joy that you have ever experienced.
It's like going back in time and appreciating what you had back home. It's the firm declaration that you will never complain about vacuuming again when actually have carpet, or mowing the lawn when you actually have grass.
It's having to shower with flip flops and washing your own clothes on those cement trays that you thought they only used in the pioneer days.... and you learn to love it.
Its stepping into a baptismal font with freezing cold water, flipping a bug out, and doing your best to put your happy face on so that the little girl getting baptized doesn't get cold feet.
Its getting home soaked 75-80% of the time, whether from the rain or sweat, It's sitting in front of a fan wondering if you can do this another day in the oven your living in.
Its Elders 14, Cockroaches 1 in a matter of just 2 weeks. Its letters and packages from home. It's wedding announcements, Dear Johns( luckily just to your buddies), pictures, and the realization that life does indeed move on without you!!
Its going through 3 pairs of shoes, ripped pants, missing buttons, shredded collars, and socks closer to heaven (holy).
Its ants, frogs, scorpions, cockroaches, rats, and the little bugs that give you killer diarrhea.
Its a rainstorm that soaks you and your comp cuz them so called umbrellas don't even work with true buckets are coming down on ya. It's walking through water up to your calves and not having anything else to do but laugh as people look at you like your crazy (which ISN'T a complete misconception)
 It's going out in the rain because an Elder once convinced you that for every rainstorm you work through, the hotter your future wife will be!
Its shortly after your year mark that you get a mini-calendar from your mom and sister and wondering if they are trying to kill you or if they think its gonna make time go by faster. From then on Its change day, Mothers day, Christmas Day, Hump Day, Birthday, P-day, Friendship Day, and Election Day (which always makes for an interesting Sunday). Its good days, bad days, killer journal entry days, and days that you just don't want to end. Those are the good ole days.
The days that cant be enjoyed without a price... hard work, sweat, discouragement, frustration, and faith.
Its discovering that God does hear and answer prayers. Sometimes He takes away from everyone else so that we can really get to know Him. Its coming to learn in a tiny degree, the power of the Atonement applies not only to vile sinners, but also to each individual, including you. Its feeling that power and knowing you'll never be the same.
Its knowing that you have a testimony and nobody can take that from you. Its building it one piece at a time. Joseph Smith was a prophet. The Book of Mormon is true. the priesthood keys have been restored. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. its sharing that testimony dozens of times a day that roots it deeply in your soul.
Its watching missionary after missionary give their final testimonies, while you are certain that day will never arrive for you... and then it does. Its learning the live in the moment and not for the moment because all too soon, its gone. Its the sunsets, the music, the dirt dusty streets, dirty kids. the tiny houses, and the love of the people. its soaking it all in, catching every detail, because you'll never get it back.
Its arriving at the last couple days in your mission, knowing your family is waiting NOT so patiently. Its those last couple contacts that you know you will never see get baptized but you still just wanna leave your soul with them.
Its wondering about the effect of one mission. Does one mission really have eternal consequences? Does planting one seed, teaching one lesson, finding one person really matter at all?
Did the mission of ONE make a difference?
Did His ministry, His teachings, His seed planting have an effect on the eternities?
Did His one infinite atonement pay the price of justice and give mercy her claim???
As you get ready to go back to the former life that you're convinced was just a dream, its realizing that while you were in the service of your fellow being, your have only been in the service of God. Its feeling your hear and soul overflow with gratitude for the chance you had to show your worth, give your all, and return with honor. its BECOMING like the ONE, the Only Begotten, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, even Jesus Christ. Its those two years for which you will eternally praise the Lord, as the life that was converted more than any other was only one--YOU
Its the tears that roll down your cheek as you write your last email. Its knowing that this poem could go on forever but you don't know, when, how, or where to stop. Its wanting to tell your family how much you love them and hoping they will accept this as a final testimony from Honduras knowing now... without a doubt... that this is the true church.

Its being able to say SEE Y'ALL IN 3 DAYS knowing that these 2 years may come to an end... but the mission never will, just new people, clothes, cell phones, and your family and old friends back!
Its not having to say... UNTIL NEXT WEEK, rather... see you soon enough!
Im over excited to see all of you... you have no idea.
Love you all!!
Love your missionary
Elder Gardner

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Single digits!!!

Hey fam,

I dont know where to start. I was trying to decide what it is that I really want to tell you all in the little time that I have! First of all... well I cant belive that my time is running down quicker then I want it to really cuz weve had some sudden problems with the marriage and baptisms that we are wanting to have this weekend. Its been a good week really even though it was hard with all the wickedness that was going on here since were soo close to the ocean here but we survived it. GET THIS!! Tuesday we went to Tegucigalpa for our beginning of the month Zone Leader meeting with president and the assistants and not even 30 minutes after we arrived there and this mad rainstorm came in and in the first time in A LONG time we saw HAIL!! I would send you all pictues of it but you will see them all soon, I just cleaned my memories cuz they were infected but anyways... that was super crazy and I couldnt believe it when we were in the Taxi and all the sudden Hail falls from the skies!!

So yeah after lots of work with our golden family this week... we all the sudden have probelms with Lilian´s mom. She hates the church and everything about it and since Lilian isnt quite 21 years old... until the 29th of this month... it means that in Honduras she is UNDERAGE and in order to get married she has to have permission from her mom to get married but her mom had told her that she wouldnt sign the paper cuz she thinks marriage is stupid and that there is no such thing as a faithful husband or man and that the church doesnt teach anything about families and thats why people in the church just get baptized and leave the church right after. Believe me... that was not good news. So in the moment that her mom told her no... we went over to her house to try to break the ice with her and see what we could do. She pulled everything out on us and when I nearly got in tears in silence cuz I didnt want to beleve what was just happened that all this hard work and waiting to be able to marry and baptize a family on the day that I complete 2 years in the mission. Well in that moment of silience... she said "Fine i will think about it" and we told her to not just think, but to pray about it. We were hoping to see her before coming to write you guys but when we went over there no one was home so its still a 50 50 chance that we would marry and baptize them this weekend. I just hope that my ferverant prayers will get answered and that the lord will humble her and so that she can go to the wedding and sign the simple peace of paper. Help us out in your prayers so that we can do this, this weekend!! Were gonna need it!

Thats about the only thing on my mind right now but other then the talk that I was called on to give yesterday in church on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it was a good weekend. Those may have been my last words to the branch here unless they give a minute next week on my last sunday. I was plannin on just writing next week that I would just see you all on thursday but Im sure I will have alot to say!!

Sad to say that I think its gonna have to wait till then!
Its extrememely hot right now and I gotta go so see what Lilians mom says!! Wish us luck!!

Love you all so much!!

Elder Gardner

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Long awaited week

Hey fam,

As I have been taking about the past while as the hottest and most sinful week in Honduras is here, The Holy Week (Semana Santa) where everything goes down and when supposidly it gets hotter then any other time of the year. I guess the good thing is that we wont have to be here in San Lorenzo for the majority of the beginning of the week, we have to go Tegucigalpa tomorrow and come back late wednesday night for a Zone Leader Council and verification that we have to do this week. This is my second to last full week in the mission and its gonna fly right by me. The bad thing is that our golden family wont be getting married and baptized until next week cuz after wednesday this entire country just shuts down. So turns out they will be married and baptized on the same day that i complete 2 years since I saw my family. Its gonna be a really good LAST WEEKEND to say the least. Exactly what I long awaited but yeah were gonna need your help in your prayers so that nothing bad happens.

This has been a pretty fast week and long awaited weekend. I loved General Conference except for the fact that for the preistood session when I was excited to listen and think back to my last weekend with Dad and my brothers 2 years ago... well for some reason we werent able to get the satalite signal and we didnt get to watch any of it. That was pretty disapointing, we only got to watch the last couple words of the prophet on the internet but that was it. Ill have to wait till i get home I guess to watch what was taught!
I sure did eat a whole lot more then I most likely would have at home. General Conference in the mission seems to be a whole lot more long awaited here then anywhere else. I got good notes and loved everything about it!

This could be my second to last email cuz i dont im gonna say much that last monday before I leave. Im having problems with my memory card as well and thats why I havent sent any pics lately and im not sure what happened but im gonna get it fixed.

I love you all and cant wait to see you all again.. each monday is just one more closer. Now just 2 more!

Until next weeek!

Love Elder Gardner

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One more Month!!

Hey fam,

Ugh its been a long... sick week. For the first time in over a year i believe that i got sick and im not sure what from but something got me good. Since tuesday night ive had a super bad fever and really achy body and i never ate anything just cuz i never got hungry and my stomach was just in really bad shape. Until sunday morning... after a really long nihgt... i felt better when I woke up. Ate some breakfast for the fist time in at least 36 hours and we left the house at 8 to get people for a conference that we had in the district. Luckily we had the afternoon session so we had all morning to go invite and bring prople to the church. We got our complete family to go to church as you can see in the picture and they were super excited. We knew it was gonna be vital for them to be there cuz it was a satalite broadcast and the area 70 spoke and Elder Boyd K. Packer also spoke. It was broadcasted to all of central america. Three was a bus that took us and so it was really cool to have 6 investigators that showed up and a family that as of this week has the marriage and baptismal date not for this weekend but the next. The same weekend as General Conference. They are super excited to be able to get married and baptized cuz they have wanted to but dont have the money.
Two of our baptisms that we were gonna have this weekend fell... two sisters becuase they both finally got a job and has to work on sudays so now we dont know what to do with them... they go straight from work to seminary though... not even going home before and really wanna be baptized but with work its really hard now. Their parents are members but dont go anymore for lazyness but ugh... thats just how a lot of people here are right now! Sometimes we just run out of things to do for them so that they will go to church but the truth is that they just dont want to... they dont see it they way we do... to them its just a house to meet at and sweat your butt off and listen to crying kids. Its hard!

I dont have much time right now cuz its late already cuz weve been waiting for interne to come back all day!!
I love you all and one month from today... ill see you all!!

Elder Gardner