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.

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dude vs. MTC

Hola Familia,

I am here in the MTC, alive and well. Things are going well for me, and I have already learned so much! My P-days will be on Wednesday while I'm in the MTC, but today, my district is letting me shoot a quick email to you guys. I'm not gonna lie, I already miss you guys. I have felt some symptoms of home sickness, but I usually try to get my mind off of it. Once I remember why I'm out here and what I will be doing, I feel better. I feel like I just have to get lost in the work, and I'll be okay. My companion's name is Elder Volmar, and he is a rad dude. We have a lot in common, and I personally think that we are the sickest duo. We both just want to try our best to learn the spanish language, and the language of the spirit. I am excited to be working with him. We both just feel totally lost right now, and we don't really know the whole "organization" thing yet. We walk around campus carrying like 50 books and we look like such kids. I know that we will get to a point where we will be the big guys here. I did see Jake my first day here, but only very briefly. He is not in my same building, so that's a bummer.

 I can understand when people speak Spanish to me, but it's difficult to speak it. I'm learning how to greet people in different ways, and introduce them to the gospel. It's awesome. The gift of tongues is so real! Right when I walked into class, my teachers told me to do a whole bunch of things in spanish, and I somehow knew exactly what they were saying. There are a lot of fake investigators here, but I have learned to genuinely love them. It's so weird how much you love here. I just love everyone.

I have to keep it brief today, because they only gave me ten minutes to write. I wish I could keep writing, I have so much to say. Overall, my feelings are okay. I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be, but I still have that homesick feeling. I just want you guys to know that I love you so much, and don't worry about me, I'll be fine. You'll hear from me on Wednesday!

les amo. 

-Elder Geezy

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Departure

Sam left on his mission the morning of August 19, 2015 with much anticipation and excitement.  You envision this moment most of your life and when it is finally here, it seems unreal.  Up to this point in Sam's life, he had never flown on a plane, so that added to the excitement.  As parents, we were concerned that the shock of leaving home and his family would be a lot to accept and take in, so we were hoping that there would at least one other missionary that may be on the same flight.  We were shocked when we got to the airport that we saw a few missionaries at first followed by more and more and more.  There must have been near 30 missionaries leaving for  Salt Lake City on that very flight.  That made us all feel much better.

One last Happy photo
Goodbyes are always soooo painful.  I don't know if you forget just how painful it is, but with Sam's older brother Beau, it was hard but didn't seem quite as tough.  Although after thinking it through, it certainly was just as difficult, just hard to remember.  The goodbyes started days before his flight with many goodbyes at home and in Mesa.  These were tough for Sam and so many of his friends.  At the airport with Sam that morning were his parents, brother Beau and grandma Dede.  His flight left at 7:30 so we were there by 6:00.
Ben - How sad is that?
Grandma Dede
Dad - Believe me, Sam was crying MUCH harder on the other side!!! 
Mom - Heart wrenching!
Once the tearful goodbyes were shared, Sam walked through the security checkpoint and was no longer seen by us "outsiders".  Throughout that day we would think to text him or give him a quick call but we quickly realized we couldn't which added to the sadness and frustration of him leaving.
One last glimpse of Elder Geezy before he 
passes through security.
Once Sam landed in SLC, he was picked by his cousin Gia.  We are grateful for her being there for Sam.  I'm sure it comforted him quite a bit as well.  Gia took him for his "last supper" at In-N-Out.  They were joined by Sam's aunt and uncle Jared and Stephanie and their two boys.  Following the lunch, Gia took him to the MTC for the QUICK drop off at the curb, and then he was off.

Thank you Gia for taking Sam to the MTC!
There he goes!
No turning back now...