Monday, October 31, 2016

We're so grateful for grandmas this week!  Hermana Garner has had real physical challenges with unexplained abdominal pain the past few weeks. As a result of that and with a need to rest her sweet Grandma Garner (who lives just across the road from Gilbert in Mesa) became Hermana Garner's companion for several days at her home while Hermana Garner rested.  The rest has been helpful and today Hermana Garner was able to see a specialist who found evidence of a possible ruptured cyst and was abel to then refer her to another specialist who she will see on wednesday.  She is still hurting but it is improved some and we're finally getting some answers and feel certain that she will receive the treatment she needs to move forward!  She is back with Hermana Cedeño with limited activity as she continues to recover.

From Hermana Garner
This week was really, really weird. I did a lot of resting at Grandma's house, and because of that I'm a little behind on exactly what's happening in my area. I know that Luis didn't go to the baptism, and that they weren't able to get a hold of Laura. We have two new investigators from this week, Nereida and Ricardo - Nereida's brother is a member and just barely had the opportunity to baptize their mother, and though Nereida wasn't actively looking into the church they invited us in and committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon! Their family came to the branch's Trunk or Treat on Saturday, which is awesome. Apparently the branch was really good about bringing non-member friends to the activity, so hopefully we'll see some work spike up soon!

Even though I didn't get to teach a lot this week, I had other cool experiences and grew a lot spiritually. I'm learning more and more to rely on the strength of the Lord, not just spiritually but physically as well. In Grandma's ward on Sunday (it was SO weird going to an English ward again!) an RM gave his homecoming talk (he just got back from Brazil) and the bishop talked about enduring to the end, using an example from the 1992 Olympics when a runner collapsed 100 meters before the finish line but got up and hobbled his way to the end, even though everyone else had already finished. It fired me up even more to make it to the end of my mission! I was always determined to do so, but I'm even more determined to face and tackle the physical challenges involved, not just the emotional/mental challenges.

Saturday Tim and Sonia (Hermana Garner's cousins who live in AZ) came over to grandma's with their little kids, Roman and Malia. It was weird, but also really good to see them :) They brought me PHO, which was such a fun surprise! And we got to carve pumpkins! (Well, I drew out the designs, Sonia carved mine for me haha)

 When Tim and Sonia were visiting, I had a cool experience with Roman. I was reading my Spanish scriptures, and came to Alma 21:9, where Mormon is relaying Aaron's early experiences as a missionary to the Lamanites.. I thought it would be fun to see what he'd say, cause he's always so cute, so I said, "Hey, Roman - I'm going to read a little bit in Spanish, and you translate for me. Ready?" He promptly agreed. So I started to read: [Note: even though I read the verse in Spanish, I'm writing out the English translation so you can understand :P]

Me: "Now Aaron began to open the scriptures unto them concerning the coming of Christ..." What does that say?

Roman: It says, "Hope!"

Me: All right ... "and also concerning the resurrection of the dead ..."

Roman: Umm ... "Be kind!"

Me: "...and that there could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and sufferings of Christ, and the atonement of his blood."

Roman: "Heavenly Father loves us!"

It made me laugh and smile, but as I went back and reread the verse with his "translations" in mind, I was struck by how it made me think about it in a more profound way. When Aaron talks about the coming of Christ, Roman said that what he meant was "hope," which is what all the prophecies before Christ were about - spreading that hope of His coming and the power of redemption! I haven't come up with a great connection between the resurrection and "be kind," except to think about doing temple work for our ancestors to give them the opportunity to receive these saving ordinances. But the one that really struck me was, of course, the last one. Aaron speaks of the atonement, and Roman said, "Heavenly Father loves us!" It's true! Just as John 3:16 says, He loves us, so He gave us His son, that we might be able to return and live with Him if we are true and faithful!As hard as this week was (and as incredibly weird as it was) I'm grateful for the opportunity that I had to grow closer to my Savior, and to learn to rely on Him more. My faith is definitely growing on my mission, and I know that this trial with my health is just one more way the Lord is helping me refine and exercise that faith to be a more worthy and effective servant and always follow His spirit!

On Thursday when Hna Cedeño picked me up at Grandma's house, she told me that they'd stopped by the house of one of our potentials, the Ruela's family. We've been there quite a few times, but they're not actually investigators yet because we usually don't get the opportunity to teach them and it's all kind of back-and-forth. But we've definitely developed a relationship with them, and the little boy Mateo (Matthew) who's seven years old was showing me his rock collection the last time we were there. Well, when they visited the family without me (Hna Cedeño was with a young woman in the branch) Hna Cedeño told them that the reason her companion wasn't there was because I was sick. Mateo gasped and said, "Hna Garner's sick??" I'm really surprised he remembered my name, but then he immediately ran inside and grabbed this rock from his collection and told Hna Cedeño to give it to me and tell me to feel better. It was sooooo sweet and really touched my heart!! It will definitely always be one of my most treasured possessions from my mission.

  I finished Acts today, and Paul was so amazing.  
Love you all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tough week!

This week was hard in a lot of ways, but mostly physically. I was in the hospital pretty much all day Thursday being tested for various things, and everything came back negative. So the pain I've been having is, as of now, unexplained. But I'm moving forward. I know the Lord will support and sustain me until we can figure out what's wrong! But over the weekend I lost 5 pounds, so that's awesome haha. (We'll update everyone when we know what's wrong, right now she needs your prayers that the doctors can find the cause of the pain and address it!)

Her sweet companion did all she could to lift her spirits even thought she was in pain and got her smiling for pictures.

It's weird that over a fourth of my mission is already done. It goes by so fast!

I was "called" in the zone as the zone pianist and music coordinator :P  Everyone's been given a different responsibility and way to help uplift everyone else, so the unity is tighter and it's nice to rely on each other in that way.  Also musically, Elders McKee and Carter taught Noche de Hogar on Monday and asked me to do a musical number. So I figured out the chords to "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" and tried to improvise it ... it did not work out very well, in large part because I didn't think about the fact that I would need to read the Spanish lyrics at the same time haha. But the spirit was there, so that's what's really important!

Luis made some amazing progress this week. On Monday, he came to Noche de Hogar (Family Home evening). He's already come twice before, but what was so amazing about it is that he didn't come to the lesson. Let me explain - he got home late from work, and so often he's always complaining about being too tired to go to things after he comes home, that he just gets to his apartment and rests, veging out in front of the TV. Well, Monday, without any pushing from us or anyone else, he got home, immediately changed, and came to Noche de Hogar as soon as he could! He chatted with the members, and we were able to have a short lesson about el Dia de Reposo (the Sabbath Day) and the importance of church attendance. He was truly happy to be there, and it was fun to see him starting to feel more and more comfortable as part of the branch family (even though he's not baptized ... yet :P) On Tuesday we had a lesson with him where we continued to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon. We had a long discussion about the Joseph Smith quote about the Book of Mormon being the most correct book on the earth, because he initially said, "No me gusto," feeling like Joseph Smith was lessening the value of the Bible. So we talked about how they support one another, and how the Book of Mormon isn't enough on it's own, and the quote isn't saying it's more important than the Bible. It helped him feel some clarity and peace on the subject. Then, as we were about to end the lesson, he brought up a bunch of really personal questions and concerns. He's opening up a lot more than before, and he really wants to hear the answers from us. It's amazing how with so many of the things he's asking, we have no personal experience whatsoever, but the spirit can lead us to the things he needs to hear from the scriptures and from our own mouths. The spirit was incredibly strong that night, and after he said the closing prayer he kept looking down at the ground for a couple of minutes before he looked up, a smile on his face, and said, "The feeling gets stronger every time. Do you feel it?" I couldn't help beaming at him, and I just said softly, "Si." It's amazing to see him actually recognizing the spirit, but just feeling it!  And then, we saw an amazing miracle! He's always so hesitant to commit to going to activities and things, but as we were leaving Hna Cedeño suddenly asked him if he would come to a baptism with us on the 29th (this Saturday). I was sure he was going to say no, or at least need a lot of convincing, but he immediately said, "Seguro que si." It was so amazing! He wants to go to the baptism, and we know the spirit will be so strong there! Hna Cedeño confirmed with him last night that he'll be going, and he said yes.  Continue to pray for him!

 Also, remember Luis, the less-active we've been working with? Well, on Wednesday he told us he wants to start taking mission prep classes!! We were both sooooooo happy!! I know he would be an amazing missionary because of everything he's gone through, so we're going to continue to work with and support him. It was an amazing miracle, and something that definitely lifted my spirits. Those are pretty much the highlights from the week. There's been a lot more resting than I'd like, but I know it's better to rest a bit than push myself over the edge. I've received a lot of direction and comfort from the spirit about that through my scripture study.

Another quick note I wrote down to share - on Wednesday we had Family Home Afternoon as a zone and went to a member's house, the Porters. Mom, it was decorated EXACTLY how you decorate. The house even resembled our first Jersey house. She had the same pitcher, even! Also, she collects nativities, and they have a ton of things displayed from their world travels. So I basically felt like I was home. It was a little weird, and definitely made me miss you and want to see your fall decorations!!

So, it's been a hard week, but the Lord is always there! I've been telling so many people about how we can find joy in the midst of our trials, and now is my chance to really put that into practice. I'm choosing to be joyful and push through! One thing that stuck out to me this week was from my Patriarchal Blessing, which I'm reading a lot more often. It blesses me to keep the Word of Wisdom that I may be healthy and strong, and then adds, "That strength may be called upon in future years." I received a strong witness that this is one of those times that that strength is being tested. I know that as I strive to take care of my body the Lord will give me strength and support!

I was also reading a lot of scriptures about missionaries in the ancient church and all the trials and suffering they went through. One example is Paul - he was beaten and thrown into jail unjustly so many times. In Acts 21, immediately after a crowd tried to kill him, he turns around and starts preaching to them. He didn't let the pain stop him from fulfilling his calling to preach the gospel, and felt love and compassion for people even when they were literally trying to take his life. It's an amazing example of perseverance and dedication to missionary work.  Ammon, Aaron, Alma, Amulek, and so many other Book of Mormon missionaries had so many struggles as well. Alma 17:11 stood out to me: "And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites [or the people of Gilbert, AZ], thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." They were patient in their sufferings, and pressed forward with faith, which is exactly what I am going to do. When I was in the temple on Saturday, the Lord also gave me direction, guidance, and peace with D&C 10:4 - "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means ... but be diligent unto the end." So I'm going to be diligent :)

Love you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Training, Talks and a Sugar Fast.....Oh My

A lot happened this week, as always! At the beginning of the week, Hna Cedeño decided to go on a sugar fast, and I followed suit. It's not just to be more healthy, but we're doing it for a month with the prayerful purpose of sacrifice. It might be a little silly, but the Lord knows our hearts! And definitely, doing this over Halloween is a HUGE sacrifice for me. But it hasn't been as tough as I thought it would be, because we have a purpose!

On Tuesday, I was asked to give a training to my zone about the Doctrine of Christ in relation to the Book of Mormon ... it was a little bit of a vague topic, so during my studies I started going through lesson 3 of Preach My Gospel (which is the Doctrine of Christ) and looking at the Book of Mormon references cited. I noticed that there were a lot, which led me to figure out the percentage of the scriptures cited in that lesson that were from the Book of Mormon ... that led me to be curious about the other lessons, and long story short, I ended up doing calculations and statistics for ALL of the lessons in PMG as well as the Topical Guide. So, nerd alert: I'm about to overload you with stats. (I will mark this section before and after with asterisks, so feel free to read it at another time or skip it all together :P)

****In all of chapter 3 of PMG, which is where the lessons are outlined, 38% of the scriptures cited are from the Book of Mormon. That's a pretty high percentage when you think about how long it is in proportion to other standard works, because it's definitely not 38%. It makes sense, obviously, because it's the keystone of our religion.In lesson 1, however, only 27% of the scriptures are from the Book of Mormon. Again, this makes sense - lesson 1 is all about the Restoration, so you talk mostly about the times of Christ and ancient prophets, and don't introduce the Book of Mormon until the end. Lesson 2 - the Plan of Salvation - has a higher percentage of 42%. Lessons 4 and 5 have 36% and 23%, respectively. So in none of the lessons are more than half of the scriptures from the Book of Mormon.Except the Doctrine of Christ. 55% of the scriptures that are referenced in this section are from the Book of Mormon. Now, the Doctrine of Christ is the first principles and ordinances of the gospel (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and Confirmation) along with Enduring to the End. It's the road-map Christ has given us to be able to return and live with Him and our Father in Heaven once again. What's really interesting is that if you look in the topical guide under the sections relating to baptism and confirmation, only 25% of the scriptures listed are from the Book of Mormon. So why were 55% of the scriptures in Preach My Gospel chosen from this book? The Book of Mormon truly does contain the fulness of the restored Gospel. It makes clear things that the Bible doesn't. It shows us exactly what we need to do, and outlines the Father's plan for us in detail. We never have to doubt whether or not we're on the right path, because it's all there.Anyway, stat-time's done :P I just thought it was super interesting and a huge testament of the power and importance of the Book of Mormon.****

We had some great lessons with Luis this week! We were able to share some spiritual thoughts and get him to actually start reading a bit in the Book of Mormon. He was really confused by a lot of it, though, so Saturday night we went over and started reading through the introduction with him. We only got through the first three paragraphs because he had so many questions. But I kept telling him, "Focus on what you feel more than the questions and thoughts that you have." We obviously want to help him answer his questions, but I still have questions after being in this church my whole life! I testified to him that even before he completely understands, he can know that it's true, just like he knows the bible's true. It was also something Hna Cedeño and I had talked about, because almost every time we've asked him about how he felt he says vaguely, "Bueno," or, "No senti nada." (I didn't feel anything.) It's been frustrating, so we focused on helping him recognize the spirit. When we started talking about how Jesus Christ visited the Nephites in the Americas, he all of the sudden jumped in his seat, looking a little startled. He showed us his arm, and he had goosebumps. He started talking about legends in Mexico from the Mayans and the Aztecs other civilizations, and you could see that the spirit was helping him to recognize the truth of what we were teaching and that those legends are remnants of the true record that we have in the Book of Mormon. We testified of that to him, and it was really powerful! After we had our closing prayer, he looked up at us with this little smile and said, "Les digo - senti algo diferente ahorita." (I tell you - I felt something different just now.) I left the lesson with my heart literally singing for joy -  

We met a few new potentials this week (and some people really, really prepared in English). It's amazing when you meet people how you can see the Lord has been preparing them, whether they recognize and receive it or not. He truly has His hand in our lives!

On Sunday, I played the piano in sacrament again, AND Hna Cedeño and I gave talks! We got the text from Presidente Martinez asking us to speak on Saturday, and we were so excited! He didn't give us a theme, so we both prayed and prepared individually. I felt prompted to talk about how I received my testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was a really personal talk, and I testified of the importance of personal conversion. I talked about how blessed I was to be taught by my parents, but that if that was the basis of my testimony I wouldn't be here today. I'm so grateful for the scriptures and for the Holy Spirit which testifies of truth to all those who seek for it!

This past Thursday, we did service for most of the day helping to set up for the Special Olympics in Mesa this weekend. And then, on Saturday, we went and volunteered to help run it!  It was a really fun day! There were a bunch of kiddy-sports, arcade-style blow-up games. The elders were assigned to run them and help the participants play. The most service we did was literally just cheering for the athletes! It was so precious seeing these special children of God enjoying themselves and feeling proud of what they'd accomplished! I kept my clapper.

I love you all, and can't wait to hear how you're doing!
<3 Hna Garner

Saturday night, we were driving away from trying to contact one of our potentials, and saw this HUGE column of smoke. We drove over to see what it was, and one of the complexes that's been in the process of construction caught fire! It was crazy being that close to everything, but we were just glad it wasn't in the neighborhood of our members (because we thought that's where it was when we first saw the smoke! It was really close!). We don't know if anyone was hurt (we don't get the news) but hope that the construction was done for the day and no one was there! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Beautiful Scenery and Beautiful Miracles

We went hiking on Tuesday with the whole zone, and you know me and my scenic photography :P It was soooo much fun and really beautiful. We got up at 4:00AM so we could get there and hike and come back in time for studies, so we got to watch the sun rise as we hiked up!

Sooo excited for another transfer in Gilbert! I feel confident that I'm going to finally have my first baptism this transfer!  We had a GREAT lesson with Laura this Thursday, and were able to talk about the Plan of Salvation. There was a lot that she didn't know, but she accepted what we taught. We could tell that she felt the spirit testify to her of the truth of what we were teaching, and after teaching a little bit we asked her if she thought the Fall was a good or a bad thing. She thought for a minute and then said, "Well, a good thing, because if it hadn't happened we wouldn't be here." It was a really cool moment because so many people have a negative view of the Fall, but she was enlightened during our lesson and saw it for what it really was! She also was enlightened by the fact that we lived with our Father in Heaven before, and said that it made sense.  Also, she came to church!!!! She felt the spirit and felt really comfortable there.

And now, LUIS!!!! We had a lesson with him on Thursday this week, and we got really bold. It was actually a really emotional lesson, and Hna Cedeño and I basically poured out our hearts. He had told us how much we've helped him and how much his life has changed, which we've seen, and how he thought we were sent to him to bring more tranquility into his life. I said, "Luis, that is absolutely a part of the purpose that we have, and part of why we were sent here. But it's so much more than that. We weren't just brought here to bring you peace in this life, but to bring you eternal salvation. That's why we're asking you to read. That's why we're asking you to pray and come to church. Because if what we're teaching you is true, your eternal salvation is at stake. But you need to act in order to know that for yourself." He was so humble, and admitted that he hasn't been acting on what we've asked him to do in order to know. At this point, he's worried about betraying his faith, since Catholicism is all he's ever known, worried that by converting he would be fraudulating his entire life up to this point. We're praying for him to receive a more sure witness and to understand that all of his life experience up till now was preparing him for the truth.  And then, the next day, we received a text from him, asking us for the link so he could watch conference! It was really a miracle because he's never taken the initiative to go searching after something before without us extending a specific invitation, so it showed some real progress! 

We were so hopeful that he would come to church, and when he didn't we were both really disappointed. So we went over last night to check in with him and see if we could teach a lesson. He was in the middle of eating, so we weren't going to have time to actually teach anything, and then suddenly Hna Cedeño says, "Do you want to go to the Visitor's Center tonight?" I was pretty surprised, and so was he.  It was 6:20PM, and we said we'd pick him up with Hna Angelica at 7:00PM.  Here's the thing - we hadn't planned this. At all. We've been wanting him to go to the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center with us FOREVER, but never been able to work out a time. And we can't drive over there ourselves - though we have permission to go, we have to have a member drive us there and back. And since this was unplanned, we didn't have a member, but  Hna Cedeño had already told Luis that Angelica was coming with us!  So we RAN over to Angelica's house. She answered the door, and we quickly explained what happened. She was soooo excited, and immediately agreed to go with us! She's SUCH an amazing member missionary, and such a great friend to Luis!  Hna Cedeño and I run home, grab what we need, then drive back, as we drive up, we start talking about what we want to show him at the Visitor's Center (again, NOT PLANNED). We say a prayer, are both quiet for a moment, then Hna Cedeño says, "Lesson one," or in other words, The Restoration. That was exactly what I'd been thinking and feeling, so we got out of the car feeling inspired and even more excited!  We all drove over together in Angelica's car, took a picture with the Cristus statue, then waited for the visitor's center missionaries so we could find a way for us to watch the restoration video. They ushered us into Theatre One, but we weren't actually able to watch it in there because they're having an exhibit of artwork. So we walked around looking at the artwork, and though Luis was visibly touched and we were able to teach a little bit, we were anxious for the visitor's center sisters to find a room for us to watch the video in.  After what felt like an eternity, there was finally a room free, and we went inside. After a short introduction from the sisters, one of them went to turn on the video using the panel on the wall - and it wouldn't work. For at least ten minutes, she was pushing fervently on the panel, trying desperately to start this video for us. I was feeling my heart sink into my stomach. We'd felt sooo prompted to share this video, and now I felt like Satan was working super hard against us to make sure that Luis wouldn't be able to have a spiritual experience!  Finally, the sister turned back to us and said, "I don't think it's going to work. But, we can always say a prayer." Luis actually laughed a little bit at that and was like, "A prayer for the TV to work?" And she said, "Yeah, of course! Would you say it?"  He was visibly surprised, but after a moment bowed his head to say the prayer. It was a beautiful prayer, just as his prayers always are. As soon as it was over, we were all silent as the sister turned back to the panel. For a moment, it seemed like it still wasn't going to work, and then - the video started. She smiled, turned to Luis, and said, "The Lord answered your prayer," before leaving the room so we could watch the video. It was a SUPER powerful moment, and really a miracle! The spirit was incredibly strong, and as the video ended I saw that Luis's eyes were a little teary. As he shared some of his thoughts, it was clear that he was touched by the spirit and received some personal revelation, and more of a desire to truly know if what we're teaching him is true, and more direction on how to do so and recognize the answer. The sister who'd been helping us and working on the panel shared her testimony, and challenged him to go home and pray just as Joseph Smith did that night. As she did so, she said, "I know He will answer your prayer, because He already has." She pointed to the panel. "That was a direct answer to your prayer, and a miracle. A small miracle, but still a miracle, and I know that the Lord is aware of you and listening to you."We continued to talk and share and teach all the way back to Luis's house. We're not sure how long this personal journey of his is going to take, but I know he was touched by the spirit. We'd promised him we wouldn't be gone more than an hour at the visitor's center, and we didn't leave until we'd already been there for an hour and a half. He joked that we'd robbed him of his time, but then said more seriously, "But I really enjoyed it. I'm glad I came." The whole night was such a miracle, and one of the coolest experiences of my mission!

So much more happened this week, but those are definitely the highlights! Sorry it was so long, but the whole night was so amazing I didn't want to miss any of the details!!

As always, I learned a lot this week. Continuing on after conference, I've been thinking about the theme of repentance and what it means to really repent. As I was thinking about this, I ran into Acts 11:23, where the disciple Barnabas is traveling and preaching to the people in Antioch, and it says that he "exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." I was thinking about that phrase, "purpose of heart," in line with the phrase "real intent" and how we will continue to make mistakes throughout our entire life. But as we strive to keep the commandments and to improve with real purpose of heart, that is when we receive forgiveness. It doesn't mean we won't stumble, but we can know that our intentions are pure, and that we are striving to be more perfect each day.

Also, I was thinking about how to overcome temptation, and was reading in 2 Nephi 4, where Nephi laments for his weaknesses. And as I was reading, one word continued to jump out at me: REJOICE. I had the thought, "The antidote to temptation is JOY." I think there's SO much truth in that! As we come to truly know the joy that is in the gospel, as was talked about in conference, we won't have the desire to seek after the counterfeit that the world offers! We'll know the difference, and just how much powerful that eternal joy is. I want to seek to be more joyful and rid myself of temptation to yield to the natural (wo)man!

Thank you for all your love and prayers!
Hna Garner

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Testimony of Following the Counsel Received From the Prophet and Apostles

First, the big transfer news - WE'RE STAYING!!!! Yet again, Hna Cedeño and I get to be companions in Gilbert!! We're SO excited! Also, Sisters Young and Sorenson are BOTH staying in Gilbert as well!! We've all gotten so close as a house, and we're thrilled to be staying together!

Next big news - LAURA'S ON DATE!!!! That's right, the cute little abuelita that we just started teaching last week is on date for baptism the 29th of October! Also, SHE CAME TO CONFERENCE!!! She came to the Sunday afternoon session (which I watched in Spanish!!) and absolutely loved it! We're really excited to continue teaching her.

We met a bunch of new potentials this week, and have one new investigator - Andres Dias. He's going through some hard times in his life, and he was receptive to the quick lesson we gave on the restoration. We're seeing him again tomorrow and are going to teach him more about it. Both of us have a strong feeling that he's been prepared, and can't wait to see the light of the gospel come into his life.

 Luis has stopped progressing a bit. He keeps saying he'll read and pray about the Book of Mormon, but never does. Pray to help him understand the importance of this step and start to take action for himself.

All right, on to conference! It really was sooo amazing! Of course it always is, but there's something special about being a missionary. People always said that to me, but I never understood it until this weekend. The spirit's with you in a different way than before, and also, every time someone talks about the missionaries or missionary work, there's a sense of pride - as well as humility - knowing that you're a part of that small group striving to make a difference in the world.

I took SOOOO many notes from conference. I'll basically just share the highlights of what I wrote in my notebook - quotes and thoughts! 

President Uchtdorf "What shall we give in return for so much?"

Carol F. McConkie "If we expect to receive we must ask, seek, and knock."

Craig C. Christensen "Joseph did not let his questions paralyze his faith."

Elder Neil L. Andersen"When you share the love of the Savior with another ... your grade is always an A+."

Elder Quentin L. Cook"...we need to avoid the philosophies of men that lessen our commitment to the Savior." 

Elder Gary E. Stevenson"One is never too young to seek and receive a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon."

D. Todd Christofferson"Learn to abide the law of a Celestial Kingdom, so we can abide the law of a Celestial Glory!"

W. Mark BassettMy note: Trust in the Lord! His wisdom is greater than your own!

Kazuhiko Yamashita"Be ambitious - be ambitious for Christ!"

Elder Dallin H. Oaks"People learn when they are ready to learn, not when we are ready to teach them."

President Monson "We need to know God's laws, and live them."

President Russell M. Nelson "Our joy has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives."

Elder M. Russell Ballard"The restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold." 

Dean M. DaviesMy note: Spiritual experiences have everything to do with what is happening within our hearts.

I have such a strong testimony of the power of following the counsel we receive from the living prophets and apostles! I'm still waiting to hear from ALL of you (minus the parents) about your favorite things about conference, or most poignant thoughts!

One thing I wanted to share was a thought that Hna Cedeño shared with me this morning during our companionship study. Every zone or district meeting that we have, they ask if anyone had a miracle, and everyone raises their hand. We all get to share some of our miracles from the week. Hna Cedeño said that when she has FHE with her family, she wants to ask the same thing. We really can see miracles every day in our lives, though sometimes we don't recognize them as such. I want to encourage all of you to look for those every-day miracles, and share them with others!

I almost forgot about this story!!! So, Elder Reynolds goes home tomorrow early in the morning, so last Tuesday was his last District Meeting. He wanted to go to Red Robin as a zone, and even though we were all super poor since it was the end of the month, we decided to go. We sat down, made our orders, and were chatting. Then, after we'd been sitting for a bit, our server comes over and says, "Hey, just so you all know, the man who was sitting right behind you with his family paid for your whole order. So once you're done eating, you're good to go." We were all SHOCKED! It was a huge miracle, and we wish we could thank him, but know he will be blessed for his generosity! We were seriously so thankful!

Les quiero muchisimo!!!!!!!Hna Garner​

Friday, September 30, 2016

Excited For Conference!

First things first, because I want to make sure you ALL read this part - next week, PLEASE send me some of your thought from conference, every single one of you! Either in an email or in a letter. I love learning from you, and conference is such a special opportunity to learn!!

We met a lot of interesting people this week. We met someone from Dubai who's only been in the states for a month, and we're going to give him a Book of Mormon in Arabic.
The Book of Mormon in arabic

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" in arabic
We met a pair of twins from Romania.  We ran into a member from South Africa who traveled by various boats for four years to get to America, and apparently the church wants to make a movie about their journey, which involves one of the captains they were with trying to stab her son! For the first time, I was Bible-bashed by a Baptist. Someone told us about having a ghost yell in his ear that morning while he was making breakfast, and also gave us the cure to cancer! Lemon juice and baking soda. And yesterday, we met a guy on house arrest! (He didn't tell us, but we saw the ankle monitor.) ​You meet so many different people on the mission! It really opens your eyes up to the world and all the different experiences people have in it, as well as the ways that they deal with it.

I'm falling more and more in love with Hispanic food. On Wednesday, we had dinner at the Zavala's house. They're from Peru, and I've discovered from them and another family in the branch that I LOVE Peruvian cuisine!! Hna Zavala gave us rice and chicken and veggies, but then gave us Crema de Aji to put on top of it, and OH MY GOSH!!!! It's my new favorite thing!! It was SOOO good!Also, Hna Cedeño taught me how to make arepas! She said that in Venezuela, they make them for almost every meal. It's basically a pita, but different kind of dough, and you put whatever you want in it. We were improvising with what we had in the house and put in cheese, mayo, ketchup, and breaded chicken. It was good!

Women's conference was so amazing this week. I'd been looking forward to it the whole week, and a lot stood out to me as we watched it. One of the first things that stood out to me was in Sister Bingham's talk. She said, "The greatest form of charity may be to withhold judgment." It was definitely something that I needed to hear this week, and helped me realize that I need to be a little more humble. I also loved when she said later, "The great blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the opportunity for eternal progression." Even though we always have so much to improve, we always have the opportunity to continue to improve, which is amazing.  Another thing that jumped out at me was in both Sister Stephen's and Sister Oscarson's talk. They both quoted Elder Nelson and said, "We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the Doctrine of Christ." The Doctrine of Christ is obviously something we already study a lot as missionaries, but it gave me more of a desire to really search and understand more all the parts of the doctrine! Sister Oscarson also gave us a great warning - "If we don't teach our children and youth true doctrine - and teach it clearly - the world will teach them Satan's lies." I'm so grateful for the teachings of my parents, and that because of the way I have been taught I've never had to question what was right or what was wrong!And then, of course, Elder Uchtdorf's talk was inspiring and uplifting. The first part of it that really stood out to me was "Faith is ... a conviction so strong that it moves us to do things we might normally not do." Sometimes I wonder if I have enough faith, but as he said this, I thought to myself, "I'm on a mission. That's a crazy thing, and definitely something I normally wouldn't do. Why in the world would I be here if I didn't have that faith?" Describing myself as a "Woman of Faith" has sometimes been hard for me, because I think that at times it's hard to understand exactly what faith is, but the Spirit let me know that the times when I doubt don't signify that I lack faith, because I move forward despite my doubts ("Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith"). I also thought it was informative the way he taught us about what faith cannot do - violate others' agency, or force our will upon God. It made me think about where I focus my prayers and how I can exercise more faith by trusting more in His will and plan.Also, this quote: "Faith means that we trust not only in His wisdom, but we trust also in His love." Everything He does for us - even if at the time it seems like He's not answering our prayers - is because He loves us!!And then, of course - Fourth Floor, Last Door. This was a wonderful story about the power of diligence, but as a missionary, it really lit a fire under me. I want to go to the fourth floor, last door, every day. I want to find those people, to not let the rejection get to me or cause me to slow down. And sometimes you have to knock on dozens of doors before finding the one family - or one person - ready to receive the Gospel. It was definitely a message I needed at this time in my mission, because we've been facing a lot of rejection as of late! It's so frustrating, but we just need to keep going!

We did get a new investigator this week! Her name is Laura, and she's the cutest little abuelita you've ever seen! We taught her the restoration, and when we first invited her to pray about it she seemed pretty hesitant. But earlier in the lesson, she'd said that having authority would definitely be essential in order to do ordinances like baptism and other things. So, I brought that up again, and said, "We know you don't know right now if we have that authority. But if we do, it makes all the difference in the world. What we're asking you to do is pray to know, so that if we do have that authority - and I testify that we do - you can know for yourself and be able to return to live with your Father in Heaven." After that, she nodded and really understood the importance of what we were asking her to do. We have our next appointment set up for this Thursday.

Here are some more thoughts from my personal study this week.The one that I most want to share is in Mosiah 15:11. Here Abinadi is talking, and as I read this verse I immediately thought about General Conference coming up this weekend. It says, "Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord -- I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God." It is so essential that we prepare ourselves to receive the word of the Lord our God through the mouths of his appointed servants this coming weekend. It's such a privilege to so easily be able to hear the will of the Lord, and as we heed the counsel we are given we will always prosper and be protected, and find joy in our righteousness and obedience.

iLes quiero muchisimo!! I encourage you all to personally prepare for conference this weekend with questions and ponderings to bring to the Spirit. As you earnestly do this, I can promise you that those questions will be answered and your understanding enlightened!
Love,Hna Garner

Monday, September 19, 2016

When we submit to the will of the Father, miracles happen!

First things first - next Sunday, our stake is having a special fast for missionary work and opportunities. Everyone in the stake is encouraged to fast for personal missionary opportunities as well as for the full-time missionaries and their investigators. If you all can, I'd invite you to join the fast to fast for your own personal experiences, and also for my investigators, by name - Luis, Kenia, Diana, Beatriz, Romelia Flores. There are other people we're teaching as well, of course, but those five are the ones that we're focusing on at the moment. If you can't participate in the fast, please pray individually and as a family for those opportunities and experiences. I know as we all do this, we will see miracles and be blessed!!
My companion talked me into
straightening my hair for the day
There was a lot of the typical rejection and frustration this week, but it was also a week of miracles. The first one that comes to mind is from yesterday - we woke up, got out to the car, and realized we'd forgotten to get gas Saturday night, and we were almost empty! We had a lot of places to drive to yesterday, some of them pretty far, and we were worried about being able to make it through the day without having to get gas on Sunday. We prayed in the morning that our gas would be able to last, were careful with how we used it, and got home that night without the gas light even being on! This morning, we turned on the car and immediately the gas light was illuminated. It was a cool witness of the Lord's power and also of the sanctity of the Sabbath day, that He made it possible for us to do everything we needed to do without having to go to the gas station.
So, first I'll update you on Luis. We had three different lessons with him this week. On Thursday we went with Brother and Sister Perez - they were baptized just over a year ago. We had a really great lesson, and the Perezes were really amazing with their testimonies! He was completely attentive during the entire lesson, and agreed with everything that we said, and was humble. At the end of the lesson, he committed to take the steps he needed to in order to live the Word of Wisdom! We were so excited!  We pushed him to trust in the Lord and take his efforts further, and invited him to first read the scriptures and pray when he feels the urge to smoke or drink. We testified of the power of the atonement and that he can do this, and faster than he thinks he can. If you could remember to pray and fast for him as he struggles to overcome this, I know it would give him strength! He told us yesterday that he doesn't see us as just missionaries anymore, but as his amigas. We feel the same way. He's really an amazing person!
There were a lot of different times when we felt directly led by the spirit this week to go to certain places - places we had no reason to think of going to and that made no logical sense - and we saw miracles as we followed those promptings. One of the times the spirit really led us to do something unexpected was Friday night. We were driving to try and contact a potential investigator, and drove past Sebastian's house, we were teaching him back when I first got here but ended up dropping him because he really was non-responsive in lessons and told us he wasn't going to change and didn't want to waste our time. But as we were driving past, I got this really strong feeling that we should try to visit him. I told Hna Cedeño to turn around, and she did.We knocked on the door, and his mom, Norma answered. She gasped, smiled, and said, "Es un milagro!!" We walked inside and were immediately greeted by warm, tight hugs from Camila and Santiago, Sebastian's younger siblings. Sebastian was sleeping, and we didn't see him at all, but the other three were so happy to see us, and said they'd been waiting for us to come back and had missed having us over. We were able to share a scripture with them and invited them to come to the branch activity the next night - La Noche Cultural. And then they actually CAME! 
I almost forgot - yesterday I got to sing in church. I did the arrangement I'm always playing of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," but I memorized and sung it in Spanish. 
 Saturday, I went to my first baptism as a missionary! It was one of Hna Cedeño's old investigators in Queen Creek. He finally decided to get baptized, and we got to drive down there to be a part of the baptism. It was wonderful to see, and lifted my spirits so much! I hope to see many of my investigators take the same step, but it was wonderful and encouraging to see him making that change in his life, even if I haven't had the experience of helping someone reach that point yet (as a missionary). Hna Cedeño was so happy and excited!
.John 10:4 - Christ is speaking in a parable about himself being the Good Shephard, and he says here, "and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." Do we know His voice? How can we come to know and recognize His voice more in our lives? It was something that caused me to ponder this morning about how I can better recognize and follow His voice at all times
.John11:41. Before Christ raises Lazarus from the dead, he says, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." Of course I've read this before, and I knew that Christ only ever did the will of the Father, but I thought a little deeper about it today, about how Christ really did only ever do God's will, and how if it hadn't been God's will for Lazarus to be raised from the dead, despite Christ's love for him (because it says clearly in the scriptures how he loved him) He would not have raised him from the dead. We don't really think about Christ praying before performing miracles, but it caused me to reflect on the miracles He did do and how He searched for that witness from the Father that His works were sanctified. In all things, truly the will of the Son was swallowed up by the will of the Father.
Les quiero mucho!!Hna Garner​

Monday, September 12, 2016

 Frogs, Clothes, Heat and Blessings.

Hna Cedeño is terrified of frogs. TERRIFIED. We were walking to the car and there was a frog by her door and she screamed and ran away. So I picked up the frog so she could get in the car safely :P 

First things first, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!! September 15th is going to be a great day for us - Hna Cedeño has an investigator that she taught in Queen Creek who's going to get baptized, so we get to drive down for it!! Even though it's not someone that I taught, I'm really excited to be there :)
We're out OYMing (knocking doors) all day, we only get about one or two lessons because everyone closes the door in our faces. We hear all the time, "I'm going to be sincere - I'm Catholic," and then they won't listen to anything else we have to say. It's hard, but it makes it that much more rewarding when someone does let you in. We had a really amazing experience on Saturday morning - we went out to OYM and the first man we talked to was this guy Joe. He's English speaking, and in the process of moving, so we won't be able to teach him. But we talked to him about the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and invited him to read it. He was really receptive! At the end, we asked him if we could say a prayer with him (as we always do) and then asked, "Is there anything specific you'd like us to pray for?" And he said, "Just that I can understand this book you've given me." We were like, um, YES, of course we'll pray for that!! 
We had a cool tender mercy this week!!​ Hna Cedeño and I came home and saw this bag on the doorstep. We opened it up, and it was a bunch of clothes!! Really cute skirts and shirts and dresses! We had SUCH a fun night trying them all on, and I got this skirt and shirt as well as a dress that fits me PERFECTLY.  We have no idea who dropped it off, but it really was such a tender mercy!

Hermana Cedeno and I were talking about how we both feel like we've been sent here to help inactive members reignite their testimonies and come back to church. We've actually had quite a bit of success getting people back to church, and it does feel so good every time we see the less active members progressing, coming to church, and starting to prepare to go to the temple. Cool story with that - we knocked the door of this woman one day. We talked to her for a few minutes before realizing that she was a member, one that we didn't know and no one else in the branch knew, even though she was on the records. She said that her husband was a member as well, and they hadn't been to church in years but that she wanted to go. We set up an appointment to go back yesterday, and were expecting the husband to be really sharp with us and not at all interested in talking about the restored gospel. Well, the exact opposite happened. They let us in with open arms, and said they'd planned on going to church in the morning but couldn't remember where it was. We basically started teaching lesson one, the restoration, and talked about the need for a restoration of the gospel and how it was the same gospel that was on the earth when Christ was here. At the end of the lesson he gave a beautiful, beautiful prayer, and prayed for them to remember and understand the teachings of the gospel, thanked the Lord for sending us to their door to find them, and prayed that they would be able to go to the temple together! I felt like crying during the prayer - the spirit was so strong, and I saw a beautiful humility in that couple. 
this is what happens when you leave books in the car in Arizona. I left my dictionary on the dashboard, and when we came out of church the glue on the binding had melted. Yep. Love that Arizona sun. :P

2 Nephi 31:21 is exactly why I'm on a mission. "And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Gather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen."
The Lord really does lead us to the scriptures that we need, individually and to help others. Thank you all for continuing to share your scripture study with me, and I hope that at least something that I share will be of benefit to some of you!
Les quiero muchisimo!!!!!!
Hna GarnerT

Friday, September 9, 2016

I Really am So Happy!

I CAN'T BELIEVE my baby brother is 18!!!!! What is this?????
One of the biggest things of this week really was the orientation and everything about the Saints Unified Voices concert/fireside! SUV is a Grammy-award winning gospel choir directed by Gladys Knight, and they're coming here to do a concert/fireside for free!!! They'll sing all different kinds of songs, Gladys Knight will sing, and she'll also bear her testimony of the restored gospel and talk about her conversion. It's really an amazing opportunity, we've been going around and telling people about it, and gotten a lot of positive responses. She's not as well-known in the Hispanic community, but people are still interested in going. Missionaries aren't invited, but there's not translation available in Spanish, so we're hoping we'll be allowed to go with any of our investigators who go and translate for them :P Otherwise, we're hoping we'll be asked to help out with ushering and things so we can at least listen to the music and testimony in the lobby. They've been doing this for years, and hearing the stories about how the missionary work has exploded after these concerts is so inspiring!! We're expecting a lot of self-referrals and really can't wait! So, family that lives in the Gilbert area - ask your missionaries about the concert!!!!! Invite your friends and neighbors!!!! It's really an amazing opportunity, and when else will you EVER be able to hear a Grammy-award winning choir for free????
We had a LOT of miracles this week, as we always do. The first one was seeing Luis start to make a turn in his progression. On Thursday, we extended the baptismal invite again. He said that if he's going to commit to something - even to preparing for baptism and not the baptism itself - he wants to be completely positive that it's the right thing and what the Lord wants him to do. But then he said that as soon as he gets that answer from the Lord -as soon as he knows it's true and right - he'll be the one running to us and saying, "Baptize me as soon as possible!" We felt the spirit so strongly, and Hna Cedeño testified to him that he would receive that answer she thinks she'll probably be transferred the first week of October, and we both feel that if Luis continues to search for the truth, he'll be baptized before then. But even if it takes him longer, we know that eventually he will be, because he really is searching for the truth! He's so humble and willing to learn, and we're just continuing to pray and fast with him! Another amazing thing that happened with Luis this week was a personal witness and answer to prayer that I received. They tell you over and over in the mission that you individually were sent to this place at this time for a specific reason as we were teaching Luis on Tuesday, he shared a really personal story with us, and I felt the spirit testify to me during that story that I was sent here - me, specifically - for him. That I promised him in the preexistence that I would find him and teach him the gospel. It was a humbling experience! 
I wrote in my journal on Monday, "I really am so happy. Pretty much consistently and permanently exhausted, but happy." That is probably the perfect description of my missionary experience :P I've been writing in my journal almost completely in Spanish this week. Honestly, the gift of tongues is so amazing. If you would have told me that I'd be this comfortable with Spanish three months into my mission, I never would have believed you. But right now, I'm reading El Milagro del Perdon - The Miracle of Forgiveness - in Spanish! And even though I don't understand every single word, I understand every paragraph! It's nothing short of a miracle, and just another testament to me that the work we're doing is ordained of God and He's helping and supporting me.
Funny story of the week - we met a man who believes in the Norse gods. Can't remember what he said the religion is called. It was an interesting conversation ... Hna Cedeño didn't understand what he was saying, so I explained that he believed in Thor and Loki. She was like, "Like, in the Avengers?" and he immediately said, "Yeah, it's pretty disturbing to see your gods disrespected and represented in comic series and movies." ... We really didn't know what to say to that.
Yesterday we received an AMAZING referral! I was sick after dinner (like horrible chest pains and able to throw up) so we were at home. Hna Cedeño and I have decided that every time one of us is sick we have a miracle. This one was a text that we got from a member, who got our number from some other missionaries. She said that she has a friend she's been trying to share the gospel with, but there's a language barrier because she doesn't speak Spanish very well. But her friend has a lot of questions and is really interested in learning more about the church. So she asked us if we had any nights open for dinner this week, and it just so happens that we forgot to bring the dinner calendar to church that morning. The one day she could do was Thursday, and that was the one day we had available!! She told us that her friend is really excited to meet us, and we can't wait!
Saturday was really​, really cool - we got to meet the man who baptized Hna Cedeño's dad!!! He lives in New Mexico, and he and his wife came up here for the soul purpose of meeting with us. They took us out to lunch at Red Robin, and he brought his missionary journal and shared with us a bit more about the story of her family's conversion - he also baptized two of her aunts and her grandmother. It's amazing to think of how many lives have been changed because of the decisions that he made! There have been four missionaries come out of those baptisms, and think about how many lives they've touched, and their future families!! It was a humbling experience, and so fun! Also, they bought us both stationary to keep in touch with our families, which was super sweet!

.I'm sure you're all sick of me sending novels every week, but my testimony is just growing soooo much!! I know the church is true and I'm so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to focus on the gospel completely for this time of my life!!
Hna Garner
Let's start off with the changes - we have three greenies in our zone!! Elders Peterson, Ralph, and Reynolds are all training. One of the newbies is Elder McKee, and he's Spanish-speaking, so we'll be getting to know each other really well!

Our last picture as a zone
  And now for the BIGGEST news of the week - LUIS CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And he brought his two kids!!!!!!!! They were only able to come to sacrament meeting, but the talks were so perfectly directed to him and everything he's going through! I was playing the piano, so I didn't get to sit by them, but Hna Cedeño told me that he was crying during the first talk, which was all about the healing power of the atonement and how we should be grateful for our trials because they bring us closer to Christ. He really seemed to enjoy it, and the branch was AMAZING about welcoming him and making sure they all knew who he was and he got to meet a bunch of them. We also introduced his kids to others in the ward, and both of them said that they really, really wanted to go to primary!! It really was a miracle, and we know it was an answer to all of our prayers and fasting! We're SOOO grateful and can't wait to meet with him this week!!!!
One thing that really came out of this week was just more companionship unity. Hna Cedeño and I already loved each other soooo much, but we grew so much closer this week as friends! We've talked about anything and everything.
One thing that came from all of our tracting and walking around this week, though, was a miracle on Saturday! We were knocking on the doors of this apartment complex and knocked on the door of Isaac. He doesn't speak Spanish, but we taught him a little bit about the Book of Mormon, and we actually have an appointment with him today, and if he's interested afterwards we'll pass him on to the English missionaries. But the real miracle came when we asked him for referrals. He gave us SEVEN referrals!!!!!! That's what most people's WEEKLY goal is in this mission, and that day alone we got three more!!!! For the past week, we had 17 referrals, which is absolutely incredible!! Now the challenge is contacting them, because a lot of the time they're not home, but we'll keep trying until they are!!! That day we also knocked on 40 doors. My knuckles hurt.
Also, I hit my three months this Thursday! WHAT???
Luke 15:20. This is during the parable of the Prodigal Son, and I hadn't really ever noticed this detail before. The son is returning to his father to seek employment, and verse 20 reads, "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Those words - "when he was yet a great way off" - were incredibly significant to me this morning. It doesn't matter how much further we have to go in the repentance process. If we turn to the Lord and are making our way back to Him, with a contrite heart and a willingness to change, He will run to us immediately and embrace us with His love. And however much further we have to go, He will stand by us the whole way, as long as we keep our focus on moving closer and closer to Him.
Les quiero muchisimo!!!Hna Garner

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I Have a Brother-in-law Now!

I wore my bridesmaid dress on the 20th, and of course I took pictures! :)

I LOVE hearing about everything from Allison's wedding, thank you so much for including so many details!! Of course I wish I had been there, but it's so fun to hear about, and I think it would be harder if you just didn't tell me anything. I think that the thing I missed out on the most was Dad singing!!! That is absolutely hilarious!!!!!!! I laughed out loud when I read it!!!  I'm SOOO GLAD they went ahead and danced to "I Don't Dance!!" The daddy-daughter dance being to "Your Gonna Miss This" is precious.  

Okay, the pictures of the wedding are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to see the professional ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, this week was a week of changes!! I have a brother-in-law now,  we found out about transfers, and now I wear glasses, which is really, really weird!  
Transfer news ........... we're staying together!!!!!!!! Hna Cedeño and I are both sooooooooo happy!!! Sisters Sorenson and Young are also staying here, so unless they're bringing in a new pair of sisters our house is staying the same, which is nice!! But there are a lot of other changes happening in the zone and in the whole mission, because there are 28 new missionaries coming in this week!!!!!

The conversation that stands out to me the most from this week was with Ricardo. We've talked to him once before, and even though we have an appointment to see him next week we're not counting him as an investigator yet because he's really just interested in talking about theology and the bible and not about investigating the church. He loves to talk about the prophesies of the last days and how they're now and we need to be prepared for when Christ is going to come. When we were talking earlier this week, he was pointing out in the bible where it says that Christ will knock and it's up to us whether or not we answer. Well, as he was reading he said, "Literally, Christ will be knocking on someone's door. This may have already happened, we don't know, but it's going to. And it might be your door, and it might be mine - that's why we need to be ready."All I could think as he said that was that Christ had already knocked on his door - as missionaries, we are representatives of Christ, and we are fulfilling that prophecy by literally knocking on people's doors, representing Him and inviting them to come unto Him. And as much as he says we need to be watching and waiting for that moment, he didn't recognize it - at least not yet.​

There were a few hard moments during the week as it led up to Saturday, and Allison's wedding but once the day was here I was just happy. Happy for the great time I knew everyone must be having and SO happy for Allison and Stephen!!!!! I did get a little teary-eyed in the visitor's center that morning, because we went through the Eternal Families exhibit with our new investigator, Kenia, and it ends with the daughter getting married, and I knew that pretty much right then you were all in the temple, but I know I received a lot of comfort and strength from the Lord. It was so wonderful to talk to all of you and tell you how much I love you!!

We fasted for our investigators to come to church. None of them showed up, and of course we were disappointed, but I looked around and saw a number of less active members - who've never come to church since I've been here - walk in the door. That in and of itself was a miracle, and I know we'll continue to see miracles as we continue to work hard and devote our time and energies to the Lord!!

Yesterday was the mission choir concert!! I messed up a few times on the piano, but of course I'm the only one who noticed. A few families from the branch came to support me and Hna Cedeño and see me play the piano, which was so sweet!!! I'm so happy I'm staying in Gilbert!!!!!!!!!!!!

First, one thing I forgot to include in my other email - this week, I've come to realize even more just how amazing of a person Hna Cedeño is. The situation in Venezuela is horrible, and people ask her about it all the time. She's always calm and composed about it, and doesn't let her worries for her family stop her from being positive and diligent in the Lord's work. Hearing her talk about the things she's been through and seen is humbling. We've also grown closer as friends this week, and in our love and trust of each other.  She's such a strong, humble, spiritual, kind person, and I feel so humbled to have her as my companion!!!

This morning I was reading in Genesis 2:23-24, and thought about Allison and Stephen, since they just got married this weekend!! It's right after Eve was created, and Adam says, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh ..." And the next scripture says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:and they shall be one flesh." It struck me how Adam took her into himself and really embraced his wife as a part of him - flesh and bones that couldn't be separated from him. It's also symbolic of the purpose of marriage, that husband and wife join together in everything and are united, with one purpose and one voice.

I love you all, and I know the church is true!!!!!!Oh, one more note - Friday night, I understood almost every single word they said at dinner during the conversation!!!!!!!!!!!! :D<3 Hermana Garner

Monday, August 29, 2016

When You're Focused on the Work, the Days Don't Seem Long Enough

I feel like time is going by so incredibly fast. I can't believe I've been in Arizona for over a month,  When you're focused on the work, the days don't seem nearly long enough to see everyone you want to see and do everything you want and need to do. Okay, first off - LUIS! He is absolutely amazing. He came to noche de hogar (which was a MIRACLE thanks to your prayers!) and really enjoyed it. He specifically talked about how there was something different about the people there and he just felt really comfortable, which is awesome.  Both of the lessons were filled with the spirit, and we're seeing miracles!The coolest thing this week happened at the end of our lesson with him on Thursday. We were about to leave, and he stopped us and said (in Spanish, so I'm paraphrasing some), "Before you go, I want to tell you something. I was praying to God for more direction and to know what I needed to do in my life to get closer to Him and find more happiness. That was the afternoon that you came to my door and told me that you had a message about how we can find joy through Christ. Any other day I would have rather been sleeping than talking to you, but that day I figured I would be stupid after having prayed that prayer to ignore what you were saying." It was incredible!! He's already recognizing the spirit in his life and how the Lord is answering his prayers and giving him guidance! Also, his prayers are always so beautiful and moving. He said that same night in his prayer, "Thank you for preparing me for something greater, so I can understand the things your daughters are teaching me." And when we met with him on Saturday, he prayed, "I put my life in your hands. Help me to know and follow your path."  He's so sincere.  
So, we're having a lot of trouble getting our investigators to actually come to church, which is frustrating. On Saturday we'll be fasting for them, in the hopes that we'll see miracles. Obviously none of you will be fasting on Saturday, but if you could remember to include that in your prayers I know it would help tremendously!!Last thing - I got glasses today. Turns out I have a slight bit of near-sightedness and astigmatism. It's crazy because I never thought I had blurry vision at all, but after having the exam it was amazing the difference. 
I've learned SO much in my studies this week, especially this morning! One of the principle things has been just how perfectly and individually Our Father in Heaven knows me. Questions that I didn't even quite realize that I had have been answered.  There's real power in reading the scriptures every day and devoting that time to understanding more the nature of God and our divine nature as His children!  
Isaiah 26:3-4 - "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." This  is a scripture that is now one of my favorites! It's such a scripture of hope, and really helps us to understand what it is that the Lord wants for each one of His children and how we can achieve it - simply by trusting in Him always.
Mark 12:41-44 - This is the story of the widow casting in her tithe. The last line of verse 44 says, "but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." It made me think about the calling to be a missionary, and about casting in all that I have to the Lord, and how I can continue to do so once I return from my mission and am released. We're not asking to give all of our money to the Lord, but we are asked to consecrate our lives and efforts to Him and His purposes, and as we do that we will be incredibly and eternally blessed.
 I've found such joy and comfort in the scriptures over the past two months and encourage you to ensure that you're ALWAYS doing your daily scripture study!!
Love, Hermana Garner