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

Monday, August 8, 2016

Herman Garner was excited to have her favorite food, Pho

I'm so grateful for what I'm learning and experiencing here as a missionary!!

It's really crazy how time flies here. Every day I'm surprised that it's been so long, and yet the days themselves seem to go on forever. It's that weird paradox of time, and I'm just trying to soak in every moment! (Which is probably why my emails are always so incredibly and obnoxiously long ...)

This week has been crazy. The craziest thing that happened was that Sister Sorenson got hit by a car!  The miracle is that she was able to walk away from it, and other than being sore (and needing a new bike) she's completely fine. It just goes to show how the Lord takes care of His missionaries! She was pretty shaken up that day and the next, but she's doing fine now!

There were so many different times this week when we were teaching that Hna Cedeño and I - without talking - had the exact same thoughts and feelings. It's such a blessing to know that we're both in touch with the spirit and can follow those promptings. As always, there are ways we can improve, and we can always become more sensitive to the whisperings of the spirit, but it's been a powerful testimony to me this week of our divine calling as missionaries that we are in sync together and with the spirit.

Thursday was a crazy day. Hna Cedeño woke up and was so dizzy and delirious that she could barely bring herself to pray, let alone stand. But being the stubborn person she is, she insisted on getting up and going out to work. But she really wasn't herself - she was hardly saying anything when we were talking to people and she was having trouble standing up straight. We came back for lunch, and I tried to convince her to let me call the nurse, but she wouldn't let me. Well, guess who came to the door right as she was laying down? THE NURSE! Sister Payne came to check in with Sister Sorenson and see how she was doing, and I was able to tell her what was going on and force Hna Cedeño to listen to her. Eventually she was able to get through to her, and Hna Cedeño was ordered to stay in bed for the day and focus on drinking water and getting electrolytes.

Since she wasn't able to work, Sister Young and I left her and Sister Sorenson at the house so they could both get some rest and went out on splits! Hna Cedeño had an appointment with a NEW investigator named Diana, so we headed over there. She wasn't home, so we just started knocking doors on the street, and for the first time I literally had a door slammed in my face (felt like a right of passage). We knocked on the door of this guy named Tim, and he is the definition of a golden investigator! He's read parts of the Book of Mormon before, he's in the process of coming to know God better, and he and his wife and kids are praying and looking for a church that they can go to as a family!!! We were able to share a message with him, and even though I won't be teaching him (since he's English speaking) I'll be able to hear about his progress through Sisters Young and Sorenson!

So after talking to Tim, we headed towards the car, and just then Diana got home and started walking to her door!! She apologized for being late and let us in, so we were able to teach her about the restoration. It was amazing to see how prepared she was, and to see the spirit testifying to her of the truthfulness of our words. We're going back to teach her on Thursday, and we're really excited because we really feel like she's ready!! It was an interesting lesson - half in English, half in Spanish, because Diana speaks English pretty well and Sister Young doesn't speak any Spanish - and it was amazing to see the Lord using the two of us, who have never taught together before, to share His word and touch the life of his precious daughter.

We'd been trying to meet back up with Vielka for over a week, and she was never home because she was so busy with work. That night we were driving to a member's house so I could drop Hna Cedeño off and she could keep resting while I went out with another member, and we decided to just drive past Vielka's house. Miracle - she was in the front yard!!   Well, I dropped Hna Cedeño off and then came back witha sister from the branch, Hna Acuña, to teach the lesson. It was a little daunting because Vielka doesn't speak any English and Hna Acuña practically doesn't speak any either, so I know I would need to rely on the Lord to help me through it. I realized that I knew more Spanish than I thought and that the Lord was helping Vielka understand what I was saying even when I didn't say it completely correctly. The spirit was there, and at the end of the lesson I invited her to be baptized. She said that if she comes to know it's true she will be, and she committed to the date of August 27th!!! It truly was a miracle! 

Overall, there were a lot of challenges this week, and a lot of people who we couldn't see, and quite a few moments where I felt down. But there were also, as always, SO many miracles. I'm so grateful for what I'm learning and experiencing here as a missionary!!

Psalms 33:18-22. I love this whole passage, but verse 22 specifically stuck out to me - "Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee" (emphasis added). We must have faith and hope in order for the Lord to be able to extend his mercy towards us, because if we don't believe we can receive that mercy we won't be able to. Having that hope makes all the difference!

Another one from Psalms - Psalms 121:5-8. I read this Saturday morning before we went out to bike all day. I'd prayed during my prayer just before scripture study for protection from the sun, as well as protection from anything else (since we've all been a bit more cautious after Sister Sorenson's accident). This was the first scripture I read, and it says, 
         "The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. 
         "The sun shall not smite thee by day,
         "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 
         "The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 
         "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
It was such an immediate, direct, and literal answer to my prayer!

  I love you all so much!! I can feel the strength of your prayers lifting me up, and thank you for your love and faith!
new necklaces with maps of Gilbert

Monday, August 1, 2016

Two Months as a Missionary
we went to the temple this Wednesday for a session as a zone
 It's crazy to think that it's already been two months since I entered the MTC! That means I'm a 9th of the way done with my mission already!!! When you really think about it, it's SUCH a short time! I'm definitely trying to make the most of it!! 

As always, so many amazing things happened this week! We a great lesson with Claudia, and we taught her lesson 3, which is the doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation, and enduring to the end). We hadn't planned on inviting her to be baptized, but as we were teaching I kept feeling like I should. I didn't know at the time that she'd been invited to be baptized before, and that she'd pretty adamantly said no. Well, I went ahead and invited her, and she said yes!! When Hna Cedeño brought up the idea of a date, she was a bit more hesitant, saying it was a big change and she had a lot more she needed to learn, but we talked about how we're there to help her along the way and you don't need to have a perfect knowledge to be baptized. In the end, she committed to the same day, August 20th!! ... Only, right now, she's in Mexico because her mother is sick, and we're not sure when she's coming back. So pray that her mother will be well and we'll be able to get in touch with her soon to keep teaching her and get her ready for baptism!! It was also a really cool experience because Hna Cedeño told me afterwards that she'd been feeling the same prompting, and she thought I was going to do it but was thinking to herself, "If she doesn't, I will!" It's great to know that as a companionship we're unified and both listening to and following the promptings of the spirit!

It's really amazing to see the way that the spirit works, and the wisdom of the Lord. On Thursday we were OYMing in an apartment complex, and we saw two young women sitting on a patio and talking. We went up and started talking to them, and gave them a short lesson, bearing our testimonies (in English). Then, as always when we talk to people, we asked if they knew anyone in the area who spoke Spanish, and they referred us to a few doors down where Saul lives. He answered the door, and we quickly confirmed that yes, he speaks Spanish, and started talking about the gospel and our purpose. After a few moments he laughed a little bit and said, "It's weird to hear a Mormon talking to me in Spanish!" Come to find out he'd had the missionaries over quite a bit before, but really just as a friendly courtesy. But as we talked, he just kept smiling, and said at the end, "I like it better in Spanish." It really was amazing to see some of the purposes of the scripture in D&C that says that every man shall hear the gospel preached in his own tongue and in his own language! It's SUCH a wisdom in the Lord, because even though this man speaks perfect, fluent English, hearing the gospel in his own tongue opens him up that much more to feel the spirit. It strengthened my testimony of my calling of made me even more humbled to have been given the opportunity to bring this gospel to these people who are living in a foreign land in the manner that they can best understand and learn and feel the spirit! We have an appointment to see him tomorrow :)

Two more quick experiences (actually, three) - on Saturday, I called Lucina, and she told us that she was going to come to church on Sunday, so we were super excited! But yesterday, she wasn't there. I was playing for sacrament, and kept waiting for her to come in, and when she never did I had this feeling we should skip gospel doctrine and go over to her house. I brought it up to Hna Cedeño, and she was surprised by the idea (as was I) but we went anyway. Long story short, she was there (which was a miracle in and of itself) and we were able to have a great conversation and set up an appointment. It was clear that we needed to be there right at that moment, and it was humbling to know that the Lord had used me as a tool to get us there.

Yesterday we also met with and taught a less active. We'd gone over to the apartment to teach the mother, but though she was present for the lesson, the person we actually ended up teaching was her son, Luis. Luis has a number of things that he's struggling with right now, but one of the chiefest things is incredible pain in his stomach that he's been dealing with for over a year. He can't work and it hurts to do almost anything. He was baptized when he was 8, but he's 23 and hasn't been to church in about ten years. As we taught yesterday, he talked about his desire to change and about how he's felt different since he started coming back to church. We were able to testify to him and give him a new Book of Mormon, and as we left he said, "You know, you two have really great personalities. You make people comfortable." We thanked him, but talked about how anything he felt from us was really coming from Our Father through the Holy Ghost. He then said that we helped remind him of things he knew before and made him want to seek those feelings again! 

We went by again this morning to give him an Ensign (because there's a GREAT talk in the August Ensign that was perfect for what he's going through!) and gave him a short lesson. Last night we'd asked him to read Alma 32 and we really didn't expect that he would have done it already. Come to find out he'd read it twice!! He was really able to apply it to himself, and without us even asking he said he's going to start reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. It's amazing to see the atonement working in people's lives and to know that you have been a vehicle to bring the spirit to their hearts. I've known that all along, but to see someone truly accept that spirit, truly feel it and let it work within their hearts the desire to change and come closer to their Father in Heaven, fills me with more joy than I think I can describe!

The Gilbert Mural

This week I had my first exchanges!! Hna Bailey is my sister training leader, and she came to Gilbert, so I got to lead the area for the day! (She also served here for a long time, so she knew her way around and was able to help me :))

So, in this picture we're standing in front of the woman's house. You can't really see it in the background, but here's the story - we were walking back to our car, and we saw her sitting on her porch, so decided to make conversation (one of our goals in the mission is OYM - Open Your Mouth - which basically means just talk to people and make sure they know you're missionaries and leave them with a good experience even if they're not interested). So Hna Bailey noticed that she had a bunch of cats, and we started talking about that. But when Hna Bailey introduced us a few minutes later, and then I asked, "Have you ever heard of the church?" the woman said, "Yep. Some missionaries came by here once and I chased them away with a chainsaw and told them that if they ever came back I'd call the police." So ... we were a little shocked, and honestly I was a little scared. But we had a really good interaction, and even though she joked that she just didn't have a chainsaw handy, she never yelled at us or demanded that we leave or anything. But as we were walking away, she said, "Have a good day, just don't come back!" in this sweet voice. It was kind of a hilarious and bizarre experience, which is why we had to take a picture!

Okay, now for scriptures!

Matthew 26:30. This is right after the last supper, and right before Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It reads, "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." As I read that, the spirit touched my heart. The last thing our Lord and Savior did before going into the Garden of Gethsemane to atone for our sins, before suffering all of the pains, afflictions, griefs, sins, and sicknesses of the world, was sing a hymn with his disciples. There is such a sacred power in music, and there's a reason why D&C 25:12 is my favorite scripture. 

Matthew 28:1. This verse reads, "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." Think about when we were in Israel and everything we learned about the rules and laws of the sabbath. As soon as they possibly could, these two women made their way to the Savior's tomb. They didn't wait a moment longer than they had to. It made me think about how eager we should be to find the Savior!

As always, there's so much more I could write about (ESPECIALLY all the people we met this week and their amazing stories!!) but I doubt you'll even have time to read all of this!!

Les quiero MUCHISIMO!!!!