This blog is kept and updated by the parents of Elder Gardner to share his mission experiences as he teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Spanish to the people in South Carolina. The blog covers the period of time before Elder Gardner's mission as he prepares to serve and follows him throughout his mission until his return home to Arizona.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Timeout

When a football player gets hurt or injured, they don't really show it. The coaches can tell, and the doctors can definitely tell. He wants to stay in the game. He wants to help his team. But it gets to a point where he is just too hurt. The coaches and doctors have to pull him out of the game. He has to sit out and watch his team for a few games and maybe the season. It just kills that football player because he put so much work and tears and heart into the game, and to have it taken away from him just kills him. But the football player doesn't know best, the doctor does.

So here I sit, writing this letter... At my house. I had a doctors appointment on Monday, about my depression...  They had me take a "depression test" and my scores didn't end up too good. Actually, they were the highest they had ever seen. Usually, a normal missionary/college student would score around 45-55, the lower the number, the less depressed/stressed, and the higher number, the more depressed/stressed. They said that they start to get really worried if your score is over 80, and they get severely worried if it's over 100. My score was 140... After they had received that score, they told me that I had a flight to go home and that I needed to go home to heal. It's like a sickness, and I can't control it. 

Going into the MTC, I was very excited. I wanted to get started on my new adventure and I was ready to learn. But after that first night, I started to become homesick. I had never really been away from home before then, and my family had become very close because of my diagnosis, and it was very hard for me to not be able to talk to them or see them. I knew that homesickness was normal, and I knew that I would get over it, and I did. But I think that the homesickness may have triggered my depression. After about a week and a half, I was able to think of my family and not get down or sad. But I was still feeling sad. I was still feeling gloomy and depressed. It was really hard for me to feel that way, because no one else around me was sad. Everyone was upbeat and excited. I didn't want to be the odd one out, so I just put on a fake smile and went about my way. But that can only last for so long.

I talked to everyone, literally everyone, about how to overcome these kind of challenges. I asked the workers in the gym, I asked the people in the cafeteria, I asked all of my teachers, and more. The answers were all the same... "You need to get lost in the work. You have to forget yourself". I worked harder than ever. I didn't waste a single moment, and I spent hours on my knees. I gave myself to the Lord. I read my scriptures. I went to bed at 10:30, and woke up at 6:30. I planned. I did companionship study, and I wasted no time. I tried to lose myself in the work. I tried to forget myself. But nothing was working, and I had no one to talk to. Everyone in the MTC and my zone that I would talk to had no idea what to tell me. I was just sad. I tried to be happy around people, but once I turned my back, I would just start to cry. I couldn't talk to anyone in my district, and I couldn't talk to my family. I tried to talk to Heavenly Father, but I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. No one, it seemed, could help me. 

The last week in the MTC, I was getting nervous and scared. I was scared for the field, because I knew that I would not be able to fulfill my purpose out there. Not because I wasn't prepared spiritually or physically, but because I couldn't control myself mentally. I didn't even think that I was depressed, I just thought that I was different from the others. I thought that I was just weak. This only made it worse. I felt like I was drowning, and no one was stretching out a hand. No one even knew that I was under the water. No one could hear me. (I'm trying my best to describe kind of what I was feeling, but words can't really describe it). I had fasted and prayed for just a little bit of comfort, just a little bit of hope to know that things would be okay. I never received an answer.

Being home has been hard. It's hard for me, because I know that my little brother and his friends all look up to me, and I tried my best to be such a good example to them. I don't want them to think that I'm a failure, or that I quit. This is just something that I couldn't handle. I tried my very best, I want you to know that. I left it all out there. I went for as long as I could. It kills me to even have to write you this letter.

The good news is that it's not a moral thing. I'm not home because I'm unworthy or because I don't want to serve a mission. I'm just home because I'm injured right now, I have to be taken out of the game. They told me at least 3-6 months. I don't know what the plan is right now, I'm just kinda lost. Really sad. I tried my best to hide my emotions in the MTC and to not show that I was just struggling. It really was the hardest emotional time in my life. I've gone through the whole cancer thing, and that didn't even come close to how depressed I was in the MTC. I don't know why I was so sad. I know it wasn't just homesickness, because if it was, I would feel just fine right now. I'm at home and I just feel the same... So I know it's a real issue. They have me on medication now, and I'm going to stay home for a few weeks until it kicks in. The plan right now, is for me to move down to the valley after I stabilize, and get a job while I do my counseling down there. But that's good, it's a good first step. I will be away from home, I need to learn how to do that. I will also be healing and working. 

I sure hope that you guys won't get disappointed when you read this. That's my biggest fear coming home. I don't want people to get the wrong idea, and be discouraged. You know how much I wanted to serve a mission and how excited I was. I'm just distraught right now. I have been released, but I still act like a missionary. I hope you guys aren't disappointed in me, I really did try my best. I went for as long as I could. They asked me how I was even sane with scores like that. They didn't know how I could even function. It was hard to focus, I'll tell you that much. It was hard to be the only one sad and depressed like that. But I tried my best. I did my best and I went for as long as I could. I just couldn't go out into the field like that. I would not have been able to fulfill my purpose. Just know that this is something that I could not control, or that I did not have a say in. It's just an illness and I have to get better. I hope you understand. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Go Shawty, It's Ya Birthday...

Mi Familia, 

Wow, I am extremely blessed. Thank you all for your birthday gifts to me! Seriously I loved them! I did wait until Saturday night to open them, because I didn't want to take away from the Sabbath. So my district and other friends all piled into my room as I opened presents! I got such a great gift from grandma Williams. Two great ties, and some awesome missionary CD's! You're the best grandma! Thank you so much!

I then opened the gift that Lauren sent me, and I got some more awesome ties and some sick socks! Seriously, everyone here is jealous of my ties. She also drew me a picture and it's so good. Thank you so much for that! I loved them! So much thought!
A Party Package Opening is not complete without
proper birthday attire.
Emmi sent me a photo book of Millie. What a gift. I love Millie so much, and she is so dang cute. I can tell she is getting big! I'm missing it! I showed my teacher, Hermana Boza, and she loved the pictures of Millie. I'm so grateful for her and for Emmi and Hal. You guys are both such great parents!

I got a photo book from Bailey too! That was so special to me, and loved that everyone wrote in it. I could tell that she put a lot of work into it. I love that girl! I will hold onto that forever! I have looked at it multiple times, and it just keeps getting better. Thank you to everyone who signed it! It made me smile grande:)
Looking at the photo book I got from Bailey.  I can't seem
to put it down. 
I popped open a bottle of bubbly, and shared it with my whole district. You can bet your bottom dollar that we partied! For about 30 seconds... I shared my cookies with them, which they were all really happy about, and then I moved on to my last present...
I was so excited to open these presents!
It was a package from my sweet family. I opened it and saw some wrapped presents. I unwrapped them, taking my time with each one, and the first one was a book of inspirational stories. I have already read half of it! I got another book and some CD's. Paul Cardall is my absolute favorite! I loved all of them. And then I opened the book that Mom wrote me. She wrote all of her favorite poems and sayings in there. Hand written, and I could tell that she had put so much effort into it. I literally started to cry right there, right in front of my district and friends. They all asked "Are you good?" and I just had to say "You wouldn't understand... this is the best present I have ever received." It's absolutely perfect. Everything that I wanted, and the most uplifting poems I have ever read. Thank you, my sweet mom. I love it, and it means more to me than you could ever imagine.
The South Carolina Crew in the MTC.
After all the unwrapping and the party, it was time to settle down and get ready for bed. My companion had left to go shower and brush his teeth, so it was just me in the room. So there I sat, on my side of the room, reading my scriptures and crying tears of gratitude, as I ate a cupcake, alone. It was the best birthday of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday. I really have truly been blessed with the best family ever. The best friends I could ever ask for. I knelt down that night, and just thanked my Heavenly Father for the family he has given me. I wish you guys knew how much I love you and miss you. Thank you for the presents and all the thought that you put into them. I recognized that, and I know that it probably wasn't easy to get those put together and it probably took a lot of time and money, but thank you. It made me feel sooooo good. I am so grateful and happy. 

So that was Saturday, but Sunday was my real birthday. How special to spend my birthday with my little niece on her blessing day! I felt the love and the spirit all day. I'm so glad Hal did such a good job. I knew he would, because he's just that type of a person! He's such a good guy. I love him so much. 
The weekly sick pic
I also got to participate in the MTC and the Spoken Word, with Lloyd Newell. What an experience! We sang a lot of songs, and the spirit was so strong there. He spoke between each song and told us what each song meant and the history behind it. I loved that I could sing the Hymns with all my heart on my birthday. The best song that we sung was "How Firm A Foundation" I just love that song. the 3rd and 7th verses are absolutely amazing. It was an amazing day. 

I got to say goodbye to Nate about 500 times on Sunday! It was super sad, but good at the same time. Every time I saw him, I would say bye to him, because I never know when I will see him in the MTC, but it was good. He was excited, and I know that he's doing good. I love that kid. He's such a good friend, and I told him "two years is nothin!" And then we went on to tell each other how much we loved each other and how great of friends we are. I think his district thought we had a thing... But we don't! We are just good friends! 
Last time seeing Nate for a couple years. I love this dude.
Such a great friend and example. 
I'm so close to getting out of here! 5 days!! This will be the last email for about a week and a half. Then my p-days will be on Monday, and I will be doing real work. I like the MTC, like it's pretty fun sometimes, and I've learned a lot and felt the spirit, but it gets to a point where you have just been taught all day how to help people and teach people, and you just want to go out and actually help people. The last few days, Satan has really been digging at me. I've been kinda down and I have just been questioning myself a lot. Like "why am I out here?" "am I ready?" "do I even have a testimony?" All these questions have been going through my mind so much. They just destroy me... Sometimes I feel like I have no hope... Like I will never see my family again, and that I will be just a worthless missionary. I try so hard to get them out, but I just can't sometimes. I said an hour long prayer yesterday, and I just asked God to help me and to comfort me. Pray for me to feel some comfort as I go out. The Lord answers prayers, just in different, better ways. I pray that I will have a good trainer who can tutor me and help me become comfortable, and confident. I hope he has some personal advice for me. 

I got my flight plans. I'm leaving the MTC Tuesday morning at 3:30 am. I fly out of Salt Lake at 7:10, and land in Atlanta, then I fly to Columbia. I will probably get there around 3:00. I'm stoked!!!
Flight plans baby!!!
I'm so excited to go out and actually work. I can't wait to eat some real food, and teach real people. I know it's going to be hard. It already has been. But I know that it will be better. I still struggle, and I will probably struggle my whole mission. That's just the way it is. But I know that I have to struggle in order to grow. I have you guys on my side, and I have God. I'm going to try my best, because that's all that I can do. I don't speak the best Spanish, and I don't have the best testimony. But I know that God lives. I don't need much more. 
Elder Volmar, Marco and me.  My first (fake) baptism.
I love you guys, and I can't wait to see you all. I miss you all so much. Next time I write you, I will be in my mission! How exciting. I invite you all to think of someone who is in need of help. Invite them to come watch general conference with you. I PROMISE that whatever they need help with, and whatever questions they have, will be answered in this conference. All they need is someone to invite them. Be bold. Because I have to be bold this week, and I'm scared. I'm extremely nervous. But I have to be bold. 

Thank you again for all of the birthday wishes. It was a day I will never forget. You are the best family and friends I could ever ask for. That's so cliché, but I mean that. You guys are the best. I love you all. 

les amo...


Elder Geezy

Missionaries from my district.  We took this because we all
matched, plus I look GOOD!
A reflection of me looking to the Provo Temple.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Twigs

Que pasa?

Such a good week this week! I want to thank everybody for all the letters and packages! Thank you to the Halls for their package and also to Grandma Williams for the birthday present! Yes, I already opened it... I have that kind of free will here;) I have to say, that it was so awesome to see Nate! I saw the back of his head in the cafeteria on Wednesday, and I just went up behind him and surprised him. He was so excited and I almost started to cry (imagine that..). It was such a good thing. I love that kid so much. He is doing great, and he has two great companions, and he is the district leader! As for me, I am the assistant to the district leader, who is Elder Volmar. We are straight fire, here at the MTC. We have just been killing it and having so much fun. We have grown close to Elder McEntire, who is also in our district and everyone is just so jealous. Our group is called "sick nasty". Elder Lopez, who is going to the Omaha Nebraska mission, is also doing great. I still have a lot of fun with him. I actually had a deep heart to heart with him last night. I have really come to love him, and it will be hard to leave. I absolutely love helping people through their tough times. I can relate to them, and I love to put myself in their shoes. I want to weep with them. Just like Jesus did with Mary, when they told him that Lazarus was dead. Although he knew that he was going to bring him back, and that he was going to be okay, he put himself in Mary's shoes and wept with her. I want to do that on my mission. 
This is me and Volmar. This is literally how we walk around the MTC.
We are seriously the kings of this place, whether they know it or not!
Me, Elder Volmar, and Elder McEntire. The "sick nasties".
Elder McEntire is like a math freak. He looooves math, it's weird.
But he's hilarious and I love him.
I have to say, with only 13 days left in the MTC, I'm SO pumped to get out! I only have one more p-day in this place! That's so crazy to me. I feel like I just barely got out here, and now I'm one month into my mission! And Jake is almost two? Whaaaaaa? I think of home a lot still, of course, but now when I think of it, It's almost like extra motivation to get things done. Because I know that you guys would want me to work as hard as I can. I get more excited/anxious to get out in the field, and really start my mission! I can't wait to stop teaching fake investigators, and start teaching real ones! You are taught everyday how to help people and how to love them, but there comes a point where you want to just teach real people. I get to do that in less than two weeks! Speaking of fake investigators, we just got a new one last Wednesday. It was a man named Marco. Me and Elder Volmar had no clue what we were going to talk about, and we were so nervous! All we could do was have some faith and pray that things would work out. Well we got in there, and we introduced ourselves, and then I just started going off... I didn't even know what I was saying! It was insane. I seriously sounded fluent. After Every few minutes, Marco would just sit back in his chair and say "Bueno Pregunta" (good question) and I was just sitting there, and I didn't even know what I asked him. I didn't even know that I had asked a question haha. But it was so good. The spirit was so strong, and the gift of tongues was so real. I love Spanish, and I'm so excited I can learn it. I understand very well what people are saying, and the actual speaking is getting much better.

The weather here is changing, and the trees on the Mountains are turning red and orange. It's really pretty! You would love it mom. It's getting a little cold, and I'm excited to go to SC where it will hopefully be a little more warm! The pictures of my room and the house look so good! I'm so excited for you guys to paint those ugly walls! I did leave you guys a little surprise with all of my stuff;) I did not want to take care of that before I left so I left it all for you:) Are Emmi and Hal buying a house?? Or are they just getting the furniture? I love them so much, and Millie is just the cutest! I printed off a picture of her. She's getting fat!
Me and Stetson before he headed out. I love this guy,
and I grew pretty close to him over the past two weeks.
He'll do awesome out there! I also made a sweet bag trade with
someone in my district! Do you dig it dad? Its a lot better than my
last one, and much more stylish. 
My selflessness is coming along slowly but surely. I have been working on the Christlike attribute of patience and endurance this week, and It has been helping me love and change the thoughts of the people around me. I tend to judge less, and love more. It's so important to love the people around you, because most people just want to feel loved. I have thought a lot this week. Patient endurance is to be distinguished from merely being "acted upon". Endurance is more than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstances; it is not only the acceptance of things allotted to us, it is to "act for ourselves" by magnifying what is allotted to us. (Alma 29:3-6) If, for instance, we are always taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be. If we are constantly comparing things to see if things are fair, we are not only being unrealistic, we are being unfair to ourselves. Therefore, true enduring represents not merely the passage of time, but the passage of soul. Endurance is not just getting from point "A" to point "B", but getting from point "A" to point "Z". It involves much more than putting up with a circumstance.  Sometimes, enduring may mean "letting go" when everything within us wants to "hold on" such as to a loved one, or family. Being here, I have had to "let go" of a lot of things. That doesn't necessarily mean that I just stop loving them, because that is absolutely impossible! But in order for me to succeed and do what the Lord wants me to do, I have to "let go" of my feelings and thoughts of home, so to speak. I never stop thinking of you guys, but I don't let it get me down anymore. I use it as extra motivation. I know that I am blessing my family, because I pray every single night and morning and meal that my family will be safe and healthy, and now, my Dad and Mom are free of cancer. Not that they had it, but their checkups were free! I know that is because of the Lord and partly for me serving a mission. I've learned that it takes time to become the person that you want to become. You have to work for it. 

Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape.

So this Sunday will be my birthday. I'm sure it will be a little sad to not be with my family, but I think it will also be a good experience and a spiritual one as well. The Choir director from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is going to be coming and he will be doing something called The MTC and the Spoken Word. Basically we sing three songs and he gives a talk in between all three and explains the songs. I am so excited!! One song that I know for sure that we are singing is "How Firm A Foundation", and the third verse of that song hits the feels for me. 

"Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed, for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid. I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand." I don't know if I got all the words right, but I have had that song in my head for a while. It will be such a good experience for me, and it will be such a good birthday present!!
I got to see Jase and Wryder at the same time. Just like old times!
They are both doing very well. 
I love hearing about BYU football. Word in the MTC spreads fast, and I hear all about it! On Saturday night, we had "personal study" so me and Elder Volmar went to the far west corner of the campus and listened to the game! You could hear the fans and music and announcers. It was sick! I felt like I was actually a normal person haha. I guess that more missionaries knew about it because half the MTC was doing "personal study" right with us in the far west corner. It was awesome. For those Boise State fans (Brent), EAT IT! That's my team! I'm glad that they are doing so good.   

I got some letters from Wendy, and ED. They were great letters, and I'm so grateful for them and the advice that they gave me. I'm also thankful for the letter that Dad gave me about his experiences on his mission. I have read it over and over again, and I have learned so much. Thank you for that. Whenever your heart is full, just write me and I will hold on to every word. 

Being a missionary is good, but being a missionary is hard. It's not what the primary songs make it out to be... It's a lot of hard work and trying to persevere through your hard times, which are a lot. I often tend to ask myself that - why is being a missionary so hard? Why isn't the only trial that we have to face, that of pneumonia from being in the water all day baptizing people? Why is it so hard? Answer: because it wasn't easy for Him. (Mosiah 14:3) Christ did not have it easy, so in order for us to take upon ourselves his name, we have to experience some of what he went through. When Christ suffered for us, He didn't just sweat a few drops and groan a little... He sweat drops of blood from every pore. He gave it his all. He did not back down, or give up. He did not have it easy, so we won't have it easy. But the good thing is that He knows how we feel. He has been there before, and He is here with us now. He is in our midst. Not on His throne in Heaven, but in the midst of us. He is on our right hand as well as our left. He is a shield in front of you and he will be your rear guard. He will not forsake us. 
​Me and Volmar ballin' like the usual. 
I'm so excited to get out and teach. I'm so excited to give it my all, and to help people through their times of sunshine and their days of sorrow. I love you guys so much. Thank you all for your birthday wishes. I wish you could be here to celebrate with me, but I'm glad I'm where I'm at. I love you all so much, and I pray for you individually every night. Words just can't explain my gratitude for my family. 

les amo,


Elder Geezy  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Big Bad Wolf

Fellas. 

This week was probably my best week yet. Time flies here, and I have almost been out for a month! One month ago today was when I gave my farewell talk. That's so crazy to me. I have been happy everyday, and I am getting along with all of the people in my district and more! I'm starting to get comfortable here, and the food is weirdly starting to taste better... Is that a good thing? I have only lost three pounds since I have been here, but I can feel those pounds come back after every meal. Me and Elder Volmar have started to get into a routine, and we work out a couple times a week. The first time we decided to work out, I just went hard. I was doing everything, and I was getting yoked! lol jk. But I was pumping iron, and it felt good! But the next day, I was sooooo sore. I don't think I have ever been that sore in my life! I didn't want to ever work out again. I haven't lifted like that for a long time, because of golf and stuff, but it felt good. I can already tell that my right arm is getting a little bigger. I'm stoked for that. 
Me and Elder Lopez. This is our "Dang dude thats sick" face.
We always do it when we see each other.
Me and Elder Lopez still have a lot of fun. I found that it's very important to have fun and to calm down while on a mission. It's good to get into the work, but sometimes you have to be a real human being. All is good with the other Elders and the food and exercise. 
Me and one of my teachers, Hermana Boza! Such a sweet lady.
She calls me "Elder Garden" with a spanish acce
nt. 
Spanish is coming along great! I can start to speak some day to day sentences, but only the short and brief ones. I know it will come along soon and I will be fluent some day. I love the language. It makes so much more sense than English! It's so easy for me to understand and to listen to. That's the problem though. All I can do is listen. When investigators talk to me, all I can really do is listen. I have my short little testimony that I can tell them, and a few other things here and there, but most of the time I just have to give them a short answer. I wish so bad that I could just talk them through their troubles, because that's what I love to do! I love helping people and uplifting them, but that's just hard for me to do right now. I know it will come in time though. 

I have really been working on Christlike attributes, and I'm starting to do one of them a week. This week was faith, and I tried so hard to do it, and I definitely saw a difference! It was good to walk into a lesson and to not be nervous because I just had faith that the Lord would let me know what I needed to say! It is awesome. I challenge each of you to do the same. Work on Christlike attributes weekly, and you will become a much better person. 

My homesickness is getting so much better. No doubt, I think of you guys every day and every hour, but I'm learning to accept the fact that this is where I am needed and what I am supposed to be doing. I'm starting to like it. I still miss you, and I look forward to getting your letters cada dia (every day). So the whole homesickness thing is getting better, and I am so grateful for all of your prayers and help and encouragement. Please keep it coming. 
I have found, however, something else that brings me down a little bit. That is, selfishness. I need to stop thinking of myself so much. I always think about why I am here and why I am serving a mission, and all I can think about are the blessings that are promised to ME and to MY family. It makes me upset that I think like that. How do I stop thinking like that? I heard a saying, that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. But if you teach a man how to fish, he eats for a lifetime. Please teach me how to fish. Teach me how to think of others and to focus on other people beside myself. As I was studying the other day, I pulled out the picture of me and mom, and I started to look at it. I was looking at it for a while, and I was just thinking to myself how much I missed my family and home and all these things. I was wondering why I had even come out here in the first place. All my thoughts were on me, and my self-pity. I looked up after a while, and I saw another Elder that I don't know. He was just looking at a picture of Christ. I'm sure the thoughts that were going through his mind were a lot different than the thoughts going through mine. At that moment, I felt so guilty and bad. Thus far on my mission, all my thoughts have been about me and about the blessings that I will get. But here is this other Elder who is in the same position as me. Left his family and friends. Came to a place that he does not know, and all of his thoughts are on the Savior. I want that. I envy that. Please let me know what I can do to forget myself as I am out here. That is a lot harder to do than it is to say.
Elder Geezy being Elder Geezy!

Most people my age, are probably out partying and having a good time. This time in their lives is when they are drinking the most alcohol, and getting into the most trouble. They say that it is the best time of their life, and that they are at their highest point. They don't realize that they are probably at their lowest. I'm out here on a mission, trying to bring people to Christ and to teach them about Christ, and I feel it's one of the hardest times of my life. It's hard to not think about home and to not get down, and it makes it even harder when I think about myself and how selfish I am. I definitely need to work on not being selfish, so any advice on that would be wonderful. 

Sundays are probably my hardest days here for some reason, because I have so much free and personal time, and I start to think of home. One thing that I found that helps me get those thoughts, or any thoughts out of my head is this analogy: 

In our head, we have two wolves, who are constantly fighting and getting after each other. One wolf is good, and the other wolf is bad. They are constantly battling. So which one wins? 

The one that you feed. If you don't like the big bad wolf, don't feed him. Simple as that. 

On another note, I'm so happy and excited to here about the Lake Powell trip! It sounds like you guys had so much fun! I can't believe that mom wake surfed and got up! way to go mom!! And Dani got up on her first try? Stud. That's so awesome! I felt the love from you guys while you were there. I told all my friends about you guys and your experience there. They loved it. I'm so happy everyone had a good time. It makes me happy when you guys are happy. 

I am so happy to hear that Emmi and Hal are blessing Millie on my birthday!! Thats so special. I feel so loved, and I feel closer to Millie that way. Thank you for doing that, and please send pictures of Millie. I love my little niece. I love when you guys send pictures!
Me and Jake. Our last time seeing each other for two years.
It was bittersweet. I know he is doing work.
 
I got to say goodbye to Jake on Sunday. That was good, but tough. But most beef is tough. That's life. I'm so excited and jealous that he is out of here. I got to take a picture with him, and have one last prayer and hug with him. It was a special moment for sure. I'm so grateful for the time I got with him, and for the lessons he taught. I loved the poem he wrote. I am proud to say that I was the first person he showed it to. No big deal. I also got to see the new missionaries come in. I saw Wryder Richards, and I have seen him quite a bit! It's good to catch up with him, and he is so funny. I see a girl from Snowflake who I was friends with. Kadi Johnson. She's really nice, and she's going to North Carolina. It's like South Carolina, but North. 
Me and Kadi Johnson (middle). You aren't allowed to take pictures
with just another girl,so we had to have our compañeros with us.
I also got to see Stetson! He's a really cool guy, and I love him. He was struggling with homesickness, but he said he's doing better. I love that guy. I am glad he's here. I'm sooooo glad that Nate is coming today! I have my eyes out and ready so that when I see him, I can give him a huge hug! I miss him so much, and hope that he does good here. I know that he is ready. 

My investigators are still going good. One guy, Cristóbol, is really struggling with being happy. I have so much that I want to say to him because I just love him. But I can't say anything... I just tell him that he has to pray to God to receive answers, because I just don't know how to answer him in Spanish. He is doing better though. I hope that I can make him happy. That's all I want to do for him, I just want to make his life better. 

1 Corinthians chapter 2 is so good. I love how Paul explains himself in that chapter. Paul is probably one of the most looked up to missionaries in history, and he tells us that he is not a man of clever words. He is not good at speaking the language, and he struggles to find the nerves to talk to people. I love that. It gives me comfort and hope. 

I challenge you all to become more Christlike, by exercising faith in your everyday lives this week. Have faith that Heavenly Father will help you get your tasks done, and that you will have time to have a dinner with your family. Have faith that He will help you remember what you learned in class and that you will be the person that you need to be. If you do this, you will become much more happy and you will be able to help others.

I love you guys so much, and I look forward to hearing from you this week. I am becoming much more happy here, and I am starting to enjoy my time here. I love being on a mission, and I know that this is where I need to be. Until next time. Ustedes estan en mi corazon (You are in My Heart). 

les amo. 


Geezy
Just ran into elder Randall doing laundry!! I recognized him and I don't think
he knew who I was, but I asked him if he was related to Garna and he was like "yeah?"
I told him that I was Grandma DeDe's grandson, and he was like "oh yeah!"
so that was cool. He has been here for 8.5 weeks and leaves on Tuesday!
That was awesome to see him even though we don't really know each other. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

May Angels Lead You In



Family, who I love so much. 

How can I even begin to thank you for your uplifting letters of support and encouragement? I'm blown away by the amount of love and courage that came my way this past week. It truly was a better week. Thank you to all who wrote me, and gave me advice. I want you guys to know that I read all the letters at least three times a day. I hang on to every word! I'm so grateful for the family and friends that I have. I will use my love for you and turn it into love for my district and investigators. I want you all to know that your prayers and fasting and thoughts have literally lifted me up, and I can now enjoy myself a little bit here. My heart is full. 
My last picture with Tyson before he left. He's already gone! He left on Monday:( 
This week flew by. I feel like it was yesterday when I was writing you guys! I have the best sister in the whole world. Emmi, your letters are so great, and I love that your write me everyday. Please don't stop, it makes the homesickness go away. I love hearing about Millie and I pray for her every night. I love the letter that Hal wrote me also. I can relate to him and his experience with the MTC. I also have the two best brothers in the whole world. Beau, thank you so much for the advice. I know that most beef is tough now;) I use that line cada dia (every day). People love it. I want to single out Ben as being a person that I look up to. His letter that he wrote me was probably the most amazing thing I have ever read! I have never thought about the armor of God like that. He said," Every morning, we wake up and put on the armor of God. We put on our helmet, our breast plate, we grab our shields and our swords. But what covers our backside? We have to face our trials head on, and fight with all our might."

Wow. Could you even ask for better advice? I keep telling myself that that's my little brother. I love him so much. I'm so happy to hear that he was able to bare his testimony at the Roosevelt Lake youth trip. It's so important to bare your testimony and to let people know who you are and how you feel. Thank you everyone for your letters and prayers and fasting. I have felt them already, and I want you guys to know that! Please keep them coming, because I still need them!
The District. Top left, Elder McCentire going to Kentucky. Elder Volmar. 
Elder Porter, going to Omaha, Nebraska. Elder Nelson, going to Alabama. 
Hot guy, going to South Carolina. Elder Mair, going to Ohio. 
Bottom left. Sister Johnson, going to Washington D.C. 
Sister Shaw, going to South Carolina. Sister Shaat, goint to Las Vegas.
 Sister Kinikini, going to Mexico
The District
I am starting to feel happy and more comfortable here. I love my district. Such amazing people with such strong testimonies. They are starting to become my family. My problem is that I get soooo attached to people soooo quickly, and I'm worried that I'll be sad when I leave here. But I'm also so ready to get to South Carolina. My companion is rad. He has a sick style of dress, and we always talk about how much better looking we are than everyone else (hehe). I just know that when we walk through the MTC that people just look at us and wish they were us! If he went to my high school, I probably wouldn't hang out with him, just because of the different lifestyle he lives. He likes baseball, and he played it in high school. He likes to hang out with friends and do crazy things. I don't know what that means, but who knows... I'm sure we would have been great friends in school ;) 

I am proud to say that I eat two meals per meal now. I have gotten to the point where I can eat it now. I'm probably getting fat... lol jk. I don't think I've lost any weight at all or gained. I've just stayed about the same I think. As far as exercise goes, we play a lot of basketball and volleyball. We started playing basketball with another district in our zone, and that's kind of been the thing lately for us. My friend, Elder Lopez and I absolutely dominate. I literally haven't missed a three pointer since I've been in the MTC. I'm 12 for 12. No joke! People call me the shooter. I'm pretty proud of myself for that. Elder Lopez and I have gotten really close. We joke around a lot and we always have a good time. I know the Lord sent him here to be with me for a reason. I can always just relax and calm down and laugh with him. It's so nice to be able to be myself sometimes. 
​Me and Elder Lopez. This is basically our relationship. We have a ton of fun.
Elder Lopez ballin on top of the world

I also do 15 push ups like once a week because I have to stay in shape, ya feel? I don't want to stress my body with doing 15 push ups a day, so I just keep it to once a week. I'll come back and dominate Dad in golf...

15 push-ups a week will make any guy thirsty!!

I find a lot of comfort in writing my feelings in the form of poems. I don't know why, but that helps me get some stress out. I wrote one this week when I was feeling down. I only feel down and homesick like once every other day, and it only lasts for about 30 minutes, but this is the poem I wrote:

"I pack my bags, excited for what lies ahead
I look back now, and wish for one more night in my own bed
Driving to the airport, I say " Come on, let's hurry!"
I wish I'd taken my time, the road ahead is kinda blurry
Taking off in a plane, this is my first flight
First day in the MTC, I did not sleep that night
I think of my mom, and know I'll see her in two short years
I think of her now, and think that's so long, I breakdown in tears
I meet my companion, we're excited and ready
One week in, and I'm shaken, emotionally unsteady
Let's learn the language! Let's go out and preach!
Thinking of home, makes it so hard to teach
After one day, I start to get homesick
I pray my heart out, that this trial will pass by quick
I think of my Savior alone in Gethsemane
I know he's felt my pain before, he suffered for me
I remember he said "Father, let this cup pass"
He didn't quite know, how long it would last
I think of the people, family members they've lost
How much they must miss them, the nights turned and tossed
why is such a beautiful thing, such a heartbreaking sorrow?
Every morning I pray that I will make it to tomorrow
I thought I was ready, thought I'd never miss home 
I get so tempted to call my mom on that phone
One day I will see her, how sweet the joy
That day I'll be a man, no longer a boy
With faith in my God, I overcame cancer
My mom, it seemed, always had for me an answer
Right now she's not here, I have to do this alone
But God knows what I feel, for me He atoned"

I know it may sound sad, but it really isn't. I was writing this when I was homesick, and I was just letting out my pains. But I realized as I was writing, that Christ knows how I feel. Not only did he suffer worse when he was on his mission, but he literally felt what I feel. When I feel like I can't do this, or that it's so long and hard, I just look at all the letters on my desk and realize how many people are waiting for me at the finish line and cheering me on along the way. The mission is like a big long 400 meter race, and I have to try as hard as I can, but I also have to pace myself. Although I've just barely started, and I haven't even rounded the first corner, I have a massive crowd behind me, cheering me on. And right next to me is my savior. He’s running with me, he knows I'm out of breath, but he keeps pushing me, he gives me an extra push. Although I've already fallen, and will continue to fall, I will get back up. I will get up for you guys and for my mom and dad and for my savior. I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for you. 

I've been reading in the new testament, and I think that it's my new favorite book. I love reading about Christ and I love developing a relationship with him. I encourage you all to do the same. 

This is where we do a lot of our studying. 
We love to be outside rather than indoors. 
Spanish is going great, I can understand a lot. In class, our teachers only speak Spanish, and it's almost just like an English class. I understand so much. Speaking Spanish? That's a different story... I can teach a gospel related lesson or talk about the gospel, but I don't know how to carry a day-to-day conversation. I’m really bad at that. PERO (But), I know that I will get better because I have faith. Faith is literally all we need in life or on a mission. If you have faith, you are doing your job. It doesn't matter if you can't speak the language, or go into a lesson scared. If you have faith, God will speak the words for you. I know that first hand. Our investigators are still going well. We just got a couple more, and we had a "get to know you" lesson. Those are awesome. I love trying to teach people, not lessons. I love hearing about their needs and wants, and having a personal experience to help them know how to get through those times. It's fun. 

In one of our lessons, I told the investigator that I had two shoulders (hombros) instead of two brothers (hermanos) I felt so stupid... 

Yesterday, we had the privilege to hear from Dallin H. Oaks!! It was awesome! He talked a lot about the Sacrament and how important it is for us to use it every week. We must take the Sacrament in order to be close to God. I thought that that was really interesting. 

I was reading my scriptures and came across D&C 50:40-46. I needed that so much. To know that Christ is in my midst and that I "Need not fear" was such a blessing. It comforted me a lot, and helped me. Right now, I feel like Peter when he was walking on the water. He saw Christ in the distance, and knew he needed to get to him. He also knew that with Christ, all things were possible. So he got out of the boat and started to walk on the water. He started to walk towards Christ, but then he saw the waves and the wind blowing and he began to be afraid. He started to sink. IMMEDIATELY Christ stretched forth his hand to grab him. 

That story hits the feels for me at this time of my life. I trust God and I went on a mission. I didn't know how or what it was going to be like, I just hopped out of the boat filled with my family and friends, and I just started to walk on the water. But when I got to the MTC, I saw how much the wind was blowing and how big the waves were, and I started to sink. But because of you guys and because of your prayers and fasting, I didn't have to sink. Christ stretched forth his hand and lifted me out of the water. I will never forget that. If we have faith in Christ, the hardest, as well as the easiest times can be a blessing. God has promised angels on our left and our right to lift us up, and he always keeps his promises. 

Geezy trying to express his love to each of you!
I can't express my love enough for each and every one of you. Please continue to keep me in your prayers and thoughts. I still need them!! I love you all so much, and look forward to receiving your letters. I miss you all so much, and I can't wait to see you soon. 

Everyone here calls me Geezy. Not a soul calls me Elder Gardner. It's always Geezy haha. I haven't traded many ties because I love all of mine. They remind me of Ben and Beau and Dad, so I hold them close. I love you guys again, and I will talk to you next week!!

te quiero mucho,


Geezy

Had to take a selfie. I also made a face like Dad because 
he can't open his eyes!;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mix O' Emotions

To the family and friends I miss so much,

First off, THANK YOU FOR THE LETTERS!!! I seriously love hearing from you guys so much. It gets me through my days, which have been very long. Shout out to Dad for the Krispy Kremes, and Emmi for the candy! You guys are so legit! A huge shout out to my beautiful Mom, who writes me everyday, and who I love and miss so much! You are number one. I love you the most, my sweet mom. Keep writing me letters because I look forward to getting them every day! Dear Elder is the best thing, because I can read them that same day, if you send them before noon. So please do that! I'm so excited to hear from you guys and to actually email you and tell you about my week. 

So Claire and Mike got married, huh? That's just nuts and bolts to me... I'm so happy for them! I love them both so much! I know that they will have the happiest of lives. I look forward to hearing about it. The reception sounds like it went well. That's awesome. I wish I could have been there, I was thinking about them and all of you guys all that day. Such an awesome opportunity, and the most special thing to happen on this Earth. 

I don't even know where to start this email! It's titled Mix of Emotions, because that's exactly how it's been. It's been the longest week of my life. I have had extreme homesickness, and I think that's why it was so long. I've just been struggling bad with being away from home and from you guys. I really hope I can overcome this time and trial in my life. Please pray for me to feel comfort and peace, because I could really use that right now. 

That's an I miss my family look...
So day one. The flight over here was great, I sat next to another Elder, and he was awesome! Planes are so cool. We flew over the Grand Canyon, and that was sure a sight to see. I then got off of the plane and starting walking to try and find Gia. As I was coming down the escalator, everybody started to look at me and cheer super loud! So I just held my fist up in the air, and started to cheer for myself as well. It turns out, that they were all there for their returned missionary who was standing right behind me... So the applause wasn't for me:( I felt like such an idiot. Eating lunch with Jared and Steph was awesome. I loved seeing them, and the kids before I left. I then got to my apartment and headed to my first class. Everyone was speaking Spanish, and I had no idea what anyone was saying. But I somehow managed, it's probably because I'm so cool. 

That first night was when I started to feel homesick. I'm just so used to having my mom there with me all the time. I always reached for my pocket to find my phone so that I could call her and tell her that I missed her and needed her. But then I would realize that I'm totally secluded from the world, and that I couldn't contact them. That was heartbreaking. It was a long and sad day for sure, but I made it. I can't really remember everything that happened, but I do remember just feeling really depressed and sad all the time. It was so hard to pay attention in class because I was (and still do) think of home all the time. But I also know that I will see you in two years. Just two years, it's no big deal. Bailey and Brent and Dina have almost lived here for two years... I can do it! But I really would love to have your prayers with me, and for you guys to write me some uplifting letters. I need some advice on how to keep my mind off of things. 

My district is awesome, and there is only one other sister missionary with my mission call. 

My District
Elder Volmar
Elder Volmar is my companion, and I tell him everything. He's a really good guy from Utah, and we get along really well. I love him to death. When I said that I tell him everything, I mean evveeerryyything. I tell him a lot about you, mom. Actually I'm pretty sure the whole MTC knows who you are and what you're like. I talk about you 21/7. The other three hours I have to speak Spanish to investigators. But everyone knows about you and Dad, because I constantly talk about you guys and how much I miss you. 

Elder Volmar and I have taught three lessons so far. All in Spanish. Our first lesson, was with a woman named Karina. She only speaks Spanish, and it was nerve wracking. We had a set script of what we were going to say and how she was probably going to answer. She did not follow our script. We first asked her how she was doing, and we just expected her to say "muy bien" but instead she said something like "not good, my parents died when I was younger, and I live alone with my daughter"... We had no clue what to say. We just went along and asked her where she worked, and we just got out of there in about five minutes. It was not good at all haha. We totally blew it. 

Our next lesson was with the same person, and we started to talk about prayer and we invited her to pray and everything, and she said she would! I was so stoked. We still had a script, but it was a little better than our first one. Our last lesson we taught with her was on Monday. We went in there with a game plan and just an outline of what we would talk about. We wrote it out in english, and we just put our trust in the Lord that we would know what to say. Well somehow we did. We talked to her for 25 minutes straight in Spanish! Words were just spewing out, and I'm sure the grammar was awful, but she understood. I told her a simplified version of my dealings with cancer, and she totally started to cry. I told her that with faith and hope, we can overcome the challenges in our life. I think she really appreciated that. It was a neat experience. 

Sunday was a good day. Me and Elder Volmar decided to fast. We were fasting for our language studies, but I also said that I was fasting to overcome this homesickness I have been having. He selflessly said that he would fast for me too. I really admired and appreciated that. Although the fast helped with our studies and learning the language, my homesickness hasn't really gone away. But one thing that helped me, was that when we were in choir practice on Sunday, the director, (really neat dude) told us a story about a missionary homecoming, and about how happy it will be for us when we complete a full time mission. That hit me hard, and I was bawling in front of everyone. They all asked me if I was okay, and I just told them that I missed my mom and I wanted her to hug me. They all laughed and thought that was just the most hilarious thing they had ever heard, but I was most definitely being serious. He also said, we can't live our lives like driving a car looking through the rear view mirror. If you're constantly looking back in your rear view mirror, you won't be able to drive your car. You have to keep looking forward. I'm trying so hard to do that, but I keep looking in my rear view mirror. And when I look forward, I only see a long curvy road. I pray constantly that I'll be okay one day. I know I will, but I don't know when. Hopefully soon. 

I asked my branch president for a blessing, and that definitely helped a lot. He mostly just told me to keep going and to suck it up. I know I need to grow up, but that's just so hard for me. What keeps me going everyday, is seeing Jake. I see him everyday for a couple minutes and that just helps a ton. I love him so much. We have a spot where we pray every night, and that is the best part of my day, besides getting letters. He has so much advice as well. I see Tyson a lot too! It's so fun seeing him.
Sam's good friend Tyson Binnie
Sam's main man - his cousin Jake
 I wish I was in Jake's building, but we're next door neighbors. I'm grateful for that. I also got to see Joey today!! I was sitting outside of the temple and he just walks out of the doors and says "GEEZY!" I don't think I have ever been so happy! haha. Talking to him was very comforting, and I just held on to every word he said. He gave me some good advice, and told me that the MTC goes by slow, and the mission goes by fast. I hope the MTC goes fast, because I'm not a fan of this place. The food is outright disgusting. I don't think I have finished one meal. I have probably lost a lot of weight here. I just can't stand the food. The schedule is rough too. I am excited to get into a semi normal lifestyle in the mission field. At least there, I can buy my own food and drive a car... 
Sam's cousin and Jake's brother Joey
I came down with a cold on Sunday, and I still have it. I have been using the essential oils and taking my vitamins daily. I am starting to feel a little better. Could you guys please send me some pictures of our family through the mail? I would love them. I keep the picture of mom hugging me in my scriptures. I love that picture of her so much. 

Well I hope this email was long enough, that was basically my week. Not a ton of exciting things, but a lot of new things. I have just been really homesick. I need all the prayers I can get, because I don't know what else I can do. I love and miss you all sooooo much. I can't wait to see you in a couple years. You guys are my light. I think of you all the time. Keep sending letters and sending love, and don't forget to give me some advice. I need it! 

I love you guys and I'm excited to here from you. 


-Elder Geezy